Definition: Protestantism
The general term for types of Christian faith originating from the Reformation. Although the early forms of Protestantism were those who followed Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, the term now includes most non-Roman Catholic or non-Orthodox denominations. Protestants want to be closer to the style of faith of the early Church which they feel has been obscured in Catholic practices. The term derives from the word 'protestari' which means not only to protest but to avow or confess.

In a 2002 study conducted by the Pew Research Council, 53 percent of Americans identified themselves as Protestant Christians. There are approximately 500 million Protestants in the world.2517397

"Protestantism" is less a denomination than a general branch of Christianity encompassing numerous denominations and a wide theological spectrum ranging from conservative to liberal.

Protestantism originated in the 16th-century Reformation and most modern Protestant denominations can trace their heritage to one of the major movements that sprung up in the 16th century.

Presbyterians are indebted to John Calvin and Reformed theology, as well as to John Knox and the Church of Scotland.

Anglicans and Episcopalians trace their heritage to the Church of England that resulted from King Henry VIII's break from the authority of Rome.

Evangelicalism (and to a slightly lesser degree, Methodism) is indebted to Pietism, a 17th century Protestant movement emphasizing a holy life, individual study of the scriptures, and better training of ministers.

Protestant denominations differ in the degree to which they reject Catholic belief and practice. Some churches, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, tend to resemble Catholicism in their formal liturgy, while others, like Baptists and Presbyterians, retain very little of the liturgy and tradition associated with the Catholic Church.

In common with Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Protestants adhere to the authority of the Bible and the doctrines of he early creeds. Protestants are distinguished by their emphasis on the doctrines of "justification by grace alone through faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the supremacy of Holy Scripture in matters of faith and order."2517398

Most Protestant churches recognize only two sacraments directly commanded by the Lord - baptism and communion - as opposed to the seven sacraments accepted by the Catholic Church.

Table of Contents


  1. “Protestantism.” Bowker, John, Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford University Press, USA),pp. 459-459.
  2. James C. Spalding, Roland H. Bainton, W. Owen Chadwick, E. Clifford Nelson, Martin E. Marty. “Protestantism.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.

Article Info

Title Protestantism
Last UpdatedFebruary 13, 2021
MLA Citation “Protestantism.” 13 Feb. 2021. Web. Accessed 16 Jan. 2022. <>