What is a Protestant?

Carlos I Y VThe term Protestant has its origins in the history of the Reformation. In 1526 Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, at the Diet of Spires demanded unconditional submission to the Pope from the Electors/Princes of the German provinces. Six of the electors and two German cities protested that in matters relating to the glory of God and the salvation of their souls, their conscience demanded that they submit to God and the Scriptures. Therefore they could not obey the Emperor’s demands. Because of this protest they became known as Protestants.

It was 4 more years before the Emperor could give attention to this crisis. He did so at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. Here the Protestant Princes were to be roundly condemned by the Emperor and the Roman Catholic Church. They had Philip Melancthon prepare a crystallized summary of their theology—The Augsburg Confession—which was presented to the Diet on June 25th, 1530. This is a classic statement of Reformation theology albeit with Lutheran overtones. Luther himself approved the document but could not appear in person because of a Papal ban.

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