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Basic Protestant Theological Tenets

Protestantism : Basic Protestant Theological Tenets

Four Latin slogans of the Reformation express some principal theological concerns of Protestantism, though they are not shared by all Protestants. See also five solas.

Solus Christus: Christ alone

Only Christ is a mediator between God and man.

Sola scriptura: Scripture alone.

Against the Catholic orthodoxy that Tradition (1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15), the teachings of the College of Bishops united with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome (Mt 16:18), shares primacy with Scripture for the handing-on of doctrine, Protestants argue that the Bible is the only rule of faith.

Sola fide: Faith alone.

In contrast to the Roman Catholic concept of meritorious works (cf. Jam 2:24; 1 Cor 13:2), of penance and indulgences, masses for the dead, the treasury of the merits of saints and martyrs, a ministering priesthood who hears confessions, and purgatory (Mt 5:26), the Protestants argued that every believer is a priest and obtains reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ, alone.

Sola gratia: Grace alone.

Against the Roman Catholic view that faith and works necessarily occur together and that works flow from faith (cf. Jam 2:26; Gal 5:6), the Reformers posited that salvation is a gift from God dispensed through Jesus Christ, regardless of merit - for no one deserves salvation. The Roman Catholic Church, by contrast, posits that salvation is not dispensed through Jesus Christ, but was effected by Jesus Christ, on the Cross at Calvary.

Lord's Supper

From the beginning, Protestantism was in agreement against the Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, which teaches that the substance of the bread and wine used in the sacrificial rite of the Mass is exchanged for the substance of Christ's body and blood (see Eucharist). However, they disagreed with one another concerning the manner in which the believer is united with Christ through the Eucharist. The Lutherans held to a theory called consubstantiation (affirming the substantial presence of Christ in or under the bread). The Reformed according to Zwingli see the Lord's Supper as a memorial ceremony, denying the substantial presence of Christ but affirming that Christ is united to the believer through faith (a view referred to somewhat derisively as memorialism). The Calvinists affirm the real presence of Christ in a manner different from Lutherans, saying that the Church has a new identity from Him in a manner analogous to naming the bread "my body", effecting a spiritual union with the Church, symbolized and given by means of the bread, by the Holy Spirit, through faith, but without changing the bread into Himself.