“The Protestantism” as Concept: Its Meaning in Historical and Religious Studies

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: senior research worker, acting Chief of Department of General History
Affiliation: St. Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Saint Petersburg
Journal nameNovaia i noveishaia istoriia
EditionIssue 2

The author polemizes with the article by Ivan Davydov and Ivan Fadeyev, in which the concept “Protestantism” was proclaimed unsound. Emerging in 1529, now it denotes a much more diverse conglomerate of religious bodies than such concepts as “Eastern Orthodoxy”, or “Roman Catholicism”. I.P. Davydov and I.A. Fadeyev insist that all historical concepts must be used in their original sense only. The author rejects this requirement and demonstrates that such widely used concepts as “discourse”, “revolution”, “ideology”, “the Jacobins”, now have meanings quite different from the original ones. The concept “Protestantism” has the same right to exist. Protestant religious structures are both those that separated from the Roman Catholic Church after 1517, and those that separated from them in turn, and further down the chain. The true problem is that some of the latter, like the Mormons, the Oxford Movement in Anglicanism, the New Apostolic Church, and Landmarkism in Baptism, were the result of changes in the directions opposite to the transformations brought about by the Reformation, i.e., dogmatic drift to Roman Catholic doctrines, more complex liturgy, and the restoration of the hierarchical structure. The author proposes to call such movements “anti-Protestant,” but to consider them Protestant, since their adherents refuse to join the Roman Catholic Church and, consequently, appreciate the differences that exist between their churches and Roman Catholicism, which arose as a result of the Reformation. If during the Reformation the churches often split, giving rise to new denominations, in our time the churches founded during Reformation occasionally become united: Lutherans and Calvinists of Germany – in the Prussian Union (1817), Lutherans and Calvinists of the Netherlands – Protestantse Kerk in the Netherlands (2004). The United Church of Christ, formed in the United States in 1957, consists of adherents of four confessions. No one name except that of “Protestant” is suitable for this type of church.

KeywordsProtestantism, Reformation, Western Christianity, Anglicanism, Baptism, Calvinism, Lutheranism
Publication date21.04.2021
Number of characters41987
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