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Protestantism is a form of Christian faith and practice which originated with the Protestant Reformation, a movement against what its followers considered to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. It is one of the three major divisions of Christendom, together with Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The term derives from the letter of protestation from German Lutheran princes in 1529 against an edict condemning the teachings of Martin Luther as heretical.

Protestantism is a form of Christian faith and practice which originated with the Protestant Reformation, a movement against what its followers considered to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. It is one of the three major divisions of Christendom, together with Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The term derives from the letter of protestation from German Lutheran princes in 1529 against an edict condemning the teachings of Martin Luther as heretical.

With its origins in Germany, the modern movement is popularly considered to have begun in 1517 when Luther published his Ninety-five Theses as a reaction against abuses in the sale of indulgences, which purported to offer remission of sin to their purchasers. Although there were earlier breaks from or attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church—notably by Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, and Jan Hus—only Luther succeeded in sparking a wider, lasting movement.

All Protestant denominations reject the notion of papal supremacy over the Church universal and generally deny the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, but they disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The various denominations generally emphasize the priesthood of all believers, the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide) rather than by or with good works, and a belief in the Bible alone (rather than with sacred tradition) as the highest authority in matters of faith and morals (sola scriptura). The "Five solae" summarize the reformers' basic differences in theological beliefs in opposition to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day.

Protestantism spread in Europe during the 16th century. Lutheranism spread from Germany into its surrounding areas, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Baltic states, and Iceland, as well as other smaller territories. Reformed churches were founded primarily in Germany and its adjacent regions, Hungary, the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland and France by such reformers as John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Knox. The political separation of the Church of England from Rome under King Henry VIII brought England alongside this broad Reformation movement; albeit Anglicanism is sometimes considered to be independent from Protestantism. In later centuries, Protestants developed their own culture, which made major contributions in education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy and the arts, and other fields.

Collectively encompassing more than 900 million adherents, or nearly 40 percent of Christians worldwide, Protestantism is present on all populated continents. The movement is more divided theologically and ecclesiastically than either Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism, lacking both structural unity and central human authority. Some Protestant denominations do have a worldwide scope and distribution of membership, while others are confined to a single country. A majority of Protestants are members of just a handful of denominational families: Adventism, Anglicanism, Baptist churches, Reformed churches, Lutheranism, Methodism, and Pentecostalism. Nondenominational, evangelical, charismatic, independent and other churches are on the rise, and constitute a significant part of Protestant Christianity.

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