Since 1517, Protestants have been Christians who are not Catholic nor Orthodox. They split from Roman Catholicism because of corruption in that church. Protestants are very diverse in beliefs, but they tend to believe that the Bible is the ultimate source of authority in matters of Christianity, not a pope or "Holy Tradition" as in Catholicism. Since Protestant is an umbrella term, one cannot discuss the specific beliefs of Protestants in depth.
Why do Protestants reject Catholic authority? I apologize if this offends you, but here's why. The Catholic Church asserts that the Bible is just as much a source of doctrine as "Holy Tradition," but the Bible makes the statement, (Colossians 2:8) "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Jesus once said, (Matthew 15:3) "Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?" to the Pharisees, because they elevated their traditions to the status of God's revealed Truth.
Catholics claim the pope is able to make infallible statements, but this obviously isn't true. It stands to reason that two infallible statements can never contradict each other, yes? In 1302, Pope Bonafice VIII, in his Bull Unam Sanctam, said, ""We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." This infallible statement would have it that to be saved, all people must be Catholic. Remember, it's supposed to be INFALLIBLE. In the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which is supposed to be "infallible" in Catholicism, in the document Lumen Gentium, article 16, it is written, "But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.” This is an obvious contradiction! Therefore, neither the pope nor ecumenical councils are infallible.
Catholics frequently break God's commandments. For instance, Jesus said, (Matthew 23:9) "Do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven." Yet Catholics call the bishop of Rome "Pope," from the Latin word for "father." Catholics often refer to their priests as "Father."
Catholics claim that Jesus said He would build His Church on Simon Peter, whom they say was the first pope. Yet, the original Greek reveals that He said no such thing. Jesus said, "And I tell you that you are Petros, and on this Petra I will build my church." Jesus used two different words. Petros means "a little rock," and Petra means "rock." Jesus was referring to Himself with Petra, as this is the word used to signify Jesus in the symbolism of a Stone (cf. ). Jesus calls Peter a "little rock" because He is, as a believer, a building-block in the Temple of God (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5, Rev. 3:12), but not the foundation. Otherwise, Jesus would have named Simon "Petra," not "Petros." Peter himself identified that "rock" as Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 2:4-9. And when Jesus gave the "keys" to Peter, Jesus said the same thing to all the other apostles in Matthew 18:18.
Peter himself said that one of the qualifications for someone to be an apostle is being "with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us." None of Peter's successors were even alive in Jesus' first coming, and so they do not qualify as apostles with apostolic authority according to Peter himself! This is another reason why the pope does not have the authority he professes.
Furthermore, both the Catholic and Orthodox churches claim to use traditions to define doctrine. Why should a Protestant follow Catholic traditions instead of Orthodox traditions? Not to mention that there are many traditions, some of which conflict with each other. For instance, Church Father Tertullian believed in traducianism - if that's a tradition, why don't Catholics believe it, too?
For these reasons and more, Protestants reject the pope's authority and rely solely on the Bible, for it alone is "able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 3:15)
Anglicans, Baptists, Episcopalianss, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostalists, and Presbyterians are all Protestant denominations of Christianity.
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