A doctrine is a principle or statement of belief (or by extension, a set of principles/beliefs) presented for acceptance and/or assent by an individual, group, or organization. Protestantism was largely identified by the doctrines it adhered to that contradicted Roman Catholicism, and was subsequently divided by differences of doctrine among the various branches of Protestantism.
   Protestantism affirmed the traditional doctrines of the ancient church stated in the common creedal statements, especially the Nicene Creed, but added its own doctrines on salvation by grace alone, the ultimate authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice, and the priesthood of all believers. It affirmed two sacraments as opposed to the seven affirmed in Roman Catholicism. It denied belief in the authority of the pope, the existence of purgatory, and the practice of indulgences.
   The set of doctrines held by various Protestants groups often found expressions in formal confessional documents, with some attaining broad acceptance: Augsburg Confession of Faith, Dordrecht Confession, Westminster Confession of Faith, the Savoy Declaration, the Canons of Dort, and the Articles of Religion (Anglican, Methodist), among others.
   Early disagreements among Protestants concerned the doctrines of the sacraments, church polity, and the church's relationship to the state. Unitarians dissented on the doctrine of God, unable to affirm the Trinity.
   Over the centuries, some groups drew sharp distinctions between the ultimate authority of the Bible and the particular man-made statements of doctrine of the churches. In the 19th century, churches emerged that opposed the idea of creedal statements. They rejected the normative value often assigned to creedal statements, which shortcircuited creativity and new insights in Bible study. However, those same groups often saw the need to summarize what they had learned and agreed upon from their study of the Bible and issued documents that looked very much like doctrinal statements.
   The overwhelming majority of the thousands of denominations that now exist have issued statements of the primary doctrines they expect members to affirm, though with widely differing expectations about the level of homogeneity they demand.
   Further reading:
   ■ L. Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1969)
   ■ Jubert Cunliffe-Jones and Benjamin Drewery, A History of Christian Doctrine (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980)
   ■ Walter Elwell, ed., Dictionary of Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1984)
   ■ J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religious Creeds, 2 vols. (Detroit: Gale Research, 1988, 1994)
   ■ Alan Richardson and John Bowden, eds., The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.


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  • doctrine — [ dɔktrin ] n. f. • 1160 « enseignement »; lat. doctrina, de docere « enseigner » 1 ♦ Ensemble de notions qu on affirme être vraies et par lesquelles on prétend fournir une interprétation des faits, orienter ou diriger l action humaine. ⇒ dogme,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • doctrine — doc·trine / däk trən/ n: a principle established through judicial decisions compare law, precedent doc·tri·nal / trə nəl/ adj Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster …   Law dictionary

  • doctrine — DOCTRINE. s. f. Savoir, érudition. Grande doctrine. Profonde doctrine. Doctrine consommée. Cet homme a beaucoup de doctrine. Ce livre est plein de doctrine. [b]f♛/b] Il se prend aussi pour Maximes, sentimens, enseignemens. Bonne, saine doctrine.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • doctrine — Doctrine. s. f. Sçavoir, erudition. Grande doctrine. profonde doctrine. doctrine consommée. cet homme a beaucoup de doctrine. ce livre est plein de doctrine. Il se prend aussi pour Maximes, sentiments, enseignements. Bonne, saine doctrine,… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • doctrine — doc trine (d[o^]k tr[i^]n), n. [F. doctrine, L. doctrina, fr. doctor. See {Doctor}.] 1. Teaching; instruction. [1913 Webster] He taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken. Mark iv. 2. [1913 Webster] 2. That… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • doctrine — doctrine, dogma, tenet are synonymous only when they mean a principle (usually one of a series or of a body of principles) accepted as authoritative (as by members of a church, a school of philosophers, or a branch of science). Doctrine is often… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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  • doctrine — [däk′trin] n. [ME < L doctrina < doctor: see DOCTOR] 1. something taught; teachings 2. something taught as the principles or creed of a religion, political party, etc.; tenet or tenets; belief; dogma 3. a rule, theory, or principle of law ☆ …   English World dictionary

  • doctrine — UK US /ˈdɒktrɪn/ noun [C] ► a principle or set of principles that are followed by a particular group or in a particular situation: »The doctrine of continuous quality improvement is being implemented in the health care industry worldwide. »an… …   Financial and business terms

  • doctrine — (n.) late 14c., from O.Fr. doctrine (12c.) teaching, doctrine, and directly from L. doctrina teaching, body of teachings, learning, from doctor teacher (see DOCTOR (Cf. doctor)) …   Etymology dictionary

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