Difference Between Protestant and Orthodox (With Table)

Christianity is the second most widely followed religion in the world. But, within Christianity, there is an array of belief systems people adhere to. Protestantism and orthodoxy are just two major belief systems that most Christians practice and follow.

Protestant vs Orthodox           

The difference between protestant and orthodox is that protestants believe in strictly adhering to the holy scriptures only, whereas the Orthodox believe in the sole authority of the church. The protestants were born out of a ‘protest’ in the 16th century, but the orthodox were the ones from whom the protestants emerged out.

Protestants protested against the traditions of the Orthodox Church, and hence, they created a distinction between them and other Christians. Protestants believe in reform in the church and have been protesting for reformation for years, whenever deemed necessary. Protestants firmly believe in the sufficiency of words and sayings of the Bible, and this is the major dividing factor between Protestants and other Christians.

On the other hand, Orthodox Christians consist of almost half Christians. The term ‘orthodox’ is derived from Greek words ortho (rightand doxa (belief). So, orthodox is defined as the correct belief or right thinking. The orthodox churches believe in the infallibility of the church because of its divine nature.

Comparison Table Between Protestant and Orthodox

Parameters of ComparisonProtestantOrthodox
Time of origin16th centuryThe original church was established by Jesus.
Utmost authorityThey believe in the sufficiency of the original bible.They believe in the authority of the church.
Bible composition 39 old testament and 27 new testament49 old testament and 27 new testament
PriesthoodAll believers are priests without any hierarchy. Christ is the high priest in the hierarchy.
ChurchThey believe in the invisible church in heaven.They have presented the invisible church on earth in a concrete manner.

What is Protestant?

Protestants emerged out of the ‘protests’ held to end the toleration of people who followed Martin Luther’s teachings. Protestants emphasized the significance and sufficiency of the Bible. They perceived the older church as corrupt and hence, turned to bibliometric Christianity. 

The base of protestants’ beliefs was within the Five Solae, which can be interpreted by the believer himself/herself alone, without relying on the interpretations of the church. This encouragement of personal interpretations was to signify the personal relation of the believer and God.

Protestants also emphasized the invisible church, which is present everywhere with the true believers. It is believed that every member of the invisible church is saved. The Protestants view the ‘visible’ Roman Catholic Church as corrupt, full of hypocrites, and hence, they insisted on the distinction.

Further, the clergy of the church need not be celibate to maintain the post. They allow and even encourage clerical marriage, unlike the Orthodox Church. Also, Protestants believe in the priesthood of all the true believers who are in good faith. Protestant churches encourage women to enter the ministry and take up leading positions.

Protestantism, as a movement, has made commendable contributions in the field of education, politics, economy, arts, etc. Protestants constitute the largest form of Christianity, after Catholicism.

What is Orthodox?

Orthodox Christianity is a major and oldest form of Christianity. Orthodox Christians believe in the sole authority of the church- which includes scriptures, decisions of the councils, icons, etc. They believe that churches the body of Christ and is ‘fuller than scripture.’ They reject the possibility of subjective interpretations of the bible.

Orthodox churches follow a hierarchal system, with Christ being the high priest and Deacon being the servant. The position of Bishops, the ‘overseers, is exclusively for celibate males. The priests are allowed to get married but before the ordination. Celibacy is a choice for the priests but not for bishops. In orthodox churches, women are not allowed to take up leading positions like bishop or priest but only of a Deacon.

The invisible church of Christ is made visible to everyone, with the Bishop being the head. The orthodoxy of the bishops and priests must be accepted by people as Truth. The church is guided by the Holy Spirit through the Ecumenical Council (gathering of many bishops and priests).

The Orthodox Church celebrates religious festivals on different dates because it follows the Julian calendar. For instance, the Orthodox Christians observe Christmas on the 7th of January, unlike the other Christians who observe it on the 25th of December.

Main Differences Between Protestant and Orthodox

  1. The Protestants believe in the utmost superiority of Holy Scriptures, unlike the Orthodox, who believe in the authority of the church as a whole. 
  2. The Protestants protested for reform and emerged out as a group in the 16th century. But, the Orthodox Church is the oldest form of Christianity, from which the Protestants emerged.
  3. The Protestant church is inclusive and encouraging for women to take up leading roles in the ministry. On the contrary, Orthodox Church allows men exclusively to be elected as higher positions in the hierarchy.
  4. The Orthodox Church believes in visible churches, where a bishop is the second-highest and most revered individual in the hierarchy after Christ (the high priest). But, Protestants consider every true believer as the priest and, that believer is part of an invisible church.
  5. The orthodox Christians believe in the concept of deification and purgatory, whereas the Protestants reject both of these. They argue that there’s no biblical support to the idea of purgatory and, also, that Jesus’ death was sufficient to eliminate the sin of humans.
  6. The orthodoxy’s composition of the bible consists of 49 Old Testament and 27 New Testament. The number of books is 10 more than the Protestants. These additional books are known as Deuterocanonical.


All in all, there are several minor differences between the Protestants and Orthodox belief points, but these minor differences have led to the divide between the two. Christianity has several denominations which have come into view due to differences in point of views in terms of politics, education, religion, etc.

Protestantism and Orthodoxy are two dominant faiths of Christianity, other than Catholicism. The Protestants are also known as the Reformers because they regularly protest for reform. Their attempts of problematization have led to the development in several fields. Given that the Protestants allow individuals to interpret the bible for themselves, the other Christians have criticized them for allowing arbitrary interpretations of the holy book.

Further, the Orthodox praise and admire God for its mysticism and divinity, but on the contrary, Protestants often seek answers for any vague idea. Protestants believe in the written words of the original Bible and no other source.

Nevertheless, both faiths are unique yet similar in their theologies. Their fundamental beliefs about Christ, crucifixion, resurrection, etc., are the same, but differences in opinions and faiths led to the distinction between the two. 


  1. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/463013
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=YSFpAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=who+is+a+protestant+christian&ots=Wla16KWKNs&sig=eEJieH2jFkg_1kxrZJgyXqCEDJM
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1163/008467206774355330
  4. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2749553
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