Catholicism

PopeCatholicism is a term which in its broadest sense refers to the beliefs and practices of Christian churches that understand and describe themselves as being Catholic within the universal and apostolic church. Catholicism is a denomination, and is, therefore, a subset of Christianity.

A Catholic refers to an individual who follows the Catholic “religion” as transmitted through the succession of Popes of Rome and the Vatican Empire across history. The Pope is the leader of the Catholic church. The Catholic Church is the largest of the Christian Churches – about 60% of “professing” Christians are Catholic.

As is the case with all church congregations, there are Catholics who are true followers of Jesus Christ, and as such are true Christians. However, not all practicing Catholics are Christian; and, certainly, not all “professing” Christians are Catholics.

It would be not only unfair, but also untruthful to suggest that Catholicism is “not Christian”. Concerning the major doctrines of Jesus Christ, Catholicism holds as true:

  • His Deity,
  • His place in the Trinity,
  • His Incarnation,
  • His Virgin Birth,
  • His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension,
  • and Jesus Christ as being the “only name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Where Catholicism and “Protestantism” substantially differ is in areas of practice such as:

  • concepts of church leadership,
  • the practices and traditions of adherents,
  • interpretation of certain Scriptures regarding the status of women in leadership positions,
  • the doctrine of life after death (i.e. the existence of Purgatory),
  • issues of child birth and divorce,
  • the celebration of “Communion”,
  • and confession of sin (absolution).

The biggest area of debate, however, has to do with “means of salvation”, the basis by which Martin Luther sparked what became the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Luther argued that salvation is by faith alone whereas Catholicism defends its position that salvation requires “faith and works”.

Below is a list of the key differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. (From  www.diffen.com/). Or you can download printable PDF version by clicking here: Catholic-Protestant Comparison

Catholic Protestant
Use of statues and pictures Permitted as means of inspiration Not used
Place of worship Church, chapel, cathedral Church, chapel, cathedral
Place of origin Palestine & Rome; Roman Empire Palestine & Rome, with a schism originating in Germany
Second coming of Jesus Affirmed Affirmed
Scriptures Holy Bible, a collection of canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament). Usually Douay-Rheims or Knox Version. Holy Bible, a collection of canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament). Usually King James Version.
Concept of Deity Believe in the Trinity of God. Three persons in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit Believe in the Trinity of God. Three persons in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Death of Jesus Death by Crucifixion Death by Crucifixion
Authority of Pope Affirmed Denied.
Belief of God Catholics believe that there is only one God and that he has revealed himself as the Trinity. Protestants believe that there is only one God and that be has revealed himself as the Trinity.
Birth of Jesus Virgin Birth Virgin Birth
Literal Meaning catholic – from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning “universal” Protestant – to ‘protest’
Status of Adam Sin came into the world, through Adam. Sin came into the world, through Adam.
Identity of Jesus The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.
Clergy The Pope, followed by Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests, Monks and Deacons. Women can be nuns. Each church independent, headed by Pastors, Elders, and Deacons.
Resurrection of Jesus Affirmed Affirmed
Time of origin c. 315AD c. 33 AD, but believe it eventually became corrupt. Split off in an attempt to return to church’s origins approx. 1517 – 1534 A.D.
Day of worship Sunday. Personal Sacrifice during Lent. Traditionally Sunday, but other days accepted if treated with same level of focus on worship.
Practices All Catholics are expected to participate in the liturgical life of the Church, but personal prayer and devotions are entirely a matter of personal preference. Regularly study the Bible, pray, and commune with other believers on Sunday (or other day of worship)
Founder Jesus Christ, followed by Peter as the first Pope, then all Popes following Peter. Jesus Christ, followed by Peter, Paul, and other disciples of Jesus. Position of The Pope denied, and eventually split off of The Catholic church to attempt to re-establish the original church.
Resurrection of Jesus Affirmed Affirmed
Status of women Variable but treated with respect. Women are not allowed to be priests. However, they can become nuns. Variable but treated with respect. Usually, women are not allowed to be part of the clergy, but are permitted to teach or work in other areas.
About Catholics follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as transmitted through the Old & New Testament via Rome and the Vatican and follow the Catechism. Catholics believe that the Catholic Church is the original and first Christian Church. Protestants follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as transmitted through the Old & New Testament. Protestants believe that the Catholic Church stemmed from the original Christian Church, but became corrupt. Men can not add or take away from scripture.
Savior Jesus Christ Jesus Christ
View of other Abrahamic religions According to Catholic doctrine, Catholicism is the original Christian Church. Christianity is the true religion. Judaism is a true religion, but they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. Islam is a false religion, pagan religions are also false. Judaism is a true religion, but they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. Islam is a false religion. Pagan religions are also false.
Life after death Eternal Salvation in Heaven; Eternal Damnation in Hell; Temporal third state before Heaven, known as Purgatory. There is no purgatory. Those that trust in Jesus as savior go to paradise, those that trust in their own works for salvation go to hell. In the end times, these groups are let into heaven and the lake of fire, respectively.
Jesus The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.
Marriage The Holy union of a man and woman. What God has bound together, no person can separate. The Holy union of a man and woman. What God has bound together, no person can separate. Divorce permitted in cases of adultery or abandonment.
Confessing sins To God through priests To God through Jesus
Geographical predominance Italy, Philippines, Latin America, France, Spain, Mexico, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Armenia, Scotland, Wales and Ireland North America and Europe
Holy days Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Saints’ Feast Days. Christmas and Easter
Original Language(s) Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin Hebrew, Greek, and German
Population 1.2 billion 590 million
Means of salvation Received at baptism; may be lost by mortal sin; regained by faith and penance. You must believe Jesus is the only son of God, confess your sins, must have a relationship with Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ as having already paid the penalty for your sins.
Human Nature Humans are free to devote themselves to knowledge and communion in the image of God. “original sin” inherited from Adam – tendency towards evil (Infants must be baptized) “original sin” inherited from Adam, tendency towards evil, but the sins of the father do not pass through the son, therefore Children are holy, and until they reach the age where they can know good from evil, their sins are not held against them.
Prophet Believe in all prophets of the Books from the Holy Bible. Believe in all prophets of the Books from the Holy Bible, and that Muhammad is a false prophet.
Geographical distribution and predominance France, Italy, Spain, Latin America, USA North America, Europe
Significance of Eucharist / Communion Commonly termed the ‘Mystic Supper’ or ‘Divine Liturgy’ – This makes present Christ’s sacrifice and therefore forgiveness of sins is obtained through it. It is also an encounter with the Risen Christ. Important as a symbolic remembrance of Christ’s death.
God’s role in salvation Christ can save people and can help in salvation. Various forms of grace and free will. In one extreme, God predestines who will be saved and there is no free will. In the other extreme it is entirely the free will of man. Most protestants are somewhere in between.
Mary Mary is considered favored among women, and was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus through a virgin birth. Thus, she is considered holy, and may be prayed to as an intercessor to God. Mary is considered favored among women, and was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus through a virgin birth, but is otherwise simply a human with no other special attributes.
Offshoot religions Eastern Orthodox and Protestant sects of Christianity. Thousands of denominations.
Religious Law The Bible and Catechisms, which may be added to or amended by The Pope. The Bible alone. Each person must verify all teachings through the Bible.
Presence of Christ in Eucharist / Communion During the Eucharist, the Priest calls down the Holy Spirit upon the gifts (the bread and the wine). They then change into the actual body and blood of Christ. The precise way in which this happens is a divine mystery. Christ is present in spirit, but the bread and wine are merely symbolic of his death, and of the believer’s commitment to him.
Type of Worship Prayer, Praise, Singing, Scripture Reading, and Adoring Eucharist Prayer, Praise, Singing, Scripture Reading, and Teaching of the Reading
Belief Catholics believe that salvation to eternal life is God’s will for all people. You must believe Jesus was the son of God, receive Baptism, confess your sins, and take part in Holy Mass to obtain this. Protestants believe that salvation to eternal life is God’s will for all people. You must believe Jesus was the son of God and that he has already paid the penalty for your sins to receive this.
View of Animistic religions Pagan Pagan
View of Oriental religions Pagan Pagan
Praying to Saints, Mary, and Angel Only for their intercession or help, at end of each prayer you must say “but only God’s will be done”. Saints are anyone that believes, and Mary is only a human. The only intercessor between God and man is Jesus, not saints, Mary, or angels.
View of other Dharmic religions Pagan Pagan
Purgatory A place of cleansing and preparation for heaven. Also a place where the punishment due to unremitted venial sins may be expiated. Does not exist
Goal of religion Peace, Love and wilful submission to God. A relationship with Jesus
Belief of God God is the Omnipotent, Loving Creator of the Universe. Believe that there is only ONE God and that he has revealed himself as the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit God is the Omnipotent, Loving Creator of the Universe. Believe that there is only ONE God and that he has revealed himself as the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Saints A special group of holy people, who are venerated. They may act as intercessors between God and Man and may be invoked in prayer. Anyone who believes in Jesus as savior is a saint.
Angels Angels are unseen creations of God, created from light. Satan is a fallen angel who rejected God. Angels are unseen creations of God, created from light. Satan is a fallen angel who rejected God.
Religion which atheists may still be adherents of No. Faith in God plays a very important role in Christianity. No. Faith in God plays a very important role in Christianity.
View of Protestantism Protestant denominations cannot be considered “churches”; they don’t believe in the true Eucharist. They can’t have true priests or bishops because a priest is only valid based on ordination from a valid bishop according to the Apostolic Lineage. Protestantism is way church was originally established. Catholicism corrupt with establishment of Papal Infallibility. God reveals self through scripture and prayer, not tradition.
Legislation Prerogative of the Church, which follows the Holy Spirit and the Word of God as best it can. The Bible alone
Views on other religions The Catholic Church is the only true religion. All others are false. Believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins, and that by believing in him you are saved by faith, not works, is the core principal. Any religion confirming this is a true religion; any religion denying it is a false religion.

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