A lot of people talk about the differences between Catholics and Protestants. In fact, they talk about the two in terms of being different religions. That would separate them in terms of their basic beliefs. In other words, the way they are often described is Judaism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. I do not believe that is accurate. I think it is accurate to call them different denominations not different religions. Therefore when looking at them with respect to differences or similarities I would prefer to look at their similarities rather than their differences.
I have studied religion a lot. I have taken numerous courses from Moody Bible Institute and have certificates in both the Old and New Testaments.
So how do Protestantism and Catholicism agree or differ?
The most important issue is they believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for the sins of mankind. They believe man sinned against God and that sin creates a block between God and man. It is not that God does not love man. He does. He is holy and cannot go back on himself. Therefore He had his Son Jesus Christ come to earth as a “God-man” or God incarnate to die and take the sins of the world on His shoulders.
Both the Protestant church and Catholic Church agree that Jesus was the son of a virgin and His Father was the Holy Spirit. This took care of the fact that man’s seed produced sin. That is how sin entered the world, through one man, Adam. Both churches believe that God sent Christ. They believe He is the Son of God. They believe Mary was a virgin. They believe man is a sinner and needs regeneration and forgiveness.
They do not agree with respect to communion. The Catholic Church believes the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. Protestants believe the bread and wine are merely a representation of the body and blood of Christ. The interesting thing here is this issue is one that does not get in the way of the basic belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, not a good man and not a prophet. The key is that Jesus is the Son of God.
Protestantism and Catholicism are not that far apart although many people think they are. It must be remembered that we are all raised with certain prejudices.
There is a misunderstanding regarding the Pope with respect to the Catholic Church. Protestants believe the Catholic faith teaches the Pope is infallible when in fact the church teaches the infallibility of the Pope is only on matters of faith and morals when he speaks from the chair of Peter. They both believe in Christmas and Easter and what they represent and they believe in the forgiveness. There is a difference in their beliefs regarding confessing sin. Catholics believe a Catholic should confess their sins to a priest and protestants believe a person can tell God there sins directly and be forgiven.
The Catholic Church is the first church that sprang from Judaism back in the first century. Since that time there have been splinters after splinters after splinters that have been termed protestant churches and variations on that theme. The point is when you get right down to examining the specifics of the two churches you find just as many points of agreement as you do disagreement.
“Encyclopedias of the World’s Religions,” Edited by R.C. Zaehner, Barnes & Noble, 1988
Personal Knowledge and Experience