Catholicism and Protestantism are two of the major denominations in the Christian faith. They both have evolved and developed over hundreds of years and continue to grow in numbers. There is often a discrepancy between what Catholics think Protestants believe and practice, and what Protestants really do believe and practice, but the ultimate goal ought to be having a correct, informed understanding. While they are both Christian faiths they both have very different theologies. Catholicism was the first Christian church and was created by the apostle Peter after Christ’s death. Protestantism was started by Martin Luther, a German monk, in reaction to corruption within the Catholic church.
• In Catholicism, praying to saints is accepted an openly practiced. However in Protestantism prayer directed towards saints is rejected.
• Transubstantiation, or the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, is practiced in the Catholic faith. In Protestantism this is not practiced.
• Protestants believe that scripture is the only source of church authority and enforce the doctrine of, “Sola Scriptura.” Catholics however totally reject, “Sola Scriptura,” and do not believe the Bible alone is sufficient in church authority.
• A major difference is over the authority of the Pope. Catholics believe the Pope is the Vicar of Christ (Substitute of Christ) and takes Jesus’ place as head of the church. Protestants believe no human is comparable to Christ and that Christ is still the head authority over the church.
• Catholic priests are forced to take a life of celibacy while this is not required by Protestants.
• Catholics teach of a place called purgatory or a middle ground between Earth and Heaven. This is rejected in Protestantism.
• Catholics confess their sins to a priest while Protestants believe it should be something a person confesses to God himself.
• They follow the Bible and believe that Jesus is the son of God.
• Both religions teach that God is a Trinity and that humans have an immortal soul.
• They both teach that believers of the faith will go to Heaven while the nonbelievers will be sent to Hell.
• Catholics and Protestants cover mirrors when someone dies so that no one might look and see the dead person’s spirit. Then, 40 days later, family and friends celebrate the soul’s ascension to heaven.
• Both faithfully recite, “I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”
Robert C. Walton, Charts of Church History (Zondervan, 1986), p. 41.
“Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, approved by the ILWF on 1998-JUN-16.
“The Catholic FAQ: Salvation and Grace,” at: http://www.newadvent.org/
Rosemary Goring, “The Wordsworth Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions,” Wordsworth, Ware, UK, (1995), Page 197