There are many forms of the Christianity faith, and while they share many similarities, they also differ greatly. The Catholic and the Protestants both worship the same God, but their beliefs differ. 500 years after the Reformation, Protestants and Catholics remain bitterly divided. Until recently, Catholics and Protestants in Germany, the birthplace of the Reformation, were bitter enemies. Throughout history, religious conflicts and wars had widened this chasm
It all started 500 years ago with Martin Luther (1483-1546) tried in reforming the Catholic Church but instead, he caused a schism in the church. The publication of his Ninety-Five Theses on October 31, 1517, is credited with causing the division in Germany and the birth of the Evangelical Church. In this article we would be looking at some unique differences that exist between the Catholic and the Protestant faith.
10 Major Differences between Catholic and Protestant
The Authority of the Pope
The pope, according to Roman Catholics, is the spiritual leader of the entire Church. With his role as apostolic vicar, the pope functions as Christ’s earthly steward, guiding the Church in establishing what is true, right, and fitting for all believers. When it comes to matters of faith and morals that should be held by the entire Church, the pope is exempt from the danger of mistake, according to the Catholic Church teaching. According to the Catholic tradition, Peter was elevated to the position of bishop of Rome. As far as Catholics are concerned, this position of authority still exists.
On the other hand, Protestants reject the idea of a top-down hierarchy culminating in a single figure who can absolutely speak and proclaim truth without error. Protestants are adamantly opposed to the primacy of the pope. Evangelicals argue that this ideology goes against what the Bible says.
Understanding the meaning of the different church
The nature of the church is viewed differently by the Catholic and Protestant churches. “Catholic” means “all-encompassing,” and the Catholic Church sees itself as the only legitimate church in the world, headed by the pope.
As an alternative, the so-called “Evangelical” Protestant churches that emerged from the Reformation are not a single, unified body of believers. Thousands of different denominations exist all over the world. There is no official advantage or disadvantage for any of these diverse congregations.
Understanding of the meaning of the Bible
The Bible’s meaning and authority are viewed differently by Catholics and Protestants. Evangelical Reformer Martin Luther declared that the Bible is the “Sola Skriptura,” or God’s only book, in which He exposes Himself to the people and allows them to enter into communion with Him.
The Bible, on the other hand, is not the sole source of Catholic belief. The Roman Catholic Church’s traditions bind them as well as the Bible does.
Understanding of the office
The Apostolic Succession is a crucial link in the Catholic Church’s hierarchy of spiritual ministries (bishops, priests and deacons). They acquire an eternal seal from God as a result of Holy Orders, which gives them spiritual authority over Catholics as well as the ability to administer the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Only men are eligible for this ordination.
Unlike Catholics, Protestants believe that the priesthood can be given to anyone who has faith in Christ, including women.
The Place of Mary the Mother of Jesus
Mary serves a different role in Catholicism than in other Protestant churches. Because she was the vehicle through which God sent his Son into the world, Catholics refer to Mary as “Mother of God” and “Mother of the Church.” Catholics look up to Mary as a role model for faith and morality in all aspects of life. According to tradition, Mary was born and lived a blameless life from conception to natural death.
To be clear, Catholics honor Mary as a special patroness but do not revere or love her in the same manner that they do God and the Incarnate Word (John 1:1, 14). The method people pray to other saints is by asking them to intervene or mediate on their behalf with God through Mary, who is in perfect oneness with God the Son.
The Protestants revere Mary, but they don’t hold her in the same esteem as Catholics.’ The lack of devotion to Mary as a central figure in artwork and iconography means that they don’t pray to her as frequently as Roman Catholics.
Communion, often known as the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist
Communion is seen as a re-enactment of Jesus’ Last Supper with his apostles before his crucifixion. The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, reflects Catholics’ ideas on the ministry of the priest. Bread and wine become Christ’s flesh and blood when consecrated by a priest in Jesus’ name. Communion is not open to non-Catholics however, each and every one of the baptized members of the Protest Church is welcome to participate and even lead in the Lord’s Supper. The Catholic Church does not support this method.
Catholics and Protestants both use the term “Eucharist,” yet they both signify something different. Bread, called the Host, represents Jesus and can thus be invoked in prayer. Protestants believe that the liturgy should be used solely to commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection, and not for any other purpose.
The Justification Doctrine
Christians of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism agree that grace is the means of salvation. In their minds, the distinctions between them are really a question of degrees. When it comes to standing with God, Roman Catholics believe that a person’s acts are a representation of their inner faith. Doing good deeds for the sake of others can help Catholics get their sins confessed and reduce the amount of time they spend in Purgatory after death.
A person can only be declared righteous before God if they are justified by grace through faith, according to the Protestant view. There are others who believe that good deeds are done out of gratitude, yet this alone does not warrant a place in God’s kingdom. Catholics hold the same view, although they place an emphasis on good deeds as a means of proving one’s faith.
Celibacy, the commitment to abstain from marriage and sexual contact, is an important part of all major world religions, and the Catholic and Protestant faiths are no exception. Priests are required by the Catholic Church to live a life of celibacy. It’s a representation of Christ’s unbroken lineage. In the Protestant Church, priests are exempt from this responsibility. Abolitionists led by Martin Luther began calling for an end to it as early as 1520. In 1525, he married Katharina von Bora, a former nun who had formerly been a monk. He believed that his marriage would “please his father,” “rile the pope,” “make angels to rejoice, and Satan to weep,”
Mystery, hierarchy, rites and liturgy are some of the symbols used by Roman Catholics in their worship. Protestants, on the other hand, have constructed simple and basic worship rituals that emphasize Scripture. The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is at the heart of the Mass for many Catholics. The sermon, in which the reverend minister reads from the Bible, is the most important part of the service for many Protestants.
Today’s evangelical Protestant worship services may feature a mix of traditional hymns and newer tunes performed with cutting-edge technology in a venue devoid of many traditional religious artifacts. A Catholic ceremony, on the other hand, is likely to include a slew of aspects that are both intricate and profoundly significant to those who attend.
The Veneration of the Saint
The Catholic Church adheres to the tradition of honoring saints. Canonization is a process through which the church elevates the dead as “saints” who can be invoked in prayer for help in remaining faithful to God. More than 4,000 saints are known to exist throughout the world. Their ashes are held in high respect as holy relics. The Protestant Church also opposes this type of adoration. Reformation theologians believe that everyone has the right to pray to God directly.
In conclusion, the church tradition is a major source of differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics. It is Protestants’ belief that Scriptures are the primary source of faith and activity. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, hold to a plethora of doctrines and practices that are not directly specified in the Bible. It is the Magisterium of the Church, which includes the Pope, bishops, and Church Councils, that has passed down these traditions and the Scriptures from the Apostles. A person’s sense of authority is derived from a combination of the Bible, human reason, and church history, all of which are viewed as complimentary rather than competing. Catholics, on the other hand, place a high value on particular practices and doctrines—such as papal infallibility and Mary’s Immaculate Conception—while Protestants disagree with Catholics on matters such as the notion of Purgatory and the distinction between deadly and venial sin.