Are you one of those who grew up Catholic and no longer attend a Catholic church? Maybe you have never known many things about the Catholic faith. You may have some questions in mind about what Catholics believe in.
In today’s post, we will talk about the important beliefs that will help you understand more about the Catholic Church.
More than five hundred years ago, an Augustinian monk and theology professionally nailed his ninety-five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. That was the action that set motion the Protestant Reformation—and completely transform the world. Since then, things have never been the same.
Catholics refuted the reformation, while the Reformers sought to bring the Church back to the gospel, as taught in the Bible. To that day, major differences remain between Protestants (later called Christians) and Catholics.
So, you may be wondering about those differences between the two. Before we dig into that topic, let’s learn some history about Christianity and the Catholic Church.
The History of the Catholic Church & Christianity
Did you know that Catholics believe the history of Christianity as their own history, going right back to Peter, Jesus, and the Apostles, among others? The term Catholic is defined as universal, and the Church sees itself as one true Church.
Nonetheless, the Catholic Church’s hierarchy and the Bishop of Rome as the Pope goes back to the fourth century and Emperor Constantine. Many defining doctrines of the Catholic Church date far after the first century into the Modern and Middle Ages.
It was not until the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century did the Catholic Church officially disapprove a lot of central elements of the true Gospels, as taught in the Scriptures.
On the other hand, as most people have known it, Christianity dates back to Jesus and his demise, interment, rebirth, and ascension. If you had to allot an event to the Church’s birth, you would likely point to Pentecost.
In any case, Christianity dates back to the first century AD, with its roots dating back to the dawn of human history.
Are Catholics and Christians the Same?
The simple answer to that question is no. Catholics and Christians hold many things in common. Both affirm Lordship of Jesus Christ and the deity, and that man is made in the image of God, and the true nature of God. Bot support that man is eternal and that there’s a literal hell and heaven.
Both support much of the same Scriptures, even though there are dissimilarities too. Hence, you will find many similarities between Christians and Catholics. Nonetheless, there have a huge number of differences as well.
What Do Catholics Believe in That Christians Don’t?
Here are some of the differences between Catholics and Christians:
- Traditions and Scripture
Both Catholics and Christians believe the Bible is the word of God. Catholics firmly believe that the revelation of God comes to them in two different ways (sacred scripture and sacred tradition). Christians believe the only source of God’s revelation on faith and morals is the Bible.
You see, Christians do not follow any further teachers from their pastors. Instead, they believe their religious leader can only give guidance and advice. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church can interpret the Biblical Scriptures and choose when the interpretation is true or false.
- The Virgin Mary
Catholics strongly consider the Virgin Mary as the highest-ranked saint and the leader of all saints. On the other hand, Christians believe that she’s a sinner like everybody else. The Catholics also believe that Mary was sinless and that her body went to heaven after been saved, while Christians think she was buried after her demise.
- The Pope
Take note that Christians aren’t open to the concept of papal supremacy. Based on evangelical views, that contradicts the Bible’s teachings. The Catholics, meanwhile, believe the Pope as the successor of Apostle Peter.
Apostle Peter was assigned by Jesus and was the first head of the Catholic Church. The Pope has the authority of the Bible’s interpretations. His rules are the law of the Church and should be followed even when they go against the law of the land.
Further, Christians believe the Pope to be the Catholic Church’s leader but don’t acknowledge his power and don’t believe in his sovereignty.
- Pictures and Statues
Catholics freely accept the depiction of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other saints in the Church in the form of statues and pictures. They also display status and pictures in their homes and sometimes wear them as jewelry.
On the contrary, Christians have restricted the representation from being displayed in the Churches while a few denominations forbid it totally. As an alternative, they utilize a basic cross made of wood.
- Attending Mass
A significant percentage of Christians only attend Church on Sundays. Meanwhile, Catholics attend mass many times throughout the day. The former also attend the Church for prayers during different religious events.
Catholics can only worship at the Church, chapel, or cathedral, while Christians can meet anywhere and worship even if they are just inside their homes.
You see, you will often find a difference between official Roman Catholic Church dogma and what normal Catholics believe. That’s why it is not possible to read Roman Catholic statements of faith and on the basis alone to conclude what many Catholics believe and practice.
Nonetheless, it is a great start to look at some of the key Catholic teachings. There is a saying, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” You are a still a Catholic even if you do not go to mass or pray anymore, are baptized into the Catholic Church, or even received any of the sacraments when you’re younger.
In a nutshell, the Catholic Church will be your spiritual home, and you are welcome any time. But how? You only need to show up, visit a parish, talk to the priests, and let them know you are there. We hope you find this guide informative and educational