Hi, as I stated in a previous post I have virtually no knowledge of the Catholic Faith. I have been a Baptist all my life and what little I do “know” about the Catholic Faith has come from other Baptists, not exactly a very reliable source. Forgive me if my question is ignorant but here it is. Are there any significant similarities between the Catholic Faith and that of the Baptist Faith (other then the basics that we both believe in a Triune God?) For instance does the Catholic Church view someone that has been “saved” according to the teachings and Doctrines of the Baptist Faith as actually saved? Again forgive me if this sounds ignorant, but I hear so much about how the two faiths are so different that I would like to know how and why. I have a wife and four children and want to make sure that as much as possible I am providing not only their physical needs but am ensuring that their spiritual needs are met as well. Thank you for any input, it will be appreciated.
From my understanding, the similar doctrinal views of both Catholic and Baptists is the belief of a Triune God. That Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has answers concerning salvation.
CCC 169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: “We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation.” Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.
CCC 1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),4 and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."5
I. WHAT IS THIS SACRAMENT CALLED?
1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature."6
1215 This sacrament is also called “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God."7
1216 "This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . ."8 Having received in Baptism the Word, “the true light that enlightens every man,” the person baptized has been “enlightened,” he becomes a “son of light,” indeed, he becomes “light” himself:9
Here is the link Assurance of Salvation which is found on this website’s homepage.
We share the Our Father (the Lord’s Prayer) too!
Theologically speaking, there are some significant differences. I’ll be happy to go over a few tomorrow (although I suspect you’ll have 30 more responses by then).
We share a reverence for Sacred Scripture as the Word of God. We differ sometimes on the interpretation of Scripture, but both of us hold it in the highest esteem.
The articles of the Catholic faith are generally summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. Within those creeds are many points of agreement between us and Baptists, including:
- We believe in one, triune God.
- We believe that God the Father is the maker of Heaven and earth.
- We believe in the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, the virgin birth of Jesus through Mary, we believe He suffered at the hands of Pontius Pilate, actually died, and was physically resurrected from the dead.
- We believe in the resurrection of the dead for all believers, and that Jesus made that possible for us. We believe in eternal life. We believe in the forgiveness of sin (though we disagree about some of the particulars).
- We believe that the Holy Spirit is One with the Father and Jesus, that the Spirit has spoken to the prophets, and is rightfully worshipped as God. The Spirit was given to us as our Advocate, and continues to inspire believers in all ages.
These are major areas of agreement, don’t you think?
I would look forward to learning whatever you could share with me. While I believe that there are things that we will disagree about, I really believe that there has been too much bashing of Catholicism by protestants (Baptists) and like wise for Catholics bashing protestants. I feel that if we want to honestly seek reconcilliation, we need to practice love for each other first, foremost, and always. I look forward to learning whatever you can show me.
I would definitly agree that these are major areas of agreement. Like I said, I know practically nothing about Catholicism (which is sad), this is the main reason that I came to this forum. I would imagine however that in some of the areas that we agree on we would also find disagreement, such as the forgiveness of sin. If I understand correctly the Catholic Church believes that salvation is contingent upon the works that a person does after the initial salvation experience, while most Baptists believe that salvation is strictly by grace through faith only. Typically what I have seen here when this topic is debated is that the Protestant will bring out passages in Ephesians and Romans to back up their point, the Catholic will then bring out James especially chapter 2 to prove that faith without works is dead faith. Personally, I believe that the two sides are closer than they believe and that if it weren’t for the age old gap between us we could see it. I believe that the Protestant is correct when they say that salvation is by grace only, in that salvation is without a doubt Gods gift to us (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9) and as we all know you cannot buy or work for a gift or it is no longer a gift. However the Catholic is quite correct by bringing out James to prove that faith without works is dead. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are told that if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away behold all things are become new. I have seen too many times where someone will pray the “sinners prayer” and claim to be saved, yet absolutly nothing changes in their life. Based on 2 Cor. 5:17 I have to ask did they really repent and turn to God for forgiveness of sin or did they just say some words? I believe that true God given salvation WILL produce spiritual works and that there will be a noticable difference in a person (all things are passed away, behold ALL things are become new) To me spirirual works are an inevitable part of true salvation and if the works are not evident then I think that quite rightly people will say that faith without works is dead. I believe that salvation itself is by grace but that an immediate result of that grace and that salvation is an abundance of real change and outpouring of spiritual fruits to back up the claim of salvation. The Bible says that by their fruits you shall know them. In Galatians 5 towards the end of the chapter Paul lists a number of sins that he says are the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21) then he immediately contrasts that in the next 2 verses with the fruits of the Spirit. In other words if you truly have the Spirit Of God dwelling in you then there WILL be, not should be or maybe or could be, but WILL be evidence of that in a changed life that will be a testament to Gods saving grace. Just my thoughts, they are are in no way meant to be offensive.
It is true that we as Catholic believe that faith alone does not equal salvation. Simply knowing, believing and accepting Christ as being the Son of God does not “save” an individual. The Devil, Satan, knows that Christ is the Son of God yet he will not be in Heaven. Therefore, there must be something in addition to the knowledge that Jesus is God. Look at 1 Cor 3:15. If works are unnecessary for salvation as many Protestants believe, then why is a man saved (not just rewarded) through fire by a judgment of his works? Look also at Matt 7:1-3. We find here that we are not judged just by faith, but actually how we judge others, and we get what we have given. Hence, we are judged according to how we responded to God’s grace during our lives. Now look at Matt 10:22, Matt 24:13, and Mark 13:13. Here Jesus teaches that we must endure to the very end to be saved. If this is true, then how can Protestants believe in the erroneous teaching of “Once saved, always saved?” If salvation occurred at a specific point in time when we accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, there would be no need to endure to the end. We would already be saved. Matt 16:27 says that He will repay every man for what he has done (works). Mark 10:21 tells us that Jesus says to sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. This means that our salvation depends upon our works. Luke 12:43-48 teaches us that we must act according to the Lord’s will. We are judged based upon what we know and then do, not just upon what we know. Romans 2: 6-10 & 13 says that God will judge every man according to his works. Our salvation depends on how we cooperate with God’s grace. 2 Cor 11:15 tells us that our end will correspond to our deeds. Our works are necessary to both our justification and salvation. Gal 6:7-9 says again that whatever a man sows, he will reap. Paul warns the Galatians not to grow weary in doing good works, for in due season they will reap (the rewards of eternal life). There are many passages throughout the Bible which support the Catholic position on Salvation. Our whole argument isn’t simply sumed up in the book of James. We look to the whole of God’s Word. God bless and welcome to the forms!!!
Here’s a nice summary of the Catholic position on how grace, justification and sanctification work together to effect our ultimate salvation. catholic.com/library/Grace_What_It_Is.asp
Yep. Sometimes we get tangled up in the words and definitions. Often, we don’t really understand what the other “side” believes because we rely on sources that are not correct. A great source for knowing what the Catholic Church really teaches is the Catechism. You can find the whole Catechism, with a search engine, at scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm.
Catholics would agree with you that salvation and grace are totally God’s gift to us. But we believe that salvation is a process, not a one-time event or decision. Salvation can be lost or rejected by us. There are ‘sheep and goats’, and we will be judged by our works. See this for a more thorough treatment: catholic.com/library/Reward_and_Merit.asp
This is maybe one of those fine points of disagreement. The Catholic view is that God gave us another gift. The gift of free will just “keeps on giving” for our whole lives. Even when we have received the grace of knowing God, we are free at any moment to turn away. If we reject God, it doesn’t mean that we never knew Him. It means we exercised our free will in a way that is contrary to God’s will for us.
Nate, we are so glad you are here! Please keep visiting with us so we can know each other better. You are a blessing to us, and I pray you will always be blessed by contact with us.:blessyou:
Evangelicals and Catholics Together have produced a number of statements which outline the similarities and differences.
Others here have already given you some things that are alike and some things that are different. If you’re Baptist it might also be worth noting that if you’re a conservative Baptist then you will have more in common with the Catholic Church than if you following a more liberal theological path in the Baptist Church.
Also I think its worth noting that Baptist and Catholics both believe in praying about everything. I know that isn’t necessarily doctrine based but it is an observation of a likeness in personal attitude. I’ve even had a pentecostal evangelist bring it up once.
I’m Catholic and I would say Catholics and Baptists agree on about 90% of the fundamentals of the Christian faith. It may seem like much less since they are always arguing about that remaining 10%, but when you compare what a Catholic believes to what a Baptist believes to what e.g. a Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist believes, you’ll see how much the Catholics and Baptists have in common.
That is not to say that that remaining 10% isn’t important, of course. Baptists and Catholics would both agree that one does not lightly reject 10% of God’s revelation.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous about being a Baptist posting on a Catholic forum, but everyone that has responded to my posts has been so kind that I have truly been blessed. You have also caused me to study more. For a long time I have been told that Catholics were told not to read their Bibles. Obviously that is NOT correct as I have seen some truly amazing apologetics on this forum. I am not sure that I will ever convert, but I will say that after having spent some time actually talking and listening to you all (as opposed to getting my “information” from non-catholics) the idea is not as foreign to me as it would have been otherwise. Thank you for your patience and your willingness to not just brush me off, but to actually show me what your faith teaches. The links that I have been given have been truly helpful.
Don’t forget those Bapto-Buddhists.
Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I’m glad your finding this site helpful to you! I would like to second to you the link posted above to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is a book that can either be read cover-to-cover or used as a reference that outlines the exact beliefs, theology, and morality of the Catholic Church. It is also full of citations to the appropriate Biblical verses and references, as well as references to relevant church documents and the great works of all of the important Early Church Fathers, to back up our claims. It is quite thorough. For a more simple (but not incomplete) introduction to the Catholic Church, I recommend the excellent “Catholicism for Dummies”, available in bookstores everywhere. It’s written by two Catholic priests, and is very easy to read, yet it has enough depth that even most Catholics I know have learned something from it. You might want to check it out. (Do NOT get “The Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism”, however, as it is NOT written by Catholics and contains several factual errors.)
Ok, this list will be incomplete, but let me see if I can name some of the major differences you would notice between our faiths:
The Mass. We believe that when we celebrate Holy Communion, that the bread and wine actually transform into Jesus Christ himself, who becomes present through a miracle each and every time. This is called transubstantiation. This is a re-presentation (not a representation, note the difference) of the Last Supper. Many Protestants object to this, saying that Christ only had to sacrifice himself once, but we believe that because God is outside of time, the sacrifice is ongoing and continual throughout eternity, thus, there is no conflict.
Sacraments. Most Protestants have only two, we have seven. They are Baptism, Confession, Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick. You can investigate these yourself, but doctrinally, the most important one that would be different from Baptist thinking would be Confession.
Confession (elaborating here). Most Protestants believe that it’s only necessary to confess to God himself. Catholics believe that you can do that, but we should confess to a priest. Now, the priest has no power to remove sins himself. He’s just someone to stand in for Christ and give a penance. Let’s explain it this way. Lets say I bully someone at school. Now, perhaps later I’m really sorry for doing that. I may be completely honest about being sorry, but then I go on my way and don’t think of it again. OR… perhaps I’m not really sorry, and just trying to make myself feel better. In confession, I must go to the priest, physically tell him what I’ve done, and he gives me a penance. This is something I must do to prove to demonstrate I’m really sorry, like go and apologize to him in person. If I’m actually willing to confess this sin to someone, and then go apologize in person, it doesn’t make up for the original sin, but it probably does demonstrate that I’m honestly sincere about being sorry.
Purgatory. We believe that nothing that is stained by sin can enter heaven, and that there are only two ways to remove that stain. First, one can go to confession and complete a penance. The penance removes the stain of that sin on Earth. However, if one is truly sorry, but the penance is not completed (or one doesn’t get to penance and God knows we are truly sorry), one can go to purgatory. This is NOT hell, but a place where one is cleansed of the stain of sin. We don’t know the exact nature of it… it may be a momentary but painful separation from God, or it could be like hell. What we do know that is if you go to Purgatory, you WILL eventually go to heaven at some point, even if that point is the final judgement.
Intercessionary Prayer. We believe that in addition to praying directly to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, that we can talk to saints and ask them to pray for us. We never pray TO them, but rather pray WITH them. Here’s an example. First, do you ever go to church and ask the congregation to pray as a whole for a sick relative? Most people would probably say yes. So, it’s acceptable for a community to pray together for a cause. Second, do you believe in eternal life? As a Christian, you do. For Christians, death is not the end. We will all live eternally, in some form, if we go to heaven. We do NOT cease to exist. So… since both of these point are true, Catholics believe that it is also acceptable to ask the saints (defined as anyone who is known to be in heaven) to pray for us and our causes. For example, we have the Hail Mary prayer. The last line goes, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray FOR us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” (Note the discussion of Mary below.) We are asking her to pray for us to God. We are not praying to Mary herself.
The Pope. We believe that Jesus appointed St. Peter as his successor, who appointed his own successor, and so on, all the way down to Benedict XVI. This guarantees that we can know that the actions of the Church are indeed those that the Holy Spirit wants. The pope is infallible, but not impeccible. That means that if he announces that something regarding faith and morals, or an interpretation of scripture, is now church teaching officially, he is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit to not be wrong. Do not confuse this with inpeccibility. Like all human beings, the pope is imperfect. He can commit sin, and he can even go to hell. BUT… he will not make an error on a doctrinal point. To put this into perspective, the pope has only infallibly made two pronouncements in the last 200 years (The Immaculate Conception of Mary, and the Assumption of Mary).
The international nature of the church. In the Baptist faith, you generally belong to one individual church and one individual congregation. Although Catholics belong to an individual parish, our worship is international. Any Catholic can walk into any Catholic Church on any day of the week and experience the exact same service, with the same readings, ceremony, and faith. I can go to church while I’m on vacation, or overseas, and I can follow along perfectly.
The Bible. Catholics include 7 extra books in the Bible. Protestants know them as the Apocrypha, Catholics know them as the Deuterocanonicals. Protestants will say that the Jews never used these in their scripture, while Catholics will say that they were there all along (as is demonstrated by the records of many early church councils) and that Luther removed them because they support some of the more controversial Catholic doctrines, like purgatory.
The use of the Bible AND Sacred Tradition. We believe that there is more to religion than just the Bible. For instance, what did early Christians use to base their faith on? The Bible was not officially compiled until almost 400 AD. How did the Church function that whole time without complete scripture? How did they decide which books were to BECOME scripture (there were many more than what we use today)? We believe that the Holy Spirit guides and protects the actions of the Catholic Church, so that it’s interpretation of scripture is infallible.
Special reverence for Mary. We believe that Mary was immaculately conceived, meaning that she was the only person on Earth NOT to be born with Original Sin. She remained sinless throughout her life, and also remained a virgin throughout her life (we do not believe the brothers of Jesus mentioned in the Bible were actual brothers, but rather cousins). Having never sinned, she therefore could not die, since death was the punishment given to Adam and Eve for sinning against God. Therefore, she was “assumed” into Heaven, body and soul, much like Elijah was. She also bears the title “Mother of God”, not as the creator of God himself, but as the bearer of Jesus Christ, who is part of God.
This is, of course, an incomplete list, but this hits most of the major differences between our faiths. Please feel free to ask questions!
I should also probably mention the very important difference in interpreting the Bible. In many Protestant churches, people are free to read the Bible and come to their own conclusions. In Catholicism, the church is the interpreter of Scripture, and all Catholics are required to believe the same thing (unless the Church does not speak to the issue at all, in which case there’s sometimes room for interpretation).
I’m glad you feel welcome here, nate, because you really are. I have a special fondness for our Baptist brothers and sisters. Most of my family on my husband’s side are very devoted Southern Baptists. These are people who know and love our Lord with their whole hearts. Please feel free to send me a private message if you want to visit further. The peace of Christ be with you!
As far as the east is from the west are the similarities between Catholic and Baptist doctrine.
Proud to be Baptist