"Are you Catholic or are you Christian?" (and other stuff)

We had a protracted discussion, on a recent thread, about the fact that Lutherans (and Anglicans) are usually not called “Catholic” because that term (with a capital C) is usually defined to mean members of the Roman Communion.

However, I wonder if we could have a worthwhile discussion about the other side of the coin: that many/most protestants (who are not Anglican or Lutheran) see “Catholic” as a negative term, which is to say that they wouldn’t want to be called Catholic, regardless of whether we claim exclusive ownership of the term or not.

(This attitude is illustrated by the ol’ “Are you Catholic or are you Christian?” that many evangelical protestants ask – where they assume that “Catholics”, defined as those in communion with Rome, are not Christians.)

People separating Catholic and Christian is a pet peeve of mine. I’m always quick to correct it among my Church peers.

You may be interested in this thread that I created because I couldn’t understand the adoption of “Lutheran” if they really believe themselves to be the one true Catholic Church. I didn’t get a good explanation I don’t think. Just excuses.

Peter, I’ve been in Evangelical circles my whole life: around Wesleyan Methodist Evangelicals, Evangelical Free Church, Presbyterian Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Baptists; gone on summer work camps throughout the US with a variety of denominations; been to most of the US states and stopped in with Evangelical "friends of friends"while in the UK; illustrated children’s books for the Christian and Missionary Alliance from their publishing headquarters; been to many pan-denominational music festivals; read pretty widely; and so on…and I’ve never heard an Evangelical say of anyone “Are you Catholic or are you Christian?” Not saying by any means that it doesn’t happen, just that I’m extremely sceptical that “many Evangelicals ask” this. Are you familiar at all with “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” or “Christianity Today”?

I always find that a very odd question since Christianity start 1500 before the Reformation. There were no need for monikers before the Great schism or the Reformation.

However, I wonder if we could have a worthwhile discussion about the other side of the coin: that many/most protestants (who are not Anglican or Lutheran) see “Catholic” as a negative term, which is to say that they wouldn’t want to be called Catholic, regardless of whether we claim exclusive ownership of the term or not.

I personally don’t have a problem with it. We tend to name things out of convenience rather than accuracy. Lutherans were originally styled as “evangelical Catholics”. “Lutheran” is simply a name given by Luther’s opponents. Groups frequently take on the name that their opponents give to them. But I doubt we would get many attaboys from the Catholic Church if we were to remove “Lutheran” and put “Catholic” on the side of our buildings.

(This attitude is illustrated by the ol’ “Are you Catholic or are you Christian?” that many evangelical protestants ask – where they assume that “Catholics”, defined as those in communion with Rome, are not Christians.)

An inane dichotomy. That’s like asking “are you Californian or are you American?”

Did you really get excuses, or did you just not get the answer you were looking for?

You’re preaching to the choir. :wink:

I am a Catholic Christian! :slight_smile: Alan Schreck has a good book out called:** ‘Catholic and Christian.’** Ignatius of Antioch used the word ‘catholic’ in 100-107 AD to describe the greater Christian Church which had spread out all over the known world, to show that they were universal in their belief as Christians (as opposed to the Gnostics).

Sure there was. There were many heresies in the early church, which is why Ignatius, writing around 110 AD to the Smyrnaeans against heretical groups, said that wherever the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church

It shouldn’t matter what denomination you claim. We follow Christ! That means there is heavy, wooden, burdensome cross on your back!

If someone has never picked up a cross, then its hard to explain to them what that journey is like. The ups, the downs, the joy the pain. Only someone with a cross on their back as well will ever get it.

We have tears only a person with a cross on their back can ever empathize with. We have jokes that only a person with a cross on their back can ever laugh at.
For me having that similarity alone (the cross) creates a fraternal bond that defies all our crazy theological politics.

Things must be different in other parts of the country. I have never been asked that question in that format.

If it ever happens, my answer will be a simple “Yes,” and then let the questioner figure it out :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for that gesture of good faith!

I see it as “Christian” being a moniker given to us by the first enemies of those who professed faith in Jesus, while “Catholic” was the title professed by the Church herself from the earliest generations of the young Church.

Both are good, and should not be considered opposed to one another. Further, those who do not wish to consider themselves Catholic, have the right to call themselves whatever they want. But it is shamefull to take away the title “Christian” from a Catholic.

Most Pentecostals I’ve met, when discussing religion, separate Catholic from Christian. When I’m talking to them and if I say I’m Catholic, they will say something along the lines of “well, us Christians on the other hand…etc” to which I interrupt and explain that a Catholic is a Christian. “Of course they aren’t, Catholics don’t follow Jesus!”

It’s all down to education.

Well, fairly many.

Are you familiar at all with “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” or “Christianity Today”?

Well sure. Anything in particular you want to know? :slight_smile:

This is an interesting take on the “Catholic or Christian” question, but from I’ve experienced, it’s mainly asked not because Protestants who are not Anglican or Lutheran don’t wanna be called Catholic, it’s because they don’t want to be labeled “Protestants.” Because to them, Protestant equals a “label”, a religious label, and some evangelical Protestants don’t see Christianity as “religion” but rather a “relationship” and just want to labeled “Christian.” This sort of slipped into the way young Catholics speak too.

Do you want to know how many times I’ve been asked “are you Catholic or Christian?” by a Catholic? Or heard “I’m not Christian, I’m Catholic” by a Catholic?

Trust me I’ve heard Evangelicals ask this, even Catholics. In a lot of environments where most people are either Catholic or Evangelical, this gets asked a lot, especially around Hispanics, Even though, Catholicism, is the dominant religion in most Latin American countries, it’s always followed by Evangelical Protestantism, especially with Hispanics in the US.

I have to disagree with you a little bit here. I don’t think very many Catholics say “I’m not Christian, I’m Catholic”, but I think many might say things that could be taken that way. E.g. When a Catholic is asked “Are you Christian?” and answers with “I’m a Catholic”, that might sound to the asker like “No, I’m a Catholic”.

I also wonder what impression other Christians get when we speak of “non-Catholic religions”. (Notwithstanding the fact that we do sometimes speak of “non-Catholic Christians” on the one hand and “non-Christian religions” on the other.)

Gotta admit I hear this too.

Usually it’s ignorance. To give others the benefit of the doubt (which is sometimes a healthy thing among Christians) if an Evangelical sees Catholicism as something so different; that is, worshiping Mary, praying to saints, rituals, a Pope who pretends to be Christ and the horrors committed in the dark ages. Then they see their beliefs as “Jesus is my saviour and I put my whole trust in Him.” Then one must understand them separating the two Religions when one is so utterly different in their mind.

Although not correct, it may not be entirely evil. Although ignorant, in their heart it’s Jesus and only Jesus while Catholics worship Mary too and therefore is another Religion. The reason I say it’s not evil is their intentions truly are that they’re afraid for Catholic’s souls if said Catholics aren’t putting their faith in Jesus enough.

So patience and education are key. The world is getting smaller and we’re all starting to recognize our common enemies that are (imo) Secularism, prosperity Gospels, the huge heresies like Mormonism and Jehovah Witness, and dare I say Islam. I do believe this attitude of trust is far more prevalent these days than in the past between Catholics and Evangelicals.

All that said, I do not condone ignorance. But patience and education is needed. We’re growing closer.

No, I’ve heard flat out “I’m not Christian, I’m Catholic” from a lot of other teenagers and have had them ask me “are you Catholic or Christian?.” That being said, I think it’s the younger generation because when I was in high school, I was asked that a lot.

I’m not sure that there is a good answer, it is what it is now. Lutherans are okay with “Lutheran” but I wouldn’t be personally.

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