Catholic or Protestant? How do we know which is right?


So, I have heard many people referring to a place in the Bible where Jesus places Peter in charge of “his Church”. Many Catholics use this as an example of how the Catholic is the "one true church"
My question is, how do we know that He was referring to the Catholic Church, and not just to Christian worship? (Since I assume that the Catholic Church was not called such by name…)

Could anyone give me the specific reading this is in?

Also, how do the Protestant religions take this reading?

(Sorry if my question is unclear, I am really confused on this topic)



While I could write an essay on this question, I will maintain brevity for the sake of future posters. The Catholic Church is Christian. The name catholic was given to the early Christian Church in 107 A.D. by St. Ignatius of Antioch. Many others can site this reference for you as I am away from my resources at the moment. Remember that when Jesus gave His authority to Peter to be the head of His earthly Church, Peter was Jewish. The term Christian was coined later on as noted in Scripture. So first you have the Jews. These Jews followed a Jewish Man named Jesus Christ. Those who followed Christ became known as Christians and then because Christianity includes all it was known as Catholic which means “on the whole” or universal. So, yes, there is only ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC Chrurch.

Jesus established one Church built on Peter. Call it Christian or Catholic because in the pre-reformation era those terms were interchangeable with the exception of the Orthodox Christians who can also trace their lineage to Peter unlike the protestants… God Bless…:slight_smile:


Also, how do the Protestant religions take this reading?

The verse you are refering to is Matthew 16: 16-19

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

A common protestant interpretation of this is that it was not Peter that Christ was going to build his church on but rather his fatih… I will let protestant posters take over from there.

EDIT: What I meant to say is that the statement of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” was what Christ was refering to… you know what, I am going to stop talking, a protestant who holds to this interpretion can take over.

For your reading pleasure:


(sorry to be dense, but)

So when our creed says “One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” it does not refer to only the Catholic Church as WE know it? It refers to the Christian faith as a whole??


It’s all about authority. If the Protestant Christians are right, Jesus intended us all to read the Bible (even though the Bible wasn’t around for hundreds of years and nobody could read) and figure it all out on our own - which means I might read a verse & interpret it one way… you may interpret it another… OR He established a Church that would be guided by the Holy Spirit and the Authority on what is true & right.

Look at the fruits of both ways… you can walk a Protestant Church & hear that abortion is bad yet a different Protestant Church will say abortion is Ok - Women Priests are good - woman Priests are bad - Gays marrying are Ok - gays shouldn’t marry - Jesus is God - Jesus isn’t God. All go to heaven, some go to heaven, only we go to heaven or 144,000 go to heaven. You can hear Once you’re saved, you’re always saved OR Not. Baptism saves you - baptism does nothing… Communion is important weekly - or monthy - or 4 times a year - or Not at all.

:hmmm: so everyone interpreting with the Bible alone makes a hodge podge of differing opinion which is why there are thousands of different types of Protestant Chruches.

Now, let’s try it the Catholic Way. Jesus established a Church to be His Authority. What have you got? 2,000 years of history and evey Catholic Church teaching the same thing. The Catholic Church hasn’t even caved on the Birth Control issue which is something that ALL Christians used to believe was sinful. What do they think… that God changed His mind??

God is a God or Order - not confusion. Which do YOU think makes the most sense?


hmm… :hmmm: seems pretty simple when you put it that way… so why does the RCC seem to not encourage people to learn straight from the Bible? It really has a “just do as I say” attitude… Kind of like my dad when I was growing up… Makes it seem so terribly wrong to ask questions, when someone acts like this, it is like they are trying to hide something… (Maybe not literally, but YKWIM)


so why does the RCC seem to not encourage people to learn straight from the Bible?

First just to make it clear the CC encourages Scripture reading, but the reason it doesn’t encourage people to use ONLY the bible is because it leads to exactly what carol marie just alluded to.

To use her words:

so everyone interpreting with the Bible alone makes a hodge podge of differing opinion which is why there are thousands of different types of Protestant Chruches.

I think that sums it up nicely.


I think we are encouraged to read the Bible … it is God’s Holy Word and will strenthen our faith. I actually became convinced that the Catholic Church was correct by reading the Bible. The RCC is the most Biblically correct Church - without question.

I read your signature and noticed that you’re wondering if you would be better off worshiping at another Christian Church - other than a Catholic Church. I can’t help but wonder what in the world you feel you’d “get” from another Church? Certainly not Jesus - he is only present in our Eucharist. Other Churches don’t even claim He’s present - they think communion (if they have it) is just a “symbol.” Why have a symbol if you can have the real deal?

PLEASE - I beg you… learn more about our beautiufl faith before you jump ship. There is NOTHING out there that holds a candle to what we have.

God Bless,


No, it’s referring to the Church He established, which is one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

It’s one: whether you go to Mass in Dubuque, London, Cairo, or Sydney, it’s the same church. No matter how diverse the members of the Church are, we are one Communion in Christ.

It’s holy: the Holy Spirit guides the Church, preventing it from teaching faith and morals incorrectly (individuals might teach incorrectly or fail to follow its teachings, but the Church itself never will). Founded and sanctified by Jesus, the Church in turn sanctifies by teaching right from wrong and encouraging the faithful in our faith, as well by providing us with the Sacraments Christ founded.

It’s Catholic: united with Jesus, the Church receives from Him the fullness of salvation and, through the Apostolic succession, calls all humans to reconcile themselves to Christ. This means that the Church has a mission to serve everyone – Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

It’s Apostolic: we see in Scripture that, when Judas left the Twelve, the Church Christ founded filled Judas’ office with another office-holder. Paul repeatedly affirms that the local bishops were installed by a laying on of hands from the Apostles, and they in turn were to lay hands on their successors, passing on the knowledge and traditions they had been taught. Their latest successors are the ones in office today.

So, no: the “one, holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church” is not the Christian faith as a whole, because the Christian faith as a whole is not “one.” It is splintered. Most denominations are not apostolic; some are not holy, many are not Catholic (or catholic, either). Many Christians simply make up their own faith as they go along, picking and choosing from the Bible (and, for that matter, picking and choosing their Bible).


I think we are encouraged to read the Bible … it is God’s Holy Word and will strenthen our faith.

So why is it that I can’t find a Bible study? If we were *truly ecouraged *to read the Word, every parish would have a study group and encourage its parishoners to participate…

Certainly not Jesus - he is only present in our Eucharist. Other Churches don’t even claim He’s present - they think communion (if they have it) is just a “symbol.” Why have a symbol if you can have the real deal?

Isn’t God present everywhere people gather in his name? And, I am not sure why the communion thing, that is one of the questions posed to me by a co-worker who is a Minister (forgive me, I don’t know his denomination). His issue with the RCC is that he feels we take some parts of the Bible literally (such as the Eucharist) and some is interpreted (no specific example, we didn’t get to talk that long).
So forgive me for being ignorant, but I don’t know what is “done differently” by the Christian celebrants during their Eucharist celebration that makes it symbolic as opposed to the real deal. There is another thing that I am questioning. How do WE know that Jesus meant for us to LITERALLY invoke his body and blood to our Eucharist… And why do the other Christian groups think that it is only supposed to be a “symbol”?

Sorry if I opened a can of worms, but these are some of my great confusions


For one thing, you can’t just learn straight from the Bible. By the time you’re old enough to be seriously addressing the hard moral questions, the questions that interest you aren’t expressly set forth in the Bible. The Bible itself says it can’t be interpreted without someone explaining it, and it also says that Scripture is not something for personal interpretation. After all, it’s not like there’s an index that says “Iraq, invasion of, based on existence of weapons of mass destruction… p. 309.”

Paul taught Timothy to pass on both Scripture and Tradition, as he had been taught. Peter pointed out that we cannot interpret Scripture for ourselves, and specifically that some parts of Scripture are difficult to understand. Luke expressly pointed out that the Scriptures can’t be understood on their own without someone to explain them. And this is all after Pentecost, so the standard non-Catholic line that “the Holy Spirit will guide me and I don’t need anything (or anyone) else” doesn’t hold water.

So, who can explain the Bible? That’s why Jesus left us the Church.

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. If you feel the need to do so, ask away. What you will find is that the answers all go back to Scripture and Sacred Tradition as taught by the Apostles. It’s just that, as time goes on and circumstances change, the questions themselves change, too. Many of the moral questions faced in Apostolic times aren’t an issue today (when’s the last time someone asked you over to dinner and tried to serve you meat that had been sacrificed to idols?). Many of the moral questions faced these days weren’t an issue in Apostolic times (Can you adopt the embryos from a fertility clinic? If so, can you pay money for them?). But the Church is big enough that it has people assigned to study these things, and they can reason their way to an answer to difficult questions that I might not be able to resolve on my own – especially since they can take their time and debate it with other professionals.

But then, when you ask the same question a few years later, you’ll just be given the answer. If you need to know the reasoning behind it, ask away; the reasoning is out there. The particular priest answering your question might not know why the answer is what it is, but someone does, and you can find out.

Look at it this way: if I asked you whether it was okay to kill my neighbor for stealing my newspaper, you’d answer “no.” If I asked whether it was okay to sleep with his wife, you’d answer “no.” You might even get mad or worried about me for asking in the first place, because the answers are so obvious, and they’ve been definitively resolved for a long time. You certainly wouldn’t bother looking it up in the Bible (not that there’s anything wrong with looking it up, but you already know the answers).

The Church has been answering right-and-wrong questions for 2,000 years. Most of the questions you’re likely to ask have been asked already; and most of them have been definitively resolved. So, when you ask a question that seems new to you, you might get an off-the-cuff answer that makes you think the Church only cares in you doing what you’re told (“Question 283? Answer 976-Q”). But, if you delve into it deeper, you’ll find that there’s a reason for the answer you were given. Our morality “database,” if you’ll pardon the analogy, is bigger than the “database” of the pastor of Frank’s Sixth Church of Christ – so it might look to you like Pastor Frank sat down with the Bible and took the time to figure out the answer while the Catholic priest didn’t. But the truth is that the priest didn’t need to figure it out right then. That’s already been done, he studied it in seminary, and he passed on the information to you. Ideally he should’ve also told you why the answer is what it is, but his failure to do so doesn’t mean we’re a Church of dictators; it just means he didn’t explain it fully.


All Catholics are Christians. Period. Full stop. 30


We are encouraged to read the Bible. “A partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who read sacred Scripture with the veneration due God’s word and as a form of spiritual reading. The indulgence will be a plenary one when such reading is done for at least one-half hour [provided the other conditions are met].”(from


You’re asking good questions. Hopefully others will answer as well. Once you fully understand what makes the Catholic Church different from other “Christian” churches, you will no longer wonder if you’re better off somewhere else.

**:slight_smile: **


From history, we learn that the Apostle Peter was the first Pope of the Catholic Church.

Other kinds of churches (non-Catholic) didn’t come into existence until much later. Up until the mid-1500s, if you lived in the West and you wanted to be a Christian, you had to be a Catholic. In the East, they were all Catholic right up until the mid-1000s, which is when some of the Dioceses in the East separated from the Pope and decided to go it on their own. They still kept their Dioceses, though, unlike the Protestants, who not only separated from the Pope, but also from their Dioceses, and started up their own brand new way of doing things, with completely different beliefs, and with new people in charge - a whole new religion, actually, if you think about it.

My question is, how do we know that He was referring to the Catholic Church, and not just to Christian worship? (Since I assume that the Catholic Church was not called such by name…)

Because the Church that Peter was Pope of is still here today, and we call it “the Catholic Church.” The current Pope is Pope Benedict XVI, and he can trace his lineage in an unbroken line all the way back to Peter.

Could anyone give me the specific reading this is in?

Matthew 16:18

I’ll let the Protestants defend their interpretation, since it makes no sense to me. It seems to me that they believe that Jesus was just kidding around when He gave Simon the name “Peter” (which means, “a rock”).


It was originally the whole Christian faith until heresy snuck in and now we have over 30,000 denominations. All Christians have truth to varying degrees but there is only ONE Church founded by Christ. The rest are founded by humans that found a “better” interpretation of the Bible that the Catholic Church gave them. ( Or actually they took when they left home.) So all Christians make up the Body of Christ but not all Christians have the fullness of truth. It’s pretty obvious…


My only quibble would be with the title. I believe that we Catholics are Christians. It’s not an either/or proposition. :slight_smile:

Now as far as who Christ was refering to when he spoke of building his Church, I think that history sufficiently establishes either the Catholic Church or else the Orthodox Church-- perhaps both. There really is, however, no protestant counterpart within the history of the early church. In fact, many of the claims that later reformers have made have been totally refuted by a careful study of Church history.

If you are searching for the truth on this matter, then I would pray for you to be open to the Holy Spirit and begin to examine the Early Fathers of Christianity. Despite claims to the contrary, there really is an unbroken heritage proceeding from the Apostolic age to our present day-- which is exactly what Christ promised it would be like.


I think part of the problem is that nowhere do the Scriptures make the claim that they are easy to understand. In fact, the Scriptures themselves often say that they can be easilly misunderstood and are often distorted without a valid teacher called by God to explain these things.

When your father said not to talk to strangers, did you listen to him? Did you question his wisdom when he said this?

I think we all question our parents a little, some more than others. But, ultimately, if we fail to listen to our parents and we end up being hurt because of it, this isn’t our parent’s fault. It’s our fault.

And when the Catholic Church says not to do something, it’s not because she likes making up rules about this and that. It’s because she’s experienced these dangers before-- and she knows that if you fail to listen once you might not get a second chance.

Consequently, history is littered with examples of people who have failed to head the Church’s warnings. One can almost picture Martin Luther’s face on a milk carton otherwise designated for missing children. :frowning:

“Have you seen me?”


We are truly encouraged to read Scripture: From the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church);

[quote=CCC paragraphs 131-133]131 "And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting font of spiritual life.” Hence “access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful.”

132 "Therefore, the ‘study of the sacred page’ should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too—pastoral preaching, catechetics, and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place—is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture.

133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful . . . to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ,’ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.’”


If a Catholic goes to daily Mass they hear scripture every day. If you can’t make it to Mass there is nothing stopping you from reading the daily scripture passages.

Here is a link to the daily Scripture readings:

There is also the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours), which is loaded with Scripture.
Here is a link:

I can’t answer for why you can’t find a Bible Study other then maybe there is no one willing to help run it/organize it. The Church needs “lay” people willing to do things.

Every parish in my area has Bible Studies, some are geared for couples, some are geared for men, and some are geared for women. Some of the groups meet at the Church, some of the groups meet in a parish members home.

Personally because of the way my life is I can’t meet with other people or join bible study groups in person. So I use web-based means to help in my growth and study.

One site is:

I also listen to a Bible Study/Call-in radio show, I can listen via internet. This radio program has also helped me grow and deepen my knowledge of scripture. Here is a link to its web-page:

Hubby also recently bought me a Woman’s Devotional Bible with Daily mediations in it.
I have also found that this has helped me, here is a link to the bible hubby just bought me:


You are having a laugh :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

Now it takes one to know one :stuck_out_tongue:

I am one :stuck_out_tongue:

I regularly come out with the absurd to stimulate discussion. That I believe is how we progress in our understanding, but having to think to challenge.

But even I recognise when someone is doing what I do, winding up for a bit of fun :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course, you know full well that ‘Catholic’ and ‘Christian’ are synonymns. They are two words which describe the SAME thing sorry for the tautology.

To be ‘Catholic’ one MUST be Christian. The Catholic Church is the origin and custodian of Christianity and the bible is HER handbook. A grave and enormous responsibility on the head of his holiness Pope Benedict to care for the whole flock of Christ, which is the Church militant of which I am so proud [my only boast] to be counted as a member :thumbsup:

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