How to regard Protestants? Call a spade a spade? Extremism or common sense?

A thought occurred to me, and I wasn’t sure if it was extreme, or, if it was, which position was far from reason: this idea, or the culture to which it responds. (The dock seems very far away from a boat that has drifted away. A correct belief that is hundreds of years old can seem ‘extreme’ if it is the culture that is in the wrong.)

An analogy first to introduce the idea: In the United States, there are many illegal immigrants living there who are not citizens. Suppose they claim that they are American[1] – and, after all, they live in America, pay American taxes (sales tax + have tax withheld from paychecks), and live an American lifestyle. Who are you to say they’re not American? Well, they’re not citizens, and they’re not doing everything Americans should (e.g. if their birth records etc. are not registered, not paying income tax), so it’s justifiable to draw the line and say they’re not American. They are rather Brazilians, Mexicans, Hondurans, Indians, et al. claiming to be Americans. If they want to be called American, then they must become citizens and do everything Americans do – not only some of the things Americans do.

Now enter Protestants. I am frustrated by how they appear to be damaging the Christian faith in the eyes of others, a driving force of confusion in the United States. I realized when the Associated Press, Reuters, et al. first adopted the agenda to redefine marriage (or at least, I noticed around 2006) after seeing a Protestant clergy member, “the Reverend …” advocate for it in a NewsMax or People magazine, that the media can find any Protestant clergyman to advocate any idea as “Christian”. That is, influential journalists can apparently easily find someone claiming to be both ordained and Christian to support any anti-Christian practice they wish, to have “an authoritative spokesman on behalf of Christ”, to support the claim “you can be Christian and do x” (without problem).

On the contrary,[2] our Lord says, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me.” It appears to me that any belief held by a Protestant in contradiction to the Church is not a Christian belief. Moreover, it seems the argument can be made, as with the analogy above, that those who repudiate the Church are not Christian. Perhaps what our Lord says is actually true: Those rejecting the bishop who speaks for Christ are in fact rejecting Christ, and hence should not be called Christian. It seems that Baptism does bring one into the Church in an imperfect way, so Protestants do become Christian, but denying the Church – e.g. rejecting a bishop (or more) because of an authoritative teaching – seems to contradict this, and Pope Pius IX (perhaps in his Syllabus of Errors? or a similar document) writes, as I recall, that we cannot hope for the salvation of those who oppose the Church. Hence, it seems Presbyterians and Methodists who have accepted the secular definition of marriage should be called Presbyterian and Methodist, not Christian.

What I am getting at is: Are we reaching the point where we must stop saying “Catholic Christian” and “Protestant Christian” and start saying “Christian” and “Protestant”? Should we reclaim the title “Christian”? It appears to me that culture is shifting in the United States to the point where the federal government will outlaw orthodox Christianity through efforts like those redefining marriage and stripping religious liberty (conscience rights), so that only those Protestant Christians who support homosexuality, feticide, contraception, etc. – i.e., those who have severed their connection to the Church and are now adrift in secularism – will be permitted to practice their faith, and the government, mainstream media, and those led by them on social media sites will refer to them as “Christian” and to those loyal to the Church as “Catholic extremist” (compare “Islamist extremist” already in use). We are enabling this by referring to those who hold explicitly anti-Christian beliefs as “Christian”, causing the general public to not be able to tell which lifestyles and beliefs are Christian and which are not.

We see a demonstration of this symptomatic confusion by the number of Christians, and those calling themselves Christian, who are members of a dominant political party whose 2012 platform has explicitly anti-Christian goals such as redefining marriage and universal free contraception.

It sounds “mean” to say, “You are not a Christian. You are a Lutheran who agrees with some Christian teaching,” but we see the United States changing into an anti-Christian state – where Christians cannot legally help children be adopted, where they cannot legally refuse to purchase contraception if they work for an insurance company, where they cannot legally refuse to provide goods for an invalid wedding, etc. – because many Protestants claiming to be Christian are promoting these changes.

It seems helpful to call a spade a spade.* As with cancer therapy, you must delineate the tumor before you can begin an effective treatment to heal the body. We must stop turning a blind eye to anti-Christian behavior and anti-Christian beliefs. If people want to follow Christ, they must be able to see what leads away from Him, what demonstrates a rejection of Him, and calling everything “Christian” is not useful or accurate.

What do you think of all this?

[1] Of course setting aside the fact that the term also applies to Central and South America.
[2] If I can make a humorous allusion to St. Thomas Aquinas. This EWTN article also looks interesting (found while searching for Biblical citation).

[post 1 of 2: see next post]

[post 2 of 2: see previous post]

  • If it’s not clear by now, words have both meaning and power, and misusing words leads to grave harm. Clear examples are provided by the Associated Press et al. using the phrase “gay marriage” to facilitate the redefinition of marriage (with this nonsensical phrase it can be held semantically equivalent to “biracial marriage”, etc., central to their argument posing as a civil rights issue); the word “abortion” to refer to feticide (to confuse the public into thinking cutting a baby’s neck with a pair of scissors is equivalent to a spontaneous abortion, where the placenta becomes detached through natural causes and is later voided), contraception as “family planning”, as if contradicting the marital embrace were equivalent to postponing it, etc.

editing a paragraph from above:
We see a demonstration of this symptomatic confusion by the number of Christians, and those calling themselves Christian, who are members of a dominant political party whose 2012 platform has explicitly anti-Christian goals such as redefining marriage and universal free contraception. More to the point, the United States’ legal system is staunchly agnostic and secular humanist (see University of Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice recently on EWTN’s “the Good Fight” circa April 4th, 2015), yet many think and refer to the USA as a Christian nation – again, because of the number who claim to be Christian.

I don’t think the issue is with someone being Protestant or Catholic, but more with people either lacking understanding of scripture or lacking a conviction of faith. I know many Protestants who are far more Christian than most of my Catholic friends. They may disagree with the Church on social issues, but that is because of ignorance. They try to live their lives fully in the service of God to the best degree they know. Conversely, most of the Catholics I know barely attend mass, are apathetic about living out their faith, and downright intimidated by the prospect of proclaiming it. I help plan a Catholic summer camp, and I was actually advised that putting a graphic with a cross on the sleeve of the t-shirt would be too “churchy”. Meanwhile, I see a ton of non-Catholic Christians proudly wearing crosses as a sign of their faith. While I do recognize that no Protestant denomination has the fullness of Truth, many have a substantial portion of it and do good works in the name of Christ.

Mark 9:38-41

“38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” 39 Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.”

Just because someone is a certain denomination, doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree with every single thing their church teaches.

With that said then why are not all Christians Catholic?

Because they broke off and potested in one way or another against the Catholic church. However, lumping all Protestants into one group as believing in everything their church teaches isn’t fair, IMO.

I know why the world has non-Catholic Christians, I think you missed my point, you stated “Just because someone is a certain denomination, doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree with every single thing their church teaches”. So to that I, in good fun and intentions, was making the point to what you stated, and that point would be that there would no need to be anything other than Catholic. If it is truly “Just because someone is a certain denomination, doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree with every single thing their church teaches” then there would really be no need to be anything other than Catholic. :smiley:

If you’re saying that Protestants aren’t Christians, then “extremism” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Sorry, but in my opinion, that ridiculous, divisive, offensive . . .

Hi ethereality,
Please make sure you identify the enemy before you start shooting. I respectfully do not think you did your full due diligence on this topic.

I think you are falling into the pitfall of lumping all Protestants in with the most liberal Protestant denominations and assuming they represent *all *Protestants or the majority just because the liberal media seek out these people and give them a microphone.

Note: I can’t blame you for that misunderstanding if you are a lifelong Catholic because you are probably used to more unity and uniformity of beliefs (which I find appealing, by the way) and may not realize the beliefs of Protestant denominations run the gamut from very conservative to very liberal.

I am an evangelical Protestant who is considering Catholicism. Most evangelicals agree with the Catholic position on so-called gay marriage, abortion, and many other social and religious issues like the HHS mandate. In fact, most liberals were equally mad at both evangelicals and Catholics for the Hobby Lobby decision if you look at the sub-title of the article, it says “While evangelical Christians ultimately brought down the contraception mandate, they had big help from Catholics”. (

As far as electing politicians who undermine Christian values, please keep in mind that a Pew Research study showed that in the 2012 presidential election, evangelical Protestants voted for Romney by a 79% to 20% margin while Catholics voted for Obama 50% to 48%.

Which group do you think more fully understood what President Obama stood for on these issues and voted for the alternative?

In short, please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as my grandmother used to say.

Sure, there are real doctrinal differences between Protestants and Catholics, but on the social issues you cited, there is more common ground between evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics than you may realize.

I would be willing to wager that the majority of that 50% represent fallen away Catholics, cafeteria Catholics, or at best luke warm Catholics who seek to align with the feel good secular stance on social issues rather than standing with Christ. Just my opinion. :slight_smile:

You could be right on that, wmscott, although I don’t think the poll went into that level of detail. Your opinion rings true to me, anyway.

Some protestants are not Christian according to the Catechism. Those who do not baptize or have a disordered view of the Trinity - Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Salvation Army, etc

But the OP is asking if we shouldn’t claim that only Catholics are Christian. I stand by my opinion of that idea.

I’m not sure including the Salvation Army with the others is a good idea. Here is a link that share their basic beliefs:

Unless I’m missing something that you can help me understand here they look like bonafide Protestant Christians.

God bless,


Who said that we regarded Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses as Christian, much less Protestant? :confused: Obviously Protestants are Christian, with a proud tradition reaching back centuries ( 1517 is regarded as the " official" starting year of the Protestant Movement, I believe). We acknowledge the truths contained in the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.

I used to belong to and was employed by the Salvation Army, they are Christians.

What about the lack of baptism, sacraments, Eucharist, and even some restrictions on who some can marry - ex. there ‘ordained’ officers forbidden from marrying non-SA officers?

I think it shows, just how far some have gone from the true church.

They would say they do “dedications” instead of baptism, they perform funerals and weddings, dedications etc., and they do have restrictions on officers because they are “pastors” and men and women officers are considered equal; therefore they need to both be “ordained”. In no way am I defending them, but that is what they would say.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit