Main Differences Between Catholicism and Protestantism?

Since I am coming from a Protestant background, I’d like to hear some of your thoughts on the major differences there are between Catholicism and Protestantism?:slight_smile:

Kind of a hard question to answer without knowing which Protestants you’re referring to. But probably the biggest difference between most Protestants and Catholics is the Rule of Faith. For the most part Protestants believe in “sola scriptura” (Bible only) as a rule of Faith and Catholics believe in the Church as the Rule of Faith.

One of the biggest differences is authority. Most Protestants feel they are their own authority when it comes to interpreting and understanding scripture. Catholics rely on the full tradition of Christianity - written and oral - as authoritative. In addition, the Pope and the Magisterium have authority here on earth but it is subordinate to our Father in heaven. They can never officially impose something on the body of believers that is in opposition to sacred Scripture (written Tradition) or sacred Tradition (oral Tradition).

Coming from a Protestant background, you may be surprised to know that there is no authoritative publication from the Catholic church that explains every verse in the Bible. Catholics are free to interpret scripture in any way as long as it doesn’t conflict with the teachings of the Church. And those teachings are well grounded in Scripture and Tradition.


Mainly the Pope. Other denominations may have a hierarchy of ministers and call some “bishop” (one of whom might be in a higher position of authority than the others, but it is simply an administrative structure, not a theological structure - that guy is “first among equals”).

No protestant religion has anything like a Pope. Catholics believe that Peter was not just another Apostle, but was given unique and special authority by Jesus (Matt 16:18), and the office of Peter continues today in our Pope, who is the 265th person to hold this office.

There are many other differences. Catholics do not believe that doctrine can ever change (or be added to or subtracted from).

The Catholic Church is strongly Sacramental and especially Eucharistic - most protestants who have communion services believe it to be a merely symbolic ritual.

The Catholic Church is far more Biblical than protestants. The Church wrote the Bible; she defined the canon of the Bible; she has been propagating and defending the Bible since the Fifth Century (the Bible, as we know it, did not exist before then). And She uses ALL of the Bible (most protestant Bibles are missing several books that Martin Luther threw out).

The Catholic Church claims to be the one, true Church established by Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago, and if you read around in this forum you will see that we are pretty good at defending this claim (as a protestant, I tried very hard to disprove this claim - that’s why I’m Catholic today, because the harder I tried the more obvious it became that the Church was correct). I’m not aware of any protestant faiths who would dare make this claim. If you give me the name of a protestant denomination, I can give you the name of the guy who invented it, and when.

The seven Judeo/Christian - Catholic Sacraments.

Could you tell me what those are, and explain them to me? Seven Sacraments of the Church

This information comes from the Compendium of the Catholic Church (basically this book is the “Cliff Notes” for the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Which is also available online:

The Seven Sacraments:

The Eucharist
Holy Orders
Anointing of the Sick

Without knowing which Protestant denominations you are refering to, no one can answer your questions with anything other than generalizations that are going to be flase when applied to alot of denominations.

To ask the difference between Catholics and say the Lutheran Church MS is totally difference than to ask the difference between the Catholics and a fundamentalist church.

There are not that many differences between the Catholics and a high litergial church, but there are HUGE differences between a lot of fundamentalist churchs and the Catholic church. Personally as a Lutheran MS, I really resent being lumped in with a lot of other non catholic christians because we are much closer to the Catholics than a lot of those denominations.

Maybe the OP can get a little more specific with which denomination he is coming from?

The interpretation of “Sola Scriptura” as Bible only is a complete departure from what Luther actually taught. He is probabley spinning in his grave at this interpretation. The original meaning of Sola Scriptura was that Traditions, Church Teachings, Church Writings etc. could be true and valuable resources…as long as they did not contradict what was in the Scriptures. The Scripture was the basis as in nothing could contradict scripture, but not the only source of learning about God.

The complete misinterpretation of Sola Scriptura has lead to a basic throwing out of the writings and teachings of many of the original Church Fathers…Think Augustine, Origen, Tertullian etc. Which is a tragedy because they had a lot of great wisdom and teachings to share with us. We have been studying them recently in my churches bible study on the books of Timothy and it has been amazing.

Also if you are going to throw out everything the early church fathers ever said then you have to throw out the Creeds, and the concept of the calling God the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity among other things. Which is sadly done by several newer denominations these days…which is again sad.

There are Catholics who believe in Scripture only and Protestants who believe in transubstantiation.

From my POV, Catholic means Apostolic Succession (could be Old Catholic or Orthodox) and Protestant means not.

We call those people “heretics.” There are no *good and faithful *Catholics who believe this.

Sometimes to see differences, similarities are helpful to note among churches.

The high established churches which have sacraments, liturgy, tradition, catachisms.
Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Orthodox, Methodists(some).

Those that do not have the above, but rely only on Holy Scripture, and Scripture service.

Then those who do not fit any of the above.

Then those who exist just to plain hate the Catholic Church, thru bitterness,misunderstanding, tradition, money, have a job, or just because it is the thing to do.

*]The Catholic Church was instituted by Jesus Christ. It’s the ONLY Church He instituted. He gave all His promises to His Church.
*]Protestantism regardless of stripe is man made, originated in the 16th century by dissenters who left the Catholic Church.
[/LIST]Factions and dissent from the Church is condemned in scripture.


Gal 5:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

That would scare me silly if I was seperated from the Catholic Church

=JordanWoods;7689005]Since I am coming from a Protestant background, I’d like to hear some of your thoughts on the major differences there are between Catholicism and Protestantism?:slight_smile:

Hi Jordon:

The differences are many and very profound; but can be summed up by replying with three points:

  1. Christ intended to and in fact did found only one church; one faith on one new covenant. All biblically and historically provable.

John 10:16 “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”

Eph. 2:19-20 “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, [singular] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; [singular] in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. “

Eph. 4: 4 -8“There is one body [Only One Church] and one Spirit, [Only One set of beliefs] just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, [Only One God] ONLY one faith, [Only One set of doctrine and dogma] one baptism, By water in the Trinity] one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. "

Often disputed but nevertheless TRUE: is the fact that Jesus gave “all the keys” [all that is necessary for Salvation to Peter and the CC.] ]Matt. 16:19; John 14:16-17; John 17:15-19.] are extremely clear on this point. And it is also true that the Mission to “Teach everything I [Jesus] have taught you”; [Matt. 28:19-20] was a mandate to the CC.

  1. The Catholic Church is the True “Bible Church” and the world has the bible because it was given by the CC.

  2. The Catholic Church is the Only [branches included of course] that has All Seven Sacraments; and can practice them fully, licitly and validly; as Apostolic Succession is an absolute requirement. Those churches that separated in the Reformation, Forfeited this essential requirement.

So there you have it my friend,

God Bless,

If Protestants believe in transubstantiation, why are they still Protestant?
If you mean Catholics don’t go against scripture, I agree.

Orthodox have apostolic succession but aren’t Catholic.

Moderators here at CA object to Orthodox calling themselves Catholic

Im not taking your post lightly but the clue is in the name. The only link between all the protestant christians is the fact they dont believe in the primary authority of the Pope. The other difference would be the amount of devotion to Mary in particular and the Saints. Although in truth I dont feel these in themselves would be a substantial barrier to the comming together of faiths unless the Pope was to suddenly become heretical and everyone who was catholic was forced to address all prayer through Mary or a Saint both of which is unlikely. I’m sure others will come up with greater philisophical and scriptural differences but I think i,ve given the laymans opinion simple and all as it is.

In a world where Christianity is slowly becoming a bad word we of the one family need to draw closer together.

Love and Respect

I’m trying to figure out how they’re “Judeo” Christian.

Catholic Church=traditions

Catholics and Orthodox accept that Jesus Christ has a real and substantial Body here on earth and in heaven, the Communion of Saints, which cannot be severed by earthly death.

Protestants instead believe that this body is symbolic and hence hold to “me and Jesus” spirituality.

That’s the soundbite but it isn’t true.

There are no church buildings in the Bible but all Protestants have them.
There are no marriage ceremonies in the Bible but all Protestants have them.
Many Protestants have female pastors when in the Bible, Paul said not to.
All Protestants allow divorce when the Bible forbids it.
Many Protestants allow abortion when the Bible forbids murder and human sacrifice.

And these are just the obvious things.

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