Protestant vs Evangelical Catholic

Why does the Catholic Church view us as non Catholics , the Protestants , Lutheran , reformed , Adventist ,Anglican , etc , are seperate , distinct denominations ( as they shouldn’t unite ) within a Evangelical Catholic branch of the catholic church stripped of errors, I would also argue the eastern, and oriental churches to be distinct denominations of an Orthodox Catholic branch . This is the veiw of the reformers , and the church fathers , and the creeds , the denominations shouldn’t unite because truth cannot be compromised, but the Catholic Church should be defined as three branches , made of multiple distinct churches .:cool:

Well, from my perspective you have stated very clearly the basic incoherence of the Protestant position:p

You are in one breath demanding that the Catholic Church recognize you as Catholic and claiming that your church is “stripped of errors”–i.e., that Catholicism has errors that justify separation from it.

That’s not a coherent position or one worthy of respect.

If their errors justify separation, then they are not truly Catholic. If they don’t, then we are not. It really is as simple as that.


My 2 cents:

The CC explains, defends, and practices 1 belief system.

Setting another Christian church that doesn’t explain, defend and practice that same ‘Christianity’ into Catholicism would require the Catholic Church to change it’s definition.

If the Catholic Church could change it’s definition, it wouldn’t be the Catholic Church.

If I remember properly, someone once mentioned the untimely death of a few of the bad popes on the eve of some drastic change announcement.

Said policy change(s) went the same direction.

Ok , first I suggested it , not demanded, second , I wasn’t suggesting Union , but that Catholicism is composed of branches which are composed of denominations , the Catholic Church is a true part of Christ s church , we just believe it has errors to correct , that’s what we did , but just because we disagree with each other doesn’t make us heretical, nor less catholic , it means our denominations belong to different branches . Impaired cummunion , each keep its own distinct doctrines, and beliefs as part of the One Holy Catholic Church.

How would you answer the following argument?

(1) A Church that has branches which contradict each others’ teachings is a Church that teaches error.
(2) The true Church cannot teach error.
(3) Therefore, the true Church cannot have branches which contradict each others’ teachings.

Do you think there’s anything wrong with that argument? If so, what? Because I think it proves that the true Church’s branches must all teach the same thing. What am I missing?

One, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

There are no denominations and no branches: one. For Catholics, we believe Jesus established the Sacraments to grant us grace: holy. For Catholics, we believe Jesus’ church is universal: catholic. For Catholics, we believe in apostolic succession in church leadership: apostolic.

For Catholics, it’s all of the above.

I would say that there are true churches that support the fundamentals but that teach error , and one that doesn’t teach error, they cannot unite with each other because of differences, but they can recognize each other as part of the bride of Christ ( branches of the Catholic Church ) without compromising , uniting , or calling each other heretical . For example, the old Catholic Churches, and orthodox are recognized as true churches and part of the whole church , impaired cummunion it’s called , so why the branding of us as heretics ( referring to Trent ) why not reserve anathemas for those that deny essentials , you know actual heretics, ( forgive me if I come across a bit harsh , not trying to be , not perfect ya know ):wink:

You keep using the phrase “One Holy Catholic Church.”

It is incoherent to want to use that phrase while saying “I wasn’t suggesting union.”

Why would you want your fellow Christians to keep errors? Errors that are so great you don’t want to unite with them? What kind of charity is that?

It is perfectly reasonable to suggest that there can be different “branches” of the Church, as there are for instance within Catholicism (the “sui iuris” churches). I’m a hardliner for unity and have trouble with the idea of geographically overlapping jurisdictions within the one Church, but clearly that is the reality in Catholicism and (at least in the West) Orthodoxy as well as Protestantism. So that’s not the issue here.

But that kind of “unity in diversity” isn’t compatible with saying that one of the other branches has “errors” that make “union” impossible.

You have reduced both the word “one” and the word “Catholic” to meaninglessness.

I’m being hard on you, because you’ve managed in one post to say very clearly exactly what I think I hear a lot of Protestants saying, in more evasive ways. So you’ve given me a target to shoot at. I’m frustrated with all of institutional Protestantism, not you personally.


Catholics do not regard the Orthodox and the Old Catholics as fully part of the Catholic Church.

In the case of the Orthodox, in particular, this has more to do with the Orthodox thinking RCs are in error than the other way round. But as long as one side says that the other side is in such error that they can’t unite with them, they can’t both be fully part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. (I’m much more open to the possibility that none of us all–that we are all in a state of “impaired communion”–than to the idea you seem to be suggesting that our present situation of division is just hunky-dory.)

Now as to why Catholics don’t regard Protestants the same way they do the Orthodox: this has to do most formally with apostolic succession, but also with doctrinal error.

I agree that a clear distinction should be made between Trinitarian Protestants and those heretics who reject key creedal affirmations, particularly the Trinity. I have, in fact, argued at times that it would be possible for us all to unite around the Creeds without requiring other things as conditions of communion. But I go back and forth on that. I can see, for instance, why Rome isn’t willing just to accept into full communion unconditionally people who have fundamentally altered one of the Sacraments, as the Episcopal Church just did.


There are 23 sui juris churches in your Communion.

You may not call them “branches,” but that’s semantics.


Are any of them considered “Protestant”?

To add to that, do any of these 23 Catholic “denominations” hold doctrinal positions which are heterodox to the Church? I think not.

How is that relevant?

I was responding to a post saying “there are no denominations or branches.”


It’s quite possible to find two denominations that believe all the same things and cooperate with each other just as the sui juris churches of Catholicism do.

My point is not to claim that Protestants are unified, but to point out that just saying “the Catholic Church doesn’t have denominations or branches” is not very helpful in getting at the real problems with Protestant disunity.


I sense your growing frustration and pray it’s not because some of the responders don’t seem to understand your position (including myself.) I believe the opposite is true; we DO understand your position but you seem to miss our’s.

There was a catholic church (small c) long before there was a Catholic church (big c). Where was the break that required the Catholics to use the capital C to define who they are and what they belief? For a very long time, there was just the church. What/Who made the move to splinter what God had established?

Yes, most of the Christian churches agree with each other 90% of the time but there are key points that keep us apart. These are doctrinal as well as dogmatic. To say that we ALL should work to bring the differences to the table so we can once again become catholic (small c) and truly universal is everyone’s desire. The question is what are the individual churches willing to “give up” to achieve this universal church?

For Catholics, we cannot give up any of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” part because that is our belief (our creed) that we attest to each and every Sunday. So what are the Protestants willing to “give up” to achieve a “universal church”? :confused:

OK, which two protestant denominations believe the same and cooperate as the sui iuris Catholic Churches do? Followup: if they do aren’t they already the same denomination? If not, why not?

I believe (not sure on this) that the Catholic Church already said something like that. Or it was the Pope… he said that you can find Truth in other Churches, but that only the Roman Catholic Church holds the complete Deposit of Faith.

That is to say that Protestant Churches can teach the Truth, but that they do not have the whole Truth down - which explains why some of them teach things that are right (according to the Catholic Church), such as “no abortion” or “no sex out of marriage”, but still teach error or decide to change teachings (like when some churches now allow same-sex “marriages”, for example). While the Catholic Church can not teach error, and will not change teachings (since they are already right, changing would be silly).

So, yes. Every Christian has a part on the communion with the Church of Christ, but not all are in full communion (including some Catholics such as myself, who consistently skips Sunday Mass…).

Actually, the Orthodox Churches believes that the Roman Catholic Church is actually both heretical and schismatic.

Protestants are, by definition, heretical and schismatic in relation to Catholic faiths. They are, after all,** “Protesting” **against teachings.

If these teachings were small, they could be overlooked and we all could be in full communion. Problem is, the teaching that Protestants refute ARE essential teachings for the Catholic Church.

Think like this: the Catholic Church will never admit to be wrong in doctrinal teachings. Some of these teachings are in complete opposition to Protestant teachings. For example: the infallibility of the Church vs. private judgement. On one side, Catholics believe that the Church is the only (body) with authority to interpret the Bible; on the other side, Protestants believe that everyone can read and understand precisely what the Bible meant to teach.

To be in full communion, both sides have to agree with each other on core teachings, such as this one. Until then, we will all be claiming to be right and the other wrong… :shrug:

No worries :thumbsup:

That way of putting it makes absolutely no sense. There was no catholic/Catholic distinction.

And as I’m sure you know, the Church has been divided from the beginning, one way or another. Apart from the various groups that haven’t survived (Montanists, Donatists, Arians, Marcionites, etc.), what about the non-Chalcedonian Eastern Churches? Not to mention the later East-West split. Please stop repeating this cliches which just aren’t true.

Anyway, to the catholic-Catholic point, it’s the other way round. The Protestants started using “catholic” to distinguish their understanding of the Church from what they would have called the “Romanist” one. Only in even more recent times did Protestants commonly start using “Catholic” to mean what you guys mean by it. The Catholic Church never “started using the capital C,” except in the sense that capital letters as initials had a beginning as a typographical custom.

For a very long time, there was just the church

Nope. There was never “just the church,” as far as historians can tell. Newman makes this point splendidly in the Essay on Development.

What/Who made the move to splinter what God had established?

some people in Corinth, for one thing :smiley:

But if you think I’m somehow trying to get Luther off the hook, you really do have no clue where I’m coming from.

Yes, most of the Christian churches agree with each other 90% of the time but there are key points that keep us apart. These are doctrinal as well as dogmatic. To say that we ALL should work to bring the differences to the table so we can once again become catholic (small c) and truly universal is everyone’s desire.

I for one have no desire to be “small c catholic.” I think it’s a pale, silly imitation of the real thing invented by Protestants, and it’s practically meaningless.

The question is what are the individual churches willing to “give up” to achieve this universal church?

For Catholics, we cannot give up any of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” part because that is our belief (our creed) that we attest to each and every Sunday. So what are the Protestants willing to “give up” to achieve a “universal church”? :confused:

Depends which you ask. But institutionally, not much. Which drives me nuts.

Protestants don’t, in principle, believe in infallibility. They could give stuff up. I understand insofar as they really think Scripture teaches certain things, but a lot of the time these days, for the intellectuals, it’s quite explicitly about affirming their “identity” and “tradition,” as if those things mattered tuppence compared to the unity of the Church.


For starters, the Episcopal Church and ELCA are in full communion. That means that they fully recognize each other as holding true doctrines and as members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It does not mean that they are identical theologically, but then, Eastern Catholics have frequently assured me that they aren’t the same as Latins theologically either. There is legitimate diversity within the Church, right? To be in full communion means recognizing that each other’s differences fall within that diversity.

The Episcopal Church is also in full communion with the Moravians and with several “Old Catholic” churches. You can find the full list here:

To be fair, the Lutherans are in full communion with some people we’re not in full communion with, and certainly that raises some questions about the meaning of full communion. But I believe the Melkites have at least tried to do something like that (establish full communion with the Orthodox even though the Orthodox and Rome aren’t in full communion).

Other examples would be, for instance, the OPC and PCA (two conservative Presbyterian groups) which have “fraternal relations”, or the various Holiness groups like the Wesleyans and Free Methodists.

One could even make a case that all the NAE denominations are, functionally, a single “Church.” That is to say, they all accept that all the other denominations hold to the same core convictions, and they claim to have “unity in diversity.”

I understand that all these examples could be criticized. But I am not convinced that Catholics give much thought to exactly how Protestant denominations relate to each other, and to the fact that different denominations may in fact be doctrinally identical and may fully recognize each other as parts of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. What exactly, then, is the unity they lack?

As to why they aren’t counted as “one denomination,” it’s because they aren’t:p

A denomination is an organizational term. This is something people don’t seem to get, which is why folks on this forum keep claiming (inaccurately) that there’s no such thing as a non-denominational church.


Peace be with you, @Contarini. May the Holy Spirit guide you and give you wisdom.

The following churches are identical in their theological beliefs and share full pulpit and altar fellowship. That is, they cooperate with each other fully - even to the point of exchanging clergy, just as your various sui juris churches technically can (although few do).

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana (ELCG)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia (ELCL)
The Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN)
Free Evangelical - Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA)
Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (LCSA)
Eglise Luthérienne du Togo (ELT)
China Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC)
The Lutheran Church - Hong Kong Synod (LCHKS)
India Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC)
Japan Lutheran Church
Lutheran Church in Korea (LCK)
Gutnius* Lutheran Church (GLC)
The Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP)
Lanka Lutheran Church (LLC)
Evangelisch-Lutherse Kerk in België (ELKB)
Den evangelisk-lutherske Frikirke i Danmark (ELFD)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE)
Église Évangélique Luthèrienne - Synode de France (EEL-SF)
Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK-Germany)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL)
Consistory of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania (CELCL)
The Lutheran Church in Norway
Igreja Evangélica Luterana Portuguesa
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR)
Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC)
Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Argentina (IELA)
Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil (IELB)
Iglesia Luterana Confesional de Chile (ILC-CHILE)
Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala (ILG)
Sinodo Luterano de Mexico (SLM)
Iglesia Evangélica Luterana del Paraguay (IELP)
Iglesia Luterana de Venezuela (ILV)
Lutheran Church - Canada (LCC)
The American Association of Lutheran Churches (TAALC)
Eglise Evangelique Lutherienne D’Haiti (ELCH)
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS)

But, depending on definitions, it may or may not be entirely correct to say they are all the same denomination, as they do use slightly differing forms of church governance and/or particular liturgies. This is part of the reason the “35,000 Protestant splinter groups” argument is absurd. These 37 legally incorporated bodies are, effectively, identical and entirely fraternal.

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