I’ve always viewed both the Catholic Church and most protestant denominations as Christians, believers of equal standing in the eyes of God. Of course, there are individuals in both groups who are undoubtedly more serious about their faith than others, but I am speaking in general terms here.
On threads such as forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=926902, there are Catholics who refer to "protestant sects’.
What is meant by that and why is that term chosen instead of “denomination”, “faith tradition”, or “communion”, as I’ve also seen used by other Catholics on CAF?
To some Catholics, this distinction may be little to do about nothing and merely semantics, but not to me.
To me, the word ‘sect’ carries a negative connotation as if suggesting illegitimacy or heresy, as in the definition 1a listed below taken from the Merriam online dictionary.
Full Definition of SECT (per Merriam online dictionary – full definition section)
*1a : a dissenting or schismatic religious body; especially : one regarded as extreme or heretical
1b : a religious denomination *
When I think of a sect, I think of Jim Jones and his group that committed mass suicide in South America or the Branch Davidians under David Koresh, not Southern Baptists, Assembly of God, or Methodists, for example.
However, the word ‘Sect’ can also be defined as “a religious denomination”, which is how I would describe most protestant churches.
If you use the term “Protestant Sect”, what meaning are you applying to it, the 1a or 1b definition above, or neither?
Why does it matter?
Your use of the term offers a window into how you view non-Catholic Christians.
For example, are protestants like me considered lesser Christians or perhaps heretics, or are we what the CCC describes as brothers in Christ who "the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection" in CCC 818?
I apologize if I am being overly sensitive or if this issue doesn’t apply to you. If that is the case, please disregard this whole thread and thank you for being my brother or sister in Christ.
If it does apply, I hope you will give it a little closer examination in the future to the terms you use when describing other Christians who may not belong to your faith tradition.
Your friend in Christ,