What do Protestant really believe about the Catholic Church?


Very fascinating!


I was taught about Polycarp in Sunday School, and the ECFs at different points in time through college.
And everyone name you mentioned on your short list has a commemoration on the Lutheran calendar.


When i was fundamentalists protestant, I fully believed you all were a billion deceived souls who made demi-Gods out of everyone you liked and focused way too much on relics and hocus pocus.

In retrospect, I can say that stemmed from my own personal interpretation of the scriptures. A very fallible interpretation, I might add.


Some ex-Catholics form the beliefs, or confirm, of Protestants…


Thus the flaw of personal interpretation, which is, in practice, a violation of the principle of sola scriptura. As Martin Chemnitz noted;

This is also certain, that no one should rely on his own wisdom in the interpretation of the Scripture, not even in the clear passages… We also gratefully and reverently use the labors of the fathers who by their commentaries have profitably clarified many passages of the Scripture. And we confess that we are greatly confirmed by the testimonies of the ancient church in the true and sound understanding of the Scripture. Nor do we approve of it if someone invents for himself a meaning which conflicts with all antiquity, and for which there are clearly no testimonies of the church.


Praying to saints, and the early Protestant rejection of that practice, must be understood within the context of the entire “cult of the saints” that was a major feature of medieval religion. Christians in medieval Europe did not only pray to saints but they made images of them, which they made offerings to and lit candles to and made pilgrimage to. They kept and visited relics of the saints, which they believed could cure sickness and earn indulgences which could lessen their time in purgatory.

To many early Protestants, this was all superstition and most harmful to the uneducated people who they felt were being led away from faith in Christ by traditional religion, which instead taught them to put their trust in false avenues of salvation.


That would appear superstitious to many.


Thank you, Itwin. I appreciate your response!


Catholics still do all this stuff as optional private devotions, except that the indulgences associated with saints these days are very limited and not generally associated with saint relics. Instead they are associated with saying certain prayers, doing certain things on a saint’s feast day like saying the Collect prayer (a prayer to God asking that He grant that we imitate the virtue of the saint) or visiting a church named after the saint, or participating in a Mass honoring a newly canonized or newly beatified saint.


Bears repeating.



Another thing that gets to the heart of the matter is that many Protestants are opposed to praying to saints because it makes the saint the object of intercession. The entire Reformation, from the point of view of Protestants, was an attempt to offer a “christological corrective” to medieval Catholicism by placing Christ back at the center of theology and worship. As it relates to prayer and intercession, Christ becomes the sole focus of intercession because his intercession is vital to the economy of grace and is the foundation of our own prayers. We know that the Father hears our prayers because Christ continually intercedes for us.

Because Christ is the focus of and assurance that our prayers are heard and efficacious, Protestants don’t really grasp the logic of praying to saints, which is built on the idea that saints are already in heaven (and by default are more righteous and closer to God) and can expedite our prayers through their own intercession.

For Catholics, this is all part of the communion of saints (which Protestants also believe in), but Protestants don’t see it in this way. There is a difference between someone (in heaven for example) praying to God on your behalf and you praying to someone else (in heaven for example) asking them to intercede for you.


Again, thank you!
To clarify, Protestants agree that the Saints can pray for you but you shouldn’t ask those Saints to pray for you? It’s the asking that’s at issue?



A Protestant would want to find Scriptural warrant. We know from Zech. 1:12 that the angels intercede for us, and it would make sense for this to also apply to the dead. However, there is only explicit testimony of this from 2 Maccabees 15:14 – which Protestants consider part of the Apocrypha and therefore not authoritative for doctrine. So, yes, Protestants can grant that there is a high probability that the saints pray for us.

Yet, this is no where near a command from Scripture that we invoke the intercession of saints. Since there is no clear command or sanction, it is very difficult for most Protestants to pray to saints in confidence and faith–which defeats the purpose since prayer should be done in faith.


Thanks for such a complete answer. I’ve noticed that several Catholic converts from Protestant religions have discussed the difficulty of praying to Mary and other Saints. This clarifies the reason.


Knowing that the Saints pray for us, it seems reasonable for us to ask God to hear their prayers as well as ours.


Be sure to (open all links on the page.)

Your disagreements and waking away, mirrors Our Lord’s own “disciples” (not the 12) in what they said and did.

THEY WALKED AWAY FROM HIM for context of that HERE


Re: The HS. Jesus makes this point.

Jn 16:12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come . 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. "

Combine that with

Jn 17:20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. "


  1. the HS doesn’t lead/guide anyone into division from the Church Jesus established on Peter and those in union with Peter. The Catholic Church

Who divides? Satan divides.

Re: Jesus and union?

  1. The union Jesus wants is PERFECT UNION , ( Jn 17:23) just as He and the Father are PERFECTLY ONE that’s what He wants for His Church.

Re: division?

All the divisions/ sedition/ dissensions/ schisms/sects/ διχοστασίαι we see from the Catholic Church that is all condemned.

Where is that taught?

That same Greek word διχοστασίαι is used in both Rm 16:17-21 & Gal 5:19-21 for division / dissension / sects

Note the consequences for the one who dies in that sin? (Gal 5:21) “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. “

It doesn’t get worse than that. Since the HS inspired those scriptures to be written, we know that it came from Jesus


It needs to be said,

Re: scripture, & scripture as sole source of truth,

The NT was written in, by, for, the Catholic Church, considering that ALL the writers of the NT were already in the Church they were writing to and for. The Church came first… THEN came the writings.


scripture says “the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth”. So, since there is no “bible” at the time of that writing, the NT scripture as it would become, validates The Church’s authority to teach on matters of faith and morals.. Again, That is speaking of the Catholic Church


The ONLY Church that is there is The Church Jesus built on Peter and those in union with Peter. The Catholic Church, we then can’t ignore the fact, The Church is there before a single word is written of the NT. The Church who Pope Francis today is 266th successor of St Peter in Rome at the helm.


As the apostle also taught, we are to hold fast the following AND (note: neither is “alone”) AND The Church teaches intercession of the saints.


In all honesty most Protestants don’t seem to know much about the Catholic Church aside from that you worship Mary, believe in salvation by works and of course how the Church is the bad spot of all history :stuck_out_tongue:

So in truth nothing, listen to James White or John MacArthur’s descriptions sometimes and you’ll have an idea of the kind of info protestants get


James and John will give you the anti-Catholic Evangelical slant on things, hardly what all Protestants believe.

Note: Not to be confused w/the biblical James and John.


In all honesty, I didn’t know those were even things until I came here.

And in truth, I have no idea who those two guys are so this non-Catholic doesn’t get any info from there.

In all honesty, the majority of non-Catholics see the Catholic Church as another church down the street full of people trying to get to heaven the best they can.

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