Which Protestant churches accept the Catholic Church as Christian?

I also mean that, do they accept Catholicism. Do they think, using Christian paintings and sculpture are not idolatry or intercession of saints is not polytheism? I’m curious, I thought that one of the foundations of the Reformation Protestants is anti-Catholicism.

I think that what are generically called “high-church” Episcopalians / Anglicans consider themselves “Catholics” (but not Roman), certainly have statues, invoke and have churches named after saints, and have formal liturgies that would seem very familiar to pre-Vatican II Catholics. Whether they “love” Catholicism is a different matter. I’m sure some feel quite close to us theologically, but not politically (in the sense of church governance).

I can’t speak to what Protestant denominations accept the Catholic Church as Christian, but all my Baptist and Pentecostal cousins and friends accept me as a Christian. In fact, when I’m over at Cousin Wayne’s for a big meal on one of the decoration Sundays, they ask me, the only Catholic in the room, to bless the food!

It is probably more of a cultural/regional thing when it comes to accepting Catholics as Christians. I grew up in a country where Catholicism is the minority (<1%) even though though the country is >87% christian. But as far as I know catholics were viewed as Christians. Though they may have been viewed as Christians “doing it wrong” by some denominations. Growing up I had never heard that Catholics were not Christian but since moving to the US, I have heard it a lot.
Now I know there are other parts of the world where there is tension between catholics and non-catholics. But ultimately I think it comes down to history or culture and not necessarily a teaching of protestant churches.

Not everybody in a denomination would be in agreement on that question. The more “liberal” or mainline denominations have redefined Christianity so broadly, they tend to regard everyone as a Christian who identifies themselves as such. In other words Catholics don’t fall outside their absolute doctrinal boundaries, because they have none anymore. Maybe they would reject a certain person who happened to be Catholic, but not because of their Catholicism.

More evangelical types of Christians nowadays tend not to make Catholicism an automatic rule-in or rule-out, but on a case by case basis. If you, yourself, have accepted Christ as your personal Savior, and believe the Bible, most would say you are a Christian. They might wonder why you also may be carrying around “extra baggage”, those non-Biblical beliefs or practices, but that wouldn’t keep you from being Christian.

A few hard core fundamentalists would say your being Catholic automatically ties you to non-Biblical beliefs that prove you don’t rely on the Bible, and Catholicism is incompatible with total reliance on Jesus as SOLE means of salvation - that Catholics trust in good works, in Mary, and man-made fabrications like the priesthood, papacy, etc. So you definitely aren’t Christian, unless you leave Rome. In my opinion, this group was probably the great majority of Americans a century ago, but is a shrinking minority today.

There are a few extreme groups, which some would label “cults”, that have their definitions of who is a Christian.

Then you have those who are more Catholic-oriented, such as some of those in the Anglican continuum, ACNA, LCMS, PNCC, who regard Catholics as ideal Christians, and see themselves as Catholics who are following a somewhat different ecclesiastic tradition and structure from those who follow Rome. They see Catholics as equally Christian with them.

Then again, maybe your cousins know you are a Christian because they like you. I don’t know what decoration Sundays are, but if that brings cousins together I’m for it.

My cynical side makes me suspect they think Catholics never, ever, pray at all, that you are an undecorated pagan, and they hope by making you say grace you might, maybe, become a Christian. :rolleyes:

Don’t you just love cousins? Some of mine make me grit my teeth. And vice versa.

Why exactly should we care about their opinion of us? really I cant see how its even remotely interesting for us.

Of course I do see the benefit of having non judgemental family members concerning your faith, but in the end of the day its of no importance how non catholic Christians look at the Catholic Church whatsoever.

At least thats how I look at it…

Yours in Jesus and Mary

  • MarianCatholic

I think it is literally impossible to ask this question, from both sides. First of all, “Protestant Churches” don’t have official doctrines about Catholics, so members of them think whatever they want. There are some small splinter groups that consider the CC to be the whore of Babylon and they are required to accept this or they won’t belong, but for the most part, each Protestant has their own ideas about salvation in the CC.

The largest groups of non-Catholics include Anglicans and Lutherans who also accept and use statures, stained glass windows and icons. As a rule, though, I do not think the intercession of the saints is sought.

You are right, ,all the original reformers defined themselves and their congregations over and against the CC. It boiled down to how much, and which kinds of doctrines in the CC were rejected.

Moderns, however, have not been introduced to the CC so they cannot be accused of being “anti” Catholic. Many have been introduced to misinformation about CC and are opposed to the misinformation, thinking it is Catholic.

They knew me for the 30 years that I was a Pentecostal and then a Baptist, before I swam the Tiber.

Don’t you just love cousins? Some of mine make me grit my teeth. And vice versa.


I don’t know what, if any, official positions any of the denominations have taken. But I do know the individual Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, non-denominational evangelical and Lutheran churches I have attended regard Catholics as Christians.

All of those churches have had some type of religious paintings, stained glass and/or sculpture in the church, but I feel confident in saying most of the members of those churches and most of the leadership of those individual churches would be quite uncomfortable with statues in the sanctuary.

I’ve never heard intercession of the saints called polytheism, but I think most of the members of those churches would think that prayer is part of worship, and we should worship only God, not the saints.

Most of the churches I have attended don’t have that much difference between them in practice these days. Presbyterian pastors wear robes and the music is more formal. Baptists pastors don’t wear robes and the music is more upbeat. You can bring coffee into the contemporary Lutheran service, but not to the formal Lutheran service. All types of pastors preach exactly the same thing from the pulpit in the churches I have attended regularly. I believe the members of the churches I have attended look on Catholicism just about the same way as they look on the different Protestant denominations: they’re all Christian so I just choose the one that has the music and the robes and the style of preaching I like, and has services at a time and place convenient for me. I’d never heard that some Protestants don’t think Catholics are Christians until I came to CAF, but apparently it is widespread and common among CAF posters.

Something to consider is that it comes down to individual Protestants as well. Some really are fine with the Catholic Church, while others buy into the whole Catholics are pagan worshipers nonsense.

I know that some LCMS groups don’t accept the Catholic Church as Christian. It appears from the posts of this particular website that we are a cult.

Of course this is not speaking for LCMS, it is some group, as I find the Lutherans at CAF to feel very close to the Catholic Church.

There are always those in any church that dislikes or feel that they are the only ones that are Christian. This website also seems to find fault with some Lutheran Pastors, so I disregard their prejudices.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


Can you provide a link or an example? When you say "this website’ do you mean that you think CAF does find fault with Lutheran Pastors or that some of the members of the forum do? Surely you don’t mean that Lutheran Pastors are not considered Christians?!

It is called LutherQuest and at times posters will find fault with even LCMS Pastors, the one example that stays with me is that one of their pastors attended some ecumenical event and he was really raked over the coals for I guess associating with non Lutherans.

The CAF website never has made any opinion on what other denominations believe or do within their own denomination, as far as I know.

If you go on their website you will find that they are very anti Catholic and as far as I have been told by another Lutheran on CAF, is that they don’t represent Lutherans as a whole.

Catholics disagree on different issues, however, I have never seen another priest on CAF make unkind remarks about other Catholic clergy.

God Bless


Hi Bernadette:

From the LCMS website:

Q: A non-Lutheran Christian friend of mine recently stated he believes Catholics are not saved and should not be considered Christians. What is the Synod’s belief regarding the salvation of Catholics who adhere to Roman dogma?

A: The LCMS recognizes all Trinitarian church bodies as Christian churches (in contrast to “cults,” which typically reject the doctrine of the Trinity and thus cannot be recognized as Christian). In fact, a primary “objective” listed in the Synod’s Constitution (Article III) is to “work through its official structure toward fellowship with other Christian church bodies”—which explicitly assumes that these “other church bodies” are “Christian” in nature. That does not lessen the Synod’s concern for the false doctrine taught and confessed by these churches, but it does highlight the Synod’s recognition that wherever the “marks of the church” (the Gospel and Sacraments) are present—even where “mixed” with error—there the Christian church is present. Such a church is a heterodox church, that is, a church that teaches false doctrine.

Of course, personal salvation is not merely a matter of external membership in or association with any church organization or denomination (including the LCMS), but comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. All those who confess Jesus Christ as Savior are recognized as “Christians” by the Synod—only God can look into a person’s heart and see whether that person really believes. It is possible to have true and sincere faith in Jesus Christ even while having wrong or incomplete beliefs about other doctrinal issues.

This explains why former Synod President A.L. Barry called members of the Roman Catholic Church “our fellow Christians” in his statement Toward True Reconciliation, which at the same time identifies and laments the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

The great danger is that believing things contrary to God’s Word can obscure and perhaps even completely destroy belief in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. We pray this will not happen to those who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and yet belong to heterodox church bodies, including fellow Christians in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is part of the OHCAC, the one true Church.


What you are referring to was not seen to be an “ecumenical event,” but a syncretistic or unionistic worship service. What that means is that he prayed publicly with non-Christians, which constitutes an act of co-worship. The Roman Catholic Church generally doesn’t permit that sort of participation, either.

The LCMS is not anti-Catholic. In fact, the LCMS is in open, continuous dialogue with Rome.

Bernadette, be wary of what you read in internet forums. They are usually full of hyperbole and polemics. In that regard, CAF is relatively unique.

I thought that one of the foundations of the Reformation Protestants was that they had been Catholic just recently, with the biggest difference being a seismic shift in how church and state related to each other and to the churches and states elsewhere in Europe…and that the absence of icons and hagiography was just a bit farther removed from the very foundation of Reformation Protestantism.

My general inkling is that anti-Catholicism, when found at the very foundation of Reformation Protestantism, had a little to do with doctrine, less with praxis, and comparatively more with actual corruption and abuses- but more than anything else put together, when Reformation Protestants felt like their lives and freedom were threatened by Catholics for specifically religious reasons. Much of that threat was very real and actual for some of them, mind you- that is the most likely reason, and a legitimate one I might add, for Reformation Protestants to have been vehemently anti-Catholic.

Of course, and it is well worth pointing out, there were plenty of Reformation Protestants who did not feel like their lives or freedom were threatened by Catholics. And I would venture to say that these Protestants, especially in the early stages of the Reformation, were much less likely to be anti-Catholic or to have much in the way of hatred toward Rome. I would also venture to say that the ones who were legitimately threatened in that way were the most likely to have a lot of hate, and that is quite understandable.

When it comes to anti-Catholicism specifically in America, however, that has more to do with much later waves of Catholic immigration, especially to the eastern seaboard. That was equal parts xenophobia and irrational fear of loyalty to church trumping loyalty to country. That, at least, is pretty much behind us- although by barely a generation, perhaps a generation and a half at most. Where we’re at now in the United States is still a bit of a patchwork, even to the point where it’s hard to make sweeping generalizations about an entire denomination in whatever part of the country it happens to be. That’s partly because the anti-Catholic history of American Protestantism is pretty well disconnected from Reformation-era anti-Catholicism as it existed in Europe. I would further state that the anti-Catholicism in America was never particularly driven in a top-down fashion, and the process of getting over it has been similar in its bottom-up approach, and for that reason it’s hard to say which denominations are closest to being entirely past their anti-Catholicism. On the whole, I’d say they’re all getting a lot better a little at a time, and the laity generally has work to do in catching up with the clergy especially when it comes to being well informed about church history and about the actual status of Catholics. Excluding certain forms of restorationist marginal Christianity, of course, which are not actually Protestant. They’re not really getting better- not much, anyway. Mormons might be improving a little, but the rest of them, not a whole lot.

I wonder… does the LCMS have a concern for the false doctrine taught and confessed by the LCMS? or is the LCMS the only ecclesial community that does not teach false doctrine (in which case, how can they be absolutely sure of this)?

While off the topic, my response is that, frankly, it would be silly to say that, yes, we teach false doctrine, and know we do. What we will say is that we hold scripture to be the inerrant word of God, and we believe the three ancient Creeds, and our confessions to be true and right reflections of scripture. And if there is any uncertainty, we leave it to grace, just as we leave it to grace for our siblings in Christ who may themselves have any false teaching.


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