At the outset of my spiritual journey, I encountered difficulty distinguishing between the Apostolic and Catholic Church. In a recent Bible study session, while engaging in a discussion on this topic, I discovered that many fellow believers also grapple with comprehending the nuances of the Apostolic and Catholic Church. As a result, I decided to share the knowledge we acquired during our diligent research and in-depth study on the topic “Apostolic vs. Catholic Church.” So, are they different?
The Apostolic Church emphasizes the authority of the apostles and the primacy of Scripture, while the Catholic Church recognizes the authority of the Pope and believes in his infallibility. The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments, while the Apostolic Church generally acknowledges two primary sacraments. The Catholic Church also emphasizes Marian doctrines, such as the miraculous conception, while the Apostolic Church holds Mary in high regard but doesn’t endorse these specific doctrines.
In this article, I invite you to join me as we deep-dive into this topic and learn the differences between the Apostolic and Catholic Church. Keep reading to find out if the two have any similarities and what it means that the Catholic Church is apostolic.
Apostolic vs. Catholic Church: Difference in the definition
Apostolic Church refers to Christian communities or denominations that trace their lineage, teachings, and practices back to the apostles of Jesus Christ. These churches emphasize the apostolic authority and teachings passed down through successive generations. They consider themselves a continuation of the early Christian Church and strive to maintain doctrinal and liturgical continuity with the apostolic era.
Catholic Church refers to the Roman Catholic Church, which sees itself as the universal Christian Church founded by Jesus Christ. The word “Catholic” means “universal” or “comprehensive,” indicating the Church’s belief in its global scope and comprehensive teachings. The Catholic Church recognizes the Pope, who’s considered the successor of Peter, as the visible head of the Church and holds that the Pope, in union with the bishops, has authority over matters of faith, morals, and Church governance.
It’s worth noting that the term “Catholic” can also be used more broadly to describe other churches or Christian traditions that identify as part of the universal Church. It’s also important to recognize that different Christian communities may interpret and apply these terms in slightly different ways based on their specific beliefs and practices.
What’s the Difference between Apostolic and Catholic Church?
One of the differences between the Apostolic and Catholic Church is authority. The Apostolic Church emphasizes the authority of the apostles, who were chosen and taught by Jesus Christ. They view the Bible as the ultimate authority for faith and practice, guided by the apostolic teachings. They support this view with passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which emphasize the divine inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture. In contrast, the Catholic Church recognizes the authority of the Pope, who is seen as the successor of Peter and can speak infallibly on matters of doctrine. This view is supported by scriptures like Matthew 16:18-19.
Also, the Catholic Church follows a structured liturgical system with specific rituals and traditions, including the Mass. On the other hand, while having liturgical elements, the Apostolic Church tends to exhibit more flexibility and diversity in worship practices, allowing for variations in worship style and approach.
It’s important to note that these differences have evolved and are influenced by theological studies, historical contexts, and other developments. Despite their distinctions, both churches share a common foundation in Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel, and they contribute to the rich tapestry of Christian traditions.
Differences in the beliefs between the Apostolic and Catholic Church
One difference in the beliefs between the Apostolic and Catholic Church is in sacraments. The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments, including Baptism, Eucharist, and Confession, while the Apostolic Church typically emphasizes two primary sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist.
Another difference in beliefs is in their doctrines. The Catholic Church has developed specific Marian doctrines, such as the belief in Mary’s miraculous conception and assumption into heaven. The Apostolic Church, on the other hand, while honoring Mary as the mother of Jesus, doesn’t officially endorse these doctrines. It’s worth remembering that these differences in beliefs have developed over time and have been shaped by various factors mentioned earlier.
What are the similarities between the Apostolic and Catholic Church?
One of the similarities between the Apostolic and Catholic Church is apostolic succession. Both churches uphold the concept of apostolic succession, tracing their origins back to the apostles. They believe in the continuity of leadership and authority passed down through successive generations of bishops, as in Scriptures like Acts 1:20-26.
Additionally, both churches recognize the importance of sacraments as sacred rituals through which believers receive God’s grace. While the number and specific understanding of sacraments differ, both emphasize the significance of Baptism and the Eucharist.
Also, both churches share a common belief in the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They affirm the divinity of Jesus Christ and the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church, as implied in Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14.
Additionally, both churches practice liturgical worship, emphasizing the use of prayers, readings from Scripture, hymns, and rituals in their worship services. Finally, both churches affirm the ancient creeds that summarize essential Christian beliefs, such as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed. These creeds serve as important statements of faith and doctrinal unity across different Christian traditions.
What does it mean that the Catholic Church is Apostolic?
The Catholic Church is Apostolic because it traces its lineage to the apostles, particularly Peter, as recorded in Matthew 16:18-19. The Catholic Church is also apostolic because it maintains continuity with the teachings and practices of the apostles. It upholds the deposit of faith, including Scripture and Tradition, passed down from the apostolic era. Also, the Catholic Church affirms the sacramental nature of the Church. This understanding is rooted in the apostolic tradition of the early Church, where the sacraments were celebrated and administered by the apostles and their successors.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.