Protestant and Roman Catholic churches are Christian denominations. The two churches share much in common. As the Roman Catholic vs. Protestant debate continues to rage, researchers and followers of both denominations have been trying to establish whether they are different.
Protestantism and Roman Catholicism differ in many ways. For instance, Roman Catholic believers acknowledge the Pope as the head of the entire Catholic Church. On the other side, Protestant denominations do not consider themselves part of the Roman Catholic Church; therefore, they are not subject to papal authority.
What is the difference between Protestants and Roman Catholic? What are the similarities between Protestant and Roman Catholic? Which came first between Protestant and Roman Catholic? What do Roman Catholics think of Protestants? Are Roman Catholics and Protestants both Christians? Can Roman Catholics attend Protestant churches? Keep reading to learn more!
What is the difference between Protestants and Roman Catholic?
Protestant and Roman Catholic churches differ in many ways. This is so mainly because Protestant churches follow reformed doctrines; these doctrines set the two churches apart. The table below summarizes the major differences between these two Christian denominations.
|Belief’s values and practices||Protestantism||Roman Catholicism|
|Name||The name Protestant comes from the Latin word Protestatio which means declaration. Protestantism includes all Christian denominations that originated from the doctrines of the 16th-century protestant Reformation.||The name Catholic comes from the Latin term catholicus, which means universal. All the other denominations (Eastern Orthodox and Protestant) are from the Roman Catholic Church.|
|Origin||Protestantism rose during the 16th century Protestant Reformation ignited by Martins Luther’s 95 Theses. In 1517, Luther, a reformer and monk, nailed theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.||Roman Catholic is a continuation of the early Christian Church established by Jesus Christ, who lived during the 1st century AD. Christianity was only deemed a legal practice in 313 by Emperor Constantine.|
|Early Influencers||Early influences in the Protestant movement include Martin Luther (Lutheranism), Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin (Calvinism).||Jesus Christ is considered to be the 1st influencer of the Roman Catholic; it is from his teachings that the Church was born. Peter (Jesus’s disciple) is the second most influential figure in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop of Rome, where he and other Apostles established the Roman Catholic Church from what they learned from Christ.|
|Membership||About 37 percent of all Christians worldwide are protestants. This translates to between 900 million to 1 billion followers.||50 percent of all Christians worldwide are Roman Catholic followers. This translates to approximately 1.345 billion followers. This Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world. It is even larger than all Protestant Churches combined.|
|Source of Authority in the Church||In Protestantism, the Bible is the final authority. The Holy Scriptures are considered the sole source of authority in Protestantism.||The Pope is considered the final authority in the Roman Catholic Church. In Roman Catholicism, Church Tradition and the Holy Scriptures have the same authority.|
|Bible||Protestant churches use the Hebrew Bible. This Bible has 66 books; the Old Testament of this Bible does not include the Apocrypha.||Roman Catholic churches use the Greek Bible. The Old Testament has 7 extra books referred to as deuterocanonical books.|
|Celibate Priesthood||Celibacy is not a requirement for those wishing to serve as Priests in the Church.||Celibacy is a requirement for those wishing to serve in the Church as priests, bishops, or the Pope (Bishop of Rome).|
|Salvation/Justification||Members of the Protestant churches believe that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ.||Roman Catholic members believe that salvation is through faith and good deeds. Although God does not need your good deeds, your neighbors do.|
|The Holy Communion||Protestants reject the doctrine of transubstantiation. To them, the Lord’s Supper is a continuation or a commemoration of the teachings of Christ. The elements (bread and wine) used during the Holy Communion do not change into the blood and body of Christ.||The Roman Catholics affirm the doctrine of transubstantiation. They believe that the blood and body of Christ are present in the elements used during the Eucharist.|
|Organization||Protestant churches have a horizontal structure. They believe in the priesthood of all followers and that all followers have an equal say in the Church.||Roman Catholic churches have a vertical structure. The highest office in the Church is that of the Pope, who is considered the final authority in the Church.|
|Purgatory||Protestants reject the doctrine of purgatory. They do not believe in a place between earth and heaven where believers will be cleansed of their sins before going to heaven.||Roman Catholicism affirms the presence of purgatory. All Catholic believers will pass through purgatory because everyone sins. The only exception is the Saints; they do not pass through purgatory.|
|Veneration of Mary and Saints||Protestants reject the practice of veneration of Mary and Saints. They believe that Jesus Christ is the only worthy person to pray through.||Roman Catholic believers pray through Mary and the Saints. They believe Mary and the Saints are sinless and mediate between humans and God.|
|Sacraments||Protestants only have two sacraments; Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.||Roman Catholics have seven sacraments; Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders.|
|Distribution of the Holy Communion||Some Protestant churches practice open communion. Non-members are allowed to partake in the Holy Communion.||The Roman Catholic Church practices closed communion. Only members of the Catholic Church are allowed to participate in the Eucharist/Holy Communion.|
|Infallibility of the Pope||Protestants reject the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope. They believe that all human beings are prone to mistakes.||The Roman Catholic followers believe that the Pope is infallible. Although he can sin, he cannot make mistakes when enforcing the authority the Church vests in him.|
What are the similarities between Protestant and Roman Catholic?
Although Protestantism and Roman Catholicism differ in many ways, there are similarities in their beliefs, values, and practices. The table below is a summary of the similarities between the Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church.
|Belief’s values and practices||Protestantism||Roman Catholicism|
|Nature of God||Protestants believe that God exists in three forms, the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son.||Roman Catholic Churchgoers believe God exists in three forms, the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son.|
|Creeds used in the Church||Protestant churches use the Apostle and Nicene creeds during their services.||Roman Catholic churches use the Apostle and Nicene creeds during Holy mass.|
|Jesus Christ||Protestants believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he died for the atonement of sin and rose on the 3rd day.||Roman Catholic churches teach Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he died for the atonement of sin and rose on the 3rd day.|
|The Bible as Source of Authority||Protestants believe that the Holy Scriptures are the only source of authority in the Church.||Roman Catholic followers believe that the Holy Scriptures are a source of authority in the Church.|
|Day of Worship||Protestant Church services are held on Sundays.||Holy Masses are held on Sundays in Roman Catholic Churches.|
|Heaven||Protestants believe in the doctrine of heaven. The place where all righteous people will go after the judgment day.||Roman Catholic followers believe in the doctrine of heaven. The place where all believers will go after judgment day.|
|Hell||Protestants believe in the doctrine of hell. The place where all sinners will go after the judgment day.||Roman Catholic followers believe in the doctrine of hell. The place where all non-believers will go after judgment day.|
Which came first between Protestant and Roman Catholic?
Roman Catholicism came before Protestantism. The Roman Catholic was a continuation of the early Christian Church and was established during the 1st century AD by Peter and other Apostles. Therefore, the Roman Catholic is considered to be the first Christian organization.
On the other hand, Protestantism emerged at the start of the 16th century. Martin Luther started the movement in a protest against malpractices in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the areas of objection is the sale of indulgences in the Church. After his expulsion from the Roman Catholic Church by the Pope in 1521, the protestant movement gained momentum. He founded the Lutheran Church. Other Protestant churches were founded during this period, such as the Church of England, Methodists, and many more.
What do Roman Catholics think of Protestants?
Roman Catholics consider Protestants as heretics for challenging the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholics consider themselves the original Catholic Church and the rightful Christian denomination. They believe that Protestant churches are not true churches because most of their beliefs, values, and practices go against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which is a continuation of the early Christian Church started by Jesus Christ.
Are Roman Catholics and Protestants both Christians?
Roman Catholics and Protestants are both Christians. As mentioned earlier, the Roman Catholic continued the early Christian Church that Jesus Christ started. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church is the first Christian denomination. During the Great Schism, the Church broke into two; the Roman Catholic Church (western branch) and the Eastern Catholic Church (Eastern Orthodox). In the 16th century, the Western Roman Catholic Church broke further. The Protestant Reformation led to the emergence of Protestant churches. The Protestant churches are a sect of Christianity because it emerged from the Roman Catholic Church. The only difference is that the former follows reformed Catholic beliefs, values, and practices.
Can Roman Catholics attend Protestant churches?
Roman Protestants can attend Protestant churches. The Protestant churches open their door to everybody who wishes to learn more about God. Therefore, Catholics can attend services at a Protestant church of their choice. However, the Roman Catholic Church prohibits its followers from participating in the Lord’s Supper in the Protestant churches. Roman Catholic followers wishing to be converted can partake in the Holy Communion in a Protestant of their choice after baptism and confirmation.
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GotQuestions.org. (2013). What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants? Retrieved December 16, 2022
thegospelcoalition.org. (2017). Protestant and Catholic: What’s the difference? Retrieved December 16, 2022
thewitness.org. (2022). What are the most popular Christian denominations? (2022). Retrieved December 19, 2022
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