For many, Catholicism and Christianity are one and the same, but they are quite different. This common mistake comes from the fact that Catholicism is part of Christianity, but Christianity is a very broad term that encompasses many beliefs and dogmas, resulting in different denominations of Christians. Catholics and Christians do share many of the same beliefs, the most important one being that Christ gave his life on the Cross to save us from sin, but the difference between Catholic and Christian comes with different interpretations of what the Bible teaches us. 

The Difference Between Catholic and Christian

Origin

Both Christianity and Catholicism began around 33 A.D. with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the same part of the world, Judea, with Jerusalem being a holy city for all. Catholics believe that Jesus named Peter, one of the apostles, as his successor and head of the church. Many Christians don’t believe that Jesus established a church as much as a system of beliefs. All Christians believe in canon law and the Ten Commandments, but Catholics also follow papal law, believing that God speaks through the pope on matters of dogma and that the pope’s authority comes through the succession of Peter, the first pope. Catholics confess their sins to a priest, but most other sects of Christianity do not require anything more than confessing to God. All Christians believe in Jesus’ birth to the Virgin Mary and his death and resurrection.

Beliefs

The difference between Catholic and Christian can be demonstrated from their beliefs. Where Christianity encompasses all churches and sects, Catholics believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the supreme authority on Earth and that God speaks through the pope. Many Christians have different interpretations of the Bible and are free to accept or reject individual teachings. All Christians, including Catholics, strive to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth and seek life everlasting in Heaven. Catholics have long standing traditions that include preservation of an all-male priesthood, monks and nuns that date back centuries, while many other Christian denominations follow different, and in some cases, more modern traditions, including female and/or married ministers. Many Christian denominations will not only follow the teachings of the bible, which included the Jewish Old Testament, but will also follow the Gnostic gospels, which were left out the bible in the fourth century.

Salvation

All Christians, including Catholics, believe that our salvation is a gift from God through his grace and love. Through faith in God and his Son Jesus, we receive eternal life in Heaven and are saved from sin and death through that faith and grace. Baptism is the key to that salvation, and all Christians believe that you receive Jesus Christ when you are baptized. Catholics are baptized after birth while many Christians can be baptized at any time after you have attained a belief and faith in Christ. Christians believe that through baptism, you die with Jesus and are reborn, or resurrected.

The Bible

The Holy Bible is believed by all Christians to be a collection of books teaching canon and dogma. The bible is in two parts, the Old Testament which is derived from the Jewish Torah, and the New Testament, which includes the Gospels, the teachings of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. It is believed to have been written by human authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, part of the Trinity and is a series of lessons and teachings to help guide our lives and lead us toward salvation. Some Christians will also include in their readings the Gnostic gospels, books that were excluded from the bible in the fourth century. Catholics do not follow the Gnostic gospels but instead rely on Sacred Traditions, those teachings believed handed down through centuries by the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Different sects can have different interpretations of what is taught in the bible.

Hierarchy

Many Christian denominations follow a loose hierarchy, with each church lead by a minister and a central board or group that helps guide the churches in practical matters such as membership and various ministries. The Anglican Church modelled itself after the Roman Catholic Church in its hierarchy, but the head of the church does not have the same authority as the pope. The Roman Catholic Church is built on the belief that Jesus established His church with Peter as its head and every pope since is a successor to Peter. The pope is considered the supreme authority on all matter by Catholics. The Church is also made up of Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and priests, all who have different positions and leadership roles.

Worship and Practices

Many Christian practices of worship are similar, in that they all involve some sort of group services, reading Scripture, and practicing other devotions. Some worship services are conducted in a formal church setting while others may be small gatherings in people’s homes. The ideas of the worship are the same—prayer and devotion to God and Jesus. The Catholics follow a much more formal service with the Liturgy being the most important part of the Catholic Mass. The Mass is the same in all Catholic churches and is established by the Church in Rome. It includes the Liturgy and the Eucharist. Sunday is generally the day for most Christians to gather for communal worship because it is the day God rested and the day Jesus was resurrected.

Views on Homosexuality

The difference between Catholic and Christian can also be seen from their views on Homosexuality. Traditionally, most Christians of all denominations have believed that homosexuality is a sin, but in recent history that belief is changing. Many congregations are not only open and accepting of homosexuals in their communities and worship services; some have accepted openly-gay ministers. The Roman Catholic Church still teaches that homosexuality is a sin, going against God and nature and homosexual priests have been censured. Many individual Catholics have different beliefs about homosexuality, however, in their personal lives.

How Did the Difference Between Catholic and Christian Emerge?

The core of Christianity is the belief in one God who is also part of the Holy Trinity. He is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in one. The Son is Jesus who is God made flesh and was sent as a sacrifice for our sins, and then was resurrected. Christians in general also believe that the day will come when we are all judged and the believers will be resurrected as Jesus was and join God in Heaven. There is a firm belief that God can be righteously angry at those who persecute Christians and that they will face judgment just as Christians will.

However, the beliefs of Catholics and Christians start to differ on other matters and have divided Christians into many different denominations, with Catholicism being just one, though the largest one with about sixty percent of Christians being Catholic. There are many who do not realize that the Roman Catholic Church is just one denomination, or sect of Christianity, as is the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the various divisions of Protestantism. The bible used by Catholics and Protestants is the same, but the interpretation differs whether the sect is Baptist, Anglican (The Church of England), Lutheran, Evangelical, Quaker, and so on.

Christians are those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and encompass many sects. Catholics are a sect of Christianity led by the pope in Rome and following the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

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  • Tobias CarsonDec.30 02:05
    I love the father, son, and holy spirit. Jesus has changed my life. God loves us so much thAT he sent his son to earth so that we might be saved. I believe 110% there is no doubt in my mind. Explain BC and AD? I love Gods word. I rely on the sovereign Lord with all my life. He has shown me so many beautiful things and has really broken my heart open. I proclaim my faith in him to everyone. I just want everyone to be saved and repent. Treat others as you would like to be treated. God bless
  • Cheryl LaundersDec.18 20:42
    Can you convert from Christian to catholic if you have divorced and remarried
  • Aaron LeiteDec.17 20:19
    Christianity is better than Catholic because Catholics think pope is the teller of God and they think the holy trinity is real but it's the father the son and the Holy Spirit
  • Alex RosaDec.4 17:29
    First of all there are no God's there is one God and like it says above he is the holy trinity. He is the son the father and the holy spirit. If your religous views differ from those in wich this article suggests then why are you reading it.
  • Bruce MastersNov.22 06:49
    This is what I chose to believe (and I dont mean any disrespect or harbor any hatred towards any religion). Religion is absolutely not necessary if you already know the meaning of kindness, peace, acceptance, understanding, & sacrifice. If you dont, you need to be taught, that is if you give a damn abouany of the above. Religion is one of the medias that can teach you. BUT you should know without the help of any religion, right from the get go as we are all programmed to be all of the above. If you ask me, spreading peace and love without any reservation & condition is the only way to solve most if not all the problems on this earth. Unfortunately pride, anger, jealousy, ego, selfishness, arrogance, and aggression comes first these days. Sad.... I wouldnt be surprised if The Most High really presses the RESET BUTTON some day.
  • Brian BaylissNov.21 08:45
    Catholics do not believe in divorce is true, but you can still get an annulment in the Catholic church, so you can marry again
  • Alicia ONov.17 15:49
    Did Jesus create us, or did we create Jesus?????
  • FeatherNov.16 22:41
    Christianity came from Peganism and there is no GOD there are GODS. Believing that if you talk to an imaginary friend and ask him for forgiveness and all will be well is ridiculous and immature.
  • Annabel ClaytonNov.4 10:26
    I totally agree with Stephanie posted 3 oct. Salvation comes through believing Jesus is Gods only Son and that He died for all sins that you are a sinner and need to be forgiven and repent of your personal sins trusting in Jesus death on the cross to have paid the price for you. Baptism is an outward sign of the inward salvation.Baptism does not save you or I would be saved having a bath. What power in that the power for the forgjvenss of sins was through Christ shed blood on the cross.Catholics believe its wrong to believe this is enough to save you. There is much wickedness in the catholic church.
  • Anonymous Oct.28 19:13
    I'm recently contented with all religions. There is no right or wrong religion. It's better to believe in God (or a god) than nothing at all. People that I know that have faith in their beliefs about what created life each share the same passion for God. Faith is beautiful. I'm born and raised a Catholic who's only troubled with one thing: Judgement I'm faced with by other's. One friend of mine was deeply interested in Catholicism, and wanted to know exactly what it was. These are the type of questions I like to be asked. Not the ones about why I'm not their religion. I don't know any Catholics who share distasteful opinions about other churches. But there are people that disagree with my choice and it totally makes you feel saddened and afraid to tell anyone of your religion. Sure we have different viewpoints, but in the end we should all come together regardless of our religion and come to accept each others.
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