Saturday, May 03, 2003
Over at Religious Tolerance.org, I found a list of differences between Catholics and Protestants. In my bid to irritate as many people as possible, following each is my own stance. I won't go into great detail, but I felt like declaring my stances. I may (probably will) examine some or all of these in depth later. After each concept I will say whether I consider my view to be ultimately Protestant or Catholic.
Believe in the Apostolic succession: ordinations traceable back to St. Peter.
Concept rejected as historically invalid; It simply didn't happen.
I see no reason to believe that this didn't happen. If possible, those leading congregations should be part of the apostolic succession. Point: Catholic
Authority within the church
Vested in the hierarchy of the church.
Within the believer (soul freedom).
Ultimately, this resides with the believer, though the views of those more experienced in theology and doctrine should be considered better than the believer's unless there is strong evidence that the "experts" are mistaken. Point: Protestant
Baptism, significance of
Sacrament which regenerates and justifies.
Testimony of a prior regeneration.
Baptism is a sacrament; Confirmation is a testimony. Point: Catholic
Usually done in infancy.
Usually done later in life after person is "born again."
This should be done in infancy, if possible, as it helps a person become more able to accept Christ. Point: Catholic
Bible, status of
Historically teaches that the original writings by Bible authors are inerrant. This is being debated.
The original writings of the authors of the Bible are inerrant.
The Bible is inerrant, though not necessarily literal. Doctrines not from the Bible may be okay, so long as they don't contradict the Bible in any way. Point: Protestant
Change of beliefs, practices
Debate sometimes forbidden.
Free discussion allowed.
You need free discussion, or else free will would be useless. Point: Protestant
I prefer a heirarchy, though one that is responsible to all the believers. I basically want a sort of social contract between church leaders and the congregation. Point: Tie
Clergy, selection of
Appointed; all male; almost all unmarried.
Elected; mostly male; single or married.
The church should nominate clergy, and by hiring them, individual congregations confirm them. Nominated clergy should be confirmed unless there is a major problem. Point: Tie
More than a physical place, hell is a state of being involving "the pain, frustration and emptiness of life without God."
A real physical place of eternal torture.
I agree more with the Catholic view, though I don't see that these two contradict each other. Point: Catholic
Immaculate Conception of Mary
Denied. Point: Protestant
Infallibility of the Pope
Required belief in matters of religious doctrine and faith.
Denied. Point: Protestant
A place in Hell for infants who die before being baptized, and for Old Testament saints. Concept is not officially taught.
I don't know. Point: Neither
A sacrifice. Christ's body and blood are physically present and are consumed by believers.
Memorial meal. Christ's body and blood are present symbolically only.
Christ's body and blood are literally present in this sacrament. Point: Catholic
Mary's status is below Jesus', but above that of the saints. Some regard Mary as co-redemptrix with Jesus; this is not currently church teaching.
The Virgin Mary plays a relatively minor role. Only trust in Jesus saves a person.
I agree with the Protestants. Point: Protestant
Have some value for the truth that they contain.
Many Fundamentalists consider them worthless, dangerous and demon-led.
Many religions do have some elements of the Truth, often a lot of it. I believe that God revealed part of Himself to several faiths, though Christianity is the only one that works completely. The role of other faiths is to lead the believer ultimately towards Christ. They may also contain independent verification of beliefs or forgotten minor information. Point: Catholic
Prayer To God.
Also may ask Mary or a saint to intercede on their behalf.
To God only.
I understand the Catholic idea, but feel safer simply praying to God in Christ's name through the Holy Spirit. This may change. Point: Protestant, for now
A state of being in which souls are cleansed by purifying punishments before they can enter heaven.
Does not exist.
I'm not sure, though I'll lean towards it existing. Point: Catholic, for now
The means of grace.
The symbols of grace.
They give partial grace. You can't be saved by sacraments alone, but they can help make you more receptive to God. I think of them as being like a glass of water with pills. The water alone won't cure your headache, but they make the pills go down easier than if your throat was dry. I also only accept Baptism and Communion as true sacraments; the others are merely symbols. Point: Catholic, though only in a tie-breaker sense
Dependent on faith, works and sacraments.
Dependent on faith only.
Salvation comes only through faith, through Grace, but can be helped by sacraments. Works do not play a role, but are an outward manifestation of faith. Point: Protestant
Is lost when a responsible person commits a mortal sin. It can be regained through repentance and the sacrament of confession.
Usually, once a person is saved, they cannot lose their salvation.
I'm not sure. Point: Neither
Frequent veneration of statues and images as symbolic of the individual saints.
Idolatry. Big-time. Point: Protestant
Found in scripture, as interpreted by the church. Also found in church tradition.
Found in scripture, as interpreted by the individual.
I'm more in agreement with the Protestants, though tradition shouldn't be ignored completely. Point: Protestant
Visibility of the Church
The hierarchy of the Church, including the laity, plus the Church's Spirit, referred to as the "Spotless Bride of Christ."
Invisible fellowship of all believers
Visibility is nice, but is ultimately invisible. Point: Protestant
Not all differences have been mentioned, and some have been covered incompletely. Often, only the views of a particular Protestant or Catholic denomination have been used to represent all of them. However, based on this particular set of differences, we find that I have eight Catholic views, eleven Protestant views, and four cases where I'm ambivalent or agree with major portions of each. It should be noted, however, that most of the Protestant wins were of smaller significance than the Catholic ones, and so I'd declare a tie overall. Let the corrective emails commence!