Catholicism and Protestantism are two denominations of Christianity, just like Shia and Sunni are sects of Islam. While the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church, Protestantism is a general term that refers to Christianity that is not subject to papal authority.

Comparison chart

Catholic

Protestant

Use of statues and pictures Permitted as means of inspiration Not used
Place of worship Church, chapel, cathedral Church, chapel, cathedral
Place of origin Palestine & Rome; Roman Empire Palestine & Rome, with a schism originating in Germany
Second coming of Jesus Affirmed Affirmed
Scriptures Holy Bible, a collection of canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament). Usually Douay-Rheims or Knox Version. Holy Bible, a collection of canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament). Usually King James Version.
Death of Jesus Death by Crucifixion Death by Crucifixion
Concept of Deity Believe in the Trinity of God. Three persons in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit Believe in the Trinity of God. Three persons in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Authority of Pope Affirmed Denied.
Belief of God Catholics believe that there is only one God and that he has revealed himself as the Trinity. Protestants believe that there is only one God and that be has revealed himself as the Trinity.
Birth of Jesus Virgin Birth Virgin Birth
Literal Meaning catholic - from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning "universal" Protestant - to 'protest'
Status of Adam Sin came into the world, through Adam. Sin came into the world, through Adam.
Identity of Jesus The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.
Clergy The Pope, followed by Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests, Monks and Deacons. Women can be nuns. Each church independent, headed by Pastors, Elders, and Deacons.
Resurrection of Jesus Affirmed Affirmed
Time of origin c. 315AD c. 33 AD, but believe it eventually became corrupt. Split off in an attempt to return to church's origins approx. 1517 - 1534 A.D.
Day of worship Sunday. Personal Sacrifice during Lent. Traditionally Sunday, but other days accepted if treated with same level of focus on worship.
Practices All Catholics are expected to participate in the liturgical life of the Church, but personal prayer and devotions are entirely a matter of personal preference. Regularly study the Bible, pray, and commune with other believers on Sunday (or other day of worship)
Founder Jesus Christ, followed by Peter as the first Pope, then all Popes following Peter. Jesus Christ, followed by Peter, Paul, and other disciples of Jesus. Position of The Pope denied, and eventually split off of The Catholic church to attempt to re-establish the original church.
Ressurection of Jesus Affirmed Affirmed
Status of women Variable but treated with respect. Women are not allowed to be priests. However, they can become nuns. Variable but treated with respect. Usually, women are not allowed to be part of the clergy, but are permitted to teach or work in other areas.
About Catholics follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as transmitted through the Old & New Testament via Rome and the Vatican and follow the Catechism. Catholics believe that the Catholic Church is the original and first Christian Church. Protestants follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as transmitted through the Old & New Testament. Protestants believe that the Catholic Church stemmed from the original Christian Church, but became corrupt. Men can not add or take away from scripture.
Savior Jesus Christ Jesus Christ
View of other Abrahamic religions According to Catholic doctrine, Catholicism is the original Christian Church. Christianity is the true religion. Judaism is a true religion, but they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. Islam is a false religion, pagan religions are also false. Judaism is a true religion, but they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. Islam is a false religion. Pagan religions are also false.
Life after death Eternal Salvation in Heaven; Eternal Damnation in Hell; Temporal third state before Heaven, known as Purgatory. There is no purgatory. Those that trust in Jesus as savior go to paradise, those that trust in their own works for salvation go to hell. In the end times, these groups are let into heaven and the lake of fire, respectively.
Jesus The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.
Marriage The Holy union of a man and woman. What God has bound together, no person can separate. The Holy union of a man and woman. What God has bound together, no person can separate. Divorce permitted in cases of adultery or abandonment.
Confessing sins To God through priests To God through Jesus
Geographical predominance Italy, Philippines, Latin America, France, Spain, Mexico, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Armenia, Scotland, Wales and Ireland North America and Europe
Holy days Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Saints' Feast Days. Christmas and Easter
Original Language(s) Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin Hebrew, Greek, and German
Population 1.2 billion 590 million
Means of salvation Received at baptism; may be lost by mortal sin; regained by faith and penance. You must believe Jesus is the only son of God, confess your sins, must have a relationship with Jesus. Good Works. Seven Sacraments, and take part in Holy Mass Faith in Jesus Christ as having already paid the penalty for your sins.
Human Nature Humans are free to devote themselves to knowledge and communion in the image of God. "original sin" inherited from Adam - tendency towards evil (Infants must be baptized) "original sin" inherited from Adam, tendency towards evil, but the sins of the father do not pass through the son, therefore Children are holy, and until they reach the age where they can know good from evil, their sins are not held against them.
Prophet Believe in all prophets of the Books from the Holy Bible. Believe in all prophets of the Books from the Holy Bible, and that Muhammad is a false prophet.
Geographical distribution and predominance France, Italy, Spain, Latin America, USA North America, Europe
God's role in salvation Christ can save people and can help in salvation. Various forms of grace and free will. In one extreme, God predestines who will be saved and there is no free will. In the other extreme it is entirely the free will of man. Most protestants are somewhere in between.
Significance of Eucharist / Communion Commonly termed the 'Mystic Supper' or 'Divine Liturgy' - This makes present Christ's sacrifice and therefore forgiveness of sins is obtained through it. It is also an encounter with the Risen Christ. Important as a symbolic remembrance of Christ's death.
Mary Mary is considered favored among women, and was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus through a virgin birth. Thus, she is considered holy, and may be prayed to as an intercessor to God. Mary is considered favored among women, and was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus through a virgin birth, but is otherwise simply a human with no other special attributes.
Offshoot religions Eastern Orthodox and Protestant sects of Christianity. Thousands of denominations.
Religious Law The Bible and Catechisms, which may be added to or amended by The Pope. The Bible alone. Each person must verify all teachings through the Bible.
Presence of Christ in Eucharist / Communion During the Eucharist, the Priest calls down the Holy Spirit upon the gifts (the bread and the wine). They then change into the actual body and blood of Christ. The precise way in which this happens is a divine mystery. Christ is present in spirit, but the bread and wine are merely symbolic of his death, and of the believer's commitment to him.
Type of Worship Prayer, Praise, Singing, Scripture Reading, and Adoring Eucharist Prayer, Praise, Singing, Scripture Reading, and Teaching of the Reading
Belief Catholics believe that salvation to eternal life is God's will for all people. You must believe Jesus was the son of God, receive Baptism, confess your sins, and take part in Holy Mass to obtain this. Protestants believe that salvation to eternal life is God's will for all people. You must believe Jesus was the son of God and that he has already paid the penalty for your sins to receive this.
View of Animistic religions Pagan Pagan
View of Oriental religions Pagan Pagan
Praying to Saints, Mary, and Angel Only for there intercession or help, at end of each prayer you must say "but only God's will be done". Saints are anyone that believes, and Mary is only a human. The only intercessor between God and man is Jesus, not saints, Mary, or angels.
View of other Dharmic religions Pagan Pagan
Purgatory A place of cleansing and preparation for heaven. Also a place where the punishment due to unremitted venial sins may be expiated. Does not exist
Goal of religion Peace, Love and wilful submission to God. A relationship with Jesus
Belief of God God is the Omnipotent, Loving Creator of the Universe. Believe that there is only ONE God and that he has revealed himself as the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit God is the Omnipotent, Loving Creator of the Universe. Believe that there is only ONE God and that he has revealed himself as the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Saints A special group of holy people, who are venerated. They may act as intercessors between God and Man and may be invoked in prayer. Anyone who believes in Jesus as savior is a saint.
Angels Angels are creation of God which are unseen and are created from light. They do not have their own free will and always obey the commandments of Almighty God. Also God's messengers. Angels are creation of God which are unseen and are created from light. They do not have their own free will and always obey the commandments of Almighty God. Also God's messengers.
Religion which atheists may still be adherents of No. Faith in God plays a very important role in Christianity. No. Faith in God plays a very important role in Christianity.
View of Protestantism Protestant denominations cannot be considered "churches", They don't believe in the true Eucharist, so they can't have true priests or bishops. rotestant churches are not descendants of the Apostles of Christ. Protestantism is way church was originally established. Catholicism corrupt with establishment of Papal Infallibility. God reveals self through scripture and prayer, not tradition.
Legislation Prerogative of the Church, which follows the Holy Spirit and the Word of God as best it can. The Bible alone
Views on other religions The Catholic Church is the only true religion. All others are false. Believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins, and that by believing in him you are saved by faith, not works, is the core principal. Any religion confirming this is a true religion; any religion denying it is a false religion.

Definition

Catholic is an adjective derived from the Greek adjective καθολικός, meaning "general; universal" (cf. Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon). In the context of Christian ecclesiology, it has several usages:

  1. The word commonly refers to the members, beliefs, and practices of the Roman Catholic Church and those sui juris churches that are in full communion with the Pope (Bishop of Rome). It comprises the Latin Rite and twenty-two Eastern Catholic Churches. The Eastern Catholic particular Churches include the Ukrainian, Greek, Greek Melkite, Maronite, Ruthenian Byzantine, Coptic Catholic, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, Chaldean, and Ethiopic Rites.
  2. The Eastern Orthodox Church also identifies itself as Catholic, as in the title of The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church.
  3. Most Reformation and post-Reformation Churches use the term Catholic (sometimes with a lower-case c) to refer to the belief that all Christians are part of one Church, regardless of denominational divisions. It is in line with this interpretation, which applies the word "catholic"/"universal" to no one denomination, that they understand the phrase "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" in the Nicene Creed, the phrase "the catholic faith" in the Athanasian Creed, and the phrase "holy catholic church" in the Apostles' Creed.
  4. The term is used also to mean those Christian Churches which maintain that their Episcopate can be traced unbrokenly back to the Apostles, and consider themselves part of a broad catholic (or universal) body of believers. Among those who regard themselves as "Catholic", but not "Roman Catholic" , are Anglicans, and some small groups such as the Old Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, the Independent Catholic, the Ancient Catholic and Liberal Catholic Churches, as well as Lutherans (though the latter prefer the lower-case "c," and, like Anglicans, stress that they are both Protestant and Catholic).
  5. The term can refer to the one Church founded by Jesus through the Apostle Peter, according to Matthew 16:18-19: "And I tell you, you are כיפא (Kepha) (Aramaic for "rock"), and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’" In Roman Catholic theology, this is understood to mean specifically the Roman Catholic Church.
  6. Some use the term Catholic to distinguish their own position from a Calvinist or Puritan form of Reformed-Protestantism. These include High Church Anglicans, known also as "Anglo-Catholics", 19th century Neo-Lutherans, 20th century High Church Lutherans or evangelical-catholics and others.

Protestantism encompasses the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated with the doctrines of the Reformation. The word protestant is derived from the Latin protestatio meaning declaration which refers to the letter of protestation by Lutheran princes against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which reaffirmed the edict of the Diet of Worms against the Reformation. Since that time, the term has been used in many different senses, but not as the official title of any church until it was assumed in 1783 by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, a branch of the Anglican Communion.

Usage of the Name

History

A letter written by Ignatius to Christians in Smyrna around 106 AD is the earliest surviving witness to the use of the term "Catholic Church". St Cyril of Jerusalem (circa 315-386) urged those he was instructing in the Christian faith: "If ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is, nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God". The term "Catholic Christians" entered Roman Imperial law when Theodosius I, Emperor from 379 to 395, reserved that name for adherents of "that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff (Pope) Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria. The use of the term "Catholic" to distinguish the "true" Church from heretical groups is found also in Augustine's writings. Protestantism generally refers to the faiths and churches born directly or indirectly of the Protestant Reformation in which many Roman Catholics split from the larger body and formed their own communions. In common Western usage, the term is often used in contradistinction to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. This usage, however, is regarded by many groups as improper since, among other things, there are many non-Roman-Catholic, non-Eastern-Orthodox communions that long predate the Reformation (notably Oriental Orthodoxy). The case of the Anglicans can be argued to be different as well in that, although born during the Reformation era, the Anglican doctrine is substantially different from the Reformation principles of most of the other Protestants of the time and is sometimes referred to as a middle path - a via media - between Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines. Yet some other groups, such as the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses, reject Protestantism as having deviated from true Christianity and see themselves as Restorationists.

Branches of Protestantism
Branches of Protestantism

The churches most commonly associated with Protestantism can be divided along four fairly definitive lines:

  1. Mainline Protestants - a North American phrase - are those who trace their lineage to Luther, Calvin, or Anglicanism. The doctrines of the Reformation are their doctrines. They include such denominations as Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists.
  2. Anabaptists are a movement that developed from the Radical Reformation. Today, denominations such as Baptists, Pentecostals, Brethren, Mennonites and Amish eschew infant baptism and see baptism as aligned with a demonstration of the gifts of the spirit.
  3. Nontrinitarian movements reject the doctrine of the trinity. Today, they include such denominations as the Universalists, Unitarians, and some Quakers.
  4. Restorationists are a more recent movement. Today, they include such denominations as the Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses and Adventists.

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