Christians vs. Catholics

Catchy title, huh?  Allow me to explain myself.

I love having religious debates with Christians.  It just fuels me, as an atheist, even more.  And being the logical thinker that I am, something always seems to baffle me.

We, the Christian and I, will be smack dab in the middle of a debate and I’ll throw out a reference to back up my claim.  And occasionally that reference will encapsulate Catholicism only.  And so starts the flame wars.

Why do Protestants claim Catholics aren’t Christian, or even part of Christianity?

I don’t get this one.  I have tried and tried to rationalize with Protestants about this one.  They can’t buy into it.  Is is universally believed that Protestantism is the true faith and Catholicism is somehow obsolete?

I started digging, and here is what I found:
Wikipedia explains Christianity pretty thoroughly.  They give us a diagram to explain the evolution of Christianity.  I’m no historian, but it would appear that Catholicism is the original Christian faith.  Hundreds of years later, Protestantism split from Catholicism.So, if it’s a black and white issue, why are the opinions so fragmented.  Can someone shed some light here?


About Lyn May

Designer, engineer, producer; I haven't really decided yet. Maybe I'll keep it that way - it's much easier to be undecided any way. I love graphic design, writing, photography, video production, animation, playing guitar, singing, engineering and pretty much any other medium that allows me to express my self artistically/logically.

Posted on April 27, 2011, in Culture, Philosophy, Theism, World and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Hello Lyn,
    I’m not sure if there is one answer to your question but I can give you my theory. The division between Catholicism and Protestants is essentially the split from the Roman theology because the world wanted to read the Scripture in their own language and the Roman church forbid that activity, claiming they were the only ones capable of understanding and disseminating its true meaning. This made alot of sense because they essentially authored it. Their version of what became a Latin Bible was withheld from native translations and was kept out of the direct hands of the believer during the early formation of the monolith known as the Roman Church.
    The earliest version of the New Testament, known as the Codex Sinaiticus was hand-written in Greek by four unnamed scribes during the reign of Constantine the Great in the mid-fourth century. Constantine was the Roman emperor who ended the murder and persecution of Eashoa’s (Christ’s) first line of followers. The transcription occurred approximately two centuries after the longest living disciple John died. Irenaeus proclaimed Thomas’ gospel heresy circa 180 AD. The Gospel of Thomas is one of many Coptic text discovered in the caves of Nag Hammadi circa 1945 AD. Although the written text that is now known as the Gospel of Thomas was circulating during the same time the Canonical Gospels at the time the original Codex were being compiled, this establishes the frame of reference for the authenticity of Thomas’ gospel. For centuries the Roman Church withheld direct access to the Bible from the common people. The Bible did not appear in any native language of the people until Martin Luther, a former Roman Catholic monk, translated the New Testament into German in eleven weeks. The Lutheran arm of Evangelical Christianity followed years later. John Wycliffe is responsible for the first English version of the Bible. He was burned at the stake before it was published on the white market which later led to the birth of the early English church.
    You are correct, there is a theological divide in these two “super powers” of the church that resembles the Cold War. The one thing they have in common is both factions cling to the Bible as the single source of truth; the problem is they are both carrying somewhat different translations and each as created their own set of rules, ethics and rituals from those versions that at times oppose each other.
    Hope this is helpful…I look forward to seeing how others answer your very provocative question!

  2. One more thing related to the versions they are carrying; the Roman Catholic holds the belief the original version, since it was the first is the truth, and the Protestant versions were developed because they altered the truth to fit their desires….forgot to finish with the point of my “rant!” Hey it’s early in the a.m…..

  3. ….”And being the logical thinker that I am, something always seems to baffle me.”…

    ahhhh….the handsome modesty…

    that Jewish faith is not Christianity, I have heard,
    but being raised among catholics and married to one…
    I have never heard Protestants treating Catholics as not Christians…
    not in Europe and not in States…

    yes…it is a catchy title!! LOL
    ok…here is my view….(many times I was wondering myself if I am an Atheist myself…???)
    I was born to Lutheran Parents, in Poland and raised in Lutheran faith…
    married first time around to a Lutheran “good” boy…
    and after that did not worked out,
    I married a Catholic guy….
    (religion was not a factor in either event)
    My late husband was born to a more-catholic-than-pope Mother,
    educated in Catholic schools from kindergarden to Notre Dame University…
    ….my view of all the religious souls….
    on a span of the last 50 years ,( that I can recall )….
    no matter what country, no matter what situation…
    the more religious a person is , the more rotten behaviour they display…
    and does not matter what faith is proclaimed..

    there is a polish saying:
    kleczy pod figura a diabla ma za skora….
    which translates exactly to:
    is kneeling under a figurine (saint) having a devil under skin…

    how many wars , crusades were started because of religion…
    we don’t need to go back into history…
    how many people are dead because of radical section of Islam?….

    as for myself…
    I really do not care what church, what God, or Entity one is praying to,
    but treat other people with the same respect and dignity you would like to be treated with…

    many Pastors are saying if 2 or 3 of you gather God will be with you…

    does that mean, if praying alone I am not going to be heard?…
    I have no problem looking into a mirror or straight into someone eyes and stand for what I believe
    is responsible, ethical, moral and compasionate life I am leading…
    if that’s not good enough for God, than that is his problem….

    actually, thanks to Maturity Symptom,
    I forgot to tell you a joke as an answer to your title and subject taken….

    Lutheran Pastor, Catholic Priest and Jewish Rabbi are having a meeting about
    the approproriety of dealing with collected money…
    Pastor is saying:
    I am making a circle in front of the Altar, throw the money up, and what falls into the circle is mine, and what lands outside the circle is God’s!
    Priest says: Ohh my gosh, I am doing the same thing, but the other way around…whatever falls outside the circle is mine!!!
    The Rabbi says…well…I am glad we are so close in our ways!!!!
    I am not making circle, but as you I as well throw the money up!!!
    …and whatever God catches is His and whatever falls down is mine!!!!

  4. As a former catholic, I feel qualified to answer this question. Catholics ignore the authority of the bible and take their authority from the pope. As you know the catholic church has been guilty of great abuses of power in their past. Christians take their authority from the Bible. Every ex catholic who I have ever talked to who became a christian said the same thing: “They lied to us” because so much of catholic docrine is direct contradiction to biblical teaching.

    John Wilder

  5. John, you weren’t a very good Catholic if you believe this. We actually believe that Sacred Scripture is part of a three legged stool of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Sacred Magisterium, Christianity was a religion of word of mouth teaching from the beginning, the spoken word, long before anything much was written down. We revere the pope as Christ’s representative on earth, and know that Jesus told the truth when he promised the Holy Spirit to protect the pope from error. So to correct you (again), we take our authority from the Bible, from Sacred Tradition and Sacred Magisterium.

    Maybe in a separate post, you could expound on the ‘great abuses of power’ the Catholic Church is guilty of, and we can really get this out in the open. And I haven’t seen anything yet on how Catholic doctrine is direct contradiction to biblical teaching. Also, by what authority do you say that statement?

  6. You’re actually wrong here, too. Prior to the invention of the printing press, books were expensive. To have a complete Bible in a church cost, by today’s standard, thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars. So they were chained to protect from theft. Also, prior to the invention of the printing press, most folks were illiterate, including many minor kings and queens. So having a book might not include being able to read a book. Only scholars were literate, even for a long time after the invention of the printing press. It wasn’t until the mid 1700’s that even a slight majority of the populace could read.
    Remarkably, an old English Bible translation from the 700’s exists in part today, proving that the monks of the middle ages actually preserved the faith and translated it into vernacular language all along. It is true that Innocent III banned unauthorized translations because of the Waldensians and Cathar heresies. The complete Bible was translated into old French in the 1300’s.

    It is true to say that the first Catholics (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Jude, Peter) authored the Bible, and their disciples eventually wrote it down. So who better to interpret it than the Catholic Church, and who better to call foul when an unintended meaning crept in?

    I hope you can do some research to see that your understanding is basically wrong.

  7. Also, that’s not meant to condemn you, there’s lots of bad Catholics. Most people who don’t understand church teaching fall away, just as Jesus’ own disciples in John Chapter 6.

  8. David,

    While not a Catholic and not inclined to disagree with you, I’m curious what the justification is for placing tradition and magisterium on the same level as Scripture.

    Also, by what do you define “falling away” from the church? Is it leaving the Catholic church, or eschewing religion in general?

  9. I stand by my research within its scope. There was never an assertion that my post would articulate the entire history of Biblical translation. But thank you for your comment.

  10. The evangelical view of Christianity is that people become Christians by conversion/ getting born again/ salvation. These things mean more or less the same, or are different sides of one coin.

    It comes down to salvation by admitting your sin as wrong and turning away from it, believing that Jesus died on the cross for it, and being made new by God.

    By this view, it is possible to attend a Catholic church, and become a Christian. It is also possible to be Catholic and not do this. It is possible to attend a Protestant church, and become a Christian. It is also possible to be Protestant and not do this. So, the evangelical view is that not all Catholics are Christians, neither are all Protestants. Some Protestants, and some Catholics, are.

    (There are some weaker -weaker in the sense of understanding the faith – evangelicals who hold a view not to be confused with the real evangelical one: They hold that anyone who say the sinners prayer is saved/ converted. The difference between that and paragraph 2 is that paragraph 2 describes the reality. The salvation prayer is something that can be meant or not, a shadow of the reality. I regard myself as born again, but it happened without that prayer.)

  11. To clarify that last sentence, it should rather read “it happened long prior to that prayer, with a prayer that bore little resemblance to it.”

  12. But how can you say the Catholic Church was against translating the Bible into vernacular language when it was done in every major country in Europe prior to 1200? What they were against was mis-translation, similar to what the Watchtower organization and the Mormons have done.

    The Church did condemn as heresy Gnosticism, and certainly wrote Against Heresies to make his point. It was up to the Catholics to define what Christian was and what it wasn’t. The early Church argued all the time about points of doctrine-the nature(s) of Jesus, the Trinity, baptism, and so on. Usually, when a major question arose, a Council was called, and all the writings examined to see what was believed from the beginning.

    The canon of scripture had nothing to do with Constantine, who, while he legalized Christianity in 313, didn’t actually convert until his death.

  13. You cannot be Catholic and not be Christian. It’s impossible. You could be born and baptized Catholic, and never truly believe, but if you call yourself a Catholic, you affirm your belief in Christ. What you do later might be renunciation, but when you say I’m Catholic, you are, in one word, agreeing to the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.

    Is it possible to attend a Catholic church and not be Christian? Yes, you can walk into any church as freely as possible, without affirming any belief.
    I think the semantic difference in what you’re stating is the meaning of ‘believe’. You can say “I believe it’s going to rain today”. That doesn’t make it so, and it doesn’t mean you subscribe to belief in rain. People can say they believe in Jesus, and nothing ever escapes their brain or body to show their belief. I used to be one of those. You can believe 1% or 100%. That’s your own perogative.

  14. David: “I think the semantic difference in what you’re stating is the meaning of ‘believe’. …People can say they believe in Jesus, and nothing ever escapes their brain or body to show their belief. ”
    We agree, there is the question of semantics: Some, when they talk of Christians (Christ-ians, or Christ-followers) mean “anyone who claim, with their words, Christianity is true.” Evangelicals say Christians mean “anyone who got born again.” (I previously mentioned what that means.)
    David: “if you call yourself a Catholic, you affirm your belief in Christ.”

    Not true for everyone. For example, I’ve heard (from a reliable source) of a visitor to Northern Ireland who was stopped and asked: “Protestant or Catholic?” He replied: “I am an atheist.” To which the questioners asked: “Protestant atheist or Catholic atheist?” Affirming that you are a Catholic/Protestant does not mean, to them, belief in Christ. It’s a cultural label there.

    From another source who live in Italy, I’ve read that many Italians still call themselves Catholics, but say they are not Christians. They don’t affirm belief, but mere membership on paper.

  15. I think there’s a difference between saying your Catholic and being Catholic. Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and lots of people who aren’t as well known call themselves Catholics when they aren’t ‘being’ Catholic. I understand there’s a difference between what people say and what they do.
    There are cultural Jews and Protestants, too.
    Being Christian is not about what you say. It’s about what you do and how you live.

  16. David- it seems we agree. We just word it differently.

  17. I don’t mean to impugn well meaning catholics, what I condemn is the priests, bishops and the pope for misleading their flocks. They are also a corrupt organization in that they still protect predatory priests and ignore the abused children.

    The priests, bishops and the pope add tradtion and magesterium, pious pronouncements by the clergy that they view as equal to or superior to scripture. They also pray to saints and to mary which Jesus forbade stating that there was only one way to the “Father and that was through him.
    John Wilder

  18. You don’t mean to, and yet you do impugn well meaning Catholics.

    You haven’t yet shown how priests, bishops and the pope mislead their flocks-is it because they tell us it’s not in our best interest to contracept?

    The organization is not corrupt, though like any human organization, there is corruption within. They do not protect (nor did they, as a policy) predatory priests or ignore abused children.

    As I have shown the Church Christ gave us is Tradition first (spoken), Magisterium second (taught), and the Bible comes after. The Christian faith was spoken and taught first (which is what Sacred Tradition is and what Sacred Magisterium is), and written later. John, if you condemn prayer to saints and Mary, I certainly hope you aren’t asking for anyone else’s prayers for your health or for your success, because that would make you a HYPOCRITE. Mary and the Saints simply lead us to Jesus.

    You sound a lot like someone who ate a bad taco at Taco Bell and wants to try and take down the entire company. I’m sure there are bad Taco Bells, I’m sure there are great Taco Bells. But your particular incident, as important as it is to you, does not make the whole Church corrupt, any more so than any other organization run by human beings.

    The teaching of the Catholic Church, Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide, and we take it on faith that Christ meant what he said. So the faith He taught, guided by the Holy Spirit is what we have today.

  19. I have the record of the catholic church to go on. Show me one instance where the bishop turned over the priest to the police and did anything to protect kids. Adults had to sue the church because they did nothing to protect the kids and still you want to justify the church and dismiss biblical claims and commands and make up your own religeon. I can’t respect that.

  20. Show me one instance where it was required? The common knowledge of the day was to send the problem to psychological counseling and put them back in the system. The Catholic Church did no different than any other organization faced with the same problem. In fact, it’s still the way it’s handled in the NYC Public School System. They do not turn accused teachers over to the police or the DA. Adults sued the Catholic Church as much because there was money to be had as for any other reason. It was only in hindsight that it was proven that the course of action was the wrong one. and it was your own profession that recommended it. Why don’t you go after your own profession with such vigor?

    You cannot mix the two, John, you cannot mix the faith of the Church with what some men who are associated with the Church did. The Catholic Church never taught that it was ok to molest children. Never. If it had done so, you’d have a claim.

    I don’t respect what those few individual priests and bishops did either, John. But I know when an organization is responsible and when an individual is responsible. The sins of Peter and Judas (and all the other followers of Jesus) do not dilute the teachings of Jesus, which the Holy Spirit protects in the body of Christ, the Church. And we do not dismiss Biblical claims and commands, we properly interpret them. 🙂

  21. I don’t now nor have I ever supported my profession in many of the things that they do. I frequently critique them as well. We have come a long way however and most shrinks accept that you can’t cure homosexual pedophilia. That has been accepted for years and still every year around the globe, you have more instances where bishops did not protect kids and still don’t as far as I know.
    John Wilder

  22. How many cases can you name, John, that are less than 5 years old? Where the incident happened after 2006? Cardinal Ratzinger instituted a policy of zero tolerance, at least 8 years ago, which is more than I can say for any other institution. We’re also the only one who tracks the issue. Why do you think that is, John? Well, let me tell you, it’s because they care, and because they don’t want it in the Church. Just because you don’t know about it means you’re not as up on things as you might want to be when you go pointing fingers. Remember, when you do that, bad things happen. One, you’re pointing four fingers back at yourself, two that finger might get cut off…

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