You are here:

Bible Studies/Catholicism and Protestantism.


QUESTION: Dear Thurman

What are the Similarities and Differences in Catholicism and Protestantism ?

Are there different churches for both ?. i.e. Catholics go for worship and praying the all mighty to a different church and Protestants go to a different church ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Dear Prashant,
Thank you for your question about the differences and similarities between Protestantism and Catholicism.

When the Protestants broke away from Catholicism in the 16th century, there were many differences. I’ll list a few of the doctrines of Catholicism and those of Protestantism. This comparison is, of necessity, very brief and sketchy. The differences and similarities are far greater than they appear here. In some sections I’ve made only a perfunctory statement, while in others I’ve explained a bit more.

The Catholic Church—the Papacy: Pope, Cardinals, Bishops—has drifted so far from the Bible that, in spite of their use of biblical language, it bears little resemblance to genuine Christian values that are presented in the Bible. We’re not talking about the Catholic people: it’s the church—the system—that is apostate. Most Catholics aren’t even aware of the fact that their church doesn’t teach true doctrine.

I’m sure that, by now, you realize that I’m a Protestant. In fact, I believe that the Papacy fits the identifying marks of the “little horn” in Daniel 7, the “man of sin” in 2 Thess. 2 and the leopard-like “beast” in Rev. 13—identified by John in his first letter (1 John) as the Antichrist.

I would be more than happy to discuss this with you if you should desire. You can study the Bible lessons on my web site——lessons 24, 24b, and 25. I also suggest that you read the last 13 chapters of the book The Great Controversy which I’ve placed on my site as well—under “Books”, at the bottom of the Contents page.

Here are a few comparisons and differences:

Catholics believe in life after death; Protestants believe in life after death

Catholics believe in Purgatory and an eternally burning hell; Protestants believe there is no Purgatory; but most Protestants believe in an eternally burning hell

Catholics believe that the Bible & Tradition are the source of truth; Protestants believe that the Bible ALONE is the source of truth

Catholics pray to Mary and the Saints; Protestants don’t believe in Saints

Catholics believe in Transubstantiation—the communion bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Christ; Protestants don’t believe in transubstantiation. Protestants believe that the communion bread and wine are merely symbols that remind us of the body and blood of Jesus.

Catholics believe that Sunday is the holy day of worship; Protestants also believe that Sunday is the holy day of worship

Catholics believe in infant baptism by sprinkling; many Protestants also believe in infant baptism by sprinkling. However, Baptists and some others believe that people should believe in Jesus and understand church doctrine, before being baptized by immersion; thus they baptize adults and children, but only after children are old enough to receive Jesus as their Savior, and to understand the doctrines of the church.

Catholic priests are forbidden to marry. Protestant pastors are encouraged to marry.

Catholics believe that people are saved by—baptism; veneration of the saints; pilgrimages to sacred places; obeying the precepts of the church; performing works of merit and by purchasing indulgences—certificates that give them forgiveness of sins for various lengths of time--in the future. Protestants believe that people are saved by the grace of God made possible because of the sacrifice of Christ. They receive righteousness and salvation by FAITH. They believe that when Christ died on the cross, He became man’s substitute, He took upon Himself the penalty for sin—eternal death—that sinners would have to pay for their own sins. So Christ paid the price for our salvation. Christians receive salvation by believing that He died for them, and by accepting Him as their Savior. Good works are done as a result of the salvation by faith in Christ—not as a means of salvation.

Catholics are required to confess their sins to a priest who has the “authority” to forgive sins. Protestants believe that sins should only be confessed to God, Who only can forgive them. They believe that people should not confess their sins to man.

The Papacy has changed the 10 commandments: They’ve left out the second commandment which prohibits the worship of images (Catholics pray to the images of the virgin Mary, and many other saints); they’ve changed the commandment requiring that God’s people keep the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord. Catholics claim that they changed the day of worship from Saturday, the seventh day of the week, to Sunday, the first day of the week, thereby applying the Sabbath commandment to Sunday. They believe this change to be a mark of their authority in spiritual matters. They have split the 10th commandment into two, thereby keeping the number of commandments at 10—but with two commandments about coveting.    Protestants believe that the commandments should be kept as God wrote them with His finger on the tables of stone, and as they are recorded in the Bible—Exodus 20:1-17. However, most Protestants have followed the Catholic church in keeping Sunday instead of the seventh day of the week, as required by the commandments. Only Seventh-day Adventists believe that Saturday, the seventh day, is the holy day of rest commanded by the Lord.

Catholics, through the centuries, have persecuted anyone who disagreed with them, calling them heretics. For centuries they imprisoned, tortured and executed people for the “crime” of differing in belief from the Catholic Church, or even for owning a Bible (which would show the reader how far the church’s doctrines had drifted from God’s word).

Historians estimate that over 50 million people died, through the centuries, because they disagreed with, or taught things contrary to the church. Protestants, and Christians for 1500 years before them, suffered and died under Papal persecution. But Protestants were also guilty of persecuting those who disagreed with them—in places, such as Geneva, Switzerland; England; France; Spain and Colonial America—as well as in many other countries.

There are many other differences and similarities, but I believe that you can see that there is a wide gap between the two systems.

But, sadly, these differences are disappearing, and many Protestant churches are seeking to go back to Roman Catholicism. The Anglican Church (English) has already done so in an agreement that Catholics and Anglicans may share communion in the other’s churches, while the Lutherans, and the United Churches of Christ are not far behind (the German Lutheran Church has sent a letter to the Vatican apologizing for what Luther did!). So, in the future, there may no longer be any differences, for it seems that eventually there may not be any Protestants left.

But the Seventh-day Adventist Church will not change over to Catholicism, because they believe that the Bible and the Bible only is the rule of all faith and doctrine. Catholic writers agree that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the only one that really follows the Bible in all its teachings.

I suggest that you study your Bible and see what it teaches, and then choose a church that adheres to all that the Bible teaches. It’s helpful to have Bible study guides to steer you through the study of the Bible. You will find 43 Bible lessons on my web site, They are arranged by subject so you can understand what the Bible says about each teaching. There are also many books and articles to read on the site—free.

If you should have other questions about the Bible or the Papacy, feel free to write directly to me via e-mail. Even though I may not be able to answer every question, I’ll be glad to try to help you find them.

Thurman C. Petty, Jr.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Thurman

Thank you.

Christianity Religion is broadly divided into two different Divisions  or Communities viz Catholics and Protestants.

This are my views mentioned below from my side.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God has founded the religion Christianity. Mother Mary is Mother of the Lord. Both are Great. The Holy Churches are open to all whether Catholics or Protestants and not only Catholics or Protestants but to all other religions.

I personally born Hindu religion by birth visit Different churches
St Lewis Church, Mount Mary Church, St Michael Church. The Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters of those churches allow me to enter the church, pray and worship before the All Mighty. I get mental peace. They do not stop me to enter the church just because i am from a different religion.

I personally feel Catholics should be allowed to visit the Protestants Churches and Protestants should be allowed to enter the Catholics Churches and they should do this.

I also personally feel there should be a common church for both the communities and not different churches for the Catholics and Protestants communities.

Note : Mother Mary is Mother of the Lord itself. Both are Great.
God is Great. Regarding my above opinion and views, can you please reply me with your views ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

Dear Prashant,

I appreciate your concern about the differences between Catholics and Protestants, and the fact that, generally, they don’t worship together. This is too bad, as Jesus wanted His people to be unified so that they could win the whole world to Christ. The number of Christians is growing fast, but the disunity continues to plague the Christian church.
To attempt to have these two groups to worship together, would be almost impossible, for these reasons:

>> The Papacy (the Pope, Cardinals  & Bishops) looks at all Protestants as heretics—enemies of the church. Heretics have always been punished severely by the church, and often handed over to the government to be executed. This went on for over a thousand years, and more than 50 million were killed down through the ages. If political circumstances permitted it, they would be at it again—holding a war against Protestants. They wouldn’t be satisfied until all Protestants either returned to the Catholic Church, or were dead.
Few Protestants believe this, and life goes on as usual. I don’t know if there’s any restrictions on either side for visiting each other’s churches. But the opposite side would not be allowed to take communion.

Prashant, rather than try to do the impossible, why not go to the source of the Christian religion, the Bible, and learn what true Christianity is all about. Once you know the story, then your understanding of the difference between Catholics and Protestants will be clear.

Here’s a brief description:

>>Jesus was God, the Creator. (John 1:1-3, 14)
>>Jesus humbled himself and became a man Who was obedient to death, death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
>>Jesus began His ministry at the age of about 30; He taught the people many important truths;

>>After about 3 ½ years, He was betrayed by one of His own disciples and taken prisoner by a mob. They hustled Him into the presence of Annas, the high priest, for His first trial;

>>Then He was taken to another trial before Annas’ son-in-law, Caiaphas, where He was condemned to death as a blasphemer on account that He said He was the Son of God. But the trial before Caiaphas wasn’t legal because it was held at night.

>> In the morning Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jewish nation. The Sanhedrin also found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, and they condemned him to death. But, since the Jews were under the occupation of the Romans, the Jews didn’t have the right to execute criminals: this was the privilege of the Roman government.

>>So the Jewish leaders pushed and pulled Jesus to the Praetorian, where Pilate held court. Pilate asked Jesus some questions: “Are You a King?” Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world, else my servants would fight.” Pilate was convinced Jesus was innocent, and tried to set Him free. The Jewish leaders clamored for His death. Pilate sought to appease them by having Jesus scourged—39 stripes with a “cat-o-9-tails” with stones and bits of metal braided into the strands. It did no good, for the Jews still wanted to crucify Him: not just execute Him, but crucify Him—a method that caused excruciating pain for days, or however long it took for the man to die. But when Pilate learned that Jesus came from Galilee, he sent Jesus to Herod, who just happened to be in town.

>>Herod was just curious, wanting to see Jesus perform a miracle. But Jesus was silent and didn’t talk. Herod let his soldiers play games with Jesus, and then sent Him back to Pilate.

>>Again Pilate talked with Jesus, but Jesus didn’t say anything this time. (Pilate didn’t listen last time, and in spite of the fact that he declared that Jesus was innocent, he’d had Him whipped—and he kept Jesus chained and refused to let Him go.) The Jews continued to clamor for His death, and a mob scene began to build. Pilate hated mobs, so he gave Jesus up to the Jews to be crucified.

After 6 trials, they took Jesus up the hill to Calvary, and laid Him down on a rough wooden cross. Then hammered giant square spikes into His hands (some say His wrists). These square spikes were designed so as to cause more pain than round spikes. They nailed one in each hand, and one through both feet, raised the cross up, and dropped it into a hole.

Jesus hung on that cross for 6 hours—3 hours in the hot sun, and then the sun seemed to just go out, and there were 3 hours of total darkness. About 3 in the afternoon, the sun came on again. Jesus called out “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

It was time to slay the Passover lamb. But Jesus is the real Passover Lamb, and He died at the precise time for slaying the lamb. Jesus shouted, a loud call that echoed throughout the city of Jerusalem, and then He said: “Father into Thy hands I give my spirit (breath),” and He died. At that exact moment the veil in the Temple (it was very heavy—four inches thick) ripped from top to bottom, throwing open the most holy place of the sanctuary for all to see; (previously only the high priest saw that room, and then only once a year).

Two Sanhedrin members, who hadn’t consented to His death, took Jesus down off the cross, and placed Him in the new tomb of a wealthy man.

Jesus only stayed in the tomb, by Jewish reckoning, 3 days (day 1=part of Friday; day 2=the Sabbath=day 3=part of Sunday). On Sunday morning, Jesus rose from the grave and visited His disciples before the day was out. He proved that He was real by having them give Him some food to eat. He took it and ate it before them (Luke 24:42-46). He stayed around for 40 days, appearing to the disciples here and there. Once He appeared to 500 people, in Galilee, and taught them.

After 40 days, Jesus ascended up into the sky, into the clouds, in the sight of at least 11 disciples, but it may have been a group as large as 120, since that’s how many were in the “upper room” 10 days later when the Holy Spirit fell on them in tongues of fire.

The important thing to remember here is this: Jesus gave up His throne in Heaven, came to this earth and lived with us for 33 ½ years. He mingled with the people, and taught many important lessons. He healed people of their sicknesses, and set free those who had been possessed by demons. He raised at least 3 people to life—one of whom had been dead nearly 4 days.

Jesus never sinned—in fact He challenged His enemies to point out any sin in His life; but they couldn’t do it. He never did anything that would hurt people, except to tell the priests and rulers that they would receive punishment for their sinful acts.

Prashant, Jesus is the only God worshiped by any religion Who is still alive today—in bodily form. He’s not a spirit without a body, but when He ascended to Heaven, He did so in the body he’d had for 33 ½ years. According to the Bible, He still has that body.

And what other God is there that, having created His people, died to save them from their sins, so they could have eternal life. God loves us that much—more than His Own Life. That’s why I’m a Christian: I love Jesus because He first loved me and gave Himself for me.
Someday soon, Jesus will come back to earth to rescue all those who have accepted Him as their God and Savior.

Prashant, don’t you see why I love Jesus? Wouldn’t you like to accept Him as your God and Savior? He loves you, and would have died for you if you were the only person on this earth.

There is a book on my web site about the story of Jesus—one of the best ever written. It’s been printed in many languages, and has sold millions of copies. It’s called The Desire of Ages. Go to, click on Books, and you’ll find it down at the bottom of the page. If you want to really know what true Christians believe, I recommend this book to you.

Write me at my e-mail address and we can discuss these things in greater detail.

Thurman C. Petty, Jr.

Bible Studies

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Thurman C. Petty, Jr.


I`ve been a Pastor and Bible teacher for 40 years.


I`m a writer--author of 18 Bible-based books and over 200 journal articles. Web site: where a lot of my books and writings are posted. I've been married to the same lovely lady for 55 years. We're more in love now than when we married. My wife and I were missionaries to Pitcairn Island, in the South Pacific, from 1982-1984.

I've been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since the age of 9.

Books: Pacific Press Publishing Association; PettyPress. Number of titles published: 16. Journal Articles: Adventist Review; Signs of the Times; Guide Magazine; Ministry: A Journal for Clergy; Sabbath School Leadership; The Youth's Instructor; Student Movement; Cord, and others. Total Journal articles: over 200. Web Site: Contents: 18 of my books; 41 Bible study guides; over 30 sermons; Stories; poems; links to other sites, etc. E-mail address:

I have a BA and a Master`s degree--both degrees are in Biblical studies.

Awards and Honors
I was awarded the "Golden Cord" from my Alma Mater, Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, for my foreign mission service.

©2016 All rights reserved.