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QUESTION: Dear Kristopher

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholicism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism

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: Prashant,

You have a great question, but before I can answer it I have to admit that the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are to many to be summarized.  Additionally, there are differences from church to church, cathedral to cathedral, and within protestant denominations.  For example, while Roman Catholic priests are not permitted to offer communion to protestant I have been in a mass where the priest opened communion for all in attendance.

I should also mention that there is no single protestant theology.  Not only can different traditions differ in their interpretation of Scripture, but even within a particular denomination you can find a wide variety of beliefs.

In my opinion the greatest difference comes in the form of how salvation is received.  Most protestants believe it is a personal choice, often expressed in accepting Christ's sacrifice for our sins, believing in him as Lord and Savior, confessing and repenting of our sins.  The Roman Catholic church understands salvation as God's blessing upon the church.  Baptism is entrance into the Church (which is why infants are baptized in the Roman Catholic tradition) and that God will save the church.

In general, Roman Catholics worship separately from protestants.  This has been true for nearly 500 years.  Until Vatican II protestants were not even officially considered Christians.  After Vatican II protestants are seen as "Separated Brothers" who may find salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church.  Outside of official denominations there are many organizations which work for Christian causes outside of the church.  It is very common for such organizations to include both protestant and Roman Catholic membership.

The best articulated differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism come in the form of the "Five Solae" of the Protestant Reformation.

Sola Scriptura: By Scripture alone
This is the teaching that only the Bible is inspired or authoritative.  In contrast Roman Catholics believe that the Church and the Pope (when speaking on behalf of the church) are equally authoritative.  While tradition may be valued in Protestantism, Roman Catholics hold it to be inspired and divine.

Sola Fide: By faith alone
As previously discussed, most protestants believe that salvation is found in individual faith.  Roman Catholics believe that righteous works earn merit towards salvation.  While good deeds are not enough to earn salvation in the Roman Catholic theology, they are necessary and co-equal to faith.

Sola Gratia: By grace alone
Grace is given without merit, but as a free gift in protestant theology.  Roman Catholics mostly believe this, but would argue that such grace will not be given without good deeds.

Solus Christus: Through Christ alone
Protestantism teaches that Christ is the only mediator between man and God.  This means that the sacraments are Holy because of Christ, and not because of the priest who administers them.  It also means that there is no need for a priest or saint to intercede on behalf of the Christian.  

Soli Deo Gloria: Glory to God alone
Only God (not popes, priests, saints or even the Apostles) is worthy of glory.  Prayers and divine appreciation are due only to God, and to give them to anyone else would be considered blasphemous.


Not every Roman Catholic will subscribe to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, nor will every protestant agree with all five of the above distinctions, but this is a good starting point.  If you have any additional questions, please let me know and as always I welcome follow up.

Blessings,
Kris Browning
www.KrisBrowning.com

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

QUESTION: Dear Kristopher

Thank you.

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

This are my views mentioned below.

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.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

Answer
Preshant,

Great insights!  I apologize I didn't see this much earlier, it got lost in the "inbox".

I think that the mother of Christ certainly should hold a place of honor within the church, comparable to the Apostles.  I would be hesitant, however, to offer prayer to her.  While both are great, only one is God.

As far as visitation, to my knowledge there are very few Christian churches (or churches of any religion for that matter) who do not allow and encourage visitation.  Most Christian churches have a general belief statement that one would have to adhere to to become a member.  This is where we would see the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

Roman Catholics regularly pray for unification, the total merging of all Christianity back to the "Mother Church".  For this to happen, some major theological differences would have to be ironed out.  It took 1500 years of church history to split and sadly it may take just as long to unify.

Regardless, I am very happy that you've been welcomed from all avenues.  Some countries have little distinction between Catholicism and Protestantism.  In contrast there are some countries where the divide can become violent.  If you're from India (assuming this from your statements about being born Hindu and visiting Mount Mary Church) I couldn't tell you what the relationship is like between the Roman Catholic Church and protestants nearby.

Blessings,
Kris Browning
www.KrisBrowning.com

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Rev. Kristopher Browning

Expertise

Prolegomena: Theology of Inspiration, Theology of Revelation, Theology of Authority, Doctrine of the Holy Trinity (historical and contemporary), Cosmology (creation), Theodicy (existence/creation of evil), Hamartiology (Sin), Salvation, Ecclesiology (Theology of the Church) especially missiology, Eschatology (Last things, second coming, rapture).

Experience

Independent academic research, guided study, practical application via the local church ministry. 2013 to Present: Family Life Pastor, Shawnee Alliance Church (Lima, OH) 2010 to 2013: Lead Pastor, Fellowship Alliance Chapel (Huber Heights, OH) 2009-2010: Shawnee Alliance Church (Lima, OH) 2008-2009: Hope Community Church (Mount Vernon, OH) 2006-2007: Bladensburg Church of Christ (Bladensburg, OH)

Organizations
The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Publications
Inspire Magazine, Spring 2012

Education/Credentials
BA in Religion, Mount Vernon Nazarene University M. Min, Mount Vernon Nazarene University Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership (expected 2017), Indiana Wesleyan University

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