Bible Studies/Catholicism and Protestantism.
Dear Rev C.Brian
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
Hello, Prashant S Akerkar
Thank you for your question. It is, strictly speaking, out with the area of Biblical Studies as neither the Church of Rome (as it is today), nor the Reformed (Protestant) Churches are to be found anywhere in the Bible.
However, I will offer a brief answer to what is a matter of church history. If you wished to pursue the topic at a greater depth, you will doubtless find much material on-line!
Up until the alleged conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (4th century) there was only the Body of Christ which met in homes in local areas, in spite of recurring persecution. After Constantine's 'conversion', the persecution ceased, but Christianity now became both official and 'popular'.
The history of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Church in the West, is too long for an AllExperts answer, but as the Bishop of Rome - claiming to be the direct successor of the Apostle Peter (although there is no Biblical evidence that Peter ever even visited Rome!) - gained more and more influence, he became known as 'Papa', from which word we get the title 'Pope'. This growing hierarchy was accompanied by growing material wealth. Indeed, the story is told of an occasion where St. Thomas Aquinas was walking with a pope through one of the grand cathedrals of his day. Referring to a coffer filled with precious coins, the prelate remarked, “Behold, Master Thomas, the church can no longer say, as St. Peter, ‘Silver and gold have I none!’” St. Thomas was apparently quick with his retort, “Alas, neither can we say what follows, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.’”
As the Church of Rome became more wealthy and influential, there were some who longed to see it return to Biblical standards. One of these was a German monk named Martin Luther (1483-1546). He objected, strongly, to the Roman practice of the selling of 'indulgences' - a means of allegedly purchasing God's forgiveness! In 1517, he posted his "Ninety-five theses" (or 'arguments') against what he saw as corruption in the Church. What Luther appears to have desired was a re-formation of the Church of Rome - getting rid of the many excesses of power and wealth. This gives us the term "The Reformation". However, because he was seen as 'protesting', those who agreed with him were termed 'Protest-ants!
One of Luther's 'slogans' was sola scriptura
which means "Scripture only". By this he meant that the Roman teaching that salvation was available only through the Church, was totally wrong. His major text was Rom.3:8 "by grace you are saved, through faith; not of works, lest any man should boast". He, and the other Reformers, also majored on the priesthood of all believers, in opposition to the teaching of the Church of Rome's teaching that the laity could only approach God through the ordained priesthood. The veneration of 'saints' was also discarded, and Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus, was viewed as a special person, but not as having any particular influence over the Godhead.
So, to try to sum up 600 years of Church History - The Church of Rome (a more accurate description, as the word 'Catholic' simply means 'Universal' and is more properly applied to believers all over the world. cf the last section of the Apostles' Creed) is much as it has always been. The pope is seen as speaking with infallibility when doing so 'ex cathedra' (official pronouncements). The Church is still viewed as necessary to salvation, and Mary is venerated as "Queen of Heaven". Although the sale of indulgences did cease, there is a sense in which the Confessional has taken over, and many members of the Church of Rome appear to believe that, as long as they have confessed to a priest, they may go out and do the same thing over again! Prayers are also said for the dead. The Reformed Churches (sadly, there have been many divisions over the centuries) do not accept papal infallibility; see salvation as being through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary, and faith in that same Christ; believe that every disciple of Jesus has immediate and personal access to the Father, through Him; and believe that, after physical death, there is no intermediate place called Purgatory (in which sins may be atoned for), but that believers go to be with the Lord, and unbelievers go to a place of torment.
There is much that I have omitted, but I hope that I may have whetted your own intellectual, and spiritual, appetites to do some further research for yourself!
C.Brian Ross (Rev)