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Question
Dear Rev C.Brian

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
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!

Kind regards

C.Brian Ross (Rev)  

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Rev C.Brian Ross

Expertise

I am happy to offer answers to anyone with a question that refers to the Christian Faith in its widest possible sense. I believe that the Bible is the living Word of God, and seek to base all of my life on its teaching. I also have some knowledge of some of the cults, and of Islam and Judaism. Of course, my answers are just one man's thoughts, and I would always advise a questioner to check with others, and with the Word of God.

Experience

Served as a full-time parish minister in Scotland for about six years, and then spent the last thirty as a teacher (now 'retired') of Religious Education in Secondary Comprehensive schools (ages 11-17) while continuing my own preaching and teaching ministry. I have spent three years as a voluntary Chaplain with Strathclyde Police Force. I also believe that learning is a life-time process, and have recently completed a Master's degree in Divinity. I now spend most of my time in France, ministering mainly to English-speaking groups.

Organizations
Former Presenter on Revival FM - a local Christian, community radio station, broadcasting in west central Scotland, and online at revival.fm Involved with a number of organisations that support Christians who are currently suffering persecution in some 70 countries around the world. Until the formation of the new Police Scotland Force, I was a Chaplain with Strathclyde Police Force, deployed within 'Q' and 'N' Divisions, and also responsible for the Force Training and Recruitment Centre.

Publications
Various articles in Christian magazines. I also maintain a blog - www.crazyrev.blogspot.com My first book, Great Words of the Faith, is available as a Kindle e-book at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009EG6TJW My second book, Foundations of the Faith, is available as a Kindle e-book at http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00XTAE98C?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Education/Credentials
Diploma of The Bible Training Institute, Glasgow; Licentiate in Theology of the University of Glasgow; Associateship of The Philosophical Society of England; Bachelor of Arts Degree (Hons) in History from The Open University; Post-grad Certificate of Education - Religious Education and History; Post-grad Certificate in Learning and Teaching; Post-grad Diploma in Management and Learning in Education; Master of Science Degree from the University of Strathclyde; Master of Divinity Degree (with Distinction) from Trinity College and Seminary (accredited by the University of Liverpool)

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