Christian Spirituality/Catholicism and Protestantism.

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QUESTION: Dear Rev Jason P. Peterson

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

What are the Similarities and Differences in Catholicism and Protestantism ?

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: The similarities between these two branches are that they both acknowledge God as Triune and that Jesus is God and Man.  They also both practice Baptism and the Lord's Supper, perform weddings and funerals, and gather for worship of some kind or another.  

Beyond this, the differences between the two really go right to the core.  Roman Catholicism teaches that the Sacraments are something we do to earn Grace from God.  Protestantism teaches that the Sacraments are something we do to show our devotion to God, but that they do not earn Grace.  Roman Catholicism also teaches that people must do good works to contribute to their salvation, while Protestantism typically teaches that salvation is a free gift.  

I would differ from the wikipedia article you linked, though, in that Lutherans are not properly considered protestants.  Lutherans sought to reform the Roman Catholic church and were excommunicated, while Protestants departed from Roman Catholicism by choice.  Lutherans also disagree with the Protestants regarding the Sacraments (closer to, but not identical with the Catholics) and they hold a much stricter definition of "Grace Alone" than a large segment of protestantism.

Additionally, the Eastern Orthodox are a fourth group of Christians.

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

QUESTION: Dear Rev Jason

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

Answer
As I mentioned in the previous response, I would classify Christians in 4 major groups--Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Protestant.  Others, such as the Coptics, might be considered additional groups, because they have their own unique history, but they are geographically isolated and relatively small compared to the four listed above.  

I think you will find that Christians of all types allow visitors to enter their buildings and attend their services.  This would apply for other types of Christians as well as for those with a different religious identity, such as Hindus or Muslims.  Christian worship has traditionally been open in this way, first because Christians do not have anything to hide in their worship, and secondly, because Christians desire that people who are not yet Christians would hear about Jesus and also trust Him.  

The only case in which there would be boundaries to participation in the churches is when it would involve confusion in the message being presented or do spiritual harm to a person to participate.  So, the majority of Christians do not engage in joint worship with clergy of non-Christian religions or allow non-Christian religious ceremonies and rituals to be performed in their churches or to be participated in by their members, because it confuses the message of Jesus.  The other boundary would be regarding the Lord's Supper.  Only Baptized Christians are to participate in the Lord's Supper.  This is because the Bible teaches that hypocritical Christians or non-Christians who receive communion receive spiritual harm rather than spiritual blessing as a result of doing so.  

Some Christians also do not engage in joint worship or share the Lord's Supper with Christians of differing doctrinal convictions, but instead desire that they would resolve their differences before coming together in this way.  In any case, though, attendance at services or entrance into the church building would never be forbidden to those outside the congregation.  The only exception to this would be circumstances where Christianity is illegal and allowing outsiders to attend would endanger the members by the outsider being a spy or reporting the activity to a government which would punish or kill the members for their faith.  This was the case for the first Christians 2000 years ago, and it is the case in some modern nations such as China and Saudi Arabia.

I would agree with you and with the standing practice of Christian churches that any person should be allowed to visit a congregation or attend its worship, as described above.  I would disagree, though, that Christians with differing beliefs should join together into one church without first resolving the differences between their teaching.  I desire for Christians to be visibly united in the world, just as they are invisibly united through trust in Jesus, but as long as differences remain about what is true, it is necessary that they remain separate until they can come to agreement.  A church which cannot settle on one position in matters of doctrine ultimately cannot say that anything is true or false, and therefore serves as a poor witness to Christ, who is The Truth.  As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians (11:19), "It is necessary that there be divisions among you in order that those who are genuine would be recognizable."

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Rev. Jason P. Peterson

Expertise

I believe that the spirituality of historical Christianity shares little in common with that of any other world religion, and I welcome any questions regarding the spirituality of Christianity, particularly in relation to the Reformation Traditions. I also take a great interest in examining new Christian movements and popular trends in Christianity from a Reformation perspective. I have particular experience regarding the original Greek text of the New Testament and its meaning, as well as questions regarding liturgy, evangelism, and preaching.

Experience

I have been a pastor in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod for the past six years at St. John's Lutheran Church in Burt, IA. I currently serve as chairman of the Commission on Ministerial Growth & Support of the Missouri Synod's Iowa District West and as Track Chaplain at Algona Raceway in Algona, IA. I also write as a religion columnist for two local newspapers.

Organizations
Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Publications
Algona Upper Des Moines (newspaper) Bancroft Register (newspaper)

Education/Credentials
B.A. Concordia University - Ann Arbor, MI (Biblical Languages) M.Div. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (Exegetical Theology, Pastoral Ministry & Missions)

Past/Present Clients
Zion Lutheran Church (Columbia City, IN) Zion Lutheran Church (Altamont, IL) St. John's Lutheran Church (Burt, IA) Zion Lutheran Church (Lu Verne, IA) Algona Raceway (IA) Fairmont Raceway (MN) Hancock County Speedway (Britt, IA) Clay County Fairgrounds Raceway (Spencer, IA)

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