The recent papal visit of Pope Francis was headline news for days. I’m sure his visit caused many to reflect on their own spiritual condition, and that’s a good thing. A young woman even asked me, “Are you Catholic or Christian?
I said, “I am a Christian. But Catholics consider themselves Christians as well.”
She said, “No, I’m Catholic. I’m not a Christian. It’s different.”
I said, “Yes, there are differences, but both Catholics and Christians agree with the five most important truths about Jesus Christ and Christianity.”
[BTW I remember years ago when church-goers were either Catholic or Protestant. It seems many young people these days are unfamiliar with the word Protestant.]
So I explained to this young person what the five most important truths are:
- The Virgin Birth – Jesus was born of a virgin.
- The Blood Atonement – Jesus’ death on the cross was full payment for our sins.
- The Resurrection – Jesus rose bodily from the dead on the third day.
- The Trinity – The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three Persons in one God.
- The Deity of Christ – Jesus is not only the Son of God, He is God the Son.
With these five most important truths, both Catholics and Christians (or Protestants) agree.
So what’s the difference? In a nutshell:
- Christians believe the Bible is the only foundation for their faith.
- Roman Catholics have a three-fold foundation for their faith: (according to the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1995 edition, page 34).
- The Sacred Scriptures (Bible)
- The Sacred Traditions
- The Magisterium of the Church (authority of the Pope and Bishops)
* * *
- Some Scriptures showing the deity of Christ: John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1 and Revelation 1.
- It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16