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What is the difference between Christianity and Catholicism?

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sandy18 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 23, 2008 at 12:04 PM via web

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What is the difference between Christianity and Catholicism?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 24, 2008 at 1:21 PM (Answer #3)

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There are three major forms of Christianity. One is Protestantism, one is Catholicism and one is Eastern Orthodox. The separation of the three main branches occurred centuries ago but all three faiths share a common belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he died and was resurrected from the dead, and that He is the Savior of the World. Your question, I believe, deals with the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church during the 1500's over issues like the of the Bible over the supremacy of the Pope, corruption in the Catholic Church and issues over methods of worship,the mass, communion, and salvation ( faith vs. works. For more information, see the links below for a more through discussion.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 24, 2008 at 1:21 PM (Answer #4)

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The Catholic Church with its interpretation of Matthew 16:18 marks Peter as the first Pope in the first Christian Church.  The First Council of Nicea in 325 A. D. brought about division in the Catholic Church: the Roman Catholic is the division known to Western Europe and the United States.  From the Nicean Council, the Greek Orthodox also was formed; this Church is no longer recognized as Catholic.

German Roman Catholic monk and theologian, Martin Luther, challenged the authority of the papacy, the buying and selling of indulgences, payment for contributions to the Church. Greatly disturbed by the corruption in the Catholic Church, Luther contended that salvation is only attained through repentance, not by means of indulgences.  In 1546 Luther nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, an event perceived as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

After this the beginning of many Christian Protestant churches came about with major differences established between the Protestants and the Catholics.  Two such differences are in the belief in purgatory and the transubstantion in the Catholic Mass in which Catholics believe that the host and wine are changed to the body and blood of Christ. Other differences between Catholics and Protestants lie in the interpretation of the Bible, as do differences among Protestant sects.  Nevertheless, all Protestants and all Catholics are all Christians.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 24, 2008 at 1:27 PM (Answer #5)

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There is no difference. The Catholic Church (both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) is a Christian church. For centuries, it was the only Christian church. During the Reformation, many different groups grew dissatisfied with the corruption and hypocrisy within the church and broke off to form the various denominations known today as Protestant. Nowadays, Catholicism is another denomination within Christianity.

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higgins221 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 4, 2008 at 11:21 AM (Answer #6)

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Christianity has many different sects.  Lutheranism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Baptist and Unitarian are all examples of Christian sects.  Catholicism and Christianity is like asking what is the difference between a dog and a labrador retriever.  A labrador retriever is a type of dog like Catholicism is a type Christianity. 

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jennifer-taubenheim | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted December 7, 2008 at 8:55 AM (Answer #7)

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What is the difference between Christianity and Catholicism?

What is the difference between Christianity and Catholicism? 

Catholicism is a form of Christianity in that Catholics believe that Christ was the son of God and died for our sins. However, Catholics traditionally have different views on a few pieces of the faith. One of these differences is in the way that a person's sins are forgiven. In the Catholic church, the person who wants to be forgiven for a sin goes to mass and the priest intercedes for him or her with God.

Protestant Christians, however, do not believe that they need an intermidiary between them and God. Romans 8 vs 39-39 says "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Other evidence for the Protestant side lies in the fact that, in Biblical times in Solomons temple, there was a curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. It was huge, heavy, and very well made, and it kept the common people from going in to where the spirit of God was. Going behind the curtain meant entering the presence of God, and the Lord says in Leviticus 16:2 "Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place ... or else he will die".

As Christ was crucified, this curtain tore, top to bottom. According to many, the tearing of the curtain was the end of man's separation from God as the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the hearts of man. 

If you are looking for differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, see the website below for a very simplified chart with links to more complete information.


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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:02 AM (Answer #3)

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There is not a difference between Catholicism and Christianity any more than there is a difference between men and people.  Men are people, Catholics are Christian.

There are some major differences, however, between Catholics and other Christians.

  • Catholics believe in their church's hierarchy and the authority of the Pope.
  • Catholics revere saints and the Virgin Mary more than most Protestants do.
  • Catholics believe that the bread and wine at communion literally turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
  • Catholics do not allow priests or other "religious" to be married.
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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:18 AM (Answer #4)

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Christianity and Catholicism are both part of the same thing.  Catholics believe that Christ is the son of God and follow his doctrine.  Christians believe that Christ is the son of God and follow his doctrines.

The problem arises between Catholics and Protestants.  They are both different groups in terms of their extended beliefs in relation to Christ.  The Catholic faith honors the Blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph.  In addition, homage is paid to various people who have been appointed as saints.

Catholics have specific prayers and rituals that are expected to be said.  In addition they believe that by confessing one's sins to a priest one is absolved of the sins after one does penance.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:31 AM (Answer #5)

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We can categorize Christianity into two major groups - Catholics and Protestants.  All Protestant religions were once Catholic but broke away from their religious doctrine and the ideas central control by the Pope and formed their own Christian religions.  Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists all fall into this category, among others.

All of the Protestant religions believe that, unlike the Catholic religion, a religious leader, pastor or priest us unable to grant forgiveness, that it must be asked for and obtained only through God.  Catholicism is practiced all over the world and is more widespread than other Christian religions, and you will find quite different variations of the doctrine and how it is observed in Latin America and Europe.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Christianity is the name given to faith or religion that developed based on faith in and teachings of Jesus Christ. Catholicism is one among many different sects or versions of Christianity that developed over a time.

Catholics are the people who accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in all religious matters. With membership of over one billion people, Catholicism is the largest sect within Christianity.The pope, governing the Church of Rome from the Vatican City, is the spiritual head of all Catholics. The Pope is assisted in his work of direction and guidance of the worldwide church by a group of departments called the Roman Curia.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:33 AM (Answer #2)

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A Christian is a general term for a person who believes in God and Jesus Christ. There are many different denominations of Christianity. Catholicism is just one of those denominations, but there are many more. Roman Catholics do make up the largest denomination in the world. They have over one billion members worldwide. It is a very organized religion with many very specific creeds and doctrines.

Some different examples of christian denominations are Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc. There are many churches these days that are of no particular denomination. These are usually called something along the lines of "Church of Christ."


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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM (Answer #10)

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Christianity is an umbrella term used to refer to all Christian denominations. The Catholic Church is one of the churches under the term Christianity. There are other Protestant churches. However, there are many different types of Christians. Catholics are just one type.
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Chantelm | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted January 29, 2014 at 1:45 AM (Answer #11)

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Catholics believe in 

  • Saints and praying to them
  • confessing your sins to a person in the church 
  • following the pope an. Looking at him as a head figure
  • completing first communions and confirmations 
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clyoon | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted August 15, 2014 at 7:25 PM (Answer #12)

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The biggest difference I know between Christianity and Catholicism is that Catholics also believe in the holiness of Mary, the virgin mother. They call their services mass. And they pray differently. 

Christians do not believe in Mary although they believe Mary was a virgin and did give birth to Jesus. But Christians see Mary just as they see any other bible character like Moses or Noah or Esther. She was a woman of God that did His will. 

Many say Catholics are Christian and that they're pretty much the same thing. Many Catholics call themselves Christian. But there are Christians who do not consider Catholics Christian. This is also another topic of debate. 

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camby16 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 24, 2010 at 1:27 AM (Answer #6)

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Christianity and Catholicism have different roots, different "rules" and paths to heaven. According to www.justforcatholics.org, Christianity was built from the Bible alone. Christians believe that this book is the Word of God and follow the rules within to achieve holiness and salvation.

Catholicism, on the other hand, is based on the doctrines taught by the Pope and bishops. These doctrines cannot be verified from the original sources, however, because only the Pope and bishops are allowed to establish the authentic meaning of these texts.

While Catholicism is a sort of mental and spiritual slavery to the Vatican, Christianity stands on the Gospel and love. Salvation is found through Jesus Christ dying for our sins on the cross. Catholics find salvation through good deeds and devotion to their religion.

In Catholicism, forgiveness can only be achieved through baptism and repentance of sins. The Church is the sacrament of salvation, not Jesus.

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