What is the difference between Christianity and Catholicism?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
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.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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."

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
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.

 http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/charts/catholic_protestant.htm

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial