What is the difference between Catholics and Protestants?
Christians in the Bible are called people who love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10). If a person loves the truth they must hate lies, errors and all distortions of the truth. However, just as God hates sin, but loves all people even though they sin, Christians should likewise love all people even if they do, teach or believe something that is not right or true. So Catholics and Protestant should love one another, even if they do not agree with or do not like what the other does or believes.
Protestant Christianity began in the 1500’s when a group of people began to protest against some of the wrong things they believed the Catholic Church was doing and teaching. These protesters became separated from the Catholic Church and formed their own Church which was more inline with what they believed was the truth. Just like the Catholic Church, Protestant Churches are not perfect, they have also changed many times in many ways.
The main issue is Catholics have believed and done some things differently to what Protestants believe the Bible has instructed. Protestants believe this is a result of Catholics believing what certain people and traditions have said, and not what God has said through the Bible. The problem of traditions becoming more important than God’s truth is something all religions have at some time been guilty of, including Protestants. The Catholic Church has admitted to some of the errors it has been guilty of in the past, and has changed. But there are still some beliefs and practices that Protestants would say are against what the Bible teaches.
An example of change in the Catholic church is, that today, the Catholic Church does encourage Bible reading. But in the past the Catholic church has discouraged personal study of the Bible, in fact reading the Bible was at one time banned by the Church. Only certain people were allowed to do so. People that did read, or spread the Bible, were even killed by the Catholic Church, like William Tyndale who was one of the first people to translate the Bible into English.
The Catholic Bibles include certain books which Protestants say should not be there. They are called the apocryphal books, which are writings protestants do not believe have been approved as inspired by God. Since they are not called Scripture by Jesus or His disciples.
At one time almost all Catholic Church services were entirely in the Latin language, and only a few people could understand Latin. This is no longer case.
THE VIRGIN MARY
The Bible describes Mary as the physical mother of Jesus, and that she was made pregnant by God. (Matthew 1:16, Luke 1:26-42, Luke 2:5-19) Mary visited her cousin Elisabeth (Luke 1:39-56) Mary attended a feast at Jerusalem with her family. (Luke 2:48-51) Mary is present at a marriage feast. (John 2:1-10) Mary looked for Jesus when He was teaching inside a house (Matthew 12:46-47, Mark 3:31, Luke 8:19). Mary went to see Jesus at the cross (John 19:25-27). Mary was committed to the care of Jesus’ disciple John. (John 19:27) Mary lived with the disciples in Jerusalem for a while (Acts 1:14).
So everything Catholics say about Mary that is not in the Bible has been made up by people, and are based on tradition and not the truth revealed to us God’s Word. Nowhere does the Bible say Mary was greater than any other Christian, she was just a human like all of us. The Bible does not say people should worship Mary or pray to Mary. The Bible does not say Mary prays for us.
Some Catholics may believe and teach that Mary acts as a mediator between people and God, but this is the opposite to the Bible which says, Jesus is only mediator between God and mankind. (1 Timothy 2:5)
A mediator is somebody that negotiates a solution between two people who are divided because of some problem.
Praying to Mary, singing to Mary, and bowing down or kissing statues of Mary, might even be classed as a form of Idol worship, which Jesus said was wrong. For He said we must worship and serve God alone (Matthew 4:10). And Mary was a person.
Mary is not the gate of heaven as some Catholics say, for Jesus Himself said that He is the way and nobody comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). And the Bible also says, there is no other name except that of Jesus by which we are saved (Acts 4:12).
A popular belief among Catholics is that Mary never did any sin, but the Bible says everyone has sinned (Romans 5:12-13, 1 Kings 8:46, 1 John 1:8-10, Psalm 53:3). Mary even admitted she needed a Saviour for she called God her Saviour (Luke 1:46-47). Jesus is the only person who has not sinned, and Jesus was God.
Some Catholics believe Mary never had any other children. But the Bible says Mary did have other children (Matthew 13:55-56).
Some Catholics often call Mary the mother of God, but God does not have a mother, for God and Jesus already existed before Mary existed (Isaiah 43:10). Mary was not God’s mother, but simply a channel through which Jesus entered this physical world.
However the Bible does not say anything about penance, God does not demand such things for the forgiveness of sins. God’s forgiveness is a free gift we receive by turning away from our wrong ways and accepting it through believing in Jesus as our Lord (Galatians 2:16, Romans 1:17). According to the Bible good works do not make a person a Christian, but good works should be the sign of a person who is a Christian. Good works are the result of becoming a Christian. And we become a Christian by turning away from sin and turning our lives over to Jesus.
However nothing about purgatory can be found in the Bible. Jesus said in the Bible, that He who hears His word and believes in Him who sent Him, has everlasting life, and will not be judged, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24). The Bible also says God does not remember sins that have been forgiven (Hebrews 10:17). The Bible also says that once Christians die they will be present with God (2 Corinthians 5:8-9), there is no place in between.
The whole concept of Indulgences goes against the Bible, which teaches that God’s Gift of life is free, for the whole punishment for all sin has been paid for by Jesus once and for all (Hebrews 10:10).
NEVER SURE OF BEING SAVED
The Bible warns against those that seek to complicate and corrupt God’s simple plan of salvation (2 Corinthians 11:3). The simple truth is God’s gift of life has been fully paid by Jesus on the cross. We can receive it in this life by turning from our wrong ways and accepting Jesus as our Lord, it is not something we can get by doing good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So if you want to get right with God, you have to go to Jesus directly, not any Church, religious organization or human individual. Jesus said, come to me all you that labo
r and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). We are not saved by belonging to a Church either Catholic or Protestant. There are only one kind of Christian, those that have made Jesus Lord of their life, and the simplest definition of a “true” Church is any group of people who are united by a shared love of Jesus Christ.