Simply put a Christian is someone who believes in Jesus Christ. I recently had a very good friend of mine who is Catholic and went to a Catholic school until the 9th grade say to me that she wasn’t a Christian, she was a Catholic. She said that the nuns told her she wasn’t Christian. I explained to her that Catholics were Christian. At a later time in a conversation she said that Christians chastise Catholics. I again told her that she being a Catholic was a Christian. She looked at me perplexed.
So I broke it down for her. Christians consist of Catholics, Protestants, Mormons and Muslims. Catholics in the beginning were split between orthodox and Roman. Upon the ‘protest’ by Martin Luther when he wrote is 93 complaints against the Catholic Church Protestants were born. Lutherans being the first ones. Today there are several denominations of Protestants including Methodist, Presbyterians and Baptists. Then there are Mormons and yes Muslims.
Let’s look at the fundamental differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants.
Roman Catholics recognize 7 sacraments; Baptism, Communion, Penance, Holy Matrimony, Ordination and Last Rites. Protestants recognize only two; Baptism and Holy Communion.
Roman Catholics worship the Virgin Mary and believe in the Immaculate Conception. Protestants don’t worship Mary and don’t believe she was sinless. Roman Catholics worship Saints, Protestants don’t.
Roman Catholics believe that the Bible and Church tradition equally are the laws of God. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is what dictates God’s Law. This is called “Sola Scriptura”.
Roman Catholics recognize the Pope as the Head of the Church; Protestants do not acknowledge the Pope at all. Catholicism teaches that only the Church can correctly interpret the Bible while Protestants believe that individuals may read and interpret for themselves.
Roman Catholics believe that salvation comes from belief in Jesus Christ and through meritorious works. They believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by ‘grace through faith’ but that alone is not enough. Essential to salvation are the Seven Sacraments. Protestants believe that belief in Christ alone is salvation.
Roman Catholics believe in the doctrine of purgatory. They believe that time in purgatory or through penance along with their definition of salvation are how one gets into heaven when they die. Protestants believe that upon death believers go straight to Heaven.
For a comparison chart of the differences between Orthodox Catholic, Roman Catholic and Protestants go to christianityinview.com/comparison.html
Lastly let’s look at Mormons and Muslims. Mormons believe that Jesus came to America and they see Joseph Smith as a prophet. Muslims believe in Jesus but believe Muhammad was a second prophet.
The main point of this is to clear up confusion for those Catholics who believe they are not Christians and for those Christians who don’t understand what Protestants are