Saturday, February 26, 2011

Are Catholics Christians?

That is the question posed and pondered by Man of the West. Personally I tend to think of all Christian denominations as being Christian but admittedly I have never studied the specific doctrines on any of them.


elisabethsmommy said...

a very crude description of Christian is this: they believe Christ is the only way to Heaven (God). They believe only Christ can forgive sin. There is nothing we can do (works wise) that will win our way to Heaven. It's completely faith based. The difference, then, is that (from what I know) Catholics believe there are many works that must be done to gain admittance to Heaven and avoid purgatory (which Christians do not believe in). Also, sins must be confessed to a priest in order to be forgiven. They do believe in Christ as the savior but also elevate a man to the level, or near the level, of Christ (the pope). There are many differences. That is why I do not believe Catholics and Christians are the same, but they are very similar in many aspects.

I may be wrong in the description of the views of Catholicism. I don't claim to be any type of expert. Shoot, I'm not even a novice. This is just what I've surmised from conversations I've had.

Otter Limits said...

A couple of corrections...

First, even the early Christians believed in purgatory (which is not necessarily a place but more a state of final purification after death). The Jews, in fact, believed in this doctrine before the time of Christ.

The early Church Fathers preached on the idea of purgatory and the idea itself actually did not start to disappear until after the Protestant Reformation.

The idea that purgatory is a place or that a person (or soul as the case may be) is in this place or state for a specified amount of time is not correct doctrine.

Second, when you say sins "must" be confessed to a priest to be forgiven is not entirely true. If you remember, Jesus had the power and authority given to Him by god to forgive sins and he passed this power and authority on to his apostles. The priests themselves are the successors of Jesus' apostles so it only makes sense that they given the power to forgive sins. But at the same time, only God Himself can actually forgive sins. What the priests are really just doing is acting as a visible leader of the Church.

When a person sins, or commits some sort of wrong doing, normally a person does not ask for forgiveness from God alone, they are also asking forgiveness from the rest of the Church, which the priest represents.

Lastly, and almost sort of continuing on with that last bit, the pope is not elevated to the level of Christ, he is just the visible head of the Church. As Peter was the head of the apostles, the pope is considered the successor to Peter. So in reality, he is just another apostle, but at the same time, he is the apostle that the other apostles (bishops, priests, other Catholics, etc.) look up to.

Does that help any?