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May 9, 2010
Are There Major Differences Between Catholic and Other Christian?A few days ago I was attending a luncheon sponsored by the three churches in Candia. I was standing around speaking to the pastor of the Baptist church, a wonderful woman who is truly dedicated to here church. A gentlemen approached us and said he had a question for us, one of a theological nature. I believe he said that in order that we could both feel at our ease. I thought that a bit strange so I said, “Well, Catholics and Baptists have some major theological differences. Are you sure you’re up to it?” Of course I knew he was only jesting so the matter was not taken seriously.
All joking aside, there are sadly too many people who do not realize that there are major differences among the Christian churches. Although we have been attempting to work them out we still have a long way to go. I often hear Catholics saying that they do not know the difference between their own faith and that of other Christian churches.
First of all, we must realize that not all denominations have the same viewpoint and theology. There are some who have very similar views and doctrine as Catholics. Two large denominations in that respect are the Episcopalians (Anglicans) and the Lutherans. When these groups separated from the Catholic Church they did so because of disagreements on leadership and process rather than on doctrine. To this day these two groups are the closest to the Catholic faith. Other denominations have far greater differences.
One area of difference is our interpretation of Scripture. Many denominations take a fundamental or literal interpretation whereas we do not. Many of our theologians are scripture scholars and have spent their entire lives studying the history and culture of the scripture authors. The Scriptures are a rich array of theological writings that need informed interpretation.
Another area of major difference is that of the Sacraments. Catholics have always been a sacramental people. We believe that Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit and the visible presence of the priests, is present in our daily lives through the sacraments. His presence is especially made visible through the Eucharist. We are the only Christian church to believe in the real presence of Christ through the Eucharist. There are some churches that do have communion but this is a practice that serves as a memory of the Last supper. For them there is no real presence.
Since the Eucharist is unique to Catholics, it stands to reason that we are the only church that celebrates Mass as opposed to the Sunday services which highlight Scripture and worship through singing and of course the minister’s preaching
These differences do not necessarily make us better or friendlier people. The difference is in the close communion we have with God. Of course if we all believed these truths and lived accordingly it might lead us to being better and friendlier but we are all works in progress. We all have room for improvement.
Lorette P. Nault