Differences Between Catholics and Protestant Faiths

This may sound silly, but do Catholics worship Jesus?

Catholics worship Jesus as He is the One and Only God in three divine Persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and He is the one true Savior of the world. Protestants often say that Catholics worship Mary and the Saints, but this is not true; Mary and the Saints deserve honor, however, God deserves our worship.

What are some notable differences between the Catholics and Protestant faiths?

I’ve had conversations with friends of the Protestant faith, and most of our differences concern: infant baptism, Confession, the Eucharist, honoring Mary and the Saints, the Pope, Purgatory, and contraception/abortion.

I’ve heard that Catholics worship Mary and the Saints. Is this true?

Catholics worship and adore God in the Holy Trinity, but honor Mary and the Saints. There is an important distinction between worshiping and honoring. Without God, Mary and the Saints have no meaning or independent power. Catholics understand that adoration is given to God, and that veneration is given to Mary and the Saints.

Why do you pray to Mary and the Saints? Is there a Biblical basis for this tradition?

It is true that we pray to Mary and the Saints, however, our prayers are for Mary and the Saints to intercede for us and strengthen us in our faith in Jesus. This is like asking a friend, family member, or pastor to pray for us. In fact, it continues the ancient Christian tradition of paying respect to and asking for intercession from those that are in Heaven.

In the Apostle’s Creed, recited by Catholics and many Protestants, we state our belief in the “communion of Saints,” which refers to the unity between all believers, both living and dead. In Romans 12:5 and 8:35-39, we are reminded that all Christians are members of Christ’s body, that death cannot separate Christians from Christ or one another. As we pray for and ask prayers of the members of the body of Christ, we believe Mary and the Saints are not excluded from this. In Revelation 8:3-4, we are told that the Angels and Saints place the prayers of the holy ones at God’s feet, supporting those prayers with their intercessions. Thus, Catholics call upon the Saints and Angels in Heaven to intercede for us before the throne of God.

What books of Scripture do Catholics recognize that the Protestant Church does not?

The Catholic Bible includes 7 books – Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Baruch, Tobit, and 1 and 2 Maccabees, as well as additional verses from Daniel and Esther. Since the Councils of Hippo (AD 390), the Catholic Church has recognized 46 books in the Old Testament. To understand and explain the history more clearly, I turned to a book of Catholic Apologetics, written by Fr. Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham in 2010. Fr. Chacon and Burnham explain that the Protestant Old Testament is based on the Hebrew canon while the Catholic Old Testament is based on the Greek canon.

During the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus in Egypt (285-246 BC), a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek began by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars (6 from each of the twelve tribes), and from this translation comes the term “Septuagint” which is Latin for “70.” The Septuagint was the translation used by Jesus and the New Testament writers, and the great majority of Old Testament quotations in the New Testament are from the Septuagint. In fact, two Protestant authors, Gregory Chirichigno and Gleason Archer (2005) found 340 places where the New Testament cites the Septuagint and only 33 places where the citation comes from the Hebrew canon. The Hebrew canon continued to be debated and eventually, rabbinic Judaism rejected seven books from the Hebrew canon that were found in the Septuagint.

In 1529, Martin Luther adopted the 39-book of canon as the Old Testament canon because these Greek books had no Jewish counterparts. The Dead Sea Scrolls found later at Qumran in 1945, however, contained ancient Hebrew copies of some of the disputed books. It is also important to note that Martin Luther attempted to exclude Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation from the New Testament because these books did not agree with his doctrine, specifically on the issue of faith unaccompanied by works. Early followers of Luther did not agree with this decision, and these books remain in the Protestant Bible today.

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