The religion of Christianity is the core Abrahamic Religion that encapsulates the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Methodism, Lutheranism, and Protestantism, which is why many people find it confusing in trying to discern the difference between Catholics and Christians. To put it simply, anyone who follows Jesus are Christians regardless of what “faith” or church they belong to, however, not all Christians are Catholics, but all Catholics are Christian. The differences between the two come down to their interpretations of the laws, the rules, and the scripture with the Catholics believing that they alone possess the truth of Jesus. With this said, let’s take a look at the differences that set Catholics apart from Christians.
The Authority of the Scripture: Christians uphold that belief that the Bible alone is the supreme, infallible authority for a Christian. This means that there is no singular Church or teaching authority that can hold claim to a Christian’s life other than the Bible. Catholics, however, believe that the Bible came from the Catholic Church itself and so, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church and the Bible hold the same level of authority.
The Holy Sacraments: for most Christians, they do not believe that the Sacraments will help bring about salvation as a singular prayer of repentance is enough to assure this. Catholics, think that the Sacraments of Confession, Baptism, and the Eucharist are essential for salvation.
Priesthood: Christians do not believe in New Testament priesthood but do think that all believers can be priests. Catholics also believe that all believers can be priests, but that there is a specific priesthood that began with the twelve disciples of Jesus. This is called the Apostolic Succession and is taught both by the Catholic Church and the Bible.
What Visibility of the Church: Christians think of the body of Christ and His Church as an invisible reality, meaning that only God knows who belongs to his church. The Catholics, believe that the Church is both visible and invisible. Although God can only know who is connected to the life of Christ, Catholics are able to look at the visible institutional Church that administers the Sacraments in order to see who is a member of the church.
Where Faith Comes From: Christians tend to believe that salvation comes from faith in Christ, whereas, Catholics believe that salvation comes from faith in Christ and good works inspired by said faith.
Worship: Christians tend to believe that the highest form of worship is in a service done through musical praise. However, Catholics believe that the highest form of worship is through the sacrifice of the Eucharist on the altar at Mass.
The Intercession of the Saints: Catholics ask deceased holy Christians to pray for them, while Christians do not.
Saints as a Language: although “saints” as a language is used in the Bible and is true of baptized Christians, is not used with Catholics are it is an official title in the Catholic Church and is, therefore, only ascribed to canonized Catholic Saints that have had their lives found worthy of imitation. Christians tend to call everyone “saints” with a lower case “s”.
Purgatory: is a belief that there is an intermediary between Heaven and Hell, where one’s sins are dealt with. Christians do not believe in purgatory, whereas, Catholics do.
The Virgin Mary: generally speaking, Christians believe that Mary was a woman chosen by God to give birth to Jesus, that she was full sin like the rest of us, and that her body was buried when she died. The Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Mary or the Queen of Saints, was without sin and that her body was resurrected and sent straight to Heaven. She is held in high regard by the Catholic community and is the highest rank Saint of all Saints.