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Catholicism vs. Baptist

In the following email exchange, the emailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Could you explain in easier terms of understanding, the differences between Catholics and Baptists? I read the article that is already here and I didn't understand one bit of it. Is it impossible for the two to get married in either church?


I assume you're referring to the list of 11 differences I have between the two in an email exchange [see below]. There are so many differences I really don't know where to begin. What you need to do is do some reading on both Baptist and Catholic sites to understand their basic beliefs, along with the terminology that is used. It's really too much to cover in an email. You could also consult my Scripture Workbook for an overview of basic Baptist beliefs. But note, the chapters on Calvinism only some Baptists would agree with. Many others would take a different view. But the Catholic church would definitely disagree, along with other point sin my book, like on Baptism and salvation.

As for marriage, that will depend on the particular church and priest/ pastor. Some hard-line priests will not marry and Catholic and non-Catholic, and some Baptist ministers will not marry a Baptist and a Catholic. some some would be more lenient and do so. A couple my parents are friend with is a "mixed" marriage (husband is Catholic, wife is Baptist), so it is obviously possible. Whether it's recommend or not is another matter. In this case, they've been married for probably about 40 years, so it obviously worked out for them. But for many others, it doesn't.

>What do you consider to be the main differences between Catholicism and the Baptist religion?  Is there a possibility we could come to support and understand one another in Christian love?

Your sister in Christ, Jan, a Catholic


Of course we can support and understand one another in love, but there are significant differences between the two views. And these cannot be brushed aside either.

Some of the most important difference are (Baptist view presented first, then Catholic):

1. The source of authority: the Bible alone vs. the Bible plus tradition plus the ex cathedra pronouncements of the pope.

2. The authority of the pope: None vs. Christ's representative on earth, invested with the authority of Peter.

3. Salvation: By faith alone vs. by faith plus baptism plus not committing a "moral" sin.

4. Baptism: of believers by immersion as a "sign" of one's commitment to Christ vs. of infants by pouring as the means of becoming a part of the body of Christ.

5. The Apocrypha: not canonical (part of inspired Scripture) vs. canonical.

6. The Lord's Supper: The bread and wine are symbolic of Christ's  body and blood, and the ceremony is a reminder or memorial of Christ's death on the cross vs. the bread and wine being "transubstantiated" into the body and blood of Christ, with the ceremony being a reenactment or perpetuation of Christ's death making its effects available to those in attendance

7. The place of Mary: to be honored for being faithful to the Lord vs. to be invoked to pray for us to God and to be  venerated.

8. Doctrines about Mary: Not believed or at least not made "official" teachings of a church vs. the following doctrines about Mary are official dogmas: her Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity, her bodily Assumption into heaven.

9. Saints: all believers in Christ are saints vs. especially "holy" people the pope has canonized, who can then be invoked to pray for us.

10. Meaning of the Church: all true believers in Christ vs. the Roman Catholic Church, with Protestants being "separated brethren."

11. Priests: not a Scriptural term for the leader of a local church ("elders" used instead but never called "Father") vs. the term used for leaders of a local church and are called "Father."

There are many others, but these should give you some idea of the "gap" between Baptists and Catholics.

>Dear Gary:

 I just want to thank you for taking the time to answer me on my questions. I belong to a small faith group in the Catholic church called Renew.  We meet each Friday evening for Bible study and discussion.  I shared the information you provided me with eight other people and they were very thankful for your analysis.  We are studying other religions in comparison to Catholicism and learning how we are all similar and different.

Thanks again for your time and response. It really was insightful for us.

God bless you.
Your sister in Christ, Jan

>I am a Roman Catholic.  I am married with 4 children (mostly grown). I have questioned Scripture and doctrine for many years now. You may consider it radical, but I even have a Greek Interlinear to study with for the New Testament  (a Hebrew Lexicon is expensive right now)<

I don't consider that "radical" at all. I started using an interlinear not too long after I started reading the Bible.

>I have an exhaustive dictionary and I do not find the definition of a cult the same as the one on your web page.<

Defining the word "cult" can be difficult as each researcher considers different criteria to be the most important. And given the inflammatory nature of the word, I try to avoid its use as much as possible. It's not as important to "label" a group as it is to evaluate its teachings and practices individually.

>I always looked at cults like 'David Koresh's' and 'The Moonies' and the 'Hale Bop' organizations as cults. Under the dictionary definition even we Catholics could be considered a cult.  We have one thing in common with those so called cults......we have a major one man leader, the Pope.<

True. And that is one reason why some Protestants do label the Catholic Church a cult. For me, the question isn't the label but the office itself. Does the Bible teach the Christian Church will and should have one, "infallible" human leader?

>What started me on a search is when a professed homosexual started giving out communion on the altar, in my hometown church.  I have never found a place in the Bible that says homosexuality is o.k. now.<

Such a practice should definitely give you pause about the church you're attending. But note, this isn't something happening just at Catholic churches, such things can be seen in many "liberal" Protestant churches as well. So it's not a "Catholic vs. Protestant" issue as much as whether an individual church is going to accept what the Bible teaches on this subject, or what the prevailing culture now does.

>  Yes, Jesus was total 'Love',, but even the apostles, who were taught by Jesus, condemned it. I am angry when I hear of another priest being caught, or charged with, molesting a little boy.<

As well you should, but again, Protestant ministers have been "caught" doing things they shouldn't have. The important question is how the church reacts to such things. If a minister is unquestionably guilty of an immoral or illegal act, then the church should take appropriate action. If it does not, then it's not just the minister but the church at well that has fallen from Biblical standards.

>And I have always felt, deep down in my very center, that God's church would be perfect in all it's ideas.<

That would be nice, but it's simply not the case with any church and never has been. Read 1Corinthians or Galatians and you'll see how many problems even churches founded by an Apostle had. Perfection simply will not be found in any church as it's composed of fallible human beings.

That said, if the number of "problems" (be they doctrinal or ethical) begin to mount up, then yes, it is time for one to question the validity of the church they are attending.

>I am a fence sitter.  I study, I learn, I question.  It's hard to leave my Catholic roots.  Maybe I just told myself something here......maybe Catholicism is not right, and it's time to leave.<

Only you can make that decision. And yes, it is a difficult one. If you've been in a church for years, and especially if you were raised in it, to accept that the number of problems in it have gotten too great to continue attending is difficult. And finding a new church that you will be satisfied with will be difficult as well.

But if your conscience is telling you there are simply too many problems in the Catholic church to continue to attend there, then yes, it might be a good idea to start looking elsewhere. But I do caution you that you will never find a "perfect" church. So decide beforehand what points are most important to you to find in a church.

>Am I on the 'road to destruction, which is wide, and well traveled'? being a Catholic??<

Being a Catholic, or the member of any other church organization, does not affect whether someone is saved or not. One issue, and only one, determines that: are you trusting in Jesus Christ and Him only for your salvation? Now you might "grow" in Christ much better in one church than another, and that is an important consideration, but your salvation does not depend on where you go on Sunday mornings.

>Sorry so long,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,sort of thinking out loud!!!!!!


Someone (a Catholic) recently asked me what are the major differences between Catholicism and the Baptist belief system. Following is the list I sent to her. Maybe this will be of help to you [above list presented].


Thank you for writing me back.  It was so nice that you took the time, and were so kind and patient.  Because of what I wrote, and because I must have known it already, I have left the Catholic Church. They were the same from Oregon to Michigan (I moved a lot).  But it was refreshing to get something back in the mail that was not condemning.

Thank you again,

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