April 10, 2012
As mentioned previously—according to The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge—the three primary differences between Catholics and Protestants are: their views of the Bible; the concept of the grace of Christ; and, the phrase the priesthood of believers.
As someone deciding whether to go back to the Catholic Church, it would be a good idea to briefly explore what those differences are.
We’ve already talked about the Bible. Today, we’ll discuss the grace of Christ.
The Grace of Christ:
Protestants believe that one is saved through grace alone. Catholics believe that one doesn’t experience grace without the benefit of its sacraments.
Simply stated, most Protestants believe that to receive the God’s grace, he or she must accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and follow His teachings.
To most non-Catholic Christians, there is no series of tests or milestones to earning Christ’s grace in our lives on earth and in heaven.
No man or group of men determines a non-Catholic Christian’s state of grace. It is strictly between the individual and God.
Catholics, on the other hand, believe that you must experience the sacraments, specific rituals throughout one’s life—from birth to death—in order to achieve grace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the sacraments as follows: “The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments.”
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states it this way: “Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the sacraments which establish the foundations of Christian life. The faithful born anew by Baptism are strengthened by Confirmation and are then nourished by the Eucharist.”
As a former Catholic, you know that there are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.”
(When I learned the sacraments as a young Catholic, Anointing the Sick was called Extreme Unction and, later, Last Rites.)
With the ceremony of each of these sacraments, the involvement of a priest is crucial, making the Catholic clergy indispensable throughout the life of a Catholic.
Bottom line: To a non-Catholic Christian, grace is given; To a Catholic, it is earned through a series of rituals.
In our next post, we’ll look at the priesthood of believers.
This blog is being written as a resource to ease the transition from being a Catholic to whatever faith choice the former Catholic chooses to follow. The intent of this effort is to help former Catholics deal with that separation and, prayerfully, strengthen their relationship with Jesus.
All of the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s. In all matters of faith, you should do your own research, pray, and be guided by your conscience and Holy Scripture.
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