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Christian Life

Are Catholics Also Christians and Vice Versa?

“Are Catholics also Christians? Are Christians also Catholics?”

The answer to this question goes back to the Book of Acts. At that time, the church was one entity with several sites. There was no distinction between “Christians” and “Catholics,” and the apostles encouraged believers to remain in unity. All believers should follow Jesus Christ and for many years, the church reflected this truth. Paul addresses this in his first letter to the Corinthian church:

Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)

In approximately 1054 AD, the Christian church split into two: the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This is known as The Great Schism and it was caused by several disputes.

From the 11th to the 16th centuries, all “Western” believers were under one church authority, what we know today as the Roman Catholic Church. In 1534, King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church and had himself declared the head of the church of England, the Anglican church. You may have learned in world history that the reason for Henry’s “church split” was that he wanted to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Anne Boleyn, but the Pope of the Catholic church refused to allow the divorce.

The Anglican church grew during the Protestant Reformation and birthed other denominations such as Episcopalian, Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church. Christian denominations continue to develop as like-minded believers try to fully understand God’s word.

Personally, I think this is unfortunate because often, we as believers disagree on small points that have very little to do with the core of our beliefs. To some, it matters greatly what specific day of the week the Sabbath falls on; to others, it’s only important to take a Sabbath day–the specific day doesn’t matter to them. Does this question really affect the core of what we believe? Does your specific Sabbath day change whether you believe in Jesus Christ, in His love, mercy and sacrifice for our sins?

In my opinion, sometimes we lose sight of the things that really matter in our faith. We are believers in Jesus Christ first – cleansed by His blood and made righteous before God through His resurrection. No matter what your denomination now, we, as followers of Christ, were all once joined under one banner.

While I can’t answer for each individual Catholic or Christian, I can tell you this: The Catholic church and the Christian church were once a single church, so yes, Catholics are Christians and vice versa.

Did you know that believers were once a single church?

Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, once baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:3-6).

Image: Thinkstock | Polka Dot

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236 Comments

  1. avathenerd

    Posted by avathenerd on August 26, 2018 at 20:31

    I’m a Catholic and this was very well-said.

  2. princessladk

    Posted by princessladk on May 24, 2017 at 15:54

    I think the root of what makes a person a Christian is their faith in Jesus Christ. Take it back to the gospel:

    We need to understand that we are all sinners and deserving of death because the penalty for sin is death, or eternity in hell. We in of ourselves cannot be holy enough to get into heaven — that’s where Christ comes in. He is the son of God and He is God, perfect and holy. He came down to earth and suffered the punishment of sin on the cross. All we have to do is believe He did this and accept His forgiveness for sins. If you do this, you are a Christian.

    It doesn’t matter what denomination you are. No, I’m not a Catholic and I don’t agree with some of their practices but it all comes down to if you have salvation, then you are a Christian. Catholics, Mormons, Lutherans, Baptists, Jews, etc. All of them can be Christian if they have the belief of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior despite what the denomination believes.

  3. Foreverfawn

    Posted by Foreverfawn on June 26, 2016 at 19:29

    I go to a Catholic Church and I never even thought there were many differences between Catholics and other Christians.

  4. jbac2641

    Posted by jbac2641 on September 11, 2013 at 13:43

    I want to ask some of you why you’re separating “Catholics” from “Christians” in a sentence? I understand that not all Catholics are Christians and vice versa…

  5. Project Inspired

    Posted by lililove97 on October 13, 2012 at 14:16

    But Catholics have books added onto the Bible. & some other stuff

    • chloeisabella98

      Posted by chloeisabella98 on June 6, 2014 at 14:05

      Actually, the bible was put together by Catholics. Catholics did not add additional books, rather, protestants took out books, particularly ones that spoke about the Eucharist.

  6. Project Inspired

    Posted by Neanthia on September 3, 2012 at 12:30

    Can’t we all just love God, Jesus, follow His works and not worry about the who’s who and what’s what? O.o

  7. Project Inspired

    Posted by Journalistlove on August 26, 2012 at 16:05

    I’ve seen a lot of argumentative comments on here. Whether Christian or Catholic….we believe in the love of God. God hates arguing and we are to show the love of God to each other, not judging. We are to leave it up to God and surrender it to God. Whether Catholic, or Christian, we can have our disagreements, but it’s a complete waste of time to argue about faith. Besides, arguing is the Devil’s trick, is it not? If it’s not please correct me.

  8. Project Inspired

    Posted by phantaseas on August 22, 2012 at 13:26

    I am a Catholic, and this article is mostly right, but not entirely. Lots of people think that all Christians are Catholic. This isn’t true because when Martin Luther split from the Catholic Church to create the Lutheran Church in 1517 and when Henry VIII split to create the Anglican Church in 1534, they split from the teachings of the Pope, and lost apostolic succession as a result. That was one of Luther’s main problems with Catholicism: the idea of papal authority and the corruption within the Church at that time. Since those splits, Christians and Catholics have become more different in their beliefs. For example, Catholics believe in papal authority (which began when Jesus made Peter the first Pope), the communion of saints, the Catechism, certain truths about Mary, the seven Sacraments, et cetera. One of the most important differences is that Catholics have the Eucharist, and believe that when the priest performs the Eucharistic Prayer to consecrate it, the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Jesus, while retaining their appearance of bread and wine. (This is called Transubstantiation, for anyone who wants to look up a better explanation.) If you want more examples of the differences in teachings and beliefs, just ask me.

    So yes, Catholics are Christians, but Christians are not Catholics.

    • Rusty101

      Posted by Rusty101 on November 25, 2013 at 22:14

      I’m also Catholic and I think you explained the differences very well 🙂

    • faithfulgrl104

      Posted by faithfulgrl104 on August 24, 2012 at 20:17

      Very nice explanation. I myself am a Lutheran and just recently had a conversation with some friends where they asked me how we were different than Catholics. Very few people know about Martin Luther and his split from the Catholic church. I said that all Catholics are Christians but not all Christians are Catholics. I tried to be careful of how I worded things as I have heard Catholics get talked down before in explanations. I told them in the end that the most important thing is that we all believe in God and Jesus Christ as His Son. I refereed to the Apostles Creed as a good indicator. It includes all the truly important beliefs. The differences in practices, traditions etc. shallow in comparison to the fundamental truths that all Christians hold in their hearts.

  9. Sarisa

    Posted by Sarisa on August 12, 2012 at 09:10

    I don’t think Catholics and Christians are alike, b/c Catholics bow down to Mother Mary. Christians shouldn’t bow to anyone/idol unless it is there God…

    • @jesusfreak

      Posted by @jesusfreak on July 1, 2014 at 08:04

      I love Mary! She is such a great example to all young women of how we should follow Christ by just saying yes like she did to the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ!! We don’t worship Mary or the Saints, rather we ask the, to pray for us. Just like you would ask your own mother to pray for you, we ask our Holy Mother to pray for us. Mary was named the Queen Of Heaven by her Son, and in John 19:25-27 Jesus tells the disciples on the cross, “Behold your Mother.” If we want to be close to the Son, we must be close to Mary. A lot of these ideas are misconceptions protestants have against Catholics, and many of them are false. 🙂

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by TheMouseLover on August 13, 2012 at 14:34

      We dont bow down to mary. We pray through her and ask her to intercede for us, like asking a friend to pray for you. We do not worship her, but we do give her much respect because she was Jesus’ immaculate, virgin mother. No, Catholics and christians are not “alike”, because we do have some beliefs that are different from each other, but that doesnt mean we are not Christians. I understand that you do not have the same belief as mine, and i respect that. Please respect my beliefs. We are all brothers and sisters in christ. Therefore we are christians. Have a blessed day <3

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by safire2012 on December 2, 2012 at 09:04

        I don’t mean to say this in a excluding way. Catholics are Christians. We differ from the protestant churches because we believe that the Catholic church is the fullness of the Faith. However, we don’t think that only Catholics are going to Heaven. God can save anyone. He told the sinner on His right that “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” And considering the fact that the guy was being crucified, the sinner probably hadn’t been baptized. Needless to say, Catholics and Christians should not look down on either. We are equal in the sight of God.

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by sunshinedaises on August 20, 2012 at 10:48

        like krissy said, you worded that beautifully, thank you 🙂

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by Krissy Marie 413 on August 13, 2012 at 19:48

        I love how you worded that for mary. Ive always tried to explain the saints, expecially mary to my non catholic friends, and ive always had trouble explaining it. Now i know what to say, so thank you for your comment! =D

  10. Project Inspired

    Posted by TheMouseLover on August 6, 2012 at 11:19

    I have prayed much about the hurt i have felt while reading many of these hateful comments. The Lord has granted me peace and i am no longer upset about this. I honestly forgive those of you who have hurt me. I am Catholic and proud of it. I love being a Catholic! No amount of bullying can change that. Have a blessed day. <3

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by safire2012 on December 2, 2012 at 08:58

      I don’t think any bullying was intended by any of these comments. I am a Catholic too and I’m proud of the Faith, but we can’t let what other people say hurt us. Keep praying for them.

  11. Project Inspired

    Posted by SkiGirl96 on August 4, 2012 at 17:28

    I think one of the differences may be that Catholics (Me being one) Pray to Saints more often and look at Mary a slightly different way. I’m pretty sure the priest at my school said that we (catholics and christians) are basically the same

  12. Project Inspired

    Posted by Kayna on August 1, 2012 at 20:42

    As a Catholic, I am a Christian because I believe in Christ. But Christians are not Catholics because they do not follow all of the teachings of the Church and the Pope. For example the Eastern Orthodox Church follows the teachings of the Church, but believe the Pope to only be another Bishop, so they are not Catholic. There are a lot of misconceptions on both sides. I personally know several people from Christian denominations that were told that all Catholics go to hell. Good news however! In Texas all Christian denominations that wish to are welcome to go to an Inter Faith thing that all the Churches are holding. We meet to sing and discuss aspects of faith that we all believe in, and then we pray. It really is an amazing experience, to be with all sorts of Christians!

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by Journalistlove on August 26, 2012 at 15:51

      Well what about Madame Guyon??? Was she not a Catholic??? YOu guys should totally look her up on youtube her teachings are amazing, whether Christian or Catholic. And really I think it’s really the Holy Spirit teaching through her.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by sunshinedaises on August 20, 2012 at 10:46

      @kayna also, as catholics we believe that Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Christ, that when we recieve His Body and drink His Blood, it is actually His Body and Blood, not just a symbol of the Last Supper

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by Kayna on August 1, 2012 at 20:43

      *In some places of Texas

  13. Danceforjesus23

    Posted by Danceforjesus23 on August 1, 2012 at 12:17

    I think that it depends on the person. But the definitions of “Catholic” and “Christian” are not what they used to be. Personally, I would never call myself a Catholic.

  14. Project Inspired

    Posted by KelseyA on August 1, 2012 at 09:08

    For the most part, I believe that the only real difference between denominations is the style of worship (the music, the service, etc), although there are some denominations that have specific beliefs that differ from the rest of the church.

  15. Project Inspired

    Posted by ClassyPlatypus on July 31, 2012 at 20:24

    I agree completely. I don’t think it matters what traditions you follow as long as you are following Jesus Christ. We aren’t meant to divide 🙂

  16. Project Inspired

    Posted by BeStillAndBreath98 on July 29, 2012 at 10:31

    I honestly dont know that much about Roman Catholics or the church cause it was VERY confusing to me but at the end of the day we’re all thanking and praying to the one and only true God in Jesus name.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by spencekc on September 24, 2012 at 10:55

      For the most part I agree, but Catholics also pray to saints which to me seems like worshiping a false idol. So that’s where I get confused by Catholicism.

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by safire2012 on December 2, 2012 at 08:55

        Catholics don’t pray to saints. They ask the saints to pray for them. Same with Mary, we honor her as Jesus honored her, but we don’t worship her.

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by on October 5, 2012 at 02:21

        @spencekc, that’s what I was thinking…..

  17. Project Inspired

    Posted by justcamping on July 29, 2012 at 09:14

    To be a Christian, wouldn’t you need God in your heart? I thought Catholics don’t believe you have to personally ask him to be in their heart, so they are not technically Christians?

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by TheMouseLover on July 29, 2012 at 16:55

      Absolutely Not! We catholics do ask jesus personally to be in our hearts! very often! what makes you think we dont?

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by Journalistlove on August 26, 2012 at 15:49

        I think that there have been different branches of Catholicism and I think certian branches do things differently, at least that’s what I remember learning and hearing…. I could be wrong.

  18. Project Inspired

    Posted by Maddie on July 27, 2012 at 09:30

    I think every denomination has certain ways of worshipping God or reading His Word. Catholics and Christians do have similar characteristics, but the music style, preaching style among other things are very different. Catholics prefer hymns. Most nondenominational churches prefer drums, guitar, piano and the like. None of these are right or wrong. They’re just different.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by TheMouseLover on July 29, 2012 at 16:59

      Actually many catholic churches perfer more modern music. Mine does. It basically depends on the preferences of the priest, music director, and church goers. and we do use all of the instruments you stated above 🙂 Music played at church really just depends on the preferences of the individul church community and isnt defined by the denomination

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by Crystal Fire on September 16, 2012 at 13:08

        We have both! 🙂 Usually the traditional music is for the adult mass, and the modern music is for the youth mass.

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by sunshinedaises on August 20, 2012 at 10:42

        this is true, i’m catholic and my church is more traditional, so we have organ music and a chior, but there’s nothing wrong with drums, flutes, guitars, and other instraments 🙂