“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).