Five Misconceptions Protestants Towards the Catholicism

By CCD contributor: Paul Wu , May 13, 2017 08:05 AM

Wangfujing Catholic Church(CCD)

Protestants and Catholics are both pure Christians. However, many protestants in the Chinese church still have a misunderstanding regarding the essence of Catholicism. Catholicism is even regarded as heresy.

This article aims to discuss these misconceptions

First Misconception: Besides the Holy Trinity, Catholics also regard Maria, the mother of Jesus as God

It is the most common misunderstanding regarding Catholicism. Protestants believe that Protestants believe in Jesus and Catholics worship Maria. Even some pastors who have received orthodox theological education also think so.

The reality is that Catholics have never regarded Maria as God. They think that Maria was sent by God to give birth to Jesus. She has no sin, which is different from ordinary people. The Cana wedding banquet shows that Maria can pray for absolution of people's sin. She is also the representative of human's obedience, which is the opposite of Eve's disobedience.

Catholics think Maria can set a good example for believers and churches due to her lofty morality. In their opinion, Maria is also the perfect union of love, trust and Christianity. It is fair to say that Catholics only honor Maria instead of worshiping her.  

Second Misconception: The Bible of Catholicism also includes Our Father and Hail Mary, which is different from Protestantism.

Protestantism and Catholicism both recognize the superior state of Bible. The Bible contains God's words. It is the authority of faith. However, Catholicism and Protestantism have different ideas about the Old Testament. The main dispute is the status of the Apocrypha.

The so-called Apocrypha refers to several books that exist in the Greek text in 70 AD, but they do not exist in the Hebrew Bible. Augustine thinks that the Apocrypha is a part of the Bible. While Jerome thinks the Apocrypha is not as authoritative as Hebrew Bible, it can only be used as a textbook for believers to strengthen moral education, instead of learning the basis of faith. These two opinions were warmly debated in the Middle Ages.

During the Religious Reform period, Martin Luther King agreed with Jerome. He also thought that the Apocrypha should be removed from the Canons. The protestant church inherited the idea of Luther. Their Old Testament only contained 39 books. In 1546, Apocrypha was recognized as a canon at the Trento Conference held in the Catholic church. It is regarded as a sacred canon which deserves corresponding belief and respect. From then on, the Old Testament of Catholicism has contained 46 volumes.

Our Father is just like the Lord's Prayer which we use and it is a part of the New Testament. There is no need to add or modify the Bible. The Hail Mary is written according to Maria's praise of Lord in the Gospel of Luke and the doctrine of Virgin Mary. It is a way of praying. Catholicism has never regarded it as part of the Bible.

Third Misconception: Catholics are not able to pray directly to God. They must ask for pastors' and saints' help.

Catholics can also pray directly to God. Different from Protestantism, Catholicism also recognizes the effect of saints' intercession throughout history. According to dogmas, intercession is coordinated with God's kindness. In intercession, believers not only pray for their own matters. They also pray for other people. So Catholicism just confirms the power of intercession, instead of only praying by intercession.

Fourth Misconception: There are many idols in the Catholic church.

The Catholic church is allowed to put icons of Jesus, angels and saints. We can also see icons in a Catholic's home. Placing icons in one's home or in the church originated in the Middle Ages. Many people couldn't read the scriptures because education was not popular at the time. Therefore, the church uses icons to help believers understand the story of the Bible better.

Catholics believe that icons are different from idolatry. Seeing the image of Jesus, you will remember his efforts and death on the cross. He suffered so much to atone for humans' crime. The worship of idols is the belief that the "idol" will produce supernatural powers that affect our thinking and our daily lives. The icon of Catholicism is just a spiritual practice, which is totally different.

Fifth Misconception: Catholics sell indulgence

Catholic churches used to deviate from the normal track in the Middle Ages. Catholics believed that the church master merits of people at that time. They also thought that the church has stored unlimited merits of Christ and excess merits of saints. In their opinion, the merits could be allocated to believers.

Catholicism then issued many indulgences to save believers. In the late Middle Age, the church was corrupt and indulgence became a way of collecting money. The selling of indulgence provoked the anger of many reformers like Luther. Indulgence also became the trigger for religious reform.

The Catholic church also reflected in the time of the Religious Reform. At the Trento Conference in 1546, the Catholic church abolished the issue of indulgences. So today's Catholic church has nothing to do with indulgence.

Translated by Emma Ma

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