Sharing Faith Between Denominations
This week, I have started to learn more about different denominations under the umbrella of the Christian faith. I’m not doing this because I want to change my denominations (I am very happily Catholic), but more so to find out what our commonality is between the denominations. I feel that the more we know about what we Catholics and Protestants have in common, the more we can come together as Christians, even though we may not worship in the same manner.
What’s the difference?
For those who grew up in a Protestant denomination, or are non-denominational Christian, you may wonder what the difference is in the first place. I would tend to agree with those thoughts and questions, because we all do believe the simple facts.
- Christ came into the world.
- Christ taught many great things throughout the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
- Christ died for our sins on the cross.
- Christ rose from the dead and spoke to the disciples.
- Christ ascended into Heaven.
These are all facts that every denomination, including those who are non-denominational, believe from the Scriptures, and in particular the Gospels I mentioned above.
So what exactly are the differences? Why are there different denominations? It’s as simple as this: We are all human, and all have different ways of believing.
Humans Behaving As Humans
That fact happens as early as the New Testament, when we have Paul and the Apostles meet. They do not get along. There are already differences in theology between them. It may be that the Apostles felt they were the only ones worthy to pass along the Word of Christ, because they were with him during his ministry. Perhaps Paul felt on fire to preach and his words may not have been exactly Apostle approved.
From my own perspective, I can relate to both sides. As a converted Catholic, I feel that I should question certain things, such as why the church does things the way they do, perhaps like what Paul may have done to the Apostles. Yet, as a Catholic, I also believe certain things to be true, such as Peter being the founder of the Catholic Church. Does that mean that the work that the other Apostles or Paul did doesn’t matter? Not so at all! I believe that there is great weight in the New Testament, which are books written by Paul and many other wonderful seed sowers throughout the ages.
So what are the differences? For starters, the Catholic Church has set readings every day of the year, which is consistent throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church. If you attend a mass on Sunday in New York, or in Los Angeles, you will hear the same readings throughout. Those readings will consist of: a reading from the Old Testament, a reading from the New Testament (outside of the Gospels), and then a Gospel reading.
This is not so for many of the other Protestant denominations. For some denominations, it is entirely on what the Pastor feels like proclaiming that week. For other denominations, there are set readings, but there is also the option for the Pastor to call an audible and do what he or she wants.
That also leads to another difference between Catholics and Protestants. In the Catholic Church, the Priests are all male. Yes, there are Sisters and religious orders that are all female, but the Priests are all male. This is not so in a Protestant denomination. Men and women are treated as equal in many of the denominations, with many female Pastors leading their congregations in worship.
The differences are also in how we view others. For example, the Catholic Church has spoken against those of alternative lifestyles (GLBTQ) marrying each other. Some Protestant denominations, particularly Episcopalians have accepted and written that acceptance into their charters.
When I ask that question, I mean really want you to ask what is right for you? For me, I enjoy being in the Catholic Church, I enjoy the rhythm of the Mass, I enjoy the fact that I can take Communion at Mass (it is the central part of the Mass), and I have many of the same beliefs as what is taught within the Catholic Church. Do I believe everything the Catholic Church teaches us to believe? No. And that is okay because that is accepted.
However, if you feel that there may be too much rigidity within the Catholic Church, and you want to find another way to worship, that is entirely up to you. The beauty of what God gave us at birth is free will. We are free to choose what we do in our way of worship, as long as we all are giving glory to God.