Roman Catholicism

Summary

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest branch of Christianity and the world's largest religious organization. It is headquartered in Vatican City, which is contained in the city of Rome, and is led by the Bishop of Rome, called the Pope, in an episcopal) form of church government.

The Roman Catholic Church shares many basic tenets with evangelical Protestants such as: the doctrine of the Trinity, the inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, and His virgin birth, atoning death and bodily resurrection. However, there are many other tenets in which the Catholic Church differs from other Christians, many of which became historically relevant during the Reformation. Most significant are:

  • its understanding of justification, which denies the Protestant doctrine of justification through faith alone by grace alone
  • its understanding of the relationship between Tradition and Scripture which denies the Protestant doctrine that Scripture takes precedence over church teaching and tradition.
  • its mediatorial priesthood and the theology of its Mass.
  • its beliefs surrounding Mary and the saints.

Roman Catholicism contains a number of doctrines which Protestants view as unbiblical, such as the doctrine of Transubstantiation, the veneration and intercession of deceased saints, prayers for the dead, purgatory, the immaculate conception and bodily assumption of Mary, and papal infallibility. These teachings evolved over time. While many were in place by the middle ages, some did not become Roman dogma until much later, e.g. Mary's immaculate conception (Pope Pius IV, 1854), and the bodily assumption of Mary (Pope Pius XII, 1950). (Source: Theopedia)