#1 Why Protestants Don’t Believe in Purgatory?
Generally, the Doctrine of Purgatory (seen as a Catholic principle) is rejected by Protestant Christians. Purgatory is the idea of a place or dimension.
Purgatory is defined as:
“An intermediate state after death for expiatory purification specifically:a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God’s grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven
2: a place or state of temporary suffering or misery.”
Catholics argue that purgatory creates a sense of purification for the soul. But Protestants diverge from this belief, supporting that this is not necessary
The reasons that this is the case include that Protestants:
- Do not find biblical evidence or scriptural support for this theory
- The price of sin was paid by Jesus’s death, supported by (Revelations 20:13) “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”
- Believe Jesus’s sacrifice removed the need for sinlessness
- Protestants take an exceedingly literal translation of the Bible, while Catholics take a looser, abstract interpretation of Scripture.
Catholics respond to these justifications by saying that the mercy of God does not grant permission for sinful behavior. Catholics would support the idea that exoneration from sin allows too much slack for humanity and does not push them to transform.
- “10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” – 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
- Resources such as Premier Christianity pose the question Should Protestants Reclaim Purgatory?
- Do Protestants Go to Heaven – Catholic Answers; September 27th, 2016.
#2 Why Protestants are Becoming Catholic?
It is difficult to speak for Protestants on their spiritual journey, as faith can be an exceedingly intimate part of someone’s life. A Catholic church leader writes on his Parish’s blog:
“When evangelicals and fundamentalists and mainline Protestants enter my classroom for Inclusion, they are coming because something about Catholicism is speaking to their soul.
They are drawn to it.”
Some of the reasons that a Protestant may be drawn to a Catholic conversion are:
- They want to enjoy full-communion and the embracement of sacraments (particularly Communion, which is seen as a deeper embodiment of Christ to Catholics).
- They may find more significance in the daily practices rather than the scriptures (being that Catholics do not place as much weight on scriptural sermons)
- They want to embrace papacy (a level of clergy and popehood)
- They are drawn to a more traditional form of Christianity
- They enjoy idolatry and praying through beads, confessionals, and other intermediaries
- They are seeking a conventional relationship with the Lord
- It simply connects with them more/aligns with their morals
Nonetheless, it is important to first mention that statistics on religious conversions prove that Catholics are the ones experiencing the loss. Pewforum.org writes in recent years:
“By contrast, both Catholicism and mainline Protestantism, the two groups whose shares of the overall population have declined most sharply in recent years, have lost more members to religious switching than they have gained. Among U.S. adults, there are now more than six former Catholics (i.e., people who say they were raised Catholic but no longer identify as such) for every convert to Catholicism. And there are approximately 1.7 people who have left mainline Protestantism for every person who has joined a mainline denomination.”
- “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” – James 2:24.
- What Helps Protestants Convert to Catholicism; Bishop Robert Barron; March 18th, 2014
#3 Why Protestants Don’t Pray to Saints?
The primary reason why Protestants do not pray to saints is that they feel a personal and direct line to God. Without the need for an intermediary or conduit of their message, Protestants believe that Saints are superfluous and unnecessary for communication.
In the same way that Protestants reject the need for a priest to pray to God, they also reject the need for a Saint to pray to God. Despite being able to pray to God individually, Protestants still view saints as holy.
After the Reformed tradition, the interpretation of Saints was divided upon the separation of Protestantism Christianity and Catholic Christianity. Catholics continued to pray through priests and Saints, while Protestants did not.
- “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” – Malachi 2:7.
- “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” – Revelation 14:12.
- “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,” – 1 Corinthians 14:33.
- Why Do Catholics Pray to Saints?; Ascension Presents; November 1st, 2019.
#4 Why Protestants Reject Apocrypha?
In the book of Apocrypha, Catholics accept this as one of their Bibles, while Protestants reject it.
The word Apocrypha is a plural interpretation of the Greek words’ apo’, which means ‘away,’ and ‘kryptein’, which means ‘to conceal or hide.’ Notwithstanding the many alterations and evolutions that this book has undergone in the last centuries, the hidden writing of the Apocrypha is a very sacred text to the Roman Catholics.
The reasons why Protestants reject it include:
- They deem it unnecessary
- It is viewed as superfluous and excessive
- They write in 1647: “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.” – The Westminster Confession of Faith.
- This is the historical and traditional approach post-Reformation for Protestants, honoring custom practice and not battling norms
- “The Council of Trent (1546) responded to the Reformed position by ruling all the books of the Apocrypha, with the exception of 3 and 4 Maccabees, as canonical. The Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras appear in an appendix to the Latin Vulgate. (The Eastern Orthodox Church includes all of those rejected books in its canon, as well as the Apocryphal books accepted by Roman Catholicism and the Old Testament recognized by Protestantism.) The Roman Catholic Church considers the books of the Apocrypha that it accepts as “Deuterocanonical,” while they reserve the use of “Apocryphal” for the books they reject (i.e., 3 and 4 Maccabees).” – The Westminster Theological Seminary (est. 1929).
- Why Catholic Bibles Have More Books Than Protestant Bibles; Catholic Answers; April 25th, 2016.
#5 Why Protestants Reject Mary?
Roman Catholics idolize Mary to a point beyond reverent, that veers on worship. Considered to them as ‘The Queen of Heaven,’ there are prayers and rituals dedicated solely to her.
Opposingly, Protestants do not pray hail Marys, nor do they dedicate rituals to Mary.
Protestants only reserve their prayers for God.
The reasons why Protestants only pray to God is because:
- They do not see Mary as a holy entity or source of divinity. Only believing in one God, they refer to The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit as the split entity of God.
- Mary was only a conduit and vessel for Jesus’s earth-form, not a God herself
- They do not consider her the ‘Mother of God’ and do not reserve this term for her (as Catholics)
- She did not create the God-incarnate, God did, and motherhood denotes a term of creation
- Calvinists and Protestants support that Mary was an earthy-figure, not celestial
- “And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:38.
- Accepting the Virgin Mary After Converting from Protestantism; Divine Mercy, May 28th, 2018.
#6 Why Protestants Do Not Make the Sign of the Cross?
As with many Christian denominations that emerged from Reformation – the sign of the cross is denied. Numerous Reformers, including Protestants, reject the gesture of the cross for the same reasons that they reject most customs originating from the Catholic Church.
The reasons that Protestants do not make the sign of the cross may include:
- It feels too ‘Catholic’ in principle, which was the contrarian belief-system to the Protestant theology.
- Protestants do not wish to imitate Catholics.
- Some Reformers see it as conjuring magic or superstitions for situations of blasphemy.
- Some say that they pray to in the name of Jesus, but the prayer still is directed to God, the Father. The sign of the cross does not directly reflect this, not aligning with the Protestant approach to prayer.
Ultimately, there is no prohibition or official rule against Protestants using this sign, and it is up to each individual. Some Protestants find no offense in making the gesture of the cross.
Learn Religions adds:
“Roman Catholics aren’t the only Christians who make the Sign of the Cross. All Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox do as well, along with many high church Anglicans and Lutherans (and a smattering of other Mainline Protestants). Because the Sign of the Cross is a creed that all Christians can assent to, it shouldn’t be thought of as just a “Catholic thing.”
- “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” – Matthew 6:7.
#7 Why Protestants are Heretics?
Ultimately, Protestants were labeled heretics because they did not agree with the Roman Catholic Church. By creating their own approach, they threatened tradition, conformity, and the highly-powerful (and dangerous) clergy and popehood.
The Catholic Church sought to punish Protestants historically, labeling them as outright ‘heretics.’
The term heretic is defined as:
“Religion : a person who differs in opinion from established religious dogma (see DOGMA sense 2)especially: a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church who refuses to acknowledge or accept a revealed truth. The church regards them as heretics.
2: one who differs in opinion from an accepted belief or doctrine: NONCONFORMIST.“
In further detail, the reasons that Catholics (and any other religion) would argue Protestants are ‘heretics’ are:
- Protestantism contradicted and deviated from the Catholic belief-system
- Protestantism was a threat to the established order of the Religion
- Protestantism was a threat to the clergy/priesthood
- Ligonier.org theologists contend that Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (Pope Clement VIII’s theologian and leading figure of the Counter-Reformation movement in 16th century) was quoted as saying, “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is assurance.”
It can be deduced from this quote that during the 16th century, Protestants were seen as very self-assured and almost arrogant in their rejection of fundamental beliefs (or what was seen as Fundamental before the divergence of Protestantism). Being so confident in their Protestant beliefs probably led outsiders to consider them as ‘heretics‘ with less justification or rationally-minded reason.
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:38-39.
- Britannica cites: “In 1555 the Protestant bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and John Hooper were condemned as heretics and burned at the stake in Oxford, England.”
This is not only an opinion of the 16th century, but many Catholics also subscribe to this belief today (as seen in videos such as this clip by Father Ian VanHeusen, Yes, Protestantism is Heresy).
A Catholic member of this religious forum argues:
“It’s a loaded term, but it does not mean that they are not Christians. The term for non-Christians is apostasy. Heresy is having a theological error, which is true of all non-Catholics. But Protestants are still Christians and the holy spirit indeed works through them.”
- Why is Protestantism a Resistance Strain of Heresy; Tumbler House, September 21st, 2017
#8 Why Protestants Split from Catholicism?
There are many reasons why Protestants split from the Catholic church during the period of Reformation in 1517. There was a great deal of corruption in the Catholic Church at this time, which upset many prestigious religious leaders, as:
- Huldrych Zwingli
- Martin Luther
- John Calvin
Each of these men split from the Catholic Church to create their own various Protestant subsects.
The main differences between the two faiths included disagreements about the hierarchy of priests in Religion, the authorities of faith, and how significantly one’s actions influenced their standing with God (versus faith-alone).
In further detail, the reasons why these men, and other Christians, rejected Catholicism are:
- On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther (a German Theologist) published ’95 Theses,’ a long-form criticism against the Roman Catholic Church. He referenced their indulgences and monetary-shaming against disciples, citing that the Catholic church would use contributions as a means to repent for bad behavior.
- Protestants were aware of papal abuses.
- Protestants rejected the use of saints in prayer.
The similarities and differences between these two Christian denominations include:
|Population||800-million to 1-billion||1.2-billion|
|Date of Origin||Began in Germany in 1517||Traced back to 30 CE, sacraments being traced back to Jesus Christ, 1st Century AD|
|Hierarchy within the Church||No||Yes|
|Communion as Literal||No||Yes|
|Communion as Symbolism||Yes||No|
|Praying to Saints||No||Yes|
|Free Will||Yes, towards evil only||Yes, towards good and evil|
|Outcome of the Fall of Man||Guilt and Depravity|
|Authority||Sola Scriptura – only Scripture||Tradition and action over Scripture, (still acts as a guide)|
|Bible||New and Old Testament||Same but the Catholic Bible holds seven books that are not included in the Protestant Bible|
|Predestination||God’s decree||God’s foreknowledge|
|Symbolism, Statues, Art||No||Yes|
|Jesus on Crucifix Symbol||No||Yes|
|Prayer||Directly to God||Through a Priest or clergymen|
|Latin in Prayers or Service||No||Yes|
- “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” – Matthew 24:6.
- “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”‘ – Romans 12:19.
#9 Why Protestants Believe in the Eucharist?
Eucharist is the Christian ceremony of honoring the Last Supper and last meal of Jesus’s life before he sacrificed himself for humankind. (Please note that Communion is the actual ceremony ‘being in communion with saints’ while Eucharist, the noun form of the ceremony, is defined as the ‘person of Jesus).’
Therefore, Eucharist is the act of commemorating Christ through bread and wine that embodies the Lord. Catholics tend to take this analogy literally (seeing themselves as truly consuming the blood and body of Christ), while Protestants maintain that the ritual is merely symbolic, not literal.
Another way in which Catholicism and Protestantism split is that Catholicism embraces sacraments and rituals, whereas Protestantism only engages with two (baptisms and Eucharist).
The reasons why Protestants embrace Eucharist are(is):
- Perceived as a symbolic ritual to connect with God/Jesus.
- Protestants are not anti-ritual, only abject to certain sacraments.
- They see Eucharist as an acceptable sacrament that is not subversive
- They do not prescribe to transubstantiation.
Interestingly enough, there is a growing number of Protestants and Catholic disciples that say they are more similar than they are different (according to a recent study conducted by Pewforum.org regarding 15 European countries where the religions are prominent).
- “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” – John 6:53.
- “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” – John 6:51.
- National Geographic – How Martin Luther Started a Religious Revolution; October 12th, 2017
- Protestants and Catholics Focus on Similarities After 500 Years; October 30th, 2017.