Are Catholics Christians? If you’re Catholic, you might be thinking of course, why even ask? Or you might be wondering how to explain to a non-Catholic who doesn’t understand Catholicism. If you’re a non-Catholic, you might truly be curious about this very question.
There was a time when I thought addressing this question as the topic for an article was unnecessary. Of course, Catholics are Christians. Why would anyone ever dispute this? But, with all the misinformation and falsities that abound about Catholicism, I feel I must address this very question. You might have heard that Catholicism is a cult or that because of one reason or another Catholics are not Christians. This is simply not true! In fact the Catholic Church is Jesus’ pilgrim church on earth. All Christian denominations broke away from the Catholic Church, or from a denomination that did. This is historical fact.
But let’s go step-by-step. First, let’s look at some definitions. What does catholic mean? What does Catholic mean? How is Catholicism defined? And how is Christianity defined? My trusty Webster dictionary tells me the following:
catholic – 1: comprehensive, universal 2: of, relating to, or forming the church universal
Catholic – 1: a person who belongs to the universal Christian church
Catholicism – 1: the faith, practice or system of Catholic Christianity
Christianity – 1: the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic and Protestant bodies 2: conformity to the Christian religion
Wikipedia.com states the Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church with its members numbering over half of all Christians and one sixth of the world’s total population.
Christianity is defined on Wikipedia.com as “a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recounted in the New Testament.” Present day Christianity is comprised of four main groups (due to theological reasons some reject being classified as Christian denominations): Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and other Catholics (those not in communion with the Pope), and Restorationists (those who believe they are restoring the original version of Christianity).
The Nicene Creed is an ecumenical statement of Christian faith and beliefs. A central doctrine of the creed is the Trinity. This creed, opposed by some groups, is accepted by many Christian churches and Catholics recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday during Mass.
The Nicene Creed states:
"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."
So, why then would anyone dispute the fact that Catholics are Christians? My first answer would be, honestly I don’t know. But in seeing all the misinformation about Catholicism on the internet, I believe that is the root of it. The misinformation - not the internet. If someone is searching for information about Catholicism and happens upon an anti-Catholic site, or speaks to a misinformed individual, he or she could very well come away with a false understanding of Catholicism. This false understanding then might lead to someone believing that Catholics are not Christians.
Peace in Christ,
© Melissa Knoblett-Aman