What is the difference between catholic and Christian?
I understand why there would be confusion. On the surface, the question may sound odd or even silly. Many folks will respond: there is no difference between catholic and Christian. Catholics believe in Christ, that makes them Christians.
Well, unfortunately, that answer isn’t necessarily accurate. First, simply “believing” in Christ isn’t sufficient to make on a Christian. It goes a lot deeper than that. If you wish, you can read a post of mine on the subject, called Believing in Christ Doesn’t Make You a Christian.
No, belief is not enough. So what else is there? What more must one do to actually become a Christian? The key word is:
You must TRUST in Christ. And not only trust in Christ, but you must trust in Christ ALONE for your Eternal Salvation. You must trust that His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary paid your sin debt in full — which it did — and trusting in that payment means releasing your own need to have to “pay” for something that Christ Himself has already paid. His death released you from your debt.
It isn’t about “accepting” Christ or “believing” in Christ or “asking Christ into your heart”. It is only about trust and placing your trust FULLY in Him, your Savior. So what is the distinction between belief and trust? My brother likes to describe it this way:
“You believe in the chair that you are sitting on. You trust that the chair will carry your weight and support you”.
It wasn’t until I actually TRUSTED in Christ Alone that I received the Gift of Eternal Life. If you haven’t yet read my story, please take a few minutes to do so. That moment was a life-changing event, for both my earthly life and my eternal life.
So then what is the difference between catholic and Christian?
Most catholics have placed their trust in things other than Christ for their Salvation. This isn’t necessarily their fault directly, they’ve been raised that way. I know, I was raised that way myself and I was totally and completely sincere about my belief in Christ and that He died for my sins. But, like most other catholics, I also believed that I had to trust in the church of Rome for assistance in achieving Eternal Salvation. I had to trust in the leaders of the church to provide me with proper doctrine, in the priest in the confessional to ensure that I received absolution for my sins, in the wafer of bread that was supposedly transformed into the Body of Christ (something I now know is preposterous and not supported by Scriptures), and trust in the church of Rome’s claim to apostolic succession (read my post: Dispelling the Myth of the “Rock” Peter) to provide the authority to dictate to me what I must believe.
Catholics believe in Christ, as do true Christians. Christians TRUST in Christ Alone. Catholics, most of them anyway, trust in Christ plus, plus, PLUS. The Body of Christ is the one True Church and not a wafer of bread. Do not place your trust in something or someone other than Jesus Christ for your Eternal Salvation. It is through His sacrifice alone that you may have (not “will have” some time in the future) Eternal Life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
But here we see the word “believeth” and haven’t I just been writing about how it is TRUST and not belief that is the key? Well this is where we must take the time to look a little deeper. All “translations” of the Holy Scripture have flaws, even the version that I most favor, the King James Version. So let’s look at John 5:24 and see what the original Greek text used for the word “believe” in this instance. We find that the word used here is: “pisteuo” which has a definition (including: “to be intrusted with a thing; to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity; to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something; to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in) that is clearly much closer to the word “trust” for us who speak English.
Many have “believed” that Christ existed, but how many place their full TRUST in Christ as John tells us?
Is it possible for a practicing catholic to be a Christian? Of course anything is possible with God, but I would have say it is unlikely. Why? Because I was there, I was a part of that church, I was an educator in that church, and once I received the Gift of Eternal Salvation and received the counsel of the Holy Spirit, I saw that the catholic church as we know it is not Christ’s One True Church and as someone who had become a true Christian I realized that I had to remove myself from it to be a full part of the One True Church, Christ’s Body.