by Jeffrey van Zuiden

What would seem like a very complicated topic is in fact very simple. It can be broken down into two broad reasons.

  1. Catholics lead them to believe this. As a Protestant, when I would meet a Catholic, if I asked them if they were Christian most would respond “No, I’m Catholic.” or “I’m Catholic.” You’ve all heard this many times, in some variation and know what I’m talking about. It’s our own ignorance on our faith that compels others into believing this. Ask yourself: How you identify yourself to others?
  2. Many Protestant denominations teach this. Again, as a Protestant in a Calvinist Reformed tradition, we were educated that Catholics were barely, if at all, Christian. It was literally in our text-book that Catholics were essentially a Pagan cult, all going to Hell. Many other denominations teach this as well. Now, it’s true that not all teach this, but there are more than enough who do to make my point.

So why do we Catholics do what we do? In our defense, we’ve called ourselves this going back to the end of the 1st century. However, it’s in our ignorance of how we are perceived today that forms the core of the problem. To be taken serious be many Protestants, we must first bridge this gap of how they view us.

A Protestant Allegory, by Pennacchi Gerolamo de Pier-Marie

An example of Protestant propaganda, this shows four men killing the Pope and two other men man — one labeled “hypocrisy” and the other named “greed” — with stones made from the Gospels. This is a false charge, but any rock will do to beat the Church, to paraphrase Chesterton. 

To understand why Protestants teach what they do, we must first go back in time to the Protestant Reformation. During that time, there was a lot of political propaganda perpetuated by the Protestant leaders and their political supporters. Among that propaganda, is an idea that lasts to this day. It can be summed-up nice and easy: “The Catholic Church has absorbed all kinds of non-apostolic traditions and as such is no longer Christian.”

As a Catholic, you can do two things to help fix this.

  1. Profess your faith properly. When asked if I’m a Christian, I respond with, “Yes, I’m a Catholic Christian.” Always add in that “Christian” part for emphasis. This is very important. Knowing we are misunderstood, change how you represent yourself. You will be shocked at how many doors this opens to evangelizing! I could write a book on how many fruitful conversations this has started.
  2. Defend your faith. With a charitable heart, defend the Church. For example, say something like this: “The Catholic Church is Christian because it is the Church founded by Jesus Christ. For the first thousand years of Christianity, our Church was it, and even after the Great Schism of 1054 all Christians celebrated the faith the way we still do — until the time of Luther.” And so on.

Remember, you are a Catholic Christian!

May God Bless You.