A Comparative Chart of Christian Beliefs

Catholic Beliefs
Eastern Orthodox
Lutherans
Baptists
Anglicans
Methodists
Presbyterians
Evangelicals
Trinity
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Belief in Christ's redemptive death
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Jesus is both God and man
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Salvation by Grace (Catholic definition)
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All men have the possiblity of salvation (against Calvin's predestination doctrine)
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Belief in Sacrifice of the Mass
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Denomination has a valid   ordination of Priests (as judged by the Catholic Church)
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Denomination has a valid consecration of the Eucharist and belief in the Real Presence
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Fidelity to the Pope as teacher of the Faith
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Fidelity to the Pope as Apostolic Primate
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Belief in the ability of the individual Christian to lose salvation
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Belief in distinction of sin (mortal and venial)
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Belief in equality of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition (Deposit of Faith)
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Adherence and recognition of all the Church's Ecumenical Councils
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Bible canon contains 73 books including all seven books  in the Septuagint canon.
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Baptism is normatively necessary for salvation.
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Belief in all seven sacraments of the Church.
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This table represents a general, sweeping overview of non-Catholic Christian beliefs and their comparison to the Catholic Church.  Protestantism, by definition, accepts private judgement of Scripture over Church authority (this happens to a lesser extent in Anglicanism and Lutheranism).  Therefore, it is difficult to pigeon-hole Protestant beliefs because of the resultant diversity of beliefs within denominations.  Nevertheless, the above table is a useful tool because it represents the majority opinion of that denomination.  I have researched these beliefs by use of various websites (which are listed below) in an effort to ensure accuracy.   Nevertheless, if the reader believes I am in error please e-mail me a correction and I will investigate the matter. 

The symbology of the table is fairly straightforward.  Checkmarks indicate agreement with the Catholic position and an "X" indicates a dissenting opinion.   Question marks indicate that the matter is either unresolved in that particular denomination, or that the doctrine in question cannot be sufficiently answered with a straight yes or no answer.  For instance, in the case of the Eastern Orthodox churchs they generally agree with the Catholic definition of the Biblical canon, but sometimes add additional books (such as Esdras III).

One last note on the various denominations.  Eastern Orthodoxy should not be considered either a unified church or a Protestant deriviative.  It has seperate origins which resulted from the Great Schism of the eleventh century.  Greek Orthodoxy, encompasses a handful of different local church communities that are very nationalistic (such as the Greek and Russian Orthodox Church) and somewhat independent from each other.  It is worth noting that variances in beliefs (such as the biblical canon) do occur within the Orthodox schism.  In the same vein, Protestantism is not a unified Church (although some claim it is the unified church of "Christianity") because the various doctrines of each denomination conflict and are often mutually exclusive.  Only the Catholic Church has a unity of concensus on doctrinal matters because of its centralized authority in the Papacy and worldwide College of Bishops.

--S.M. Miranda

 Sources:

 Methodists: Statement of Beliefs of the United Methodist Church

Their beliefs are extracted from The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church and is based on John Wesley’s theology.

 Presbyterians: Statement of Beliefs of the First Presbyterian Church in Waco

Their beliefs are primarily extracted from the 210th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and are based on John Calvin’s theology.

 Baptists: Southern Baptist Statement of Beliefs

It should be noted that by nature, Baptists are highly fractious and diverse in theological doctrines.  They hold ultimate interpretation of Scripture at the individual level, and therefore it is difficult to assess a broad, generalized view of their beliefs.  Southern Baptist are the largest convention of Baptists in the United States.

 Lutherans: Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Statement of Beliefs

The Lutheran system of beliefs is based primarily on the The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church written in the 16th century, and the Augsburg confession.

 Anglicans (Church of England)/Episcopalians: Beliefs of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Australia,

Anglican beliefs are chiefly summarized in Cranmer’s book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles, written shortly after the King Henry VIII’s break from the Catholic Church.  The Lambeth conference of the American Episcopalians at the beginning of the 20th century also forms the basis of modern Anglican beliefs (such as the new moral acceptance of contraceptive use) in the USA.  High Church Anglicanism, is the Protestant denomination that bears the most similarity to the Catholic Church.

 Evangelicals:  Evangelicalism is more a movement than a denomination.  It sprang from the Methodist revivals of the 19th century.  Therefore, it is highly fractious in the matter of general Church authority.  Nevertheless, their doctrines can be somewhat garnered from the spirit of the movement.  You can view a typical evangelical confession of faith here.

 Eastern Orthodoxy: Beliefs of the Orthodox Christian Church in America

Orthodox beliefs are primarily based on adherence to the first seven ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church.  Their primary objection to the authority of the remaining ecumenical councils is rooted in a rejection of Papal primacy of authority and a theological disagreement on how to determine if a council is ecumenical or not (Catholics believe that a Papal endorsement of doctrine from a general Church council makes it ecumenical).

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