Catholic or Christian? What’s the difference?

Catholic or Christian

One of the questions I am asked the most is, “What is the difference between a Catholic and a Christian?”.


Many think that Catholic and Christian are two different groups. However, that is not true. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Christian as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ”. There are many groups within the group classified as Christians (Christian denominations), that make up the different branches of Christianity such as the Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants.

However, there is only one true Church. The Baltimore Catechism teaches that, “The one true Church established by Christ is the Catholic Church. (a) Many churches which claim to be Christian have broken away from the one true Church established by Jesus Christ. These churches were founded by men who had no authority from God to found a church. (b) Christ intended that there should be only one true Christian Church, for He always spoke of His Church as one.” (BC 152).


There have been many splits within Christianity mainly due to the disagreements between certain doctrines and theological teachings. One of the most notable splits was The Great Schism which split the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches into two. Another well known split was The Reformation in 1517 when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses and split from the Catholic Church to form a branch called Lutherans or Protestants. There have been other splits too such as that of a branch called the Old Catholic church who disagreed with the doctrine of Papal Infallibility in 1870. There has been many smaller splits that have formed smaller groups of Christians that have lead to us having thousands of Christian denominations.

Though split, the different Christian denominations still believe in the One Lord, Jesus
Christ. Also, through the Sacrament of Baptism, Christians are baptized “in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Through that, we all share is Christ’s ministry as priest, prophet and king.

Let us pray that the Christian church may one day be unified into one, “so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 15:6).

*** Want to learn more on Christian Unity? Read my article, Christians: Called to Share in Christ’s Priestly, Prophetic and Kingly Mission. ***

About Vincent Pham

Vincent is a humanities student of the University of Toronto’s Trinity College of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He hopes to pursue a double major in Ethics, Law and Society, and Philosophy.
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