Denomination Differences

Catholic vs. Presbyterian Beliefs

CatholicPresbyterian
Number of Members1,360,000,000[1]39,000,000
How does one get saved?Repent of your sins, believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection to save you, be baptized, participate in the Eucharist, and don't die with any unconfessed mortal sins.[2][3]Sola fide: Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection alone to save you.
Who gets saved?Anyone who chooses by his own free will to believe and accept God's gift of grace will be saved.Those who God chooses to call will be saved and no one else.
Can one lose his salvation?Yes, a Christian can lose his salvation by apostasy or by committing a mortal sin.Eternal security: No, once a Christian is saved, he is always saved.
Who gets baptized and why?The unsaved, typically as infants, get baptized as the first sacrament of Christian initiation, cleansing them of all sins.Saved people and their infant children get baptized as a sign of God's grace.[4]
How should baptism be done?Baptism should be by pouring water on the head.Baptism should be by sprinkling water on the head.
When does one receive the Holy Spirit?The Holy Spirit is received at baptism.The Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation.[5]
What is the trinity?The Trinity is God existing as one god in three equal, eternal, cosubstantial persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.The Trinity is God existing as one god in three equal, eternal, cosubstantial persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.
What is the human nature?Human nature is not totally corrupt but is wounded and inclined to evil.[6]Total depravity: Human nature is corrupt, naturally inclined to evil, and incapable of choosing God on his own.
Are we guilty of Adam's original sin?No, we are not guilty of Adam's sin, but we did inherit the consequences and a corrupt human nature from him, causing us all to sin.[7]Federalism: Yes, Adam represented all of the human race, and all are guilty of his sin.
Are Christians required to keep the Old Testament ceremonial laws?No, the ceremonial laws of Judaism were fulfilled and done away with by Jesus.No, the ceremonial laws of Judaism were fulfilled and done away with by Jesus.
Can Christians become sinless in this earthly life?"Christian perfection" is attainable in this life, but this does not mean one is sinless, as one will always commit minor "venial sins".No, although Christians can and should sin less, they can never become sinless in this life.
Do the elements of communion become the body and blood of Christ?Transubstantiation: Yes, the bread and the wine change into the body and blood of Christ.No, the elements do not become the body and blood of Christ, but Christ is present in an unknown way.
Can one be baptized of behalf of someone who has died?No, the dead cannot be baptized.No, the dead cannot be baptized.
What happens if a saved person dies without being perfect?Christians who die imperfectly purified must be purified through purgatory.[8]Once Christians leave their sinful bodies, nothing else is needed to receive glorified, sinless bodies.[9][10]
Did Mary ever sin?Immaculate conception: No, Mary was free of original sin and remained sinless throughout her life.Yes, Mary sinned like all other humans except Jesus.
What spiritual gifts are available today?Most believe that all spiritual gifts are still available to believers.Cessationism: Spiritual gifts used for serving are available today, while gifts used as signs have ceased.[5]
What framework has God used in dealing with man?Covenant theology: God acts either within the covenant of works or the covenant of grace.[11]
What are the requirements for clergy?Priests must be unmarried men over 25 ordained by bishops.
How many church ordinances/​sacraments are there?The church has seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.[12]The church has two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion.[13]
To whom do Christians need to confess their sins?Mortal sins must be privately confessed to a priest at least annually.[14][15]Confession should be made directly to God, but confession to another believer is beneficial for some sins.
How should a church be structured?Episcopal: Churches should be governed by the bishop in that diocese, who in turn is governed by an archbishop, who is governed by the Pope.Presbyterian: Churches should be governed by its own elders, who in turn are governed by a presbytery comprising the elders from the region, which is governed by a general assembly of commissioners from each presbytery.
What day of the week should Christians worship?Christians worship on Sunday.Christians worship on Sunday.
How does God's revelation come to us today?Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition have equal authority and comprise one finished deposit of faith.Prima scriptura: There are many sources of God's revelation, although none can contradict the Bible.
How many books are in the Bible?There are 73 canonical books of the Bible: 39 protocanonical books, 7 deuterocanonical books, and 27 New Testament books.There are 66 canonical books of the Bible: 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.
Is the Bible inerrant?No, the Bible was written inerrantly on matters of salvation but may contain errors in other matters.Varies widely[16]
Who can speak with God's authority today?The Pope speaks infallibly with God's authority when speaking ex cathedra.[17][18]Nobody today can speak for God.
How was the earth created?The earth was formed by gravity pulling dust together, which ultimately came from the Big Bang.
What is marriage?Marriage is a covenant before God between one man and one woman.[19]Varies widely[20][21][22]
Is sex permissible outside marriage?No, sex outside of marriage is not permissible.Varies widely[23][22]
When is divorce permissible?Divorce is never permissible.Divorce is permissible for adultery or desertion.[24]
May a Christian remarry while his former spouse is still alive?Divorce is never permissible.The innocent party to the adultery may remarry.[25]
When does a fetus become human?Humanity begins at conception.[26]Most believe humanity begins at conception. Some say it is unknown when humanity begins.[27][28][29]
Is contraception permissible?No, contraceptives are not permissible.[30]Yes, contraceptives are permissible.
Are blood transfusions permissible?Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.Yes, blood transfusions are permissible.
Should women cover their heads?No, head coverings are no longer required due to cultural changes.[31]
Should Christians drink alcohol?Yes, drinking alcohol is fine as long as one does not get drunk.[32]Yes, drinking alcohol is fine as long as one does not get drunk.[33]
Should Christians fight in wars?Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.[34][35]Yes, Christians should fight in just wars.[36]
How should Christians musically worship God?Any style of worship music is acceptable.[37]
Whom does the Holy Spirit come from?The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[38]The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[39][40]
Do icons glorify God?Yes, icons are holy and should be venerated.Varies widely[41][42][43][44]
Where does a Christian's soul go after death?Some Christians first go to purgatory to be purified when they die.[8]Christians immediately go to heaven when they die.[10]