Here are 5 points that summarize some of the major differences between Catholics and Protestants. Please note that these points are coming from a protestant viewpoint and may differ from that of a Catholic viewpoint.
First: The authority of Scripture
Protestants believe that the Bible alone is God’s special message to mankind and contains that which is necessary for our salvation. This belief is referred to as “sola scriptura” and is one of the “five solas” (sola is Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the differences between Catholics and Protestants “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Second: The authority of the Pope
According to Catholicism, the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute) and takes the place of Jesus on earth as the visible head of the Church. The Pope has the ability to speak ex cathedra (with authority on matters of faith and practice) making his teachings infallible. Protestants believe that no human being is infallible and that Christ alone is the Head of the Church.
Protestants hold the biblical doctrine that humans are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–10). To Protestants, “justification” is an instant act (when believers are declared righteous by God based on their faith in Christ’s atonement on the cross). Then, follows “Sanctification” or becoming Christ like which is a lifelong process. While Protestants recognize that works of obedience to God’s Law (Exodus 20) are important, they believe they are only the fruit of God’s work in the heart but never the means to it.
Fourth: The state of the dead
Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory, which according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” The Bible teaches that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). We cannot atone for our sins by suffering nor can our works of righteousness add to what Christ has already fully accomplished at the Cross.
The Bible teaches that when the believer is justified by faith in Christ and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him (Romans 4: 3, 23-24; 5:1). When that person dies, they sleep and are raised up at the Day of Resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ to receive everlasting life (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; Matthew 16:27; John 5:28, 29).
We hope this has answered your question.
In His service,
The contents of this article and website are not intended to be against any individual. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their knowledge and are seen by God as His children. The information contained herein is addressed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system which has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. This system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that are not in harmony with the Bible.