Evangelism and Catholicism are two distinct groups of Christianity. Evangelism is a collection of churches with similar characteristics, and the Catholic Church is a specific church body with its headquarters in Rome. The two groups differ greatly on many subjects, such as the authority of the church, the importance of liturgy, the nature of the priesthood and the structure of church hierarchy.
The term Evangelism can be used to describe a loosely knit group of Protestant churches whose adherents are called Evangelicals, but it can also refer to a method of spreading the Christian faith -- this is evangelism with a lowercase "e." This article deals primarily with the first group, and Evangelicals -- those practicing Evangelism -- should not be confused with other Christian groups that are practicing evangelism. Both Evangelicals and Catholics evangelize their version of Christianity.
Beliefs of Evangelism
Evangelism is a broad term for certain churches, whether nondenominational or within a specific sect, that emphasize certain aspects of Christianity. The National Association of Evangelicals defines an Evangelical as someone with four primary characteristics of belief: conversionism, activism, biblicism and crucicentrism. Conversionism is the need to be born again; activism is the need to fervently practice one's faith; biblicism is the acceptance of the Bible as the faith's sole authority; crucicentrism is the emphasis on Jesus' redemptive crucifixion. Evangelical churches often derive from Protestantism, which split from the Catholic Church in the 16th Century.
Beliefs of Catholicism
The Catholic Church believes it is the church founded by Jesus Christ Himself, and it claims the authority of St. Peter -- the rock upon which Jesus built his church. The Catholic Church has an organized hierarchy with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, at the top. In Catholicism, the Church itself is considered sacred, and the Church considers itself infallible in matters of faith and morality. The Catholic Church is highly liturgical, which means that the mass, or church service, is a regimented and sacred ritual. The liturgy is conducted by priests who have taken a vow of celibacy.
The greatest disagreement between Evangelism and Catholicism is the authority of the church. Evangelicals believe the Bible's authority is supreme and that it is the only authority for Christian belief. Catholics, on the other hand, believe in a combination of the Bible and Sacred Tradition, which is the belief that the church's traditional practice has sacred authority. The Catholic Church believes the Bible and Sacred Tradition flow from "the same divine wellspring." Evangelical churches tend to be less structured than the Catholic Church, and Evangelical clergymen are often married.
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