What Are the Basic Differences Between Catholics & Methodists?

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Martin Luther's Reformation in the 16th century resulted in the formation of a number of Protestant Christian followers that wanted to break away from the corruption of the Catholic Church. Although divided into many sects, most Protestant religions maintained the basic principles of Christianity as outlined by the Catholic Church. The Methodist church was formed in the 1700s as a break from the Anglican Church and, like other Protestant sects, bears some resemblance to Catholicism; however, there are several distinct differences.

1 Salvation

The Catholic Church requires baptism for eligibility to receive God's grace. Grace can be lost through sin, and penance is required to rectify the sin and receive grace. When one dies before performing penance, his soul is sent to purgatory — a location between heaven and hell. In purgatory, the necessary atonement can be made to enter heaven. The Methodist Church, on the other hand, preaches that, in addition to love of Christ, one's actions and service on earth are the indicator of acceptance into heaven, and no penance payments are necessary.

2 Sacraments

The Catholic Church defines seven sacraments given by Jesus Christ to prepare believer's souls to receive God's love. The Catholic sacraments are baptism, Holy Communion, confirmation, matrimony, Holy Eucharist, anointing of the sick and holy orders. The Methodist Church has two recognized sacraments: baptism and Holy Communion.

3 Doctrine

Both the Catholic and Methodist Churches use the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible as a source of scripture. In addition, the Catholic Church recognizes the words of the Vatican, Council of Trent, cardinals, bishops and priests as doctrine sources. The Methodist church affirms that the words written in the Bible are the only Holy Scriptures.

4 Saints

Both churches acknowledge the service and wisdom of those canonized as saints. Members of the Methodist Church thank God for giving these saints to the world to learn from, while Catholic parishioners ask these saints to pray on behalf of others for certain blessings or assistance. The Methodist Church focuses devotion only on the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) and a direct line of prayer between church member and God.

Heather Lacey is a freelance writer who has been specializing in print and Web articles since 2008. She is a regular contributor to "Go Gilbert!," "Scottsdale Health Magazine" and other local publications. Lacey has a professional background in hospitality management and studied journalism at Phoenix College.