Is the Roman Catholic church a Christian church?

Last updated on September 17, 2020

Is the Roman Catholic church a Christian church?

The short answer to this question is ‘yes’. The Roman Catholic church underwrites all the important doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the Trinity, sin and our need for redemption, Jesus’ dying for sins, His resurrection, forgiveness of sins, the coming judgement and eternal life.

A distinction

The long answer is that there is a distinction between THE church and churches. The ‘real’ church is the holy community of all the people from all ages and all places that God has called and that have faith in Him. This church is united with Christ and He will keep her safe. This church is not owned by any human and has no visible borders.

But there are also churches which are the organizations or buildings in which these people are gathered or of which they are members. These church organizations, institutions and buildings are made by humans and are prone to corruption. Especially when they become rich and powerful.

Dominant church

The Roman Catholic church was the dominant church in the world in the Middle Ages, and was so severely corrupted at that time, that many people were harmed by it. That is why a movement began which was called ‘the Reformation’. Initially its purpose was to draw the Roman Catholic church back to her roots, and to do away with wrong teachings and practices that had entered the church. However, the Roman Catholic church rejected reform and persecuted the reformers. They then started their own churches. These Protestant churches became dominant in Northern Europe and North America, and later because of missionary activity, they also spread through many parts of the world.

However, the Roman Catholic church changed too. Some of the things which the first Protestants protested against, are no longer part of the church practice and teaching. Also, there are big regional differences. Some Catholic churches are much more faithful to teachings of the Bible than others. This is the same for the Protestant churches.

Different questions

If you are looking for a church and you want to know if a church is a good one to go to, there are different questions you can ask yourself.

Does the church believe that the Bible is God’s word and that we should do what it says? Do they believe in the basic Christian teachings? See for example the ‘Apostles’ Creed’. Are the leaders honest, humble, wise and good examples of Christian living? Are people encouraged to read and study the Bible? Do they take good care of people in the church, especially the weak? Do they have the courage to reject what is wrong? Are the church traditions helping people to worship Jesus and live holy lives? Are they merciful? Do they tell about Jesus to those outside the church? These are some ways you can see if a church is healthy. But remember, THE church is never limited to one organization or denomination.

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