Catholic/Protestant Dictionary

There were many steps involved in becoming Catholic. I found that theology was only one of those steps. As I’ve mentioned before, Catholic culture was an unexpected and rather large hurdle.

Catholic art and culture intimidated me at first.

Maybe I already told this story. I’m not sure, but if so, please indulge me for a moment. Catholic culture is a very real thing, and I first discovered this when I attended a Catholic conference several years ago, before I converted. Many vendors were selling all sorts of Catholic artwork that was very ornate and elaborate. Many of them had images of Mary and other saints. All of these things were difficult to get past in my mind. The closest Protestant equivalent is a Christian bookstore that sells gifts and artwork, and even then it’s just different.

I finally realized that this was just the cultural part of Catholicism–it was not dogmatic. In other words, there was no requirement for me to display Catholic art in my home as a step to becoming Catholic. It was a big relief for me to realize that. I wish somebody had explained it to me though. Unfortunately, I had to figure it out on my own. I am not sure why that is.

Even so, there is a cultural transition. Part of it has to do with Catholic words, phrases and ideas. Many Catholic terms sounded very foreign to my ears… but only at first. At some point I realized that the terms only sounded foreign—the ideas behind them were not foreign at all. Here is a chart I made that is sort of like a Catholic to Protestant Dictionary. It is amazing how many Catholic ideas reside in Protestantism. But of course all that makes sense to me now, since Protestantism has its theological and historical origins in Catholicism.


I take credit for some of these, since I genuinely figured them out on my own. But I got a few of them from Mark Shea, and a number of others from the Coming Home Network forum. So I’m not alone in making these kinds of observations. Other converts have as well. And just to be clear: I am not saying that there is 100% equivalence between the every item on this list. In some cases there is, but in other cases there is not. Even when there is not, they are close enough to convey the meaning.

I hope this chart helps Catholics and Protestants understand each other better.

*For elaboration on the confirmation/baptism equivalence, see here. For elaboration on the merit/reward equivalence, see here.

5/19/2017: Catholics say “divine law,” and Protestants say, “Biblical principles.” Not a perfect overlap but they are similar ideas.

9/1/2017: Catholics have an Act of Spiritual Communion, Protestants pray to receive Jesus into their hearts. See here for details.


Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

6 thoughts on “Catholic/Protestant Dictionary”

  1. Just a bit of clarification–these are not exactly equivalents with each other. Though it is a very helpful list–equally so for Catholics unfamiliar with Protestant terminology. 🙂

    In a Catholic Church there can be a homily or a sermon. Homilies (which are most common today) tend to be reflective upon the Word, while Sermons tend to teach. Both are found in the Church.

    Also. Confirmation IS NOT Baptism. Often, especially for older catechumens, if they have never received a Trinitarian baptism (baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), they will often be baptized and confirmed in one ritual… Otherwise, one is usually baptized as an infant, and receives the Rite of Confirmation upon age of reason (usually around the age of 10). It is when the individual confirms their faith given in Baptism, and it is upon confirmation that an individual begins to receive the Eucharist, the body of Christ. So, again, to clarify: Baptism and Confirmation are two separate sacraments in the Church which may or may not occur together. (Ref CCC, Catechism of the Catholic Church, sec. 1121)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to apologize, as soon as I posted my comment, I saw your caveat and link regarding Baptism and Confirmation at the end of the post. (Can I blame the fact that it’s Monday? 😉 )

        So, then do Protestants have both as well, or are they combined into one rite? Or do they have confirmation? I think I always assumed that Protestant denominations only had baptism (although now that I think about it, I imagine it varies, depending on how liturgical or sacramental a denom is, such as high Anglican…).

        For me, though I was baptized Lutheran as a baby, I was raised in a secular and, though could never deny God, spent most of my adulthood as an “anti-Christian” spiritualist until my conversion to the Faith. As a result, most of my knowledge of Protestant belief has come out of Catholic apologetics since my conversion.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yea no problem. 🙂 Generally, they seem to view water baptism as a public ritual that is used for people to demonstrate their commitment to entering into the Christian life. Generally, they don’t believe that baptism actually does anything objective to the soul. The liturgical Protestants (Anglicans, Lutherans) may believe differently, in fact, they probably do believe differently. Since liturgical Protestants also have a rite of confirmation, then perhaps they do believe that baptism does something objective.

          I think I need to be more clear when I use the word Protestant. Generally, if I say Protestant, I mean Evangelical, non denominational Protestant. I should probably use the term Evangelical instead. But it does get complicated since they don’t all believe the same things, and their churches don’t all teach the same doctine on this matter. I think I am correct in saying that Evangelicals don’t believe that baptism does something objective to the soul, and so they don’t have a rite for confirmation, since baptism was the confirming rite.

          Then to add another layer of complexity, Catholics don’t recognize the confirmation rites performed by liturgical Christians, but they do acknowledge all of those baptisms as baptisms (something objective happened to the soul), not as confirmations. That’s why we don’t rebaptize Protestants who are entering into full communion with the Church, but we do confirm them all.

          Clear as mud? lol


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