Catholic or Christian – how to use these words correctly?
Catholic or Christian — how to use these words correctly? Can they be used interchangeably? Let’s find out.
Catholic or Christian. Catholic: the definition
The adjective Catholic or Roman Catholic refers to this denomination of Christianity, which claims the historical continuity from the ancient undivided Christian church. Catholicism is distinguished e.g. by a hierarchy of priests under the pope, and a liturgy centred on the Mass. Even though Roman Catholicism constitutes the largest of the major branches of Christianity, it is incorrect to use the adjective Catholic as a synonym for Christian.
What is the definition of Christian, then? How to find the difference between the two words?
Catholic and Christian — what’s the difference?
The definition of Christianity tells us that Christians are ‘believers and followers of Jesus Christ’. The word Christianity appears first in Acts xi.25-26:
And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
The New Testament. The Authorized or King James Version of 1611
In Medieval Latin and before the schisms, the word catholicus was indeed a synonym for Christianus. However, as we may remember from the history lessons, not all the believers were satisfied with the Roman Catholic Church politics and teaching. In the 16th century, the Church started to split into other denominations, and there have emerged new Protestant churches. Despite considerable differences between them, all these new and old denominations base their doctrines on the teaching of Jesus Christ. Hence, the adjective Christian applies to all of them.
To put it shortly: all the Catholics are Christians; not all the Christians are Catholics.
Christian — collocations
There is a handful of nous commonly used with the adjective Christian. We can speak of a Christian morality, teaching or myth. Literature and art rooting in Christian civilization and philosophy are rich in Christian symbolism. Moreover, many of us use the Christian calendar and sign themselves with a Christian name.