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Also, what is the history of use and what languages do they come from? Is it a fitting name today or is it outdated? How do the two relate to each other?

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Catholic can have a few different meanings. It could refer to:

  1. The Roman Catholic Church
  2. Eastern Catholic churches in communion with the Pope
  3. The universal church

The Nicene creed which is used in a lot of Christian churches that have broken away from the Roman Catholic church still say that they "believe in one holy and catholic". (note the lower case letter 'c' in catholic.) Catholic in this context does not refer to the Roman Catholic church, but to a holy Universal church.

Protestant refers to churches and/or individuals who call themselves Christians, but disagree with the Roman Catholic Church.

The word 'Protestant' derives from the protests made by German princes at the Second Diet of Speyer in 1529. The Diet voted to end the toleration of those who followed the teachings of Martin Luther within Germany (source)

They generally follow the teachings of leaders of the reformation (e.g. Luther). They are called Protestant because they protested the teachings of the Roman Catholic church. The original Protestant movement came from within the Roman Catholic church. The teachings of the protestant movement disagree with Roman Catholicism and a number of the reformers were put to death because they taught these things.

Do these terms still fit today? I don't think this can be answered objectively, but I feel that they are still a correct fit. Mainstream Protestant denominations still hold to the Five Soli. From my understanding, these beliefs do not fit with the Roman Catholic church teachings and so Protestants are still protesting the Catholic Church

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Might you also say they are protesting the authority of the Pope? Can you expand on the historical use of 'Catholic'? –  fredsbend Feb 19 '13 at 11:20
    
Yes you could say that if you are protesting against the church then you are also protesting against it's leader. I'm not sure what the historical use of Catholic is before the Catholic church. I assume that it would have been chosen for the Roman Catholic church because of the meaning Universal. Protestant's and Roman Catholics agree that the bible teaches of One Universal church - they disagree on what that church is. –  Greg Feb 19 '13 at 11:23

The word "Catholic" is an old term meaning "universal." For this reason, even non-Roman Catholics still confess in the Nicene Creed that they believe in "one holy apostolic and catholic church." As Roman Catholics consider their church to be the one true church descended from Peter, this makes sense. Based on the confession of St. Peter, they believe that they alone have "the keys to heaven," and that grace can be conferred within the church for the forgiveness of sin.

Protestants, typically beginning with Martin Luther in 1517, have "protested" this claim to universality. Specifically, they tend to deny that the Pope- the leader of the world's 1.2+ billion Catholics, is in fact the earthly head of the church. (Oddly enough the same protest the Eastern Orthodox have had since the beginning of the church, but formalized with the agreat Schism in 1054). In contrast, Protestants typically believe the Pope to be an important leader, but not the leader, outside of whom there is no means by which grace can be conferred.

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Keys to heaven? I thought it was the keys of the kingdom of heaven? –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Feb 20 '13 at 0:18
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Catholics do not believe that the Pope is "the leader outside of whom there is no means by which grace can be conferred". –  Alypius Feb 20 '13 at 4:14

Protestant refers to groups which originated in protest of many beliefs that (they felt) lead to the authoritative and tyrannical nature of the Catholic Church of the era which spanned hundreds of years. Some people call Protestants the reformers, but it should be noted that the Catholic Church has gone through major reform as well since the era.

The major difference between Catholics and Protestants is that original Protestants believed true knowledge of God came from the Holy Spirit alone through the Holy Bible alone, specifically through personal study of the Scriptures as opposed to being taught within structured and institutionalized organizations which they viewed the Catholic Church as. This isn't meant to discredit modern Churches, it was just seen a major factor in how the Catholic Church was able to work outside of God's word during the era.

The word 'Catholic ' is still fitting since much of Catholicism has remained the same. The term Protestant however has become very generalized, to the point that few groups that refer to themselves as Protestants share exactly the same beliefs, and many Protestant groups follow greatly different beliefs.

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I didn't attempt to provide literal definition because many would be bound to argue based on personal belief, plus one can reasonably say that their definition is different now than what they once were (though this wouldn't make them outdated - more like 'updated ' I guess some could say) –  Jason Feb 19 '13 at 23:31
    
Also, many if not most Protestants oppose the Pope, and many believe that Catholic views of the Pope are a form of idolatry. –  Jason Feb 19 '13 at 23:37
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I don't mean to be terribly picky, but I always like to stand up for my Eastern Brothers who don't account for a very large demographic on this site, they're not "offshoots" of the "Roman" Catholic Church they're equally as old and grew up right alongside of her and are every bit as Catholic. –  Peter Turner Feb 20 '13 at 3:31
    
That was a mistake on my part. 'Catholic' was better defined in other posts I removed it completely. –  Jason Feb 20 '13 at 5:45

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