Throwback Thursday: Priests and ministers: Aren’t they the same thing?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 30, 2016 and has been revised.


Evangelical churches have their ministers and Roman Catholicism has its priests. But aren’t they the same thing, just with different titles? In this era of widespread ecumenism and the de-emphasis of doctrine, many evangelicals mistakenly think so.

Evangelical ministers are called to preach the Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:12. Evangelical pastors are to preach and teach God’s Word and to shepherd the Lord’s flock and be examples of the Lord’s love and faithfulness. Scripture says we’re to respect and submit to our pastors in the Lord, but we’re certainly not to put them up on pedestals in the place of Jesus Christ. They’re sinners saved by grace just like the other believers in the congregation.

Catholic priests on the other hand are ordained by their church’s hierarchy to administer the sacraments that Catholics believe are required for salvation. The Catholic sacerdotal system is an anti-Biblical continuation of the Old Testament, Levitical priesthood. Catholicism teaches its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of those who attend the mass and for any others who are named. Priests are alleged to forgive sins in the confessional booth and administer the last rites to the dying, which Catholics believe absolves the individual of all mortal sin. Priests are alleged to have the power to bless living and inanimate objects. Catholic parishioners bring their rosaries, statues, scapulars, and other objects to priests for their blessing. It’s believed an object blessed by a priest has powers to ward off evil and effect desirable benefits. The priesthood is central to the Catholic system. There would be no Catholicism without its priests and their alleged powers.

In previous generations, priests were highly revered by the Catholic faithful. It wasn’t unusual for members of the Catholic laity to kiss the hands that changed bread and wine into Jesus. Catholics venerated their priests because they were absolutely necessary for their salvation. Catholicism boldly claims its priests are alter Christus, another Christ. The Catholic clergy’s absolute control over the means to salvation was not achieved by happenstance. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, it devolved from the preaching of saving faith in Jesus Christ into religious ritual and legalism, all controlled by the increasingly powerful clergy class.

“St. Francis of Assisi used to say, “If I saw an Angel and a priest, I would bend my knee first to the priest and then to the Angel. Besides, the power of the priest surpasses that of the Blessed Virgin Mary; for, although this Divine Mother can pray for us, and by her prayers obtain whatever she wishes, yet she cannot absolve a Christian from even the smallest sin.” – from “The Dignity and Duties of the Priest” by St. Alphonsus Liguori

Some of the luster has faded from the Catholic priesthood, beginning in the 1960s and especially after the pedophile scandals over the last twenty years. The church’s celibacy rule for its clergy often attracted the socially awkward and even the psychologically ill. Many Catholics now see their priests as fallible, struggling souls just like them rather than someone to be placed on a pedestal. The majority of Catholics ignore their clergy’s admonishments to attend mass every Sunday and to go to confession at least yearly. Recent surveys show 70% of Catholics don’t believe priests turn bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ.

The Catholic mass is largely about the consecration of the bread and wine, not about preaching and teaching. The sermon portion of the mass, known as the “homily” (Greek for “speaking with”) is generally very short, usually around seven or eight minutes according to Catholic sources, and is often given by a man who is not inclined to speak before crowds. Even so, the message he preaches is not the Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The priest’s messages exhort mass-goers to be faithful to church teaching by participating in the sacraments and by trying to obey the Ten Commandments in order to merit salvation. That’s an empty message without hope, for no one can possibly obey the Ten Commandments. Disaffected Catholics often complain they don’t “get anything” out of the mass and they would be right. The Catholic system is an endless treadmill of sacraments and works in the goal of meriting salvation. Can’t be done.

There is no need for a sacrificial priesthood. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and mankind. The New Testament makes it explicitly clear that the priestly sacrificial system was completely fulfilled by Jesus Christ and was done away with. Repent of your sinful rebellion against God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Ask the Lord to help you find an evangelical church in your area that preaches and teaches God’s Word without compromise.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

“’This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” – Hebrews 10:16-18.

27 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Priests and ministers: Aren’t they the same thing?

  1. My 17year old Landon loves game shows-so in between class work at home-when he gets a break he has the game shows on. It’s amazing how many questions come up about RC! One question was “who was the first pope to the Catholic Church (they never say Roman by the way)?” Of course we know what their answer is going to be and all I can do is roll my eyes! Or the pastor/priest are classified as the same answer to a “religious “ question!! Can’t even watch a game show 💔🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there are so many Catholic notions that have become part of our popular culture like the “Hail Mary pass” in football and the idea of Peter in charge of admission at the “pearly gates.” Unwitting Protestants assume priests and ministers do the same things.


  2. We are called to be kings, priests and ministers; as such, no other mediator is necessary. It saddens me how little believers know about their individual identity and position in Christ as well as the corporate roles/offices of the local church body. Thank you for this post! Are you campaigning today? We’ve had a ton of rain the last 24 hours. Many motor vehicles accidents around here from folks sliding on wet leaves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mandy! It’s so regrettable that many evangelicals believe Catholic priests and evangelical ministers perform similar functions. Claims to an ongoing, sacerdotal priesthood should register as blasphemy to genuine believers, but many embrace priests as legitimate ministers of the “gospel.”

      RE: Leaf campaign
      After yesterday’s full-scale battle, I’m taking today off to rest and recuperate. There’s very few leaves left on the tress. Tomorrow, I’m planning on one more overall sweep of the yard with the leaf blower. After that it will be a question of how fastidious will I be about the leaves that blow over from the neighbors’ yards.
      Sorry to hear about your very wet weather and accidents. Yup, it’s dangerous with so many leaves on the roads.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Answering your question: I’ll be doing two pastoral visitations today. One is with a Marine I served with looking for a church and one is with a member. Pay for it to go well! I’ll read your post later today!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember when I first started on WordPress in 2015 and they didn’t have auto-save on draft posts. I spent hours on a couple of drafts and somehow inadvertently closed out the window and the drafts were totally deleted. So frustrating!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Tom for another great post exposing the errors of the Roman church.
    I was sharing with a young lady from the Moslem faith about Christianity last week. After a while she said that her Christian friends didn’t believe like I did. That I was wrong. Later I found out her friends were Roman Catholic. This is why I believe that the RCC is Satan’s masterpiece .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy.
      RE: Muslim woman
      Yes, the RCC is all about “tolerance” and “inclusivity,” which makes it appealing to the world, but in opposition to God’s Word. I agree it is Satan’s masterpiece counterfeit. Using Christian parlance of “Jesus the Savior” and “grace” and “faith” but prescribing salvation by merit, the currency of all of the world’s religions.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good post on the difference between Catholic Priest and Pastor. On Veteran’s Day while waiting to eat a family made small talk with myself and another Marine I met up with. The guy was a Catholic and his assumption of what a pastor is from his understanding of a priest and monk made me realize how drastically different our faith was. YOur post made that clear in a written and informed matter!

    Liked by 1 person

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