Piety in Christianity

A comparative analysis of Protestant and Catholic styles of piety and worship.

This paper examines how, although Catholics and Protestants share a fundamental belief system, their theologies, as well as their forms of worship, differ greatly. It looks at how Roman Catholic piety is generally expressed through the intermediary bodies of the Church, its hierarchy, and the various sacraments, and how Catholic prayers are directed to intercessors such as the saints or the Virgin Mary. In comparison, it explores how Protestants generally ascribe to an individualistic piety, one that is removed or independent from a church body. It shows how, for both Catholics and Protestants, piety may be expressed through prayer, reading scripture, or the singing of hymns, and how their styles of piety and worship differ greatly because of the fundamental differences in their theologies and philosophies.
“Protestant piety can therefore be described as being more abstract in nature than Catholic piety, which has distinct modes and methods of expression. For instance, Roman Catholics emphasize structure and ritual. The sacraments are momentous, communal styles of piety. They take place in the structure of the Church and occur at certain moments in time, sacred moments that are demarked and determined by the priestly authority. Performed always by a priest or other Church authority and always in front of a church body, the sacraments are a form of ritualized style of piety. Protestantism denies the importance of ritual in general. Only two sacraments are necessary for the Protestant worshipper: baptism and communion.”