The short answer is yes, absolutely. As a pastor, I can definitively say that Catholics have always believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world. This belief in Jesus is core to Catholic identity and doctrine.
I hope this post helps explain, perhaps to non-Catholics wondering, why devotion to Jesus stands vitally at the heart of the Catholic faith.
Jesus in Catholic Scripture and Tradition
Catholics believe that God revealed himself through both Scripture and the oral tradition passed down from the apostles. This dual source of revelation tells us a great deal about who Jesus is.
The Scriptures clearly testify that Jesus is the promised Messiah and Son of God. The Gospels portray him as a Savior, healer of the sick, lover of outcasts, teacher, and sacrificer for human sin. Authors of New Testament epistles like Paul speak powerfully of Jesus’ divine nature.
The Catholic Church’s apostolic tradition enhances this biblical account of Jesus. The early church fathers extensively praised Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection and defined Jesus-centered theology through the early councils. From the beginning, tradition bolstered Scripture in conveying the truth about Jesus.
Both of these foundations affirm Jesus as fully God and fully human—a core tenet of orthodox Catholic Christology.
Key Catholic Doctrines About Jesus
Over the past 20 centuries, through reflection grounded in Scripture and tradition, Catholic teachings concerning Jesus’ person and work have developed and been formally defined.
Here are some key doctrines and dogmas every Catholic affirms:
- The Trinity: God is three co-equal, co-eternal persons—Father, Son, and Spirit—in one divine essence. Jesus is the eternal Son of God, made incarnate.
- The Incarnation: The divine Son of God took on full human nature while retaining full divinity; hence, Jesus is fully God and fully man.
- The Hypostatic Union: In Christ, the divine and human natures are perfectly united without confusion in the divine person of Jesus.
- The Virgin Birth: Jesus was not born of a human father but rather miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to the Virgin Mary.
- Consubstantial with the Father: Jesus is “one in being” with the Father and therefore is the perfect image or icon of God on earth.
- Jesus’ Sinlessness: Despite temptation, Jesus never sinned and embodied perfect obedience to God’s will.
- The Crucifixion and Atonement: Jesus’ brutal death on the cross offered the sacrifice to reconcile humanity to God.
No true Catholic denies this basic Christology and soteriology (study of Jesus’ saving work) expressed in the creeds and early church pronouncements.
Jesus at the Heart of Catholic Worship and Spirituality
The Catholic liturgy and sacramental life revolve around Jesus Christ. Sunday Mass begins with the congregation proclaiming Jesus as the only Son of God in the Gloria. The priest invokes Christ’s presence and power to turn bread and wine into Jesus’ very body and blood in the Eucharistic prayer.
Catholic spiritual classics from masters like Thomas à Kempis and Theresa of Avila portray an intensely Jesus-focused piety. Contemplation of Gospel events like passion, imitation of Christ’s virtues, and adoration of his presence in the Eucharist—such themed meditation defines classic Catholic devotion. Heartfelt veneration of images of Jesus or Mary always leads the believer back to Jesus himself.
In all these expressions of worship and personal piety, Jesus acts as the gateway into divine love. From the liturgy to lay spirituality, the Catholic faith revolves first and foremost around Christ.
How Catholic Christology Compares to Other Christians
I appreciate how much Catholics share in common concerning Jesus Christ with other good-faith Christian denominations. After all, faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior defines the family of believers universally.
Yet there are certain distinct Catholic teachings about Jesus that other Christians do not fully affirm:
- The Eucharist as Jesus’ Real Presence: Unlike most Protestants, Catholics affirm that bread and wine become Jesus literally through transubstantiation by God’s power.
- Veneration of Christ through Icons: Some Protestants (especially fundamentalists) frown on using sacred images and icons in worship. But for Catholics, these artworks inspire devotion to Jesus and the saints.
- Jesus’ Mother Mary: Marian doctrines like the Immaculate Conception and Assumption—that God preserved Mary from sin and brought her body into heavenly glory—tie integrally into Catholics’ Christology. Most other Christians do not accept these teachings.
These theological particulars aside, the broader truth remains: Catholics and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ share a common faith in Jesus as our divine source of salvation.
Conclusion: Do Catholics believe in Jesus?
As both Scripture and tradition testify, the Catholic Church has always fervently believed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, one with the Father, our Savior, and our path to heaven. Core doctrines concerning Christ’s incarnation, passion, and resurrection express how God divinized our humanity through Jesus.
Devotion to Jesus stands as an absolute centerpiece of Catholic worship, sacraments, spirituality, and artistic heritage. This intense Catholic belief in Christ nurtured my vocation as a pastor, shepherding God’s people to learn Jesus’ heart.
My hope is that this post clarifies for anyone wondering that yes, following Jesus’ gospel stands vitally at the essence of Roman Catholic identity. Our diverse church body finds blessed unity in proclaiming that Jesus is Lord!
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