Skip to comments.Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation??
Posted on 01/02/2002 1:15:38 PM PST by Theresa
There is considerable confusion about the Catholic teaching of salvation. I found this on the internet. It was written by a former Presbyterian who became Catholic as an adult. It should be easy to understand he explains the docterine very well. .........
The phrase (in Latin, "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" or "Outside the Church there is no salvation") is a very ancient one, going back to the very early days of Christianity. It was originally meant to affirm the necessity of baptism and Christian faith at a time when
(a) A number of Christians were being tempted under torture to renounce their faith and deny Christ. (He's talking about the Roman Empire and Nero's persecution of Christians, throwing them to lions and such.) (b) Large groups of Christians were being led into "pseudo-Christian" cult-type groups, which were actually just a front for pagan philosophy and religion. (Such as the cult of Mithras which I think was practiced around the time after Jesus died.)
In response, bishops repeated that, if a person were to be aware of the meaning of Christ and then freely deny him or reject him, they had essentially turned away from God and the salvation he offers.
As Christians, we believe that we are saved only through Jesus. As St. Peter reminds his audience in Acts 4:12: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved." In most cases, this means that we believe baptism in water, in the name of the Trinity, is the fundamental requirement for salvation.
However, even from the beginning, the great Christian writer and teacher St. Augustine said that the salvation imparted through baptism can also be imparted through other means: specifically, through the "baptism of blood" (a non-Christian who dies defending Christian beliefs or holy places) and "the baptism of desire" (a non-Christian who has expressed a firm desire to become a Christian, and who shows all the signs of living a Christian life, but who dies before baptism). In both of those cases, the Church has always recognized that the Holy Spirit leads people to God in ways which we cannot always explain or document.
God is able to save anyone he chooses. We trust that he often does this is ways that are not obvious to us, within the hearts of individuals who are sincerely seeking the truth. Otherwise, it would imply that all of humanity was excluded from salvation before Christ came, and that much of humanity (which has not had the opportunity to hear the Christian message until recently) was doomed to be eternally separated from God. This would imply a very cruel and elitist God. Our belief as Christians and Catholics is that God desires the salvation of all people even those who are not Christian. How he achieves that, however, is a mystery. But we know that our God is a loving God who would not allow people to suffer on account of an ignorance that they were not responsible for.
The Church teaches that baptism, faith, and a life lived in Christ are necessary for salvation. However, Vatican II also taught that, within every human heart, God places the law of conscience. Everybody has a deep sense of right and wrong which ultimately comes from God, and which will lead people to God if they attempt to follow their conscience faithfully. Because Jesus is God, those who move in the direction of God (even non-Christians) are ultimately moving in the direction of Jesus. And if they are moving in the direction of Jesus and His truth, ultimately they are expressing a desire for the salvation that God gives. The Church teaches that, while it is certainly easier to receive salvation as a Christian, it is not impossible to receive salvation in other religions.
This is a challenging situation: on one hand, we must be respectful of the good things to be found in other faiths, and encourage people to live their faiths with sincerity and love.
On the other hand, this does not mean that all religions are the same. We believe that Christ is the ultimate revealing of God to the world, and that the more we know about his message, the greater the chance that we will accept his offer and be saved. We must therefore continue to preach the message of the Gospel, and encourage interested non-Catholics to examine the claims of our faith, without in any way coercing or intimidating them.
Father Feeney was an American priest who, back in the 1940s, taught that if a person was not a Roman Catholic, they were condemned to hell. This has never been the accepted teaching of Catholicism, and Father Feeney was reprimanded by the Vatican for his mistaken understanding.
Nevertheless, there are groups which continue to hold to this strict interpretation, even after the Pope and bishops have specifically rejected it.
The phrase "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" teaches us that salvation is only through Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. But God is able to save whomever he pleases, whether they are baptized in the Roman Catholic Church or not.
It is important to remember that "the Church" in this phrase does not refer exclusively to the Roman Catholic Church. Salvation is a great gift, and God is a loving Father who wants all of his children to receive it. How he works this out, however, we will only understand in heaven. That is why, whenever we quote "Outside the Church, there is no salvation", we should also remember that "God is in no way bound by the sacraments."
Until then, we continue to proclaim Jesus as Lord (evangelization) and engage in respectful dialogue with followers of other religions, to discover the truths that God had revealed to them to guide them toward salvation, and to share with them the truth as we have discovered it in Christ.
One is not saved through the church, but saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Elsewhere, the apostles teach that once one has accepted Christ, they are automatically added to the universal church of Jesus Christ (not a visible organization, but the invisible entity known as the Body of Christ). Hence, it is impossible to become saved, and not also become a member of the universal Body of Christ.
However, it is possible to attend a church building on Sundays, or whenever, even join many church organizations, and not be saved.
I've long been upset by people quoting the saying in the Catholic church that, "If you believe the Catholic church to be the true church, but do not practice it's teachings, you will not be saved." That statement is often used to imply that Catholics believe only THEY will be saved. The opposite is the truth! The rest of the statement is that if you believe that the Baptist, Methodist, etc. church is the true church then you won't be saved if you don't follow their teachings. In other words, follow your conscience and you will be saved. Simple as that.
Baptism is an ordinance and object of obedience, but not a needed part of/for salvation.
Father Murray, whoever he might be, should examine the document of the Church from last year Dominus Iesus is he needs help defining the Church.
Suffice it to say that the Church in this phrase is none other than the Catholic one, the only one.
Why would Christ die for that? Pagan idol worshippers "follow their conscience." What poppycock.
I've known for a long time that the Catholic church teaches that anyone who lives a good life, whatever his religion, will be saved...that is NOT the stance of Christian/Catholic Churches, by definition. Christian/Catholic churches teach that salvation is found through Christ, NOT by deeds.
I'm starting to worry that they saw a picture of the Pope over the holidays and all of their heads exploded.
Don't believe it. Those who stay outside of the Catholic Church due to an INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE of the Church's necessity to salvation MAY be saved.
This is not the same as you or the errant priest here put it, that "anyone who lives a good life WILL be saved. If it were so easy for people to live "good" lives, to make themselves holy, why did God bother with the whole Christ thing?
Yet, another thread where one could get into trouble. Nearly every sentence spouting false teaching, heresy!
God is leading some toward salvation through other religions? This comes from a Christian? It's no wonder that the education system has become so liberal. The Christian educators can't even get salvation correct.
You should not be so smug. What if you had been born a Hindu? What if all your ancestors for centuries were Hindu and you loved them and respected them. What if the ties that bound you to them and to your land and culture were intertwined with Hinduism? Are you so smug as to think that just hearing the gospel once or twice could overcome all that conditioning?