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.
Confusion seems to reign, for whatever reason.
Roman Catholics believe devout Muslims are saved.
"Baptism by desire" just requires whatever is going on in the soul of a person (a non-Catholic, for instance) and the ministrations of God's grace. No human agent or bureaucratic administration is in control of dispensing grace. "The Church" which is present in the "salvation" of such a soul is "the Mystical Body of Christ." Ecclesiologically speaking, "the Church" should never be confused with whatever earthly institutional structure happens to be representing it. It's a reality much more than that. Quite beyond the external corporate structure of any congregation, parish, diocese, bishops' conference, etc. Clericalism is not "the Church."
There is sometimes an eschatologically hubristic tendency for individual clergymen to think that they alone are "the Church." This is wrong. Since none of us are ever present in a situation to know the condition of a soul when a person actually dies, no one living knows who is ever saved or damned. Only God does. It's great whenever very holy Christians manage to mature into wise, loving, and devout clergymen. Since this is not always the case, obviously the mystical/invisible/spiritual dimension of the Church, the communion directly between God and souls, has priority.
Matt 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
WE all have to either accept Christ or to deny Him. Earthly institutions, good deeds, or intentions will NOT save anyone.
Pope John Paul II, writes, at p. 198 of his book, "Crossing the Threshold":
"In fact, those who through no fault of their own are not aware of the Gospel of Christ and the Church, but who nonetheless search sincerely for God, and with the help of grace attempt to carry out His will, known through the dictates of their conscience they too can attain eternal salvation.
"Nor will Divine Providence deny the help necessary for salvation to those who have not yet arrived at a clear knowledge and recognition of God, and who attempt, not without divine grace, to conduct a good life."
How does the golden rule apply here? In fact how does the golden rule apply to "Mine is the only true religion"?
An ignorance they were NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR!!!!!!! Try to understand this. It is not that hard.
Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way which seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
How about 2 Timothy 4:3,4 " For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; And they shall turn away from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
That is exactly what they taught us in the 50's at Catholic school, and we were not allowed to have friends from those other religions.
Through the years I have learned the statement (posted by My2Cents) .below to be the truth.
One is not saved through the church, but saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Amen to that!
Can you or anyone give me a Vatican II source for that teaching?
Does that mean it is the only one which has child molesters in its clergy?
The DNC is going to have to add Catholics to "right-wing Bible believers" in order to avoid hypocrisy or shed light on their own religious mis-understanding in the upcoming Dem. campaign to paint the Christian right as the Taliban's equivalent.
We've so thoroughly shut God out of the public debate that these grown Dems. can actually be ignorant enough to compare God's command to "love your neighbor" in the Bible that all Christians follow (even those churches where Hillary and John Edwards go to condemn Republicans during election years), with the Koran's missive from Allah to kill infidels.
Worldlings in the press should not report on non-secular matters, IMHO.
How do you then deal with the issue of people who never had an opportunity to know anything about Jesus? What is their status?
Certainly, provided their heart is receptive and the Holy Spirit permits it. Don't sell the Lord short there. You would be smug to think that the Lord could not accomplish this.
I was not referring to Father Murray here!