Skip to comments.The Early Church Fathers on Salvation Outside the Church [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Posted on 02/01/2007 5:23:18 PM PST by NYer
The Early Church Fathers taught that those outside of the Church had no hope of salvation. However, they made allowance for those who didnt know any better or had no means to comply.
Ignatius of Antioch
Be not deceived, my brethren: If anyone follows a maker of schism [i.e., is a schismatic], he does not inherit the kingdom of God; if anyone walks in strange doctrine [i.e., is a heretic], he has no part in the Passion [of Christ]. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons (Letter to the Philadelphians 3:3-4:1 [A.D. 110]).
We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the Logos of which all mankind partakes [John 1:9]. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason [Greek, logos} were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus, and others like them. . . . Those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason [logos] were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live according to reason [logos], whereas those who lived then or who live now according to reason [logos] are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid (First Apology 46 [A.D. 151]).
In the Church God has placed apostles, prophets, teachers, and every other working of the Spirit, of whom none of those are sharers who do not conform to the Church, but who defraud themselves of life by an evil mind and even worse way of acting. Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace (Against Heresies 3:24:1 [A.D. 189]).
[The spiritual man] shall also judge those who give rise to schisms, who are destitute of the love of God, and who look to their own special advantage rather than to the unity of the Church; and who for trifling reasons, or any kind of reason which occurs to them, cut in pieces and divide the great and glorious body of Christ, and so far as in them lies, destroy it men who prate of peace while they give rise to war, and do in truth strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel. For they can bring about no "reformation" of enough importance to compensate for the evil arising from their schism. . . . True knowledge is that which consists in the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place [i.e., the Catholic Church] (ibid., 4:33:7-8).
There was never a time when God did not want men to be just; he was always concerned about that. Indeed, he always provided beings endowed with reason with occasions for practicing virtue and doing what is right. In every generation the Wisdom of God descended into those souls which he found holy and made them to be prophets and friends of God (Against Celsus 4:7 [A.D. 248]).
If someone from this people wants to be saved, let him come into this house so that he may be able to attain his salvation. . . . Let no one, then, be persuaded otherwise, nor let anyone deceive himself: Outside of this house, that is, outside of the Church, no one is saved; for, if anyone should go out of it, he is guilty of his own death (Homilies on Joshua 3:5 [A.D. 250]).
Cyprian of Carthage
Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress [a schismatic church] is separated from the promises of the Church, nor will he that forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is an alien, a worldling, and an enemy. He cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother (The Unity of the Catholic Church 6, 1st ed. [A.D. 251]).
Let them not think that the way of life or salvation exists for them, if they have refused to obey the bishops and priests, since the Lord says in the book of Deuteronomy: "And any man who has the insolence to refuse to listen to the priest or judge, whoever he may be in those days, that man shall die" [Deut. 17:12-13]. And then, indeed, they were killed with the sword . . . but now the proud and insolent are killed with the sword of the Spirit, when they are cast out from the Church. For they cannot live outside, since there is only one house of God, and there can be no salvation for anyone except in the Church (Letters 61:4 [A.D. 253]).
The baptism of public witness [desire] and of blood cannot profit a heretic [one who holds the faith and then abandons it] unto salvation, because there is no salvation outside the Church (Letters 72 :21 [A.D. 253]).
It is, therefore, the Catholic Church alone that retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth; this, the domicile of faith; this, the temple of God. Whoever does not enter there or whoever does not go out from there, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. . . Because, however, all the various groups of heretics are confident that they are the Christians and think that theirs is the Catholic Church, let it be known that this is the true Church, in which there is confession and penance and which takes a health-promoting care of the sins and wounds to which the weak flesh is subject (Divine Institutes 4:30:11-13 [A.D. 307]).
Heretics bring sentence upon themselves since they by their own choice withdraw from the Church, a withdrawal which, since they are aware of it, constitutes damnation. Between heresy and schism there is this difference: that heresy involves perverse doctrine, while schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the bishop. Nevertheless, there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church (Commentary on Titus 3:10-11 [A.D. 386]).
We believe also in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church. For heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently; neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church, not heretics, because the Church loves God, and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor (Faith and the Creed 10:21 [A.D. 393]).
When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body. . . All who are within [the Church] in heart are saved in the unity of the ark (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:28 [A.D. 400]).
Get ready for battle! ;-)
In keeping with guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, we are posting this thread (and future ones) a series on the Early Church Fathers, as a Catholic/Orthodox Caucus. Protestants are welcome to post comments but restraint from attacks, would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic orgins of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Oops ... I forgot to post Catholic/Orthodox Caucus in the thread title. If there are no objections, I will then leave this as an open caucus.
Strangely the Orthodox Church could ay the exact same thing..
"The Church is the body of Christ, His bride, the world to come, and the temple of God. The members of His body are all the saints. However, not all of the saints who will please God have yet appeared, nor yet is the whole body of Christ thus complete, nor the world to come yet filled. I say this about God's Church. There are, though, many unbelievers in the world today who will believe in Christ; many sinners and debauched who will repent and change their lives; many undecided who will be persuaded. There are many, a great many, up to the sound of the last trumpet, who will prove well-pleasing to God and who have not yet been born. All those who are foreknown by God must be born, come into being, before the world beyond our world, the world of the Church, of the first-born, of the heavenly Jerusalem, is filled up. Then shall the end come and the fullness of the body of Christ be complete." +Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life
Neh. 13:14, Psalm 11:7,28:4, Isa. 3:10, 59:18, Jer. 25:14, 50:29, Ezek. 9:10, 11:21, 36:19, Hos. 4:9, 9:15, 12:2, Sir. 16:12,14 - The 2,000 year-old Catholic position on salvation is that we are saved by Jesus Christ and Him alone (cf. Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:5). But by the grace of Christ, we achieve the salvation God desires for us through perseverance in both faith and works. Many Protestants, on the other hand, believe that one just has to accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior to be saved, and good works are not necessary (they just flow from those already saved). But these verses, and many others, teach us that our performance of good works is necessary for our salvation. Scripture also does not teach that good works distinguish those who are eternally saved from those who are not saved.
Sir. 35:19; Luke 23:41; John 3:19-21, Rom. 8:13, 2 Tim 4:14, Titus 3:8,14, Rev. 22:12 - these verses also teach us that we all will be judged by God according to our deeds. There is no distinction between the "saved" and the "unsaved."
1 Cor. 3:15 - if works are unnecessary for salvation as many Protestants believe, then why is a man saved (not just rewarded) through fire by a judgment of his works?
Matt. 7:1-3 - we are not judged just by faith, but actually how we judge others, and we get what we have given. Hence, we are judged according to how we responded to God's grace during our lives.
Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13 - Jesus taught that we must endure to the very end to be saved. If this is true, then how can Protestants believe in the erroneous teaching of "Once saved, always saved?" If salvation occurred at a specific point in time when we accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, there would be no need to endure to the end. We would already be saved.
Matt. 16:27 Jesus says He will repay every man for what he has done (works).
Matt. 25:31-46 - Jesus' teaching on the separation of the sheep from the goats is based on the works that were done during their lives, not just on their acceptance of Christ as Savior. In fact, this teaching even demonstrates that those who are ultimately saved do not necessarily have to know Christ. Also, we dont accept Christ; He accepts us. God first makes the decision to accept us before we could ever accept Him.
Matt. 25:40,45 - Jesus says "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to Me." We are judged and our eternal destiny is determined in accordance with our works.
Mark 10:21 - Jesus says sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. This means that our salvation depends upon our works.
Luke 12:43-48 - these verses teach us that we must act according to the Lord's will. We are judged based upon what we know and then do, not just upon what we know.
Luke 14:14 Jesus says we are repaid for the works we have done at the resurrection of the just. Our works lead to salvation.
Luke 23:41 - some Protestants argue that Jesus gave salvation to the good thief even though the thief did not do any good works. However, the good thief did in fact do a good work, which was rebuking the bad thief when he and others were reviling Jesus. This was a "work" which justified the good thief before Jesus and gained His favor. Moreover, we don't know if the good thief asked God for forgiveness, did works of penance and charity and was reconciled to God before he was crucified.
Rom. 2:6-10, 13 - God will judge every man according to his works. Our salvation depends on how we cooperate with God's grace.
2 Cor. 5:10 - at the judgment Seat of Christ, we are judged according to what we have done in the body, not how much faith we had.
2 Cor. 9:6 Paul says that he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully, in connection with Gods judgment.
2 Cor. 11:15 - our end will correspond to our deeds. Our works are necessary to both our justification and salvation.
Gal. 6:7-9 whatever a man sows, he will reap. Paul warns the Galatians not to grow weary in doing good works, for in due season they will reap (the rewards of eternal life).
Eph. 6:8 whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same again from the Lord.
Col. 3:24-25 - we will receive due payment according to what we have done. Even so, Catholics recognize that such payment is a free unmerited gift from God borne from His boundless mercy.
1 Tim. 6:18-19 the rich are to be rich in good deeds so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed, that is, eternal life.
2 Tim. 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did Paul great harm, and Paul says the Lord will requite him for his deeds.
Heb. 6:10 - God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for His sake. God rewards our works on earth and in heaven.
Heb. 12:14 without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Holiness requires works of self-denial and charity, and does not come about simply by a profession of faith.
1 Peter 1:17 - God judges us impartially according to our deeds. We participate in applying the grace Jesus won for us at Calvary in our daily lives.
Rev. 2:5 - Jesus tells the Ephesians they have fallen from love they used to have, and orders them to do good works. He is not satisfied with their faith alone. They need to do more than accept Him as personal Lord and Savior.
Rev. 2:10 Jesus tells the church in Smyrna to be faithful unto death, and He will give them the crown of life. This is the faith of obedience to His commandments.
Rev. 2:19 - Jesus judges the works of the Thyatirans, and despises their tolerance of Jezebel, calling them to repentance.
Rev. 2:23 - Jesus tells us He will give to each of us as our works deserve. He crowns His own gifts by rewarding our good works.
Rev. 2:26 - Jesus says he who conquers and keeps my works until the end will be rewarded in heaven. Jesus thus instructs us to keep his works to the very end. This is not necessary if we are "once saved, always saved."
Rev. 3:2-5,8,15 Jesus is judging our works from heaven, and these works bear upon our eternal salvation. If we conquer sin through faith and works, He will not blot our names out of the book of life. This means that works bear upon our salvation. Our works do not just deal with level of reward we will receive, but whether we will in fact be saved.
Rev. 3:15 Jesus says, I know your works, you are neither cold nor hot. Because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth. Jesus is condemning indifferentism, which is often based on our works.
Rev. 14:13 - we are judged by the Lord by our works for their deeds follow them! Our faith during our life is completed and judged by our works.
Rev. 20:12 the dead are judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done.
Rev. 22:12 Jesus says, Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay everyone for what he has done.
Sirach 16:12,14 we are judged according to our deeds, and will receive in accordance with our deeds.
Boniface wasn't included?
Who are those really in danger? I submit its probably those who persist on arrogantly speaking for God. Salvation, whether it exists or not, is God's alone.
Christ Himself recognized seven separate Churches in Revelation. He goes on to admonish and/or praise aspects of each.
Those aspects are not identical.
So, those seven were all valid at that time.
Note that seven is a number larger than one.
... I thought so...
Christ did not recognize seven churches. He recognized seven congregations of the same church. His church, the ONE that He established.
That is the exact anticipated response and my reply will be that we are ALL still the same Church by virtue of John 3:16.
Awesome! I like this saint :-)
Islam says ... "Oops ... I forgot to post Catholic/Orthodox Caucus in the thread title. If there are no objections, I will then leave this as an open caucus." ?
And yet the churches themselves contained a mixed bag of people, some who were doing God's Will and some who were not.
"By Grace are ye saved through Faith, so that no man may boast" is still just as true today as when it was written....
The bible does speak to the rewards that the people who overcome will receive.
Can you provide the chapter and verse so we can all understand your statement?
The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
It goes on for a bit and then all hell breaks loose. Come on, you know Revelation as well as I, certainly.
Scripture bears this out.
Matt. 12:25; Mark 3:25; Luke 11:17 - Jesus says a kingdom divided against itself is laid waste and will not stand. This describes Protestantism and the many thousands of denominations that continue to multiply each year.
Matt. 16:18 - Jesus says, "I will build my 'Church' (not churches)." There is only one Church built upon one Rock with one teaching authority, not many different denominations, built upon various pastoral opinions and suggestions.
John 10:16 - Jesus says there must only be one flock and one shepherd. This cannot mean many denominations and many pastors, all teaching different doctrines. Those outside the fold must be brought into the Church.
John 17:11,21,23 - Jesus prays that His followers may be perfectly one as He is one with the Father. Jesus' oneness with the Father is perfect. It can never be less. Thus, the oneness Jesus prays for cannot mean the varied divisions of Christianity that have resulted since the Protestant reformation. There is perfect oneness only in the Catholic Church.
John 17:9-26 - Jesus' prayer, of course, is perfectly effective, as evidenced by the miraculous unity of the Catholic Church during her 2,000 year history.
John 17:21 - Jesus states that the visible unity of the Church would be a sign that He was sent by God. This is an extremely important verse. Jesus tells us that the unity of the Church is what bears witness to Him and the reality of who He is and what He came to do for us. There is only one Church that is universally united, and that is the Catholic Church. Only the unity of the Catholic Church truly bears witness to the reality that Jesus Christ was sent by the Father.
Rom. 15:5 - Paul says that we as Christians must live in harmony with one another. But this can only happen if there is one Church with one body of faith. This can only happen by the charity of the Holy Spirit who dwells within the Church.
Rom. 16:17 - Paul warns us to avoid those who create dissensions and difficulties. This includes those who break away from the Church and create one denomination after another. We need to avoid their teaching, and bring them back into the one fold of Christ.
1 Cor. 1:10- Paul prays for no dissensions and disagreements among Christians, being of the same mind and the same judgment. How can Protestant pastors say that they are all of the same mind and the same judgment on matters of faith and morals?
We have that One Faith. It is called Christianity.
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"Christ did not recognize seven churches. He recognized seven congregations of the same church. His church, the ONE that He established."
Yes, of course, but as +Ignatius of Antioch taught us, the fullness of The Church is found in a single diocese, or at that time congregation, made up of the bishop surrounded by his clergy and the people of God focused on the Eucharist. The Church, NYer, the whole One Church, is in many places. On another level, and as +BXVI points out, The Church is made up of many "particular churches", yours is one, mine is one, etc.
E's comment as far as it goes, is right on the money.
"But this can only happen if there is one Church with one body of faith.
We have that One Faith. It is called Christianity.
Indeed we do, but when it comes to what is The Church, where is The Church found, there's more to it, at least insofar as Orthodoxy and the Latin Church are concerned. There is in my mind no doubt, as there is apparently no doubt in the mind of +BXVI himslef, that Protestant "ecclesial assemblies" and Protestants are connected to The Church in some way including holding certain fundamental beliefs in common. But those ecclesial assemblies are not properly "churches" in our ecclesiology which is formed by our theology. That ecclesial definition of where one finds The Church is best stated by +Ignatius of Antioch.
The effect of this is not fully known to Orthodoxy as a general proposition. We know that theosis is found in The Church. We cannot say, because we don't know, what happens outside The Church except to say that no man comes to The Father save through Christ and we can't limit His ways and methods. It may well be that there is no theosis outside The Church. certainly there is a large minority in Orthodoxy and I believe a large majority in the Latin Church which believe that...but we Orthodox really, at base, don't know. In part that's what +Symeon the new Theologian is saying in the snip I posted earlier.
They were not different "churches" in the sense of a separate Church, but a separate parish or diocese. They were all part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church, and they all answered to the same authority.
St. Paul also wrote to seven churches. Ephesus is the only one included in both lists . . .
These have been great. Thank you for educating more people!
**The "seven churches" in the Book of Revelation are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. They are right there in Chs. 2 and 3.**
All part of the Catholic Church in Asia Minor. Epesus was the main church center.
I'm in the process of a Bible study course on Revelation.
Revelation really is pointed to the Church at that time, written in coded words about the Roman Empire. The people of that time would have understood the coded symbolisms.
Of course, there is a deeper thread to all that is written as is might apply to us today. and it's amazing how much does!
"If there are no objections, I will then leave this as an open caucus." ?"
So is the thread open to heretics or not?
Unless I am mistaken, it literally means "down + whole", and yet it is translated to mean "universal". Has this word changed over time in such a way as to have obscured its original meaning?
Could the Greek word "catholic" have originally meant "the whole faith handed down" or "the whole faith written down", reflecting what Jude says: "a faith once delivered to the saints", not handed out a little at a time, but the whole thing down on papyrus right there in front of them.
Thus it is not until the final book of the NT scriptures [John's Book of Revelation] has been passed down to the church that Ignatius coins the word "catholic" as regards the church. Before this the church did not have the whole apostolic testament, but Ignatius now recognizes that the church now has the "whole" testament of the faith handed "down" to it.
For the most part, every Christian agrees that outside the Church there is slim chance of salvation. What we don't agree on is exactly what the term "Church" means.
I don't think so. It would seem to me that if it meant that it would have been spelled "κατολικη" as opposed to "καθολικη" with "κατ'" meaning "down" in the way you are looking at it. Certainly, though we today look at the canon of the NT as closing with Revelations, that wasn't at all true in the time of +Ignatius.
Lies are not welcome here.
How can you call this a caucus when the topic is an attack on all professing Christians who chose not to be a member of your particular religion???
Caucuses however cannot be used as "cover" to take shots at other confessions. So if you see something in the article or in the reply posts which is directed to your confession and is either incorrect, incomplete or a strawman - let me know. Otherwise keep your peace.
If the offensive material is in the article, the thread may be opened, if it is in a reply post - the post may be removed to keep the caucus.
Paul didn't hope the way you think of hope...
Fromἔλπω elpō which is a primary word (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence: - faith, hope.
Hope is assurance...All those verses you listed about hope were mis-interpreted...
God has never blessed arrogance, even if sincerely believed with some evidence.
I've heard compelling theories that the 144,000 mentioned in Rev. 7, the "144,000 Sealed", are Jews who make it into heaven the "old fashioned way." That is to say, they worship the Father alone with no regard to the Trinity.
Said theory goes on to say that we Christians represent "The Great Multitude in White Robes", also of Rev. 7.
However, that same 144,000 is mentioned again in Rev. 14 and Rev.14:4 says that "They follow the Lamb wherever he goes."
The Lamb is obviously Jesus, which is what makes me skeptical of this concept.
The usual counter to that is "Tribulation Saints" and such.
Well, it can make for an interesting discussion.
"Islam says, if you don't do it my way, you are lost. So does the Catholic church and some Protestant sects. It is arrogance incarnate to limit God to the conceptual confines of material life.
God has never blessed arrogance, even if sincerely believed with some evidence."
Yes. While human institutions ARE of worth to our Lord, He stated that true worshippers of him would do so apart from physical confines such as the temple.... when Jesus came he was very harsh on those considering themselves to be the guardians of the true faith. While we strive to serve our Lord, we must do so with the realization that we are fallible creatures... . be careful with traditions of men.... take care to measure them next to the standard that has been given to us in his Living Word.
Please forgive the brevity, lack of references, etc., etc. brothers..... I am writing on my palm in bed right now! I would love to write much more. What a blessing it is to read your contributions my brothers. May our Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you and give you peace.
"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."
"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.