Skip to comments.On Salvation Outside the Catholic Church [Ecumenical]
Posted on 05/16/2008 4:46:28 PM PDT by annalex
[The Council] relies on sacred Scripture and Tradition in teaching that this pilgrim Church is necessary for salvation. Christ alone is the mediator of salvation and the way of salvation. He presents himself to us in his Body, which is the Church. When he insisted expressly on the necessity for faith and baptism, he asserted at the same time the necessity for the Church which men would enter by the gateway of baptism. This means that it would be impossible for men to be saved if they refused to enter or to remain in the Catholic Church, unless they were unaware that her foundation by God through Jesus Christ made it a necessity.Using this conciliar doctrine as guide, we see that the Church is (in its way) as indispensable as Christ for man's salvation. The reason is that, since his ascension and the descent of the Spirit, the Church is Christ active on earth performing the salvific work for which he was sent into the world by the Father. Accordingly, the Church is necessary not only as a matter of precept but as a divinely instituted means, provided a person knows that he must use this means to be saved.
Full incorporation in the society of the Church belongs to those who are in possession of the Holy Spirit, accept its order in its entirety with all its established means of salvation, and are united to Christ, who rules it by the agency of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, within its visible framework. The bonds of their union are the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government and fellowship. Despite incorporation in the Church, that man is not saved who fails to persevere in charity, and remains in the bosom of the Church "with his body" but not "with his heart." All the Church's children must be sure to ascribe their distinguished rank to Christ's special grace and not to their own deserts. If they fail to correspond with that grace in thought, word and deed, so far from being saved, their judgment will be the more severe. (38)
[Let us] talk about how Catholic ecclesiology relates to Catholic soteriology. I will make a few comments in that direction, and if it indeed interests you, we can take it up further. Also, you asked what I think, but both you and I should be primarily interested in what the Church teaches. I try to reflect the Church's teaching in what I post. Now, I may misunderstand it, and then someone with greater knowledge should correct me, but I try to avoid personal speculation even if I have some such.
You should know that two principles overrule any of the discussion: the sovereign ability of Christ to have extraordinary mercy on anyone based on the condition of the man's heart; and our inability, and direct commandment not to attempt, to judge souls. All we can do is see how the revealed Word of God applies and reach conclusions based on outward signs and behaviors. The operative word for that process is "ordinary". For example, we say that baptism is necessary for salvation "ordinarily": that is, we have revealed doctrine according to which baptism is necessary. What happens in exceptional circumstance when baptism is desired but unavailable is not ordinary process of salvation, and all we can do is hope and speculate.
I should also probably mention that we do not use the word "saved" (or "justified") in the same sense as most Protestants (who routinely talk about "being saved" as an event in their life). We are saved, or not, at the end of our lives. Baptism puts us on the road to salvation, and our whole life we work toward it under grace. So, when a Protestant hears that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church he thinks that he has just been damned to hell, while in fact he has been told that we don't know if he will be saved or not when his hour of death and judgement comes. Conversely, when we say that sacramental absolution and the Eucharist save, we mean that one who received these sacraments has the certainty to be saved if he commits no future sins till he dies.
With this said... There is but one visible Church into which all Christians are baptized. That is the Catholic Church: everyone: a Protestant, an Orthodox, a Roman Catohlic, so long as he is validly baptized, is at that point Catholic and he is justified at that point.
"Validly" here means by water, in the name of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, and with serious intention of Christian sponsors. If the baptisee is of adult sound mind, he should repent of his sins. The method -- sprinkling, immersion, etc. is not important, and the age of the baptisee is not important. Christ -- not the baptisee and his state of mind -- is Who makes baptism work.
If one is baptized and immediately afterwards dies, he goes to heaven. "Baptism now saves you", teaches St. Peter. Of course, in most cases he goes on living at makes various decisions. He might commit personal sin. If he is privileged to receive Catholic or Orthodox sacraments he should go to confession and strengthen himself with the Holy Eucharist and penitential work, and so, gradually, defeat sin, stay on the road to sanctity and die justified, "making his calling and election secure" (2 Peter 1:2-11).
But what if he is not Catholic or Orthodox (simplifying things let's call him Protestant)? Then his ability to repair sin is gravely limited: he can repent of it but the supernatural cleansing of a sacramental absolution is not there, and the supernatural strengthening of the Eucharist is not there either. At this point he relies on the mercy of Christ; his eventual salvation is in peril. The road to salvation on which his Baptism placed him is barely stepped upon. Further, typically he is separated from the Catholic Church not only by instances of personal sin, but also habitually -- he never considered himself Catholic, his faith does not include the faith in the Chruch or her sacraments. His Catholic baptism wears off quickly and he is no longer in the Church.
Now, he still can do much to advance his sanctification: he can follow the strong moral code his pastor will teach him, and he can get sanctified through the study and love of the Holy Scripture. He can do much with these extraordinary means of salvation, and put us lukewarm Catholics to shame with his love for the Lord and heroic virtues. One thing, however is necessary for us to say that his salvation is not far: a desire to find and unite with the One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church that Christ set up on the rock of Peter (Mt. 16:16-19).
What of his culpability for leaving the Church? It is only there if it was an act of informed will. If someone grew up in a Protestant environment, and his Protestant culture lead him to his Protestant community of faith, he is not culpable. If on the other hand he spent his time insulting the Church or her saints, then such Protestant condemns himself and destroys the kernel of truth that his branch of Christianity taught him.
What of a non-baptized? Well, the same principle applies: did he follow the Divine Law to the extent known to him? Did he wish to know God by name? Did he wish to unite with what he does not know enough to call Catholic Church? On the other hand, did he reject Christ? Fight a war on His Church? Hate Christians for their faith?
As you can see, this doctrine is at the same time hopeful and Catholic-centered. The salvation comes from nowhere but the Catholic Church, yet paths people take to that Church may be very circuitious.
Re-read 1 Corinthians.
If you go by parts of Christ’s teaching, you will find many denominations that offer them. If you are serious about what Christ taught in its entirety, you will be lead to the Catholic Church.
Ok, not challenging anyones beliefs here, but I do have a question.
“The New Testament makes it plain that Christ founded the Church to be a society for the salvation of all men.”
Is this what Jesus mean’t by “I am the way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but through me”??
Yes, but also
18... thou art Peter; upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Mt 16)
if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. (Mt 18:17)
to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things: 10 That the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church (Eph 3:10)
21 And you, whereas you were some time alienated and enemies in mind in evil works: 22 Yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him: 23 If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven, whereof I Paul am made a minister. 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given me towards you, that I may fulfill the word of God: 26 The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now is manifested to his saints, 27 To whom God would make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ, in you the hope of glory. 28 Whom we preach, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Col 1)
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: 2 For kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: 6 Who gave himself a redemption for all (1 Tm 2)
The Church is the divine institution, supreme arbiter and sole instrument of salvation for all men.
“18... thou art Peter; upon this rock I will build my church”
Yes but nowhere do I read that one must seek their salvation through the Catholic church, rather salvation can only be reached through the sacrifice of Jesus.
At least that’s how I understand it.
“The Church is the divine institution, supreme arbiter and sole instrument of salvation for all men.”
And to the rest of us that read the Bible, Jesus Christ alone is all of those things. I feel like we are having two separate conversations here. Just answer me this and I’ll shut up, does one pray to Jesus for salvation or to “the church?”
Salvation is only possible because of the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross. It would be absurd to pray to the Church, she is but an instrument of Christ much like his body was an instument as it was flogged and crucified. It is possible and useful to pray to the saints of the Church, of course, so long as they are understood as relaying the prayer to Christ and as glorified through Christ.
I do pray FOR the Church, however, every day. It is a part of my rosary routine.
“Salvation is only possible because of the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross.”
Glad to see you post that brother, have a nice night.
I gave it some thought and also received some private feedback, and I think that this topic is badly suited for an “ecumenical” thread.
My original thought was that others could offer their views on what the Church of Christ is and what is the fate of those outside of it. However, the Catholic ecclesiology in itself deserves a full focus because so many people misunderstand it, and it is a complex and seemingly contradictory teaching. Such focus it cannot receive unless it is also open to criticism.
Please remove the [Ecumenical] designation. I am pinging those whose posts violated the format and as soon as the designation is removed, I invite them to re-join the discussion. As always, I urge the posters to stick to the topic on hand.
This thread is now “open.”
My oh My!!! That probably means that a whole lot of people who think and profess themselves to be "Catholic" are probably not ---
Absolutely, yes. And on the other hand, millions of the Orthodox who obey their bishops probably are very good Catholics. Do not forget, however, that the Church cannot judge the internal disposition but only outward acts, so she goes by confessed belief rather than belief as it is internally held.
Are you [or this declaration] saying then that a person could be a baptized, confirmed, sacrament-receiving member of the laity, but if he [she] does not accept all of the Church’s official teachings, then that person is actually a non-Catholic in the eyes of RCC???
Speaking only to the Jews in Jerusalem.
Peter following his mission statement.b'SHEM Yah'shua
Speaking only to the Jews in Jerusalem.
Yes, well-informed rejection of any dogma of the faith excommunicates. He may have an excuse if he is not well informed of the doctrine, or struggles to accept it, or if it is a lapse into sin and he confesses it, but not if the doctrine says one thing and he does another.
Classic examples are politicians promoting abortion “rights” or couples cohabitating or contracepting.
Please allow me a moment to ponder the notion of waxing apoplectic... These two statements are the most blasphemous rot I have ever seen put forth by any church of any kind.
Nothing, and no one is 'as indispensable' as Christ in the salvation of men. The only credit the church can take is that of a facilitator, and that, only in humble service to our Lord. All glory, and all credit goes to Him.
'Whoever is saved' owes his salvation to Christ, and only to Christ.
I should perhaps clarify that this implicit excommunication of a heretic only happens when it is a dogmatic teaching on faith and morals beings not adhered to. Otherwise, it is simply an opinion, perhaps at odds with the prevailing opinion of popes and bishops, but still permissible.
To tell dogmatic teaching from ordinary teaching is not always straightforward. One current example is the teaching against abortion — always, dogmatically, intrinsically wrong — and participation in wars, usually left to the individual’s conscience and circumstance. Much in the Catholic Church’s teaching on social issues of poverty, politics, wars in general, war in Iraq, etc., is not dogmatic. Thge faithful should not ignore these, but they are free to form their own mind about them without falling into heresy.
I think, when St. Peter responded to the question of what to do to be saved with “Repent and be baptized all of you”, a lot of people felt apoplectic.
Were St. Peter an Evangelical Protestant, his response would have been “accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior”... right?