Baptism & Salvation

I’m a 14 year old cradle Catholic, and I’ve always had a hard time understanding the Church’s stand on baptism. To my understanding, if you are not baptized, you can not enter heaven. I know there are a few exceptions to this, but I’m not sure what they are. Here is an example. A man was raised protestant and his parents decided that he could choose when he wanted to be baptized. When he went off to college he stopped going to church, and never got around to being baptized. Later in life he considered being baptized, but didn’t want to go through the ordeal. Besides this, he lived a good Christian life. What would happen to this man when he died? Would he go to hell since he wasn’t baptized? That doesn’t sound just to me. Thanks in advance!

If a person knows that Christ requires baptism and refuses …that is one thing…

it is quite another if the person does not realize this…it is still possible for them to be saved…

vatican.va/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm

From a track on Baptism from this site.

Yet Christians have also always realized that the necessity of water baptism is a normative rather than an absolute necessity. There are exceptions to water baptism: It is possible to be saved through “baptism of blood,” martyrdom for Christ, or through “baptism of desire”, that is, an explicit or even implicit desire for baptism

Later in life he considered being baptized, but didn’t want to go through the ordeal.

This sounds like a rejection to me, if in fact he knew that baptism is required, but he couldn’t be bothered to make the effort, which in itself would prevent salvation. However, it would depend whether at the moment of his death, he repented with perfect sorrow for his sins and trusted himself to God’s mercy. It is very unwise and presumptious to delay entering the Church through baptism, thinking that one can appeal to God’s mercy at his last moment. That assurance of repentence is never granted to any of us.

Besides this, he lived a good Christian life.

We know from James 1:12 that “he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him,” if they make every effort to rise above their temptations and live by the natural law written in their hearts. (Rom. 2:14-15)
That is not easy, and is the very reason God gave us the sacraments through the Church to help us live that “good life.” It is hard enough for those who receive the sacraments, yet for those who do not, it would be even harder.

Your double example: a good life, but rejection of baptism, is something I leave to God to judge, for He alone knows the fullest intentions of the heart.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.