Born Again Christians saying there is "no salvation"?

I’m currently on vacation and staying in Bolton, near Manchester with my great aunt and her family. She and her entire family are born-again Christians… and so is most of the Filipino community here in Bolton. Which is unfortunate, since I would always rely on Filipinos here in the UK if I want to find faithful Catholics.

She and her family have made claims - most of them out of the blue - about salvation and a person’s relationship with God. Her son, my uncle, said that “there is no salvation, it is only your relationship with God that matters”. She herself said when I rejected their invitation to attend a Bible study in their living room that “no religion can save you” after my aunts asked me whether I read the Bible or not.

Of course I know these claims have been used by born-again Christians so stubbornly sometimes I even wonder if they even know what they’re saying. They didn’t even explain why they believed in such a thing in the first place, and they all believe in sola scriptura - if it’s not in the Bible throw it out.

Of course I know they’re wrong. It seems to be a ploy to advertise and not to evangelize; just for the sake of gaining members. Obviously the Bible has verses which point to salvation. Even an ardent Evangelical Protestant can tell you that. However I didn’t have the courage to refute their arguments or give their reasons because most of the claims were on the spot and I didn’t have a good argument to dispute said claims.

How am I supposed to approach these claims properly, and why do you think they conjure up these contradictions? This is the first time I’ve encountered these kinds of dilemmas outside the web - in real life. I mean I have friends who are born-again Christians back in the Philippines but their beliefs about salvation are more in the line of mainline Christianity.


I encountered a Filipino family after Mass this Sunday who goes not only to the Catholic parish but also to the born-again Christian church my great aunt is part of. I asked why they join two churches. The mother of the family said that “so long as you believe in God and have a relationship with God, it doesn’t matter what religion you belong so long as you’re happy with it”. I know the argument is tired and worn-out, but I was really concerned about how they essentially live a double life attending two churches: one the True Church and the other a watered-down, sentimental and incomplete rip-off. It reminded me of the one time I was almost caught in the same trap when my best friend once invited me to become his “disciple”, but that’s for another story.

Wow, that is really rough.

And sheesh, reading the Bible can’t save you, either.

It’s Jesus Who saves us, and it’s our job to respond to Him by loving Him, obeying Him, and doing His will. He’s the one Who founded the Church to help us do His will, and to teach us how. We can’t love Him and ignore His Bride.

The problem is that they’re half right. We aren’t saved by religion (they got that right). You don’t get to heaven by being Catholic or Baptist or whatever.

We are saved by Grace, and by nothing else. We’re not saved by our knowledge, or our faith, our beliefs, our religion, our works, our relationship with God, or by anything else.

The ordinary means for Christians to receive saving Grace is Christian Baptism. Most protestants receive this Grace, because most protestants practice valid Christian Baptism.

If they are Baptized and avoid mortal sin, they will go to heaven (because the only way we can loose our salvation is through mortal sin). If you have a “good relationship with God” then you may be able to avoid mortal sin (nobody can really say for sure). If so, you are saved.

So they’re half-right. But the idea that God is completely indifferent to what we believe about him is silly. Surely, he would at least prefer that we believe the truth than believe a lie? And, wouldn’t it be easier to have a “good relationship” with God if we understood him better?

FWIW, I have asked on this Forum a couple of times where this protestant idea of a “personal relationship” with God comes from (especially the phrase, “personal Lord and Savior”). I have never found anything even similar to this in Scripture, and apparently nobody else has either. The word “personal” does not occur in any English-language Bible that’s available online (which is about 25 translations).

Dear CatholicWhovia:

One of our priests pointed out in a homily recently that you can know whether a religion is a true Christian religion if they acknowledge the cross, in other words, that Christ died for us and we are justified and redeemed to God only through Him. Some born again Christian churches and other churches indeed acknowledge Christ as savior through the way of the cross. If not, you can know these are not places sharing the true Christian faith. When someone says “there is no salvation . . .” it seems clear to me this person is not a follower of Christ and not true Christian.

However, it looks like you are experiencing other things with your relatives and this church they attend – that members who attend are opinionated and likely not the authorities speaking for their church. Go to their pastor if you want to know for sure what the church believes. You might mention to the pastor your experience.

Don’t judge too fast. Our Catholic churches are probably just as full of people ready to expound on what our Church teaches and what is true and Christian and proper for a Catholic and may be just as off the wall. Often are.

In summary, however, I’d like to say, be glad anyone is attending services (in a Christ based church) . If they weren’t there they might have less blessed lives and perhaps no hope or love or might be terrible sinners. Who knows.

There are churches, I’d guess, certainly including non-Christ based, that have lots of “recruits” working. And no matter what members of any church say to you, you are not obligated to argue or contradict what they say. You can always simply smile and remember to love your neighbors you are now speaking to. God isn’t asking you to correct them and you can simply walk away. If you are haranged for walking away, treat the situation as you would any hard sell, or bullying. I’d certainly turn the other cheek and leave.

If these are your friends, you can simply say, “I hope we agree to disagree.” And find some other topic, having perhaps to do with what made you friends in the first place.

Hope this is helpful.

Thanks for all of the responses guys. I’m currently staying in one of my relatives somewhere in the western Midlands of England - about 50 miles away from my great aunt’s house.

I would want to tell you guys about this incident on the way wherein me, my great aunt and my great uncle were discussing something on the way here about worship songs. I don’t want to give the details of the debate but there was a point where she was too caught up in the conversation that I told her that I would want my turn to speak - which my great uncle thought was a sign of disrespect. It was probably my tone, how I said it, and not what I said that offended him, and I didn’t know it but I was becoming to sound uncharitable. Good thing my great aunt sort of defended me by telling my great uncle that I wanted to speak my mind. We forgave each other later on after an hour of not discussing anything while on the road.

I don’t know what came over me. My great aunt isn’t one of my favorite relatives that’s for sure. And one of my biggest pet peeves are to be frank born-again Christians - or at least how they argue for their beliefs (no offense to anyone out there who is a born again Christian). I felt a bit annoyed by my great aunt and I feel relieved that I’m out of their house and am with my other relatives. I don’t know. :frowning:

I understand your annoyance. When people are so convinced that only they can be right about faith issues they will roll right over you, believing that they are imparting the Gospel and are being led by the Holy Spirit, therefore anything they say trumps reason, objections or even interruptions. That’s why your great uncle made such a thing out of you wanting to have your say, as well. He believed his wife supremely right and doing a righteous act so in his eyes you were committing sacrilege by not accepting everything she had to say as if there could be no denyiing the “truths” she was laying on you. Don’t feel badly about it. It’s a common tactic amongst Fundamentalist when they don’t have a good argument they resort to shaming to silence objectors. You aren’t guilty of anything except not swallowing whole and unquestioned whatever you great aunt had to say. Such tactics by Fundamentalists are indeed vexing because they are unfair, unkind and presumptuous.

That level of misunderstanding is very disturbing, it is not main-line Born-Again Evangelical Christianity. Jesus Himself, and all of Scripture talks a great deal about Salvation. We’ll pray for your family. Where they ever Catholic?

It’s not a protestant idea at all; it was pirated from the Catholics–(at least by imitation anyway, not actual taking, as “the relationship” still remains at the core of true Catholicism). Now I’ll grant you, modern Catholics aren’t known to go around talking about a ‘personal relationship’ as such, but they/we have certainly lived it, and promote it, if we don’t overtly ‘champion’ it, at the decibels that the evangelicals are known to.

Let’s start with St. Augustine. Catholic to the core, no? Lived in the late 4th, into the early 5th centuries. The father of western Christianity. Long before Martin Luther was a glimmer in his daddy’s eye…

What is he most famous for?

The Confessions.

His autobiography–loosely characterized as such, and largely considered the first such in history, frankly. Yet it wasn’t really an autobiography per se, was it? The autobiographical aspect was secondary, and incidental, to that that book actually was: a prayer. A very deeply moving, lengthy, personal dialogue (or perhaps soliloquy, as God does not speak back to him), with/to God. He does not address the reader; he is speaking directly to God. Very personally. This is just one incredibly obvious and conspicuous example.

How about St. Francis of Assisi? Late 12th-early 13th century…(i.e. hundreds of years before there was a thing called Protestantism)–talk about a personal relationship…

How about St. Anthony of the Dessert? Preceded St. Augustine…largely influenced him… “…of the dessert.” What do you suppose he was doing (and writing about)…in the dessert? You guessed it. His deeply personal relationship with Christ.

How about the other St. Anthony–of Padua? A contemporary of St. Francis, and therefore, way before the glorious Deformation… Quite personal.

St. Dominic…St. Teresa, of Jesus (aka of Avila)…St. John of the Cross…St. Ignatius of Loyola…St. Therese, the Little Flower (aka of Lisieux) …

I’m scarcely scratching the surface here, but the fact of the matter is that we read THE Saints (and about them), precisely to learn how to best (or at least better) develop our relationship with Christ.

…and there is no better source for this, than “the Saints”–who didn’t just talk the talk…they walked the walk.

The problem with ‘the personal relationship’ with Christ, according to the evangelicals, isn’t the concept itself–(and most certainly, it isn’t that it was ever original to them at all…)–it’s their application of it.

You want to know what aspect of the ‘personal relationship’ is exclusively Protestant?

It’s the notion–or rather, the caricature–of the “Pet Jesus”. The Jesus whom they can make say whatever they seek to have him say–e.g.–Joel Osteen–Jesus basically telling him that he should be crazy rich and flaunt the heck out of it…and tell the world that the Gospel Jesus came to bring us, was that of material affluence=God’s blessing.

The genuine relationship with Christ begins with an incredibly genuine humility–(e.g. Pope Francis)–and entails complete surrender to Christ, ON HIS TERMS, ACCORDING TO HIS WILL. What does it look like? I’d say in it’s purest form, it looks a lot more like Blessed/St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and Padre Pio, and even Pope John Paul II, the Great, than the likes of Joel Osteen…or R.C. Spreol…or Jimmy Swaggert…or even Martin Luther…et. al.

And it is a very genuinely Catholic concept; in fact, it is its core.

e.g.–The Eucharist–the source and summit of the Faith–is “THE relationship”, at its most personal, and intimate.

Yeah, but protestants don’t recognize the Saints.

…St. John of the Cross… St. Therese, the Little Flower (aka of Lisieux) …

Well, I’m glad to see some Carmelites represented. Though I would have mentioned Avila first (Interior Castle, Way of Perfection).

And it is a very genuinely Catholic concept; in fact, it is its core.

Understood. But Catholics don’t have any concept of a “personal relationship” being integral to salvation (which is the topic here). Salvation (through Grace) comes through the Church, not through any personal relationship. We can’t Baptize ourselves. A priest cannot hear his own Confession. A person must be Ordained by a Bishop of the Church - nobody can “ordain” himself. And it would usually be illicit for a priest to say Mass alone.

I don’t think anybody would argue that a “personal relationship” is beneficial, and it’s hard to imagine how someone could be recognized as a Saint of the Church without it. But saying that our salvation is contingent on any “personal” relationship does not reflect Catholic teaching. But it seems to be quite integral to the OP’s family.


Yeah, but protestants don’t recognize the Saints.

Not as such, but they can’t deny them as significant historical figures, nor their legacies, nor the record of what they believed, how they lived, nor why (i.e.–their personal relationships with Christ).

Well, I’m glad to see some Carmelites represented. Though I would have mentioned Avila first (Interior Castle, Way of Perfection).

Touche’. I inserted St. Dominic first, as I listed those saints chronologically (and concur to the hat tip to the Carmelites–specifically, the Teresian Triumvirate of ‘Big Teresa’, ‘Little Therese’, and ‘Mother Theresa’).

Understood. But Catholics don’t have any concept of a “personal relationship” being integral to salvation (which is the topic here). Salvation (through Grace) comes through the Church, not through any personal relationship. We can’t Baptize ourselves. A priest cannot hear his own Confession. A person must be Ordained by a Bishop of the Church - nobody can “ordain” himself. And it would usually be illicit for a priest to say Mass alone.

Concur (as to salvation). I was simply commenting on the notion in general, of Protestants championing ‘the relationship’, as if it were fruit of the Reformation–as if, for 1500 years, Christians lived and died for an idea, rather than a person–THE Person of Christ. That entails a personal relationship, and has always been a very Catholic concept. (kind of a pet peeve of mine).

I don’t think anybody would argue that a “personal relationship” is**[n’t]** beneficial, and it’s hard to imagine how someone could be recognized as a Saint of the Church without it. But saying that our salvation is contingent on any “personal” relationship does not reflect Catholic teaching. But it seems to be quite integral to the OP’s family.

Again, concur. In fact I’d take it a step further, and suggest that it’s rather arrogant to claim that is–as if the mere fact of having a relationship ensures salvation–which implies that nothing further is required–which runs squarely contrary to what Christ taught, *vis a vis *His parables, and other express teachings. It also implies that salvation is a matter of likability, and of course, anyone who claims a relationship with Christ, implies that Christ ‘likes’ them.

To which I’d point out that Judas Iscariot also had a personal relationship with Christ–a very personal relationship–and that did not appear to insure his salvation.

Yeah, but I should be grateful for what they have done for me because they love me as a relative of theirs. My great uncle took me to Scotland because I wanted to go there. They fed and offered me a stay for my vacation. When my great uncle complained about me disrespecting my great aunt he grumbled upon how he and his family have provided me all that I need and that’s a reason why I shouldn’t disrespect them. The complaint is not because of a conversion agenda; it’s because of their love for me. I already knew that I am grateful for what they’ve done for me since last week, it’s just that I haven’t told them until when they went back home.

And please don’t confuse their church with fundamentalist Christian churches. They have a PlayStation 4. What fundamentalist has a PlayStation 4 in their house?

That’s what I was thinking. When evangelical Protestants talk about a relationship, I feel that they have this notion that they can change the terms of their relation with God without having a firm grounding why they have a relationship in the first place, and get away with it.

My uncle said he was Catholic and the last time he was in the Philippines was 2003. So I’m assuming they were Catholic. Born-again Christian churches target disaffected and disillusioned Catholics in the Philippines.

Ya know, that’s a really good point.

And we could add the “good thief” on the cross to the list of irony. He spoke, what, a single sentence to Jesus? And Jesus spoke a single sentence to him? Does that even qualify as a conversation? Much less a relationship?

Still, it’s important to ask why your great uncle felt the need to hold it over your head that they had you as a guest. There’s more going on than simply being disappointed that you interrupted your great aunt. I reassert that he didn’t like you interrupting the “sermon” your great aunt was delivering because he believes you are a lost soul who desperately needs saving. Trying to make you feel guilty about “taking you in” was his way of saying they’re upset that you aren’t interested in their attempts at converting you. If they didn’t have this in the back of their minds they wouldn’t react so strongly.

I know all too well what they were doing because I used to do the same thing myself when I was a die-hard anti-Catholic many years ago. They’re probably not aware that’s what they’re doing, which lessens their culpability–it’s a form of displaced anger they don’t even know they have. Rebellion against the Church is an emotional reaction not a reasonable one and by you defending the Church you unwittingly triggered their deep-seated knowledge that they are wrong and you are right. People don’t like being shown that they are wrong when they have invested their whole life in their beliefs. As one with experience with this sort of thing, I’d be very surprised if I were proved wrong. :wink: I’m not trying to diss your relatives, but explain why I believe they reacted as they did to what ought to have been a simple exchange of ideas. If they weren’t bent on converting you, and weren’t emotionally invested in doing that, they wouldn’t have cared if you interrupted and disagreed.

And please don’t confuse their church with fundamentalist Christian churches. They have a PlayStation 4. What fundamentalist has a PlayStation 4 in their house?

A person can act like a Fundamentalist without holding to all the tenets of Fundamentalism. Besides, many such groups have relaxed their restrictions because they lost members when they didn’t “move with the times.” :slight_smile:

The highlighted sentiment sounds like some protestant preacher was trying to justify himself as legitimate. As Paul warns, . [2 Timothy 4:3](“ Timothy+4:3&version=RSVCE”) . Peter says it this way [In Context](“ Peter+3:15-17&version=RSVCE”)

To answer your feeling a bit upset at their instance of a person’s salvation depending on their personal relationship, I would agree with them.

The difference is how do we arrive at that personal relationship and not the fact of the personal relationship. We as Catholics believe what the bible teaches: 1 Peter 3:21-22

You are now saved by a baptismal bath. This baptism is no removal of physical stain, but the pledge to God of an irreproachable conscience through the resurrection of Jesus.

That is when this personal relationship begins with our Father in heaven…we are saved…we become sons and daughters of the Father. That is the personal relationship we have…the closest kind.

How we arrive at that relationship is important since the Father has spoken thru his Word. “Thy will be done…” as Jesus taught us to say. What is his will? The baptismal bath for salvation and good relationship with the Father of an “irreproachable conscience”. If we love the Father then we will follow the Father’s desires in our regard…to make the commitment that the Father, thru his Word, asks us to do…“Your are now saved by a baptismal bath”.

May God bless and keep you.

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