Catholic view of Salvation

Read this:

The Necessity of Being Catholic

Thanks, that is a long read but will definitely go through it all.

I’ll take Randy’s Akin article over Rahner. Rahner’s belief that one could be saved without faith in Christ (barring invincible ignorance) is contrary to 2000 years of Christian teaching.

Yes, but I think it’s important to look at it in context, rather than just deal with it in isolation.

I think that the context of the discussion in that section of the Catechism is explicitly stated earlier in that section: in #151, we see that the context is “For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his ‘beloved Son’.” I think that this is the context that continues to be in effect for that section on faith…

So would that mean that rather than being sent to hell a good buddhist has to simply go to purgatory?

No. Purgatory isn’t a final state; it’s just a temporary process on the way to heaven. No one ‘ends up’ in purgatory. People either end up in heaven or in hell. So, there’s the possibility of Buddhists ending up in either one; but, it would seem, it would not depend (strictly speaking) on whether they believed in Christ in an explicit way.

After reading it, I think I will stick with Rahner.

Buddhist and other people can be saved if they have invincible ignorance. If they have no way of finding out that the Catholic Church is the true church then they are not responsible. Those leading good lives with invincible ignorance I believe are called invisible members of the Church. Although it’s a lot harder for them to be saved.

But what exactly is invincible ignorance? I mean I am Catholic and have heard all the arguments why the Church is the true church and even though I am open to the idea that it is, I am definitely not absolutely convinced of the proof of this. Had I not been born Catholic I doubt I would actually convert to being Catholic, well maybe I would, I simply don’t know. So how is a person supposed to “know” that the Catholic Church is the true church and does it vary for each person depending upon their life experience, culture they grew up in, intellectual and mental capabilites? How much information do you have to have presented to you? It seems to me that someone raised in a Hindu culture would have a very hard time accepting that the Catholic Church was the “True Church” even if they were provided with excellent arguments in favor of it just because their cultural situation is so vastly different from people in the Western World?

I also question what it means to “believe” or have faith in Jesus? What exactly does this mean? If one believes in Christian principles, such as hope, love, charity, self sacrifice, etc, and lives a moral and good life, I think that is believing in Jesus, regardless of what you call it. John said God is love, so would it not be true that if you believe in Love and the principles of loving others, you in effect love God, regardless of what you call it? I mean Jesus was not even his real name, so what does it matter what we call him, as long as we believe in his message? Would it matter if I called him Krisna if all my actions and thoughts were those of a Christian? Would this not be believing in him more than believing simply in a name. For example, do I best call myself a follower of Thomas Jefferson if I simply go around saying how much I believe in Thomas Jefferson and the bill of Rights but do not really do much to ensure the freedom and liberty of others? Or is a person who lives in a foreign country who knows very little about Thomas Jefferson and follows some other political leader but actively works towards a representative democracy and freedom and liberty the true representative of Jeffersonian ideals, whether he calls himself a Jeffersonian democrat or not? (Information on ignorance
“Ignorance is said to be invincible when a person is unable to rid himself of it notwithstanding the employment of moral diligence, that is, such as under the circumstances is, morally speaking, possible and obligatory. This manifestly includes the states of inadvertence, forgetfulness, etc. Such ignorance is obviously involuntary and therefore not imputable.”

If they have vincible ignorance …that’s not enough. Like if a Protestant had some feeling that maybe their denomination didn’t have the fullness of truth but they didn’t feel like looking into the Catholic Church. Even for Catholics, it’s not enough to just believe in Jesus we have to live that out

So for example, I absolutely believe in the idea of a personal god and have argued with some Buddhist friends of mine about this idea, and they just truly believe that the idea a personal god is absolutely logically impossible when trying to define the ultimate reality. They believe in what in effect would be called “The uncreated light” which produces all forms, but this light has no personality, nor can one have a relationship with this, it just simply is and transcends all human conceptions. Would this be an example of “invincible ignorance”?

It depends if they have any clue that their religion is false and if they have any way to "check"other religions (like asking a Christian about Christianity)

Now the Catholic Church absolutely does not teach that Buddhism or Hinduism are “false religions.” The statement out of Vatican II was that these religions are true, but that Catholic Church has the “fullness” of truth. So I think you are off base and being uncharitable in calling them “false religions.” They are not satanic for goodness sake.

All religions have some truth to them, but you could say that about any ideology.

“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.” Okay, the Church doesn’t reject the truth within these religions (like trying to find happiness) but it doesn’t say they are true religions

What other statements from Vatican II specifically state all religions are true?

There is only one God, of course pagan religions are false

So it would still be inaccurate to claim that these are false religions, they just lack the “fullness” of truth that Catholicism possesses. They are less true than Catholicism, but that does not make them “false”. I would suggest that you show me a statement where the Vatican teaches that all other religions are false. Catholicism might be the best, but that does not entail that all other religions are equally worthless. Just like in the Olympics, you have a Gold, Silver and Bronze medal. You don’t just have a gold and everyone else is just a loser regardless of their finish.

Well, hold on a minute. You’re making statements of two distinct types here. First, you’re making a statement about belief systems that are honestly trying to find God, even those belief systems known as ‘natural religions’, in which there’s no self-revelation from God. In these faith traditions, the Church recognizes “that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near” (CCC, 843).

This does not rise to the level of discussing the extent to which these traditions have the “fullness of the truth,” however: "the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life” (Ibid.; both of these quotes reflect Lumen Gentium 16). The language about varying degrees of the fullness of the truth comes from the discussion of the relationship of non-Catholic Christian communities to the Catholic Church: “Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church” (CCC, 819).

On the other hand, you discuss so-called ‘true’ and ‘false’ churches vis-a-vis their ‘worth’, asking whether there’s ‘Gold, Silver, and Bronze’ or simply ‘Gold, and all others are losers’.

In fact, there is only a single source of salvation: “all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” (CCC, 336). In other words, if someone who is Methodist, or Buddhist, or an animist is saved, then he’s saved through Christ and the Catholic Church. His belief system might dispose him to believe in God, and if he’s a Christian, he has certain connections to the Catholic Church, but his salvation absolutely comes from Christ through the Church: “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church” (CCC 336, quoting Lumen Gentium 14).

So, in a way, it really is “1st place: Gold; 2nd place: thanks for playing.” Salvation only comes through the graces that are in operation in the Catholic Church, even if a person is not a member of the Church or even baptized. This means that the salvific value found “outside the Church” doesn’t impute to the various faith traditions, per se, but only through the grace and mercy of God. To hold otherwise would be to endorse indifferentism, which Gregory XVI condemned in 1832 in Mirari Vos:

Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care.
(Mirari Vos, 13)

The Catechism also mentions indifferentism, but only glancingly, suggesting that agnosticism can sometimes be an expression of indifferentism.

Hope this helps!


Originally posted by alchemist3
So how is a person supposed to “know” that the Catholic Church is the true church and does it vary for each person depending upon their life experience, culture they grew up in, intellectual and mental capabilites?

Good point you bring up.

I believe it is the Holy Spirit, Love between the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit, the power of God to move people to love God as best they can to those of good will who seek him.

It isn’t always about what we do, but about God’s divine love moving those who want goodness and their response to him in their heart.

May divine mercy, peace, and love be yours in ever greater measure.

Thank you and that is a beautiful post.

Thank you for your kind response and may the love of Jesus light your life.

When we are united together with Jesus Christ in heaven, we are saved. That is what salvation is, to be with Jesus forever.

The sure norm for what the Catholic Church teaches is The Catechism of The Catholic Church. It gives the Biblical references for Catholic Teachings. You can get one right here:

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