Does being Catholic guarantee salvation?


#1

I’m struggling with some protestant objections to catholicism, particularly the belief that the catholic church is based on works. I don’t mean works vs. grace as is often debated, but rather the idea that the way to heaven, including all necessary grace, is neatly laid out in the sacraments and if you just follow along and play by the rules then you’ll go to heaven.

I guess I’m wondering what the church teaches will happen to someone who is baptized, confirmed, regularly attends mass and is free from mortal sin, and perhaps is pretty much a good person, but really doesn’t have any faith. Maybe they acknowledge the existence of God but they are really only going to church etc. because that’s the way they were brought up and don’t really care to leave. But if questioned, they would say they really care less about their faith.

This idea confuses me because protestants often claim that their relationship with Jesus is much more personal and that a Catholic’s relationship is just based on some rote way of living. Of course there are many devout Catholics (and many lazy protestants too) but that reality is not taken into consideration when a protestant offers their opinion of the catholic way of life.


#2

The easy way out of your question is to note that you mentioned that the person is free from mortal sin. If you are using that terminology in a standard way, then they will end up in heaven when they die.

However, Catholics consider it a big deal to sin against the virtue of faith. So just neglecting it completely and not caring about it, well, this is a bad idea and will probably lead to mortal sin if it hasn’t already.

A Catholic can’t just say, well, “I have this dumb list of stuff to do and then I’ll get into heaven.” We should be animated by faith in God, we should love him and our neighbor, we should look forward in hope to being with him in heaven. This is not met by just sitting there like a bump on a log. I am no good at saint quotes, but I’m sure one of them said that if you aren’t going forward you are falling back.

The sacraments aren’t just there as grace dispenser machines. They draw us closer to Christ. They invite us to love him and think about being with him in heaven. It is about Jesus, for me anyway.


#3

Just like any denomination, some think being Cathoic gives them a leg up.

We specifically believe that one can lose his salvation. We do not believe in once saved always saved, as many other denominations do. And they’re just never really sure if they were really ever saved anyway. It’s very complicated.

I think being Catholic is just the beginning, but you must take an interest and some responsibility to put in the time and work that’s required.

I read on another thread that being Catholic means you must give up the right to be offended.

I’m still working on that one.


#4

Does being Catholic guarantee salvation?

No, but it sure helps. The Church is the body of Christ on earth, and by incorporating ourselves into Christ, we live with His life, making us ready for life in Heaven.

If someone can consistently receive all the sacraments without having Faith (!), then I can’t see how they would not be sinning against the sacraments, against the Faith, and against Christ.


#5

No absolutely not, although a lot of Catholics would like to think so, judging by the way they behave at funerals nowdays, as if the dearly departed was already canonized because “he was a good person”. Since most of us have succeeded in convincing ourselves, by deliberate failure to educate our consciences, that we are not committing mortal sin unless we actually murder someone or deal drugs, we have also deluded ourselves that we spend most of our time in the state of sanctifying grace. some of us are in for a real shock on judgement day.


#6

This feeds the arguement between Catholics and Protestants about the meaning of the world “faith”. To Protestants, it is a belief in the fiduciary promises of Christ. TO the Catholic, and is a much simpler example, faith means loyalty. If you want a faithful wife, do you want her to believe in your promise to act on her behalf (fiduciary relationship), or do you want her to be loyal to you and forsake all others. I want a wife that is both. Faith is so much more than “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior”, because that is just the starting point. ONCE you’ve accepted Jesus, then you must beloyal to Him and forsake your carnal nature. He left us a sacramental life to assist us with this. SO, if one is living the sacamental life, and doesn’t understand the finer points of substitutionary atonement, they are much better off than one who accepts the fiducuary relationship that Christ offers, yet lives with his carnal nature still intact.


#7

You give the hypothetical case of a Catholic who goes to Mass, etc., but “doesn’t have any faith”: well, since we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and strength, then it seems that your hypothetical Catholic is not doing so.

You mention “the idea that the way to heaven, including all necessary grace, is neatly laid out in the sacraments and if you just follow along and play by the rules then you’ll go to heaven.” What you describe is superstitious, because it completely ignores love of God. The Catholic Church teaches: “To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition” (Catechism 2111).


#8

Not unless you have been baptized Catholic just before you died.


#9

Although you shouldn’t dodge the question, you should add a basic objection that this is framing a question that judges a faith by its weaker adherents.

Scott


#10

[quote=buffalo]Not unless you have been baptized Catholic just before you died.
[/quote]

Why does a lucky circumstance determine your fate for eternity. That makes no sense at all.

Alec
homepage.ntlworld.com/macandrew/Grenada_disaster/Grenada_disaster.htm


#11

Hecd,

In reference to another poster’s response, “Not unless you have been baptized Catholic just before you died” (this in answer to the original question), you wrote: “Why does a lucky circumstance determine your fate for eternity. That makes no sense at all.”

You have a problem, then, with Christ’s own teaching: in the parable of the workers hired to bring in the harvest, the workers who are hired last are paid the same as those who were hired earlier. It may not seem “fair”, but the point is made that the employee has the right to be generous with his own money if it serves his purposes—it’s his money!—and after all the workers received what they had been promised.

However, you are missing the point that the poster was making. The original question was, does being Catholic guarantee salvation?
Catholics do not believe in “once saved, always saved”, that we are “guaranteed” salvation—we believe that we have, through free will, the ability to toss our salvation out the window through sin. The poster was merely pointing that out by giving the exception of a baptized person who had not yet sinned before dying: for example, a baptized baby, who obviously has no capacity to injure his or her state of grace, or a deathbed conversion wherein the person receives baptism immediately before dying.

I take it that you are not a Christian?


#12

Yes, the Catholic church DOES believe in works for salvation. But not the works men offer to God, but the works God requires for our salvation. There is a vast difference in understanding this.

Protestants, as a whole believe all one must do to secure their salvation is simply believe and say the sinners prayer. But is this all Christ expects men to do to receive salvation? Is this what he told his apostles? A simple reading of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 shows this is not the case at all.

When the Jews at Pentecost were convicted of their sins by Peter’s message, they asked Peter,“WHAT SHALL WE DO?” They were asking Peter HOW to be saved.

Did Peter just say, well you are saved, because you now believe and are sorry for your sins. That’s not at all what he said. Peter told them to REPENT and BE BAPTIZED for the remission of their sins. In other words they were told to make a complete change in their mental way of thinking and be baptized in water so they could have their sins removed. Now where did Peter get this command from. From Jesus. See Matt 28:19.

The commands that come FROM GOD are the works of God, in which he imparts his grace through those works. When one repents and is baptized one receives the grace of God in recieving the forgiveness of sins. That is the way God gives us his grace.

Also Catholics AFTER they have repented and were baptized continue to receive God’s grace of forgiveness of FUTURE sins through the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. Both sacraments offer forgiveness of sins. Why? Because God said so. So when forgiveness of sins is given by God, so to is his grace freely given as well.

The grace of God is NOT a one time action given at the moment of believing, but God’s grace is like an eternal fountain which never runs dry and is poured out upon us as we obey God in what he commands. I hope this helps you somewhat.

Ron from Ohio


#13

Hi Seeking,

You state:

I guess I’m wondering what the church teaches will happen to someone who is baptized, confirmed, regularly attends mass and is free from mortal sin, and perhaps is pretty much a good person, but really doesn’t have any faith. Maybe they acknowledge the existence of God but they are really only going to church etc. because that’s the way they were brought up and don’t really care to leave. But if questioned, they would say they really care less about their faith.

The kind of person that you describe does not exist. Let me explain, you say this person:

  1. Regularly attends mass
  2. Is free from mortal sin
  3. But really doesn’t have any faith

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean, but a person who partakes of the Eucharist, but does not have faith that he is receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is deep in mortal sin.

PAX CHRISTI

Bill


#14

We are redeemed by Christ on the Cross, but we must correspond to the gift of grace by living a perfect life if we are to enter the heavenly kingdom.

Nothing imperfect can enter heaven.

Therefore, most of us, even though we try, will not enter heaven directly.

We see in 2 Maccabees 12:45 that the righteous person, even though he dies, can still be loosed from his sins.

Of course, protestants don’t believe in the books of Maccabees despite the fact that it was contained in the Septuagint, the scriptures which Jesus read and taught from.

My advice: strive to be perfect, and pray for those who have died, that they might be cleansed from all imperfection and enter the heavenly kingdom. And pray for protestants, living and dead, that they may be freed from their hatred.


#15

Of course, not. Jesus died for all of us–Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Atheists & Heretics.
God wants all of us to be saved—but none of us are guaranteed salvation unless we die “just after baptism” as one person said or in the state of grace. We, as Catholics, have more graces and blessings through the 7 sacraments, sacramentals & all the other helps of the church, but the Lord is merciful as well as just & like Jesus told the apostles when they asked how anyone can be saved His answer was “For man it is impossible, but for God all things are possible”
(Matt. 19 vs 26)


#16

[quote=Sherlock]Hecd,

In reference to another poster’s response, “Not unless you have been baptized Catholic just before you died” (this in answer to the original question), you wrote: “Why does a lucky circumstance determine your fate for eternity. That makes no sense at all.”

You have a problem, then, with Christ’s own teaching: in the parable of the workers hired to bring in the harvest, the workers who are hired last are paid the same as those who were hired earlier. It may not seem “fair”, but the point is made that the employee has the right to be generous with his own money if it serves his purposes—it’s his money!—and after all the workers received what they had been promised.
[/quote]

You are correct. Indeed, I have a problem with that parable and that teaching. As I said, the idea that a fortunate circumstance of a few seconds duration (or in the case of an infant the act of others to administer the sacrament of baptism entirely unwilled and uncontrolled by the infant herself) determines the everlasting fate of the individual being makes no sense at all - in fact I would say that it is a perverse and distasteful doctrine.

However, you are missing the point that the poster was making. The original question was, does being Catholic guarantee salvation?
Catholics do not believe in “once saved, always saved”, that we are “guaranteed” salvation—we believe that we have, through free will, the ability to toss our salvation out the window through sin.

I am aware that this is the doctrine of the Church and, if it is any consolation, I think it is relatively much truer than the ‘once saved, always saved’ idea. However, I also reject the power of baptism in infants and the idea that a person’s eternal fate can be determined by the whim of a moment.

Alec
homepage.ntlworld.com/macandrew/Grenada_disaster/Grenada_disaster.htm


#17

your difficulty with infant baptism is quite understandable and results from misunderstanding about the theology of the sacrament of baptism, not salvation. This should be a thread on the sacraments forum, and probably is already there.


#18

Jesus said the following: John 16:24-25

[font=Arial]24: Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. **
25: For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

After reading Jesus words what conclusion do you come up with? Are there any guarantees in these words?

What is expected on from us?

[/font]
[font=Arial][font=Arial][/font][/font]
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#19

[quote=puzzleannie]your difficulty with infant baptism is quite understandable and results from misunderstanding about the theology of the sacrament of baptism, not salvation. This should be a thread on the sacraments forum, and probably is already there.
[/quote]

No, my difficulty has nothing to do with ‘misunderstnding’. I am a cradle Catholic with a quite sophisticated understanding of Catholic theology. I fully understand the theology of baptim. I base my objection on that understanding. You can’t dismiss what I say with an airy ‘he doesn’t understand’.

Alec
homepage.ntlworld.com/macandrew/Grenada_disaster/Grenada_disaster.htm


#20

[quote=hecd2]Why does a lucky circumstance determine your fate for eternity. That makes no sense at all.

Alec
homepage.ntlworld.com/macandrew/Grenada_disaster/Grenada_disaster.htm
[/quote]

Alas, it is not a question of logic, but belief.

I agree with you, luck/.fate make no sense, and I have great difficulty believing that God created a world wherein unfortuneates * might be damned for God-willed accidents.

Seriously, what does that imply about Divine Justice?

Not much, in my view.*


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