Help with explaining catechism and view of other religions

I’m stuck. A friend challenged me that the catechism teaches that salvation is not found through Christ alone, that the other Abrahamic religions of Judaism and Islam (of which I find it hard to consider Islam an Abrahamic religion even though Mohammed claims that’s who he’s following) are said to have a special salvation because of their devotion to God.

They specifically cited CCC paragraph 841 (I added this text and link so no one has to go find it.)

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

Someone please help me explain that this is not a teaching that indicates that there is salvation outside of Christ.

Blessed Pope John Paul II explained in his encyclical:

“…The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation…”

***- Blessed Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio (1990) ***

The Church teaches that the ordinary means of salvation is through Christian Baptism (which is 100% guaranteed). But, like many aspects of Church teaching, there are ordinary and extraordinary (ie, not ordinary) means.

The Church teaches that it’s possible to receive salvation without Christian Baptism. This doctrine is called “invincible ignorance.”

However, the Church has no idea how it works. It might be “easy” for non-Christians to be saved, or maybe nobody has ever actually attained it. We simply do not know the criteria; this is known to God alone.

This is the same teaching that allows us to express “hope” that unbaptized babies can attain salvation.

Ask the person to read it again slowly. Notice it *doesn’t say *the Muslims are saved by their monotheism nor are the Jews. All it says is they fit into God’s plan for all mankind in some way. I does say where there may be found some *common ground *to begin discussion with them or to try and understand them.

You could point to the paragraph 843 if your friend is looking at the same book and tell them that there is a foreshadow of the Gospel in their chosen religion in the “goodness” found there in.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him. Helping Muslims and persons of other religions find Him has been the Church’s business for thousands of years. We have a great deal of knowledge about the workings of other religions and sometimes this knowledge is even greater than those practicing those religions on a day to day basis.

When trying to discuss their beliefs with them in charity it helps to know something about what they are supposed to believe. If the person you’re in dialog with doesn’t know where Abraham fits into their religion perhaps they should go find out and get back to you. Don’t worry if you get it right, or get the Muslim to convert. God’s got it worked out in His plan of salvation for you.


God created the world and its people; not everyone hears the TRUTH but many know it in their hearts. That particular catechism paragraph says to me that we should adhere to our love of God and to His people, although separated by faith. It does not say that Islam is the way to salvation (read the whole catechism, please) but it refers to “muslims”, people of a faith that is close to ours, being included in God’s plan.

The fullness of salvation can be most found in the following of Christ but we cannot claim to know God’s full plan. I’ve known that since hearing the story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan was a person of a different faith whom Jesus defined as more worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven than the priest and wealthy men who passed by the injured man. Did that story undo everything else Jesus spoke of for our salvation?

The key words here are “also”, not “instead of” and the words “The Church’s relationship with Muslims.” The words are very important to read in context.

Thank you for the replies.

One can get so lost in assumptions that one finds it hard to see the truth in the statement.
The concern of who is saved and who isn’t brings to my mind the parable of the vineyard workers and the owner who pays them “unfairly.”

Part of me understands my friend’s concern over the “salvation apart from Christ” but then after reading and thinking about what exactly the Church is trying to put forth I can see the truth and that is this: We are not the deciders of who is to be saved, that is not our calling. We are not the masters of the house, we are those left behind to tend to it and its guests, equally loving everyone and offering everyone the gifts that the true Master has to give. (Perhaps my analogy needs work but hopefully you get my thought)

Seems to me we can become so worried about other peoples’ salvation that we forget to tend to our own.

Ben, you could look into the parable of the Good Samaritan too: there were quite a few people in it but the injured man was only helped by (insert here saved by) one of them. Remember Jesus was seen as the enemy by the Jews who put Him to death and we as Christians were seen as heretics to the Jews of that time. It doesn’t mean you look outside the Church for salvation, but that you should see all men as having a place in the plan God has for you. You mean that much to Him. St. Augustine said that if you were the only one to be saved by His Son’s death, God would have sent Him anyway. He loves you that much. It could be by getting to dialog with those who are outside the Church you begin to see how very precious your faith is. A true gift from God. Not everyone gets it. It is the most precious gift we have.


The teachings of the Church, while at times nuanced in regards to who is saved and how, are quite clear as regards who saves us: Christ through His body, the Church.

I really don’t think that this is a good place to begin a EENS discussion, so I won’t say anymore.

The bottom line is this: If anyone is saved, they are saved by Christ-period.

Thank you. It seems very simple to me, I just worry about stuff that I can’t control: like whether or not my friend will accept the truth or dismiss it to fit his view.

So, just as without Christ there is no salvation, so without the Church there is no salvation. Catechism of the Catholic Church # 846 - # 848]. The Catholic Church, regardless of whether or not a person knows of its divine origin and founding, is the body through which ALL salvation comes to anyone whom God deems worthy to receive it.

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