Is existence of a soul a key Catholic/Christian belief?

I asked the following question at AAA almost 3 months ago but did not get a reply. Perhaps someone here will be able to answer the question.

I got to wondering about this when I read in the SDA magazine “Signs of the Times” (Dec. 2014) that the SDA do not believe in the existence of a soul: “There is no living, conscious soul or spirit that departs the body and goes to be with God in heaven; thus, there will be no living, conscious spirit to rejoin the body either in the grave or at the time of the resurrection. When Jesus comes again, He will re-create both our minds and our bodies so that we are the same people who went into the grave, but with youthful, immortal minds and bodies.”

The Catholic Church recognizes SDA as fellow Christians on the basis of their baptism, but if they don’t believe they have a soul for the baptism to affect, how can they be Christian?

The Seventh Day Adventists believe in God. They believe in Jesus.
Apparently that is enough for the Catholic Church to acknowledge them as Christians.

The existence of the soul is indeed a key Christian belief.

Do they believe in Jesus the same as us or similar to the Jehovah Witness?

People can have a belief in Jesus as a historical fact, even as a Savior.
But their belief in heaven varies.
Makes no sense to us, since the state of our soul determines our final residence.

Doesn’t the soul as the life force make this possible?

The Catholic Church recognizes SDA as Christians by virtue of valid Baptism - using water and Trinitarian formula. The fact that they have other beliefs that are not compatible with Catholics or other Christians doesn’t matter as long as they are validly Baptized.

Mormons and Jehovahs Witness believe in God and Jesus, so there must be more required than just belief in God and Jesus.

Must be. Even Satan believes in God and Jesus.

This sounds like (tho not sure it’s what you meant), that if the “magic” words are said, it doesn’t matter what you believe, either for the one being baptized or the one doing the baptizing.

Then why should one be Catholic, or anything else? Could we not reduce this philosophy to the one liner, "Una Religio est Aequale Alteri " (One religion is equal to another)?

“It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth itself, the best, the wisest Provider,and the Rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal salvation on their members… by divine faith we hold one Lord, one faith, one baptism… This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church.” [Pope Leo XII, Ubi Primum, 14]

How can a Divine Church advise her faithful that there is an equal but different divine reality, i.e. Truth? I would suggest instead, “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus”; there is no salvation outside of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, anything else is false.


I wouldn’t say it that sacrilegiously, but essentially yes. It takes a very bare minimum for a person to become joined to the Church, however imperfectly. Being Baptized isn’t something based on personal faith, it is a Sacramental gift, a gift for as many people as possible. The goal is not for only those who meet some threshold of “enough faith” to become Christian but for everyone to receive the grace of Baptism and** then** grow in faith.

No, because while the LDS baptize with a Trinitarian formula, they do not believe in the Holy Trinity and therefore their baptisms are invalid. It does require some belief behind the words.

The question was whether their baptisms are valid, not whether their teachings are true or how likely their salvation is. That heretics can baptize validly has been settled for centuries (it was a point of contention between St. Cyprian and Pope Stephen). That just means that such a person would not be baptized upon acceptance into the Catholic Church. It’s not some newfangled teaching that makes all religions equal.


OK - so anyone can baptize validly. But for those over the age of reason who are being baptized, they must believe in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit (Trinity), but they do not have to believe that baptism does anything, nor do they have to believe they have a soul that can be affected by baptism. They need only to believe the minimum to be Christian.

Have I got it right?

I’ll admit, I’m feeling like the elder brother here. Why do others get an almost free pass, while I, as a Catholic, have to believe a lot more to not jeopardize my salvation? :confused:

I would say it is just as essential a belief as the belief in the existence of God.

If we have no soul we are just bodies meaning we are just a product of the earth. Our soul’s is what God breathed into us at our birth, without our soul we aren’t in the image and likeness of God we are just in the image and likeness of the earth.

Now there is nothing evil about the earth and we will receive a glorified body in the resurrection but without a soul we are simply animals.

because your post also deals with baptism, no every Christian baptized is considered a valid baptism.

This is more for a canon lawyer though, because some SDAs are validly baptized others aren’t.

Interesting. Do you know why some are valid & others aren’t?

if someone doesn’t desire to be baptized but they are done so against their will they cannot be validly baptized.

But this whole desire to be baptized thing is a very broad definition. What does it mean to have a desire for baptism? Do you have to have a desire to be baptized in the trinitarian formula? Or simply I desired to be baptized so that I can become Christian.

I would say simply this, if you have the desire to be baptized and are sorry for your sins you can be baptized.

Can. 865 §1. For an adult to be baptized, the person must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, have been instructed sufficiently about the truths of the faith and Christian obligations, and have been tested in the Christian life through the catechumenate. The adult is also to be urged to have sorrow for personal sins.

This changes when it comes to non-catholics who have already been baptized. If their pastor used the trinitarian formula and water it is very likely they have been validly baptized, even if they don’t believe in a soul, or something crazy like that.

most comes down to the trinitarian formula.

I have a book that I had to use for my Canon Law class, it is called the Pastoral Companion by John. M. Huels. On page 380 and 381 he lists non-Catholic denominations that have valid baptism, the ones that further investigation must be done, and those who don’t have valid baptism.

He lists the SDA as further investigation. LDS or Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have valid baptism, I think because there is no trinitarian formula in their baptismal liturgy. In that case a person must be “rebapitized.”

LDS baptism is invalid due to defective intent of the minister.

The baptisms do use a Trinitarian formula, as I have said, and normally defective beliefs do not invalidate this sacrament, but the LDS are a special case as explained in the link.

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