Is there a “knowledge” qualification for salvation?


#1

I do not presently have the CCC in front of me, so please excuse me if this question is a bit jumbled as a result of being based off a poor paraphrase. In the section on other religions in the CCC, I recall reading a phrase to the effect of:

…nevertheless he could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded by God through Christ, refused either to remain in it or to enter into it.

(Boy, I hope that paraphrase gets the gist of the idea.) I was once dialoguing with a very prominent Evangelical author, and he made the comment that it’s not the person who ‘knows’ that the Catholic Church is God’s Church and then rejects it who is condemned. He said that all one has to do is to hear and understand the teachings of the Catholic Church and then reject them and he will be condemned as a result. It seems to me though that he was in error. If the Catechism does actually advocate an epistemic qualification (that is, the person actually does have to know that the Catholic Church was founded by God and not just understand the claims of the Church), this would seem to entail that there would be an issue of conscience and awareness. That is, if it’s the person who knows that the CC was founded by God through Christ and then rejects it, this seems to be more than merely hearing the claims and understanding them. It seems to be a recognition of the truth of the claims themselves.

What do you all think? Am I missing the boat here, or have I got it right? Is there an epistemic (i.e., knowledge) qualification that must be met before one could be condemned? That is, any given person actually has to “know” that the CC is God’s Church (and still reject it) before he could be in danger of condemnation. What I’m basically getting at is this. It seems that one must hear and understand the claims of the Church *and then recognize in some sense the truth of those claims *before he could be condemned, rather than condemnation coming as a result of rejecting the CC after merely hearing and understanding Her claims.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have to share.


#2

Here’s the bit from the CCC that you’re thinking of:**

“Outside the Church there is no salvation” ** 846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

[size=1]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. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

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[left]The footnote 336 refers to Lumen Gentium 14 … here’s a link to that document:

vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html
[/left]


#3

[quote=Magnanimity]It seems that one must hear and understand the claims of the Church *and then recognize in some sense the truth of those claims *before he could be condemned, rather than condemnation coming as a result of rejecting the CC after merely hearing and understanding Her claims.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have to share.
[/quote]

To me, it is much like the difference between a venial and mortal sin. To constitute a mortal sin, there are three elements involved: 1) the sin must be of a grave matter; 2) the person must have full knowledge of the sin; and 3) the person has given full consent to the sin. What determines full knowledge is really based on what the person truly “knows” about the issue and only God really knows for sure.

For me, leaving would be a problem because I fully embrace the Truth of the Catholic Church. For someone else, even though they have been informed and say they understand, they may not really. I’m convinced if others truly understood the CC, they would never leave. I hope that makes sense.

:blessyou:


#4

Try to imagine a good and honest Christian rejecting the truth that he has come to “know” simply because it came from the Catholic Church. I don’t imagine that happens very often. The only thing between hearing/understanding and actually “knowing” is the sin of pride.

A person sencerely seeking the truth with an open mind that hears and understands the true teachings of the Church will be held responsible. That is the very essence of rejection; you cant really reject something that you didnt understand or know.


#5

[quote=Britta]To me, it is much like the difference between a venial and mortal sin. To constitute a mortal sin, there are three elements involved: 1) the sin must be of a grave matter; 2) the person must have full knowledge of the sin; and 3) the person has given full consent to the sin. What determines full knowledge is really based on what the person truly “knows” about the issue and only God really knows for sure.

For me, leaving would be a problem because I fully embrace the Truth of the Catholic Church. For someone else, even though they have been informed and say they understand, they may not really. I’m convinced if others truly understood the CC, they would never leave. I hope that makes sense.

:blessyou:
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Yeah, that does make sense to me. I had a Catholic friend of mine who takes theology very seriously recently say to me that all Christians who are seeking the truth will eventually become Catholic. It’s just a question of whether they’re really a “truth-seeker” or not.

I just wanted to make sure that I understood what was involved in “knowing” that the CC was founded as necessary by God through Christ. It seems to me that there is an epistemic qualification, which would require some sort of inner conviction of the truth of the Church.


#6

[quote=Magnanimity]I just wanted to make sure that I understood what was involved in “knowing” that the CC was founded as necessary by God through Christ. It seems to me that there is an epistemic qualification, which would require some sort of inner conviction of the truth of the Church.
[/quote]

For me, it is exactly that, an inner conviction. But it wasn’t so much that I had knowledge that lead to this inner conviction - it was exactly opposite. I was open and very hungry for the truth. He lead me to that truth and I am now in the CC.

I guess to answer your question, I don’t believe there has to be as much an epistemic qualification as there needs to simply be an open heart. He’ll take care of the rest. God’s knows our hearts and should someone reject something because they have not been fully convicted in that area, He will judge accordingly.

I cannot, in all honesty, disregard Sunday Mass, or leave the CC without there being a problem for me. For “to him much is given, much is expected.” (Luke 12:48)

God Bless


#7

[quote=Magnanimity]… he made the comment that it’s not the person who ‘knows’ that the Catholic Church is God’s Church and then rejects it who is condemned. He said that all one has to do is to hear and understand the teachings of the Catholic Church and then reject them and he will be condemned as a result. It seems to me though that he was in error.
[/quote]

You’re right. He was in error.

Simply knowing intellectually what the church teaches, does not mean that a person knows that the church was founded by God for mankinds’ salvation.

Knowing in that sense means that a person knows it to be true, and knowing that it is true, nevertheless makes a conscious decision to reject it.

JimG


#8

[quote=Magnanimity]It seems to be a recognition of the truth of the claims themselves.
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You’ve hit the nail on the head. And of course the person who gives us that knowledge is God…He plants in us a desire for Truth, He waters it, and then at some point He gets tired of waiting for some of us and sits on our hearts hard :smiley: … eventually we figure out He’s calling us, our ensuing search leads us to the Truth of His Church and then there’s no turning back. But there are many in the pews I dare say who’ve been taught all of it but never been through the “God sitting like a lead weight on their heart” part so while they know the teachings they don’t know the Truth of it because it’s never been a challenge for them to accept. If they were tempted in a moment of weakness or tragedy or joy to leave the Church, would God hold that against them? I doubt it. (Not that I claim to know what God would hold against anyone, probably not even against myself, though I try to use my conscience and prayer life to ask Him to keep me with Him). But if it came down to worrying about someone who knew in their heart that the Church was God’s and rejected it vs. someone who had been taught that but left to worship elsewhere, I think the first is going to cease worshipping God at some point in their journey no matter what their intentions upon leaving, whereas the second will probably wander back in at some time in the future.


#9

Hi there:

I wonder how much the thief that Christ promised paradise to actually knew about anything other than his need and the innocence of Christ, when he called out “…remember me when you come into your kingdom…” .

Blessings

Serafin


#10

I am a Protestant, so I am struggling with the notion that salvation is only found in the Catholic Church. I would appreciate some scriptural backing and where to find it that says a person must belong to the Catholic Church in order to obtain salvation. This is a very bold claim and I am not sure that belonging to any Church ensures salvation. In my opinion, Church is a way for the members of the same faith to have fellowship and commit themselves to a deeper understanding of Christ. Going to Church confirms what we believe and why we belive what we do. This in turn deepens our relationship with Christ. Maybe I am missing the point of Church, so any input would be appreciated.


#11

Andrew welcome to these forums brother! Let me try to answer you here, because of what we believe takes place in the Mass, during the consecration the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ, Christ actually being present physically, there is a need to be present for that. To say that there is no salvation outside the Chruch is not correct however…

the information of what is held by the Church about salvation outside the Church can be found here

catholic.com/library/Salvation_Outside_the_Church.asp

let me quote "Notice that the same Fathers who declare the normative necessity of being Catholic also declare the possibility of salvation for some who are not Catholics. "

so here we see that salvation is possible outside the Church, though it does help to have the fullness of Truth held within the one holy Catholic Chruch! Peace!


#12

[quote=JimG]You’re right. He was in error.

Simply knowing intellectually what the church teaches, does not mean that a person knows that the church was founded by God for mankinds’ salvation.

Knowing in that sense means that a person knows it to be true, and knowing that it is true, nevertheless makes a conscious decision to reject it.

JimG
[/quote]

Wow, that’s very interesting. Then it is just as I thought was the case. It’s good to know this now. I mean, it seems fairly clear from the CCC. But this guy I was speaking with seemed usually to know what he was talking about when it came to the teachings of the Church. I guess he threw me for a loop when he said this. I brought up the quote from the Catechism, but he insisted on it nonetheless.

Thanks a lot for sharing, JimG!


#13

[quote=Maggie]You’ve hit the nail on the head. And of course the person who gives us that knowledge is God…He plants in us a desire for Truth, He waters it, and then at some point He gets tired of waiting for some of us and sits on our hearts hard :smiley: … eventually we figure out He’s calling us, our ensuing search leads us to the Truth of His Church and then there’s no turning back. But there are many in the pews I dare say who’ve been taught all of it but never been through the “God sitting like a lead weight on their heart” part so while they know the teachings they don’t know the Truth of it because it’s never been a challenge for them to accept. If they were tempted in a moment of weakness or tragedy or joy to leave the Church, would God hold that against them? I doubt it. (Not that I claim to know what God would hold against anyone, probably not even against myself, though I try to use my conscience and prayer life to ask Him to keep me with Him). But if it came down to worrying about someone who knew in their heart that the Church was God’s and rejected it vs. someone who had been taught that but left to worship elsewhere, I think the first is going to cease worshipping God at some point in their journey no matter what their intentions upon leaving, whereas the second will probably wander back in at some time in the future.
[/quote]

Very insightful Maggie. And you confirm what JimG says. That helps a lot, for my own sake I mean. Thanks for sharing.


#14

[quote=MYSTERIOUS An-D]I am a Protestant, so I am struggling with the notion that salvation is only found in the Catholic Church. .
[/quote]

Good. That’s an important thing to struggle through. Let me just offer what I understand on this issue and other, better instructed Catholics can correct or clarify if I miss anything. It seems to me that the Church is mildly inclusivistic when it comes to salvation. So, the CC is not exclusivistic (as many American Evangelicals are), nor universalist. It’s a middle ground. Metaphysically speaking, Jesus had to die. That is, there had to be something to objectively atone for the sin. But, the question that remains is an epistemic one: do I have to explicitly hear this message in order to be saved. It seems to me that the CC says no in reply to this question. However, there is one question that remains after these even. It’s this: If I do hear the message (the gospel of Jesus Christ), am I responsible for this truth that I hear, or can I still reject it and get off the hook. It seems to me that the Church answers “yes” you are responsible for the truth you receive. And, if part of that truth, an important part, is taht the Catholic Church is the fullness and safeguard of the deposit of faith once for all given to the saints, and a person rejects that all the while recognizing that it is true, then he would be in danger of condemnation.

So, basically, we all have different amounts of “light” that has come from God (Rom. 1, 2). St. Thomas Aquinas had much more light than I, I have much more than my grandmother who will most likely pass before ever learning anything about the Catholic Church, but she (a Southern Christian) has much more than a tribesman in African savannas. And we are only responsible for doing the best with what we’ve been given.

[quote=MYSTERIOUS An-D] This is a very bold claim and I am not sure that belonging to any Church ensures salvation.
[/quote]

But, presumably you would agree that belonging to the Church, the bride of Christ, is essential. Well, that’s the difference. The Catholic Church teaches that it is that Church, not another denomination, but the only branch of Christendom fully accepting the overall “teaching, life and worship” granted to it originally through the apostles. Every other claim to the name of “Christian” to some extent rejects the teaching and/or practice of the one Church. Remember Ephesians 4? There is one faith, one hope, and one baptism, one God who is father of all…there is also one body (of Christ). St. Paul asked, “Is Christ divided?” The obvious answer to which is “no” because He can’t and won’t be.


#15

A note on scriptural support. Although one can point to scripture verses for good support of the paramount nature of the Church (e.g., 1 Tim. 3:15-the Church, not the Bible, is the pillar and foundation of the truth), still the argument is more roundabout. It links in the Sacred Scriptures with historical arguments with the underlying belief in the authority of the Magisterium. Also, the Catholic hears a challenge like the one you give here:

[quote=MYSTERIOUS An-D] I would appreciate some scriptural backing and where to find it that says a person must belong to the Catholic Church in order to obtain salvation…
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…and just thinks to himself “whoever said that everything we believe must be explicitly stated in the Bible? That very idea is not explicitly stated in the Bible.” So, you’re starting your challenge from a fundamentally Protestant presupposition, which a Catholic, naturally, rejects upfront because he has not reason for believing it.


#16

[quote=Magnanimity]Very insightful Maggie. And you confirm what JimG says. That helps a lot, for my own sake I mean. Thanks for sharing.
[/quote]

Coming into the church, I think it’s the first question all of us ask… but what about___??? (pick a person or list of people whose salvation you worry about :wink: ) Most of us converts have been through the process (and the thought process that goes with it :smiley: ) and understand where you’re coming from…


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