Is there salvation out of the Catholic Church?

To whomever this may concern

I have encountered a very touchy subject here on this website. Here is the tread I encountered it’s titled “According to the Catholic Church do Muslims go to heaven?”. This has caused me to contemplate about Islam, and what it means to me and if the answers listed are really true. I was particularly stunned a remark I saw “Outside the Church there is no salvation”. So does this mean that Protestants, too won’t go to heaven? :frowning:

Now, I have had an obsession with the religion Islam for a while now (it’s been about six months or so), and I have learned quite a bit about the religion. One thing that astonished me, was when I learned that Allah, is the same God that I worship. Ever since, I always get this happy feeling when I see a little white cap or headscarf.
Islam has impacted me in such a way that when I wake up in the mornings, I automatically say “Praise Allah, I’m alive”—but always with the trinity in mind.
Because of my encounter with Islam, I
• like the culture
• I refer to God as Allah
• I’m learning Arabic (for travel and a personal goal that I want to achieve)

There have been many misconceptions about Islam, that unfortunately I used to believe: such as Muslim’s believe in jihad (holy wars, to spread Islam), which is so unture, because the Qur’an forbids forcing people to convert. Yes there were jihads in early Islamic days, but like the Crusaders, this was not a happy part of their religion’s history.

Often, I hear (or mostly read) the phrase: “The only way to heaven is through Christ.”
I, personally think that God won’t judge us, whether we believe in HIM as trinity or not–as long as you’re belonging to the three monotheistic religions. Muslims agree that Jews, Christians and Muslims will enter Paradise/Heaven/Jannah, and someone gave me reference to this verse from the Qur’an: Al-Baqarah Chapter 2 : Verse 63
“Surely, those who believe and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians - which ever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” – is Christian and Catholic doctrine similar?

I heard from a friend of mine who is a SDA (Seventh-day Adventist) that the ONLY way is through Christ, but if you’ve never been exposed to Christ, then God will judge you by the way you worshipped your god(s).

Moreover, Pope John II was the first pope to pray at a mosque and he even kissed the Qur’an! Surely this means that Islam has significance to the John Paul II.– this event has made me delve deeper into Islam, and I still believe that Muslims WILL go to Heaven with the Christians and the Jews.

I understand that that not everyone posting on this website is an expert, or even knows what they are saying, but the tread has really got me thinking and has muddled up my thoughts. This is why I am posting in the “Ask an apologetic” section.

I thank you for you time and energy in answering my question–I’ll really appreciate it.


In Christ

I can’t respond to the poll the way you have phrased it. “Some” muslims “can” go to heaven, but not because of their Muslim faith. Only because they live a life consistent to some degree with the teachings of Christ, even if they aren’t aware of it, and that teaching is passed on by the Church of Christ which is fully subsumed in the Catholic Church. So, even their salvation is not “outside the church” but rather comes from it.

The best answer to your question is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The principle of invincible ignorance also plays a role here. Catholicism believes that all salvation is through the Church, but one does not have to be a physical member of the Church. However, participation in the Sacraments of the Church surely helps. Further, Catholics are held more responsible since they are given the fullness of truth. The Catechism elaborates upon many of these points.

Pope John Paul II was not expressing his belief in the religion of Islam by praying in a mosque (also in a synagogue and at the Western Wall), but rather the idea that Muslims, like Jews, worship the one G-d that Catholics and other Christians worship.

I voted no thinking that the poll question was “Is there salvation outside the Catholic Church?” I assumed that the poll question was the same as the title of the thread. All well. That said, I do not believe that Muslims will go to Heaven if they know the truth of Christianity and yet reject it anyway. I also believe that Muslim terrorists will not go to Heaven. Now, as for those who have never heard of Jesus Christ and still try to serve God to the best of their ability and follow their consciences as best they can, I do believe they have a chance of going to Heaven. However, I will leave that judgment ultimately up to God.

I brought this up in another thread, but, IMHO, you’re asking us to “prove a negative.” I could always claim that any virtuous Muslim (and the vast majority, if not nearly all, Muslims are virtuous) was sacramentally baptized in his/her infancy, or perhaps (per Saint Thomas), “sanctified in the womb.” I could also claim that these Muslims have received (or will receive) “salutary repentance” at death’s door. I could also claim “universal salvation,” which has never been condemned by the Catholic Church, which means that every human being, without exception, will be reconciled to the One and Triune God through the God Incarnate Himself, Jesus Christ.

The rule of thumb is that we don’t really know the boundires of the Church! Jesus never set them, other then that He has no boundries, for He is the Universal King, and the Church is His body.

To be honest, I’m a (not so deep in the closet) closet universalist of sorts (which is, I believe, heretical, but I’m willing to risk it!). I happen to believe that God really does want to share Himself with all humanity. He has shown, in the life of Jesus, that He is prepared to go to extreme lengths to acquire our salvation, and if this involves the Church having members that we don’t know about, then who are we to argue?

Muslims MAY be saved in that it is possible, but all are saved through Christ.

One cannot show a canon against universal salvation. It would have been very easy to compose:

If anyone says that all men will be saved, let him be anathema.

Whoever thinks all Muslims will automatically go to Hell simply for being Muslim, is severely mistaken.

Some Muslims go to Heaven, some go to Hell… same with every religion, including Catholicism.

Muslims reject Christ so how can they go to Heaven?

Although babies and children cannot reject Christ and remember some areas in the world they won’t teach about Christ so they cannot reject Him.

Reject Christ = Reject Heaven!

If we see what the catechism says, we see that there is certainly room for Muslims in heaven:

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.”

“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:

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

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

I will note more specifically in the cased of non-Catholic Christians that the Catholic Church recognises the validity of other Christian baptisms. As such, all bapstised Christians are part of the Church, whether they like it or not. They are referred to as “separated brethren”, but brethren nonetheless.

Non-baptised Christians would presumably need to rely on invincible ignorance to overcome their lack of baptism (ie an ignorance of its necessity), and this is certainly possible too.

Dear @Underacloud you have answered my question beautifully. Thanks so much.

Based on what youhave said about theChurch’s Catechism on Islam (somewhere in your first paragraph–sorry I can’t get the quote to come out right)

I have come to the conclusion that I’ll be seeing Muslims in the blissfullness of Heaven one day :smiley:

I am going to do my own research on John Paul II to see his opinions on Islam and other religions in general.

The plan of salvation includes all human beings, “For God so loved the World…” Still, will there be “Muslims” in Heaven? No, absolutely not; only Catholics will be in Paradise who “unless before death they are joined with Her…within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” An ecumenical Council of the Church (Florence) could not have been more clear. The CCC acknowledges this, albeit, politely:

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibilityof being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

Of course, it is Baptism which makes one a member of the Church:

1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: “Therefore . . . we are members one of another.” Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”

And all he did was quote the Catechsim. :wink: The Catechism is a great go-to source. Many of the question we ask are answered in the Catechism, and are answered beautifully. I always recommend going to it often. :thumbsup:

The way I see it, the one guaranteed way we know of to enter Heaven is through the Catholic Church.

Can people of other faiths wash upon the shores of Purgatory? Who knows. But to be honest, it isn’t worth debating outside purely academic musings.

At this moment, we have the chance to bring everyone around us into the Catholic fold. It’s our responsibility to do so, and a true act of love.

So the more productive question might be: what’s the best way to introduce Catholicism to my Muslim (or Protestant or Buddhist or Zoroasterian) friend/co-worker/acquaintance?

Baptism is required, yes. But the Church recognises baptism in several different forms (baptism of desire for example). Regardless, this was addressed in the section I quoted:

**847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337 **

Salvation is definitely possible for those who have not been formally baptised with water in the traditional sense. Baptism of desire is understood to mean that there are those who would receive baptism if they knew the truth. There are other interpretations of baptism outside of the traditional sense too. When I have more time, I’ll be happy to find the relevant teaching on this matter, although the above quote should be sufficient to cover the issue in general.

Point is that one cannot choose not to be sacramentally Baptized. In this sense, Baptism is not “optional.”

There is a germ of truth in this, but it needs to be unpacked because it’s phrased in an extremely reckless way.

What we mean when we say there is no salvation outside the Church is the same thing we mean when we say that cats have four legs or men are taller than women. We’re not saying every single cat has four legs or that every single man is taller than every single woman; likewise, we’re not saying that every single Catholic is saved and every single non-Catholic is not saved. We’re making a normative statement, not a universal one. Cats normatively have four legs (i.e., it’s a deviation from the norm to see a three-legged cat) and men are normatively taller than women (i.e., a randomly selected sample of men will have a higher mean height than a similarly selected sample of women most of the time). Likewise, the Church is normatively the means by which people achieve salvation.

In other words, salvation through the Church is the “ordinary form” of salvation.

This doesn’t rule out extraordinary forms of salvation. Maybe Christ appears to some souls after death to offer them sacraments, pleased with the meritoriousness of their lives. Maybe. But we can’t rely on it, precisely because it’s extraordinary, i.e., out of the ordinary. It is safer to assume such things never happen than it is to assume that they always happen.

Yes, individual Muslims can, in theory, be saved. But those of them who are saved are saved despite Islam, not because of it. They can be saved only by that unlikely “extraordinary form” of salvation. And this is because Islam is an impediment to their salvation, especially because it vociferously denies Christ’s godhood.

When one says something like “Some Muslims go to Heaven, some go to Hell… same with every religion, including Catholicism,” one flirts dangerously with indifferentism, i.e., God doesn’t care about religion. This is simply false. God established His church on Earth to act as authoritative minister of the Redemption and steward of the treasury of graces won by Christ. Peter was given the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, not Mohammed, not Luther, not Henry VIII. When a Catholic goes to Hell, it’s because he was not Catholic enough. When a non-Catholic goes to Heaven, it’s because he was more Catholic than his religion required/needed him to be.

Again, the Church is the ordinary means of salvation, and the only one known to us on Earth.

This means the OP’s question needs to be unpacked carefully, as well. When he asks “Do you think Muslims go to Heaven?”, he seems to be asking a normative question: i.e., do Muslims ordinarily go to Heaven? The answer is absolutely no, and it borders on heresy to say otherwise. If, on the other hand, he is asking “Is it possible for Muslims to go to Heaven?” the answer is tautologically “yes.”

Wait, the majority of Muslims are virtuous? This is an extremely generous appraisal. It cannot even be attributed to Catholics. The Church fathers were pretty unanimous in their belief that even most Christians go to Hell. Now I know quite a few living saints in the Church, but I also know many, many unrepentant sinners and heretics, who reject the Church’s truth and arrogantly set themselves up in Peter’s throne.

Perhaps what you mean is that nearly all Muslims have at least some virtue, which is pretty much tautologically true. But, sadly, their religion is an impediment to the full realization of their virtue, particularly the theological virtues (and especially the theological virtue of faith, given their denial of Christ).

Two quick notes to add onto this. First, the unbaptized don’t need to rely on ignorance. It suffices for one simply to desire baptism.

Invincible ignorance protects those who don’t about baptism at all – and it protects them only from sins against the theological virtue of faith, which requires revelation. Natural human goods require no revelation to understand, so not having read Thomas Aquinas is generally no excuse for murdering someone. Meaning yes, it is possible for someone to be ignorant of the Church entirely but still commit mortal sin and so to go to Hell.

Invincible ignorance is a very high hurdle to clear, as I see it. I suspect most Muslims do not satisfy it, having heard of Christ and simply rejected Him out of hand.

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