Numb, devastated, and alone

In Elaine pagels book “Why religion” she talks about when she was a teen a friend of hers who was Jewish, died in a car crash. She says her evangelical friends who with she was going to church said that her friend was in hell because he didn’t accept Jesus. She writes “those people belonged to a club where they felt spirtually superior to people who believed things other than they did. I felt numb, devastated and alone. I left the church and never came back.”
When I heard those lines (it’s audiobook so forgive any misquotes), it struck me how I feel the same way. When I first realized the church home I once loved kept God out by denying the faith outsides it’s walls and which viewed my own journey with suspicion, I knew it was over and there would never be a real coming back.

Of course it’s not that simple that all Christans think non-christains are hell bound. The Catholic Church has a very nuanced view and there are many good movements and thinkers within Catholicism and within Christanity as a whole that push back against exclusivity.
However, the apostolic traditon of orthodoxy is fundemently doctrinal and inevitably leads to exclusivity. So I find though I may still sit in the pew, I’ve already left and I’m not coming back.

The Church is very clear in Her teaching, part of the Catechism:

The Church and non-Christians

839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325

The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329

840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

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."330

842 The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331
843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332

Snip for space limits


I mean Christ is the judge, we aren’t. The Catholic church has never condemned anyone to hell, they have made people saints. Does that mean everyone who dies is going to heaven? No.
Does that mean those that arent Christian are all going to hell? No, God decides. Jesus states that he is the only one that we can go through to get to the Father in heaven. Pretty harsh, but its Jesus saying that, not me. But again, heaven or hell isnt for us to decide its up to Jesus. All we can do is pray for those who have died.


Well, look on the bright side: it looks like you reached a stage where you can LITERALLY survive without having meaningful interactions with OTHER humans.

I understand that this sounds like something an “elite liberal” would say, who is PRIMARILY focused on your financial well-being, and it IS. However, the line between “mental health issues” and physical wellness is not always clear-cut. If I were in your position, I would keep participating in CAF, since there may be people here who can solve AT LEAST SOME of your problems.

Lest we forget, there are at least some who believe Jesus spoke out against those who were intent on maintaining outward appearances of wealth and purity!!!

Actually, heaven or hell IS up to us to decide. We decide, every moment of every day in this life, to accept or to reject Jesus. When we die, God honors the choice we made.


It is, I meant as in those we see everyday in our lives. We choose to love God or not.

Non Catholics can get into heaven.

But it’s way harder. Out of mercy we need to try and lead everyone into Christ’s church to save as many souls as possible rather than leaving it up to extraordinary circumstances.

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I’ve also struggled with this and still do, and in no way am I telling you how to feel, but I don’t think its spirituality superiority.

I believe the Catholic Church is right, but it’s right not just I believe in or I enjoy it. I’m an awful Catholic and at times wish it was faith alone, and that I couldn’t lose my salvation( Although I would miss the Eucharist too much)

This isn’t about being pharisees even if some people make it that way. But there are huge theological differences that Catholic believe are so central to Salvation that to let’s say some protestant churches isn’t even in the top 5. (Again Eucharist)
If all ways are equal to God, why pick the hard one? Why pick the uncomfortable one?

That being said I understand where you are coming from. The explanation for the theological reasons are true, but it doesn’t change how much we want to see everyone get into heaven. That’s why we must pray for them, offer our days for them, and try to always leave that faith for open.

I’ve heard people say the Catholic Church isn’t a hotel for saints but a hospital for sinners. That can’t be any more true. We aren’t the elite, we are the broken trying to put ourselves back together.

The Catholic Church is the right church, there’s no getting around it. But it’s not a us vs them situation or at least it shouldn’t be. There are rules to get in of course which are necessary but the Catholic church isn’t closed off to anyone or a secret antidote only a few people know about. It’s for the whole world. That’s why we are Catholic

I should mention I’m not a expert on the teaching of salvation outside the church, and was trying to focus more on the exclusivity part at the end. Sorry I’m a rambler!


When I imagine God judging those who are outside the Catholic Church, I imagine His searching their hearts to see if they would have been baptized and would have lived in submission to the Church had they known or understood that this was necessary.

Did they love goodness? Did they strive to be good?

God judges with perfect mercy and perfect justice. For us, that is hard to imagine, but I think since God knows everything about us and can see into our hearts, that He can manage the perfect mercy and perfect justice… and that in a way, these become not opposites but almost the same.

The Church has never forbidden us to pray for the souls of those outside the Church.

Could it be that the adherence to orthodoxy that you see is more a concern that the path be kept well-understandable rather than a desire for exclusivity?

One that attains a state of sanctifying grace by the time of death is not excluded from the Mystical Body Of Christ after death. There is no salvation apart from a salvific union with the Catholic Church, and “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” (Lumen Gentium, 16). Yet those that know the Gospel of Christ or his Church and have willfully rejected it such that the state of grace is lost, at their death, will not see heaven.


Having found your way to the Catholic faith and discerned the Church has a rational (calling it nuanced may be doing it a disservice) posture on salvation, my plea would be to continue to pursue the truth without discarding where it has led you so far. The bottom line with regard to salvation is not inclusivity or exclusivity - but rather Truth. All Truth is “revealed”. In the nature of our relationship with God all humanity operates somewhere on the spectrum from culpable ignorance to invincible ignorance. To have faith one must encounter Him who IS. Everything else flows from that encounter.
God Bless


There may be truth in the old saying…let go…and let God. If the Church, with all of it’s doctrines, and dogmas is standing between you and God, then let them go.

Take the weight of doubt off of your shoulders, and let Christ carry it. Put everything else aside, and trust…through whatever people will say…just trust.

Though they may say that you’ve lost your soul…have faith, that’s all that you’ve ever been asked for.

So do you have a question? Or were you making a comment? :slightly_smiling_face:

I personally never despair of anyone’s salvation, even when the person died under very bad circumstances.

I’m sorry you’re so hurting. :confused: The spiritual journey sometimes takes us to painful places, and I’ll remember you in my prayers .

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It seems to me that people who grew up in the church often come to a point where they say, ‘ya, I’m out of here’. Often they have a problem with people in the pews. I can see that. I’ve been to a few parishes over the years and have met remarkable people of faith. I also found that every parish had people who seemed to go out of their way to rub people the wrong way. Like an anti-apostle.

I did not grow up in the church. I lived with a parent that was an alcoholic and carried resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. I came into the church in my 20’s and I was sooo happy and excited that there was a God and he loved me. That Jesus died on the cross for me. It was the best news of my life. It turned my life upside down. It was like living in a dark place of shadows and then one day stepping out, for the first time into sunlight and seeing color.

You and I have the choice to impact the world for good. To grab onto Jesus’ hand every morning and ask Him to bring down a blessing, upon your family, your neighborhood, the whole world. We need saints today. We need people who know how to do the ordinary things and turn them into a force for good. This is why we are here, today. That’s what I wish for you. It’s our time.

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years ago i talked to someone who was not Catholic, so didn’t take her advice too seriously. i complained to her about this and that that is wrong in hte Church, can’t recall what that was at that time but she said

take the meat, leave the bones

I’m thankful she didn’t say what some protestants would say" Get the heck out of there. It’s satan’s church!" or something to that effect

so anyway, when it comes to the Church… well, when she first said that, i kind of rolled my eyes inwardly telling myself she just doesn’t u/stand bc not catholic

but in hindsight i say she is right on the money

I have learned (the hard way of course ) that you HAVE To take the meat and leave the bones, in ANY “church”

even THE Chuch Christ founded, the Cahtolic Chuch

I think I am borrowing this analogy from CS Lewis… Your post seems to say that the exclusivity of Christianity bothers you. Perhaps think of it this way. Let’s say that there is a horrible fatal disease plaguing you. Many people claim to have a cure, but none of the cures give more than a 20% chance of curing you. And then someone comes along and has a cure that is 100% effective. If I had been cured by this 100% method, and I was trying to convince you to give it a try, I might make really strong statements, like “all those other cures are worthless!” What seems like exclusivity to you, may really be tremendous enthusiasm on the part of those who have tried it and have found it to be revolutionary in their lives, unlike anything else they’ve tried.


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