Salvation and the Church

[quote=Rand Al’Thor]Peace be with you!

I am writing this in response to some things that USMC stated in the suicide thread. I see that you are a believer in the “no salvation outside the Catholic Church” teaching.

Your mistake in this assertion lies in not taking the teaching in context with its development. It has always been a teaching of the Church, true, and has not changed, but it has been developed to a better understanding. It was once taught that one had to be a part of the Catholic Church to be saved. It is now taught that one must be part of the catholic Church to be saved. Note the use of upper- and lower-case on the word “catholic”. While before it was understood as meaning the Catholic Church (the actual institution). Now it is understood to mean that to be saved one must be part of the UNIVERSAL Church (taking the word “catholic” at its true meaning).
[/quote]

Rand (or anybody),

Regarding the part of your paragraph that says it was once taught that to be saved one had to be part of the upper-case “C” Catholic Church to be saved, does this mean it was taught that one had to be visibly united with the Catholic Church (Church Militant) in their life, before their death, to be saved, without any exceptions (like infants or those brought up in heresy or paganism)? If so, wouldn’t the current teaching of the Church be a contradition of that, seeing as we believe God can lead the invincibly ignorant to the Catholic faith after death?

One must be united to the Catholic Church to be saved. This has been expressly defined by the Council of Florence and this Church is the one united to the Pope (as was defined explicitly by Pope Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctam).

When we are Baptised, we are incorporporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, the one Catholic Church–this includes all valid Baptisms as well as both explicit and implicit Baptism by desire. It is the mortal sins of heresy, schism, and apostacy that separate us from the Church. Therefore, those who are not mortally culpable for these sins, yet have Batismal grace, are united to the Church and can be saved. (of course, only God can judge this culpability and/or whether someone has that desire for Baptism).

There is only one Church, there are not two Churches, a Catholic and a catholic–that is a protestant invention. There is one–when people leave the Church through the sins I mentioned above, they do not take a piece of the Church with them–they separate from her.

I hope that helps.:slight_smile:

Put in terms of the theology of the Body:
If one is not united to the Church, the Bride of Christ, then how can one receive the life that the Bridegroom freely gives to the Bride.

As the two become one flesh in the marital union, so the Bride and Bridegroom become one through the consummation of the cross in the Eucharist and the re-birth through the water and blood which flowed from Him.

If one is not united to the bride, the Church, then one does not receive the life giving total gift of the groom. That is what it means to share in the divine nature (2Pet 1:4).

There is no way to share in the divine nature unless we are united to the bride.

I realize this, what I’m trying to find out is if at one point in Church history it was taught that there is no such thing as an “implicit baptism” which it sometimes looks like from the Papal Quotes presented by, among others, USMC, that more or less say one must be part of the One, Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church to be saved.

I’m not talking about two churches, I’m talking about two dimensions of the Church- the visible Church Militant v. the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Triumphant in Heaven.

And when I say “be a part of the One, Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church” I mean in as in become a baptized, registered member of the Roman Catholic Church, completely visibly united with it during your life on earth.

Sorry, the three dimensions of the Church. Also, differentiating between them as “catholic” and “Catholic” may have been an improper discrimination on my part. Its just that I’ve seen other Catholics on these forums do the same thing. But this leads me to another question: does the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” in the Apostles creed refer to the visible institution, or the invisible unity of the members of the visible institution, or both?

[quote=CollegeKid] completely visibly united with it during your life on earth.
[/quote]

This begs the question, visible to whom, to God or to us?
Is everything that is visible to God, also visible to us?

[quote=CollegeKid]I realize this, what I’m trying to find out is if at one point in Church history it was taught that there is no such thing as an “implicit baptism” which it sometimes looks like from the Papal Quotes presented by, among others, USMC, that more or less say one must be part of the One, Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church to be saved.
[/quote]

There is what is known as the objective and subjective orders. Objectively, in order to be saved a person must be united visibly to the Catholic Church. They must be a fully baptized “card carrying” Catholic. That is the objective truth and what the dogmas often quoted teach.

However, subjectively, it is possible for a person to be united to the Church without being visibly united. This is not the norm, but it is possible.

It is possible based on the interior disposition and knowledge of the person. For example, a child that was baptized in a heretical Church, as long as that baptism was valid, is a member of the Church, even though it doesn’t appear so.

Likewise, it is possible for an adult who, following the actual graces given him, believes in the two necessary articles of faith - the Trinity and Incarnation - rejects no dogmas of the Catholic faith, and has been baptized (either by water or desire); if they have, in addition to their faith, perfect contrition (which is a supernatural gift of God) and remission of their sins, they can be united to the Church spiritually. Of couse, only God know who such people are. “Man seeth the things that appear, but God beholds the heart”.

I will explain why the Church, prior to 1960, did not place too much emphasis on the subjective level, but rather taught the objective truth.

For one, when the focus is placed on the subjective it leads to confusion for those who are now well grounded in the finer points of Catholic theology. They hear that it is possible for a person who is not a formal member of the Church to be saved, and they think the Church no longer teaches what it used to teach.

In my opinion, focusing on the subjective leads first to confusion, and finally to a denial of the objective truth. I will give an example of how it works in the form of a discussion between two people. We will use abortion as our topic.

*Question: Is abortion a mortal sin?

Answer: Of course it is. It is the taking of a human life and a great evil before God. Of course it is a mortal sin!

Question: Oh, really? So are you saying that a women living in China who is forced to have an abortion is committing a mortal sin? She was forced!

Answer: Well, no I am not saying that…

Question: So you admit that abortion is not always a mortal sin. And in fact, depending on the circumstances there may be no sin at all, right?

Answer: Well, I guess, if they were forced… but…

Question: But what about fear, or a nervous disorder. The Church teaches that fear or nervous disorders can diminish the cuplability of the sin. And also, you know, there has to be full deliberation for the sin to be mortal, and they must know it is wrong. Many of the young girls do not know how bad it is. Are you saying that they are all guilty of a mortal sin?

Answer: Well, I’m not saying that. I understand that we have to fully know we are doing wrong for it to be a mortal sin; and I know that the Church teaches that fear, or nervousness, can dimimish our guilt… I have heard that … but…

Question: So you admit that abortion is not always a mortal sin, and in fact, given the fear these girls are experiencing in being pregnant at a young age, and how this fear, anxiety and nervousness is clouding their better judgment, wouldn’t you admit that abortion is probably rarely ever a mortal sin?

Answer: I don’t know? I’m not sure… I can’t say for sure.

Question: So, let me again ask you: Is abortion a mortal sin or not?

Answer: I guess it all depends on the circumstances.*

See how it works? At first the person was certain the abortion was a mortal sin, but after the questioner began to place the focus on the subjective state of the person, they weren’t too sure.

The answer is: Abortion is always an objective mortal sin.

The exact same tactic used in the example above regarding abortion, has been used to undermine the doctrines of the Catholic faith. And that is precisely why the majority of Catholics today reject the dogma that outside the Church there is no salvation. It is due to an over emphasis on the subjective, to the exclusion of the objective. And this sme tactic is being used in other areas of the Church and world to undermine the truth.

There is an article titled “Deception under the appearance of good”, by Harold Welitz. You ought to look it up online and read it. It discusses and exposes this tactic pretty well.

i beleive that the Church makes a distinction between “grave sin” and mortal sin.

For a sin to be mortal it must be:
grave matter
full knowledge
consent of the will.

Someone can commit a grave sin, but if they do so forcibly, then they may not have consent of the will.

All mortal sins are grave sins. However, depending upon the circumstances not all grave sins make the person culpable of commiting a mortal sin.

Perhaps this distinction needs to be made.
However, I do agree that we cannot simply water-down the faith to assume that grave sins are not mortal.

That is why the Church says that if anyone is conscious of “grave sin” that they need to confess before participating in communion.
This is because the priest can help to discern whether the grave sin was mortal or not. And in either case, the sin can be forgiven in the confessional.

In short, we should catechize based on the norm, not the exception. Sometimes, too much exception is placed on the Baptism of desire nowadays, and membership in the CHurch by desire which is seen as the exception not the norm.

If we presume that most everyone is in the Church by desire, then we may very well be guilty of presumption, which gives people false assurances.

To add to these great comments, I recall from St. Augustine that being united to the Church is chiefly in the heart.

Thus, someone might be visibly a member, but in fact not united (hypocrites), and some may not be visibly united, but in their hearts they may have all the dispositions needed for it.

There are two dimensions of the Church because there is an exterior hierarchy of governance and judgment and sacrament; but there is an interior life also. And any who are not visibly united must still obtain their salvation on account of the visible Church, and be united to it by desire.

hurst

[quote=Dan-Man916]i beleive that the Church makes a distinction between “grave sin” and mortal sin.

For a sin to be mortal it must be:
grave matter
full knowledge
consent of the will.

Someone can commit a grave sin, but if they do so forcibly, then they may not have consent of the will.

[/quote]

This is dealing with the objective and subjective levels. I think what you are referring to is “grave matter”.

A sin that is “grave matter” is an objective mortal sin.

But to be subjectively guilty of a mortal sin the three conditions you mentioned must be present.

But a person can commit a mortal sin even if the sinful matter is not grave. For example if a person believed it was Sunday, when it was really Saturday, and decided not to attend Mass, the person would be guilty of a mortal sin, even though the “matter” was not sinful in itself. If would be a mortal sin because the person subjectively believed it was a sin.

Thanks to all who responded. USMC and Hurst, your replies cleared a lot of things up. Hurst, correct me if I’m wrong, but what I got from you is that if we are adults we are primarily united to the visible Church through our hearts-by believing everything the Church teaches and acting accordingly.

USMC,

We’re probably quibbling over words, when i think we mean the same thing.

[quote=CollegeKid] Hurst, correct me if I’m wrong, but what I got from you is that if we are adults we are primarily united to the visible Church through our hearts-by believing everything the Church teaches and acting accordingly.
[/quote]

Yes.

I am reminded of a certain passage from the Dialogue regarding those in religious orders.

Such a one is indeed in the ship of the order in body, and not in mind; he has quitted it in desire, not observing the regulations or customs of the order, nor the three vows which he promised to observe at the time of his profession; he swims in the tempestuous sea, tossed to and fro by contrary winds, fastened only to the ship by his clothes, wearing the religious habit on his body but not on his heart. Such a one is no friar, but a masquerader, a man only in appearance. His life is lower than an animal’s, and he does not see that he labors more swimming with his arms, than the good religious in the ship, or that he is in danger of eternal death; for if his clothes should be suddenly torn from the ship, which will happen at the moment of death, he will have no remedy. No, he does not see, for he has darkened his light with the cloud of self-love, whence has come his disobedience, which prevents him seeing his misery, wherefore he miserably deceives himself. … He gladly escapes from the chapter-house when he can through fear of penance. When he is obliged to be there, he is covered with shame and confusion for the faults which he felt it no shame to commit. What is the cause of this? Disobedience. He does not watch in prayer, and not only does he omit mental prayer, but even the Divine office to which he is obliged. He has no fraternal charity, because he loves no one but himself, and that not with a reasonable but with a bestial love. So great are the evils which fall on the disobedient; so many are the fruits of sorrow which he produces, that your tongue could not relate them. Oh! disobedience, which deprives the soul of the light of obedience, destroying peace, and giving war! Disobedience destroys life and gives death, drawing the religious out of the ship of the observance of his order, to drown him in the sea, making him swim in the strength of his own arms, and not repose on those of the order. Disobedience clothes him with every misery, causes him to die of hunger, taking away from him the food of the merit of obedience, it gives him continual bitterness, depriving him of every sweetness and good, causing him to dwell with every evil in life it gives him the earnest of cruel torments to endure, and if he do not amend before his clothes are loosened from the ship at death, disobedience will lead the soul to eternal damnation, together with the devils who fell from heaven, because they rebelled against Me. In the same way have you, oh! disobedient man, having rebelled against obedience and cast from you the key which would have opened the door of heaven, opened instead the door of hell with the key of disobedience."

The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena (p.129-131)
catholicprimer.org/catherine/catherine_dialog.pdf

So, being a visible member affords one many opportunities to secure salvation, but it is to no avail if the heart is not in it.

hurst

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.