Salvation Outside the church


I am having a hard time getting my mind around the concept of salvation outside the Catholic church. Catholics have the “fullness” of the faith and therefore the keys to salvation, so to speak, belong exclusively to the one church Christ founded, the Catholic church.

There are exceptions, as I understand them, where people outside the church may be saved. Two examples given are the baptism on blood and baptism of desire. In point of fact these are the ONLY two examples given. Okay fair enough. This is still pretty straight forward.

Now where things get tricky for me. To be considered as being part of the “body of Christ” requires a valid baptism, not a Catholic baptism per se but a validly performed baptism which, as we know, can occur in almost any main stream protestant church. Okay, then that begs the question as to whether those within the protestant communions have salvation. They are outside the church and thus identify with a schismatic group and logically give up the rights to salvation since they are, in effect, in protest of all or part of the catholic teachings. However, they have a valid baptism which brings them into the body of Christ.

For arguments sake, let’s say a person was born into a devotely Christian family, say Southern Baptist. This person is raised in the Christian faith, reads the Bible like it’s their job, attends church two-three times per week and follows all the commandments. This person, like their parents, is devote in all they know and don’t give much thought about other denominations, much less the Catholic church. This person is validly baptised at age thirteen.

How would the Catholic church view the salvation of this person?
For this thread, I am not interested in the protestant view of their own salvation only that of how the Catholic church views protestant salvation. Thanks in advance for the help!

Reeeeaaaady GO!:slight_smile:


Extra Ecclasiam nulla salus (No salvation ouside the Church) has been a truth proclaimed by multitudes of Church Fathers & Saints, Church councils and Popes, and the Bible.

God Himself is very clear on this…

John 6:53-54
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”


The Catholic church (catechism 841) teaches too that Muslims are included in God’s plan of salvation for they profess the same faith of Abraham. They also teach that through no fault of one’s own, if never exposed to the gospel, people, if they led the best life they could, could receive salvation.

But for those never exposed directly to the gospel, God’s laws are written in our hearts. Both Hebrews 8 and Romans 11 affirm this.

A protestant perspective and the Bible say that outside of Jesus there’s no salvation. (various scripture passage affirm this).

Let’s leave the judgement up to Jesus according to God’s will. I’m sure we can all lead a more Godly life.


Obviously, God is the judge of all, but we’re called to proclaim the Gospel. If we don’t, then we’ll be held accountable. We can’t ignore a truth that’s been proclaimed by the Church for 2,000 years (Extra Ecclasiam Nulla Salus), just so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings. That’s not true Christian charity.


I look at the Baptism of Cornelius. The story shows that a righteous Gentile could be saved. It is the story of Peter being given a vision of all the food that Jews considered unclean. He is then led to the house of Cornelius. Cornelius is overcome by the Holy Spirit just as the Apostles had been at Pentecost.
Moving to present time, we who have been grafted to the vine through our membership in the Catholic Church would be like the Jews of Apostolic times. Those outside the Church are modern day Gentiles. If Cornelius who was not a Jew could be saved, so can they.
It also needs to be noted that the Catholic Church does recognize the validity of Trinitarian Baptisms regardless of denomination. This may be because Baptism does not need a priest (Apostle) in order for the Baptism to be valid. In a life and death emergency, any Christian may baptize.:twocents:


Thanks for the comments so far. I am trying to get a strict Catholic perspective on salvation outside the church however so let’s try to stay focused.:slight_smile: Specifically, how can a valid baptism in a protestant church leave one without salvation? Seems counter intuitive. Please no protestant responses…we can assume you believe you will have salvation. I am trying to understand the Catholic position. Thanks again and please keep the comments coming!:thumbsup:


Do we ever have a contradiction here. According to the Catechism 841, Muslims are part of God’s plan of salvation for they claim to profess the same faith of Abraham. But since the reformation movement, protestants were considered heretics, which put them outside the “one true church.”


Let us take a closer look at 841 shall we.

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

The key word here is acknowledgement of a creator. For once the Muslim got the belief that there one Creator. This is true because there is indeed One Creator God. Muslims are the descendent of Ishmael and they do hold faith concerning Abrahamic faith. Their belief in singular God is very clear. However, the theological difference ends regarding the nature of God.

The Catholic Church has not fully accept the beliefs set forth by the Muslims. Their denial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and other issues are indeed contrary to the orthodox Christian belief.

I also like to keep in mind that you can’t use CCC 841 to justify that those outside the Church can be saved without considering the other citation.

CCC 846, 847,and 848 affirms this and is more clear than 841.

Let me quote it them:

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? 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**.

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.

848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”

Basically 846, 847, and 848 that God can work outside the sacraments of his Church and God alone can move Non-Christians to move through his faith and hopefully that these individuals will be converted and realized that the One True Church is the Catholic Church. That is why the Church has an duty to evangelize all men to bring them into the fullness of Truth, which can only be found in the Catholic Church.

Those who die due through no fault of their own, God can save them by reading their hearts, and by truly be repentent of their sins. God does not refuse a contrite heart. He gives mercy to those who ask of it.


Here is the Catholic position: There is no salvation outside the Church. Reformulated positively, this means that anyone, if he is saved, is saved through the Catholic Church, whether formal Catholics, or individuals who in their earthly lifetimes were not formally received into the Church.

By baptism we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ; that is, the Church. The Church has both a visible and an invisible nature, however, with the Mystical being the invisible (the “spiritual side” or the “conduits of grace,” so to speak) and the visible being Her corporate structure, i.e., those hierarchy and laity in communion with the Roman Pontiff, and also the sacraments.

Someone who is validly baptized in a protestant community thus has a certain but imperfect communion or connection to/with the Church by virtue of the Church’s Mystical nature, by being incoporated into that nature.

Because the Catholic Church is the one, true Church however, all are objectively bound to join and remain in her in the fullness which can only be found in formal/corporate union with her- joining the Church, self-identifying as a Catholic, attending Mass, going to Confession, etc.

Because of invisible ignorance on the part of some persons, however, these individuals may subjectively be guilty of something less than mortal sin if they do not join the Church in their earthly lifetimes.

This could apply for the protestant person you mentioned. If he dies in a state of grace, this means that his invincible ignorance was effective to the degree that at his death his imperfect connection to the Church sufficed so as to allow him to be saved through the Church, i.e., to be Catholic.

However, the situation you proposed is hypothetical and honestly none of us can say whether a real deceased person is saved (except canonized Saints), much less a hypothetical person, because there are always possible factors we don’t know about which may increase or decrease that person’s culpability for not joining the Church. All we can make is the objective statement that if they die in mortal sin they cannot be saved.


Thanks for posting this.


There is no salvation outside the church. Therefore, everyone who is saved, is in the church, somehow, someway. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re formally members of the Catholic church.


Your welcome.


This is what I said two posts ago regarding the Catholic perspective. Extra Ecclasiam Nulla Salus then is made void by the very catechism passages quoted.

What we do know is that God did wrote his law in everyone’s heart. Thus they are subject to the law too with their conscience as their witness. We do know though various Bible passages that Christ is the only way. But we are not to judge those, but to spread the gospel through the great commissioning.

Drop the idea as the “Catholic church” being the one true church. Catholic was never used by Jesus. This was Catholic church fathers who adopted that term.


I disagree. I don’t believe it was made void. I would think that would be your mere opinion. The Catechism cannot be pick and choose. You have to connect the dots, how CCC 841 is connected to 846, 847, & 848.

What we do know is that God did wrote his law in everyone’s heart. Thus they are subject to the law too with their conscience as their witness.

They are. I was listening and reading the Catechism that God created man, he instill in the heart of men, to seek him, know him, and love him. This inner calling is deep, and thus can move mankind to follow the will of God.

One can hope that the grace of God can move non-Catholic Christians to seek the Lord.

We do know though various Bible passages that Christ is the only way. But we are not to judge those, but to spread the gospel through the great commissioning.

Thus the Catechism basing itself Sacred Scripture and Tradition ought to evangelize those who seek conversion. We can’t force people to convert. We can preach the Gospel truth, and implant the inner seed in them so that God’s grace can move them to seek him.


If you find yourself in heaven it will have been through the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church that Jesus founded for this very reason and you will be catholic.


When the Son of Man comes, everyone will be Catholic.


Referring to an earlier post: Islam means submission to God.
There are many who seek God and His will but for various reasons have not had the Gospel preached to them. I read several months ago through a link on newadvent about how a Muslim was led to Christ. Reading the Koran, he questioned why Jesus was not “touched by the devil at birth” like other men, a teaching of Islam. One day while praying according to Muslim tradition he saw the face of Christ in a vision.

All is grace and a gift of the Holy Spirit. The important point being made is that the Gospel cannot be forced. People are drawn to Christ when we express by living the Gospel message.
Jesus said, “Nobody comes to the Father except through me and nobody comes to me lest he be drawn by the Father.” Our living the Faith as explained in the Cathecism is one way that God uses us to draw others to himself.


The valid baptism provides sanctifying grace and a remission of all original and personal sin, as well as removes the temporal punishment due to sin. That individual is saved. However, going forward, being apart from the Truth of the Catholic Church, that sanctifying grace is in great peril - ie Mass Attendance, Sexual Morality, Birth Control, any number of serious sins (with the usual conditions for mortal sin being present) can take away that sanctifying grace. As far as I know, repentance (i.e. confession, acts of contrition) is not stressed or part of the ordinary life of a non Catholic - whereas Catholics are encouraged toward confession and by that are programmed toward repenting for their sins. Those who die with unrepented mortal sin in their soul are not saved - as I understand it, this is the key calculus (in a vaccum) of who is and isn’t saved. Of course, it gets a little more complex in considering, for example, where Jesus separates the nations based on their works – however, this points to the mystery of how grace leads to that ultimate salvation (in that through having sanctifying grace, a gift from God; and our good works (a gift from God) - those who are saved, certainly must have the total package.


I would just add that the College Kid is precisely correct. This is what the Church teaches about the salvation of Protestants.


I’m not sure if if this helps, but I’ll recall something I heard a while back. Instead of getting caught up in the techical conditions for salvation, we should proclaim the Gospel as much as possible, and if someone dies without knowledge of Catholicism, we should pray for our own souls because we failed to bring the Gospel to that person. That’s just the perspective that I heard from someone before.

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