I am a fairly new Catholic Christian, and I am currently struggling with the issue of salvation outside of the church. Not so much with non catholic christians, but with the teaching of salvation for those that practice non christian religion. To me the Bible makes it clear, that you have to accept Jesus to be saved. Please help me understand, this is the ONE teaching that has kept me from totally acceptting the church.
Please go to this site and you can find your answers about Salvation.
I hope it helps.
there is a really good thread right here…good dialogue about this same question.
Salvation outside the Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, following historic Christian theology since the time of the early Church Fathers, refers to the Catholic Church as “the universal sacrament of salvation” (CCC 774–776), and states: “The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men” (CCC 780).
Many people misunderstand the nature of this teaching.
Indifferentists, going to one extreme, claim that it makes no difference what church one belongs to. Certain radical traditionalists, going to the other extreme, claim that unless one is a full-fledged, baptized member of the Catholic Church, one will be damned.
The following quotations from the Church Fathers give the straight story. They show that the early Church held the same position on this as the contemporary Church does—that is, while it is normatively necessary to be a Catholic to be saved (see CCC 846; Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14), there are exceptions, and it is possible in some circumstances for people to be saved who have not been fully initiated into the Catholic Church (CCC 847).
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.
These can be saved by what later came to be known as “baptism of blood” or " baptism of desire" (for more on this subject, see the Fathers Know Best tract, The Necessity of Baptism ).
The Fathers likewise affirm the possibility of salvation for those who lived before Christ and who were not part of Israel, the Old Testament People of God.
However, for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity.
That should help you a good bit with this.
I’m a little confused—you say you are a new Catholic, but you also say you have not totally accepted the Church? What exactly is your status?
To answer your question, one part of Scripture cannot be taken in isolation from the rest of it. While it indeed says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through him, you also cannot ignore, but must reconcile, Scripture such as the following from Romans 1–2:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek.
17 For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous by faith will live."
18 The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
19 For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.
20 Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse…
…32 Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
2:1 Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.
2 We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.
3 Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
4 Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?
5 By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God,
6 who will repay everyone according to his works:
7 eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,
8 but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.
9 Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
**10 But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
11 There is no partiality with God.
12 All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it. **
**13 For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law.
15 They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them
16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus. **
So it is clear that God will judge people upon whatever light he has given them, even if they have not had a chance to hear the Gospel.
At the same time, we are not relieved of the direct instruction of Christ to go out and preach the Gospel to the entire world. This is the way that God has chosen to have his kingdom proclaimed. He, however, is not bound by his own commandments and can bring people to salvation in any way he sees fit.
If you find yourself in heaven you will have gotten there through the Catholic Church.
Imagine a mountain with many different paths to the top. And from the top to heaven there is a ladder. This ladder which everyone must climb is the Catholic Church.
Also remember, being Catholic is no guarantee of salvation. The Gospel gives us reason to have great hope in our salvation, but no one should presume that they’ve finished the race. The Church simply holds out the possibility of salvation for those, who through no fault of their own, don’t receive the Gospel. The big caveat is that this is done in ways known only to God. Anything we presume is mere speculation. Far better to take advantage of all the means of salvation found in the sacraments of the only church that Christ gave to humanity…and spread the Gospel as He instructed us to do.