It seems to me that there are three senses of salvation.
The first sense is the traditional sense, the fullest sense, in which salvation is as complete as it can possibly be. This is the sense in which “No Salvation Outside the Church” makes sense. In the fullest sense, no one will enter Heaven until they become a devout Catholic. Everyone who goes through purgatory will come out the other side a devout Catholic. This is the fullness of salvation, and in the ultimate and final sense, you really do HAVE to be a devout Catholic to enter Heaven. you will either become one in this life or become one in purgatory, or you will spend forever in hell.
The second sense is in the basic sense of life in Christ for all who believe, where certain Sacramental elements may be lacking and a person may not have the fullness of the truth, but nonetheless they know Christ as their Lord and Savior and they have the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. This is the John 3:16 sense of salvation, in which everyone who truly believes in their heart, does in fact experience the indwelling of The Holy Spirit and the love of Christ which justifies them and gains them entrance into Heaven.
the third sense of salvation is the sense in which anyone who dies with true love in their heart, if it be genuine love united with an implicit desire to be in union with God, will in fact make it to Heaven through Christ and purgatory. they do not experience the blessings of salvation during life on earth, they do not experience the indwelling Holy Spirit or any real communion with God until their death bed, when, because of their openness and cooperation with the grace of God, they are rescued from hell and welcomed into the light of God’s kingdom after going through the fires of purgatory.
So, with these three senses of salvation, we can affirm a few things. We can affirm a more traditional & conservative Catholic understanding of salvation. We can affirm an evangelical understanding of salvation. And we can affirm a modern, liberal, inclusivistic understanding of salvation. And all three senses are true and are not in conflict with each other.
I can use the scriptures, the ECF’s and the Church to support that summary
Except, one can’t assume/presume they can live their entire lives, not needing the sacraments that Jesus established for our salvation, and still think they are in the state of grace at their death.
Purgatory is only for those who die in the state of grace…(no mortal sin on their soul).
Except, the one who judges all, told us in advance,
**Matthew 7:14 **,
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Luke 13:23-28 ,
23 And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ 28 There you will weep and gnash your teeth,
Here’s another way of saying it
31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
What did both sides have in common?
They both acknowledged Jesus as Lord.
What separated them in the end?
One did what Jesus wanted, the other didn’t.
Here’s another example of keeping God’s commands and the consequences for disobeying
There is a fourth sense of salvation, which includes those who do NOT have “implicit desire to be in union with G-d,” and are in fact atheists in their earthly life and even on their deathbed. These people, however, have done much good for others during their lifetime, have tried to seal up the holes in the world, thus improving upon G-d’s creation, and have a generous and loving spirit. They too have the potential of attaining salvation through the love, mercy, and justice of G-d.
I love the Church’s teaching on the particular judgment, quoting St John of the Cross. From the Catechism:
**1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification592 or immediately,593-or immediate and everlasting damnation.594
“At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”**
Love is the primary criterion for defining man’s justice.
Although that is speculation, and not found in Revelation. In fact just the opposite seems to be the case.
Another thing is that this speculation hinges on a theoretical person with contradictory attributes. Does, or would such a person even exist? It only seems possible in a world where God has no direct (or personal) influence. Yet the Judaeo-Christian God is a personal one. IOW, the God of our conscience.
I don’t think anyone can “buy” themselves salvation by “improving” upon God’s creation or “sealing up” holes in the world. But the generous and loving “spirit” could be just another way of saying guided and aided by God.
IOW, I am not categorically disagreeing with you, just questioning it.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.* 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”*
The hierarchy of love then, is putting God first and always first. Then love your neighbor/family/friends,etc as yourself. Jesus is making the point, don’t get that order of love, backwards.
If someone is in mortal sin, for example, can their good deeds (charity) work in their favor with God?
CCC - " 1855 *Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. *
If one dies in mortal sin, (scripture and the Church clearly teach) they go to hell. Their good deeds therefore, are not remembered. Meaning that while in mortal sin , those good deeds aren’t being remembered. Death then, while one is in mortal sin, only eternalizes that reality
Here’s an OT passage that says that as well
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life. 20 Again, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you will have saved your life”
So, while someone is in grave sin then, their good deeds aren’t remembered while in that state. Only if they are in a state of grace, are their good deeds remembered.
Venial sin doesn’t carry the weight or the consequences, that mortal sin carries
Yes, I can’t disagree with this. A state of mortal sin is essentially the state of being opposed to love, to put it one way, and persistently so. I doubt we’d be performing any real works of love at that point.
Another related thought: it’s also true that love for God is expressed in whatever we “do for the least of these”.
Anyone who believes in their heart will do what they know Christ wants them to do. Some people simply do not know that Christ wants them to be Catholic. Furthermore, anyone with real love (selfless love) in their heart, whether atheist or Christian or Hindu or etc, does in fact have an implicit desire for God.