To Be in Heaven, You Must Be Catholic

Provocative title, eh?

I hoped to get your attention, because I’m floating this argument which I put together this morning.

  1. Jesus only has one body.
  2. To be in heaven, one must be a member of the body of Christ
  3. The body of Christ is the Church.
  4. The Church instituted by Christ has a name – the Catholic Church.
    Therefore, to be in heaven, one must be a member of the Catholic Church.

I anticipate some possible objection to 1 and much rejection to 4, but let’s see how it unfolds.

I look forward to reading your thoughts for and against.

It do help if you are a Catholic, I reckon, but the truth is that God judge us by our deeds. Not what Church we belong to or how often we pray. Yes, The RCC is Christ body, and we are members of that Body. But that help us only if we do God’s will. God love us all and want all of us to be saved. He know all will not be Catholic’s, so He gave us an other path to heaven. As a priest I know said, it is not straight, it is not shorter, it is narrow and full of temptations, but it end in Heaven as well. So we all have a possibility, it is up to us, and nobody else.

Unless you think that 6 of the 7 billion humans currently on earth are hell-bound you have believe there’s room for non-Catholics. Maybe not those who make it their mission to turn the world against The Church, but, ultimately it’s up to God.

Catholicism may be the True Faith, but all those not aware of this are not damned. However, if you know that Catholicism is the Truth, and you reject this, they salvation cannot be guaranteed.

“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

“through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

The interpretation of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus has been a controversy for a long time in the Church. This debate has already raged on for centuries.

To believe that only Catholics go to heaven, no matter what, has been condemned as a heresy. This is called Feeneyism.

There are several levels on which I must object.

Firstly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 776) Reads:

As sacrament, the Church is Christ’s instrument. She is taken up by Him also as the instrument for the salvation of all, the universal sacrament of salvation, by which Christ is at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God’s love for men. The Church is the visible plan of God’s love for humanity, because God desires that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one Temple of the Holy Spirit. Discussion: There are two principal errors when it comes to the Church’s teaching on extra ecclesiam nulla salus. Some reject this teaching as both incorrect and arrogant. Others interpret this statement to condemn all those who are not visibly united to the Roman Catholic Church. To properly understand this teaching, we must examine it within the context of divine Revelation and Church history. This examination will reveal that the phrase was not formulated to express who would go to heaven and who would go to hell, for only God will judge that. Rather, the phrase expresses an understanding of the Church in relation to her role in the salvation of the world.

Furthermore, Pope Pius XII reaffirmed that those who are ignorant of the Gospel, but not by their own will have a chance at salvation.

The major problem with this comes from how we interpret “by their own will.”

To employ simile, trying to attain salvation outside the formal fold of the Church is like cleaning a loaded gun: everything may workout, but on the other hand, you may shoot yourself in the head.

Hi Randy,

  1. agreed
  2. agreed
  3. agreed
  4. If this were true, then the Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome must be unequivocal in its statement that those in Orthodoxy are condemned. The fact that they have, according to Rome, valid orders and sacraments is irrelevant to their eventual condemnation.

Of course, however, recent Catholic documents have put a more positive spin on “No Salvation outside the Church”. :hmmm:


Ignorance of the Church. But, when you are not ignorant of the Church, then you have a responsibility to it.

Ah, invincible ignorance. A question on this:

While certainly no expert, I believe I have a pretty fair knowledge of what the Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome teaches. I have made a point to do so. Even so, I remain Lutheran. Some might say I have voided any hope of salvation on the claim of invincible ignorance.

Would it be better, more charitable, if Catholics went out of their way NOT to share the Catholic faith with non-Catholics, therefore ensuring their invincible ignorance?
(Maybe this should be a separate thread?)


I suppose the contested point is the pretty fair amount of knowledge which may still reflect a point blurred. :slight_smile:

Still I propose from my first post indeed one can still be saved. Course our other Christian brothers outside of orthodoxy would argue this better than I.


I think the OP has a point.
Out of the infinite mercy of God,a place called Purgatory exists for those souls who were unable to die in a state of perfect communion with God, but were still saved anyway.Perfect holiness IMHO is attained through living a fulfilled sacramental life and submitting to all the teachings of the Catholic church.This sacramental life is provided only by the Catholic and Orthodox churches as far as i know(the eucharist being the focus).
Now,if through the mercy of God,a soul is led to purgatory for purification this soul will be in communion with the saints in heaven and the believers here on earth under one church ( which is the catholic church)


Thanks for your response. I was actually expecting to have to get into whether formal membership is required, etc., but no one has addressed that yet.

As for the name of the Church that Jesus established beginning with Peter, the rock, that seems a little easier for me to prove from the ECF’s.

You’ve seen the quotes before no doubt…

Absolutely; and I’m of the same conviction. Let me ask though, could you be a Saint biblically without being in communion East or West thus not in a state of grace per orthodoxy.

Good point about formal membership. IOW, is my Baptism sufficient to claim a membership in the Church Catholic (this name to make a distinction the universal Church and the institutional Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome, or more familiarly the RCC)? Or, do I need to be confirmed into the RCC?
So, not only formal membership, but one could ask about the degree of said formal membership.


Then we’re probably all hellbound, since no one’s deeds are so good or so great as to erase the debt we rack up with sin over on the other side of the ledger.

A very good question… Very good question indeed. makes the case for not evangelizing at all, doesn’t it?


But when Paul speaks of the body in 1 Cor 12, the context is spiritual gifts and how no one should think their gift (prophecy, teaching, etc) superior to another’s. The whole thing is an admonition against pride. And the language he uses starts with “For as the body is one…” which shows it’s a simile Paul’s employing. The language is metaphorical. The CCC even states this at one point in paragraph 789: "the comparison of the Church with the body… Of course, later it makes the leap to Mystical Body and membership, but it’s unclear how.

And when Christ speaks of His body, it’s at the Last Supper, in reference to the bread. A Catholic can use it to make the case for Transubstantiation, a Protestant can claim metaphor (or something in between), but in either case, membership isn’t the subject of Christ’s words.

Membership never seemed to be a focus of His. Learning to love God and neighbor and learning to be loved by God and neighbor seems to be the heart of it so far as I can tell…


Thank goodness for Christs Mercy…all the more reason purgatory makes more sense. All will be revealed after death and those who lived a chaste life but who never lived according to John 6 still may have a chance to correct themselves. And hopefully as a Catholic, who has made mistakes I will have that opportunity as well

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