Can Non-Catholics be Saved?

Twice this week, I’ve been asked about the Church’s teaching that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. More specifically, I’ve been asked how that teaching can be rectified with the Church’s hope that those who die outside of Her visible bounds might yet be saved.  I’ve answered this question in greater depth before, showing that this is a shift in emphasis and tone, rather than a shift in doctrinal teaching. But I want to approach the question from a different perspective today, through something of a thought experiment.

I. The Four Categories to Consider

Consider four different categories of people:

Category A
People who don’t have any public Divine revelation, and live exclusively by the natural law.
Category B
People who have access to some revelation, and live by it, but haven’t heard of Jesus Christ.
Category C
People who have heard of Jesus Christ, but have only heard incomplete and/or inaccurate things.
Category X
People who knowingly reject natural law, Divine revelation, Jesus Christ, or His Church.
So the question here is: Can people in each of these categories be saved? We’re not asking if their salvation is likely: just whether it is possible, given what God has revealed to us.

For Category X, the answer is no. Anyone who knowingly rejects God cannot be saved. In this category is everyone who rejects the law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15); everyone who knowingly rejects Christ by name; and all those who claim to accept Christ, but knowingly reject His Church. The Second Vatican Council didn’t (and can’t) change this teaching. On the contrary, the Council explicitly reaffirmed that the Church is necessary for salvation, and that those knowingly reject Her cannot be saved:

Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it [the Second Vatican Council] teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

We’ll return to what it means to knowingly reject the Church, but first, let’s move to Categories A-C.

Can anyone in these three categories be saved? At the very least, we know that some of them were saved in the past. Hebrews 11 lists faithful “men of old” who “received divine approval” (Hebrews 11:3). So for example, Hebrews 11:5-6 says:

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Polish Icon, Enoch and Elijah in the Desert (17th c.)

That, apparently, is the sort of faith that Enoch had: that there was a God, and that God rewards those who seek him. He’s pretty squarely in Category A. Certainly, Enoch didn’t have a Bible. Not only was there no Bible around yet, but most of the events recounted in the Bible hadn’t happened yet (Enoch’s life is recorded in Genesis 5). Jesus hadn’t been born, Moses hadn’t received the law, God hadn’t yet created the Jewish people by forming a covenant with Abraham, and even the Noahic covenant didn’t exist. Enoch is not just pre-Christian; in a very real sense, he is pre-Jewish. And yet he’s not just saved, but presented as a model of faith in Scripture.

Reading through Hebrews 11, you’ll see plenty of people in Category B, as well: Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, etc., down the line. These people received bits and pieces of Divine revelation, but didn’t have the full thing.

As for Category C, Simeon (Luke 2:25-32) would seem to be a perfect example. He sees and believes in the infant Christ, and then welcomes his death. Do you think that he died with a full knowledge of the Catholic faith, or even something like the Apostle’s Creed? Of course not. He knew that God had sent the Messiah for the good of both the Jews and Gentiles, and that Jesus was this Messiah. And that, in his case, was enough. Likewise with the good thief on the Cross (Luke 23:39-43). How well catechized do you imagine that he was? He encountered Christ in his last moments, long enough to declare Him as the Heavenly King, but it’s unlikely that he was fully exposed to the Gospel.

This reveals the first principle: we’re responsible for responding to what God has revealed. Nobody is going to Hell for failing to believe in the Trinity before God revealed the Trinity.

II. Revelation and Invincible Ignorance

So people in Category A, B, and C could be saved, at least in the past. Has that changed? Some say “yes” because more has been revealed. We believe in what we receive from God. Now that we’ve received more, we need to believe more. And that’s true. But here’s where that logic goes awry: we’re not responsible for revelation that isn’t revealed to us, unless it’s somehow our own fault.

Gerard Hoet, Moses Promulgates the Law,
Figures of the Bible (1728)

Let’s take a hypothetical example to see why this is so. Imagine an elderly Jewish couple, Judas and Judith, alive during the exodus from Egypt (or at any point in which ongoing revelation is taking place).

At one point, God calls Moses to the Tent of Meeting to reveal the Levitical Law (Lev. 1:1). Assume that, while he’s there receiving the Law, Judith dies. Will she be condemned for her faithlessness to the Levitical Law? Of course not. It would be an absurd sort of legalism to assume that the instant something is revealed to the prophet, it is binding on the whole world, whether or not they’re aware of it. Provided that Judith was faithful to what had been previously revealed, she’s saved.

Now imagine that her husband hears that Moses is coming with lots of new laws. He doesn’t bother to find out what the Law is (since he doesn’t want to be burdened with new rules), and dies soon after. Of course, he’s in a very situation. He’s no longer in Category A or B, but Category X.

Even though they would face different fates, both will go before God responsible for responding to that revelation that they knew (or should have known) about. What’s changed is how much they should have known about. For the wife, she has what’s called invincible ignorance: she had no way of knowing what else God was asking. For the husband, he has vincible ignorance: it’s his own fault that he didn’t know what God demanded.

Here’s why that matters. Before God reveals Himself to Abraham (the event that creates Category B), people were spread out over all the earth. We know this both from secular history and archaeology, and from Scripture itself (Genesis 11:9). For those people who went to the New World, they and their descendants were just stuck in Category A until at least 1492.

When God reveals Himself to Abraham, they weren’t around to hear about it. When God gives the Law to Moses, they weren’t around to hear about it. When the prophets expanded the amount of publicly-available revelation , they weren’t around to hear about it. When Jesus Christ takes on our Humanity, and dies on the Cross for us, they weren’t around to hear about it.

They were invincible ignorant of anything going on to the Jews, because they had no way of knowing that such a people even existed – much less that God had revealed Himself in a special way to them. These people would seem to be in the same position as the Jewish woman from our hypothetical: God has revealed Himself, but news of this revelation hasn’t arrived to them yet.

By no means am I suggesting that everyone in the New World was automatically saved, or anything of the sort. One purpose of revelation is our salvation, so it seems a reasonable conclusion that those who have less revelation have less of a chance of being saved. But it’s still possible, provided that they’re faithful to what has been revealed to them.

Paul in Athens (19th c.)

By the way, this isn’t just logical; it’s also Scriptural. In Acts 17:22-23, St. Paul says to the Greeks at Mars Hill:

So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op′agus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

To the eyes of the world, the men he’s talking to look like pagans. They don’t look like Jews, certainly (and would deny being Jewish, if asked). Yet St. Paul recognized that they were already worshiping the one true God. His aim was to fix their ignorance: to tell them about the God that they worshiped in ignorance.

So this spells out the second principle: we are only responsible for that revelation which is revealed to us. This is the logical extension of the first principle (if you understand why Enoch wasn’t responsible for knowing the Mystery of the Trinity, then you’ll know why a 13th century Incan wasn’t, either).

III. The Problems of Rotten Gospel and Background Gospel

Here, we turn to the most vexing problems: what about those who have heard a distorted version of the Gospel, or are only dimly aware of the Gospel? Let’s call these the “Rotten Gospel” and “Background Gospel” problems.

Rotten Gospel: Imagine a group of second-century Jews whose only exposure to Jesus Christ is from, say, the Marcionites (who claimed that there were two gods: an evil God of the Old Testament, and a good God of the New Testament). Any pious Jew would be forced to reject Marcionism: it contradicts Divine revelation.

Are they knowingly rejecting Jesus Christ? Not really. They’re rejecting a false and heretical version of Jesus, and they’re right to do so. In the process, they might come to associate the New Testament with Marcionism, and never give it a second chance. But that’s hardly a knowing rejection. It’s possible that the same is true of those who reject Christianity lived badly. So, for example, if you’re a Jewish kid whose only exposure to Catholicism is hearing about it from a Nazi prison guard, you’re likely to reject it. Arguably, you’re still rejecting a false form of Catholicism – a failure in orthopraxy, not in orthodoxy, but still presenting something far from what the Church proclaims.

Background Gospel: Nor is it enough, seemingly, for the true faith to simply be generally present in the background. After all, the first-century Athenians had probably heard of Judaism, even if they weren’t well exposed to it. Yet St. Paul doesn’t treat them as having rejected the Gospel. He treats them as having embraced the little bits of the Gospel that they know, and as hungry for more.

This is the critical question in the modern age: how many people that we consider non-Catholics (and even non-Christians) are really like these Athenians? How many have failed to embrace Catholicism simply because it’s always been in the background, or because they were only exposed to distorted and false versions of it? Obviously, that’s a question that only God can answer. The Second Vatican Council simply points out that such people exist, even in the modern world, and acknowledges that it’s possible for them to be saved… which, of course, it is.

IV. The Role of Christ and the Church in All This
The Seal of the President of the United States

At this point, you may be asking: does this eliminate the unique role of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church in salvation? No, that’s not the case at all. Whether they know it or not, all who are saved are saved by Jesus Christ. Thus, Acts 4:21 says of Jesus that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” That didn’t suddenly become true in the first century. It’s always been true. When Enoch was saved, he was saved by Christ. If some faithful Unknown God-worshiping Athenian died before Paul got there, his salvation was by Christ.

And all who are saved are incorporated into the People of God, which means, in the New Covenant, into the Catholic Church. Psalm 87 promises to number Egyptians, Babylonians, Ethiopians, etc., as Israelites (Ps. 87:4). It’s possible to be part of the spiritual Israel without being aware of it, then. St. Paul goes so far as to say, “If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body” (1 Cor. 12:15). That is, it’s possible to be part of the Church even while denying that you’re part of the Church.

Finally, and this part is critical, all of this deals with people who through no fault of their own don’t have access to the fullness of the Gospel. It’s no excuse to slack off in search for the fullness of the truth. That would be acting like Judas, not Judith, and would imperil your soul. Nor is it an excuse not to evangelize: just because it’s possible that those with incomplete revelation are saved doesn’t mean it’s probable or assured. In Romans 10, St. Paul simultaneously affirms that everyone has heard the basics of the Gospel simply through the natural world (Rom. 10:18), but also that “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

The Seal of the President of the United States has an eagle on it with olive branches (representing peace) in one talon, and arrows (representing war) in the other. The message is that we hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I mention this because, whenever this conversation comes up, it seems that people are quick to want to jump in with some guess about how many will be saved. That strikes me as a profoundly foolish thing to do. We don’t want to presume, judge, or despair. Instead, evangelize as if your non-Catholic neighbors are hellbound, pray for the departed as if they aren’t, and entrust the rest to the mercy of God.


  1. I love that “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” line. My personal philosophy since junior year of high school has been “Para Pessimum; Expecta Optimum” or Prepare for the worst; Expect the Best. It’s just really cool to hear someone else say it unprovoked

  2. It might not be a bad idea to include the following Vatican II quote in your post:

    “The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation. It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.”
    Unitatis redintegratio 3

  3. Bravo! Yes we hope AND prepare. As I say God has an ordinary way to save. It’s one you can trust. He also saves in extraordinary circumstances. But you don’t know if that case will be you. Stick to the ordinary way. Baptize your children. Dont wait.

  4. Hi,

    I have heard some (mainly SSPX/Traditionalist apologists) say Vatican II is not infallible, so it is not binding on Catholics, because:
    1. Its only a “pastoral” council, according to Pope John XXIII.
    2. It didnt anathematize the opposing view or contain any anathemas.
    3. Paul VI said during a General audience in 1966, shortly after the close of the council, that “Vatican II had avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner dogmas affected by the mark of infallibility.”
    4. One Catholic apologist, on a forum somewhere said that it was “ambiguous” and that future councils are needed to clarify it.
    5. One SSPX apologist said that nowhere in Vatican II did it say that the council was to be infallible.
    6. That Vatican II didnt proclaim any new dogmas/doctrines or declare any particular teaching to be infallible.

    Please shed some light on this.


    1. Stepan,

      Dr. Jeff Mirus has a good exposition on the level of the assent owed to Vatican II. I would just add that, although the Council was generally a “pastoral” one, it did directly (and Magisterially) address doctrinal issues. In Dignitatis Humanae, for example, the Council stated that its aim was “to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and the constitutional order of society.” So I’d be very skeptical of those who try to minimize the Council into irrelevance, just as I would also be extremely wary of those who treat it as the only Council (or who read it as abrogating prior Councils). <a href=’>Then-Cardinal Ratzinger</a> put it best:

      “It is a necessary task to defend the Second Vatican Council against Msgr. Lefebvre, as valid, and as binding upon the Church. Certainly there is a mentality of narrow views that isolate Vatican II and which has provoked this opposition. There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II.

      The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”

      Does that help at all?



    2. Council Father Yves Congar aptly points out an example of new binding teaching promulgated at the Council. His assertion was endorsed by the CDF, which clarified that Lumen Gentium chapter 3 contained new teachings that were binding. Thus, LG §21 settled a theological issue that had previously been in dispute and is no longer a position that can be freely disputed by theologians. That it was open to debate before Vatican II was a point noted by Tanquerey in his Manual of Dogmatic Theology Volume II as cited by Dr. Sippo):

      There has been some discussion as to whether the episcopate is an order fully distinct from the priesthood or an extension of, and a compliment to, the priesthood; whether the episcopal character of itself embraces only strictly episcopal power…or rather includes also the entire priestly power…in such a way that if a deacon should receive episcopal consecration he would become at the same time a priest and a bishop. Many theologians assert that the episcopal character embraces only strictly episcopal power; so no bishop can be validly consecrated unless he is first a priest.

      With all due respect to our soi disant traditionalists friends, they are wrong abut many things but they are especially wrong about The Second Vatican Council.

      at this link, nearly all of their objections have been answered:

      It ought be noted that meyu opposes the Church Jesus established by citing the Bible whereas soi disant Trads oppose the Church by citing Tradition; that is, they are natural allies in opposition to His infallible Church which speaks in His name.

      Now, to be expected are the objections – There have only been very few infallible pronouncements” but, the fact is that in his Relatio at Vatican 1 (debate on Infallibility) Bishop Gasser referenced thousands of such infallible decisions.

      Only Holy Mother Church is the Ark of Salvation and one can be drowned using the Bible-Only Anchor or the Tradition-Only anchor.

      Jesus established His Church, not a collection of books to be endlessly argued over by every captious Tom, Dick, or Harry in every generation. It is the Church that has the authority to explicate what it itself wrote. The New Testament is a collection of Catholic letters written to other Catholics in already existing Catholic Churches and so it is obvious that she alone has the authority to teach what it means.

      Jesus established His Church, not a thing called Tradition and about which every willful man claims to know better than does The Church Jesus established.

      A Bible-Only man wants his own community of like-minded men who reject the Church and Tradition whereas the soi disant traditionalist wants his Bible and Tradition while he rejects the Church because it is authoritatively teaching what he claims is not Tradition. But, it is obvious that it is the Catholic Church, not Mons Lefebvre or Michael Matt or John Vennari or Gerry Matatics. that teaches what Tradition is and if they won’t hear the Church..

      The Bible only man is a protestant in a suit whereas a soi disant traditionalist who does not maintain the Binds of unity in worship, doctrine, and authority is a Protestant in Fiddlebacks.

    3. I am not Spartacus,
      How can the RCC be the church Christ established when the RCC is not even structured like the NT church? How can the RCC be the church that Christ established when it has different doctrines than the NT church?

      No one takes your assertion that the RCC alone has the authority to interpret the Scriptures seriously. Other churches continue to interpret the Scriptures unabated. Just look at how many scholarly Protestant commentaries on the Scripture are produced. I can’t think of any RC scholar, bishop or pope that says they should not do this. Can you?

      I would love to see an official work by your church on its infallible interpretations of the Bible. At least then the RC could appeal to an official source for their interpretations.

      Where has the RCC defined what Tradition is and has it produced a list of these all these Traditions? Without this, how can a RC know what these Traditions are?

      You wrote–“…Bishop Gasser referenced thousands of such infallible decisions.” Don’t know how this could be true given what the RC apologist Robert Sungenis has said : In fact, most of what Catholics believe and practice today has never been stated infallibly. Most of our faith and morals comes from the Ordinary Magisterium, and the Ordinary Magisterium is rarely singled out as infallible dogma. There have been only two definite instances of the exercise of papal infallibility. The first was in 1870 when the doctrine of papal infallibility was decreed as a doctrine in itself, and the second was in 1950 when the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary was decreed. Every other teaching by the popes, past and present, has never been officially defined as an excathedra, infallible, and irreformable teaching. Of course, the Church could go back and analyze various teachings of past popes in order to decide whether one or the other was teaching infallibly on a given issue, but she has never done so, and thus there is no list of infallible papal teachings.”

      1. The Catholic Church is structured like the early Church
        The Catholic Church teaches what the early Church taught

        Just because other Churches interperet the Bible by themselves often opposed to the Catholic Church doesnt mean that they have the rightt to.The Ordinary form of Papal teaching still requires assent and there are Ecunemial Councils also. But the ordinary magasterium can also be infallible

    4. [—
      No one takes your assertion that the RCC alone has the authority to interpret the Scriptures seriously. Other churches continue to interpret the Scriptures unabated. Just look at how many scholarly Protestant commentaries on the Scripture are produced. I can’t think of any RC scholar, bishop or pope that says they should not do this. Can you?
      I have never heard of protestant commentaries successfully getting a “nihil obstat” and/or “imprimatur” on their cover page.

    5. Nonsense,meyu, it is certainly structured like the New Testament churches. It has its bishops and its priests and its deacons. It’s the silly claim of sects with none of these that does not pass the laugh test.

  5. Hi Joe!

    Thanks for this great breakdown of “extra ecclesiam nulla salus.” Something that I haven’t heard adequately explained though, is a threat that this shift in emphasis poses to evangelization.

    If we are only responsible for what has been revealed to us, would it not put someone’s soul in danger by revealing MORE to them?

    Let’s use a concrete example. My whole family is Protestant. Many of them are very devout and truly love the Lord. If I tell them about the Church using Scripture and sound reason, and they reject Her, have I not consequently taken them from a “safe” position and put their souls at risk?


    1. GHL,

      The mistake in this reasoning is that it only considers half of the equation. As I mentioned above, “One purpose of revelation is our salvation, so it seems a reasonable conclusion that those who have less revelation have less of a chance of being saved.” And then a bit later, I mentioned that this isn’t “an excuse not to evangelize: just because it’s possible that those with incomplete revelation are saved doesn’t mean it’s probable or assured. In Romans 10, St. Paul simultaneously affirms that everyone has heard the basics of the Gospel simply through the natural world (Rom. 10:18), but also that “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).”

      (1) If you love the Lord, you want to please Him. If you want to please Him, you want to know how to please Him. So, as a rule, a person who loves God will welcome having a clearer view of revelation. Conversely, a person who rejects the fullness of faith, once presented, probably wasn’t really secure before: they just seemed to be. Obviously, I have no idea about the specifics of your own family, but this is what I would say more generally.

      (2) While increased revelation creates new obligations, it also provides enormous assistance. As the First Vatican Council explains, revelation reveals even the natural law, that it might be known “by all men, without delay, with certitude and without admixture of error.” Otherwise, only a few would come to the right conclusions, and even that would be a laborious and imperfect process.

      Let’s take the concrete example of contraception. It’s against natural law, so everyone could theoretically determine that it’s wrong, using reason alone. But if you’re left in the culture (which treats contraception like a Sacrament) or even a typical Protestant denomination (which denies its sinfulness, and treats it like an appropriate way of treating your spouse), you’re likely to come to the wrong conclusion. We don’t know the level of culpability that you’d have for getting this wrong, but revelation is certainly helpful even in edifying what you already know and believe (or should know and believe).

      (3) The fullness of the Church also carries with it the Sacraments. An imperfectly-repentant Catholic can receive absolution from his mortal sins in Confession; an imperfectly-repentant non-Catholic cannot. That’s the difference between Heaven and Hell right there.



    2. Church Militant,

      I’d be extremely cautious about speaking that way about a spiritual father (particularly the Vicar of Christ), and upon so little evidence. Your first link doesn’t even hint at a foundation for its claim: it just says “The new Pope has reportedly said the Church universal needs Anglicans and that the Ordinariate is “quite unnecessary”,” without ever substantiating this fact or giving any sort of qualifiers or context. The second two deal with a single case, Sigrid Spath, in which Ratzinger allegedly dissuaded her from converting to Catholicism “in a moment of crisis” (which, by the way, might not have been bad advice). Both of these situations involve hearsay, at best.

      And from two hearsay statements (one, about an individual case), you form a sweeping conclusion about the whole Church: “According to PEB16 and Pope Francis, your family and mine should stay as they are for the betterment of the Catholic Church and the heretical faith of loves ones adhere to. […] And don’t think this is just a one off comment by our popes. The entire Church, post VII, has had these sentiments.”

      Read Dominus Iesus, and see if you still hold to this characterization of the Church (or of Ratzinger specifically, since he was the author of the document).



    3. Church Militant,

      1) I think with the Sigrid situation, it’s important to remember that she’s recounting her impressions of a conversation that occurred a long time ago. We have a huge body of evidence showing what Ratzinger/Benedict thinks of the importance of the Church for salvation, and it’s anything but the way you initially characterized it.

      2) You suggested that Dominus Iesus teaches that “the Church of Christ is different than the Catholic Church.” In fact, it’s saying the opposite, in reaffirming “the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.

      3) You also “Joe, show me where the Church taught that formal religious heretical sects (not individual followers of these false religions) were considered “churches” within the Body of Christ prior to Vatican II?”

      Where are they considered churches within the Body of Christ afterwards? Again, Dominus Iesus explicitly says the opposite of what you’re suggesting. While affirming that those Churches that preserved Apostolic Succession (the Orthodox and Coptics, etc.) are still true Churches, those who severed Apostolic Succession (Protestants) aren’t, even though their members are imperfectly united to the Catholic Church via their valid Trinitarian Baptisms:

      “On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,61 are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.62 Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.63″

      This is just acknowledging the distinction between schism and heresy, a distinction that goes back to St. Paul at the latest, and has been reaffirmed by the Church countless times.

      4) I think that there are really two issues here: (a) are the Orthodox Churches truly Churches? and (b) are baptized Protestants part of the Church (presuming that they aren’t in mortal sin)? The answer is “yes” to both questions. But you don’t need to turn to Vatican II or Dominus Iesus to get those answers. You can just look at Fourth Lateran (1215 A.D.) and Florence (1438-1445).

      Canon 1 of Fourth Lateran says that “There is one Universal Church of the faithful, outside of which there is absolutely no salvation.” But it also says that: “But the sacrament of baptism, which by the invocation of each Person of the Trinity, namely of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is effected in water, duly conferred on children and adults in the form prescribed by the Church by anyone whatsoever, leads to salvation. And should anyone after the reception of baptism have fallen into sin, by true repentance he can always be restored.”

      So by a valid baptism, you become a part of the Catholic Church. It doesn’t matter who baptizes you: it can be a Catholic priest, an Orthodox priest, a layman, a Protestant minister, even an atheist. As long as the form, matter, and intent are present, that’s all you need. So that already shows that you can’t construe the Catholic Church in the strict manner that Fr. Feeney attempted. If that weren’t enough, Canon 4 of Fourth Lateran explicitly refers to the Greek Orthodox Church as “the Church of the Greeks.”


    4. (cont.)

      Similarly, the papal legate, Cardinal Nicholas Albergati, opened Session 1 of the Council of Florence this way:

      “We, Nicholas, legate of the apostolic see, announce that we preside on behalf of our most holy lord pope Eugenius IV in this sacred synod which was translated from Basel to the city of Ferrara and is already legitimately assembled, and that the continuation of this translated synod has been effected today 8 January, and that the synod is and ought to be continued from today onwards for all the purposes for which the synod of Basel was convened, including being the ecumenical council at which the union of the western and the eastern church is treated and with God’s help achieved.”

      So Vatican II was by no means the first time an Ecumenical Council acknowledged that the Eastern Orthodox Churches are truly Churches. The Council used the phrase “Eastern Church” something like 30 times to refer to the returning Eastern Orthodox, even prior the reunion. Of course, Session 2 acknowledged the pope as the true head of both the western and eastern Church, just as Dominus Iesus acknowledged did in paragraph 17.

      Session 8, the bull of union with the Armenians, says:

      “Since the holy Trinity is the principle cause from which baptism has its power and the minister is the instrumental cause who exteriorly bestows the sacrament, the sacrament is conferred if the action is performed by the minister with the invocation of the holy Trinity. The minister of this sacrament is a priest, who is empowered to baptize in virtue of his office. But in case of necessity not only a priest or a deacon, but even a lay man or a woman, even a pagan and a heretic, can baptize provided he or she uses the form of the church and intends to do what the church does. “

      So I just don’t see any new ecclesiology in Vatican II. Feeney’s restriction of the Church to those in visible union with the Catholic Church has never been correct, and he was excommunicated for this view by Pope Pius XII before anyone had ever heard of the Second Vatican Council.

      5) Finally, you said:

      “Many have placed the possibility of committing a mortal sin so high and unlikely (Fundamental Option) that it is easy nowadays to think the conclusion above by our popes is reasonable. What is even more odd is that PJPII was the one to condemn the Fundamental Option theory in Veritatis Splendor, yet he seems to be part of the road crew that laid the foundation for it.”

      “Fundamental option” was always a distortion of what the Council taught. JPII was there, and knew what was intended (as opposed to how it was being misinterpreted), and he made quite certain that no one could credibly claim that the Magisterium taught (or permitted) fundamental option.

      It’s only “odd” is you believe the heretics, that Vatican II was actually trying to get us to believe in “fundamental option.” If you acknowledge that heretics, not the Ecumenical Council, are the ones to be wary of, it’s not that odd at all. The Council of Ephesus in 431 was similar: its Christological teaching didn’t close every possible door, so heretics tried to use if as supporting their views, until the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Galatians 1:7 warns against those “who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” Heretics pervert the words of Christ; it’s not so shocking that they pervert the words of the Church’s Councils, as well.



  6. “It is not always required that one be actually incorporated as a member[formal membership] of the Church, but this at least is required: that one adhere to it in wish and desire.[informal membership] It is not always necessary that this be explicit . . . but when a man labors under invincible ignorance, God accepts even an implicit will, called by that name because it is contained in the good disposition of soul in which a man wills to conform his will to the will of God.”

    Pius XII shows that “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” is an inclusive statement and not an exclusive one. Invincible ignorance usually entails no knowledge of God whatsoever, and you therefore cannot explicitly reject what you don’t know. It would not be just of God to hold that against a person and He does not. It should also be noted that invincible ignorance is not salvific. One who labors under it would still need an implicit acceptance of God and His Holy Way. This is called an implicit will because he is incapable by circumstance of making an explicit assent without knowledge of God.

    VII teaches us that the Church rejects atheism “root and branch”. This is because an atheist has knowledge of what they explicitly reject. They cannot be saved while adhering to atheism. There are those who say that you can be saved and be an atheist. Yet an atheist who accepts God is no longer an atheist. He is not a saved atheist. You can not be saved without faith, and atheists have none by definition.

    VII references the “unknown God”, but this does not apply to atheists because St Paul was talking to religious people who unknowingly prayed and worshiped the one true God. These people were not atheists.

  7. One point of trivia, the composition of the Church in the opinion of the Melkites and in the opinion of the CDF differ:

    “Thus the mystery of the Church ‘subsists’ in each of the historic, apostolic Churches in relationship to one another in a communion of love. While some “elements or sanctification and truth” are found in Protestant denominations, the mystery of the Church subsists fully in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. “


    1. Daniel,
      Where is this statement of yours “”Thus the mystery of the Church ‘subsists’ in each of the historic, apostolic Churches in relationship to one another in a communion of love.” found in Scripture?

    2. Meyu,

      Are you laying out a standard that you’re prepared to live by: that every sentence that you write has to be lifted from Scripture? Or are you binding heavy burdens on Catholics’ shoulders, while you yourself won’t lift a finger (see Matthew 23:4)?



    3. Oh, so we’re not starting with Scripture, then? We’re starting with your logic, and your knowledge of history, and of the Apostolic Church? And that’s how we’re determining what is and isn’t Apostolic?



    4. Are there any other writings of the apostles outside of Scripture? Are there any other writings that are inspired-inerrant that are not in Scripture?

    5. Meyu,

      Are you able to answer your questions using Scripture alone? If not, then (a) sola Scriptura is self-refuting, and (b) your proposed standard (that all statements must be provable using Scripture) is self-refuting.



    6. Daniel, I second Church Militant’s gratitude at providing the relevant CDF texts.

      Church Militant, I have been meaning to thank you for your approach in this. I’m glad that you’re asking the questions that you’re asking. If you would like to contact me personally, you can: joseph.heschme[email protected]

      Meyu, may I suggest that we move this off-topic discussion else? You’ve basically taken over the comments of the post about Tertullian (and since I was responding to one of your assertions, I’ve let this stand). But I don’t want to derail this discussion, because I think it’s a good one .

      God bless you all,


    7. Meyu,

      So then kindly answer the question from scripture alone. Where in scripture does it say “If its not in the Scripture, its not apostolic”?

      HINT: Nowhere. In fact, it says quite the reverse. Both Paul and John on a number of occasions refer to matters that they feel need to be expressed in person, and not “in pen and ink”.

    8. [—
      …Yes I can answer my questions by Scripture alone since the only writings we have from the apostles is found in Scripture alone.

      Mt. 2:23 – The prophecy “He shall be a Nazarene” is oral tradition. It is not found in the Old Testament.

      Acts. 20:35 – Paul uses oral tradition to cite Jesus saying “it is better to receive than to give”. It’s not found in the Gospels.

      2Thess. 2:15; 3:6 – Under the new covenant, Paul instructs the Church to hold fast to the traditions they were taught.

      1Cor. 11:2 – Paul tells the Church to hold fast to the traditions which God handed down to them from the apostles.

      3Jn. 1:13 – John emphasizes his preference for oral tradition even though he was a skilled writer.

      Jn. 21:25 – John says everything could not be written in scripture. Therefore the rest was transmitted orally.

      “Whenever anyone came my way, who had been a follower of my seniors, I would ask for the accounts of our seniors: What did Andrew or Peter say? Or Phillip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any of the Lord’s disciples? I also asked: What did Aristion and John the Presbyter, disciples of the Lord say. For, as I see it, it is not so much from books as from the living and permanent voice that I must draw profit.”
      Papias, Sayings of the Lord (A.D. 115-140)

    9. planks length, Irenaeus of New York,
      It is true that the apostles and Christ spoke more than what we have in the NT. However, today all that we have of them is found only in the NT and nowhere else.

      There was a time when the apostles and others knew of other things Jesus said and did but we don’t. So it still stands: “If its not in the Scripture, its not apostolic”

  8. Joe, thank you for your work. I will refrain from commenting until I have studied further and prayed more about this. Is there a way one can correspond with you directly for further input? I have followed your blog for a while now and have found myself with some questions I need answers to.

    Dominus vobiscum!

  9. Meyu said:
    However, today all that we have of them is found only in the NT and nowhere else. There was a time when the apostles and others knew of other things Jesus said and did but we don’t. So it still stands: “If its not in the Scripture, its not apostolic”
    Not so.
    St. Clement was ordained by the apostle St Peter and was originally a disciple of St. Paul (Philippians 4:3 ). We have his writings.
    St. Ignatius was a student of the apostle St. John and was also the child Jesus held in His arms (Mark 9:36). We have his writings.
    St. Ignatius helped audit the Gospel of St. John as did St Peter…. did I mention we have his writings
    St. Polycarp was a student of the apostle St. John. We have one of his letters.
    St. Irenaeus was a student of St. Polycarp. We have his writings.
    etc. etc. etc.

  10. Irenaeus of New York,
    Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus and Polycarp were not apostles. Their writings are not apostolic i.e. inspired-inerrant Scripture.

    1. Joe,
      I’m not debating it. Others are making claims and I’m just answering them. I was originally responding to some comments made by “I am not Spartacus”.

  11. How can the RCC be the church Christ established when the RCC is not even structured like the NT church? How can the RCC be the church that Christ established when it has different doctrines than the NT church?

    The nascent Church, like a mustard seed, grew; but t was an organic faithful growth and the church did not, like protestants and mormons claim, become an oak or a Palm Tree.

    No one takes your assertion that the RCC alone has the authority to interpret the Scriptures seriously.

    You err in imagining that your personal opinions are normative for others. I would cite Saint Augustine teaching he would not accept anything saave for what the Church taught but you’d simply gainsay that like you do everything else

    I would love to see an official work by your church on its infallible interpretations of the Bible. At least then the RC could appeal to an official source for their interpretations.

    No you wouldn’t. You would simply reject that like you have rejected her infallible teaching re the Bible and YTransubstantiation

    Where has the RCC defined what Tradition is and has it produced a list of these all these Traditions? Without this, how can a RC know what these Traditions are?

    They hear the Church in her Ecumenical Councils, Papal Encyclicals, Universal Catechisms etc etc etc

    You wrote–“…Bishop Gasser referenced thousands of such infallible decisions.” Don’t know how this could be true given what the RC apologist Robert Sungenis has said

    Bishop Gasser was delivering a Relatio during an Ecumenical Council whereas Mr. Sungenis is a layman writing his personal opinions online, unedited, unapproved by any member of the Magisterium; however, your claim illustrates how it is you are ignorant of the most fundamental elements of the Catholic Church but your arrogance will not even be tempered by that reality.

    So, I thought I’d take one shot at trying to point out your errors and see if you have a response anchored in humility and that illustrates a desire to become informed; if not, I will simply ignore you and urge others to do the same.

    1. Bornacatholic,
      If the church is “organic” and grows, who is to say this growth is not to grow into Protestant churches? Secondly, where did Jesus say He was going to “grow” His church?

    2. I responded point by point to what you had previously written and rather than acknowledging that and engaging on the issues you introduced, you simply moved on to your next illogical fantasy – this one having to do with a presumed possibility that a Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth could organically grow into a community of believers who deny Divine Revelation by excising from the Original Deposit of Faith galactic sized chunks of truth.

      Said otherwise, I consider you a troll and I will not respond to you anymore. You are wrecking a great site and I hope the patient and kind author of this blog will either block you or automatically delete every post you leave.

      You have nothing of substance to contribue here

    3. Meyu,

      Enough. I’m done with you trolling this blog. I’m banning you. If you stop posting now, I’ll leave your previous comments. If you continue, I’ll delete both your new comments, and your prior ones. You’re one of very few people that I’ve ever banned (I think you’re the third, maybe?), so let me explain my decision:

      Reason #1: You’re not adding anything to the discussion, and not learning anything from it.
      The argument format is almost always the same with you:

      Step 1) You make an assertion that the Catholic Church is wrong on some issue. This is supported either by weak evidence or (more often) no evidence at all.
      Step 2) Catholics respond by patiently explaining the Church’s position (when you’ve misrepresented it), addressing your evidence (when you bother to provide some), and presenting a wealth of evidence for the contrary position.
      Step 3) You either (a) repeat step 1 [ignoring all of the responses], or (b) change the subject.

      Above, you taunted BornaCatholic by saying: “Why are you afraid to have a discussion? Discussions can lead to a greater understanding of the issues.” This oozes with dishonesty. I’ve read literally hundreds of your comments, and I’ve yet to see you acknowledge being wrong even once (even though literally no one reading this, Catholic or Protestant, seems to think that you’re winning any of the debates, besides you), nor have I seen any evidence that you’re actually learning anything from any of this. When confronted directly about whether you were engaged in this

      To take the obvious example, you claimed (on the basis of a paragraph of Schaff’s that you found somewhere) that the Church Fathers denied the Real Presence. I showed that you were wrong. You literally repeated the exact same claim, using the exact same piece of evidence from Schaff. I might as well have a debate with Siri.

      Reason #2: It isn’t fair to honest and open-minded Protestants to let this continue.

      One of the purposes of this blog is to create a space for Protestants to be able to air their questions about, and even objections to, Catholicism and Catholic teachings. For that reason, I’ve been slow to ban you, because I don’t want Protestants acting in good faith to be afraid to ask questions or bring up arguments.

      But it turns out, my leniency is having an opposite effect: if you’ve noticed, once you start spewing out dozens of unresearched and poorly-thought-out comments, the more serious and thoughtful Protestant commenters tend to clam up. They don’t want to be associated with your flimsy arguments. So as a result, they’re not raising their much more reasonable arguments. Two different Protestants sent me messages distancing themselves from you, because of your behavior.

      It isn’t fair to those whose hearts are open to let you continue to hijack threads: for example, turning this post about ecclessiology into a forum for ignorant-minded commentary on everything from sola Scriptura to anything you think is tangentially related to “the fullness of the Gospel” (the phrase in the above post that you’ve used to justify sidetracking onto literally any Catholic-Protestant topic imaginable). You don’t seem to care about the truth, and you’re getting in the way of those who do. No more.

    4. Reason #3: You’re rude.

      This is self-explanatory. You make personal potshots, you avoid direct questions, etc. Your comment to Bornacatholic above is perfectly representative: you’re just being antagonistic, not Christian. This isn’t faith seeking understanding. This is ignorant antagonism seeking a fight.

      Reason #4: It seems like the Scriptural approach, at this point.

      Proverbs 26:4-5 says, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” That is the predicament we find ourselves in. When we respond to you, the whole conversation gets derailed and degraded. When we don’t, you conclude that we must be afraid of “dialogue” with you. Since it has become clear to me that you appear wise in your own eyes, regardless of what we say or do, the best thing we can do is simply not respond to your foolishness.

      Reason # 5: This is a pattern of trollish behavior.

      Nearly a year ago, you were doing this exact same thing: wasting hundreds of comments (and an immense amount of time: your own, mine, and others) on this sort of closed-minded foolishness. Finally, I asked you, point-blank, what your intentions were. You ignored it. I asked you again, point-blank. You ignored it again. Finally, I told you to either address the question or stop commenting. At that point, you disappeared, rather than reveal your motives.

      At that point, I was left with no question about whether or not you were acting in good faith. And by the terms of what I said before, you really should have already been banned. I won’t be this overly-lenient with you in the future. Please, continue reading. And if you have a genuine question that you would like an answer to, e-mail me privately. But you’re not allowed to comment anymore, on anything, ever. If you’re looking for a fight, you’re going to have to go elsewhere, or start your own blog.



      P.S. As a courtesy, you may have one comment to respond to this. Everyone on this thread seems to be paranoid about not getting the last word in, and that seems to be the only thing driving it at this point. So I’ll give you the last word. One comment. And that’s it, the end.

    1. Deltaflute,
      I am sticking to the topic. I have some questions about what he means by the “the fullness of the Gospel” in the RCC. Do you know what that means and involves?

    2. I need a finger wagging widget. You asked Joe that question. Don’t you think it’s best to give him time to answer it?

      Why don’t you respond to my question? Do you agree or disagree? And don’t try evading the question. I’m a mom. My kid tries that tactic all the time. I’ll stop responding unless you answer it.

    3. Some I agree with but not all. For example, I disagree with this that he wrote: “That is, it’s possible to be part of the Church even while denying that you’re part of the Church.”

    4. How could someone put their faith in Christ and not be aware that they are now part of His church? Secondly, the RCC denies that Protestant churches are churches yet no Protestant would ever accept such nonsense. In fact even RC know Protestant churches are churches when they refer to them.

    5. Because as Joe asserted people are often misinformed. I see this all the time. Altar calls for example are loosely the same as a Reconciliation service. But people on both sides would refute that not having born witness to both. Often people deny what they think they know about a faith only to realize they are wrong. Although I run into people who like to tell me what my Church believes which is just nutty. I’ve been a Catholic my whole life and can pin point documentation that says otherwise. But I digress.

      As for your second claim. Stay on target. I will not be trapped into a diversion.

      So have you changed your mind about the elect knowing Christ? Or do you now hold that salvation hinges on carrying out a faith according to ones understanding which Joe asserts?

    6. You believe in Christ and believe you are part of His Church. But Christ didn’t establish Prostantism. But that’s off topic. The topic is about salvation. Now answer my question and stay on topic as Joe desires. Or I’m shutting this down. If you haven’t figured it out yet noone really wants to engage you because you pick out on detail and go down rabit holes instead of sticking to the OP.

    7. Christ didn’t establish the RCC either. There is no papacy, priesthood, Marian dogmas, purgatory indulgences etc in the NT. This brings up the issue of defining what the church is given that the RCC did not exist when Jesus founded the church.

      The new covenant that Christ established requires explicit faith in Christ for salvation. See Romans 10:9-13 and Acts 16:30-31.

      The details are important when it comes to the truth. Its in the details that will either support the truth claims or deny it.

    8. I also requires Baptism which you deny.

      Joe has a lot of great posts about St. Peter, the keys, and the establishment of the Church. Youre heading off topic. You asked a question: how can one know Christ and deny His Church?

      So I’ll ask you. How can you know Christ yet deny His Church? How do exclusively follow the Bible and deny allegence to the apostles and their successors? I ask because your knowledge of the Church and blatant rejection of it most likely puts you in category X. Your soul is in jeopardy.

      As you say details are important when it comes to knowing the Fullness of the Truth.

    9. Baptism does not save without belief in Christ. If baptism alone could save then there would be no reason to preach the gospel.

      What church am I denying? I already demonstrated that the church that Jesus established is not the RCC.

      The only thing we have of the apostles are the writings of the NT. Once John died, there are no more apostles nor successors as apostles. So how could anyone have allegiance to what does not exist?

    10. Back tracking again. The reason to preach the Gospel is to give fullness of Truth. But as you point out infants wouldn’t understand. Baptism saves infants or do you continue to deny Christ’s words?

      You deny that Christ established a Church. You have yet to prove Christ’s Church is not the RCC.

      Prove that there were no sucessors to the apostles. Where did the Church go apostate? I have allegience to the sucessor of St. Peter. He calls himself Francis. The successor to St. Andrew is the Patriarch of Constantinople. His name is Bartholomew I. You just told most of the worlds Christians they have an allegiance that doesn’t exist.

    11. But again. Rabit holes. Sounds like you maintain the position that elect must know Christ rather than have to maintain faith according to their own understanding. Is this correct? Are infants damned? You’ve answered this question before yet you maintain baptism holds nothing. Its water you say. You never did explain why Christ says you must be baptized by water and spirit. What is baptism than? A symbol?

    12. Baptism does not save infants. There is nothing in Scripture that comes even close to this assertion. Where did Jesus teach that baptism saves infants? Book, chapter verse please.

      There is no record of Peter passing on his apostleship to anyone. Not in Scripture nor in history.

      Where did Jesus say that “you must be baptized by water and spirit”?

      Baptism is used a number of ways in Scripture. When a person becomes a Christian he is to be baptized in water. It is an identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.

    13. Matt 3:11 and John 3:5

      Joe’s already discussed infant baptism elsewhere. But suffices to say St. Paul speaks of entire households being baptized.

      No such writings eh? Pope Linus entry on wikipedia.

      See Bible citations.

      So its a symbol? Not necessary? And in what ways is baptism used?

      You still havent answered my other questions. Are infants damned or do you now change your position? Is faith alone a necessity? Must one have and adult understanding?

    14. John 3:5 does not mention baptism. There is no record that John the Baptist baptized infants either.

      Entire households being baptized does not mean infants were baptized.

      Checked your source out on Linus–“The earliest witness to Linus’s status as bishop was Irenaeus, who in about the year 180 wrote, “The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate.”

      No mention here of Peter passing on to him as being apostle or replacing him. Its apostolic succession and an apostle that is supposed to be the supreme leader of the entire church that you have to show. This article does not show that.

      Baptism is a symbol of an inward reality. See my previous comment on how baptism was done in the NT church.

      I don’t know if infants are damned because Scripture does not explicitly say. Faith alone in Christ alone is what saves. One must have an understanding. That understanding comes from the Holy Spirit. The man who is not saved considers things of Christ to be foolishness.

    15. Very well.

      1) what does beinng born of water and spirit mean?
      2) Provide evidence that the Church was apostate and that nobody was appointed Bishop of Rome to replace St. Peter.
      3) If one becomes a Christian and than is baptized please explain St. John’s ministery which was before Jesus. He was baptizing Jews.
      4) Please show in the Bible where infants were denied baptism. Please show where faith is necessary for the salvation of infants.

    16. 1) Born of water and spirit is a reference to Eze 36:24–27. When water is used figuratively in the OT, it habitually refers to renewal or spiritual cleansing, especially when used in conjunction with “spirit”

      2) There is no evidence that Peter was a bishop in Rome. Paul in his letter to the Romans never refers to Peter at Rome.

      3) John the Baptist was a forerunner before Christ. He was preparing them for the coming of Christ.

      4) How can I show infants being refused baptism when there are no examples or teaching that they should be baptized?

    17. 1) So water and spirit are figuritive language in your view. If that is the case than please explain Matt 3:11, the Jewish rituals of purification which involve water, and all the scriptual passages that Joe references to baptism in the posts that I linked for you above.

      2) But can you prove what you assert? Are there no historical documents referring to St. Peter as Bishop of Rome? Can you find no references to where the Church went apostate?

      3) Exactly. So one need not be Christian or at least know the Fullness of Truth (such as infants) in order to be baptized.

      4) a) You’ve yet to show in the Bible where it specifies that Baptism is not regenerative. b) You’ve yet to show how children are to be saved. Except to hinge it entirely on faith and belief.

    18. 4) c) Does original sin damn you? And if so how does one wash off that dirt? I refer to Joe’s two posts.

      I appreciate that you disagree but you haven’t provided any contrary evidence just simply asserted. For the preservation of time I’d appreciate it if you offer some refuting evidence to back you assertions particularly when you are discussing history.

    19. 1) What do you mean that Matt 3:11 is “the Jewish rituals of purification which involve water”?

      2) I’m not aware of any documents at the time that Peter lived that he was in Rome.

      3) I wrote “John the Baptist was a forerunner before Christ. He was preparing them for the coming of Christ.” so how does it follow that “So one need not be Christian or at least know the Fullness of Truth (such as infants) in order to be baptized”?

      4) How could water baptism be regenerative if there is no faith involved on the one being baptized?
      Don’t know how infants are saved. Scripture does not explicitly tell us.

    20. The Scripture doesn’t use the term original sin to describe man’s falleness. Here is what it says about the condition of fallen men: “12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— ” Romans 5.

      ” And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” Eph 2:1

      The only solution to this predicament is faith in Christ or Christ saving a man. Water baptism by itself can do nothing about this.

      You are the one that is asserting that Peter was in Rome and that infants were baptized. You need to provide evidence for these claims and not me.

    21. 1) you missed the comma.

      2) I showed you some in the wiki article on Pope Linus. Do you have any that say otherwise?

      3) Because John was baptizing those who hadn’t been given Christ’s full revelation. They couldn’t be Christians. His baptism as he explained was only for remission of sins. Whereas Christ’s bestows a rebirth into the Church and special graces from the Holy Spirit. That’s what Christ means when he says born into water.

      4) It’s faith according to ones understanding. If you understand that original sin damns you than you know all need to be baptized.

      You keep saying its faith. But than say you dont know how infants can be saved. As I’ve said before you’ve taken a black and white stance which doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. If all are damned who do not know Christ in your world view than naturally the course is that children before the age who die are damned. We say baptism saves them from the damning nature of original sin.

    22. 5) and the Bible doesnt say Trinity either. Original sin is the sin inherited after the fall. Its a term. The Orthodox use another term. Means the same thing.

      Back to what I asked. Refute Joe’s quotes. Where in the Bible does it say baptism means nothing?

    23. 2) “ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome’s first bishop…He often shared his position of prominence with James and John…However, there is no evidence that before his death Peter actually served the church of Rome as its first bishop, even though the “fact” is regularly taken for granted by a wide spectrum of Catholics and others (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 25,29). “

      4) What scripture says “that original sin damns you than you know all need to be baptized”?
      God does not need water baptism to save an infant. The Scripture does not tell us how infants are saved. Those that say they do are speculating.

    24. 2) could you site primary sources? I dont trust quoted opinions. Does McBrien site any? My sources are primary quotations.

      4) Really? You’re the one quoting man after the Fall and his need for salvation. Point out please where the Bible says one does NOT need salvation post Fall as it pertains to original sin.

      No God doesn’t need us to believe either. But those are His terms for salvation according to the Bible. You’ve made it black and white. Humor me and speculate. Or do you not want to admit that it’s faith according to ones understanding?

  12. I wish everyone would ignore meyu. He is closed. I have never seen someone so completely and utterly dismantled on a debate before I saw Joe’s response to meyu’s claim that the Church Fathers were not in accordance to the real presence in the Eucharist. Meyu made a claim, Joe asked for any quotes, meyu very likely plagiarized a list of quotes which ironically and hilariously proved Joe’s very point. Instead of conceding he actually just tried (and did) to change the subject. He is not in search of truth. He is trying to “educate” Catholics. One person even offered to send information to meyu regarding the Church Fathers, but he will not read it because he may have to convert to Catholicism after doing so. Meyu would rather be “right” than find God’s truth. I doubt he blogs anywhere but Catholic sites. As well he should blog on Catholic sites, BC the Catholic Church has the fullness of God’s Revelation known to man, and will always have it. The only reason he even reads the responses is to look for some point to argue. Let’s just pray for him, any response only halts productive conversation on such a wonderful blog.

  13. Who will eventually be saved is best left to God. He is the Judge.
    Who we want to be saved is left to us. if want anybody to be saved we must evangelize them as recorded in Sacred Scriptures. This is what our Lord Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (cf Matthew 28)
    If we want non-Catholics and non-Christians to be saved we must pray for them, fast for them, do penance for them, preach to them. What we cannot, as Catholics, do is sit back and say to the pagans don’t worry about it you will be okay, God is so merciful. No, they wont be okay if we don’t bring the Good News to them in prayer, fasting , penance, good works and preaching.
    The mantra: “there is salvation outside the Church” is the work of lazy and unfaithful servants; the type that says to the Master: ‘Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’ (Luke 19 v 20-22)
    Such a servant will receive many lashes as punishment when the Lord Jesus appears.

    1. I have no idea where you get from Joe’s post that he says not to evangelize. In fact quite the opposite: “The message is that we hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I mention this because, whenever this conversation comes up, it seems that people are quick to want to jump in with some guess about how many will be saved. That strikes me as a profoundly foolish thing to do. We don’t want to presume, judge, or despair. Instead, evangelize as if your non-Catholic neighbors are hellbound, pray for the departed as if they aren’t, and entrust the rest to the mercy of God.”

      Or are you simply reiterating what he said? Sorry but I’m confused by the nature of your response.

    2. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.- (Matthew 7)
      For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22 v 14)
      I think the Lord Jesus is clear enough.
      The best chance for a non-Catholic’s (non-Christian’s) salvation is for him to be evangelize and proselytize. Any other ideas like,- “pagan, muslim, buddhist, animist sit back, relax don’t worry about it” – is from the Evil one.

    3. The problem is once you start on the road that non-beleivers in Christ (whether through their own fault or not) can be saved, you end up with sacrilegious events like the october 1986 Assisi event. Where animist, buddhist, muslims, talmudic jews were all brought together not to acknowledge Jesus Christ as God, but to share space in consecrated Catholic prayer houses to practise demonic rituals and abominations all because “non-catholics can be saved” and for “world peace”. No, they cant be saved unless we do what the Lord Jesus said which go out and evangelize the people. Period.

    4. 5. I turn now in a special way to you, my Christian Brothers and Sisters. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ calls us to be apostles of peace. He made his own the Golden Rule well known to ancient wisdom: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Mt 7:12; cf. Lk 6:31) and God’s commandment to Moses: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (cf. Lev 19:18; Mt 22:39 and parallels). He brought these laws to fulfilment in the new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).

      In his death on Golgotha, Jesus bore in his flesh the wounds of God’s passion for humanity. Bearing witness to the heavenly Father’s loving plan, he became “our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14).

      With Francis, the saint who breathed the air of these hills and walked the streets of this town, let us fix our gaze on the mystery of the Cross, the tree of salvation sprinkled with the redeeming blood of Christ. The lives of Saint Francis, Saint Clare and countless other Christian saints and martyrs were marked by the mystery of the Cross. Their secret was precisely this sign of the triumph of love over hatred, of forgiveness over retaliation, of good over evil. We are called to go forward in their footsteps, so that the world will never cease to long for the peace of Christ.

      Those are the words of soon to be Pope Saint John Paul IIat Assisi; a giant of a man who had two doctorates and scores of years of orthopraxis experience as Priest, Bishop, Pope.

      I am going to go way out on a limb here and dare to think this soon-to-be-Saint was a way better evangeliser than you

  14. we go out and evangelize the people by either our prayers, or our fasts, or our penances, or our preachings, or all of the above. it is left to us, the Lord Jesus has done his bit and the Holy Spirit is still with us.
    We cant sit back and say there is salvation outside the Church. No, there is no such thing. The faithful in the church bring the Good News to those outside of it. We share our graces with the non.believers. We dont sit back and say God will do it.

    1. CP Sho,

      You said, “We cant sit back and say there is salvation outside the Church. […] We dont sit back and say God will do it.”

      But like I said in the original post, nothing that I said above would justify sitting back and saying that “God will do it,” to excuse ourselves from evangelization:

      “Finally, and this part is critical, all of this deals with people who through no fault of their own don’t have access to the fullness of the Gospel. It’s no excuse to slack off in search for the fullness of the truth. That would be acting like Judas, not Judith, and would imperil your soul. Nor is it an excuse not to evangelize: just because it’s possible that those with incomplete revelation are saved doesn’t mean it’s probable or assured. In Romans 10, St. Paul simultaneously affirms that everyone has heard the basics of the Gospel simply through the natural world (Rom. 10:18), but also that “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).”

      So I think that it’s a false equation to say that, if you believe that the invincibly-ignorant can be saved, you end up rejecting evangelization, or end up treating all religions as equal to Catholicism.

      Nor do I see how you can possibly reject the possibility of the invincible-ignorant to be saved. As Blessed Pius IX wrote in Singulari Quidem (1856): “This hope of salvation is placed in the Catholic Church which, in preserving the true worship, is the solid home of this faith and the temple of God. Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.

      St. Thomas, in the Summa says the same thing:

      “Wherefore through negligence, ignorance of what one is bound to know, is a sin; whereas it is not imputed as a sin to man, if he fails to know what he is unable to know. Consequently ignorance of such like things is called “invincible,” because it cannot be overcome by study. For this reason such like ignorance, not being voluntary, since it is not in our power to be rid of it, is not a sin: wherefore it is evident that no invincible ignorance is a sin. On the other hand, vincible ignorance is a sin, if it be about matters one is bound to know; but not, if it be about things one is not bound to know.”

      In the next article, he says that “it is evident that the ignorance which excuses from sin altogether (through making it altogether involuntary) does not diminish a sin, but does away with it altogether.”

      Invincible ignorance wasn’t some 20th century novelty. It’s part of the Tradition, and you can testament to it in the writings of the Church Fathers, Saints down through the ages, and popes (even strong anti-Modernists like Pio Nino). If anything, the modern novelty was the contrary position: Feeneyism, the total denial of salvation outside of the visible bounds of the Church. It’s born out of a desire to avoid Modernism, but it goes to the opposite extreme, just as Monophysitism was a reaction against Nestorianism. The Church condemned both extremes as heretical over-simplifications of the truth. We must avoid doing the same thing here (suggesting that our only options are Feeneyism or giving up evangelization, for example).



    2. Good quote from St. Thomas Aquinas.
      It was the Lord Jesus who said to his Apostles, “when the Son of Man comes back will he find faith on earth?” So the question is, if Christians are in danger of losing their faith and their salvation – in these last days -, what hope do non-Christians have?
      “There is salvation outside the Church” is a nice theoretical maxim but in real life practice what does it amount to without the imput of the struggling visible Church?

    3. CP Sho,

      While I wouldn’t reduce it to just a “nice theoretical maxim,” I do think that there’s a legitimate question of emphasis. Just as it’s possible to stress Jesus’ Humanity in such a way that He seems less than Divine, or to stress His Divinity in such a way that He doesn’t seem fully Human, I think that we’ve sometimes stressed the possibility that the invincibly ignorant will be saved in such a way that it makes evangelization seem irrelevant. But the problem there isn’t with the teaching itself, but with how it’s presented. The solution, I think, is just to shift the emphasis, which is part of what I’ve tried to do in this post.



  15. Fair enough.
    We all need to do more to carry forward the Good News of the Lord Jesus to every part of this planet. Especially now with global travel and global communications.
    And the Good News is this: anybody, no matter the level of sinner he is; if he should ask forgiveness for his sins in the name of the lord Jesus it will be forgiven him, even if he had murdered a million people. The Lord Jesus has signed blank checks for everyone on this planet, all they have to do is write their names and cash the checks.

  16. Joe,
    You’re a wonderful asset to the Catholic Church but you need more categories of humans. There are people who are continuously grossed out by Catholic behaviour throughout history if they are well read; or right this month if they are simply newspaper readers or tv watchers. This month it was Archbishop Myers of Newark putting a $500,000 addition on to his diocesan owned mansion that he has been using for weekends on 8 acres of gorgeous forestbwith outdoor pool ( he’s adding an indoor pool). But there is sainthood this month also in Catholic priests giving their last dollars to protect muslim laity from christian militia here:

    There is good and there is bad but the good is in lesser publications and the bad is sometimes systemic whereas sainthood is sporadic incidents. God understands that people are not judging the almost pristine first millenium Catholic Church but they are judging the second millenium and here and now Catholic Church which is not pristine.
    No…I will not spend hours detailing those sins. Everyone can read real history books.

  17. In this high-tech world of instant information we have now, can Protestant’s really claim a valid ignorance to what the Catholic Church really believes? I understand there’s always going to be some exceptions, but these days, every time a new non-denominational/evangelical church opens up, you have to wonder, are they really not responsible for their lack of knowledge? There really is a whole swath of people who ‘believe in Jesus’ but never go to church and have no clue about who He really is and what He said and did in Scripture…it seems like Christianity is a default religion or belief system that has no real significance or presence in their lives. Christianity has become so watered down these days…give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.

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