Outside the Church There is No Salvation

Discussion in 'Basic Catechism' started by Traditional Catholic, Jun 2, 2018.

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    To know God and to be justified in His sight is the age old struggle of sinful man reaching out into the abyss of wonder that is the life of faith.

    The search for God begins, not with man, but in the mind of God who initiates the relationship with man by His general revelation; through the natural creation that He uses as a preparative means to His initial grace, or actual grace, that he imparts to those He has elected before the foundations of the world in His divine sovereignty. General revelation is just one means God uses; as scripture says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1)

    God also has given us the gift of His primary means of grace, which is the special revelation of the Divine Word of God: the Bible. “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the Word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8) Also, together, with the tradition of the Church, God has delivered to us the complete “deposit of the faith.”

    Justification is the act of cleansing us from our sins, and to communicate to us the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ and Baptism. It detaches man from sin. Justification has been merited for us by the passion of Christ. Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches us that “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God.”(CCC 1996)

    Eternal life is supernatural and depends entirely on God’s gracious initiative. However, “we cannot put God in a box”, as they say, so it is God who has the prerogative to work outside the parameters of what we understand as the sacramental system (extrasacramentally).

    “Concerning this doctrine the Pope of Vatican I, Pius IX, spoke on two different occasions. In an allocution on December 9, 1854 he said:

    “we must hold as of the faith, that out of the Apostolic Roman Church there is no salvation; that she is the only ark of safety, and whosoever is not in her perishes in the deluge; we must also, on the other hand, recognize with certainty that those who are invincible in ignorance of the true religion are not guilty for this in the eyes of the Lord. And who would presume to mark out the limits of this ignorance according to the character and diversity of peoples, countries, minds, and the rest?”

    Again, in his encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore of August 10, 1863 addressed to the Italian bishops, he said:

    “It is known to us and you that those who are invincibly ignorant of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in his supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin.”

    These statements are consistent with the understanding of the Church contained in the documents of Vatican II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church….”(Outside the Church There is No Salvation, EWTN.com)

    For an example let us look to scripture where we find in Romans 2:14-15

    “For when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature those things which are of the law, such persons, not having the law, are a law unto themselves.

    For they reveal the work of the law written in their hearts, while their conscience renders testimony about them, and their thoughts within themselves also accuse or even defend them.” (CPDV)

    This is the most convincing evidence. For the Apostle Paul, himself, allows for God’s mercy to work outside the parameters of the known, established Church; Seeing that Gentiles can also be saved, who do not have any knowledge of the law, and yet if they do what their conscience tells them is right, they are either accused or excused by their own conscience. Paul goes on to say in verse 16, “on that day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

    Also, John 15:22

    “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” (RSV)

    In the context of this verse, Jesus is talking about the world’s hatred toward him and those who choose to follow him. But we can also see an implicit meaning in what he says about those who he came and spoke to not being under as great a judgement as those who have heard; we who have the knowledge of the truth, are under a greater judgement, and have no excuse. But if we follow the logic of this argument, we see those who are ignorant of the Gospel, are said to not have sin.

    John 9:41

    “Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”(RSV)

    Spiritual blindness is being discussed in this passage, and Jesus again implies that if we were blind we would have no guilt. This does not mean that they were free of sinful nature inherited from Adam, but that they would have no guilt for violating specific teaching or commands that they had received. Because the Pharisees thought they had great insight into the law of God and were able to see, they had more guilt than the person who had no knowledge.

    And, Acts 10:1-4

    “Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, named Cornelius, a centurion of the band, which is called the Italian, a religious man, and one that feared God, with all his house, giving much alms to people, and praying to God always: He saw in a vision manifestly, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying to him: Cornelius. And he beholding him, being seized with fear, said: What is it Lord? And he said to him: Thy prayers, and thy alms, have ascended for a memorial in the sight of God.”(Douay Rheims)

    “A religious man and one who feared God. He was not a Jew, yet believed in God.—always, that is, frequently praying, and giving alms. In the Rheims Testament we find this note: ’hereby it appeareth, that such works as are done before justification, though they suffice not to salvation, yet are acceptable preparatives for the grace of justification, and such as move God to mercy….though all such preparative works come also of grace. Cornelius religiously observed the law of nature, and the principle points of the Jewish moral law, though he did not profess Judaism. He was an admirable example of virtue before his knowledge of Christianity.” (Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary)

    Also, in all three of the synoptic Gospels Christ uses this phrase, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”(Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32) How may we understand this? Did Christ only come to call sinners? No! He came, suffered, and died for the whole world: his sacrifice was sufficient for everyone. So, if we allow, as the Church does, for two senses of interpreting scripture, literal as well as spiritual, then it can be implicitly argued that Jesus was saying, there are some who through their faithful righteous lives will be saved. “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”(James 2:24 RSV) Although, we acknowledge that these preparatory works come only from God’s grace.

    The Church fathers also have something to say on this issue.

    Justin Martyr

    “We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the logos of which all mankind partakes [John 1:9]. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason [Greek, logos] were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus, and others like them…. Those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason [logos] were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live now according to reason [logos] are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid.” (First Apology 46[A.D. 151]).

    So we see that through reason we can find our way to God; this I would also call one of God’s means of grace, leading us to Him. If we are guided by our reason and seek God diligently, this is a type of faith. “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.” (Hebrews 11:6)


    “There was never a time when God did not want men to be just; he was always concerned about that. Indeed, he always provided beings endowed with reason with occasions for practicing virtue and doing what is right. In every generation the wisdom of God descended into those souls which he found holy and made them to be prophets and friends of God.” (Against Celsus 4:7[A.D. 248]).

    In the book of Job we read “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil.” This book is one of the oldest in the Bible, and as yet there is no clear belief in the afterlife with its rewards and punishments; still less is there anything coming close to the revelation of the New Testament as in the time of Christ. The book takes its name from a holy man, who is probably of the race of Esau. So, he was not a Hebrew, but an Edomite from the kingdom of Jobab (Genesis 36:33). The time of the Job is most likely during the Egyptian bondage, or the wilderness wanderings. [Hadock’s Catholic Bible Commentary]

    If it is said that Job was blameless, upright, and feared God, then how did he obtain his faith? He had no scriptures (direct revelation), he was outside the people of God, the Israelites. No one to preach to him. How? My point of all this is to say that God chose Job by his sovereignty, and then by his general grace drew Job to himself, and finally made him blameless. How? How was he made blameless? In verse 5 we read “Job offered burnt offerings” for his sons and daughters, in case they had sinned. Somehow God imparted this knowledge to Job; whether it was oral tradition or common knowledge passed on from the time of Cain and Able. Regardless, God found a way to impart wisdom into the soul of Job, and justify him.

    But let us also look to the Catechism of God’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church:

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    (CCC 846)-“How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulating positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the head through the Church which is his body:

    “Basing itself on scripture and tradition, the council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as though a door. Hense they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” (Lumen gentium14, Mark 16:16)

    (CCC 847)-“This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    “Those who no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who never the less seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it though the dictates of their conscience-those too may achieve eternal salvation.” (Lumen gentium16)

    (CCC 848)-“Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.” (Ad gentes7, Hebrews 11:6, 1 Corinthians 9:16)

    (CCC 1260)-“Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal Mystery. Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”

    The Necessity for Membership of the Church

    Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation(De fide.)

    Dr. Ludwig Ott talks on this subject in his “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” This book is a conspectus of all Dogmatic Theology.

    “Nevertheless equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion, are not for this reason guilty in the eyes of the Lord”(D 1647). The last proposition holds out the possibility that people who in point of fact do not belong to the Church can achieve salvation.

    The necessity for belonging to the Church is not merely a necessity of precept (necessitas praecepti), but also a necessity of means (nec. Medii), as the comparison with the Ark, the means of salvation from the biblical flood, plainly shows. The necessity of means is, however, not an absolute necessity, but a hypothetical one. In special circumstances, namely, in the case of invincible ignorance or of incapability, actual membership of the Church can be replaced by the desire (votum) for the same. This need not be expressly present (explicite), but can also be included in the moral readiness faithfully to fulfill the will of God (votum implicitum). In this manner also those who are in fact outside the Catholic Church can achieve salvation….That those who, in innocent ignorance, do not know the true Church of Christ, but who are never the less ready to bow to the demands of the Divine Will, will not be cast out, springs from the Divine Justice, and from the doctrine of God’s general will of salvation, which is clearly proved in the scriptures. (1 Timothy 2:4).” [Fundamental of Catholic Dogma, P.312]

    “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    Saint Irenaeus wrote that:

    “In the efficacy of the spirit all those have no part, who do not hasten to the Church; rather they, by their evil teaching and their evil deeds, rob themselves of life. For where the Church is, there is also the spirit of God, and where the spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace.” (Adv. Haer. III 24,I).

    “In view of the stress laid upon the necessity of membership of the Church for salvation it is understandable that the possibility of salvation for those outside the Church is mentioned only hesitantly.” [Fundamental of Catholic Dogma, P.313] “Saint Thomas Aquinas, agreeing with Tradition, teaches the general necessity of the Church for salvation. On the other hand, he concedes that a person may be saved extrasacramentally by baptism of desire and therefore the possibility of salvation without actual membership of the Church by reason of a desire to be a member of the Church.”[Ibid] The holy synod professes that “God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world, by the natural light of human reason” (Romans 1:20). [Vatican Council I, Dogmatic Constitution on our Catholic Faith]

    A distinction needs to be made here between dogmatic tolerance and civil tolerance. Dogmatic tolerance is rejected by the Church which would legitimately make all religions of the same value, when it comes to justification; also known as indifferentism. Civil tolerance is propagating the commandment of love of neighbor towards all men, even those in error.
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