Tuesday, December 05, 2006

If Non-Catholics Can Still Get to Heaven, Why Evangelize?

"Joey-O" asked the following question in the Q&A board at Phatmass:
I have encountered several Roman Catholics who have said things, like: "It's easier to be a Buddhist and make it to Heaven, because they are only accountable for what they know. They don't know Christ (assuming the Buddhist never heard the Gospel message), so they are accountable to far less than a Roman Catholic, who has the full knowledge of the Revealed Truth."

I understand that they get this from the need to say something about those who do not hear the Gospel message. It seems sort of unjust to say that everybody goes to Hell, even if they're never given the chance to go to Heaven. However, it seems that it is incongruant with the Gospel. Christ wanted us to spread the Kingdom, but if it's easier for someone to go to Heaven without the knowledge of faith, why did Christ tell us do that?

I'm basically looking for a Roman Catholic answer that is soteriologicailly sound (because the above example, clearly isn't) and still comes out with God remaining just and good.
I assert that it is actually more difficult for a non-Catholic to get to heaven. While ignorance may spare some, it is definitely nothing to bet your life on. The fact is that while non-Catholics may in fact find salvation, their road is much more perilous because they do not have access to the many instruments of grace that are available to Catholics. Primarily, I have in mind the seven Sacraments, and especially the Eucharist. The Sacraments are seven sure ways to receive the grace of God. Without them, the non-Catholic Christian, or the non-Christian, must find the Lord's grace through other means (like praying or reading the Bible) that may not always grant them the blessing they wish to receive (for example, if their prayer is selfish or if they read and/or interpret the Bible incorrectly).

So, it is actually quite vital that we share the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church to the whole world. While non-Catholics may in fact find salvation in their religion, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will. The Catholic Church is the most perfect way and as Christians we should always strive for the ideal.

2 Cor 12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

I hope that helps

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

8 comments:

Becky said...

Ah, this reminds me of a conversation I recently had with someone who heard that Catholics believe that 'only Catholics are saved' which led me to research extra ecclesiam nulla salus and whatnot. Very interesting stuff. Thanks for posting this, cause it's definitely something that people often misunderstand. Praise God for the fullness of truth we have! And may he lead those who have parts of it home to the Church. God bless+

Laura said...

If a non-Catholic CAN be saved? *gives funny look* I think you mean 'can't'.

Your footer looks good.

Jon said...

Interesting reason to the infamous quesiton of why a protestant, if they are christian and have a viable baptism, should convert...

phatcatholic said...

If a non-Catholic CAN be saved? *gives funny look* I think you mean 'can't'.

No, I meant CAN. The fact that non-Catholics can still go to heaven makes some Catholics wonder why we should evangelize. Some even assert that we shouldn't evangelize, especially in reference to the Jews. But, just because the Church acknowledges that, under certain circumstances, a person who is not Catholic can still go to heaven, that does not mean that the person's circumstance is very well suited for achieving that end.

The Catholic Church is the best means for salvation because of the grace that God offers men through Her, graces that do not necessarily exist (although they may) in other denominations or religions. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to take on the Great Commission with zeal.

Laura said...

Can you tell I was just popping in to look around? Haha.


Pride v
Humility ^

phatcatholic said...

Can you tell I was just popping in to look around? Haha.

aww, its ok, i realized later that the title was a little misleading, which is why i changed it.

Anonymous said...

"While non-Catholics may in fact find salvation in their religion..."

It might be clearer to rephrase this. Maybe:

"While non-Catholics may in fact find salvation in spite of their religion..."

phatcatholic said...

It might be clearer to rephrase this. Maybe:

"While non-Catholics may in fact find salvation in spite of their religion..."


I disagree. CCC, no. 819 says that these very denominations save people in virtue of what they share with the Catholic Church. I don't think it follows from this that protestants, for example, are saved in spite of their religion.

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."

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