Dear Catholic Exchange:
Will Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hindus, et al be saved?
I fully accept spreading Jesus' message, but I'm not so sure about the Protestant method of attacking and demeaning other Christian faiths, and non-faiths. Did Pope John Paul not say we are all brothers and sisters, and continue and confirm Our Lords' Golden Rule to Love one another?
A "Born Again" friend of mine insists that as Christians we have a "Duty" to inform non-followers of Christ that they are not going to heaven. He believes that we must firmly spread this message, as Jesus said, "Anyone who is not for me is really against me; anyone who does not help me gather is really scattering" (Luke 11.23).
Any guidance and insight will be humbly appreciated.
Your friend in Christ,
Frank De Lio
Dear Mr. De Lio,
Peace in Christ!
Will non-Christians be saved?
All salvation comes through Jesus Christ, the one Savior of the world (cf. Acts 4:12). Though the Church has never wavered in holding salvation possible only through Christ, she does hold that salvation is possible for members of other religions who are inculpably ignorant of the Gospel (Catechism no. 847). Speaking of the unbaptized Cornelius, who believed in God though not yet in Christ, Peter says "truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:35).
In the Gospel of Mark, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the Eleven and gave them the commission, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mk. 16:15-16).
In order to accept or reject the Gospel, each person must have it preached to him. If acceptance or rejection of the truth were based on private revelations given to each man, woman, and child, there would be no need for Christ to commission the Apostles to preach the Gospel. Jesus desired to reveal Himself through His body, the Church. "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Lk. 10:16). While this passage condemns those who reject the truth, it does not condemn those who have not had the truth offered to them as Christ intends.
Since Vatican II the Church has labored to seek common ground with both non-Catholic Christians and members of non-Christian religions as a necessary first step to bringing all men into communion with Christ. This is properly seen to be an action in imitation of St. Paul himself. St. Paul recognized that Greek non-Christians imperfectly worshipped the one, true God (Acts 17:26-29; cf. 17:22-34). Note well that Paul did not condemn these Greeks for worshipping a false god; rather, he tried to build on and enlighten their imperfect worship of the one, true God. "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" (Acts 17: 22). If Paul can say such about Greek non-Christians, one can certainly say the same about Jews and Muslims who, more than these ancient Greeks, explicitly recognize and profess the God of Abraham.
United in the Faith,
Catholics United for the Faith
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