Non-Christians and Heaven : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

I've been studying lately about wheter non Christians can go to heaven. I've discovered that while most mainstream Protestant denominations believe no they can not the Catholic Church very much believes they can. The Pope has even made statements that they can still recieve Gods grace but what I was wondering was what bible versus give refrence to this. The information I've found from Catholic dictionaries to Catholic web pages have all said the bible talks about this matter. Especially in Macabbees. Does anyone know any of the specific passages? Thanks for any input you can give. Christian Woodside

-- James Christian Woodside (, September 12, 2002


Interesting Question, James. I can't wait to hear from the resto of the gang.

St. James, Pray for us.

In Christ.

-- Jake Huether (, September 13, 2002.

Those cannot be saved who, knowing that Christ founded the Catholic Church for our salvation, refuse either to enter it or remain in it. Those who are in invincible ginorance of the truth of Catholicism or even of Christianity in general, can be saved if they respond sufficiently to God's grace, as known to them through the conscience. Such people are still being saved only though Christ and through a mysterious relationship with the Catholic Church, even if their knowledge is not explicit. It is very serious not to be part of the visible Catholic Church, however, because the important helps the Church gives for our salvation.

You asked for some Bible verses about how non-Christians can be saved. The Bible teaches that a staggeringly huge number will be saved, we don't know how many. We find this, for example, in John's vision of heaven:

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands" (Rev 7:9; cf. Rev. 5:7; Mt 8:10-11; 24:31).

People who have not explicitly accepted Christ can be excused by what is called "invincible ignorance." For various reasons a person might not know the Gospel message, whether from having never heard it at all (as has happened with many people throughout the world), or from getting a version of it so corrupted as not only to fail to constitute the Gospel message but actually to be a hindrance to its ever being received correctly. The psychologies of individuals are extremely various in this regard, and the Bible takes into account one's actual intent and the degree of one's knowledge when discussing moral responsibility:

Luke 12:47 "And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required. . ."

Hebrews 10:26 "For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries."

1 Timothy 1:12 "I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, 13 though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but **I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief**, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus."

Jn 15:22 [Jesus says, regarding people He has personally taught and performed miracles in front of] "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father."

2 Peter:20 "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them."

The correspondence of one's guilt to one's knowledge of God also occurs in Matthew 11:20-24; 12:45. In Romans 2, Paul explains that everyone has access to the law through his or her heart, and people can find salvation by following God in that way and seeking the truth:

Romans 2:6 "For [God] will render to every man according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse **or perhaps excuse them** 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."

There are also several verses on the vital importance of accepting the true faith, and how all salvation is through Jesus Christ.

-- Chris B -- September 15, 2002.

Thorough answer. I was hoping to see you mention Romans 2:14. This spells it out despite any comments from those of any denomination who speak falsely about God and some of His more perfect attributes: mercy, forgiveness, omniscience (a quality most of us surely do not share, in spite of Baptism and sharing divine life eg 2Peter1). God bless, (nice board so far) Theresa (exile person!)

-- Theresa Matarese (, September 15, 2002.

Chris, you are such a monumental blessing! Your post was excellent. I'm going to save it in my Chris B directory!

May God's healing flow through you, my blessed brother!


-- Gail (, September 15, 2002.

Thanks, Theresa and Gail! Gail, you are so nice to me. If I write anything helpful it's from God, and all the mistakes are mine. Take good care, and may God richly bless you.

-- Chris B (, September 16, 2002.

This is well and in a sense generous and chartible from the Catholic Church. but it always made me uneasy about those who would pop the bubble of official ignorance and replace with likely damnation: missionarys.

While it is unlikely that a person would convert to a forign god, especially the God of the oppressors of their people, the missionary will make such people familiar with such while likely not changing their hearts toward such.

IMHO, Sean

-- Sean Cleary (, September 22, 2002.

Hi, Sean. You have a few mistakes there. First, missionaries have spread the faith among many millions of people through history. They have planted far more seeds -- and lasting ones -- than you seem to imagine. Christianity began with Christ and 12 Apostles, and now it amounts to about 2 billion people.

Second, salvation is more difficult for those outside the Church, and so missionary activity will always be vital. The life-giving graces from exposure to the faith far outweigh the issue of entering an area of culpable knowledge. Hearing the Gospel can be the first step of someone not getting an abortion, or getting enslaved by pornography, or continuing in adultery, all of which lead into everlasting damnation. Christianity offers the road out of the darkness, and the realtionship with the Trinity and the whole Communion of the Saints that bring a person into eternal life.

-- Chris B -- September 23, 2002.

This has also been a question on my mind. I consider myself to be Christian and I am not sure if I can accept heaven if non-believers are not allowed in, even if I am given it. My conscience would eat away at me know that 4/5 of my brethen would be condemned because they had never heard the Gospels or were confused and chose a non-Christian religon. Sorry if I have not answered your question, but I wanted you to know I am thinking it, too.

-- BlueSubmarine (, November 04, 2002.

I recant my previous views.

-- Blue Submarine (, December 02, 2002.

-- The Thread Restorer (, December 01, 2003


The old Baltimore Catechism #4 gives the absolute clearest teaching on this subject. #4 is for teachers, catechists and adults. Bear in mind that nothing in this catechism has been repudiated by the Church and it is still widely used in parish education programs. 121. Q. Are all bound to belong to the Church?

A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it, cannot be saved.

鄭nyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven. If one not a Catholic doubts whether the church to which he belongs is the true Church, he must settle his doubt, seek the true Church, and enter it; for if he continues to live in doubt, he becomes like the one who knows the true Church and is deterred by worldly considerations from entering it.

的n like manner one who, doubting, fears to examine the religion he professes lest he should discover its falsity and be convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith, cannot be saved. Suppose, however, that there is a non-Catholic who firmly believes that the church to which he belongs is the true Church, and who has never -- even in the past -- had the slightest doubt of that fact -- what will become of him?

的f he was validly baptized and never committed a mortal sin, he will be saved; because, believing himself a member of the true Church, he was doing all he could to serve God according to his knowledge and the dictates of his conscience. But if ever he committed a mortal sin, his salvation would be very much more difficult. A mortal sin once committed remains on the soul till it is forgiven. Now, how could his mortal sin be forgiven? Not in the Sacrament of Penance, for the Protestant does not go to confession; and if he does, his minister -- not being a true priest -- has no power to forgive sins. Does he know that without confession it requires an act of perfect contrition to blot out mortal sin, and can he easily make such an act? What we call contrition is often only imperfect contrition -- that is, sorrow for our sins because we fear their punishment in Hell or dread the loss of Heaven. If a Catholic -- with all the instruction he has received about how to make an act of perfect contrition and all the practice he has had in making such acts -- might find it difficult to make an act of perfect contrition after having committed a mortal sin, how much difficulty will not a Protestant have in making an act of perfect contrition, who does not know about this requirement and who has not been taught to make continued acts of perfect contrition all his life. It is to be feared either he would not know of this necessary means of regaining God's friendship, or he would be unable to elicit the necessary act of perfect contrition, and thus the mortal sin would remain upon his soul and he would die an enemy of God.

的f, then, we found a Protestant who never committed a mortal sin after Baptism, and who never had the slightest doubt about the truth of his religion, that person would be saved; because, being baptized, he is a member of the Church, and being free from mortal sin he is a friend of God and could not in justice be condemned to Hell. Such a person would attend Mass and receive the Sacraments if he knew the Catholic Church to be the only true Church.

的 am giving you an example, however, that is rarely found, except in the case of infants or very small children baptized in Protestant sects. All infants rightly baptized by anyone are really children of the Church, no matter what religion their parents may profess. Indeed, all persons who are baptized are children of the Church; but those among them who deny its teaching, reject its Sacraments, and refuse to submit to its lawful pastors, are rebellious children known as heretics.

的 said I gave you an example that can scarcely be found, namely, of a person not a Catholic, who really never doubted the truth of his religion, and who, moreover, never committed during his whole life a mortal sin. There are so few such persons that we can practically say for all those who are not visibly members of the Catholic Church, believing its doctrines, receiving its Sacraments, and being governed by its visible head, our Holy Father, the Pope, salvation is an extremely difficult matter.

的 do not speak here of pagans who have never heard of Our Lord or His holy religion, but of those outside the Church who claim to be good Christians without being members of the Catholic Church.

-- John Miskell (, January 17, 2004.

I think the key sentance here is: Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven.

The knows part is something between God and the individual.

-- Bill Nelson (, January 17, 2004.

Thank you for that informative excerpt from the Baltimore Catechism, John. I've read the Universal Catechism but not the Baltimore ... I'll make it a point to read it. We, Catholics, are so blessed with the Sacrament of Confession.

Non-christians AND Protestants should indeed tremble for even we Catholics DO tremble!

Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor and Outstanding Mystic of The Church, wrote in her Autobiography:

I saw, too, how completely hell is deserved for only ONE mortal sin, and how impossible it is to understand the exceeding great wickedness of committing it in the sight of Majesty so great, and how abhorrent to His Nature such actions are.

It was that vision (of Hell) that filled me with the very great distress which I feel at the sight of SO MANY LOST SOULS, ESPECIALLY OF LUTHERANS, -- FOR THEY WERE ONCE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH BY BAPTISM ...

In matters concerning the faith, my courage seems to be much greater. I think I could go forth alone by myself against the LUTHERANS, and convince thim of their ERRORS. I feel very keenly the LOSS OF SO MANY SOULS.

-- 1,000,000 sins (go@to.Confession), January 17, 2004.

Saint Teresa of Avila further wrote:

I learnt from Our Lord, ... "What Satan was doing among the Lutherans (PROTESTANTS) was the taking away from them all those means by which their love might be more quickened; and THUS THEY WERE GOING TO PERDITION. Those who are loyal to Me,..., must now, more than ever, do the very reverse of what they do."

-- 1,000,000 sins (go@to.Confession), January 18, 2004.

As I understand thus thread , correcty me if I'm wrong:

Talking about , there are a lot of heavens , 'cause every religion talks about there own life after dead ??

Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven.

What's the meaning of this ??

Salut & Cheers from a NON BELIEVER:

-- Laurent LUG (.@...), January 19, 2004.

It means that if you know the Catholic religion to be the true religion, but you reject it, you are committing a mortal sin since you know what is right but deliberately, using your own free will, reject it.


-- Bill Nelson (, January 19, 2004.

So , everyone who's not (or don't recognize) catholic commmits a mortal sin ??

Salut & Cheers from a NON BELIEVER:

-- Laurent LUG (.@...), January 19, 2004.

So , everyone who's not (or don't recognize) catholic commmits a mortal sin ??

No, only if they know that the Catholic Church is the True Church and they still reject her. Only they and God can no this.

It takes 3 things to sin mortally: 1) You commit a grievious act. {e.g., reject the true church}
2) You know it is a sin
3) You do it anyway

-- Bill Nelson (, January 19, 2004.


-- Bill Nelson (, January 19, 2004.

Rejection is not always bad or a sin !! __ We are people who suppose to be have a free will !! __ It's a sin , if you're forcing people to follow a direction , knowing they are not interested or not like it !!

PS: Here , I'm not talking about crimes !!

Salut & Cheers from a NON BELIEVER:

-- Laurent LUG (.@...), January 20, 2004.

Again: It takes 3 things to sin:

1) You commit a grievous act.
Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as "an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.

2) You know it is a sin.
(you have knowledge that it is sinful to do this act)

3) You do it anyway
(this is your free will in action, you make the choice)

Sin is an offense against God: "Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight." Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become "like gods," knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus "love of oneself even to contempt of God." In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation. - CCC 1850

-- Bill Nelson (, January 20, 2004.

Nobody is forcing anybody around here.

You are free to choose Heaven or Hell.

You are free to choose the Holy Catholic Church or a counterfeit.

You are free to choose to stay or to leave.

-- BELIEVER (WE@BELIEVE.FOREVER), January 20, 2004.

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