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Must I Be Catholic To Be Saved?

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How Important Is It To Be Catholic? / Must I Be Catholic To Be Saved?

Important Notice: The following is provided for informational purposes only and is not comprehensive. References and translations may vary. We make no guarantee regarding any item herein. We are not liable for any occurrence which may result from using this site. By using this site you agree to all terms. For more terms information, click here

Considering that one's eternal salvation is at stake, correct decisions in matters of religion are of the utmost importance. Since Jesus - God Incarnate - set up only one Church - the Catholic Church (the facts prove that the Catholic Church was the only church established by Christ and existing since Christ) - and gave her visible leader, St. Peter, the keys to the kingdom of heaven (see Mt. 16:19), it is certain that it is necessary for all mankind to belong to this Church for salvation.

Beginning from Pentecost, we can see that St. Peter - upon receiving the Holy Spirit, and acting as Christ's representative - instructed the devout Jews that they needed to repent and be baptized into Christ's Church for salvation (cf. Acts 2:38-41). This has always been the teaching of the Catholic Church and it has been confirmed over and over again by Popes, Saints, Councils, and Doctors of the Church (click here for more information). The Bible also confirms the necessity of belonging to Christ's Church. For example, consider that Scripture says:

"Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 10:16, emphasis added)

Scripture also says:

"If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:17)

And, Scripture calls the Church... 

"...the pillar and foundation of truth." (1 Tm. 3:15)

Further, we know that Christ loves the Church, which is called His Body:

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church" (Col. 1:24)

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church." (Col. 1:15-18)

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:22-32)

"May the eyes of (your) hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way." (Eph. 1:18-23)

On the other hand, Scripture tells us that those outside the Church (e.g. heretics), stand condemned. For example, consider that Scripture says:

"After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (Ti. 3:10-11)

"I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by (the) grace (of Christ) for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!" (Gal. 1:6-9)

"For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense. Anyone who is so 'progressive' as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works." (2 Jn. 1:6-11)

All other so-called 'churches' besides the Catholic Church were created by men, with no authority from God, and are actually in opposition to the one true Church established by Christ. They have no power, no authority, and no keys to heaven. As Holy Scripture says: 

"[Jesus] said in reply, 'Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone [referring here to the Pharisees]; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.'" (Mt. 15:13-14)

"Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build." (Ps. 127:1 )

Although those outside the Catholic Church may claim to be biblical, it is clear that they are actually acting contrary to Scripture. For example, compare what Holy Scripture says to what various non-Catholic 'Christians' say...

Holy Scripture

Non-Catholic 'Christians'

Jms. 2:24: See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

"Persons Are Saved by Faith Alone"

2 Thes. 2:15: Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.

"Tradition Should Be Rejected. The Bible is the Sole Rule of Faith"

Biblical instruction is necessary (see Acts 8:30-31)

Prophecy of scripture is not a matter of personal interpretation (see 2 Pt. 1:20)

Scripture can be difficult to understand and can be distorted to one's destruction (see 2 Pt. 3:15-16)

"Each Person Can Easily Interpret the Bible For Themselves"

Must endure to the end to be saved (see Mt. 10:22, Mt. 24:13, Mk. 13:13)

Salvation of a brother can be lost (see 1 Cor. 8:11)

Must hold fast to be saved (see 1 Cor. 15:2)

Work out salvation in fear and trembling (see Phil. 2:12)

Must persevere to be saved (see 2 Tm. 2:12)

Salvation may be lost and not recovered (see Heb. 6:4-8)

"Salvation is Guaranteed"

Jms. 2:26: For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Rv. 20:12-13: I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds.

"Good Works Are Unnecessary"

Furthermore, consider that:

* There can only be only one true Church.

* "You resist God if you don't accept HIS Church." 

* "[W]hosoever turns his back on the Church [called Christ's body in Scripture!] cannot be near to Christ." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891 A.D.)

* "How can a man say he believes in Christ if he doesn't do what Christ commanded him to do?" (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

* To do deny any part of Christ's revelation is to deny Christ! "Even the heretics appear to have Christ, for none of them denies the name of Christ; yet, anyone who does not confess all that pertains to Christ does in fact deny Christ." (St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church, c. 389 A.D.) 

* "Those who believe in Christ outside of the Catholic Church believe in a 'Christ' that doesn't exist - one that didn't set up a Church, one that didn't leave the Eucharist, one that didn't establish a papacy..., in short, a false Christ."

* "Men do their own will, not God's, when they do what displeases God" (St. Prosper / Council of Orange II, 529 A.D.)

* Those who depart from the Catholic faith wrongly usurp the name Christian: "The very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the apostles and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded, and if anyone departs from this, he neither is, nor any longer ought to be called, a Christian." (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church)

* Is it not dangerous to forgo the keys to heaven? How, then do you expect to get in? Remember that it was Christ who left the keys with Peter! "Just as no one can enter any place without the help of him who has the keys, so no one is admitted to heaven unless its gates be unlocked by the priests to whose custody the Lord gave the keys. This power would otherwise be of no use in the Church. If heaven can be entered without the power of the keys, in vain would they to whom the keys were given seek to prevent entrance within its portals. This thought was familiar to the mind of St. Augustine. Let no man, he says, say within himself: 'I repent in secret to the Lord. God, who has power to pardon me, knows the inmost sentiments of my heart.' Was there then no reason for saying 'whatsoever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven'; no reason why the keys were given to the Church of God? This same doctrine is taught by St. Ambrose in his treatise On Penance, when refuting the heresy of the Novatians who asserted that the power of forgiving sins belonged solely to God. Who, says he, yields greater reverence to God, he who obeys or he who resists His commands? God commands us to obey his ministers; and by obeying them, we honor God alone." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* No man-made religion is capable of achieving salvation - such religions are, in fact, religions based on lies! This is the case no matter how well intentioned a person might be. Remember: "Meaning well isn't good enough. One cannot expect to get to heaven unless he takes the path that leads there any more than one can expect to get to L.A. on a plane that is flying to N.Y.!"

Remember that the Catholic Christ alone was founded by Jesus. The Catholic Faith alone was practiced from the beginning by all the Apostles. The Catholic Church alone was established by Christ. The Catholic Church alone has the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Membership in the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. Know that the consequences of one's choices in matters of religion are eternal - either eternal bliss or eternal punishment. It really DOES matter! [Note that in addition to mere membership in the Catholic Church, it is obviously also necessary live up to the Church's teachings and to persevere in the Catholic faith to be saved.] 

Also Try...

Is Your Faith Biblical?

Is Your Religion True?

Who Founded Your 'Church'?

Where Was Your 'Church' When...?

Do You Always Put Catholics on the Defensive? Allow Us to Put You On the Defensive...

Biblical References For Various Catholic Beliefs

The Importance of Being Catholic: Combating Religious Indifferentism (Coming Home Section)

Catholic Basics (Introduction)

Catholic Basics Section

The Catholic Church (Catholic Basics Reflections)

Coming Home Reflections

"For, in effect, he scatters and gathers not who gathers not with the Church and with Jesus Christ, and all who fight not jointly with him and with the Church are in very truth contending against God." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"[N]ot without sorrow we can hear people - whom we wish to believe are well-intentioned but who are certainly misguided in their attitude - continually claiming to love Christ but without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to belong to Christ but outside the Church. The absurdity of this dichotomy is clearly evident in this phrase of the Gospel: 'Anyone who rejects you rejects me.'" (Pope Paul VI, 1975 A.D.)

"Let them hear Lactantius crying out: 'The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928 A.D.)

"To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name. Men who really believe in the existence of God must, in order to be consistent with themselves and to avoid absurd conclusions, understand that differing modes of divine worship involving dissimilarity and conflict even on most important points cannot all be equally probable, equally good, and equally acceptable to God." (Pope Leo XIII, "Immortale Dei", 1885 A.D.)

"Let us love our Lord God, let us love His Church: Him as a Father, her as a Mother; Him as a Master, her as His Handmaid; for we are the children of the Handmaid herself. But this marriage is held together by a great love; no one offends the one and gains favor with the other... What does it profit you not to have offended your Father, when He will vindicate your offended Mother? What does it profit you to confess the Lord, to honor God, to preach Him, to acknowledge His Son, to confess the Son seated at the right hand of the Father, if you blaspheme His Church... Cling, then, beloved, cling all with one mind to God our Father and to the Church our Mother." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 5th century A.D.)

"Is there eternal life, then, outside the kingdom of heaven? First, turn your ears away from this error, eradicate it from your minds. This is something new in the Church, previously unheard of: that there is eternal life outside the kingdom of heaven, that there is eternal salvation outside the kingdom of God... [W]hoever does not belong to the kingdom of God, undoubtedly belongs to damnation. The Lord, who will come and who will judge the living and the dead, just as the Gospel says, will make a division in two parts, on the right and on the left... To one group He designates a kingdom, to the other, damnation in company with the Devil. There is no one left for a middle place... Some will be on the right hand, others will be on the left hand: another hand I never knew." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 5th century A.D.)

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