Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #19

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Before I get into the heart of this week’s issue, just wanted to let all of you hyper-technology types know that there is an apologetics resource out there that you might want to check out. PDA & Pocket PC Apologetics: http://www.pelkie.com/Detail.bok?no=1. Puts lots of Bible verses at the tip of your fingers in just seconds.

I have not heard back from Todd, and I don’t expect that I ever will. However, I did have a non-Catholic who subscribes to this newsletter take me to task for saying that Todd didn’t answer my questions when, in this person’s opinion, Todd did indeed answer my questions. I responded by saying that Todd had not done so, and I also gave this person the chance to answer the questions I had asked of Todd…and he has sent me a response to those questions. I will be responding to him in the near future and I hope to have some, if not all, of this particular exchange in this newsletter in the not-too-distant future.

It won’t be in next week’s issue, though, because I’ve already said I would answer the questions I’ve been receiving about how to respond to the whole Catholic Church = Whore of Babylon thing next week.


This week I’m responding to the requests I received from a whole bunch of folks in regards to how I would answer the information that Todd had in his last email to me regarding the Pope and the teaching that outside of the Church there is no salvation.

I refused to discuss that material directly with Todd, because I generally do not allow folks to switch topics on me until they have answered my questions on the first topic that is already out there on the table. He and I were talking about salvation – is it faith alone that saves us or not? He tried to switch the subject, and I refused to go along.

But, again, a number of you wanted to know how I would respond to that particular line of argumentation, so that’s what I’m doing below.

As always, the other guy’s words are in italics. And, as always, your comments and feedback are welcomed and all will be read.


The Plain Truth about
the Roman Catholic Church

WHAT SAITH ROME? http://www.cuttingedge.org/articles/rome.html

Pope Proves Catholics Don’t Know Their Own Doctrines

This guy is trying to “prove” the Catholic Church is wrong in its teachings. How is he trying to prove that? By proving that there are Catholics who don’t know the teachings of the Church. How ridiculous is that argument?

As if you need the Pope in order to know that a whole bunch of Catholics don’t know their own doctrines? There are more than one billion Catholics in the world. Unfortunately, many of them are not properly catechized. No one tries to deny that. And, even more unfortunately, there are many who call themselves Catholic and who know what the Church teaches, but refuse to accept it. Cafeteria Catholics we call these folks. They pick and choose which doctrine or dogma they’ll accept and which they’ll reject, just like they pick and choose what they want to eat or don’t want to eat for lunch as they go through the line in the cafeteria.

I don’t know of anyone, from the Pope on down, who won’t admit that there are Catholics who don’t know their Faith. So what? There are Baptists who don’t know what the Baptist church teaches. There are Evangelicals who don’t know what the Evangelical church teaches. There are Episcopalians who don’t know what the Episcopalian church teaches and so on. In other words, the phenomenon is not confined to the world of Catholics. The fact that someone is ill-informed as to the teachings of his church, in no way reflects on whether those teachings are true or not – whether you’re talking Catholic, or Baptist, or Methodist, or anyone else. He has formulated his argument in such a way as to make it pretty much ridiculous.

Catholics just don’t know what their religion teaches. No doctrine has led to more criticism than exposing the Catholic teaching that outside the Catholic church, no one can be saved.

“We don’t believe that!” “How can you tell such a lie?” “How can you be so stupid?” are among the outcries I regularly hear. So am I wrong? Let’s look at the facts.

Again, the fact that there are Catholics who either don’t know, or who refuse to accept, what the Church teaches, has absolutely no bearing on whether or not what the Church teaches is true.

The official 1994 catechism claims that the Catholic church “is necessary for salvation.”

Then there’s the question and answer format of the older Baltimore Catechism (also official doctrine):

QUESTION: “Are all obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved?”

ANSWER: “All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved.”

Many former popes have also preached this doctrine. But the current “infallible” pope helped prove my point. He reaffirmed Rome’s position on May 7, 2001, when he told 2,000 young people, “you cannot be a Christian if you reject the Church founded on Jesus Christ;”3 The “Church” he is referring to is not the Scriptural body of Christ, but the Roman Catholic church alone.4

This paragraph contains the crux of the matter. The Catholic Church teaches that outside of the Church, there is no salvation. I’ll bet this guy, as do most Christians, actually believes what Catholics believe regarding the fact that outside of the church there is no salvation.

Surprised by that? What is the church? It is the Body of Christ…the Bible clearly tells us this in more than one passage. So, let’s re-phrase what the Church teaches in this way: Outside of the Body of Christ, there is no salvation. In other words, in order to be saved, one must be a member of the Body of Christ. What self-respecting Christian would disagree with that?

So, the problem is not so much the teaching that outside of the church there is no salvation, the problem is with Catholics believing that it is the Catholic Church which is THE church outside of which there is no salvation. That’s where the argument actually lies. As this guy stated, "The “Church” [the Pope] is referring to is not the Scriptural body of Christ, but the Roman Catholic church alone," (in his opinion).

I hope I’m making this clear. Most Christians believe what Catholics believe in this matter…they just don’t phrase it the way we do. But, if we change the wording, and, instead of saying outside of “the church” there is no salvation, we say outside of “the Body of Christ” there is no salvation, you will have most folks agree with you. So, again, the argument actually starts when you are trying to decide the question: What is the church? For Catholics, it is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ…it is the Church of Christ that is known by most folks as the Catholic Church. For non-Catholics, quite often “the church” is this nebulous body of all believers regardless of what denomination they belong to. Their definition of “church,” however, has all kinds of problems associated with it. I won’t get into that here, but please check out my talk entitled: “One Church.” It’s on our website and it goes into why “the church” cannot simply be all those who have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior, regardless of what denomination they belong to.

Sadly, most Catholics are tragically deceived, but even worse, many Christians have fallen into the same deception. Catholic apologists preach unity between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians. But the pope says there is no such thing as a non-Catholic Christian.

In truth, he is correct…about there being no such thing as a “non-Catholic Christian.” There is only one Christian church, and, if the Catholic Church is it, then, technically, there is no such thing as a non-Catholic Christian. As Catholics, we believe that someone becomes a Christian…they become a member of the Body of Christ…a member of the Church…when they are baptized. So, any validly baptized Christian, is baptized into the one and only Body of Christ…the one and only Church of Christ…the Catholic Church. So, if they are Christian, it is in as much as they have been baptized into the Catholic Church. Folks may not like it when you tell them that, and they may disagree with you in a very loud way, but that is, essentially, what happens…believe it or not.

Now, I do, as do many others, quite often use the term “non-Catholic Christians.” While from a purely technical standpoint that terminology may not be 100% accurate, it is useful, nonetheless. In common conversation everyone knows who you are referring to when you use that phrase – you are referring to either Protestants or to the Orthodox or both. In other words, you are referring to folks who do not recognize the Pope as the head of the Church of Christ. So, the language isn’t exact, but it conveys a certain commonly-accepted meaning. Kind of like saying: “The sun came up this morning.” Technically, that is not correct. The sun did not “come up” this morning…the earth rotated until you could see the sun in your part of the world. But, everyone knows what you mean when you say that.

We are not spiritual brothers and sisters. Not even close. How tragic that Christians have stopped witnessing to these lost religious people who are still counting on their good works to get them to heaven.

Not so on two accounts: First, we are spiritual brothers and sisters to those that have been baptized even though they may not be fully Catholic and we are separated from them by their refusal to acknowledge all the truths of the Christian Faith. And, second, we do not rely on our good works to get us into heaven. Again, the ignorance of these folks towards what the Church actually teaches never ceases to amaze me.

Understanding Roman Catholicism was written to Catholics, to show them how frequently their doctrines contradict the Bible. Thank God many are reading the book, getting saved and leaving the Catholic church.

I feel so sad for all the folks who perpetuate these lies and for all those who buy into them. Todd, and the folks who write the stuff that he is quoting here, need our constant prayers.

But today, soul winners also need to know the doctrines exposed in this book. If you really love the lost and want to see them saved, you first need to know who the lost are. You need to look past the Vatican’s Public Relations lies and learn the truth. The second step to winning a Catholic to Christ is showing them why their religion is wrong. The first step is finding out yourself.


Would that they would actually look at what the Church teaches, instead of the misconceptions, half-truths, and outright lies that so many folks pass off as authentic Catholic teaching.

So, I’ve answered his arguments…by agreeing with him. At least, agreeing with his basic tenets: 1) Not all Catholics know the teachings of their Church; and 2) The Church teaches that outside of the Body of Christ (the Church) there is no salvation. The problem with his arguments, is that his conclusions can in no way be supported by his premises. In fact, when you look at his arguments and conclusion closely – and the complete lack of logic involved – I think it says a whole lot more about this guy than it does about the Catholic Church.

In Conclusion

Okay, that is basically how I will answer Todd on those specific points should I have the occasion to do so. But, I’ll bet some of you want a little bit more than that, don’t you? Maybe you want a bit more expounding on this teaching that “outside of the church there is no salvation.” Well, here goes:

First, you need to read paragraphs #846-#848 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).

CCC #846-#848

#846: “Hence 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.

#847: This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and His Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

#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.”

Some things to remember about this: 1) Just because someone is ignorant about Jesus and His Church, doesn’t necessarily mean they WILL be saved. The Church teaches that, if they act to the best of their ability, by whatever grace God has given them, to do God’s will, as they are able to know it, they MAY be saved. MAY be saved. But, they are only saved through Christ and His Church…through some extraordinary means known only to God. We don’t know what this “extraordinary” means is, but it could, for example, be something along the lines of someone receiving knowledge of Christ and His Church at the moment of his death, through a special revelation of God, and be given a choice to make – Christ or no? But no one really knows for sure how that might work.

But, if someone is ignorant of Christ, and they are a sinner…the fact that they are ignorant of Christ doesn’t give them a free pass into Heaven. As Peter says (1 Peter 4:18), “If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?”

Folks, if it is difficult for those of us who have the Church and all the graces of Christ available to us through the sacraments of the Church to be saved…how much moreso those who are ignorant of Christ and do not have access to all the grace that we have access to?

Now, what about the Baptist who truly loves Christ? What about the Jews? Or the Muslims? What about…?

What I always say to people, is that any single person’s best chance to spend eternity in Heaven with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is to be Catholic – 100% Catholic. Being Catholic doesn’t guarantee that you will get there, but it is your best hope. That’s why the Church says that we have the “obligation” and “sacred right” to evangelize all men.

The Baptist, however much he may love God and act on the love of God, could love God even more were he to have access to the graces available through the Sacraments – particularly the Eucharist and Confession. We cannot judge anyone’s heart. While someone may appear to be living a godly life, and may appear to be close to Christ, we cannot be sure. We can be sure that if they had the Eucharist, and Confession, and all the other treasures of the Church available to them…that they could be even holier than they are now.

In other words, it is best to always assume that however holy, Christ-like, etc. someone may be…they could be even moreso if they were Catholic and had the fullness of the Faith as revealed to us by Christ. The Catholic Church has the fullness of truth that Christ left us. Jesus Christ is the Truth. So, the more truth you have, the more Jesus you have. That is why it is our “obligation” to evangelize any and all – to bring them into the fullness of the truth…to bring them closer to Christ.

To sum it up, we believe that God can save whomever it pleases Him to save. The ordinary means of salvation are available to us through the Body of Christ…through the grace merited for us by Jesus’ death on the cross. However, there may be extraordinary means of salvation that are known to God alone, through which He may act to save a soul.

I’ll close with this example: an Iroquois Indian in what is now New York state in the year 1300 A.D. There is no possible way for this person to have known anything about the life, mission, and death of Jesus Christ. No Christian missionaries have ever set foot in his part of the world. Does that mean that he has no chance of salvation? Many Protestants would say that if he can’t confess Jesus as Lord, then he has no chance at salvation.

As Catholics, though, we say that God is a just god. And, as the Scriptures tell us (1 Timothy 2:4), God wants all men to be saved. So, if God is a just god, and if He wants all men to be saved, then we reason that He must give all men an opportunity to be saved. For many men, that opportunity comes through the church founded by Jesus Christ.

But, as in our example, there are those who have had no chance to ever hear about Jesus. So, as Catholics, we again reason that there is possibly some “extraordinary” means by which God can give knowledge of Christ and His Church to these folks, and thereby give them a chance for salvation. But, again, if this is done, it is done in some mysterious way known only to God.

I hope that makes sense. I’ve had strep throat all week and I’m currently on some heavy doses of penicillin…and things are a little fuzzy.

I hope all of you have a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend!

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Apologetics for the Masses