Can Roman Catholics be Saved?
If you like ruffling feathers, Twitter is the place to go. It doesn’t matter what you say, or how you say it, somebody is going to disagree with you–and vehemently. This is what happened as I engaged in conversation with a Southern Baptist pastor recently on Twitter. While discussing the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church with others, A pastor chimed in with the following tweet:
This certainly came as no surprise, as the Southern Baptist Convention is now infiltrated by Catholic sympathizers, and loaded with ecumenical propaganda. Nevertheless, it sparked a conversation between us to which he went on to defend the Roman Catholic church by claiming they have had theological reforms since the reformation. But have they?
Canon IX of the Council of Trent, on justification, in which is still the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church today says,
If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.[ref]http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch6.htm[/ref]
However, we can see from Scripture that this is doctrine is diametrically opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in Ephesians 2:8-10.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So God’s word says that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and that our faith results in good works. However, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that both faith and works are necessary for salvation. Both of these cannot be true, so either Scripture is wrong, or the Roman Catholic Church is wrong.
Further, the Roman Catholic Church says that grace is not the free gift of God,
If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.[ref]http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch6.htm[/ref]
But Romans 3:24 says, “…Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
So it baffles me that a Southern Baptist pastor would claim to be edified by Roman Catholics.
Yet the bigger question here is, “Can a Roman Catholic be saved?” Well, the short answer is “Yes!” The Gospel is freely available to all who will trust and believe in Christ.
But the long answer is “No!” Here’s why.
To be a Roman Catholic, you must believe the doctrines of the Catholic Church. As I have shown above, the doctrines of the Catholic Church are opposed to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, I would take it a step further to say that the doctrines of the Catholic Church are intentionally designed (by Satan, through his anti-Christ organization) to forbid its members from believing the true, biblical Gospel. Therefore, if one does truly believe the doctrines of the Catholic Church, you must, by default, reject the doctrines of saving grace as taught in Scripture, as they are contradictory.
So what about the non-devout Roman Catholic who trusts Jesus alone?
Is it possible? Yes. But, I would say this about this situation. Anyone who is truly saved, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit is going to have a desire to grow in their relationship with Christ, and be made holy by the Spirit. This is called sanctification. Why you are regenerated by the Spirit, you are now freed from your bondage of sin and made alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:22, etc). Therefore, as we grow in our relationship with God through prayer and studying his Word (2 Tim 2:15, John 5:39, 2 Peter 3:18, etc.), one would have to see the error of the Catholic Church, and reject it. While many Roman Catholics have been saved by grace through faith, by the hearing and preaching of the Word of God (Romans 10:17), these would no longer be Roman Catholics, and would be on their way out.
But that would not include staunch Catholic apologists and mystics and homosexuals, as claimed by this Southern Baptist pastor below. These are the ones that he claims edify him while reading them.
Though he claims there is much to disagree with, but much is useful, why not read Islamic material? Why not read and be edified by the Koran? Why not purchase reading material by Wiccans? I’m sure there is some good moral stuff mixed in there too. But why read and “be edified” by those who are lost, and teach lies? To be lenient with those who teach doctrinal error is to support lies, and by doing so, you are enslaving yourself to continue sinning (John 8:32). As Christians, we should have no tolerance for false Gospels.
But what about those Catholics, like Augustine or Athanasius?
What we must understand is that before the Protestant reformation, generally speaking, there existed only the Roman Catholic church, officially. Yes, there were small sects of true believers like the Waldensians who completely rejected the Catholic Church, but the RCC was the law of the land. Not only was it the religious authority of the day, but for much of its existence, it was the political authority as well. During this time, there were many in the church who rejected the teachings of the papacy and stood on biblical authority. However, they were not free to leave the Roman Catholic church and go down the street to a Baptist church, or a Presbyterian Church. People like Augustine and many of the pre-reformation reformers accepted and taught biblical doctrine in spite of the church’s official teachings.
Further, it wasn’t until the Council of Trent after the Protestant reformation that Biblical doctrine and authority were anathematized by the RCC. While the Roman Catholic church has always been infiltrated with bad doctrine, it wasn’t until this Council that false, anti-biblical doctrine was officially canonized and made permanent.
The Roman Catholic Church today has never repented of or recanted the Council of Trent doctrines, and therefore are still the official doctrines of the institution. Further, visiting any Roman Catholic church in the world today would lead any intellectually honest, bible-minded Christian to believe they were in Satan’s synagogue. There are no two-ways about it. The Roman Catholic Church is counterfeit Christianity and forbids and discourages people from the truth. Simply put, it leads people straight to Hell. God does not save people through a false Gospel, or a false Jesus. If you are truly saved, and you are still in the Roman Catholic church, God has called you out of this demonic institution.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;” – Revelation 18:4
For a presentation of the Gospel, click here.