Atheism and Salvation

Allegory of Salvation by Antonius Heusler
Can atheists and agnostics attain to Salvation?

I was asked a similar question by a friend the other day, when he asked me about his parents and how they do not believe. I answered that I could not possibly give the judgment that is God's alone to give in the case of individuals and that we are also told that God does not judge everyone in the same way. I told him he should pray for them. It was one of those moments when my 'conscience' afterwards told me, 'that was a little feeble'. The man himself was a Christian, if not Catholic, so I went onto give him a small summary of what we believe and how this does, in fact, differ to what non-Catholic Christians believe. I talked about sin, salvation and how we as Catholics wish to die in a State of Grace, in God's friendship, rather than in a State of Mortal Sin.

What did Jesus say about this?

'And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.' (Mark 16)

To me, that seems very clear and quite uncompromising. It sounds to me that if there is Salvation for atheists and agnostics, the Lord may know of it, but He has not told us of it, therefore we should keep proclaiming the uncompromising Faith that He Himself (and His Apostles after Him) preached. The Church's position on conscience followed in the light of natural reason offers hope of the Salvation of those who are outside of the Church and of Her Faith, but it is dangerous to point to this as being the 'end of the story'. Ultimately, we must encourage, for their eternal good, the conversion of all, including ourselves, since it would be sinfully presumptuous to suggest that all will go well with atheists, agnostics, or even those who are outside of the visible Church on Earth.
 
No 'Guarantees' of Salvation for Believer and Non-Believer

The Church doesn't have much more than that to go on and it doesn't give a 'blessed assurance' to believers either, since we do not know, but hope that our faith will bear fruit in good works and that we will persevere to the end, in a State of Grace and that the Lord, in His goodness will take pleasure in saving us.

Of course, it may be that there is a secret that God is withholding from the Church and the World (that He lets people who don't believe into Heaven through a back door out of His great mercy), but I would say it is kind of dangerous for the Pope to give people the idea that they can be saved without belief in Jesus Christ and His One Holy Catholic Church. I believe they call it 'endangering souls'.

I get the feeling when the Pope does this thing that his popularity with the World increases, but the atheists and agnostics don't feel a need to convert, 'because the Pope just told me I don't have to.' Just saying, 'I'm okay, you're okay' doesn't lead souls to repentance - something we all need in order to save our souls, but this is the sad development of years of water-muddying within the Church since Vatican II's 'spirit' was released into the parishes and Dioceses.

Popes Will Be Judged Also

Like all of us the Pope will have to give an account to God and we are informed by the Tradition of the Church that his judgment will be much, much more strict than will be ours, since he has repsonsibility for millions of souls in his care. Yep, Popes (and laymen) can go to Hell for all eternity. If Priests can go to Hell (and take many souls with them), and Bishops can go to Hell (and take many more souls with them), Popes too can go to Hell (and take a heck of a lot of souls with them).

Unfortunately, the more the Pope makes ambiguous statements like this, the more His own flock may begin to believe that ecclesiastical freemasonry won the day at his election. We shall wait and see, with baited breath, where the Holy Father clearly wants us, on the edge of our seats.

Pray for the Holy Father, for holy Priests and for holier Bishops, to whom has been entrusted the great duty of teaching the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

Comments

Michael Voris asked some time ago quite impressive how many contemporary bishops will go to hell:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYFBORuH6Tc
Kristin LA said…
Many excellent points were made in this post. Our Lord's own words cited in Mark 16 are crystal clear. Furthermore, reason alone is sufficient to know of the existence of God. This doesn't seem to leave much wiggle room for salvation via atheism. I do wonder what the Holy Martyrs would have thought of this papal pronouncement if they had been granted a glimpse into the future. BUT, having said all that, I am reading about St. Rita, who lived during the Great Schism, and was a model of faithful obedience in all thing spiritual and temporal.
Jonathan said…
You seem a bit confused about judgement. God has revealed to us that atheists are condemned. We don't presume on God`s judgement when we pass on the teaching he has entrusted to us.
We Must not pass particular judgement on individuals because we cannot see their souls;we don't know if,at the moment of death, a person was an atheist. Even if they professed atheism all their life their Guardian angel may prompt them to beg God for mercy right at the end. So in no sense can an atheist be saved because to be saved a person must reject his atheism, even if only at the end.
The Bones said…
I'm not confused, just letting God be God, who can show mercy, to Who he wants.
Supertradmum said…
A big part of the problem is that people do not understand the teaching on infallibility. The Pope can say all he wants about things and cause confusion, but when he speaks from the Chair of Peter, one must believe what he states. Thankfully, because the Holy Spirit is in control, no Pope has ever contradicted doctrine ex cathedra.

This pope needs a minder concerning his so-called off the cuff remarks, which are not off the cuff.

However, we have hundreds of bishops saying things contrary to the Faith daily and most people just ignore those and listen to those who are holy men.

The laity need to grow up and stop relying on sound bites and also following popes as if they were celebrities. The cult of the celebrity brings this type of thing into the media in order to sell papers.

When the Pope makes a real statement from the Chair as to Faith and Morals, then we really need to pay attention.

Has Francis been confusing? Yes. Is this a crisis? Not yet.
Robert said…
Jonathan needs to know that our lord condemned phariseeism. that needs to be repented of. I have to be careful in condemning Jonathan,. otherwise I would be like the infant teacher who said:" now we are not like those Pharisees, are we children.
johnf said…
Many years ago, as a student at Sunday Mass in st Patrick's Soho in 1961 or thereabouts, the Priest during his sermon, posed the question 'What will happen at death to those who do not believe in God, but who lead a good life and whose goodness often puts Catholics to shame?'

His answer was 'We don't know... (Long pause) We don't know... (Another long pause) But there are theologians in the Church who speculate that when such people come before the throne of God, they are offered the gift of faith, which no doubt they will grasp gratefully.'

Jonathan said…
Robert- what has my comment got to do with Phariseeism?

Lawrence-God can show mercy to whom he likes bit can he contradict himself? This is one of the differences between Christianity and Islam (cf.the Regensburg address); Muslims think He can lie, we think He is Truth and Reason and cannot lie. Therefore when God tells us, in Mark 16 above, that unbelievers are condemned, it is unreasonable to claim that God will not condemn them.
Robert said…
How satisfied some smug Christians are at the prospect of the damnation of others. It really makws one want to chuck it all in, but at least God is not like his supposed followers think he is.
Jonathan said…
You are wrong to call me smug. I am not proud of my own achievements, I am not happy that some will be damned. My goal is to stop atheists being complacent about the danger their souls are in, and thereby save as many as possible.
Was St. Paul smug when he wrote,"He will come amid flaming fire; he will impose a penalty on those who do not acknowledge God and refuse to accept the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. Their punishment is to be lost eternally, excluded from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his strength."

If you don't think God is like St. Paul says He is then you are wrong.
Robert said…
Well Jonathan, perhaps it is you who do not acknowledge the Gospel of forgiveness. Remember it was the jealous son who was righteous in Luke 15! Also, it is the liberals in the church who are the new puritans. Look at how Card O'Brien was traduced by the Tablet and the Guardian.
Jonathan said…
The prodigal son came back, that's the point. I was awake at Mass last week too. I really am glad and will be glad for every deathbed conversion. But if they don't convert at some point in this life they will not get to heaven in the next.
Steve Finnell said…
WHAT DID THE FIRST CHRISTIANS BELIEVE?

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST HAD ITS BEGINNING ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST 33 A.D.. WHAT BELIEFS AND ACTIONS DID THE THREE THOUSAND CONVERTS TO CHRIST HAVE IN COMMON? DID GOD APPROVE OF EVOLVING BELIEFS, DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS FOR SALVATION? IF THAT WERE TRUE, THEN WOULD IT NOT BE FOUND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES?

Acts 2:41 So then, those who received his word were baptized; and there were added about three thousand souls. Acts 2:47....And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

All three thousand believed the apostle Peter's message and were baptized in water. Then they were added to the Lord's church by the Lord Himself. The Lord did not add the unsaved to His church. They had to believe and be baptized in water prior to being added to the body of Christ.

1. Acts 2:22 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know---

All three thousand believed Jesus was a miracle worker.

2. Acts 2:31-32 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.

All three thousand believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ---this Jesus whom you crucified."

All three thousand believed that Jesus was Lord and Christ.

4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

All three thousand repented in order to have sins forgiven. (repentance meant that they made the commitment to turn from their unbelief and sinful lifestyle and turn toward God).

All three thousand were baptized in water in order to have their sins forgiven.

All three thousand received the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit after they believed, repented, and were baptized in water.

5. Acts 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"

All three thousand were saved after they believed Peter's message: They believed, repented, confessed, and were baptized in water. (Mark 16:16, John 3:16, Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:35-38) THEN THEY WERE ADDED TO THE LORD'S CHURCH! (Acts 2:47)

WHAT THINGS DID PETER NOT PREACH AND WHAT THINGS DID THE THREE THOUSAND NOT BELIEVE.

1.Peter did not preach that men were saved by grace alone.

2.Peter did not preach that men were saved by faith only

3.Peter did not preach that God had selected a few to be saved and that all others would go to hell.

4. Peter did not preach that water baptism was not essential to salvation.

5. Peter did not preach that Jesus was just one of many Saviors.

6. Peter did not preach that once you were saved, that you could continue in a sinful lifestyle and still be saved.

7. Peter did not preach that God did not have the power to give us an inerrant translation of the Scriptures.

8. Peter did not preach that God would provide hundreds or thousands of different Christian denominations, and that they would teach different ways of being saved.

9. Peter did NOT preach that you had to speak in tongues as evidence that you were saved.

AS BELIEVERS IN CHRIST, MEN SHOULD USE THE BIBLE AS THEIR GUIDE FOR SALVATION. Looking to man-made creed books, Bible commentaries, denominational statements of faith, and church catechisms, is looking in all the wrong places for the absolute truth!

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