Salvation

Q&A with Jesus on Salvation

1. May we reasonably hope that perhaps no human persons are sent to Hell?

No, it is neither reasonable nor faithful to believe or hope that no human persons go to Hell.

[Matthew]
{5:20} For I say to you, that unless your justice has surpassed that of the scribes and the Pharisees you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
{5:21} You have heard that it was said to the ancients: ‘You shall not murder; whoever will have murdered shall be liable to judgment.’
{5:22} But I say to you, that anyone who becomes angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment. But whoever will have called his brother, ‘Idiot,’ shall be liable to the council. Then, whoever will have called him, ‘Worthless,’ shall be liable to the fires of Hell.

{5:29} And if your right eye causes you to sin, root it out and cast it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish, than that your whole body be cast into Hell.
{5:30} And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish, than that your whole body go into Hell.

{10:28} And do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But instead fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.

{11:23} And you, Capernaum, would you be exalted all the way to heaven? You shall descend all the way to Hell. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, perhaps it would have remained, even to this day.
{11:24} Yet truly, I say to you, that the land of Sodom shall be forgiven more than you, on the day of judgment.”

{23:15} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and by land, in order to make one convert. And when he has been converted, you make him twice the son of Hell that you are yourselves.

{25:40} And in response, the King shall say to them, ‘Amen I say to you, whenever you did this for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did it for me.’
{25:41} Then he shall also say, to those who will be on his left: ‘Depart from me, you accursed ones, into the eternal fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.
{25:42} For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and you did not give me to drink;
{25:43} I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not cover me; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.’
{25:44} Then they will also answer him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
{25:45} Then he shall respond to them by saying: ‘Amen I say to you, whenever you did not do it to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.’
{25:46} And these shall go into eternal punishment, but the just shall go into eternal life.”

[Luke]
{16:19} A certain man was wealthy, and he was clothed in purple and in fine linen. And he feasted splendidly every day.
{16:20} And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, covered with sores,
{16:21} wanting to be filled with the crumbs which were falling from the wealthy man’s table. But no one gave it to him. And even the dogs came and licked his sores.
{16:22} Then it happened that the beggar died, and he was carried by the Angels into the bosom of Abraham. Now the wealthy man also died, and he was entombed in Hell.
{16:23} Then lifting up his eyes, while he was in torments, he saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
{16:24} And crying out, he said: ‘Father Abraham, take pity on me and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh my tongue. For I am tortured in this fire.’
{16:25} And Abraham said to him: ‘Son, recall that you received good things in your life, and in comparison, Lazarus received bad things. But now he is consoled, and truly you are tormented.
{16:26} And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been established, so that those who might want to cross from here to you are not able, nor can someone cross from there to here.’

[John]
{6:54} And so, Jesus said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.
{6:55} Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

[Acts]
{24:15} having a hope in God, which these others themselves also expect, that there will be a future resurrection of the just and the unjust.

[Philippians]
{2:9} Because of this, God has also exalted him and has given him a name which is above every name,
{2:10} so that, at the name of Jesus, every knee would bend, of those in heaven, of those on earth, and of those in hell,
{2:11} and so that every tongue would confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

[Revelation]
{20:11} And I saw a great white throne, and One sitting upon it, from whose sight earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them.
{20:12} And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in view of the throne. And books were opened. And another Book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged by those things that had been written in the books, according to their works.
{20:13} And the sea gave up the dead who were in it. And death and Hell gave up their dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
{20:14} And Hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.
{20:15} And whoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the pool of fire.

[Matthew]
{7:13} Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leads to perdition, and many there are who enter through it.

In addition to the clear teachings of Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium has repeatedly infallibly taught, at several different Ecumenical Councils, that some human souls are sent to Hell, and that the general Resurrection includes the resurrection of many unjust souls from Hell, as well as the just souls in Heaven.

Therefore, anyone who believes, asserts, or teaches that we may “reasonably hope” that “perhaps” no human persons are sent to Hell is essentially accusing Jesus and all of Sacred Scripture of teaching lies about Heaven, Hell, and salvation.

2. Are the saved many or few?

The saved are many in number. Most human persons will attain eternal life in Heaven. However, since not all are saved and since the damned in Hell are numerous (though not a majority), the elect are figuratively called “few”.

[Matthew]
{7:14} How narrow is the gate, and how straight is the way, which leads to life, and few there are who find it!

[Luke]
{14:15} When someone sitting at table with him had heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
{14:16} So he said to him: “A certain man prepared a great feast, and he invited many.
{14:17} And he sent his servant, at the hour of the feast, to tell the invited to come; for now everything was ready.
{14:18} And at once they all began to make excuses. The first said to him: ‘I bought a farm, and I need to go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’
{14:19} And another said: ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to examine them. I ask you to excuse me.’
{14:20} And another said, ‘I have taken a wife, and therefore I am not able to go.’
{14:21} And returning, the servant reported these things to his lord. Then the father of the family, becoming angry, said to his servant: ‘Go out quickly into the streets and neighborhoods of the city. And lead here the poor, and the disabled, and the blind, and the lame.’
{14:22} And the servant said: ‘It has been done, just as you ordered, lord, and there is still room.’
{14:23} And the lord said to the servant: ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel them to enter, so that my house may be filled.
{14:24} For I tell you, that none of those men who were invited will taste of my feast.’ ”

The great feast is the kingdom of God: Heaven. The invited are “many” because God wills all human persons to be saved. In the Church’s teaching, this is called the universal salvific will. But some of the invited will never taste of the feast; they do not reach Heaven, but end up in Hell.

However, those who enter the feast of Heaven are many. They include not only “the poor, and the disabled, and the blind, and the lame”, in other words, those who are suffering or oppressed, but also people from “the highways and hedges”, i.e. from the very outskirts of the Church (non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, non-believers, as long as they are in the state of grace).

These latter guests at the feast are said to be compelled to enter, “so that my house may be filled”. Of course, the phrasing “compel them to enter” is not to be understood as if God were forcing persons into Heaven against their will. Rather, it indicates the fullness of the universal salvific will; it is a figure for the lengths to which God goes, by providence and grace and miracles, to save us poor sinners.

The saved are many, because the house of the feast of Heaven is filled. However, some are lost, even though they were invited. Yet clearly they were lost by their own choice, as the parable describes.

3. Can non-Catholic Christians be saved without converting to Catholicism?
4. Can non-Christian believers be saved without converting to Christianity?
5. Can non-believers be saved without converting to belief in God?

Yes. Everyone who loves his neighbor has the state of grace, and everyone who dies in that state will have eternal life in Heaven.

[1 John]
{2:10} Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause of offense in him.

[Romans]
{13:8} You should owe nothing to anyone, except so as to love one another. For whoever loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
{13:9} For example: You shall not commit adultery. You shall not kill. You shall not steal. You shall not speak false testimony. You shall not covet. And if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
{13:10} The love of neighbor does no harm. Therefore, love is the plenitude of the law.

[Matthew 8]
{8:5} And when he had entered into Capernaum, a centurion approached, petitioning him,
{8:6} and saying, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and badly tormented.”
{8:7} And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
{8:8} And responding, the centurion said: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
{8:9} For I, too, am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
{8:10} And, hearing this, Jesus wondered. And he said to those following him: “Amen I say to you, I have not found so great a faith in Israel.

The Centurion was neither a Christian, nor a Jew. He was not a disciple of Christ. He most likely followed the pagan religion of the Romans, which is so far from true religion as to be in the same category as atheism and agnosticism. Yet he had greater faith than most Catholics today. And he must have been in the state of grace, since faith is never great unless accompanied by love and hope. And he showed that love by his concern for his suffering servant. Yes, everyone who has love, faith, and hope has the state of sanctifying grace, and whosoever dies in that state will have eternal life.

{15:22} And behold, a woman of Canaan, going out from those parts, cried out, saying to him: “Take pity on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is badly afflicted by a demon.”
{15:23} He did not say a word to her. And his disciples, drawing near, petitioned him, saying: “Dismiss her, for she is crying out after us.”
{15:24} And responding, he said, “I was not sent except to the sheep who have fallen away from the house of Israel.”
{15:25} But she approached and adored him, saying, “Lord, help me.”
{15:26} And responding, he said, “It is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to the dogs.”
{15:27} But she said, “Yes, Lord, but the young dogs also eat from the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.”
{15:28} Then Jesus, responding, said to her: “O woman, great is your faith. Let it be done for you just as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Similarly, the woman of Canaan was neither a Jew nor a Christian. Yet she had great faith, and therefore also love and hope. Jews and Christians are the children at table, following true religion received from God. But many others are saved by the crumbs from the table. They are implicit members of the Ark of Salvation by means of the love of neighbor.

[Matthew 5]
{5:1} Then, seeing the crowds, he ascended the mountain, and when he had sat down, his disciples drew near to him,
{5:2} and opening his mouth, he taught them, saying:
{5:3} “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
{5:4} Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
{5:5} Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be consoled.
{5:6} Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
{5:7} Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
{5:8} Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
{5:9} Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
{5:10} Blessed are those who endure persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
{5:11} Blessed are you when they have slandered you, and persecuted you, and spoken all kinds of evil against you, falsely, for my sake:
{5:12} be glad and exult, for your reward in heaven is plentiful. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Beatitudes are the path to Heaven. Notice that this path does not consist in being Catholic, or Christian, or Jewish, but in the choices that a person makes concerning good and evil in life. Choose good in any of these various ways, true lasting supernatural good, and you are on the path to Heaven — including non-believers and non-Christian believers.

6. Can persons guilty of objective mortal sin, who do not repent before death, be saved?

[Luke]
{23:34} Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.” And truly, dividing his garments, they cast lots.

If a person commits an objectively grave sin, without full knowledge of its grave immorality and full freedom of choice, they are forgiven. It is not an actual mortal sin; it is not the type of sin that condemns to Hell.

7. Can persons guilty of actual mortal sin, who do not repent before death, be saved?

No. If the sin is truly an actual mortal sin — a gravely immoral act committed with full knowledge and full freedom of choice — AND the person does not repent before death, then they are condemned to eternal punishment.

[1 John]
{5:16} Anyone who realizes that his brother has sinned, with a sin that is not unto death, let him pray, and life shall be given to him who has sinned not unto death. There is a sin which is unto death. I am not saying that anyone should ask on behalf of that sin.
{5:17} All that is iniquity is sin. But there is a sin unto death.

{25:41} Then he shall also say, to those who will be on his left: ‘Depart from me, you accursed ones, into the eternal fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.
{25:42} For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and you did not give me to drink;
{25:43} I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not cover me; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.’
{25:44} Then they will also answer him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
{25:45} Then he shall respond to them by saying: ‘Amen I say to you, whenever you did not do it to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.’
{25:46} And these shall go into eternal punishment, but the just shall go into eternal life.”

Those who fail to love their neighbor, fail to enter or remain in the state of grace. Their actual mortal sins of omission or commission, without repentance, condemn them to eternal punishment.

8. What happens to prenatals, infants, and little children who die without baptism?

[Luke]
{23:34} Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.” And truly, dividing his garments, they cast lots.

They are not guilty of any actual mortal sin, so they are not condemned to Hell.

Pope Pius IX, in the encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, taught that no one is punished eternally, unless they have committed a deliberate sin. “Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.”

Persons who die in a state of “original sin alone” are those adults who are guilty of the actual mortal sin of omission of never having found sanctifying grace in their life, despite ample opportunity. They are like the guilty in the parable of the sheep and the goats (quoted above, Mt 25). If only they had loved their neighbor, they would have at least entered the state of grace by an implicit baptism of desire, and they would have been forgiven from all their sins by implicit perfect contrition. But only adults can be guilty of original sin alone (the actual mortal sin of omission of not obtaining sanctifying grace). Unbaptized children have not had sufficient (or any) opportunity to obtain a baptism of desire, so they are granted a baptism of blood from the Cross of Christ since “they know not what they do”.

The Magisterium has NEVER taught that prenatals, infants, and young children, who die without formal Baptism, are condemned to Hell, or to the limbo of Hell. That is an assumption never actually taught definitively by the Church. Only adults can go to the limbo of Hell, which is a place of punishment, not happiness.

[Matthew]
{18:1} In that hour, the disciples drew near to Jesus, saying, “Whom do you consider to be greater in the kingdom of heaven?”
{18:2} And Jesus, calling to himself a little child, placed him in their midst.
{18:3} And he said: “Amen I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
{18:4} Therefore, whoever will have humbled himself like this little child, such a one is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
{18:5} And whoever shall accept one such little child in my name, accepts me.

[Mark]
{10:13} And they brought to him the little children, so that he might touch them. But the disciples admonished those who brought them.
{10:14} But when Jesus saw this, he took offense, and he said to them: “Allow the little ones to come to me, and do not prohibit them. For of such as these is the kingdom of God.
{10:15} Amen I say to you, whoever will not accept the kingdom of God like a little child, will not enter into it.”

Pope John Paul II: “Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.” But unbaptized children do not have salvation concretely available to them, if they die at that young age — unless they are granted a baptism of blood, like the Holy Innocents.

[Matthew]
{2:16} Then Herod, seeing that he had been fooled by the Magi, was very angry. And so he sent to kill all the boys who were in Bethlehem, and in all its borders, from two years of age and under, according to the time that he had learned by questioning the Magi.

These children did not willingly die for Christ, as in the case of adult martyrs. Yet they were granted salvation. Similarly, all little children who die without formal baptism are given salvation by Christ. For they are united to Christ on the Cross by their deaths.

9. Can any Pope ever lead the faithful away from the path of salvation?
10. Can the Church go astray, and lead the faithful away from the path of salvation?

[Luke]
{22:31} And the Lord said: “Simon, Simon! Behold, Satan has asked for you, so that he may sift you like wheat.
{22:32} But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.”

The faith of the Pope cannot fail, therefore he can never fall into apostasy, heresy, or schism.

“This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine.” — First Vatican Council

[Matthew]
{16:16} Simon Peter responded by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
{16:17} And in response, Jesus said to him: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father, who is in heaven.
{16:18} And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
{16:19} And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall release on earth shall be released, even in heaven.”

The faith of the Church can never fail, therefore She can never lead the faithful away from the path of salvation, nor can the Pope, Her head on earth, lead us astray, for He has the keys to heaven and earth.

[John]
{11:49} Then one of them, named Caiaphas, since he was the high priest that year, said to them: “You do not understand anything.
{11:50} Nor do you realize that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the entire nation should not perish.”
{11:51} Yet he did not say this from himself, but since he was the high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.

Caiaphas could teach the truth from God, despite his grave sins, because he was high priest. But the Roman Pontiff is high priest of the one true Church, which is a greater position than the high priests held in the Jewish faith. Thus, even though each successor of Peter is a sinner, some more so and others less so, each Roman Pontiff cannot teach heresy.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian

Categories: Salvation