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Brady wrote:


Thank-you very much for answering my last question. I was hoping you could help me with this question as well.

My father and I have been considering joining the Church for quite some time. When we discuss this with our Protestant friends they say:

Since the Catholic Church accepts your baptism and considers you saved, why would you go to the trouble of upsetting your life and joining the Catholics since it's not a salvation issue?

  • What is the Church's position on this?

Thanks —


  { Why become Catholic if the Church accepts your Baptism and considers Protestants saved? }

Mike replied:

Hi Brady,

The are a few misperceptions your Protestants friends have and other reasons everyone should become Catholic.

Depending on the denomination that you and your father have come from, there are some Protestant denominations that do have valid Baptisms. There are three things that make a Baptism valid. The one baptizing has to have:

  • the intent to do what the Catholic Church does
  • use the correct matter: flowing water that he pours on the candidate's head while saying:
    • using the correct form (words):

      I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Church has a list of Protestant denominations whose baptisms they accept. If the pastor, priest, or deacon baptizing is unsure the Church would administer a conditional baptism.

  • What's that?

The priest will preface the words of Baptism as follows:

Brady, if you have not been baptized, I baptize you, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Your friends said:
Since the Catholic Church accepts your baptism and considers you saved, why would you go to the trouble of upsetting your life and joining the Catholics since it's not a salvation issue?

They have a misunderstood of the teaching Outside the Church there is no salvation. It states:

  • 846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?

Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church.
He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. 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." (Vatican II, Ad Gentes 7; cf. Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 9:16)

If your Protestant friends do all they can through the dictates of their conscience, without bias, and look into the historical foundations of their faith, they would see that their denomination was founded by the traditions of men not by [God/Jesus] Himself.

Another issue that has to be addressed is the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. Protestants are rightly encouraged to accept Jesus into their heart as Personal Lord and Savior but Catholics go way beyond that. As Catholics we have the most personal relationship with Our Lord than any other Protestant can have: we really receive his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, and in doing so, partake in the divine nature of Jesus Himself — really! It would be great of our Protestant brethren could partake in the divine nature of Jesus, as well, but this is impossible because there is no Protestant denomination that has valid Holy Orders. Holy Orders is the sacrament Our Lord instituted on Holy Thursday which makes a mere man a priest who can offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and, in doing so, consecrate Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Because no Protestant denomination has valid Holy Orders, there is no Real Presence in any of their congregations.

In addition, when we receive the Eucharist and say Amen (meaning so be it) we are not only saying we believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but we are also saying that we believe all the Catholic Church teaches because it was founded on St. Peter and his successors by Jesus, who is God, and God can neither deceive, nor be deceived.

Your friends appear to be falling into the eternal security salvation theology. This basically states that once you proclaim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you cannot loose your salvation.
This is incorrect theology. In most Protestant denominations, salvation is a static, one time, imputed process.

In Catholic theology justification and salvation are dynamic on-going processes based solely on pure grace — a free gift from God that we receive. The post-baptismal choices we make are choices that lead us to Heaven or lead us to Hell.

  • But what if we make a big mistake in our lives?

We get re-justified through the Sacrament of Confession Jesus established: (John 20:19-23)

This is what the Catechism states on Faith and Baptism:

Faith and Baptism

1253 Baptism is the sacrament of faith. (cf. Mark 16:16) But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: "What do you ask of God's Church?" The response is: "Faith!"

1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.

1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 872-874) Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). (cf. Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 67) The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.

Hope this helps,


Eric replied:

Hi Brady,

Your Protestant friends said:
Since the Catholic Church accepts your baptism and considers you saved, why would you go to the trouble of upsetting your life and joining the Catholics since it's not a salvation issue?

My comment would be that's like saying:

  • If you can survive on eating food from a convenience store, why bother going to a sumptuous five-star gourmet restaurant?

The Catholic faith is much richer than Protestant faiths in what it has to offer, and it provides what we would consider to be an easier path of salvation.

It is an issue of conscience. The only way it is possible, according to Catholicism, to be saved as a non-Catholic is to be invincibly ignorant, i.e., you have not realized that you have to join the Catholic Church to be saved.

If you are ignorant of that fact, you can be saved but if you know that the Catholic Church is founded as necessary by God for salvation, then in conscience you are obliged to join. If you don't, you are condemned.

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

Eric Ewanco

John replied:

Just to add to what has been said.

During my reversion to the Church I heard similar arguments from my fellow ministers.

It comes to down to seeking the Truth. Being a Christian is not just about being saved; it's also about walking In Truth.

The Protestant denominations that sprang from the Reformation all stand or fall on two doctrines:

  1. Sola Fide — Justification Faith Alone.
  2. Sola Scriptura — Scripture Alone is the only authority.

Neither of these doctrines are supported by Scripture unless you twist the Scripture to interpret them in a way they were not intended.

Yes, we are justified by faith, but not faith alone. Justification is an ongoing process which starts with faith and baptism, but continues to grow in its strength through out a Christian's life as we surrender to the Grace of God at work in us. It is a dynamic and complete work of Christ that requires our free-will response.

Scripture is inspired and authoritative, but Scripture itself, does not teach that Scripture alone is the sole authority for our faith. In fact, a careful reading teaches the opposite. Since Scripture itself does not define what Scripture is, meaning the list of books that should be in the Bible, then there is obviously an authority given to men to define:

  • What books are Scripture, and
  • What books are not.

History tells us that the Canon of Scripture came to us through the Roman Catholic Church in 382 A.D. at the Council of Rome therefore accepting Scripture means accepting the Church that gave us the Canon.

That said, I would turn the question around and ask:

  • Why stay in a church that preaches salvation, but does not embrace the whole Truth?

John DiMascio

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