Reformed Anglican view of Roman Catholic salvation?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Reed, Apr 21, 2020.

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Do you think a practicing and faithful (to the Magisterium) Roman Catholic is likely saved?

  1. Yes

    33.3%
  2. No

    66.7%
  1. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    Branch theorist Anglo-Catholics obviously consider faithful Roman Catholics to have a good chance at salvation. But what do Anglicans of a more Reformed and/or evangelical persuasion (not sure if the two terms should be used interchangeably) think?

    Are they like most Evangelicals who think Roman Catholics can’t be saved unless they’ve had a “new birth”?

    Are they like classical Reformed and Lutherans who think that since Rome doesn’t teach a strict sole fide Gospel, a Catholic who agrees with the Magisterium on soteriology can’t be saved?

    Do they believe that devotion to Mary and the Saints is idolatry and thus any Roman Catholic who practices those devotions (which is most of them) is rightfully damned?

    The reason why I think Reformed and/or evangelical Anglicans would likely have to take a less polemical view towards Rome than, say, a Reformed Baptist or a run-of-the-mill American evangelical would take, is because Reformed Anglicans/Episcopalians are still in communion with Anglo-Catholics who DO deny the Reformed/evangelical understanding of new birth, who DO hold to a sacerdotal soteriology, and who DO pray for the dead and the intercession of the saints.

    But I don’t know any Reformed/evangelical Anglicans so I’m not sure.
     
  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I am a high church Anglican but not Anglo Catholics and yes I do believe that Catholics can and indeed will go to heaven if they are faithful to and believe in Christ.
     
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I really think it is above our pay grade to venture opinions on the salvation or otherwise of others. We have all sinned and are falling short of the Glory of God. The letter of James is still part of the canon. I am not required in order to appreciate Soccer to reject Rugby as a valid form of football.

    I am not a Roman Catholic (nor even an Anglo Catholic), I am Anglican. I have friends who are Catholic, whom I respect, and are probably as good if not better Christians than I am, and some Anglicans I can assure you are a pain in the neck. There is much about the tradition in which I walk in faith that I deeply value, and hold true, and I have no need to rubbish my brothers and sisters in faith who find their walk in a different tradition.

    Roman Catholics, accept the Canon of Scripture (perhaps slightly differently to the way we do) the Dominical Sacraments, The Nicene Creed (with annotation) and the Historic Episcopate. These are things that we hold in common, and we need to focus more on shared faith and less on divisive doctrine.

    I am not voting because I don't think we as divided as we are are in any position to even contemplate anything but our own salvation.
     
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  4. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    This!

    And why was there not a 'Don't Know' voting option?

    I am not aware that Discernment of sombody ELSE'S salvation is a gift of The Holy Spirit, (where does salvation by faith in God's Grace come into that?), so how are we expected to give Yes/No answers to the kind of a question posed?
    .
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    While not being a hyphenated ("Reformed") Anglican, I still think there are two different questions here:
    1) Can Roman Catholics in principle be saved within Roman Catholicism
    2) Is Roman Catholicism as a system conducive to salvation

    For 1, our traditional answer has always been yes. It's not at all the case that everyone who's RC is therefore damned, and we've never considered all Popes to be the antichrist or anything like that.
    But for 2, the answer is no. If we read your question carefully, can a RC faithful to the magisterium be saved, then you're asking the question of, can someone who engages in idolatry, trusts in his works for salvation, and practices moral probabilism of the Jesuits, be saved? The answer is obviously no. So in those cases, the RC who get saved is one who imperfectly follows the RC precepts.

    I also want to add that the RC type I just described itself doesn't exist much any longer, because of Vatican 2 reforms. The Vatican 2 Council of the 1960s has added a host of modernist concepts, no doubt, but it also displaced this 'traditional' Roman Catholicism which existed from Trent until the 1960s.

    So with Vatican 2 being a Council which injected modernism, for Roman Catholics who live in the post Vatican 2-era, you are dealing with a different question entirely, namely, can a modernist Christian be saved (no matter a modernist RC, a modernist Anglican, or anything like that.) And there the answer is just like the answer for 2: only if imperfect. A perfect modernist Roman Catholic, a total adherent follower of Vatican 2, is as damned as a "modernist Anglican". An imperfect modernist, someone who finds himself in the Vatican 2 modernist era, may inadvertently be quite a good Christian, and saved by avoiding the modernist errors through grace, luck, or providence.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
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  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    My vote would have to be, "It depends." Everyone previous has made good points, by the way. As a former RC, turned evangelical fundamentalist Protestant, turned Anglican, my viewpoint may not be strictly an Anglican one but it's on the evangelical wing of Anglicanism.

    Article 11 says we are justified by faith only. Article 12 says our good works cannot put away sin. The RCC has taught since Trent that these basic Christian truths are anathema, and those who believe these truths are anathema. Vatican II softened the church's image and changed their emphases (they no longer broadcast their stance that there is barely any chance of salvation outside of the RCC, for example) but their bad doctrines have never been rescinded and are still in force. Of course, I'm speaking of the RC hierarchy and its entrenched system rather than the lay members, but the bad doctrines are never going to disappear or cease trickling down into the minds of the laity via catechism, homilies, etc. Thus, as Stalwart has ably pointed out, Roman Catholicism is not conducive to salvation.

    The RC laity are handicapped by the bad doctrinal teachings they receive. On top of the erroneous teaching about the means of justification (which perverts the very heart of the Gospel), nowadays the laity are inundated from the pulpit by the modern 'social gospel' philosophical musings. It's all too easy for them to erroneously center their confidence on the fact that they are members in good standing of the "one true Church" (the organization) and that they regularly go through the pious motions of the Sacraments as they've been taught. Instead of a right relationship with Jesus Christ by God's grace through faith only, they believe they have the best chance (but no assurance) of being accepted by God through faith in the eating and the penance and the absolutions and the good deeds they do.

    Despite all of the above, God is gracious, kind, and loving. He gently beckons. He draws near. He tries to lead the people into the light of the truth. And I'm confident that a good many RCs do have sufficient faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be recipients of His gift of saving grace, even if their theology is off by a mile. Fortunately for us all, perfect theological and doctrinal understanding is not a requirement for salvation. So if, for example, a RC gives worship to the host as it is elevated in the monstrance or kneels before a St. Joseph statue in prayer to St. Joseph, God may have mercy. (Those are not 'unforgivable sins.') God (and only God) knows the heart. God knows what the person believes deep down inside. God sees whether that person is (or will be by the time of his passing) truly 'born again.'

    (By the way, being born again isn't an "evangelical" thing, for it was Jesus who said, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. No one is exempt.)

    I am in no position to pass judgment on any individual. None of us are. But we all are in a position (and have been instructed by Christ) to be light and salt, to communicate the true Gospel message, and to warn against the dire consequence of failing to trust in Christ only ... as opposed to trusting in 'priests plus popes plus good deeds plus Sacraments plus penances plus Christ plus prayers to dead saints plus a dash of good luck.'
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
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  7. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    I’m sorry if my original post was unclear.

    Yes, this is how I meant the question to be taken. Obviously we’re all as agnostic about each other’s salvation as we are about our own, but we can have a positive or negative opinion about the soteriological system another believes in and practices.

    Your answer is what most Protestants would say. However, I would be uncomfortable as an Anglican with this perspective, if I were in communion with Anglo-Catholics who do venerate and ask for the intercession of the saints and who do believe that they’re saved through their reception of the sacraments.

    I can tell you as a Roman Catholic that you’re incorrect. Virtually every Catholic who is actually religious and not merely nominal prays the Rosary. Even many secular Catholics pray it for social reasons. And virtually every religious Catholic holds a synergistic, sacerdotal soteriology that requires their reception of the sacraments for salvation.
     
  8. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    Do you mean Anglicans don’t require perfect theological and doctrinal understanding, or Protestants? I have heard a number of non-Anglican Protestants who express the general view that you have eloquently stated, but also affirm that holding to Catholic theology and having a saving faith and trust in Jesus are mutually exclusive.

    I tried to be careful with how I worded it. Roman Catholics do believe in the necessity of being born again, but they understand the new birth as happening at Baptism. Most Anglo-Catholics view it the same way, from what I can gather.
     
  9. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    Do you believe that adherence to Catholic soteriological dogma and the practice of venerating the saints disqualify someone from being faithful to and believing in Christ?
     
  10. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Actually no, according to traditional Reformed theology the Pope is the Antichrist. It’s one of the many issues inherent in Reformed theology. To the extent that some Protestants say that less is the extent to which they’ve become more and more Anglican, not unlike first banning Holy Days, the Holy Week etc, and now fully embracing them (“Haven’t we always loved Christmas?!”).


    Given what I sense of your affinities, let me just say I’ve found Reformed Anglicans to be just as errant and disobedient to the Anglican tradition as the Anglo-Catholics.

    I have as much problem with ACs praying to the saints as with the Reformed dissing the Sacraments.
    Everyone is trying to throw stones in glass houses, instead of repenting in humility.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
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  11. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    Why is it an issue though? Maybe it’s rash and premature to use the definite article... “The Antichrist”... depending on how you want to interpret the Apocalypse. But according to the view you’ve laid out, the Papacy has for centuries promulgated and required billions of people to believe doctrines which directly threaten their salvation. If not the seat of an antichrist, Rome is at least the most dangerous center of heresy in Christian history.

    Not that I agree. But I appreciate the consistency of Calvinists and Lutherans who take the Protestant view of Rome to its logical conclusion.
     
  12. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    But the modernist Christians today are doing exactly the same thing. Modernist Anglicans, modernist RCs, Lutherans, etc.

    It may even be conceivable to start calling out today's modernists as either the antichrists, or the forerunners of the Antichrist. Yet, I do not think that Modernism is the entity described in the Scriptures as the whore of Babylon for instance. Nor the Roman church in all of its totality. Perhaps in the majority, but not in totality, not in its essence.

    Similarly we can quite easily categorize many of the most villainous and anti-Christian Roman Popes as antichrists, without making the Papacy per se, or the whole Roman Church per se, as the seat of damnation. Many of the early Popes were incredibly holy, those such as Gregory I, whom even Calvin called the last great Pope. I look for a time when the Patriarch of Rome will once again be someone that all good Christians can be in communion with; with perhaps the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Canterbury, etc. The closer we can get to the pristine purity of the early Church, the better.

    The history of the Church is long; it is almost timeless. To quantify it by petty squabbles which measure in centuries (and to the Church, centuries are pebbles), would be inconsiderate.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Understanding correct, Bible-based doctrine and theology is incredibly valuable to the Christian. Yet Jesus never said, 'if you believe My theology exactly right you will be saved.' I don't think there is a man alive today who has perfect theological and doctrinal understanding. If receiving redeeming grace hung on that requirement, we'd all be 'up Scat Creek without a paddle.' :yes:

    On the other hand, any RC who holds precisely to RC doctrine will not place his entire trust in Christ only for redemption. So, yes, that excludes saving faith in Jesus, because such a RC will have placed some (perhaps most) of his trust 'eggs' into other baskets. For such a RC, trust in his relationship with the RC established hierarchy is rather likely to be greater than his trust in Christ's redemptive sacrifice by itself, for this RC will believe himself damned should he ever stray from being a "good RC;" switching to an Anglican church or a Lutheran church (let alone a Baptist church!) would be tantamount to losing one's salvation. After all, those churches cannot (according to the RC doctrine and theology and the "good RC's" beliefs) administer new birth via baptism (even without the recipient's consent), absolve the RC of his sins or confect the Eucharistic elements into the physical body and blood and spirit and full divinity of Jesus. Plus, of course, the RCC says so, :liturgy:and (in the RC's mind) that settles it!

    As for the belief that the new birth occurs de facto and de jure by the use of water and a few words, absent any faith and consent on the part of an infant recipient, not only does this make a mockery of Christ's words as recorded throughout John's Gospel, but it also is one small step away from the Mormons' practice of baptizing for the dead. After all, it we don't need a person's knowledge or permission (let alone faith!) to baptize them and thereby bestow upon them the spiritual benefit of improved standing before God, what prevents us from turning the most vocal atheists and the most heinous criminals of past history into born-again Christians? Looking once more to the infant being baptized, can water and a few words confer the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit upon someone who, for all we know, may grow up to be an atheistic, sociopathic rapist and murderer who never accepted Christ? Of course not. And we need not get into the good and valid reasons for baptizing infants (that is best left to other threads which already exist) to state that the ceremony itself does not produce spiritually what Roman Catholicism says it produces. But if "most Anglo-Catholics view it the same way," as you speculate they might, then I would think that such folks would make better progress in their walk of faith if they didn't have one foot on Christ's straight-and-narrow road and the other foot in the muddy RC ditch.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
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  14. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    That’s not true. The RCC affirms the validity and efficacy of all Trinitarian baptisms. As for the Eucharist and Absolution, they do hold that they can be done validly outside the RCC if valid apostolic succession is maintained (though, I’m sure you’re aware, they reject Anglican orders as invalid for some historical reasons).

    The new birth offered in baptism is freely given but not forcefully given. It can’t be received by someone who rejects it, but an infant cannot do so. You could also take the view that faith can be imputed upon a baptized infant (I’ve seen Anglicans express this) or that infants can have faith in some mysterious way, and that we should assume the faith of an infant until proven otherwise (Luther’s view).

    Once someone has died, their ultimate fate (as far as we can tell) is settled. We can pray that God’s mercy might operate on them in some extraordinary way, but the ordinary, earthly means of grace are beyond them. How can you physically pour water over someone who no longer exists in this physical world?
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  15. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    There are some dangerous limitations imputed here, as I would not like to suggest that the atoning death of Christ did not defeat death and rob death of its power. Note I am not advocating the baptism of the departed, which you rightly point out remove the physical constraint of a sacramental action.
     
  16. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    Good point. But yes, I don’t think belief in regenerative baptism for infants commits one to accepting baptism of the dead, due to the necessary physical component to baptism.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You may be correct on the baptism part of this, it's not something I recall clearly.

    On the Eucharist and Absolution, as you say the RCC rejects those done by Anglicans. What about Baptists? Methodists? Presbyterians? Episcopalians? Assemblies of God? Non-denoms? Oh, they may accept those of the Orthodox and maybe the Lutherans (? not sure), but I think you've validated my point. Recall that I wasn't addressing the RCC per se, but rather the beliefs they foster among their laity. A devout RC layperson will consider holy communion in any other church to be far inferior and lacking the complete, entire Presence of Jesus Christ. A devout RC layperson would never consider seeking absolution from the minister of a different denomination (unless perhaps he were dying and no one else were available). A devout RC has good reason to believe he would be damned if he were to leave the RCC and take up permanent attendance at some other denomination, for he will have been taught as a child in Catechism as I was: "Outside the [Roman Catholic] Church there is no salvation.... Christ made the Catholic Church a necessary means of salvation and commanded all to enter it... All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved...One who, knowing the Catholic Church to be the true one, leaves it... will not be saved. He is a willful and malicious unbeliever." (Source: My Catholic Faith, L.L. Morrow, 1961, pp. 150-1.) Imprimatur, Nihil Obstat: this was officially sanctioned as correct doctrine when it was printed (prior to Vatican II, but the RCC states unequivocally that their doctrines never change)

    I take the view that Jesus took (and spoke). He who believes in Jesus will have eternal life. He who does not believe will be damned. Just moments after telling Nicodemus that a man must be born again, Jesus went on to identify belief in Him as the critical element for receiving salvation, and He made no mention of people being saved by baptism. Paul (quite the theologian) confirmed this in Romans 10 when he wrote that those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in His resurrection will be saved; Paul did not mention baptism as the means of salvation. There is no such thing as a "new birth offered in baptism." This is a RCC invention.

    Tell that to the Mormons; they think they can pour water over dead people in absentia by having some living person stand in for the dead one. Go figure.... :rolleyes: