I grant there may be some exceptions; probably those who actually find Christian apologetics convincing. If someone here has identified a genuine intellectual path to God that could convince an informed sceptical intellectual, without the need of references to personal subjective experiences/conversion processes or emotive appeals, by all means open a thread and post the good news.
If you are genuinely interested in following an intellectual path to Christianity then I strongly suggest that you read CS Lewis. His path which is the one that led me to Christianity is all about reason. Incidently, he is not a literalist.
I have 3 books of his that I can suggest.
His book "Surprised By Joy" tells of his own conversion after many years as an Atheist.
"Mere Christianity" tells about the Christian faith.
"God in the Dock" deals with a series of questions that people find difficult about Christianity.
There is no shortage of info on him on the net. He was at Oxford and died the same day as JFK.
This message has been edited by GDR, 07-01-2005 01:17 PM
But as far as the theological understanding of why a loving God would create hell, or allow people to go there, the basic concept is answered by looking at this world and reality. If God is real, and He is, He then allows for tremendous suffering right now.
Jesus' message is that God is a Father who loved the world so much He sent His Son, etc,
but Jesus warns of hell quite dramatically.
But I note you add some qualifiers such as "for all eternity" that could be interesting to consider.
What does that mean, "all eternity"?
= what it sounds like. the implication and/or traditional understanding of hell is that people don't then go to heaven after a while.
the basic issue is whether "tremendous suffering" exists only in this life or in the next as well. if god punishes his children after rigging a game against them, and does so forever, then god is a hard god, is he not? personally, i'm fine with that. the bible reports that god punishes people for their choices, whether or not god rigged it. (see gen 2+3, and the first half of exodus)
Christian conversion experience: descriptions/analysis/links: input invited
Believe it or not, I think the claymation series Davie and Goliath most likely planted a large majority of my earliest thoughts about Christ. Mind you, I was quite young. However, I'm fairly sure that these shows led my in a general way toward some basic knowledge of God. Although no one in my household actually talked about God that much -- with dad being particularly not interested in faith based concepts -- I almost cannot remember a time when I wasn't aware of God in some way. It wasn't until only a few years ago that I realized that the program was produced by a segment of the Lutheran church (I hadn't seen it since I was about 6 or 7, so seeing it again was a real blast from the past).
Mom was Catholic when I was growing up at a young age -- and I do recall seeing some very old black and white movie about the miracle of the sun at Fatima. I'm fairly sure this left a strong impression in me as well -- maybe even strong enough to eventually lead me away from Lutheranism to Catholicism (but this is highly speculative). What I do remember about the movie was the scene when the sun apparently dances and comes closer to the earth. Again, like the Davie and Goliath show mentioned above, I'm sure that it left a strong impression on me -- because I can still remember it clearly to this day, well into my mid 30's.
When I was growing up, I remember my older brother and many of his friends going to the Catholic church to receive their catechumenate (?) and eventually partake in their first communion. They were about 6 years older than me -- I was simply unable to sit still in church, so I didn't go hardly at all. However, I do remember being felt left out when I grew older. I remember actually wanting to go to these "CCD" classes, but never being presented with a chance to go.
I have to stress that mom never pushed religion on me when I was younger. However, whenever I asked questions, she would always do her best to answer my questions to the best of her ability. At one time, I remember asking her some vague question about God, and where he was, and when he would be coming back...or something like that. It was at this time that she talked about the second coming of Jesus. She didn't go into detail about many things. But she did mention something about the birds feeding off of the eyes of the dead. I must stress that she never said this with the intention to "scare" me into believing -- as I already kind of did believe. She was just honestly relaying the things that she remembered from her own childhood, things which the sisters had explained to her. I know that this left an impression on both of us. I remember when she was telling me about it, it was almost as if she herself had remembered something amazing that she herself hadn't even thought about for many years.
As I got older, dad started to have many complications with his breathing. The chemicals at the foundry where he worked at had apparently seriously damaged his lungs. I can remember him having great difficulty climbing a small flight of steps -- and using a breathing apparatus to help bring the clogs up out of his lungs.
Prior to dad becoming physically disabled in this way, he was actually quite a powerful man. There was very little that he could not accomplish with his hands, even though he had only a grade 6 education. Many other men usually didn't mess around with him. I can still remember my mom talking about when dad was stabbed by another man, and how dad turned around and really pulverised the other man despite his wound.
I guess the point of this is that dad was by no means a man of faith. He trusted in what he could accomplish by his own power and ingenuity. If you gave him a diagram of something, he could build it and use it, even though he apparently couldn't read very well. For him, his trust was firmly rooted in what he himself could accomplish -- and there was really no reason in his mind to trust in something that he could not know for sure in a physical sense. I think this highly moved him to disregard faith, not out of an "evil desire" to stamp it out, but rather out of a genuine desire to simply trust in what worked best for him.
When dad became physically disabled by the chemicals, he was really left in a state of powerlessness that left me personally puzzled. Even though I was now only around 10 years of age, I still found it quite a striking paradox to see this man who was so "strong" basically reduced to such "helpless" state in such a quick time. I guess I leanred a lesson through him that no matter how strong or resourceful one might be, there's always something that could get the best of you. Nothing in life is assured.
It was around this time that mom began to look more deeply into the nature of her own faith - or the source of her faith: ie., God. I know for her that this was a real strengthening period, and many of her strongest characteristics were refined like dross from purified gold through these years. I'm sure that seeing her hold fast to something "not there" when contrasted against dad's physical presense no longer "being there" left an impression in me as well. It was her faith that got us through those times. Dad didn't know what to do in these times.
I can still remember a time driving down the trans-canada highway, just after visting my grandfather and grandmother. I will spare the details of the conversation that transpired. However, these is one moment that I will share. When he was driving down the highway, he was driving at a very fast pace -- trying to pass two cars in a row. We passsed the first car no problem. But the second car we were not going to avoid if we continued driving at that pace. I remember sitting in the backseat wondering what to do. Mom was in no condition to say or do anything.
It was a very strange moment for me. Really like some kind of frozen in time moment. I reached from the back seat and pulled the wheel back onto the proper side of the road. Dad almost lost control of the car, but he manaaged to control it and pull over onto the shoulder of the road. I realized that I was probably going to get in trouble, but I thought this was preferable to slamming into an oncoming car at around 100 km per hour. Surprisingly I didn't get in trouble. Not many words were exchanged. We eventually drove back to Massachusetts without incident after dad went for a long walk, which I joined him with. I guess, for me anyway, this was the first time that I had acted in some kind of faith capacity -- and it taught me, later as I reflected on it, that lack of action, even when combined with faith still leads to disaster. Sometimes I still feel as if I'm that moment.
Again, I won't go into detail, however, after dad took his own life, this too led to a defining moment for mom and me. I entered a very dark period, not really thinking about God per see. To me it seemed as though the whole incident on the TCH was nearly pointless. Mom, however, took on a very strong roll as a provider for our family -- and I know that she was very much strengthened through this period of high adversity.
When I went through high school, I was pretty much a lost soul apparently just drifting from incident to indident. It's not that I didn't believe in God per see. I guess I would've been more like a deist at this time. I didn't necessarilly deny that God could intervene. I guess I just wasn't at the level where I could recognize that God's providential hand had been with me even if I didn't know it. It simply never occured to me that God could actually act in this way -- like as in some kind of personal relationship where he talks with you and listens to you and interacts with your life in way that defies things.
When I entered into my early 20's, it was then that I realized how much I had actually missed my father. Here I was starting to go out into the real world, and I didn't really have any image to compare myself with. I didn't really have any compass to pin-point my own morality, nothing sturdy to hold onto philosophically.
It was during this time that I began to look at all the different concepts of God, faith, religion. Whew -- this was a real process of sorting and questions. Although I would never want to have to go through this period again, I also know that I wouldn't be who I am today without having gone through those painful growing quickenings.
I seriously contemplated various strains of thoughts found within Buddhism during this period. But ultimately I seemed to migrate back toward Christianity -- particuarly conservative Lutheranism. I was particuarly impressed with Luther's words at Worms, so much so that I actually looked in the phone-book for a local Lutheran church (which I found). I have to admit, even to this day, that I am often still impressed with the words he spoke that day -- and I am now Roman Catholic. However, ultimately, for me anyway, I found Luther to be too harsh in some areas. Even back when I converted to Lutheranism, I still found myself worried over the fate of non-believers -- and I felt even back then that something was not right with certain aspect's of protestantism in regards to the nature of Christ's salvation for those who have never had a chance to hear the gospel message.
I guess one of the biggest changes for me what when my wife and I became married. Marriage for me was a very spiritual re-awakening -- and it openned my eyes to the more Catholic thoughts about our relationship to God as a bride adourned for him.
The really big change for me was when my oldest boy was officially diagnosed with autism. In a sense I felt cheated by God because all that I wanted was to raise the family that my father had not really left for me. I was really hoping to get the opportunity to do things with my own son that I never had a chance to do with my own dad. However, even though I felt this anger, I still thought that God might have a plan for me through my oldest boy.
I have to admit that him coming into my life was actually one of the greatest blessings I've ever had. I'm not saying that it doesn't have its moments of difficutly, and yet he has so totally forced me to look at the world through the eyes of one who is so totally dependent on me for so many things. I cannot help but see humanity itself as being spritually handicapped, with God trying so lovingly to show us the most excellent way.
I guess there's a lot more in-between. I haven't even discussed the dreams, or the encounters -- among other things. It will suffice to say that I feel very strongly that God has called me from a young age in one form or another. My views have changed dramatically in many theological circles, however my core still remains in fact. In some ways I haven't changed much over the years. But in many ways through Christ I've been changed for the better by overcoming the adversity thrown at me -- overcoming by being open to the Spirit and having faith in God's promises.
Re: Christian conversion experience: descriptions/analysis/links: input invited
Quite a touching story, Mr. Ex. I'm glad you told it.
Even back when I converted to Lutheranism, I still found myself worried over the fate of non-believers -- and I felt even back then that something was not right with certain aspect's of protestantism in regards to the nature of Christ's salvation for those who have never had a chance to hear the gospel message.
Not to get back into that discussion again, I hope, but up until Vatican II didn't the Catholic Church also believe that nonChristians couldn't be saved, and not only complete unbelievers but Protestants as well?
Re: Christian conversion experience: descriptions/analysis/links: input invited
There's a lot of mixed feelings about Vatican II, even within the catholic church itself. Some catholics feel that it is a landslide into apostasy. Some catholics feel that it is a perfect re-adjustment for our modern era. Yet, still again, some catholic feel that Vatican II didn't go far enough -- and are calling for a Vatican III.
My views of Vatican II are fairly well captured in these articles below:
The document in question from Vatican II, which I think you are alluding to, is called nostra aetate -- and this document has led to a lot of clarification regarding the nature of Catholics in relation to non-believers.
In this sense, what the church is basically saying is that if salvation is found in others outside the catholic church, it is because they are upholding something which still points toward Christ in accordance with catholic teachings.
In a sense, the older phrase, "There is no salvation outside the catholic church" still applies. However, many catholics are now willing to acknowledge that many non-catholics still nontheless possess some knolwedge of God, knowledge that can be in some way traced back to our founding parents, that is in some way in agreement with the gospel in a catholic sense. In other words, if salvation is found outside the catholic church, it is because it is still nonetheless in agreement with the catholic church.
For example, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. The catholic church still recognizes that salvation comes from Christ, and not our own efforts -- so here it is in disagreement with Buddhism. However, it acknowledges that the Buddhist basically still nonetheless goes through a period which is remarkably similar to the Christian concept of separating oneself from the "the world" in order to grasp the divine.
Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. While the catholic church does not beleive that these teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites can bring about salvation -- she nonetheless acknowledges the state of mind (the contrite heart) necessaery for the Holy Spirit to work in them, and that these things in other religions are similar to the Christian vocation of repenting before the Lord is sufficient knowledge were fairly presented to them.
The catholic church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. However, it still very much warns of the danger of hell to those who persistently chose not to believe in the saving grace of Christ for no good reason -- which is ultimately left up to God to decide.
Editted for clarification...
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-02-2005 10:52 AM
This message has been edited by AdminJar, 07-02-2005 02:37 PM
So it is cast as a reinterpretation or a fuller understanding or something along those lines, I gather, but I distinctly remember the unequivocal statement by Catholics that Protestants could not be saved, and certainly no one else outside the Roman Church could either, ONLY those who specifically belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and that notion had prevailed certainly since the Reformation.
This message has been edited by Faith, 07-02-2005 03:33 PM
This message has been edited by Faith, 07-02-2005 03:34 PM
Re: Off topic about Catholic idea of who can be saved
Actually, it's been around for a very long time within the Catholic church...
The Popes and Saints On: The Catholic Doctrine of No Salvation Outside the Church By Raymond Taouk writes:
This dogma has been affirmed many times over by the Churches Magesterium. It has been affirmed by Pope Innocent III (DS 423), The IV Lateran Council (DS 430), Pope Boniface VIII (DS 468), The Council of Florence (DS 714), Pius IX (DS 1647), Pope Clement VI (DS 5706), The Council of Trent (DS 861) etc.
We shall lists some of the Popes and Saints of the Church and what they taught on this Catholic Dogma:
Pope St. Clement I, A.D. 88-97: "Heretical teachers pervert Scripture and try to get into Heaven with a false key, for they have formed their human assemblies later than the Catholic Church. From this previously-existing and most true Church, it is very clear that these later heresies, and others which have come into being since then, are counterfeit and novel inventions." (Epistle to the Corinthians)
Saint Ignatius of Antioch: "Do not deceive yourselves, he who adheres to the author of a schism will not possess the kingdom of God." [Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3 (CH 158)].
Saint Cyprianus: "Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ (...) He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation." [De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n 6 (CH 555)].
Council of Nicea (first ecumenical council, A.D. 325): "Let the patriarch consider what things are done by the archbishops and bishops in their provinces; and if he shall find anything done by them otherwise than it should be, let him change it and order it, as seemeth to him fit; for he is the father of all, and they are his sons. And although the Archbishop be among the bishops as an elder brother, who hath the care of his brethren, and to whom they owe obedience because he is over them; yet the patriarch is to all those who are under his power, just as he who holds the seat of Rome is the head and prince of all patriarchs; inasmuch as he is first, as was Peter, to whom power is given over all Christian princes, and over all their peoples, as he who is the Vicar of Christ our Lord over all peoples and over the whole Christian Church, and whoever shall contradict this, is excommunicated by the synod." (Arabic Canons, Canon XXXIX)
The Synod of Laodicea, A.D. 343-381: "Canon XXXIV. No Christian shall forsake the martyrs of Christ, and turn to false martyrs, that is, to those of the heretics, or those who formerly were heretics; for they are aliens from God. Let those who go after them be anathema."
"Ancient Epitome of Canon XXXIV. Whosoever honours an heretical pseudo-martyr, let him be anathema."
Saint Augustine and the Council of Cirta (412 A.D.): "He who is separated from the body of the Catholic Church, however laudable his conduct may otherwise seem, will never enjoy eternal life, and the anger of God remains on him by reason of the crime of which he is guilty in living separated from Christ." [Epist. 141 (CH 158)].
Saint Gregory the Great: "The holy universal Church teaches that God cannot be truly adored except within its fold; she affirms that all those who are separated from her will not be saved." [Moral. in Job. XIV,5 (CH 158)].
Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): "As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. ...This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. ...And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church's enemies are also my enemies." (Manual of Patrology and History of Theology)
Saint Augustine (died A.D. 430): "No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church." (Sermo ad Caesariensis Ecclesia plebem)
Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor, (died A.D. 407): "We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith." (De Capto Eutropia)
Saint Fulgentius (died A.D. 533): "Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside of the Catholic Church, will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Enchriridion Patristicum)
Pope Pelagius II (A.D. 578-590): "Consider the fact that whoever has not been in the peace and unity of the Church cannot have the Lord. Although given over to flames and fires, they burn, or, thrown to wild beasts, they lay down their lives, there will not be for them that crown of faith but the punishment of faithlessness. Such a one can be slain, he cannot be crowned. If slain outside the Church, he cannot attain the rewards of the Church." (Denzinger 246-247)
Pope Saint Gregory the Great (A.D. 590-604): "Now the holy Church universal proclaims that God cannot be truly worshipped saving within herself, asserting that all they that are without her shall never be saved." (Moralia)
Saint Bede the Venerable O.S.B., Doctor, (died A.D. 735): "He who will not willingly and humbly enter the gate of the Church will certainly be damned and enter the gate of hell whether he wants to or not." (Sermon 16) "Without this confession, without this faith, no one can enter the kingdom of God." (Sermon 16)
Saint Peter Mavimenus (died A.D. 743): "Whoever does not embrace the Catholic Christian religion will be damned, as was your false prophet Mohammed." (Roman Martyrology, February 20th) [Upon this profession of the faith, the infidel murdered him.]
Pope Sylvester II, A.D. 999-1003: "I profess that outside the Catholic Church, no one is saved." (Profession of Faith made as Archbishop of Rheims, June 991; Letters of Gerbert, NY: Columbia University Press.) [This is the man that introduced Arabic numerals (the ones we use) into the West.]
Pope Saint Leo IX, A.D. 1049-1054): [regarding the eastern so-called "Orthodox" schismatics]: "If you live not in the body which is Christ, you are none of His. Whose, then, are you? You have been cut off and will wither, and like the branch pruned from the vine, you will burn in the fire - an end which may God's goodness keep far from you."
Innocent III and the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran (1215 A.D.): "There is only one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one can be saved." [Cap. I; De fide cath.; DS 802 (CH 159)].
Saint Thomas Aquinas (died A.D. 1274): "There is no enterning into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the ark, which denotes the Church." (Summa Theologiae)
Pope Eugene IV: "Whoever wishes to be saved needs, above everything else, to hold the Catholic faith. Unless each one preserves this faith whole and inviolate, he will perish in eternity without a doubt." - Exultate Deo," DZ 695
Pope Adrian II "The first requirement of salvation is to keep to the standard of the true faith." Actio I," DZ 171, n.1
Pope Gregory XVI - "He who is separated from the body of the Catholic Church, however praiseworthy his conduct may otherwise seem, will not be saved." "Perlatum Ad Nos," PTC:186; "Summo Jugiter," PTC:158
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum: “The Church...regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own...The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium...Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adultress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ...He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation.”
Pope Pius IV "I promise, vow, and swear that, with God's help, I shall most constantly hold and profess this true Catholic faith, outside which no one can be saved." : from the Bull "Injunctum Nobis," DZ:1000
Pope Pius VIII "Remember this firm dogma of our religion: that outside the true Catholic faith no one can be saved." - RECOLLECTIONS OF THE LAST FOUR POPES, Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, London: 1858
Pope Pius IX "See to it that the faithful have fixed firmly in their minds this dogma of our most holy religion: the absolute necessity of the Catholic faith for attaining salvation." - Nostis et Nobiscum," December 8, 1849
Pope St. Pius X "Where is the road which leads us to Jesus Christ? It is the Church. It is our duty to recall to everyone, great and small, the absolute necessity we are under to have recourse to this Church in order to work out our eternal salvation." - "Supremi Apostolatus," PTC:654; "Jucunda Sane," PTC:668
Pope Pius XI "If any man does not enter the Church, or if any man departs from it, he is far from the hope of life and salvation." - Mortalium Animos," PTC:873
Pope Pius XII "No one can depart from the teaching of Catholic truth without loss of faith and salvation." - Pius XII: "Ad Apostolorum Principis," PTC:1536
Council of Trent - "Constantly hold and profess this true Catholic faith, without which no one can be saved. Tridentine Profession of Faith, DZ:1000
Vatican I "This true Catholic faith, outside which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, I do promise and swear that I will most constantly keep and confess whole and inviolate with the help of God until the last breath of my life, and that I will take great care that it be held, taught, and preached by my inferiors and by those who are placed under my charge." - Papal Oath
Saint Peter Canisius (died A.D. 1597): "Outside of this communion - as outside the ark on Noah - there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never recieved the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having recieved it, corrupted it; neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members...for the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother." (Cathechismi Latini et Germanici)
Saint Robert Bellarmine (died A.D. 1621): "Outside the Church there is no salvation...therefore in the symbol [Apostles Creed] we join together the Church with the remission of sins: `I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins'...For this reason the Church is compared with the ark of Noah, because just as during the deluge, everyone perished who was not in the ark, so now those perish who are not in the Church." (De Sacramento Baptismi)
St. Francis of Assisi "And all of us humbly entreat and beseech everyone, all nations and all men in all the earth who are, and who shall be, that we may all of us persevere in the true faith: for otherwise no one can be saved."
St. Louis Marie de Montfort "There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Anyone who resists this truth perishes." -
St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori "We must believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church; hence, they who are out of our Church, or they who are separated from it, cannot be saved." :
"The same teaching is expressed in the professions of faith which have been proposed of by the Apostolic See; in the one which all the Latin Churches use (DS 1870); as also in the others, one which is received by the Greeks (cf. Gregory XIII: Prof. XXX; DS 1985. ), and the other by all other Eastern Catholics" [Benedict XIV: Const. Nuper ad Nos; DS 2540 Cf. Also Pope Gregory XVI: Encyclical Summo jugiter, May 27, 1832 to the Bishops of Bavaria (CH 159)].
It is interesting to note that Pope Benedict XI (back when he was Ratzinger) had the following to say:
""Regarding the future, it seems likely that, in global terms, the influence of the Church over the world will constantly diminish. The numeric triumph of Catholicism over other religions, which today can still be admitted, probably will not continue. ....
"In this state of things, one should no longer be concerned with the salvation of 'the others,' who for some time now have become 'our brothers.' Above all, the central question is to have an intuition of the Church's position and mission in History under a positive new point-of-view. This new point-of-view should allow one to believe in the universal offer of the grace of salvation as well as the essential part that the Church plays in this. Therefore, in this sense the problem changed.
"What concerns us is no longer how 'the others' will be saved. Certainly we know, by our faith in divine mercy, that they can be saved. How this happens, we leave to God. The point that does concern us is principally this: Why, despite the wider possibility of salvation, is the Church still necessary? Why should faith and life still continue to come through her? In other words, the present day Christians no longer question if their non-believer brothers can reach salvation. Overall, they desire to know what is the meaning of their union with the universal embrace of Christ and their union with the Church (Joseph Ratzinger, "Necessita della missione della Chiesa nel mondo," in La Fine della Chiesa come Societa Perfetta, Verona: Mondatori, 1968, pp 69-70).
Anyway, if you want to discuss this further Faith, we can go back to this thread here...
Re: Off topic about Catholic idea of who can be saved
No I'm really not up to continuing it, thanks. Most of those quotes pretty clearly affirm that there is no salvation outside the literal Catholic Church as I read them, until we get down to Cardinal Ratzinger's statement. In any case my point was that the average Catholic was certain that nobody outside his own literal Church could be saved.
Re: Off topic about Catholic idea of who can be saved
Yes, but these quotes do not go into the concept of baptism of desire or the baptism of blood. Also, the concept of purgatory has a long standing tradition within both the Roman and Eastern churches. Altogether, it appears as if these revelations have converged in such a way that the modern synthesis of the potential salvatation of "outsiders" was an inevitable conclusion.
Again, if you wish to discuss this further, you know the thread. I think we're taking this thread well off topic by discussing this idea in such detail.