“Outside the Church, No Salvation” is true

…but then again “we don’t know where “outside” is.

We know where the Church is. We do not know where it is not.

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  • Dave G.

    Then again, we don’t really know what the definition of is is either. So there you go. 🙂

  • To be in communion is to mutually participate or share in something.
    The Church is the possessor of all truth.
    All men know some truth.
    Therefore, all men are, to some extent, in communion with the Church.

    • “The Church is the possessor of all truth” is a statement that might be true in some sense, but a lot of elaboration would be needed to precise that (truth or Truth? truth or thruts? possessor? all?). If we (mis)understand that truth, as if pointing to a body of assertions regarding “faith and morals” (that what the Church “teaches”), then the implication is false.
      For example: someone takes the assertion “to murder is bad” as part of that “truth that the Church possesses”, constates that many (not catholic) people “know” that truth, then concludes that “to some extent” those people are in communion with the Church. This would be plainly wrong. That knowledge can never constitute an ecclesial “communion”, even partial; only some intellectual/moral agreement. And the truth that the Church “posesses” should never be confused with those things.

      • None of those premises need qualifiers. Folks can argue about the ramifications of the conclusion, but the conclusion is true. Saying it is “plainly wrong” isn’t an argument. I would love for you to explain which of the premises you believe to be false and why.

        Note, I do not believe in the nonsensical notion of the ‘anonymous Christian’ or in universal salvation. Hence, I will not be addressing any statements to that effect.

        • Of course they need a lot of qualifiers to save them (and even then, the conclusion does not follow).
          Eg 1 “All men know some truth.” => A newly born baby doesn’t.
          Eg 2: “The Church is the possessor of all truth.” “Pythagoras’ theorem is true” => “The Church is the possesor of Pythagoras’ theorem”.
          “Truth” must be qualified and “possessor” even more (and “the possessor” even more). Etc.

          It’s wholly wrong to conceive the Church (instead as the bride of Christ, and, because of that, the organism of salvation) as “the possesor of all the truth”, and to imagine this “truth” with lowercase, as a theoretical body of doctrine, a collection of religious/moral assertions to which any man can “agree” or not. This (perhaps, I’m being generous here, see Mark’s comment) does not necessarily prove that the statement “the Church is the possessor of all truth” is just wrong, but in the way you apply it, I think it is. To be in “communion”, in this context (we are speaking of *salvation*!) has nothing to do with knowing/agreeing with some theoretical truth that the Church presumably knows and possesses.

          • Problems left and right!

            A baby does know. It feels, smells, tastes, etc. and there’s no reason to think that it makes exclusively false judgements about what it perceives. I mean no offense, but this is elementary.

            The fact that the members of the Church do not posess all true propositions is negligible in light of Christ as the true head of the Church. All Truth and all truths are preeminently in Him. So, all truth, unqualified, is in the Church.

            Finally, communion does have a definition, and you are free to look it up in any dictionary (or you may just look at the first premise). You may wish for it to be intimately tied to salvation, but that is not happening here. Moreover, even full communion with the Church is not a gaurantee of salvation; that’s the official teaching of the Church.


            • ooohh … this reminds me some argument from Alice through the Looking-Glass.
              I give up.


      • chezami

        No. It’s not true. The Church is possessed by the Truth, who is Jesus. We do not own him. He owns us.

        • Why the nitpicking of ‘possess’? My use is valid:
          Possess, meaning to have as an ability, quality, or characteristic.
          “he did not possess a sense of humor”
          synonyms: have, be blessed with, be endowed with; More

          As I said to Hernan, Jesus is the true head of the Church, and all Truth and truths are in Him preeminently. cf. Summa Part 3.

          The second premise could easily be changed to:
          In the Church is all truth.

        • The language of the Magisterium is such that the term ‘communion’ is generally qualified to refer to spiritual communion (in faith, in charity, in charism, etc.). So, the syllogism isn’t flawed, but the language could be easily confused.

  • B

    What is the point of saying “No Salvation Outside the Church” if no one knows what “outside” is? Why would someone even teach that at all? Seems like a near pointless statement if the terms are not well defined.

    • chezami

      What the point of saying :”Be prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ” when nobody knows when that will be?

      • We can do better than that. After all, we know what preparation means, and we know the significance of Christ’s return.

        B, we have a very good idea what ‘inside’ means. We know what is at the heart of the Church, the deposit of faith and the Eucharist above all. In that sense, you can clearly understand that movement away from the center is movement toward the ‘outside.’ That phrase is really just a negatively formed expression of “Salvation only within the Church.”

        Think about it this way, swimming to far from shore can get you caught by the undercurrent. Where’s the line beyond which you shouldn’t go? Hard to define, but you sure as heck know where the shore is; so, pay attention to the shore.

        • Heather

          When I explain this stuff to my RCIA group I use a road trip analogy. In the visible Church, we have the good car that won’t break down, food for the journey, a super GPS smart map, emergency roadside assistance, and lots of people to help us get there.

          Some people might still get there without all of those helps because God has still invited them. Some might have some of the helps but not others. But it’s best to have all the help we can get since it’s easy to go off the road. And all the help we have won’t help us if we decide we’d rather turn in the other direction.

  • Loretta

    The Church is known by the signs of sacrament, creed, and governance. The line of governance is fairly easy to demark, and the callous do so often. The line of creed, less so. The line of sacrament, extremely difficult. The penumbra of Christ has ascended into heaven, and descended into hell, and to paraphrase Teilhard de Chardin, henceforth it is blissfully impossible to escape Him. So this great truth made popular by the Baltimore Catechism, and recited by those who would declare “Gotcha!”, is both a blessing and a curse. During my closet Catholic days it was often used as a proof text by those who sought to condemn the Church for being closed-minded. There remain those today who use the phrase in a manner that make the criticism well-founded.

  • Ronald King

    Isn’t the Church the Body of Christ which consists of seen and unseen elements? Is the basic Truth “God is Love” and that God exists through all and in all with those that love? Would the Church consist of those who love and those who are recipients of that love?