What Is Your Position on Salvation Theology?

There are several different positions on salvation that are commonly found among Catholics. However, not all of these positions are compatible with magisterial teaching.

My position:
1. God wills that all human persons be saved. The only persons who are condemned to Hell are those who die unrepentant from actual mortal sin. Non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, and non-believers can be saved, even without converting, if they fail to convert due to invincible ignorance. They can enter the state of grace by any of the three forms of baptism, which includes implicit baptism of desire. They can repent from actual mortal sin before death by perfect contrition, which can also be implicit. However, the further a belief system is from Catholicism, the less light it provides for the journey to Heaven, and the harder it is to be saved. Most persons go to Heaven, by way of Purgatory. A minority of persons, but still a large number, go to Hell. All prenatals, infants, and young children, who die at that young age, are given the state of grace before death and so they necessarily go to Heaven.

A common liberal position:
2. God wills that all human persons be saved. Actual mortal sin is rare. Few persons, if any, die unrepentant from actual mortal sin. Hell has few souls, if any. Almost all persons go to Heaven.

A common conservative position:
3. God does not have to save anyone. The vast majority of persons go to Hell, including all non-believers, all believers in non-monotheistic religions, most or all non-Christian believers, and most non-Catholic Christians. Few persons die in a state of grace and go to Heaven. Anyone who knows about Catholic Christianity, and yet does not convert, goes to Hell.

Now of course, I argue that my own position (#1 above) is correct. But in my understanding of magisterial teaching, the other two positions, two extremes, are incompatible with Catholic teaching. A Catholic need not agree with me on every point of salvation theology. But I don’t think it is tenable to say that (nearly) everyone goes to Heaven, or that (nearly) everyone goes to Hell.

Given the current state of the development of doctrine in magisterial teaching on salvation, including the teachings of Pope Saint John Paul II, we cannot condemn non-believers, non-Christian believers, or non-Catholic Christians unequivocally. These persons can enter the state of grace by some form of baptism, including implicit baptism of desire, and they can repent (if they commit an actual mortal sin) by perfect contrition, which also can be implicit.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

See a list of my books and booklets here.

Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone
available in print (paperback, 510 pp.) and in Kindle format.

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2 Responses to What Is Your Position on Salvation Theology?

  1. Teresa says:

    I chose and believe #1. However, I have a question … Is it ever possble for souls to leave hell, whether through the prayers of others or by having “paid” for their sins?

    • Ron Conte says:

      No, absolutely not. Hell is eternal punishment. The souls in Hell died in a state of unrepentant actual mortal sin, and no one can repent from this type of sin after death. Scripture and the Magisterium have always taught that Hell is eternal punishment:

      {18:7} Woe to a world that leads people astray! Although it is necessary for temptations to arise, nevertheless: Woe to that man through whom temptation arises!
      {18:8} So if your hand or your foot leads you to sin, cut it off and cast it away from you. It is better for you to enter into life disabled or lame, than to be sent into eternal fire having two hands or two feet.

      {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.’

      {25:46} And these shall go into eternal punishment, but the just shall go into eternal life.”

      {3:28} Amen I say to you, that all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and the blasphemies by which they will have blasphemed.
      {3:29} But he who will have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit shall not have forgiveness in eternity; instead he shall be guilty of an eternal offense.”

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