12 Crucial Questions in Roman Catholic Salvation Theology

These 12 questions and their answers are absolutely essential to the field of soteriology (salvation theology). In all likelihood, the Magisterium will answer most or all of these questions, definitively, in the near future. But in my view, the correct answers are already clear from the current teachings of the Magisterium, understood in the light of the Gospel teaching of Jesus Christ.

1. Does limbo as a third final destination, that is neither Heaven, nor Hell, exist?

my answer: No.

The idea of limbo as a third final destination, not a part of Hell or Purgatory, was formerly a non-infallible teaching of the Magisterium. But the idea is no longer taught by the Magisterium. For the non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium are non-irreformable; they are subject to change and correction.

2. Is the limbo of Hell a place of eternal punishment, or a place of natural happiness?

my answer: eternal punishment

The Ecumenical Councils of Lyons II and Florence have already answered this question, in effect, by teaching that those who die in a state of original sin alone are sent to Hell to be punished. But some followers of Saint Thomas Aquinas today have tried to claim that one can be punished with the deprivation of the Beatific Vision of God, which the CCC says is the “chief punishment” of Hell, and yet be happy.

3. Are all prenatals, infants, and young children, who die before the age of reason, given a baptism of desire or of blood, prior to death, so that they die in a state of grace, not a state of original sin alone?

my answer: Yes, they are given a baptism of blood prior to death, and so they die in a state of grace, and will have eternal happiness in Heaven. They perhaps are sent to the limbo of Purgatory first, so as to know and love Christ by name before entering Heaven.

4. Who dies in a state of original sin alone and is therefore sent to the limbo of Hell, rather than to Hell proper?

my answer: Anyone who dies unrepentant from the actual mortal sin of omission of never having found sanctifying grace in this life, despite ample opportunity. So these persons would include only adults and perhaps some adolescents, but no young children, infants, or prenatals.

5. Is anyone sent to Hell or to the limbo of Hell for any reason other than unrepented actual mortal sin?

my answer: No. All those persons and only those persons, who commit actual mortal sin and who never repent, are sent to Hell.

6. Can Jews, who possess sufficient accurate knowledge of Christianity and never convert, nevertheless die in a state of grace and obtain eternal life in Heaven?

my answer: Yes. They enter the state of grace by an implicit baptism of desire. They avoid actual mortal sin, if their rejection of the Church is in good conscience by invincible ignorance. They can repent from any actual mortal sins by perfect contrition out of love for God and neighbor. So they can die in a state of grace.

7. Can Muslims, who possess sufficient accurate knowledge of Christianity and never convert, nevertheless die in a state of grace and obtain eternal life in Heaven?

my answer: Yes. Same reason.

8. Can believers in other religions, particularly those lacking belief in one eternal Creator God, who possess sufficient accurate knowledge of Christianity and never convert, nevertheless die in a state of grace and obtain eternal life in Heaven?

my answer: Yes. They can obtain the state of grace by an implicit baptism of desire. They can return to the state of grace by implicit perfect contrition, out of love of neighbor. They can avoid actual mortal sin for rejecting Christianity, if their decision is in good conscience by invincible ignorance.

9. Can atheists, agnostics, and believers who have no concept of God in their belief system, and who never convert to belief in God, nevertheless die in a state of grace and obtain eternal life in Heaven?

my answer: Yes. They can obtain the state of grace by an implicit baptism of desire. They can return to the state of grace by implicit perfect contrition, out of love of neighbor. For the love of neighbor is always, at least implicitly, the love of God. And they might avoid actual mortal sin for rejecting Christianity, if their decision is in good conscience by invincible ignorance.

10. Can persons who are living a life of unrepentant objectively grave sin, and who do not repent of those sins before death, nevertheless die in a state of grace and obtain eternal life in Heaven?

my answer: Yes, if their objective mortal sins are not also actual mortal sin, or if they repent from all actual mortal sin by at least an act of implicit perfect contrition before death. Only those persons who die unrepentant from actual mortal sin are sent to Hell. All other persons obtain eternal life in Heaven, perhaps after a temporary stay in Purgatory.

11. Can a person who dies committing a mortal sin, and who does not repent before death, nevertheless die in a state of grace and obtain eternal life in Heaven?

my answer: Yes, if their objective mortal sins are not also actual mortal sin, or if they repent from all actual mortal sin by at least an act of implicit perfect contrition before death.

12. Is any human person unable to obtain Heaven because he or she was denied efficacious grace by God?

my answer: No. All human persons are given prevenient actual grace and offered subsequent actual grace, despite their sins, in superabundance. Grace never fails to be effective, but grace always respects free will. The opinion of Saint Thomas Aquinas on sufficient grace and efficacious grace was wrong.

I invite other Catholic authors (online and in print) answer this same set of questions.

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

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

Advertisements
Gallery | This entry was posted in salvation. Bookmark the permalink.