Q and A with Jesus on Salvation (part 1)

1. May we reasonably hope that perhaps no human persons are sent to Hell?

No, it is neither reasonable nor faithful to believe or hope that no human persons go to Hell.

[Matthew]
{5:20} For I say to you, that unless your justice has surpassed that of the scribes and the Pharisees you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
{5:21} You have heard that it was said to the ancients: ‘You shall not murder; whoever will have murdered shall be liable to judgment.’
{5:22} But I say to you, that anyone who becomes angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment. But whoever will have called his brother, ‘Idiot,’ shall be liable to the council. Then, whoever will have called him, ‘Worthless,’ shall be liable to the fires of Hell.

{5:29} And if your right eye causes you to sin, root it out and cast it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish, than that your whole body be cast into Hell.
{5:30} And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it away from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish, than that your whole body go into Hell.

{10:28} And do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But instead fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.

{11:23} And you, Capernaum, would you be exalted all the way to heaven? You shall descend all the way to Hell. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, perhaps it would have remained, even to this day.
{11:24} Yet truly, I say to you, that the land of Sodom shall be forgiven more than you, on the day of judgment.”

{23:15} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and by land, in order to make one convert. And when he has been converted, you make him twice the son of Hell that you are yourselves.

{25:40} And in response, the King shall say to them, ‘Amen I say to you, whenever you did this for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did it for me.’
{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.’
{25:44} Then they will also answer him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
{25:45} Then he shall respond to them by saying: ‘Amen I say to you, whenever you did not do it to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.’
{25:46} And these shall go into eternal punishment, but the just shall go into eternal life.”

[Luke]
{16:19} A certain man was wealthy, and he was clothed in purple and in fine linen. And he feasted splendidly every day.
{16:20} And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, covered with sores,
{16:21} wanting to be filled with the crumbs which were falling from the wealthy man’s table. But no one gave it to him. And even the dogs came and licked his sores.
{16:22} Then it happened that the beggar died, and he was carried by the Angels into the bosom of Abraham. Now the wealthy man also died, and he was entombed in Hell.
{16:23} Then lifting up his eyes, while he was in torments, he saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
{16:24} And crying out, he said: ‘Father Abraham, take pity on me and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh my tongue. For I am tortured in this fire.’
{16:25} And Abraham said to him: ‘Son, recall that you received good things in your life, and in comparison, Lazarus received bad things. But now he is consoled, and truly you are tormented.
{16:26} And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been established, so that those who might want to cross from here to you are not able, nor can someone cross from there to here.’

[John]
{6:54} And so, Jesus said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.
{6:55} Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

[Acts]
{24:15} having a hope in God, which these others themselves also expect, that there will be a future resurrection of the just and the unjust.

[Philippians]
{2:9} Because of this, God has also exalted him and has given him a name which is above every name,
{2:10} so that, at the name of Jesus, every knee would bend, of those in heaven, of those on earth, and of those in hell,
{2:11} and so that every tongue would confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

[Revelation]
{20:11} And I saw a great white throne, and One sitting upon it, from whose sight earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them.
{20:12} And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in view of the throne. And books were opened. And another Book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged by those things that had been written in the books, according to their works.
{20:13} And the sea gave up the dead who were in it. And death and Hell gave up their dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
{20:14} And Hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.
{20:15} And whoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the pool of fire.

[Matthew]
{7:13} Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leads to perdition, and many there are who enter through it.

In addition to the clear teachings of Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium has repeatedly infallibly taught, at several different Ecumenical Councils, that some human souls are sent to Hell, and that the general Resurrection includes the resurrection of many unjust souls from Hell, as well as the just souls in Heaven.

Therefore, anyone who believes, asserts, or teaches that we may “reasonably hope” that “perhaps” no human persons are sent to Hell is essentially accusing Jesus and all of Sacred Scripture of teaching lies about Heaven, Hell, and salvation.

2. Are the saved many or few?

The saved are many in number. Most human persons will attain eternal life in Heaven. However, since not all are saved and since the damned in Hell are numerous (though not a majority), the elect are figuratively called “few”.

[Matthew]
{7:14} How narrow is the gate, and how straight is the way, which leads to life, and few there are who find it!

[Luke]
{14:15} When someone sitting at table with him had heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
{14:16} So he said to him: “A certain man prepared a great feast, and he invited many.
{14:17} And he sent his servant, at the hour of the feast, to tell the invited to come; for now everything was ready.
{14:18} And at once they all began to make excuses. The first said to him: ‘I bought a farm, and I need to go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’
{14:19} And another said: ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to examine them. I ask you to excuse me.’
{14:20} And another said, ‘I have taken a wife, and therefore I am not able to go.’
{14:21} And returning, the servant reported these things to his lord. Then the father of the family, becoming angry, said to his servant: ‘Go out quickly into the streets and neighborhoods of the city. And lead here the poor, and the disabled, and the blind, and the lame.’
{14:22} And the servant said: ‘It has been done, just as you ordered, lord, and there is still room.’
{14:23} And the lord said to the servant: ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel them to enter, so that my house may be filled.
{14:24} For I tell you, that none of those men who were invited will taste of my feast.’ ”

The great feast is the kingdom of God: Heaven. The invited are “many” because God wills all human persons to be saved. In the Church’s teaching, this is called the universal salvific will. But some of the invited will never taste of the feast; they do not reach Heaven, but end up in Hell.

However, those who enter the feast of Heaven are many. They include not only “the poor, and the disabled, and the blind, and the lame”, in other words, those who are suffering or oppressed, but also people from “the highways and hedges”, i.e. from the very outskirts of the Church (non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, non-believers, as long as they are in the state of grace).

These latter guests at the feast are said to be compelled to enter, “so that my house may be filled”. Of course, the phrasing “compel them to enter” is not to be understood as if God were forcing persons into Heaven against their will. Rather, it indicates the fullness of the universal salvific will; it is a figure for the lengths to which God goes, by providence and grace and miracles, to save us poor sinners.

The saved are many, because the house of the feast of Heaven is filled. However, some are lost, even though they were invited. Yet clearly they were lost by their own choice, as the parable describes.

3. Can non-Catholic Christians be saved without converting to Catholicism?
4. Can non-Christian believers be saved without converting to Christianity?
5. Can non-believers be saved without converting to belief in God?

Yes. Everyone who loves his neighbor has the state of grace, and everyone who dies in that state will have eternal life in Heaven.

[1 John]
{2:10} Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause of offense in him.

[Romans]
{13:8} You should owe nothing to anyone, except so as to love one another. For whoever loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
{13:9} For example: You shall not commit adultery. You shall not kill. You shall not steal. You shall not speak false testimony. You shall not covet. And if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
{13:10} The love of neighbor does no harm. Therefore, love is the plenitude of the law.

[Matthew 8]
{8:5} And when he had entered into Capernaum, a centurion approached, petitioning him,
{8:6} and saying, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and badly tormented.”
{8:7} And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
{8:8} And responding, the centurion said: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
{8:9} For I, too, am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
{8:10} And, hearing this, Jesus wondered. And he said to those following him: “Amen I say to you, I have not found so great a faith in Israel.

The Centurion was neither a Christian, nor a Jew. He was not a disciple of Christ. He most likely followed the pagan religion of the Romans, which is so far from true religion as to be in the same category as atheism and agnosticism. Yet he had greater faith than most Catholics today. And he must have been in the state of grace, since faith is never great unless accompanied by love and hope. And he showed that love by his concern for his suffering servant. Yes, everyone who has love, faith, and hope has the state of sanctifying grace, and whosoever dies in that state will have eternal life.

{15:22} And behold, a woman of Canaan, going out from those parts, cried out, saying to him: “Take pity on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is badly afflicted by a demon.”
{15:23} He did not say a word to her. And his disciples, drawing near, petitioned him, saying: “Dismiss her, for she is crying out after us.”
{15:24} And responding, he said, “I was not sent except to the sheep who have fallen away from the house of Israel.”
{15:25} But she approached and adored him, saying, “Lord, help me.”
{15:26} And responding, he said, “It is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to the dogs.”
{15:27} But she said, “Yes, Lord, but the young dogs also eat from the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.”
{15:28} Then Jesus, responding, said to her: “O woman, great is your faith. Let it be done for you just as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Similarly, the woman of Canaan was neither a Jew nor a Christian. Yet she had great faith, and therefore also love and hope. Jews and Christians are the children at table, following true religion received from God. But many others are saved by the crumbs from the table. They are implicit members of the Ark of Salvation by means of the love of neighbor.

[Matthew 5]
{5:1} Then, seeing the crowds, he ascended the mountain, and when he had sat down, his disciples drew near to him,
{5:2} and opening his mouth, he taught them, saying:
{5:3} “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
{5:4} Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
{5:5} Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be consoled.
{5:6} Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
{5:7} Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
{5:8} Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
{5:9} Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
{5:10} Blessed are those who endure persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
{5:11} Blessed are you when they have slandered you, and persecuted you, and spoken all kinds of evil against you, falsely, for my sake:
{5:12} be glad and exult, for your reward in heaven is plentiful. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Beatitudes are the path to Heaven. Notice that this path does not consist in being Catholic, or Christian, or Jewish, but in the choices that a person makes concerning good and evil in life. Choose good in any of these various ways, true lasting supernatural good, and you are on the path to Heaven — including non-believers and non-Christian believers.

See my book Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone for more on this topic.

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.

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4 Responses to Q and A with Jesus on Salvation (part 1)

  1. Dan says:

    What about the fate of unbaptized babies? Florence, Second Council of Lyons and Trent
    decree and determine the fate is hell.
    But, now ~ if the church says there is no more limbo, and we (church teaching) do not concur with Augustine that all baptized babies go to hell, , the only option left is that all humans are born in a state of grace.

    • Ron Conte says:

      1. Lyons II and Florence did not specify that infants go to Hell.
      2. The Church has not said there is no limbo at all, just no limbo as a third final destination.
      3. The Church teaches that only persons guilty of deliberate mortal sin go to Hell, so this never includes little children.
      4. It is abject heresy to say that everyone is born in a state of grace.
      Part 2 of my Q and A addresses the fate of infants who die without baptism.

  2. Matt says:

    Ron,
    Many actors in Hollywood are heavily involved in charitable events, however they live very sinful lives. In fact, some of them are former Christians, and have denounced the Faith, but yet, contribute much resources to the poor and the suffering. In fact, I personally know some neighbors who continuously live in grave unrepentant sins, but I see them truly love and have great compassion for their fellow man.

    How do you reconcile these humans who appear to be good in the eyes of their fellow man, give much financially and participate in charitable events, but lead lives full of abortion, adultery, fornication, divorce, promotion of homosexuality, and utter contempt and rejection of Christianity?

    • Ron Conte says:

      God is the judge of souls. I’m only a judge of hypotheticals.

      Actual mortal sin is entirely incompatible with the true love of neighbor, found only in the state of grace. So either those objective mortal sins are not also actual mortal sins, or those persons do not truly love their neighbor. Maybe they have a sincere but mistaken conscience. Maybe various factors reduce the culpability below actual mortal sin. We don’t know in specific cases. We only know how salvation works in principle.

      If someone is truly guilty of actual mortal sin, and not in the state of grace, they can return to that state (or enter it for the first time) by an act of true selfless love of neighbor. And then all their past actual mortal sins are forgiven by perfect contrition, which can be implicit

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