Will Catholics go to Heaven?
By Tim Finley
In January of 2012, while listening to Dr. Steve Brown’s Christian radio talk show, I was disturbed by a statement made by Steve (Steve has spent years as a Christian pastor, seminary professor, speaker, author, etc.) and his pastor, Pete. I was so disturbed by their opinions regarding Catholics and their eternal destination, and the fact they didn’t mention Jesus’ statement that a person must be born again that I wrote the following letter to Steve asking him to expound on his interpretation of the doctrine of salvation. My letter and Steve’s reply are, as follows: (you can make your own evaluation)
January 25, 2012
Tim Finley here. I wrote the book titled JESUS CHRIST Is the EASY and ONLY Way to HEAVEN, which you were kind enough to endorse. Last week you and Pete attempted to answer a question regarding the prospects of a Catholic going to Heaven. Although you tried, I am still unclear as to your straightforward opinions. I think you kind-of beat around the bush and never talked about being born again, as stated by Jesus Christ in the following verse…
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3
When one is “saved,” he/she has been born again, spiritually renewed, and is now a child of God by right of new birth. Trusting in Jesus Christ, the One who paid the penalty of sin when he died on the cross, is what it means to be “born again” spiritually.
Isn’t the Bible very clear regarding what a person must do to go to Heaven? If a Catholic believes strictly what the Catholic Church teaches, which rejects the tenets of orthodox Christianity as taught by Jesus and the Apostles, isn’t there a possibility that person who depends on Apostolic succession for their salvation running the risk of eternal damnation? I think we born again Christians must be bold and brutally honest when teaching what the Bible says about salvation, even if it hurts someone’s feelings. Must a person be born again to get to Heaven and how does one do that?
January 26, 2010
Dear Tim, Thank you for your email. Steve has asked that I pass on his response. Sincerely, Robin DeMurga, Key Life
I appreciate what you wrote and you are, of course, right in terms of details. The problem is that Jesus hugs a lot of people who are wrong about a lot of things. One is not saved by affirming or believing a set of truth propositions. One is saved by Jesus and running to him. The truth propositions (doctrine) have only one purpose and that is to point us to Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. The doctrines are important because the truer they are, the better they point to him.
The Roman Catholic Church is wrong about so much… but they do get Christology right (often better than Baptists and Presbyterians).
I’m going to “cut and paste” below some information from our database of things that I’ve written or taught about this subject in the past. I suspect you may have some trouble with some of it, but I do think it’s fairly clear.
Thanks for taking the time to write.
Following is what Steve cut and pasted:
“While many Protestant Christians attack the Catholic Church, there are Christians in the Catholic Church as there are non-Christians in the Catholic Church. The same can be said for Presbyterians, Baptists and all the rest. What is important is one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our salvation is based on our acceptance of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross . . . that’s it. It is not a matter of a particular doctrinal position in terms of theology. John 3:16 explains the simplicity of salvation well, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ Salvation is simply a matter of repenting from sin; believing in Jesus Christ; and accepting Him into one’s life. It is having a heart open to God.
While I have some serious problems with the Catholic Church, I also have a great respect for it. I have a priest friend in Boston who has led more people to Christ (using the Four Spiritual Laws) than any two Protestant ministers I’ve ever met. In fact, in Miami there is a very strong Charismatic Catholic group of Christians who know the Gospel, the Bible and how it applies to them. They have received Christ personally and are now walking in obedience to Him. At St. Lewis Catholic Church, the priest is one of the finest born again Christians I have ever met.
It is interesting to note that the Gospel is proclaimed during almost every Catholic Mass: ‘Blessed be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’”
Regarding the practices of all denominations, I believe that there are cultural overtones in all religious manifestations. Salvation is a leaning on Jesus, nothing more and nothing less. God may say about our practices, when Christians get to heaven, “That was a whole lot of nonsense, but that’s okay.” The fact is, we’re all confused.
It is interesting to note that the Catholic Church is a wide umbrella. It incorporates a wide variety of views, opinion and doctrine. At some points, the Catholic Church even contradicts itself. For example, the Catholic Church, as a group, includes both Augustine (hyper-grace) and Aquinas (the necessity of works). Strange bedfellows.