Damned for Leaving the Catholic Church?
Question: I have a question on the Catholic belief about being damned for leaving the Church. I left the Catholic Church and I am concerned, really concerned. Can you help me in this situation? Since Easter I have been feeling guilty and doubtful. Is there salvation outside the Catholic Church? I am trying to raise my family in the Lord and I donít want to mislead my little ones. Can you help shed some light on this?
Answer: I can sense the turmoil in your soul and I understand you. I've been through a similar experience myself. It is obvious that you are a conscientious person and the last thing you want to do is to bring God's judgement upon yourself and mislead your family. I hope and pray that the Lord will give me wisdom and compassion to reassure you.
I feel angry about the way the Catholic Church regards people like you and me who, following our convictions, leave the Roman Catholic Church and join a Christian fellowship. In this age of ecumenism, to people of every sort of religion - Buddhists, Muslims, animists, or whatever form of paganism that exist under the sun - the Pope and the Vatican reassure them that they can be saved in their religion. They reassure Muslims, even though they reject the Deity of our Lord Jesus. But not former Catholics! We are worse than the Devil himself. Our great heresy? Our great sin? Is it perhaps because we follow our conscience? Is it because we rely by faith in Christ alone for salvation? Or is it perhaps because we follow the Bible only as our guide to Heaven? No! Our great sin, our great heresy, is that we left the Roman Church!
Brother, do not be intimidated by the threatening of mere man.
The issue is not whether salvation is obtained by membership in a particular denomination. Salvation is found in THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, not a particular church organization! Christ is the Saviour, the church (his people) are the saved ones. God "has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:6). "And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).
Salvation is not in a particular church; salvation is IN CHRIST. Whom are you trusting for salvation? Formerly you followed the Roman tradition, working to merit eternal life by your religious works and penance. Formerly you depended on a system that claimed to dispense salvation bit by bit through itís sacraments. But now, since you became a Christian, your only hope, your only trust, your only reliance is Christ Jesus who shed His blood for you. Isn't that so? If you can honestly say, "Yes, all my faith is in Christ Jesus," then brother, I can assure you on the authority of the Word of God, that your salvation is in the hands of the Good Shepherd who never ever looses one of His sheep.
If, having heard the Gospel, you have trusted in Christ, you are now sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). And since you have the Spirit, you are a member of the body of Christ, His church (1 Corinthians 12:13). The church is not any particular denomination or sect, but all the redeemed, all His people. Rest assured, brother, that if you are saved through faith, you are a member of His church. In this sense, the saying is true, that there is no salvation outside the church.
Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A