Tag: Catholic beliefs

Are Mormons Religion Christian As Catholics and Other Religions Are?

Are Mormons Religion Christian As Catholics and Other Religions Are?

Q. I met a Mormon guy while I was at a summer camp. He told me he was a Christian, but I always thought I heard that they aren’t. What are they?

A. Good question! Though I’m not an expert on the Mormon religion I’d be happy to shed some light on this question and even broaden it to other Christian religions.

One of the most central beliefs of all Christians, including Catholics, is that there is one God. This God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three distinct Persons yet one divine Nature. The Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD, defined the Son as “consubstantial” with the Father. In other words, He is of the same substance or essence as the Father. This also applies to the Holy Spirit. God the Son also took on a second nature when He became man. So the Son is both God and man.

This central belief of Christianity is one not shared by Mormonism. Mormons claim to believe that Jesus is divine but that He and the Father are not of the same divine nature. Rather, they believe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct gods. They believe these three gods are united in the same purpose but are not of the one and only divine essence.

Now that may all seem confusing and overly philosophical. But it really is at the heart of what we believe as Christians. Therefore, if anyone denies this fundamental belief, that there is one God rather than three gods, then we would have to say their beliefs are not the same as ours. So it’s fair to say that Mormons and Catholics differ in our belief about the Trinity in an essential way. However, all of the mainstream Protestant religions believe the same as Catholics regarding the Trinity.

So what’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that Mormons do not have the same essential Christian belief in the Trinity as we do. In fact, it is this essential difference that has led our Church to reject their baptism as a valid one even though they use the same words as we do. We do, however, accept other Christian baptisms as a valid Sacrament (such as Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc.). We accept these baptisms as valid because they believe the same as we do regarding the Trinity and other essential aspects of the Christian faith.

If you were to talk to a Mormon, however, you may find that they do believe many things we do. For that reason we do not reject anything in their religion that is true. But we do reject their doctrine on the Trinity as well as a number of other essential beliefs regarding salvation, eternal life, Original Sin, Heaven, revelation, etc.

Mormons can certainly be good people and may claim to be Christians, but we do not believe they have the essential beliefs that makes a Christian a Christian.

Can I Make Heaven If I Am Not Baptized

Can I Make Heaven If I Am Not Baptized

Baptism and Salvation

Q. If someone who believes in God but is not baptized and passes away, do they go to hell?

A. This is an interesting question which requires some nuances to make the answer clear. The answer below comes from Chapter 3 of the My Catholic Worship! book. Click this link for a full reading of that chapter. Below is the section of that chapter that addresses your question.

Now what about those who are not baptized you ask? What happens to them? And what about children who are not baptized? Are they doomed?

These questions can only be understood if we understand the perfect love and wisdom of God in all things. God is not legalistic. He does not look at a child who dies and say, “well, sorry but I only take baptized children into Heaven.” This would be contrary to the infinite mercy and wisdom of God. At the same time, the Church teaches that Baptism is the only way we know of that leads to salvation. Therefore, it is necessary. So how do we reconcile these views that appear to be opposed? That is, how do we reconcile a loving God with the idea that Baptism is necessary for salvation?

This is done quite easily. We believe that Baptism is the only way we know of (the only way God revealed to us) to receive the grace of salvation. But God, in His infinite love and wisdom is not limited by the limited revelation He shared with us. God can do whatever He wants to do. Therefore, if a child dies before Baptism, the parents should rest assured that God loves that child far more than they do. And this perfectly loving God will act in a way that is perfectly loving toward that child. One speculation is that God offers that child the same choice He offered the angels.

They had a onetime opportunity to choose. So it is entirely possible that when this child dies and faces God, this child will be invited to choose to love God freely and, thus, spend eternity with God. But we must always remember that Heaven does require a free choice. Therefore, not even a child would be forced to be there against his or her will.

Another interesting scenario is the adult who is not baptized. What happens when that adult dies? Again, we must look at this from the point of view of a God who is infinitely wise and infinitely loving.

In this case there are a few possibilities. The first possibility is what is referred to as the “baptism by blood.” This would be the person who desires Baptism but, before actually receiving this sacrament, is martyred for their faith. We don’t see this that often today but it was a real situation in the early Church. We believe that this desire to be baptized, as well as the act of martyrdom, provides the grace of Baptism and thus the person is fully graced by God.

Similarly, we speak of the “baptism by desire.” This would include those who believe and desire Baptism but die before they are actually baptized. Again, the desire alone suffices for God to pour forth His grace. This would also apply to children who die before they are baptized when the parents desired Baptism. The desire on the part of the parents suffices for the grace to be poured forth.

Lastly, we need to look at the situation of those who did not choose to be baptized and, therefore, die without this sacrament. These cases will fall in one of two categories. First, there are those who through no fault of their own do not come to an explicit faith in Christ and, as a result, do not seek Baptism. In this case God will judge only the heart. There are many reasons why a person may not come to faith in Christ explicitly through no fault of their own. Say, for example, that a person lives in some culture where the Gospel has never been preached and they actually never heard of Jesus. Does God consider them to be guilty of eternal damnation because they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus? Certainly not.

Another example would be the person who heard about Jesus but received only a message of hypocrisy. Let’s say that the way the message was continually preached was skewed and malicious. Perhaps the preacher was living a double life and the person hearing about Jesus rejected the explicit Gospel message because the only messenger of that Gospel was presenting it in a very disordered way. In that case, the rejection of the message may actually be nothing more than a rejection of the hypocrisy of the messenger. And that may be a good thing!

The bottom line is that God knows the heart and God sees the intention in that heart. So if someone fails to come to an explicit faith in Christ and, therefore, fails to receive the Sacrament of Baptism in an explicit way, God will still look only at the heart. And when He does look into that heart, if He sees goodness and faith, He will pour His grace anyway. So, this is the case where a person who is not baptized may actually be following the voice of God in their conscience without even realizing whose voice that is. In reality, this person has faith and God will see that!

The only case that may end with eternal damnation is the person who fails to receive Baptism through their own fault. They are given every opportunity to hear the Gospel, they have the good Christian witness of others, and they interiorly reject this of their own free will. Free will is the key here. And, again, only God knows the heart and only God can be the judge of one’s heart. So if God sees in the heart an obstinacy that is freely chosen, then this person is guilty and may lose that offer of eternal salvation. This is sad. ”

Do You Know Your BASIC BELIEFS As A Catholic?

Do You Know Your BASIC BELIEFS As A Catholic?

Creed: The Basic Profession of Faith

From its earliest days, the Church used brief summaries to describe an outline of its most essential beliefs. These summaries are called “creeds”, from the Latin credo, meaning “I believe.” They are also called “professions of faith,” since they summarize the faith that Christians profess. The Catholic Church uses two very old creeds regularly as a part of its liturgy and other prayers. There are a number of other Catholic creeds as well. The older Apostles Creed is brief and simple. It is considered to be a faithful summary of the Apostles’ teaching. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church at Rome. (See Catechism, 194). The longer Catholic Nicene Creed contains some additional language explaining our belief in the Trinity. Another ancient & traditional creed is commonly called the Athanasian Creed, since it was originally attributed to St. Athanasius, who died in 373 A.D. (This creed is no longer officially attributed to him.) It is also called the Quicumque vult, after its first words in Latin. This beautiful creed contains a detailed meditation on the nature of the Trinity.

The Apostles’ Creed

Considered to be a faithful summary of the Apostles’ teaching. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church at Rome.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Amen.

The Nicene Creed

The most ecumenical of creeds, it is the most widely accepted and used brief statements of the Christian Faith. In liturgical churches, it is said every Sunday as part of the Liturgy. It is Common Ground to East Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists, and many other Christian groups. Many groups that do not have a tradition of using it in their services nevertheless are committed to the doctrines it teaches.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Amen.