“Catholics think they’re the only ones going to heaven.”
There’s an old joke that a protestant arrives in heaven and Saint Peter is giving him a tour. They pass through many beautiful places both inside and out. Finally, they’re walking along a long corridor with a door at the end. The new arrival asks Peter, “What’s behind that door.” Peter answers, “Oh, that’s where we keep the Catholics. Thek think they’re the only ones here”
Funny? Maybe. True. Not at all. In fact nothing could be further from the truth.
First let me point out that there more protestant denominations than I can count that teach that Catholics are all going to hell. Here are a couple of choice examples. Here’s a guy named David A. Stewart whose web site is called “Jesus-is-Savior.com.” There is nothing on the site to indicate what church he is speaking for, where he’s located or anything else about him. But here’s one of my favorite quotes from his site, “Billions of lost sinners are dying in their sins and plunging into Hell because of the lying Popes and priests who deceive them.”
This guy seems to have a particular problem with our veneration of the Blessed Mother, but that’s a subject for another day.
Here’s another interesting site called A True Church. A guy named Darwin Fish (really!) is the author and he’s much more ecumenical. Apparently he thinks he’s the only one with the answers. I quote, “All of the world religions (e.g. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, Mormonism, JW’s, Catholicism,Protestantism, Seventh Day Adventism, etc.) lead to nowhere but hell.” The site even condemns Billy Graham. I thought everyone loved BG, even John Paul II. On another page he condemns James Dodson. Who doesn’t like James Dodson?
The words in the quotation appearing as links conncect to pages condemning specific churches.(Fish also has a blog but the last entry was in 2011. Been busy, I guess.) Anyway, from the “Catholicism” page, “Masses of people are in the grip of the Roman Catholic Church. This is a death grip. If it is not broken by coming “to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), it will lead them to unending torture in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone where unbelieving idolaters go (Revelation 21:8).”
Unbelieving idolators, that’s you. I could go on with more examples but I think you get the point. I’ll give you more examples at the end of the post.
But what about the Catholics? Do they really think they’re the only ones going to heaven. For an authoritative answer, let’s look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the New Testament…. In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated…. In these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted.” CCC 832
Without getting too theological, no, we don’t think we’re going to be the only ones in heaven. Heaven is available to all Christians, to Jews and Muslims, and even people who have never heard of God or Jesus. God doesn’t want to punish anyone who doesn’t know Him. The CCC goes on to explain why non-Christians can and do go to heaven. (CCC839-845)
The whole thing is a little tricky and hard to explain but I’ll give it a shot. As the Church teaches, all salvation is through the Catholic Church. The Roman Church was founded by Jesus himself and has all seven sacraments. The modern Church likes to say the fullness of the faith is found in Catholicism. Other churches have truth too. They also have sacraments, but not all seven. I guess the simplest way to say it is that if you’re a good Methodist, or a good Presbyterian, or a good Baptist you have just as much chance of getting into heaven as a good Catholic. It’s between you and Jesus. But Jesus founded the Catholic Church. She has the power to interpret Scripture. One day all the churches will be reunited in “one holy, catholic, apostolic church.” Meanwhile, Saint Peter, you can open that door.
Links: (A google search for “anti catholicism” returns nearly 3 million hits. Obviously this is not a representative sample.)
Jack Chick; for many years Chick has been publishing anti-Catholic comic books. He calls the Eucharist the “Jesus Cookie”
Wikipedia: Anti-Catholicism in literature and media. (Remember, it’s Wikipedia. Take it with a grain of salt but there are some good links.