Q: Can Roman Catholics be saved?
Not all Southern Baptists have precisely the same views regarding Roman Catholics. However, most Southern Baptists would agree on certain basic points.
First, there are genuine Christians in the Roman Catholic Church. If they truly trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, then they are Christians and will be saved. Salvation is not dependent on being a member of an “approved” denomination.
Second, though, there are unfortunately many people in the Catholic Church who are not trusting Christ as Savior and who need to hear the gospel. This is true to some extent in all denominations (including Southern Baptists!), but it tends to be more of a widespread problem in some denominations than it is in others.
Third, Southern Baptists all agree that there are some serious errors in the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine and religious practice that undermine or interfere with the gospel and actually allow many people in the church to think they are Christians when they are not. These problems include their views on the sacraments, their devotion to Mary and the saints, and their views on the salvation of non-Christians (which essentially ends up being that sincere people of any belief will be saved). We have some resources about Catholicism elsewhere on our web site that discuss these issues.
Fourth, in many cases the problem of individual Catholics who are not saved is a problem of nominalism–of being a church member while not really practicing or living according to the truth that the church does teach. Such Catholics need to be challenged to take seriously the gospel truths affirmed by the Church–that they are sinners in need of redemption, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins and rose from the dead, that we should trust in Jesus Christ. Again, nominalism is a problem to some extent in all denominations, including the Southern Baptists. That is why all churches should continually remind its members of the gospel and urge them to make sure that they are personally trusting in Christ and living in a relationship with him as their Lord and Savior.
Published March 30, 2016