Do Protestants go to heaven?

Full Question

Do Protestants go to heaven?


It’s possible, although they wouldn’t be saved on account of their distinctive Protestant beliefs. All salvation comes by Jesus Christ and through his one Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church elaborates on the possibility of eternal salvation for non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians:

How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Reformulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the head through the Church which is his body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on Earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.

“Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men” (CCC 846-48, emphases added; footnotes omitted).

Answered By Tom Nash



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Ah, the chants of childhood ringing in my ears! “Catholics, Catholics ring the bell. Protestants, Protestants, go to Hell!!! Yes, those were the days, when the Church didn’t beat around the bush. Of course Protestants go to Hell. Everyone but Catholics goes to Hell. That’s what I was taught.
    There are at least 7 billion people on this planet and 1.2 billion are supposedly Catholics. (I think that number is inflated, because the Church continues to count people like me, who have left the Church and are on a path to recovery). Yahweh-Jesus is sending somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 billion people now living on earth, to an eventual eternity of torture. He’s doing this even though they will only live here a handful of decades. He is all-knowing, so he knows in advance that these people will be going to Hell, and he does nothing to prevent it, by showing himself in order that we might know if he even exists. He is all powerful, and these mere, puny humans are incapable of hurting him, yet he viciously condemns them to eternal torment. He’s a real piece of work – makes Hitler look like a chump.
    The bible speaks in several places of proportionate justice, including the famous, “an eye for an eye.” Millions and billions and trillions of eternal years of torture and torment for mere humans, who presumably cannot hurt this all-powerful god, is as far from proportionate justice as anyone has ever imagined. No greater evil has ever been imagined, as best I can tell. What could be more evil than sending mere humans to be tortured for all of eternity? It just doesn’t get any more evil than that. Catholics worship an excessively evil god. Persons who would worship such a god are unworthy of respect.

  2. Peter Aiello Reply

    There is also the presence of Christ within us by His indwelling Spirit. This is what makes us a part of the mystical Body of Christ which subsists in the Church. I believe that subsists means that they are not one and the same. The witness of the Spirit within us is the important thing.

  3. Jose Fuliga Reply

    How about the Old Testament prophets? Were they Catholics or Protestants? We know through the Word of God that they are in heaven. Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in His transfiguration. Elijah was taken to heaven on a chariot of fire. How about St. Noah, St. Job, St. Daniel, etc., are they not in heaven. We have no devotions in their name nor do we ask for their intercessions.

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