The Catholic Church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation. In fact, she claims to know of no other way by which one might be assured entry into "eternal beatitude," which is a Catholic way of describing eternal life spent in Heaven.
According to RCC doctrine, it was God Himself who made baptism necessary for salvation. And how did she reach this conclusion? By eisegesis of John 3:5 and Matthew 28:19-20; and by appeal to Mark 16:16, which is part of a longer passage that is not included in some of the older manuscripts. I have discussed the Magisterium's imaginative interpretation of Scripture in other posts; there is no need to address that issue in this post. Instead, it is my intention to examine the evangelistic labors of the Apostle Paul in the light of Catholic doctrine.
The Catechism informs that:
Of course, Catholicism has come up with ways for folks who have not been baptized in water to be saved. There is the baptism of blood and the fanciful baptism of desire, for those who have heard the Gospel but who have not been baptized. Mother Church has even invented ways for people who have not heard the Gospel, who have not even heard of Jesus Christ, to be saved. In fact, Catholicism has determined that even some who reject the Gospel and the divinity of Christ, such as Muslims, can be saved.
Considering the Catholic teaching that "The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation," the apparent attitude of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, concerning baptism is shocking.
If God made baptism a requirement for salvation, does it not seem strange that Paul would be so careless concerning whether people were baptized? Rather than stressing baptism, he placed great importance on preaching the Gospel. Could it be that Peter, the first pope according to the Catholic Church, had not instructed him as to the regenerative importance of baptism? Of course it could be that Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth sometime after he received a preliminary orientation in Christian doctrine from God Himself but before "Pope" Peter fleshed out the details.
In this passage, it is clear that the eunuch believed and, therefore was saved (John 5:24). Is it not interesting that Philip made believing a requirement for baptism? The astute reader will have noted that I did not quote any verses in which Philip explained that the eunuch could have been baptized if his parents had been there to extend their faith to include him. Perhaps a Catholic apologist can provide them for me.
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