Can unbaptized people go to Heaven?
A standard teaching within the Catholic and Orthodox churches is that a person must be baptized into Christ if they want to join the Church.
And Christ Himself declared that He was the way to the Father and that nobody could come to the Father except through Him.
And Christians often accept “coming to Jesus” to mean that they must join the Church He founded.
Which requires baptism.
So it is often reasoned that a person who has not been baptized is not part of Christ’s church and, therefore, cannot go to Heaven.
And this prospect often leaves people in a state of distress.
So they go looking for an answer to the question,
Can unbaptized people go to Heaven?
Unbaptized people can go to Heaven. This is the assertion of St. Augustine in The City of God. He asserts it within the context of martyrdom. They may go to Heaven if they die confessing Christ as their savior. This allows for martyrs and the elderly to forego being baptized.
So, in the case of martyrs baptism is not necessary. This was of great import in the world before Christianity made it less barbaric. However, martyrdom is much less common in the modern age. So this out will be of little use to the people whom you know.
In the following lines, I’ll cover a bit about baptism and then I’ll provide St. Augustine’s words on the need for it.
The Nicene Creed
If you are Catholic or Orthodox, then you must affirm the Nicene Creed. To reject it is heresy – or worse.
And the Nicene Creed states:
“I believe in one baptism for the remission of sins.”
So we must accept that one baptism is necessary for the Christian to have their sins remitted. We cannot believe otherwise.
However, the Nicene Creed does not specify how a baptism is to be done. The practice involves the placement of water over the subject, but the details are omitted from the Creed.
So variations to the practice are permissible, and St. Augustine’s argument in favor of martyrdom as a substitute for baptism is dependent upon this view.
Watch Out for the Protestants!
Protestants do not affirm the Nicene Creed. Moreover, they normally just make up whatever they like and try to pass it off as the truth.
When they do this, they pick a few verses form The Bible in order to support their view. Then they construct an argument around those verses in order to assert or defend their position.
After they construct their self-serving argument, they thrust it upon other people to see if it’s believable.
And sometimes they throw it at Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
And members of the latter two groups will sometimes be suckered into believing the Protestant’s argument.
But if the Protestant’s position is heretical, then they will have successfully infected the others with their heresy if the argument is compelling.
Sometimes they do this in response to the question:
Can unbaptized people go to heaven?
And the Protestant answers, “Yes.”
Most of them will give this answer. Then they’ll follow it up with assertions that take a form similar to this:
“You don’t need to be baptized to go to heaven. As long as you accept Jesus in your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, then you’ll be saved. The Bible says X, so you’re good.” This is heresy.
The reason why Protestants give this answer is because it feels like the nice and non-threatening response to the question. A few of their sects teach otherwise, but these are in the minority. Moreover, because most Protestants are women, and because most women are afraid of conflict, they will tell this heresy in order to get along more easily with people who might be upset by the truth.
For the Catholic and Orthodox Readers
Do not allow them to deceive you, Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Baptism is required by the Nicene Creed. St. Augustine makes an exception for martyrs and, possibly, the elderly or infirm. That’s it.
If you are questioned on if people must be baptized, then affirm that they must. Say “Yes.”
And fi you are asked why, then respond with, “Because the Nicene Creed says so.”
Protestants will not accept this answer. That doesn’t matter.
You’re not a Protestant.
Tell the truth and avoid heresy, even if you have to be mean about it.
Following Jesus is more important than being nice.
St. Augustine – City of God – 13-7
St. Augustine writes about this topic in one of his more famous works. I’ve taken his text and broken it into smaller chunks so that you can easily read it here.
An Unbaptized Person May Go to Heaven if They Die Confessing Christ
For whatever unbaptized persons die confessing Christ, this confession is of the same efficacy for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism.
Jesus Himself Said: “Whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
For He who said,
“Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,”
made also an exception in their favor, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said,
“Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven; and in another place, Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it.”
The Lord Loves His Martyrs
And this explains the verse,
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
For what is more precious than a death by which a man’s sins are all forgiven, and his merits increased an hundredfold?
Martyrdom Is Greater than Baptism
For those who have been baptized when they could no longer escape death, and have departed this life with all their sins blotted out have not equal merit with those who did not defer death.
Though it was in their power to do so, but preferred to end their life by confessing Christ, rather than by denying Him to secure an opportunity of baptism.
Denial of Christ Is Forgiven in Baptism
And even had they denied Him under pressure of the fear of death, this too would have been forgiven them in that baptism, in which was remitted even the enormous wickedness of those who had slain Christ.
Martyrdom Is Evidence of The Spirit & of God’s Grace
But how abundant in these men must have been the grace of the Spirit, who breathes where He lists?
Seeing that they so dearly loved Christ as to be unable to deny Him even in so sore an emergency, and with so sure a hope of pardon!
The Martyrdom of Saints Is Precious in God’s Sight
Precious, therefore, is the death of the saints, to whom the grace of Christ has been applied with such gracious effects, that they do not hesitate to meet death themselves, if so be they might meet Him.
Martyrs Transform Death into Redemption
And precious is it, also, because it has proved that what was originally ordained for the punishment of the sinner, has been used for the production of a richer harvest of righteousness.
Death Is Still Bad
But not on this account should we look upon death as a good thing, for it is diverted to such useful purposes, not by any virtue of its own, but by the divine interference.
Death was originally proposed as an object of dread, that sin might not be committed. Now it must be undergone that sin may not be committed, or, if committed, be remitted, and the award of righteousness bestowed on him whose victory has earned it.