OK, let me try to get at this salvation issue from another angle.
When I was growing up, I was told that non-Catholics could go to Heaven if they were good people, that no one of us could understand the Mind of God and that we had no right to judge what was in another person's soul.
Then, as a questioning adolescent, I inevitably asked, "OK, if anyone can get to Heaven, then why are we Catholic?" None of my Protestant friends and neighbors had to go through what we went through--confessions, no rock music, only fish on Friday, polished shoes, "don't touch yourself there", etc. I was told that God tests some people more than others, than we were "special" because we were Catholics but that didn't make us better than anyone else; in fact, it was just the opposite. We were the greatest of sinners (as evidenced by whatever disobedient act my sister or I had recently committed) and so we needed more rules and regulations than others. On the other hand, a lot of those Protestants were simply "bad people" and so it didn't make any difference what church they went to anyway. The important thing was to do as you were told and stop asking so many questions.
Is that true? Were Mom and Dad right? Are we Catholics, the new People of Israel, the Heirs to the Promise, because God has decided to use us as an example to the others? Is that why the Jews were the Chosen People in the Old Testament? Is it just a case of "tough love" whereby God demands more of us than others because He wants us to Be All That We Can Be, kind of like the U.S. Army?
The anti-Feeneyite poem seems to suggest the same thing:
But if you have been baptized, be aware:
the obligations in your face do stare!
Though countless men have all been baptized well,
You never know who you could meet in Hell!
Being baptized seems to place a bigger burden on a person than on others, just like fulfilling the obligations of the Old Covenant placed on the Jews.
If that's true, then, and I'm not saying it's not true
, then the major advantage of being Catholic would seem to be in this earthly life. Here, because we hold the Truth, and receive greater graces and consolations through reception of the Sacraments, we avoid a lot of the confusion and error into which non-Catholics or bad Catholics fall. Our lives make more sense and have more purpose. We do not fear the future: we hope for it.
A good-hearted Protestant, pagan, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. doesn't receive these consolations during his life, but he does go on to his eternal reward in Heaven if he has at least tried, to the best of his ability, to follow the natural law written in his heart and worship God as best he can. Is that right?
These are sincere questions, not a Feenyite trap. I am not a Feenyite and I was not raised a Feenyite. I'm not here promoting a Feenyite agenda, or in the employ of any Feenyite organization. I may be an MK Ultra Victim, as I refuse to partake of the Blessed Green Herb, but otherwise as far as I know my intentions are pure.
My only beef with the above arguments, which do have some validity, is that we have all seen how, taken to excess, they can lead to religious indifferentism.
If the Church has always taught a less strict understanding of EENS, then how did She avoid Her members from falling into indifferentism in the past? Why did the Church always seem in the past to be more strict on this issue?