There is no question in my mind that some Catholics find the true light in spite of the obvious distractions and questionable practices. If they do as our Lord said , they are Christian. Period.
Amen and Amen
"Outside the Church there is no salvation" (Extra ecclesiam nulla salus).
Recently, the Catholic Church felt that its teaching concerning the above statement was being misunderstood. So they reformulated their teaching. They state that all salvation comes from Christ the Head” as John 14:6 tells us. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me". We agree on this first part. But, they don’t stop there. They don’t believe this is all one needs to be saved.
Here are some Scriptures they use to explain the further details about salvation.
These verses speak of salvation with baptism, confession & what they call the Eucharist. Catholics recognize that these rituals or sacraments are administered through the Church. In the case of the last two, an ordained priest is necessary for their administration so they feel this connects the dots - sacrament of ordination (priest) must also be associated with salvation.
They believe the sacraments are the means through which Christ offers the grace necessary for salvation and the Catholic Church that Christ established is the place to obtain these sacraments. So, they believe it is appropriate to state that salvation comes through the Church.
They believe since the Messiah has established His Church, Jesus might say, "salvation is from the Catholics"! Instead of simply pointing out how God offers salvation from Christ, through the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church has warned that there is no salvation apart from Christ, outside His Church. They believe that since Jesus established the Catholic Church as necessary for salvation, those who knowingly and willingly reject Him or His Church cannot be saved. They quote Matthew 12:30 to back up this view. "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters" Also: "If he, a sinning brother, refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (Mt 18:17).
They also recognize that God does not condemn those who are innocently ignorant of the truth about His offer of salvation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (quoting Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, 16) states: 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. (CCC 847)
Vatican II document Gaudium Et Spesteaches is similar by stating:
All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery. They believe this lines up with what Jesus taught in John 15:22: "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin”. What I believe this verse means is if Christ hadn’t come, the people would not have been guilty of rejecting Him. But He did come, and now they had no excuse for their sin. The Jews claimed to obey the Father, and yet they hated the Son. In reality, they hated both the Father and the Son.
Once the person comes to know the truth, he must embrace it or he will be guilty of rejecting it. They quote John 9:41 where Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains". They also use Ro 2:14-16: When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Where Paul says "their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them", they believe Paul wasn’t saying that those who are innocently ignorant of the truth will be saved; he simply keeps open the possibility of it.
God introduced salvation to the world through His chosen people. His revelation to the Jews found its fulfillment in the Messiah, who established the Catholic Church. The grace necessary for salvation continues to come from Christ, through his Church. Those who innocently do not know and embrace this might still attain salvation but those who knowingly and willingly choose to reject it, reject salvation on God’s terms.
There is way more to add to this but I’m stopping at this point for now. Don’t want to overwhelm anyone or even myself.
This not a Christian vs Catholic issue, for many Protestant churches do not agree on method or value of baptism. The key question is not about baptism, but rather what have you done regarding Jesus? If you have received Jesus as Lord and Savior the right response, regardless of specific doctrine surrounding baptism, is to be baptized. This is the right response and I am not convinced that mode is as critical as intent of the heart. Do you want to be identified with Jesus? Once we become a child of God we should desire to be identified with Him and baptism is one way to publicly proclaim Him.