Thursday, September 13, 2007

Catholic Quotes on Salvation

"The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation."

-Redemptoris missio

19 comments:

Kenneth Merian said...

And what is wrong with this?

Reginald de Piperno said...

What is wrong is that this post is, once again, another exercise in poisoning the well while pretending to show us a "fact" about the Catholic Church.

Except that Carrie either didn't read or didn't understand Redemptoris Missio and was content to rip a quote from it that satisfied her purposes (whatever those may be) - even though the encyclical's point is to advance the evangelism of peoples who have never heard of Christ, since (as the encyclical says) no one will be saved apart from Christ.

I'd have to say that this is a low point in quote-ripping, and I'm at a loss to guess how Carrie will attempt to excuse or justify it. My fear is that she will do neither, and will just ignore the fact that she has completely misrepresented things. I hope I'm wrong.

Carrie said...

Reginald,

Relax - it's just a quote. The link to the full document is there for everyone to read for themselves in context.

A similar quote is found in the Catechism:

CCC 847 "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."

Now, from reading Catholic materials and talking to other Catholics, my understanding of this issue is that people can be saved without a direct/personal faith in Christ. Do you disagree with their interpretation?

I also understand that this type of salvation without personal faith in Christ is suppose to mysteriously be somehow through Christ and the RCC therefore you can still say it is through Christ, even though it is not salvation through Christ as the scriptures teach.

Or maybe the easier question is - will all who die without personally accepting Christ as Lord and Saviour go to hell?

Reginald de Piperno said...

Will babies who die go to hell? How about the mentally handicapped?

Anonymous said...

Catholic Magisterium on salvation:

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only those who abide in it do the Church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia productive of eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

Carrie said...

Will babies who die go to hell? How about the mentally handicapped?

You are dodging the question, Reginald.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Of course not everyone who dies without having made a Protestant profession of faith goes to hell. For starters, such a profession is no prerequisite for salvation anyway: Baptism is. But God is not bound by the sacraments, and he is free to redeem others through Christ apart from Baptism if he so chooses. The extent to which he does so is unknown to us.

On the flip side, not everyone who is baptized is going to heaven, either - and so not everyone who is not baptized is going to heaven.

So - what about the babies and the mentally handicapped, Carrie?

Kenneth Merian said...

Carrie, what the Pope is saying is that those who die without knowing the Gospel or the name of Christ can still be saved if God wills it.

Salvation is up to God, not men. The church affirms that God wills ALL to be saved, and as such, there must be a way for all to be saved, that is not limited to the abilities of man.

Carrie said...

Of course not everyone who dies without having made a Protestant profession of faith goes to hell.

That is not what I asked - you're still dodging.

And, based on the partial answer you did give, please tell me how I am "poisoning the well".

So - what about the babies and the mentally handicapped, Carrie?

What does the Bible say?

Carrie said...

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence,

Thanks, I am aware of this discrepancy.

It appears that Eugene IV and JPII contradict each other. The question is - who is right?

Carrie said...

So - what about the babies and the mentally handicapped, Carrie?


BTW Reginald,

I don't see how Redemptoris missio deals with infants and the mentally-challenged so I am unclear why this is an issue for you.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie,

You quoted me saying Of course not everyone who dies without having made a Protestant profession of faith goes to hell.

And then you respond: That is not what I asked - you're still dodging.

Then perhaps you need to restate what you think you asked, because what you asked was this:

will all who die without personally accepting Christ as Lord and Saviour go to hell?

"Personally accepting Christ as Lord and Savior" is a textbook definition of what I called making a "Protestant profession of faith."

If you care to either rephrase the question if I misunderstood you, or explain how that is not a "Protestant profession of faith," by all means do so. In either case, I didn't dodge your question - not the first time you falsely claimed this (see below), nor especially the second time.

The first time you mistakenly claimed that I "dodged" your question, I answered it with a question whose obvious answer - even from a Protestant viewpoint - makes your original question (in bold above in this comment) look ridiculous. I know of no Protestant group which claims that every baby goes to hell, and Catholics don't think that any do. Babies obviously don't have the opportunity to "personally accept Christ as their Lord and Savior," not all of them (according to all Protestants of which I'm aware)
or none of them (according to Catholics and, probably, at least some Protestants) go to hell, and therefore the obvious answer to your question is No.

Now, if you still think I'm dodging your question, please be more specific in what you are asking...and also explain why you think my responses have dodged it.

Reginald de Piperno said...

And, based on the partial answer you did give, please tell me how I am "poisoning the well".

You present a quotation - ripped from context, with no explanation - that will mislead the uninformed as to what the Catholic Church believes.

Because you do not present an argument that shows why you think the quotation contains an error, it is obvious that you are not attempting to educate the uninformed (presumably your audience, based upon this post). That being the case, it seems quite clear that the post is nothing but a rhetorical swipe at the Church.

That being the case, it seems quite clear that the purpose behind the post is to make the Catholic Church look bad, so that actual arguments in its defense will be ignored.

This is called "poisoning the well." Please see here if the term is unclear to you.

If, however, I have mistaken your intent, you have no one to blame for this except yourself since (as is quite unfortunately common) you have not stated what your intent in the post is. In fact, when you have been challenged to explain what your point for a post is in the past, you have steadfastly refused to do so in almost every case. I think that you can hardly blame your readers for misunderstanding you (if they have in fact done so), given your apparent reticence to make yourself clear.

Reginald de Piperno said...

I don't see how Redemptoris missio deals with infants and the mentally-challenged so I am unclear why this is an issue for you.

As I hope will be clear by now, the case of infants and the mentally handicapped demonstrates at least two classes of people who are unable to make a Protestant profession of faith.

Unless you are going to say (and I hope that you do not, most sincerely) that they are all going to hell, then there are at least two classes of people where you and I agree that God saves them - whether some of them or all of them makes no difference at this point - through Christ, apart from the normal means (we of course differ on the "normal means," but that is not relevant at the moment).

That being the case, it hardly seems objectionable to suppose that there are people of a third class whom God might also save through Christ and apart from the normal means: namely, those who through no fault of their own have never had the opportunity even to hear of Jesus Christ.

This is all that the Pope asserts in brief in RM: that there are such people. But (as he makes perfectly clear throughout the (rather long) encyclical) this in no way changes the fact that the Church must proclaim salvation through Christ, and offer it through the ordinary means. The obvious implication is that it would be a fool's errand to place one's hope for salvation in something apart from the ordinary means that God has provided.

Reginald de Piperno said...

What does the Bible say?

I'm asking what you say, Carrie. Do babies and the mentally handicapped go to hell or not?

I've answered your questions. I think it's fair to expect you to answer this one in return.

Carrie said...

Reginald,

If my accusation of continuing to dodge the question was in error then I apologize. I will take your word that it was not an intentional dodge.

The problem is that the whole "babies and mentally handicapped" is a classic Catholic dodge to the question of can people be saved without faith. Its intent usually is to try and paint the Protestant out as some sort of terrible person while avoiding the uncomfortable question of whether or not the RCC teaches that some can be saved without explicit faith in Christ.

Again, I provided a link to the full context of the quote for everyone to read, so I have no problem with the quote. My intended audience will see the problems with the quote w/out me pointing it out. I am already familiar with the "poisoning the well" idea, but I disagree that I have done that.

Now, it is clear from this quote and from the most recent JPII quote that I posted that there is a means of salvation in the RCC that does not involve faith in Christ. You have also said the same.

I would say that bringing infants into the discussion (and continuing to push it) is YOU actually trying to poison the well. I see no indication that JPII on both quotes was only addressing the salvation of infants or mentally challenged and I think you know that. Clearly these quotes apply to adults with no mental handicaps.

If I am in error in something I have written, then I would like to know about it. But all I see here is a typical Catholic response. This whole "mysterious salvation" without faith seems to make Catholics uncomfortable, especially former Protestants and it should.

As to my own beliefs in this issue, they are irrelevant. This post was about the Catholic model of salvation outside of explicit faith and you have yet to show that I have done anything in error here.

Finally, I also find it amusing that you are focusing in on infant salvation when Augustine and many other historical Catholics taught that unbaptized infants go to hell. Even Cardinal Gibbons supports that idea in The Faith of Our Fathers (written in the late 1800s). I am hoping to do a post on this topic in the future.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie,

Thank you for your courteous reply.

You said:

The problem is that the whole "babies and mentally handicapped" is a classic Catholic dodge to the question of can people be saved without faith. Its intent usually is to try and paint the Protestant out as some sort of terrible person while avoiding the uncomfortable question of whether or not the RCC teaches that some can be saved without explicit faith in Christ.

My purpose was in hopefully eliciting from you a concession that at least some babies or mentally handicapped people go to heaven, not the contrary. I hope for the best from you; I have no wish to make you look bad (by way of a small token of my sincerity in saying that: as you know, I have pointed out typographical or URL errors on the blog for the purpose of allowing you to correct them, and have made a suggestion for improving the blog's usefulness (the glossary thing. If I wanted you to look bad, I would have said nothing about these things).

As to my reasons for hoping to elicit that concession: I have made them clear already in other posts in this thread. But even if you will not make the concession, it is certain that there are other Protestants who agree with us Catholics at least partly: namely, that at least some babies and mentally handicapped do not go to hell. Hence it is not a distinctively Catholic idea to suggest that although there are certainly normal means by which a man must be saved, God is free to exercise extraordinary means himself for the sake of saving others through Christ.

Nevertheless: just as we do not therefore say that abortion is "okay" because "the babies are saved," in the same way we do say that the gospel must be preached to everyone.

And that is precisely the point of Redemptoris Missio: to encourage Catholics to preach the gospel to those who have never heard it. Such a call would be irrational if it was "normal" or "common" for such people to be saved apart from the normal means, and in fact your post from yesterday shows that JPII had no such nonsense in mind, either (see the last paragraph).

This is precisely why I say that your viewpoint is relevant: if you say that God does sometimes exercise extraordinary means for saving some through Christ, then it is quite unfair of you to criticize the Church for saying the same.

So, once more with feeling: can any babies or mentally handicapped people be saved, or are they all doomed to hell? If you say that they can, then you have been unfair to us in this post to the extent that it is intended to be a criticism of the Church. If you say that they can't...well, I truly hope that you won't do that.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie,

My last post on this topic.

Sincerely, though, I wish that you will answer the question, and I wish that you would fix the post to which this comment is attached.

Carrie said...

Sincerely, though, I wish that you will answer the question, and I wish that you would fix the post to which this comment is attached.

There is nothing to fix about the post. You may believe that the emphasis is on missions, but there is still an underlying theme that those who do their best in other religions will likely be saved. If you want to deny that, go ahead, but I know other RCs who would disagree with you.

As far as infants and the mentally-challenged, I still say that it is irrelevant because that is not who this encyclical is addressed to. Or do you deny that? Are you telling me that the only people who will be saved outside of faith are those incapable of understanding such as infants or mentally-challenged according to your interpretation?

But despite the fact that I think your whole line of question here is off-topic and irrelevant, I will tell you what I believe:

I don't know.

The Bible does not tell us what will happen to those truly incapable of faith. To state with certainty that some will be saved without faith is irresponsible - all we can proclaim is that salvation is through Christ alone, repent and believe.