Showing posts with label Jesus is Lord. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus is Lord. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Taking Jesus as Lord and Savior" is this Catholic? part-IV--Magisterial Ambiguity.

Magisterial Ambiguity

It seems that for Saint Thomas, the infidel of the age of the New Testament has a greater obligation than the gentile living in the time of the Old Testament. The question might well be raised: why isn’t the case of the gentiles of the old law the same as that of the new law unbeliever? In other words, isn’t implicit faith in Christ enough for the unevangelized of today as it was enough for the pagans of the Old Testament? The answer in the negative stems from the fact that a more perfect faith in the Incarnation is required by virtue of the more perfect revelation of the new law (p. 70). [Catholic Vox is working on a better explanation] Tyrrell has a footnote here indicating that this is the way Aquinas is understood by R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., arguably the greatest Thomist theologian of the last century (cf. The Theological Virtues: Faith [St. Louis: Herder, 1965] p. 224). 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Taking Jesus as Lord and Savior" is this Catholic? part III -- Sacred Tradition.

Sacred Tradition
In the light of the very strong biblical witness we have surveyed very briefly above, it is not at all surprising that for no less than one and a half millennia after Christ, no Catholic theologian ever suggested that anyone in New Testament times, anywhere on earth, could still receive justification and sanctifying grace in this life, much less attain eternal salvation in the next life, by means of a merely ‘implicit faith’ in Christ. Fr. Sullivan, who is anxious to demonstrate the continuing, perennial reality and salvific value of such a implicit ‘faith’, has combed the writings of the early Fathers, but draws a complete blank in this respect.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Taking Jesus as Lord and Savior" is this Catholic? part II --Scripture

I have already mentioned, while introducing this theme, the Council of Florence’s
solemn teaching as one of the foundations of my position. Some others are as follows.
 Sacred Scripture.
It needs to be acknowledged that while the overall impression we receive from the
canonical gospels, epistles, and the Acts of the Apostles is that an
ECNS (extra Christianismum nulla salus--Outside of Christianity there is No Salvation)assumption underlies the teaching of these inspired writings, such a position is nowhere spelled out unequivocally.  Of course, the necessity of faith in Jesus for salvation is clearly taught in the New Testament: “justification by faith” is, after all, notoriously one of the central themes in St. Paul’s letters. But the question that interests us at present - whether or not that faith always needs to be explicit and conscious - is nowhere expressly dealt with.

From whence, then, comes that aforesaid “overall impression” that an ECNS  position underlies the N.T. teaching? The answer, I suggest, is twofold.

"Taking Jesus as Lord and Savior" is this Catholic? part I

[editor- I have been in correspondence with some well know Catholic Apologists and Priests. To my shocking dismay all of them don't seem to think explicit belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation. After discussing this problem with others in CFT, we will share with you what was  "anonymously" sent us to address this serious problem of basic belief. While CFT would rather go further into the dogma, if this first step isn't reached, deeper more complicated aspects cannot be fruitfully discussed.]

"Taking Jesus as Lord and Savior" is this Catholic?
part I by Anonymous


I wish to challenge a theological opinion which is now almost universally held by Catholics, including those who would consider themselves conservative or even traditionalist in outlook. Many approved theologians have long held this opinion. Indeed, it first surfaced in the mid-sixteenth century. Since then it has gradually spread throughout the Catholic world in seminaries and theological faculties, and in recent times seems to have been held by nearly all bishops, possibly even popes in their private capacity.

For the position I will criticize is even insinuated – though not clearly affirmed or rigorously implied – in the main document of Vatican Council II and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. However, as we shall see, it has been rather unexpectedly undermined by the Instruction Dominus Iesus, issued in 2000 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – in a passage that seems to have passed unnoticed by most commentators.

What, then, is this theological opinion which I maintain is false, and even proximate to heresy? Quite simply, it is the proposition that at least some people dwelling on earth in the Christian era who die as non-Christians can reach eternal salvation by virtue of a supposed ‘implicit faith’ in Jesus Christ. In other words, I will argue that ever since Pentecost, when the Gospel was first promulgated publicly, an absolutely necessary condition for the salvation of persons with the use of reason is that they die as Christians, that is, having arrived at an explicit, conscious faith in Jesus Christ as God and Savior.

This issue of course has been very well known to Catholics of Saint Benedict Center and those of like mind for sixty years now. For it is very much part of the conflict that began after World War II in the Archdiocese of Boston as a result of the forthright expressions of Fr. Leonard Feeney and his SBC friends regarding the dogma extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.

I do not propose to consider that dogma in its entirety, only what might be described as the ‘first half’ of it. Let me explain. In a profession of faith of the year 1442 which is one of the cornerstones of the doctrine I want to defend today, the Ecumenical Council of Florence, in the Bull Cantate Domino, made the following declaration.

Note that it introduces the doctrinal content with language so solemn as to leave no doubt that this content is being proposed infallibly and irrevocably, as a matter of divine and Catholic faith: "The Most Holy Roman Church, founded by the word of our Lord and Savior,. . . firmly believes, professes and preaches that no persons living outside the Catholic Church – not only pagans but also Jews, heretics and schismatics – can come to share in eternal life, but will go into the eternal fire . . . unless they are aggregated to her before the end of their life” This assertion makes crystal clear who, exactly, is to be understood as being in fact “outside the Catholic Church”. It lists four categories of persons: “pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics”.

 I am going to limit myself today to the first two of those four categories: pagans (who, in the parlance of the 15th century, certainly included the Muslims) and Jews. In other words, all non-Christians: all those who do not believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation. (I certainly believe also the ‘second half’ of the dogma, namely, that those who die as “heretics and schismatics” cannot be saved either. However, the question as to who, precisely, was understood by the Florentine Fathers to be counted as a heretic or schismatic involves some complexities which I shall not attempt to discuss today.)

I shall limit myself, in short, to a defense of the belief, solemnly confirmed by Florence, and backed up again in the following century by the Catechism of the Council of Trent, that nobody dying as a non-Christian – that is, as a pagan, Jew, Muslim, atheist or agnostic – can reach eternal life.

We could summarize this aspect or component of the ancient extra ecclesiam dogma by changing one word of it: extra Christianismum nulla salus. For whenever we refer to “Christianity”, in contrast to other world religions or philosophies, we always have in mind the explicit profession of faith in Jesus Christ. In what follows I shall abbreviate this doctrinal thesis I am defending by the initials ECNS. As an appropriate point of reference for the contrary position which I am challenging, I shall refer critically to a book by one of its best known and most authoritative exponents, the well-known Jesuit theologian Fr. Francis A. Sullivan in his book: