Saturday, November 30, 2013

What must I do to be saved?

A common Protestant 'take' on Catholicism is that it requires you to "earn" your salvation through "good works," thus rendering void the sacrifice of Christ.  A common Catholic 'take' on Protestantism is that it requires nothing of you but "faith alone," thus rendering inconsequential the life of discipleship.

I had to work through this issue for myself in becoming a Catholic 20 years ago, and I've been through it many times since.  There are some good books on the issue, including a very nice, insightful little book by James (Jimmy) Akin, entitled The Salvation Controversy.

But the question has surfaced again recently, in light of Hans Urs von Balthasar's proto-Universalism, Ralph Martin's incisive response to the issue in Will Many Be Saved? and Fr. Robert Barron's response to that.  Still more recently, there has been the flap over Catholic World Report's removal of Paul Deavel's review of Ralph Martin's book, and it's long-promised symposium, which (re-)published Deavel's review along with a number of responses to it.

Then, even more recently, there was this: Did I read that right? (New Sherwood, November 28, 2013):
At one point (par 165), Pope Francis writes:
“The centrality of the kerygma calls for stressing those elements which are most needed today: it has to express God’s saving love which precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part …”
In other words, if I understand the context, the pope is saying that the evangelizer is not to appeal to moral or religious obligations, such the duty of every man to worship the one true God and obey His laws, because those obligations don’t exist for him until he encounters the Gospel. Do I misunderstand?
In Lutheran circles, the issue is dealt with in terms of the relation of "Law" to "Gospel" (or "Grace"), and as you might expect, not an eyebrow would be lifted by a statement like that above.  On the other hand, in Lutheran worship services, one does not find the reading of the Decalogue preceding the Agnus Dei as one sometimes does in the Anglican liturgy.  But there is in the Lutheran Book of Worship the Confession that we are (still) "in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves," a confession that Catholics in a state of grace might find a trifle odd.

My question, then, is whether Catholics would indeed find the above statement of Pope Francis "astonishing," as did the above writer.  How do you think Catholics should understand such a statement.

[Hat tip to JM]


I am not Spartacus said...

Fr Hardon's Dictionary; Kerygma Preaching or proclaiming, as distinct from teaching or instruction (didache) in the Gospel of Christ. Before the Gospel was written, it was first preached (Romans 16:25), but beyond preaching it was also to be taught (Matthew 28:19) in order that, as far as possible, it might be understood (Matthew 13:19). (Etym. Greek K_rygma, proclamation; from keryks, herald.)

Who retains the ability to be shocked is an innocent soul.

Owing to Tradition having been dissolved by the Universal Solvent, Ecumenism, The Church which Jesus established to Teach in in His name (Luke 10:16) is achieving the lukewarmness at the terminus of Inertia Into Indifferentism - we are becoming just another religion of experience;like scores of other protestant religions.

When we have Popes who appear to think that they are required to be humbler than Jesus (He taught) those of us falsely accused to being more catholic than the Pope move-up our cocktail hour and consider the Parousia anon.

Anonymous said...

"Ecumenism"? Perhaps. But this latest blip to my mind is more plainly LIberalism, with God as the Good Guy, incapable of punishing man. Even the folks who signed "Evangelicals and Catholics Together," an ecumenical moment trads should hate, ought to have problems with this formulation from the Pope. Besides, the reason for Holiness is not to be an Evangelism Magnet; that is a side effect, and not the reason or motivation. LAst century the Church went chasing after Higher Criticism just as many Protestants were coming to their senses. Now the Church is enamored of the Seeker-Friendly and Emergent Church models just as many Protestants are realizing the problems with those models. PArdon me, but more and more often I am wishing the Catholic Church DID resemble certain Protestant congregations more often, the ones that actually have intelligible creeds that can be intelligently explained. Instead, more and more it is beginning to look like that NGO Pope Francis swear we must not be, down to having PR material that only a bureaucrat would pretend to understand.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Sigh. I do not know which is worse with this pope: finding him incomprehensible, or understanding him perfectly.

"God loves you. Giving you any more information would just be too cruel. Have a nice day."

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Anonymous. Every single document produced by Vatican Two was based upon Ecumenism and the desire not to offend those born into false religions.

Truth is offensive to the majority of men and that is that is one of the reasons accounting for Deicide.

That aside, we are frequently the objects of appeals for financial support of Holy Mother Church (one of the precepts of H.M. Church) and we are reminded of Treasure, Time, and Talent.

That Trinity of T's is useful in this instance re the modern Papal Praxis of focusing on process (Kerygma) and Dialogue with false religions.

What is the Treasure of the Universal Church established by Jesus as the Ark of Salvation?

All that which is subsumed under the rubric of H.M. Church's Salvific Work - Faith, Mass, Sacraments, etc - and so what have our modern Popes done with the Treasury of Faith?

They have hoarded it and kept it to themselves. They do not share them with the entire world as Jesus Commanded them to do so.

It little matters what the motivation is for hoarding that Treasury and keeping it from the non-Catholic world which has a right to it.

If there is such a truth as the universal destination of goods (and there is) there is most certainly the universal destination of Faith and Salvation in the Ark Salvation but the modern Popes will not tell others of this Salvific Truth and they will be held accountable for that.

Time: how much time has been wasted in these bathetic ecumenical exercises and these various dialogues which do not have salvation of non-Catholics as their primary concern?

Talent: modern Popes have been blessed with incredible talent which they have squandered in pursuit of the goals and programs of the new theology.

The modern Papacy's grades for the Trinty of T's are all below C.

They know what they are supposed to do but they refuse to do it.

JFM said...

Over at Unum Sanctum Catholicam there is this, which frames it all perfectly. Fifty years on what becomes clear is that these twists in teachings from Vatican II represent not developments but pretty much cleavages, ones very, very evident in the fruit the bear…