Thursday, May 24, 2007

Salvation Outside the Church

In our parish Men's Group we discuss various topics presented by member of the group. The topics can be about Church History (we did a two year study on this), many topics on Apologetics, even politics from a Catholic perspective.

This last Saturday morning meeting we had the opportunity to discuss 'Salvation Outside the Church'. And so this timely article from Crisis Magazine by Mark Shea

'Just Exactly Where Is the Church? Unam Sanctam, Vatican II, and the Salvation of Non-Catholics'

The average modern reader concludes (AFTER READING THRU 'UNUM SANCTAM') that these words mean: “We know exactly where the Church both is and is not. It’s in the visible Catholic communion and only members of the visible Catholic Church go to heaven.”

After this basic assumption has been made, most people go on to assume it is simply a matter of deciding what you think about that proposition. Generally, people fall into one of the following groups:

1. Those nice people who say hopefully, “That statement was not dogma, but just Boniface’s opinion.”

2. Those progressive dissenting Catholics who say, “That statement used to be narrow-minded Catholic dogma, but Vatican II thankfully contradicts all that. How the Church has grown!”

3. Those anti-Catholics who say derisively, “That statement used to be unbiblical Catholic dogma but Vatican II reversed all that. Now the supposedly infallible Church has flatly contradicted the Bible and itself!”

4. Those reactionary dissenting Catholics who say, “That statement used to be glorious Catholic dogma, but Vatican II betrayed all that. How the Second Vatican Council has corrupted the One True Faith!”

5. Those orthodox Catholics who say, “Unam Sanctam’s definition is still dogma, and the teaching of the Second Vatican Council does not contradict it or the Bible. Rather, the council develops the Faith of the Church infallibly taught since the apostles, a faith that has never demanded we believe that the Church is found solely in the visible Catholic communion, nor that only members of the visible Catholic Church can go to heaven.”

Let’s look at these five views of Unam Sanctam...

Unum Sanctum

Another good source is Fr. William Most:

'Is There Salvation Outside the Church' This was a cool document because it outlines this issue goes back to the Early Church Fathers.

I just finished reading a piece by Francis Beckwith (ex-President of The Evangelical Theological Society) about his reasons for deciding to enter the Catholic Church. In Mr. Beckwith's "My Return to the Catholic Church" , he mentions ...

"... in January, at the suggestion of a dear friend, I began reading the Early Church Fathers as well as some of the more sophisticated works on justification by Catholic authors. I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant and that the Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible. Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the church’s historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries. Moreover, much of what I have taken for granted as a Protestant—e.g., the catholic creeds, the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, the Christian understanding of man, and the canon of Scripture—is the result of a Church that made judgments about these matters and on which non-Catholics, including Evangelicals, have declared and grounded their Christian orthodoxy in a world hostile to it. Given these considerations, I thought it wise for me to err on the side of the Church with historical and theological continuity with the first generations of Christians that followed Christ’s Apostles. "

Peace +<><

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