"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Da pacem Domine


"Virgin of the Annunciation"
Guido Reni (1575-1642)


"Da pacem Domine" (Give peace, Lord)
Composed by Arvo Pärt
Performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Lord Jesus, where there is division between your followers, bring the peace of true unity in reunion and reconciliation. Let all who love you, seek the peace of true unity in your Body, the Church. Let love awaken all of us who have defined unity down or forgotten full visible unity and settled for division or the mere appearance of peace. May we reach out to each other, with the gift of love, born by the Holy Spirit, who is both Love and Gift. Reveal what divides us, and defeat it with the truth in love, through the power of your Holy Spirit. Love who seeks perfect unity, since you live in us, stir us up to seek perfect unity and true peace. Shine the light of divine truth, and defeat the deception that disregards true unity. Heal our divisions, and make us truly one, so that we may have true peace, the perfect peace of the community of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Blessed Theotokos, pray for us your children, that we may be one in your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." (1 Corinthians 14:33)

"Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." (2 Corinthians 13:11)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness" (Gal 5:22)

"Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph 4:3)

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Col 3:15)

"Live in peace with one another." (1 Thess 5:17)

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!" (2 Thess 3:16)

"Not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money." (1 Tim 3:3)

In our own strength we can do nothing. But God can do what we thought unimaginable. I am committed to pray daily for the full visible unity of all Christians. If you haven't done so already, will you too make this commitment? If so, please invite others to do so as well. Even though we may disagree on many things, let's agree to make this our daily prayer, and, insofar as possible, that of Christians around the world. "Lord Jesus, may all Christians be reunited in full visible unity, that we may be truly one, as you and the Father are one. In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen."

10 comments:

Jared said...

Brian,

Maybe you can help me with a theological dillema. It concerns paragraphs 846-848 in the Catholic Catechism. I want to be able to affirm all of the church's teachings but when I get to this I cannot reconcile it. I am talking about the "innocent native" problem. How is it possible that the "innocent native" who has never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ possibly be saved apart from the knowledge of him and covenental communion with him. How does this happen given pauls theology in romans. Did not all those outside the ark parish in the flood without mercy. I mean it was no fault of their own if they did not know of the ark let alone enter into it. I am hoping you can clear this up for me. Is it a dogmatic doctrine of the church that the "innocent native" can be saved? In my own attempt in roconciling this problem I have developed my own ideas but I have not been able to do so without running into other theological problems. I hope you can help me by writing a post on your blog sometime soon to deal with this issue. If you dont't have an answer let me know. Thanks.

In Him,
Jared

Principium Unitatis said...

Jared,

According to the Catholic Church, no one can be saved except through Jesus. Anyone who is saved is saved by grace, through Jesus. But, that does not mean that only those who have heard the gospel can be saved. For example, the Church believes that baptized babies who die in infancy are saved, even though they have never heard the gospel. It is not because the baby has committed no actual sins that he is saved, but because of the grace of Christ received through baptism. So this shows that the grace of Christ can be operative in a person, to salvation, even though that person has never heard the gospel. Likewise, the Church teaches what it teaches in CCC 847 because it wants to affirm the omnipotence and sovereignty of God, who is free to give the grace of Christ to those who have never heard the gospel, and thus to bring them to salvation. The Church is not teaching that those who have not heard the gospel *are* saved; rather, she is teaching that those who have not heard the gospel *can be* saved, because it is not beyond the power of God to save them through Christ, in "ways known to himself" (CCC 848). However, this affirmation of the power of God to save even those who have never heard the gospel should in no way be used as an excuse not to preach the gospel to all men. (CCC 848)

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Jared said...

Bryan,

Sory I have been spelling your name wrong. Thanks for your response. I understand the rational in your argument. The infant is a good example of a person who can recieve the grace of Christ without hearing the gospel. However, there is a difference between the infant and the "innocent native", and that is that the infant is recieving the Grace of Christ covanentally in the covenental sacrament of baptism *through the faith of the parents and of the Chruch*(1 Cor. 7:14) The infant, however, would not recieve the grace of Christ without being baptized. So we see the necessity of the faith of the parents and the church in baptism for the grace to be given to the infant. But who's faith is it that sanctifies the "innocent native" while they are ignorant of the Gospel? I think the question is if it is possible for a person to recieve the saving grace of God without knowledge of him through Christ in the Gospel. I completely understand what you mean when you say the the church wants to affirm and uphold the omnipotence and sovereignty of God, and therefore God may save someone in mysterious ways "known only to himself" apart from the Gospel. I think though(and I dont want to exalt my intelect over the church), that it is arbitrary to affirm that there are mysterious ways that God uses known only to himself. For all Christians would affirm that Gods arm isn't shortened that it cannot save. When He wants to save His elect he has the power to cary it out. So, if God has the power to save who he wants when he wants, then why would he be inconsistent with his ordinence, that is, the preaching of the Gospel. For Paul seams to be implying that it is imposible for one to be saved without the gospel being preached(infants an exception) in Rom. 10:12-15. For he says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved". And just before this he says, "there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, the same Lord is Lord over all, bestowing his *riches* on *all who call* on him. His *riches* he bestows on those who call on him *is* His grace in Christ. Romans 9:22-23 reveals that God is longsuffering toward the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to *make known* the *riches of his Glory* for vessels of mercy. I use this verse in romans to show the parallel, that Gods riches is his grace revealed in the Gospel and actualized through the Gospel.

Now back to Romans 10:12-15. I said that paul seams to imply that a person who does not hear the Gospel cannot be saved. And my contention is that the omnipotence and sovereignty of God is made manifest and proven and, in a sense, glorified in this truth. In other words, His power to save is made known and revealed in the preaching of the Gospel. For it is written in Romans 1:16-17 that the Gospel *is* the *power of God* for salvation. Paul boasts of the foolishness of the Gospel preached because it is so simple and yet the very means God has ordained to reveal his power in salvation. "How are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?"(the answer is that they cant)"How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" (The answer is they cant)"And how are they to hear without someone preaching?(and of course they cant)"how are they to preach unless they are sent?"(you know) Thus Paul reverantly says,"How beautiful are the feat of those who preach the good news!" It could be asked "how are they to believe without someone preaching?" or "how shall they call on him and recieve his riches of mercy unless a preacher is sent to him?" The logic follows in Pauls argument that they cannot, otherwise how can the feat of a preacher be so beautiful or blessed?

I am only trying to show you my rational for the problem I have. Again, I don't want to exalt my intelect over that of the Chruch. On an intelectual level I cannot hold that doctrine, but I sumbit to it as what the church teaches. I know that you are aware of all those verses I used, and that you are much more educated in both theology and philosophy than I am, which is why I ask you to help me with this. I may be going wrong somewhere in my analysis, so I need someone to show me where that is. Perhaps this is an imperfect doctrine that the church holds to and needs further development. Maybe the church is trying to be politically correct in holding to this doctrine. I mean we dont want to be offenseve by being too ridged right?

In Christ,
Jared

Principium Unitatis said...

Jared,

Let me just intersperse some comments.

So we see the necessity of the faith of the parents and the church in baptism for the grace to be given to the infant.

The necessity here is not an absolute necessity binding God, but a necessity within the divinely established order.

I think the question is if it is possible for a person to recieve the saving grace of God without knowledge of him through Christ in the Gospel.

And the answer is 'yes', as shown by babies.

I think though(and I dont want to exalt my intelect over the church), that it is arbitrary to affirm that there are mysterious ways that God uses known only to himself.

How so?

So, if God has the power to save who he wants when he wants, then why would he be inconsistent with his ordinence, that is, the preaching of the Gospel.

It is not an inconsistency for God to act outside the means He promised to work through. He never promised to work *only* through these means. God is not bound by the means of grace He Himself established. Moreover, He is merciful. You could ask the same question of various Gentiles who were saved in the Old Testament.

For Paul seems to be implying that it is impossible for one to be saved without the gospel being preached(infants an exception) in Rom. 10:12-15.

The Church does not read this passage as restricting God, but as a description of the ordinary means by which God has ordained that the gospel be spread.

bestowing his *riches* on *all who call* on him. His *riches* he bestows on those who call on him *is* His grace in Christ.

You seem to be arguing that only those who call on Him receive grace, and only those who are preached to call on Him, and therefore only those who are preached to receive grace. But they would not call on Him without first receiving grace. And it does not say that only those who are preached to receive grace. Therefore it is not necessarily the case that only those who are preached to may receive grace.

The logic follows in Paul's argument that they cannot, otherwise how can the feat of a preacher be so beautiful or blessed?

And that is true according to the ordinary means of spreading the gospel. But God is not bound to the ordinary means He has established.

The Church's position on this point is not a concession to 'political correctness'. From the beginning she has recognized the ability of God to work outside the ordinary ecclesial means, and the necessity of faith and the Church were understood with that qualification in mind. In some places missionaries encountered evidence that God had gone before them, giving people visions or dreams concerning Christ. The example of Cornelius is similar. When Paul says that the Gospel is the "power of God", He means that God's power is manifest in and through it. He doesn't mean that God's power is limited to the human preaching of the gospel.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

George Weis said...

Bryan,

I was going to say that once again, it is so good to see your intent and heart exposed. I appreciate all the effort and thought that goes into this blog... don't know how you do it!

Now, this was an interesting interaction, and I can honestly say I get the Church's position on this subject. They are seeking to NOT limit God. They aren't saying people ARE/HAVE BEEN saved, but rather that they CAN receive Grace. Give God His space in other words... let God be God. His mercy is so great!

Blessings,
George

Jared said...

Bryan,

Thanks for your comments. I think you have helped me refine my thoughts. I don't believe I expressed my argument in a coherent and logical enough form, and I knew this even while writing, but I was in sort of a rush because I had to be somewhere. Your critique, as I said, helped me refine what I was trying to get at all along, and that is this: It isn't so much that if a person never hears the Gospel they cannot be saved, but can they if they do not have the knowledge of Christ. I am very well aware of the instances where people have received visions and such of Christ before even hearing the Gospel. Now I do believe these things happen. But I think you would agree with me that the grace of God has one goal, and that is to bring the one receiving that grace into a deeper and clearer knowledge of who God is, or rather,in this age, who Christ is. My question is if God gives his grace to someone prior to hearing the Gospel, if it is a vision or such, would it not be a vision of Christ in some form, and moreover, would it not also be for the purpose of preparing this individual for reception of the full Gospel which God would be bringing to them through the church? CCC 847 does not say,"The affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel." It says,"This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know *Christ* and his Church." Can a person be saved apart from the knowledge of Christ? And how is a person sustained by the grace of Christ without the sacraments, the word, and the fellowship of the saints, which are so necessary and are only found in the Church. How shall they endure to the end. I see how God could give his grace to a person apart from them understanding the full Gospel initially(in fact I think this is the case for most people, for who receives the Gospel in faith who were not already in some way prepared beforehand by Gods Grace?), but does this grace(that is, extraordinary grace such as visions) also lack cognizence of Christ in some form, and further, would God give this grace without the intention to complete it by bringing the church(bearer of Good news)to disciple this individual. In the previous responses you wrote to answer my query you explained that this Grace God gives "known only to himself" is in Christ. This is entirely a different Grace than the CCC 847 is describing. Even in the old testament a person must have entered covenant with God for the forgivness of sins. And if there was a person who received it apart from the covenant because of their ignorance,(tell me if there are, im not entirely sure), it is not so the case any more, just as the apostles preached in Acts.(e.g. Acts 17:30, he doesn't overlook ignorance) Does simply living according to the dictates of my conscience save me. I know Atheists who try and sincerely live according to their conscience. Furthermore, I never saught God until the knowledge of him came to me. But we know that none seek God as paul says. When we look into the Book of Exodus we find Moses catching a glimpse of the Glory of God(Ex. 33 19) It says,"and he said,"I will make all of my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord'. And I will be gracious to whom I will be Gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I show mercy." Moses saw the Glory of God as God passed before him proclaiming his name 'The Lord'. Thus moses Has a new understanding of what it is to recieve the mercy of God, that is, to see his Glory. This is an illustration and a prefiguration of how mercy is characterized in all of scripture. And ourselves likewise, when we see the Glory of Christ(as Moses saw the Glory) and recognize him as Lord(just as it was proclaimed to Moses), only then can it be said we have received mercy from Him. They go together.

You said:

"It is not an inconsistency for God to act outside the means He promised to work through. He never promised to work *only* through these means. God is not bound by the means of grace He Himself established. Moreover, He is merciful. You could ask the same question of various Gentiles who were saved in the Old Testament."

If by means of Grace you mean the message of the Gospel, then we agree, for we know that one does not necessarily have to have heard the Gospel *initially* to be saved. However, if you mean the knowledge of him as the means, then that is where the difference is. It is not that God is limited but that he cannot deny himself or his own power. Moreover, I think the point I was trying to make was that If God has the power to Give mercy to whom he wants when he wants then he doesn't need any other means(knowledge of Christ)therefore He wouldnt. It would seam superfluous. It seams to me that for God to give mercy to somone without somehow bringing the knowledge of Christ to them, whether through a vision initally or the full Gospel preached, then it is limiting his power. For he would have to resort to some extraordinary means in order to do something he has not the power to do through the ordinary means.

Here is a scripture from Isaiah:

"Isa 46:8 "Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,
Isa 46:9 "remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
Isa 46:10 "declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
Isa 46:11 "calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Isa 46:12 "Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness:
Isa 46:13 "I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory."

First God declares himself as God and that there are no others like him. He wans the people to understnand this real well. Therefore God describes himself and his power in his purposes so that the people may know and trust in His power. He declares everything from the beginning to the end to say that His purpose will stand and that he will accomplish it. And to characterize what he means and to show what it looks like, he reveals his power and control over the ordinary elements of the world to use in order to bring about his purpose, which is to bring near his rightiousness and salvation. He speaks of calling a bird of prey from the east and the man of his good council from a far country. Of course this is speaking specifically of God fulfulling his promises to his people as a whole through the coming of the Messiah, but nevertheless, it still aplies to his particular saving actions for his people.

I hope this helps you understand more where I am coming from. I think the big question to answer is if God actually does have mercy on someone apart from revealing Christ whether through a vision initially, or through the full Gospel message. And if he does initially use a vision, would he do it without the purpose of finnishing the process by bringing "the man of his council from a far country" to explain the visions and such, which is the patern of scripture, and to fully bring into the covantent community this individual or group of individuals so that they may partake of Christ in the word, sacraments, and fellowship of the saints so that they might endure to the end and be perfected into the immage of Christ and become the rightiousness of God as paul says. And all this for his own Glory.

I appreciate all of your input. This is a serious dillema for me.

with love in Christ,
Jared

Principium Unitatis said...

Jared,

But I think you would agree with me that the grace of God has one goal, and that is to bring the one receiving that grace into a deeper and clearer knowledge of who God is, or rather, in this age, who Christ is

I wouldn't say that the grace of God has a goal. I would say that God has a goal in giving us grace, and that is to make us conformed into the image of His Son.

Can a person be saved apart from the knowledge of Christ?

Yes. Recall the example of baptized infants. I think you have not yet grasped the implications of that example.

And how is a person sustained by the grace of Christ without the sacraments, the word, and the fellowship of the saints, which are so necessary and are only found in the Church.

God is not limited, nor is His power.

would God give this grace without the intention to complete it by bringing the church(bearer of Good news)to disciple this individual

Maybe, maybe not. The Church refuses to close off God's options.

In the previous responses you wrote to answer my query you explained that this Grace God gives "known only to himself" is in Christ. This is entirely a different Grace than the CCC 847 is describing

No. It is the same grace. You keep assuming that the grace of Christ only (or always at least) takes the form of knowledge. Go back to the baptized baby example, and think about it.

it is not so the case any more, just as the apostles preached in Acts.(e.g. Acts 17:30, he doesn't overlook ignorance)

Actually, that verse does not say that God "doesn't overlook ignorance". Read it carefully. It says that God, having overlooked the times of ignorance, is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent. That does not say that the present [invincible] ignorance of those who have not heard the gospel will not be likewise 'overlooked' by God as invincible ignorance.

Does simply living according to the dictates of my conscience save me.

Here's what I said in my first reply. "According to the Catholic Church, no one can be saved except through Jesus. Anyone who is saved is saved by grace, through Jesus." Therefore, if anyone is saved by living according to the dictates of his conscience, he is saved by the grace that has come to the world through Jesus. Pelagianism is false. But that does not mean that it is impossible to be saved by living according to the dictates of your conscience? Do you think God would damn someone who lived according to the dictates of her conscience? If so, why would He damn her?

I know Atheists who try and sincerely live according to their conscience.

And?

Furthermore, I never sought God until the knowledge of him came to me. But we know that none seek God as Paul says.

Careful. He doesn't mean that none seeks God, simpliciter. He means that none seeks God apart from grace, for as Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father draws him" (John 6:44-45)

And ourselves likewise, when we see the Glory of Christ(as Moses saw the Glory) and recognize him as Lord(just as it was proclaimed to Moses), only then can it be said we have received mercy from Him. They go together.

Ordinarily, they do. But, we are talking about the extraordinary, and so appealing to ordinary case does not prove anything about the extraordinary cases.

If God has the power to Give mercy to whom he wants when he wants then he doesn't need any other means(knowledge of Christ)therefore He wouldn't. It would seam superfluous.

I don't follow your reasoning here.

It seems to me that for God to give mercy to someone without somehow bringing the knowledge of Christ to them, whether through a vision initially or the full Gospel preached, then it is limiting his power. For he would have to resort to some extraordinary means in order to do something he has not the power to do through the ordinary means.

That's a non sequitur. Just because God resorts to extraordinary means, it does not follow that He lacked the power to do what He did through the ordinary means. It may mean that the ordinary means were not suitable or sufficient or available.

And if he does initially use a vision, would he do it without the purpose of finishing the process by bringing "the man of his council from a far country" to explain the visions and such, which is the pattern of scripture, and to fully bring into the covenant community this individual or group of individuals so that they may partake of Christ in the word, sacraments, and fellowship of the saints so that they might endure to the end and be perfected into the image of Christ and become the righteousness of God as Paul says.

Grace does not have to take the form of a vision. Grace does not have to be cognitive in the sense of something about which we are consciously aware. Yes, God, in one sense, wants all men to come to the fullness of the knowledge of Christ. But that's quite a separate question from whether a person who dies with grace but without knowledge of Christ can be saved. The Church leaves this possibility open, and does not state that such persons cannot be saved, for she has no right to handcuff God or be presumptuous about what He does or does not do outside the ordinary measures He has established.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Principium Unitatis said...

Jared,

Here's a selection from the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Church:

The Catholic Church has ever taught that nothing else is needed to obtain justification than an act of perfect charity and of contrition. Whoever, under the impulse of actual grace, elicits these acts receives immediately the gift of sanctifying grace, and is numbered among the children of God. Should he die in these dispositions, he will assuredly attain heaven. It is true such acts could not possibly be elicited by one who was aware that God has commanded all to join the Church, and who nevertheless should willfully remain outside her fold. For love of God carries with it the practical desire to fulfill His commandments. But of those who die without visible communion with the Church, not all are guilty of willful disobedience to God's commands. Many are kept from the Church by ignorance. Such may be the case of numbers among those who have been brought up in heresy. To others the external means of grace may be unattainable. Thus an excommunicated person may have no opportunity of seeking reconciliation at the last, and yet may repair his faults by inward acts of contrition and charity.

It should be observed that those who are thus saved are not entirely outside the pale of the Church. The will to fulfill all God's commandments is, and must be, present in all of them. Such a wish implicitly includes the desire for incorporation with the visible Church: for this, though they know it not, has been commanded by God. They thus belong to the Church by desire (voto). Moreover, there is a true sense in which they may be said to be saved through the Church. In the order of Divine Providence, salvation is given to man in the Church: membership in the Church Triumphant is given through membership in the Church Militant. Sanctifying grace, the title to salvation, is peculiarly the grace of those who are united to Christ in the Church: it is the birthright of the children of God. The primary purpose of those actual graces which God bestows upon those outside the Church is to draw them within the fold. Thus, even in the case in which God saves men apart from the Church, He does so through the Church's graces. They are joined to the Church in spiritual communion, though not in visible and external communion. In the expression of theologians, they belong to the soul of the Church, though not to its body. Yet the possibility of salvation apart from visible communion with the Church must not blind us to the loss suffered by those who are thus situated. They are cut off from the sacraments God has given as the support of the soul. In the ordinary channels of grace, which are ever open to the faithful Catholic, they cannot participate. Countless means of sanctification which the Church offers are denied to them.

Jared said...

Brian,

Thanks for your patience with me. Here are a few answers to your responses:

I said:

"But I think you would agree with me that the grace of God has one goal, and that is to bring the one receiving that grace into a deeper and clearer knowledge of who God is, or rather, in this age, who Christ is"

You said:

"I wouldn't say that the grace of God has a goal. I would say that God has a goal in giving us grace, and that is to make us conformed into the image of His Son."

My answer: You are right that is a better way to put it.

I said:

"Can a person be saved apart from the knowledge of Christ?"

You said:

"Yes. Recall the example of baptized infants. I think you have not yet grasped the implications of that example."

My response: I understand this example. It is true that infants recieve the grace of God without knowledge. They have no conscious understanding of God's promises in the person of Christ, thus no faith to believe them is present within the infant in order to be saved. But the Church believes that grace is infused into the infant, but this does not ensure their ultimate salvation, for they must continue in the faith once concious knowledge of Christ is manifest and they are thereby responsible individually before God. When the infant is baptized, however, since it is not his own faith that sanctifies him but that of the Church and his parents, it is faith of the covanent. Grace is not a Gas that is passed across a courtroom, nor is it any other substance that somehow fills up our body...or whatever, but the grace of God first of all is his favor. The infant is said to have favor and sanctified in the covenant by virtue of the believing parents. They are brought up and raised in the covanent community of believers, and within the influence of the sacramental gifts within that covenant community, through wich, as the infant grows older and more cognizant of himself and God, recieves the blessings of Christ. His conscience is protected, sanctified, and in the process of perfection by way of these graces. Upon Baptism, the infant recieves the forgiveness of original sin, but this grace in which they are being sanctified under the care and nurture of the church eventually becomes so that it is no longer the faith of the church and of the parents that this grace is confered, but the faith of the child growing into adulthood is what will maintain that grace. Likewise, I am said to have favor with God because he has brought me into the covenant community whereby, through my faith, I may attain salvation. The Grace of God does not come through my own will, or even my own understanding, but is cofered to me by something that is external to myself, but then takes effect on me. This rightiousness(im using rightiousness here as the same as grace) is first external to me, but through the external means of this rightiousness, it becomes internal. But like I said before, this rightiousness is not a gas, but through the enlightening of my unerstanding by these external means it becomes internal and part of my consious living. I am thus sanctified because of this new life that is in me, that is, the perfection of my conscience, the perfection of my will, and the perfection of my reason. Christ has thus become the wisdom of God unto salvation for me. I could not be brought into the life of God any other way, for there is no good will that rests in me by nature, for I have been sold under sin, and for God to bring life to me, or rather, to bring me into his life, he does so through his promise coupled with his law, I thereby become a child of the promise provided I continue in the faith of the promise. Natural reason does not produce the rightiousness that God requires, nor can I know Gods promise through natural reason. If it were by natural reason the Greeks would have attained that knowledge. The law itself did not even produce this for Israel. But as Paul said,"Being *ignorant* of the rightiousness that comes from God, they sought to establish their own." Israel failed to remember the faith of Abraham, and to persue the law by faith. Rather, they persued it as if it were by works. They were ignorant of Gods promise, therefore the rightiousness that God required could not have been attained by them. Furthermore, today it would not do a Jew any good to look back on the promise made to Abraham in the form it was then, for the promises are "yes" in Christ. If they are to look back on the promise to Abraham, they must see Christ in that promise in order to be saved, for Abraham saw Christ in that promise. Christ was the constitution of that promise, even though it wasn't complete. To this day, if they say they believe Abraham, then they should believe Christ, and likewise, if they say the believe the words of Moses, then they should believe Christ, for both spoke of him, just as Christ said. If the Law, which bears witness to the rightiousness of God, was not enough to produce for Israel the rightiousness that God requres, how much less can the dictates of my conscience, as if I were to persue them, produce that rightiousness within me. Furthermore, just because I am sold under sin as a slave to it does not mean that I cannot do good things and obey my conscience, but If I were to obey my conscience it does not mean that I am rightious just because I did a good deed, or even if I obeyed my conscience most of the time, it still does not provide that I am rightious before God. For anything not done in faith is sin. How else can it be said by God "Even your good works are as filthy rags before me."
I think this also answeres what you said here:

"Here's what I said in my first reply. "According to the Catholic Church, no one can be saved except through Jesus. Anyone who is saved is saved by grace, through Jesus." Therefore, if anyone is saved by living according to the dictates of his conscience, he is saved by the grace that has come to the world through Jesus. Pelagianism is false. But that does not mean that it is impossible to be saved by living according to the dictates of your conscience? Do you think God would damn someone who lived according to the dictates of her conscience? If so, why would He damn her?"

I said:

"It seems to me that for God to give mercy to someone without somehow bringing the knowledge of Christ to them, whether through a vision initially or the full Gospel preached, then it is limiting his power. For he would have to resort to some extraordinary means in order to do something he has not the power to do through the ordinary means."

You said:

"That's a non sequitur. Just because God resorts to extraordinary means, it does not follow that He lacked the power to do what He did through the ordinary means. It may mean that the ordinary means were not suitable or sufficient or available."

My reply: Can you explain for me what a non sequitur is.(sorry I feal like an idiot. haha) Also explain to me how ordinary means(as if we had a good reason to think there are extraordinary means) would ever not be suitable or sufficient. How can the gospel not be suitable or sufficient for thae salvation of a sinner. Moreover, If God is imnipotent, how could it possibly be said the ordinary means are unavailable? Is God's arm shortened that he cannot save? Do you see the philosophical problems with this?


In a previous post I said:

"I think though(and I dont want to exalt my intelect over the church), that it is arbitrary to affirm that there are mysterious ways that God uses known only to himself."

and your reply was how?

There are a few reasons. First, this doctrine certainly does not come from Romans. If it does not come from Romans. Then it must come from somewhere else. If it comes from somewhere else, seeing that it concerns the nature of Gods grace and his redemptive plan(which I think is displayed in Romans better than anywhere else)then it must come from somewhere else in scripture. To say it is true under the Authority of the Church is understnandable, for I certainly am not an advocate of sola scrptora and the Church does have authority over doctrinal issues. However, the source from which the Church derives its doctrine(at the very least on the points of salvation and redemption) is the scriptures(to say that it is a tradition of the church does not guarantee its truth, especially if it could be said that it wasn't in Pauls thoughts). So, there must be at least some hint of this doctrine somewhere in another part of scripture. I have yet to notice anything, but maybe you can help me. If you can't I have no problem, for I know you are buisy and cannot have all the answeres to all my questions. You are probibly wondering "Why Me!!"
Second, if it is not in scripture, and it is indeed true that there are mysterious ways God works "known only to himself" then how are we to know this. And, for what reason, then, should we mention it in the Catechism. What purpose does this knowledge serve the Body of Christ. I could point to instances where these Ideas have hurt the Body in a certain sense. It can be said, "who gives anyone the right to say God does not have mysterious ways known only to himself." It can likewise be said," What gives anyone the right to assert that he does have ways known only to himself, we dont want to limit his power." Especially when it has no basis in scripture. Yes the Church has a right to make dogmatic claims, but how can we be dogmatic about something that cannot be pointed to or hinted at in scripture. I think it is safer to just leave things like that out, don't you think. Besided, for the church to assert that God does not use ways know only to himself does not limit him in any way, for if it is true that he in fact does, then there is nothing I can say that can stop it, and I would never know to begin with. Who can go wrong in asserting that salvation is only through christ(not simply some mysterious union with him without knowledge of who he is.) I think it is safer to believe so. And how would it dishonor Christ in any way to assert such a thing. Does in not say, "He who has the Son has life, and he who does not have the Son does not have life." It seems more counterintuitive in the light of what scripture explicitly says to believe or assert that God has ways known only to himself. How do I know I have the father, because I know Christ is in me through the spirit that has been given to me, for "he who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." And,"you are sons of God, if indeed the spirit of God dwells in you."

Again, thanks for your patience with me.

In him,
Jared

Principium Unitatis said...

Jared,

Think about this: "Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7)

If only those who have heard the gospel know God, then no person who hasn't heard the gospel could love.

If you are a recent convert to the Catholic Church, then you need to meditate on what you said when you entered the Church, and why you said it: "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God". Did you say it because you yourself had worked out for yourself all that the Church teaches, or did you say it because you trust Christ by trusting the Church?

Your approach seems to be that of one attempting to criticize and correct the Church, rather than that of fides quaerens intellectum. In other words, you sound like a Protestant, not a Catholic. That's not the right approach, especially for a new Catholic. Your stance toward the Church should be one of humble inquiry, e.g. "I believe; help me understand". The fundamental difference in moving from Protestantism to Catholicism is not the content of theological belief, but the basis of theological belief. Many Protestants who become Catholic do not understand that, and are received into the Catholic Church while still fundamentally remaining Protestant (i.e. rationalistic / individualistic) in their relation to ecclesial authority.

If you have a question, I'll be glad to answer it. (email me -- my email address is listed in my profile). But please limit it to no more than a paragraph.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan