Day 118: The Church and Non-Christians (839-848)
It’s Day 118!!
We are taking that next step today
What is the relationship that the Church has with other religions?
What is the relationship the Church has to the Jewish people, Muslim people, or non-Christian religions?
THE CHURCH AND NON-CHRISTIANS
We will also take a look at this BIG STATEMENT
“OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION”
This is a quote from the early Church Fathers
What does it mean?
Does it mean that one has to be a card-carrying Roman Catholic in order to enter Heaven?
That’s a good question, thank you for asking!
The short answer is….LET’S WAIT AND READ IT!!
The Church gives us a great explanation of how we are to understand what this statement means
So we are looking at the Church’s relationship with religions around the world
Also, how does the Church see Herself as the UNIVERSAL SACRAMENT OF SALVATION?
The Church doesn’t give Herself these gifts
She has been given them by the Lord Himself
It is our duty, privilege, and responsibility to exercise them and understand what they mean
Let’s ask the Lord to give us His Grace, His understanding, and a spirit of love and truth
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we thank you and we give you praise. We ask you to please enlighten our minds. Help us to understand clearly exactly what it is you wish to reveal to us. Not only about yourself, your heart, your love, who you are. But also about your Church. Your Son, Jesus Christ, is the Head of the Church and the Church is the Body of Christ. We ask you, Lord, help us to actually live united with our Head. Help us to live in union with your Will. Help us to always see ourselves in constantly in need of reformation and at the same time constantly being given your Grace. Help us to acknowledge the goodness that we find in every person in all peoples around us. Help us find the goodness and the truth that we find in varying degrees in all religions. Help us to acknowledge the dignity of every human being, our brothers and our sisters who are close to us, and those people who are strangers, who are far away from us. Help us to acknowledge and express the dignity that they have inherited by being made in your image. Help us to love everyone, especially those closest to us. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen”
So there we are!!
It is CHALLENGING and REALLY COMPELLING
What is the Church doing in this section?
Since the Church is catholic and universal, there is a relationship with those around us who do not believe what we believe
There are three different groups of people when it comes to non-Christians and then a fourth group which is EVERYBODY who is not Catholic
If that makes sense 🤔
First is the Jewish People
Then any other non-Christian religions
Finally EVERYONE WHO IS NOT CATHOLIC
“OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION”
What is our relationship to those who are non-Christians, to Muslims, to Jews, to other Christians who are not Catholic
A helpful image is concentric circles
Think of it like this
The Church is trying to affirm that there is GOODNESS and there is TRUTH in ALMOST EVERY RELIGION
The Church didn’t mention Satanism which has a DEGREE of truth
They believe that Satan exists
AND THAT IS TRUE!!
They also worship him
THAT IS FALSE!!
THAT IS ERROR!!
THAT IS EVIL!!
Paragraph 842 says, “The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions…”
For example, Hinduism
Hindus believe in a spiritual reality beyond the material world
THAT IS TRUE!!
They also believe in many gods
THAT IS NOT TRUE!!
There is SOME truth there
How many times have people read something from Eastern mysticism and thought it was wise
The Church is affirming that all around us there are degrees of truth that abide
Paragraph 841 says, “The Church’s relationship with Muslims: ‘The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.’”
Whereas Hindus believe in multiple gods, which is error
Muslims believe in ONE GOD which is TRUE
They don’t believe that God is their FATHER
They don’t believe in the TRINITY
They don’t believe in JESUS CHRIST
So that is FALSE
That is ERROR
That is where Islam is WRONG
The first religion mentioned is of course the one closest to Christianity
Christianity COMES FROM Judaism
There is so much AFFIRMATION
Dr. Brant Pitre is a phenomenal Scripture scholar
He has a bunch of great books
Google them 😉
He has a podcast where he talks about the way in which we understand the New Testament ALWAYS IN LIGHT of the Old Testament
BECAUSE JESUS WAS JEWISH!!
Jesus comes from the Jewish People
The Old Covenant that God established with the Patriarchs…
Paragraph 839 says, “The Jewish People, ‘to whom the Lord, our God, spoke FIRST.’”
THIS IS REMARKABLE!!
Paragraph 839 continues, “The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews ‘belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ’; ‘for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.’”
There is a lot of TRUTH in Judaism
At the same time, they don’t accept Jesus as the Christ
THAT IS FALSE
THAT IS WRONG
THAT IS ERROR
Paragraph 843 says, “The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as ‘a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.’”
ALL TRUTH COMES FROM GOD!!
If there is truth MIXED IN with error
If there is goodness MIXED IN with evil
That goodness and truth COMES FROM THE LORD
And that is a preparation for them to RECEIVE THE GOSPEL
At the same time…
The Church is not being “mamby pamby” (For our international brothers and sisters, “mamby pamby” means lacking energy, strength, or courage 😀)
Paragraph 844 says, “In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them…”
Because of Original Sin all of us are TEMPTED AND DECEIVED
Because of Original Sin all of us are FALLEN
Paragraph 844 continues, “Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.”
WE NEED THE CHURCH!!
WE NEED JESUS CHRIST!!
WE NEED THE FULLNESS OF TRUTH!!
There is truth in all these different religions
The FULLNESS of truth subsists in the Catholic Church
WE NEED THAT!!
The FULLNESS of grace and the means of salvation subsist in the Catholic Church
WE NEED THAT!!
Because we are SO PRONE TO ERROR
We are SO PRONE TO DARKNESS
We are SO PRONE TO EVIL
The ONLY thing that can save us is this SHIP
Paragraph 845 says, “She is that bark (ship) which ‘in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.’”
“OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION”
These paragraphs can be challenging
BUT THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!!
Paragraph 846 says, “How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?”
Back in the 20th Century there was a priest in the United States who held that it meant that unless you were a card-carrying Roman Catholic, you could not enter Heaven
The Church said that is NOT what it means and he could not teach that
Here is what it means
Paragraph 846 continues, “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”
In John Ch 3 Jesus said, “Unless you are born again of water and the Holy Spirit, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus also said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.”
You cannot enter Eternal Life UNLESS you have the EUCHARIST
WE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!!
God’s Grace of Salvation comes to us through His BODY
The Head is united to His Body
So if we KNOW this and REJECT this then WE REJECT GOD
THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND!!
We would be saying NO to God
Paragraph 847 says, “This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church.”
People ask about people who never know about Jesus, like tribes in the Amazon
Paragraph 847 continues, “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.”
So what is this saying?
First of all is NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church
It’s not talking about someone who doesn’t care about finding the truth
It’s the responsibility of every human being is to try to find the TRUTH
We are all obligated to do that REGARDLESS of our story to the degree that we can
These people who nevertheless SEEK GOD with a SINCERE HEART
It is a PURSUIT
And MOVED BY GRACE
We don’t do ANYTHING without God’s help
We are MOVED BY GRACE
So someone who is trying to choose God as best he or she can
Someone who is trying to do his will as they know it
They are trying to live it out just like you and I
We are trying to live out our Faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
We have to do that in our ACTIONS
Not just in our minds or hearts
So these people may achieve eternal salvation
We are saying that God is JUST
We are saying that God is GOOD
God will give us WHAT WE CHOOSE
Because of His Grace
Because Jesus Christ has opened the gates to Heaven, HEAVEN IS POSSIBLE
Heaven is CHOOSABLE
We have to actually CHOOSE Heaven
We choose IMPERFECTLY
If you are choosing God as you know Him, He will let you find Him
This does not mean that we don’t share the Gospel
If they don’t know God through no fault of their own, then why should we tell them?
Paragraph 848 says, “‘Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.’”
Even if God CAN save those who do not know Him or His Church
We still have an ABSOLUTE OBLIGATION and SACRED RIGHT to bring the Gospel to every part of this world
Today has been challenging
It is a powerful and beautiful teaching of the Church that honors the Lord
IT IS ALSO COMPLETELY TRUE!!
WHICH IS PRETTY AMAZING!!
If you are struggling with today please know we are praying for each other
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!