More on the salvation of non-believers

In trying to explain Pope Francis’s statement about atheists that we blogged about, a Vatican spokesman, Father Thomas Rosica wrote a piece entitled Explanatory Note on the Meaning of ‘Salvation’ in Francis’ Daily Homily of May 22:  Reflections on Atheists, Christians, and Who Will Be Saved.  He nuanced what the pope said, but he didn’t explain it away, nor did he say, as we did in our discussion, that he was referring to meeting together in the realm of civil righteousness.  Rather, Father Rosica explained the sense in which atheists and other non-believers can, in fact, be saved:

4)  The great German Jesuit theolgian, Fr. Karl Rahner introduced the idea of “anonymous Christian” into theological reflection. Through this concept, offered to Christians, Rahner said that God desires all people to be saved, and cannot possibly consign all non-Christians to hell.  Secondly, Jesus Christ is God’s only means of salvation. This must mean that the non-Christians who end up in heaven must have received the grace of Christ without their realising it.   Hence the term – ‘anonymous Christian’. [Read more...]

Pope says atheists can be saved

Pope Francis preached a homily in which he pretty much said that atheists too can do good and therefore can go to heaven.  (Notice the assumption that salvation is by good works and not by faith, which is being presented as not really necessary.)  The pope’s words are after the jump, along with some other indications of a growing universalism in Roman Catholicism. [Read more...]

Who proceeds from the Father and the Son

Happy Pentecost yesterday!  May the Holy Spirit pour out His richest blessings on you.  May the Holy Spirit work in your heart as you hear God’s Word.

Here is a  question about the Holy Spirit that I would like to submit to the collective theological knowledge manifested in the readership of this blog:   In Western Christianity, both among Roman Catholics and creedal Protestants, the Nicene Creed that we confess says that we believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In Eastern Christianity, on the other hand, the Orthodox rendition of the Nicene Creed says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. [Read more...]

A heresy trial over baptism

Reformed theologian Peter Leithart is in trouble again over his views on baptism.  He was tried by the Presbyterian Church in America and found innocent of doctrinal violations, but when the prosecutor in that case recently converted to Catholicism, the church body is questioning that decision and looks to put Rev. Leithart back on trial.   (So double jeopardy doesn’t apply to church trials?)  I am in no position to know whether his position is in accord with PCA doctrine or not, but I am curious about the extent to which it accords with Lutheran doctrine.  I’ll post his statement of his beliefs after the jump. [Read more...]

“The assumption of the humanity into God”

Yesterday was Ascension Sunday. (The actual Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, the time the risen Christ remained on earth, was last Thursday.)  It commemorates something important and profound:  the now-and-still Incarnate Son of God, His work of redemption complete, returning to His Father and assuming His eternal place in the Holy Trinity.

Some people think Ascension Day means that Jesus isn’t here anymore.  (I have heard that put forward as a way to deny His presence in Holy Communion!)  But what it really means is that now He can be present in all times and places (particularly Holy Communion!) because the Ascended Christ fills all things (Ephesians 1:20-23).

Christ’s Ascension has to do with His Incarnation, which, according to the Athanasian Creed, was “not by conversion of the divinity into flesh, but by “the assumption of the humanity into God.”  Think of that!  Our human nature, taken on by Christ, has been taken “into God.”  This is why, in connection to Holy Communion, Christ’s body and blood, elements of his and our physical human nature, can be distributed to us human beings in our own times and places.  What are some other implications of “the assumption of the humanity into God”?

“Radical,” “missional” Christianity as the new legalism

The esteemed Anthony Bradley describes a “new legalism” stemming from the vogue of so-called “radical” and “missional” Christianity.  He decries the emphasis on spectacular works, emphasizing instead the role of  good works in the realm of the “ordinary.”  That is, the love of neighbor as carried out in [wait for it] VOCATION!  (See!  I told you, Anthony Sacramone!)  Dr. Bradley goes so far as to link to a talk I gave on that subject at the Evangelical Theological Society convention, which I didn’t even know was online. [Read more...]


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