Monday, March 26, 2007

Salvation Offered to All

From Bishop Pierre Whalon of The Convocation of American Churches in Europe:

...One image I will always remember: a new bishop asked her (Bishop Katharine)to clarify her stand on the uniqueness of Christ. +Katharine replied that her view is similar to that of Vatican II (Nostra ætate, actually), namely that Jesus Christ is the final self-revelation of God in the world, but that salvation is possible outside of the Christian Church. He seemed dissatisfied with this reply. After adjourning the session, she went right over to him and they talked for fifteen minutes, alone in the meeting room.

This showed two things about the new Presiding Bishop. First, contrary to some reports, her Christology is orthodox. There have been some who have held that extra ecclesiam nulla salus—outside the Church there is no salvation. But this does not jibe with Jesus’ behavior toward Gentiles nor to Paul’s teaching about grace. What is essential, as the PB noted, is that Christians do not know how God saves people outside the New Covenant. Somehow Jesus Christ, through whom all things were made, makes provision, since through him all people are offered salvation...
From the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church:

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.
From our Presiding Bishop's interview in Time Magazine:

Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?

We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.
Unless one is willing to make the claim that the soteriology of the RCC is deficient, I think it is time to withdraw the accusations that our Presiding Bishop is a heretic. An apology from some of the Primates of the Global South would be appropriate, but also rather miraculous, in light of the current Anglican climate.


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