Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why Should we Investigate the Means by which God Saves non-Christians?

Before moving into our discussion of why evangelization is important, I wished to expand on a point I made briefly in my last post. The question was, if the manner in which God saves non-catholics does not depend on our discussing the matter and trying to figure out how it happens, why should we discuss it? (I.e., what is the ratio for this blog's existence?)

1) First, as I said in the last post, there can be a certain sort of relationship between God's action of salvation and our thoughts about how God works. The reason is that our actions depend on our knowledge, and so we will act a certain way depending on our knowledge. If our knowledge is mistaken, it is possible that will act in a foolish or imprudent way; the fuller our knowledge is, the easier it is for us to deliberate on the best way to act.

2) Second, on a very practical level, the internet is full of people proclaiming heresy concerning the Church's teaching on "Outside the Church no Salvation.", and not so many who explain in depth the Church's true teaching. Hence the more good web sites there are that proclaim the true teaching of the Church, the less likely it is that people who are undecided and investigating the issue will decide to adhere to a false position.

3) Even apart from the practicality of the matter, knowledge of God is sought for its own sake. Thus, investigating the trinity with natural reason is not going to change anything in God, but it is certainly desirable for its own sake, even aside from actions in respect to others on account of this knowledge.

Here is a passage from Dominus Iesus which basically makes this same point:

"With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”. Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God's salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished."

I have not even so much got into the question of the way in which this grace is given to non-christians, merely that it is given. I have hinted at possible ideas, though, particularly in my posts on Scripture and Thomas Aquinas. I plan to cover this in more detail later. This should make it clear that there is a real value in investigating such an issue, and such investigations are to be encouraged.

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