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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Vatican Embraces Inclusivism

Pope Benedict is making Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, and Jacques Dupuis proud. James White gives a caption from the Vatican press release dated November 30, 2005. "In elucidating the psalm, the Pope also referred to a meditation on the subject by St. Augustine in which, he said, "the great Father of the Church introduces a surprising note: he knows that even among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people committed to peace and goodness, though without sharing the biblical faith. In the end, then, God will lead those people to the heavenly Jerusalem, rewarding them for their pure consciences." Vatican II was a watershed moment in Catholic history. The Roman Catholic Church rejected its traditional approach to the religions in the classic Cyprian phrase Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus ("Outside the Church there is no salvation.") Rahner pioneered this idea with his concept of the "Anonymous Christian" which was also coupled with another idea called "baptism of desire." The Vatican II coined the term "inculpable belief" in this quote: “Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of their conscience.” - Walter Abbott, ed. The Documents of the Vatican II (New York: American Press, 1966), 35. The idea of "implicit faith" or the "faith principle" was applied to those who, through sincerity and proper response to general revelation (creation and conscience), "attained to everlasting salvation." There are several problems with this theology which should be mentioned. First, the Bible makes it clear that people become Christians through "explicit saving faith" not "implicit faith." This faith is NOT as A.H. Strong said, "The patriarchs, though they had not knowledge of a personal Christ, were saved by believing in God so far as God had revealed himself to them; and whoever among the heathen are saved, must in like manner be saved by casting themselves as helpless sinners upon God’s plan of mercy, dimly shadowed forth in nature and providence. But such faith, even among the patriarchs and heathen, is implicitly a faith in Christ, and would become explicit and conscious trust and submission, whenever Christ were made known to them." - A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1947), 842. Rather, faith is founded in God and disposed to those with whom he wills (Rom. 12:3). For a discussion of "saving faith," see Phillip H. Hook's article called "A Biblical Definition of Saving Faith" in Bibliotheca Sacra 121 (April-June 1964): 133-40. Also, for an inclusivist argument against explicit saving faith, see John Sanders' article called “Is Belief in Christ Necessary for Salvation?” in Evangelical Quarterly 60 (July 1988): 241-59. Secondly, the Bible declares the man outside of Christ as having a hard heart, a darkened understanding, a mind of futility, and ignorant of grace. There are not "pure consciences" inherent in man. Man is morally depraved and wholly wicked. The heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. In sin, we were conceived. There is no one is who is good, who seeks God . . . If God does not take the initiative to make Himself known through His Son, we will only continue in our idolatry and making our own hearts callous. The natural man without the Spirit of God cannot know God, or the thoughts of God, and he must be made spiritual. If he doesn't be will remain in unbelief, and as Jesus said, "whoever does not believe is condemned already" (John 3:18). Thirdly, God does not reward anyone with salvation because of their good works. The only good works God rewards is the perfect righteousness of His Son in whom He was well-pleased. The only works God will accept is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, God's own Son. This is why Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (John 5:29). The works-based salvation purported by Roman Catholicism is offering false hope in thinking that one's own sincerity and devotedness will be accepted in the end ("baptism by desire"). The kingdom of God does have a lot to do with rewards. Yet these rewards are spoken in reference to those who have already entered the kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ. No one will be able to boast before God in that great day. No desire. No "pure consciences." No "people committed to peace and goodness." Only those who have had their guilty stains washed in the fountain of Calvary's Tree. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins, and without the free and unmerited grace of God, there is no salvation for the sinner. This is what we must preach. I am sorry, Mr. Benedict, but you failed to present Scripture as true and Jesus Christ as glorious. And the consequences of that is many will perish in the hopes of one day attaining to that pure conscience. May God grant them faith to believe and eyes to see the glory of a sinner's Savior who gave his life that we might believe in his work which is good and brings us peace.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exclusivism, inclusivism, universalism, unitarianism... man, I get so lost!

12/14/2005 11:41:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

I really don't mean to be confusing you! I know, there are a ton of "-isms" out there! But there are a few that I happen to be greatly interested in.

As far as religions and theology of religions, there are three main positions: exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism. There is a fourth position of universalism which I would address separate from these. At this moment, I am addressing pluralism because of its relevance to the Advent season and the Incarnation of Christ. Later, however, I will address inclusivism more in my posts. Hopefully I can in the future lay out the landscape with clear definitions, descriptions, adn key leaders of each position. Maybe that would clarify things!

12/15/2005 05:31:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"isms" just piss me off. I don't know why... I think it is how every person likes a label (and others like to label one another) but it never fully describes someone. I am definately not above that... but I get confused sometimes with all of them...

12/15/2005 07:02:00 PM


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