Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pope Francis knows the difference between redemption and salvation. Do you?



AP

Secularists and believers alike seem confused by the recent words of Pope Francis when he affirmed that all people, even atheists, are redeemed:
"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!"
Despite what one might conclude after reading the flurry of frenzied headlines that followed, the Holy Father was saying nothing new; the fact that Jesus Christ redeemed the world is age-old, standard Christian teaching. Consider the prayers we traditionally use for the Stations of the Cross:
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.
Yes, the whole world -- which includes all atheists, all sinners, all people, even all things -- was redeemed by the Blood of Christ that was shed for us on Calvary. Jesus paid the ransom (the word "redemption" literally means the "buying back" of a thing), and His atoning sacrifice opened the gates of Heaven, which had been previously closed to humanity due to Adam's sin.
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…."  1 Timothy 2:5-6
The Cross redeemed all. Bam!

But (and it's a big but)… not everyone will choose to accept the redeeming love of God and its invitation to salvation. While God didn't need our cooperation or permission to redeem us, without our cooperation and permission He will not save us. God is a gentleman, and He will not bring us into union with Him unless we desire that union. Redemption has come to all of us, thanks to Christ's atoning work on the Cross approximately 2,000 years ago, but salvation is an individual choice that we each must make, a gift that we can accept or reject even up to our dying breath.

So when Pope Francis said that everyone is redeemed, even atheists, he was correct! It's a basic Christian tenet taught by Scripture, Tradition, and every pope before him -- but one that implies nothing about any individual's salvation. I wish that more journalists (and more Christians) were well-versed in the basics of the Faith, but the buzz and controversy gives us an opportunity to teach and clarify these truths for the world.


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For an even better explanation, check out Brandon Vogt's article on StrangeNotions.com:









32 comments:

  1. I just don't understand why some people have a hard time understanding what the Pope meant...oh wait yes I do because it's secular media! Anyway good looking out with your clear explanation.

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  2. I honestly didn't understand the difference between the two. I've been using both words like they meant the same thing. Thanks for the explanation!

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  3. Beautiful explanation. Loved the connection to the Stations of the Cross.com

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  4. This reminds me of the article about Christopher Hitchens on StrangeNotions.com. I read there that Mr. Hitchens insisted that there would be no deathbed conversion for him, insisting that any stories to the contrary should be disbelieved. How sad! He was truly redeemed by Our Lord, yet he was determined to reject the idea of such a gift to the very end. Christopher Hitchens had many people praying for him, though, so we don't know yet how the story really ended. Did he turn his back on God forever, or did the truth finally reach his heart and soul?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. The Catholic belief system mandates that its adherents accept certain "a priori" assumptions -- premises that *may not* be examined; in effect, it *requires* it's believers to exist "in a bubble". The price for 'eternal life' -- a 'reward' the believer must not only work to attain, but which requires that s/he must *assume* actually exists for s/he may not question that it actually does exist -- is the forfeiture of intellectual freedom -- the right to use her/his mind. You're willing to concede your right to *think* in order to wager on a deal that may or may not exist and for which you've already forfeited the right to do due diligence upon and you're feeling sorry for Christoper Hitchens. If you're allowed to think about *that*, please do so. For the record, I mean no disrespect here. Leila Miller said that she "relishes engaging a wider culture" and she engaged me.

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  5. Sincerely curious question here:

    If everyone is redeemed, why does the chance to be saved have to end at our dying breath? Why can't I die, see God/Jesus, be like "boy was I wrong!" and then be saved? What changes about my soul after I die.

    Like I said, legitimate question, I'm not gonna argue Catholic theology because I know nothing about it.

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  6. forthewar, it's a great question! I am out the door (baseball game, yay!), but I will be back later to answer (others can chime in, certainly).

    But here is something that touches on the answer if you haven't seen it already:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-non-catholics-be-saved.html

    Thanks for patience and happy Memorial Day!

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  7. If everyone is redeemed, why does the chance to be saved have to end at our dying breath? Why can't I die, see God/Jesus, be like "boy was I wrong!" and then be saved?

    For the same reason you can't take another shot after the buzzer of the fourth quarter. When it's game over, it's game over.

    Salvation is a life long process. We work out our salvation all our life, as St. Paul teaches. Salvation doesn't just come at the end.

    It's three fold:
    We are saved (by baptism), we are in the process of being saved, and we hope to be saved. All three aspects are Catholic teaching.

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  8. Nubby's right. We have this lifetime to make our choice, and that is it. Everyone gets enough grace to be saved, so no one misses his/her chance (though one may certainly reject that chance). I wrote about that topic here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/11/understanding-two-kinds-of-grace.html

    It is true that some folks do not care about or think about their own salvation till the end, and one can certainly find salvation with one's dying breath, but I wouldn't recommend it. God gave us reason. From the minute we are able to use our reason, we are expected by God to seek truth. Humans, unlike the animals, are truth-seekers by nature. We neglect to seek Truth (seek God) at our own peril, as we were given every means to do so.

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  9. Huh.

    Why is life eternal but grace is only for a lifetime? I suppose that's just a modification of my original question, but I still don't understand why.

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    1. C.S. Lewis once put it this way, we men(that is race of man) are like occupied France during WWII, Jesus landed on the beach once to start the underground, so when we go to church we are really listening to the secret wireless in the middle of the night, when we evangelize we are sabotaging the germans, etc. So we are here resisting the enemy(guess who that is[world, flesh, and especially devil]), but D-day is coming, either our personal D-day at death or the final D-day at the second coming and last judgement. Now what would you think of a frenchman who only joined the underground after his town was liberated???

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  10. Think of it as grace being the fuel that you need to get you to heaven. Grace is given, it's what we do with it that matters. We can respond to it or ignore/reject it.

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  11. Actual grace is only needed in this lifetime (it's those "nudges" and movements of conscience, and such), but supernatural grace (aka sanctifying grace, which infuses our souls via the Sacraments) is literally the Life of God within us. So, that grace lasts forever. The life of Heaven is the life of perfect grace, for eternity.

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  12. Interesting...thanks! Happy Memorial Day!

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  13. The reason we can't convert one second after death is this: Faith and Hope are for the living. Only the last, Charity or Love, follows us into eternal life. Here we live by Faith in things unseen. We have Hope that God will give us eternal life in heaven. After death, we are shown the reality that we have either believed in and hoped in, or rejected. We can't cop a plea at that moment. If we could, what would Faith and Hope even be? What would be the meaning of those virtues if we could get a peek at Him Whom we've doubted and then make a decision to love Him. Why don't we all do that?

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  14. Thank you for this! Always a breath of fresh air inside the bubble!

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  15. We need grace to get to heaven, for by grace we are saved through faith. Undeserved favor...this is the definition of grace. Mary was found "full of grace" at the annunciation , which is a big reason the Church says she was without original sin. Once we reach heaven, God-willing, we have become holy (wholly sanctified) and no longer need the undeserved favor of (grace). And if we have not reached this state in our lifetime this is why purgatory (being saved through fire, a burning up of all impurities) is necessary. It is necessary to strive for holiness, without which noone has seen God. If/when we have received the crown of glory, it is eternal. I imagine that being fully united with God in His eternal glorious presence omits the need for grace.

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    1. To clarify so that we are really precise: One must have sanctifying grace in one's soul in order to be equipped to live in Heaven; our human natures cannot survive in God's presence without it. Sanctifying grace is literally "supernatural life", i.e., the life of God (which is what Heaven is all about). So, while we won't need actual grace in Heaven (that's the first type of grace, which acts from outside of us and does not change the state of our soul, as opposed to sanctifying grace), we will definitely need sanctifying grace to dwell there.

      Sanctifying grace is the very life of God, and it's a gift that is over and above our human nature. When Adam and Eve were created, they could not have, even in their perfect pre-Fall human state, been in the presence of God without the immediate gift of sanctifying grace that was given them at creation (and which was never part of our nature). So, when they fell, they lost the gift of sanctifying grace, and they went back to their merely human state (they did not fall below it and become "totally depraved", however, as many Protestants think).

      The sacraments give us the sanctifying grace we absolutely need to dwell in Heaven with God. For more on that:

      http://www.catholic.com/tracts/grace-what-it-is-and-what-it-does

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  16. One of the amazing things about this comment is that I had atheist co-workers talk to me about this comment. I'm glad I've studied because I got a chance to inform them about being redeemed vs having salvation in Heaven. Normally I get potshots about my faith at work and just let them slide (ex: being a cannibal, believing that life begins as conception, apparently I except nothing that science says and don't believe in medicine, things like this), but in this one I just couldn't keep my mouth shut since it was specific to their souls in general for me.

    The funny thing is, that ever since this comment I've also had the chance to explain my faith to other Christians at work too. I even was able to help a Lutheran learn about the existence of the Catechism and he said that he'd check into reading it. It all started because he said the Church's beliefs were a black box. From there I got to explain about the Church's beliefs in Baptisms, salvation of those who are not Catholic and don't live a Christ filled life vs those who profess their salvation but choose to not live a Christ filled life, big and little 't' tradition, transubstantiation, tithing, etc. It has truly been spectacular. I've been so drowned in the secular world recently that I'm beginning to bring Christ back into my daily life all because of the hype and confusion Pope Francis's remark made. I've heard some say that they wish the Pope wouldn't say such confusing comments, but I truly see God working in non-Catholic lives because of it.

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    1. Messed up, it's supposed to be: "salvation of those who are not Catholic and do live a Christ filled life vs those who profess their salvation but choose to not live a Christ filled life"

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  17. Fey, thank you for that! You are exactly right and it is spectacular! The fact that Pope Francis seemingly has everyone's attention (while saying the exact same things the Church has always said), is a great grace and a great opportunity to evangelize. I can't wait to see what "confusing" thing he says next!

    And, great job!

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  18. PS: This post did not touch on the other thing that Pope Francis said, that we can "meet" atheists at the place of doing good. This passage from Vatican II speaks to that point:

    Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life.

    - Vatican Council II
    Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, §16 (©Libreria Vaticana editrice)

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    1. Well can't say I'm against that! :D I'm all for everybody doing good!

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    2. Hooray!!! Someday I hope you (and I) will meet Goodness Himself. :)

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  19. One thing which seems to be missing in the post and comments is WHERE faith resides, in the heart. Although faith CAN come about in a burst of wisdom and grace, most people GROW in holiness and faith throughout their lives. And having faith, they LIVE it in their actions. Jesus summarized those actions in saying that they love, what he called all his followers to do.

    Personally, I feel that I grew in faith this past Lenten & Easter seasons, and I now have my own understanding of the last judgement. It will be God asking us a single question: Who do you love? We'll see into our hearts and agree that A) we love ourselves, at which God will say that he knows another who loves himself and tell us to join Lucifer in his kingdom, or B) we love God and all his children, at which point God will say "welcome to the family; we've been waiting for you."

    P.S. You may like Moynihan's book on Pope Francis, Pray For Me. He gives some wonderful insights into the spiritual vision of this humble man.

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  20. 1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P3M.HTM

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  21. In his October 1 interview with "La Republicca," Francis does in fact propose the heresy of universal Salvation, not Redemption: " Our Species (sic - !) will cease to exist; but in the end God will be all in all...the spark of the divine within each one of us...each one must do Good and avoid Evil as he sees it..." This is utterly unCatholic, and everybody knows it.

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  22. Carl, so 1 Corinthians 15 is heresy?

    "And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all."

    Hmmm….

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  23. As a Catholic of 65 years let me tell you that this is all bullshit. You people have no more idea of what's true and what isn't than any atheist. The only thing we can be reasonably sure of is uncertainty. I hope this guy Francis manages to tell the truth in simple terms that don't need redefining from your sort. William Zimmerman

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    1. "I hope this guy Francis manages to tell the truth in simple terms that don't need redefining from your sort." William, I've been an atheist for decades more than I was a Roman Catholic, and I recognize this as an un-Christ-like statement. Really folks, get the basic 'love they neighbor' thing right (which, by the way, shows up in at least 27 major religious, spiritual, and secular humanist traditions - some preceding the birth of Christ by thousands of years). That's what Francis is doing - beautifully. The rest is noise.

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