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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Catholicism and "No one comes to the Father but through Me"

Question:  Doesn't the belief that non Christians are going to heaven contradict the Bible which states that no one gets to heaven except through Jesus--"no one comes to the Father but through me"--John 14:6

Response:  So as a repeat from the previous post on this topic, Catholicism professes that non-Christians MAY go to heaven, not that they ARE definitely going to heaven.

But if they are in heaven, it's ONLY through the atoning death of Christ.  

And their faith in Christ. 

Yes, faith in Jesus is necessary to go to heaven.

However, Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft states, using Socrates*, who lived centuries before Christ, as an example, faith in Christ means more than faith in the 33 year old Jewish man who walked the streets of Jerusalem 2000 years ago: 

"What might it mean to say Socrates could have had faith in Christ? To have faith in Christ, you must somehow know Christ. How could Socrates have known Christ? In the same way everyone can: as “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (Jn. 1:9). As the preincarnate Logos, the divine Word or Light or Reason.

No one can know God except through Christ (Jn. 1:18; Lk. 10:22). But pagans know God (Acts 17:28; Rom. 1:19-20; 2:11-16). Therefore pagans know Christ.

For Christ is not just a six-foot-high, thirty-three-year-old Jewish carpenter. He is the second person of the eternal Trinity, the full expression, or revelation, or Logos, of the Father (Col. 1:15, 19; Jn. 14:9). He is to the Father as sunlight is to the sun. As such he is “light, which lightens everyone” through reason and conscience."

Thus, any person who uses the light of human reason to come to a love of truth, beauty, goodness, knows Christ.  He may be unaware that his path towards the Light is being led by Jesus, but he is on the right course nonetheless.  Exclusive, literal knowledge of Christ is not necessary.. (but it must also be stated that an explicit REJECTION of Christ would appear to be a deal-breaker).

Quoting Kreeft further: "The mere abstract, intellectual pursuit of truth is not sufficient to save you.  But neither are intellectual mistakes enough to damn you...Socrates (or any other pagan) could seek God, could repent of his sins, and could obscurely believe in and accept the God he knew obscurely and partially and therefore he could be saved--or damned if he refused to seek, repent and believe". (ibid)

If Jesus is the ONLY Savior, then it necessarily follows that all other religions and ideologies which deny this are...perilously wrong...and must therefore be rejected.

But it doesn't follow that practitioners of these other religions must be rejected or that they are necessarily condemned.

They can't be saved without Him, but they also, paradoxically, aren't condemned without Him either.  

So, again, it's a mistake to decline to evangelize a non-Christian--why not assist him in to the boat for the ride to the other side?
But it's also incorrect to assume that he's condemned to hell merely because he had the bad fortune of being born in Bhutan and isn't a Christian.

*Kreeft gives the caveat that he's not claiming to know that Socrates is in heaven.  He is only providing a way to reconcile the concept that IF Socrates (or any other non-Christian, pagan, Hindu, Jew, etc) is in heaven, this is how we can understand it.  There is no "St. Socrates" canonized by the Catholic Church; as such it would be outside Kreeft's paygrade to declare Socrates to be in heaven.  *:) happy

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