As one reads and thinks one begins to get interested in particular rabbit holes in theology. Feeling called to Ecumenism, Ecclesiology is one such rabbit hole of mine.
I wish to propose some brief propositions that have swum around in my mind. I realize that they are not positions that the Church has traditionally agreed with but I’m trying to follow out some logic that stems from good Catholic theology. Mostly, I want to locate the Church. If one cannot do such, even if in a provisional way, it seems difficult to speak at all about it. Tell me what you think.
- I am, along with at least the RCC, a religious inclusivist. That is to say I trust that there will be many from different faiths who “find salvation.”
- Karl Rahner called these people “anonymous Christians”
- Catholicism is concerned with the locatability of the Church as opposed to Protestant spiritualizing and volunteer’izing of the Church.
- A “Christian” is someone who in faith is baptized into the Church and prayed over to receive the Holy Spirit
- A so-called “anonymous Christian” has not been baptized nor prayed over to receive the Spirit and even if their ‘faith’ is truly toward God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit it is not shaped in this way.
- If such a person can be “saved,” and if “there is no salvation outside of the Church,” then by this logic A) People can be “saved” without the Sacraments B) People can be part of the church without knowing it…
- There seems to be a tension to me. Now, if the Sacraments are necessary to become part of the Church (as I would argue), AND “there is no salvation outside of the church,” THEN “anonymous Christians” (or their souls?!) must be baptized post-mortem.
- This is just plain silly to me.
- Would it not make more sense to use the old dictum (was it Luther?): “There is no salvation outside of Christ?”
- This would allow us to locate the Church, which is absolutely necessary for witness, fellowship, worship, evangelism, discipline, etc…
- AND it would allow us to remain religious inclusivists who acknowledge, no, Rejoice!, that God is at work in the whole world?
- This also makes sense of some otherwise puzzling passages in the New Testament
So how ’bout it? There is no salvation outside of Christ but there is outside of the Church?