July 3, 2010
In Quanto Conficiamur Moerore: "...God will not permit, in accord with his infinite goodness and mercy, anyone not guilty of a voluntary fault to suffer eternal punishment."
That's a rather interesting statement. What happened to Original Sin? All sin "in Adam," therefore we are all born under a death sentence, including the lost little tribal man in the deepest jungles of the Amazon. No exceptions other than Christ.
If that tribal man can be saved without knowing that Jesus Christ lived, died, was buried and rose on the third day, for the forgiveness of our sins, THEN why did Christ have to die? If this man can be saved by hugging a tree and giving thanks to God for the tree, the Cross was unnecessary.
I would think that the tribal man who has never heard the gospel has ALREADY BEEN JUDGED. According to Acts 17:26:
"and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation"
Since God knows "completely, the minds and souls of men, etc..." by Him putting that person in the Amazon, he's been judged; otherwise God would have been him in the United States next door to the Immaculate Conception church, so to speak. But no, he stuck him in the jungle.
On this one I believe the Protestant interpretation is correct. General Revelation can only further condemn, not save.
R. Sungenis: Don, take this kindly, but you are incorrect on all counts. First, QCM is not dealing with the topic of Original Sin but with the topic of Actual Sin. Catholic theology must be read in context. Second, yes, there are no exceptions outside of Christ, but this doesn't mean that the man in the Amazon is saved without Christ. Having conscious knowledge about Christ is not the same as being saved by Christ. Third, if one does not have conscious knowledge about Christ the corollary cannot be that Christ died in vain. Christ can apply his atonement to whomever he wishes. Although water Baptism and explicit knowledge of Christ are the normal means, Christ can use extraordinary means, since God is greater than his sacraments and greater than man's predicament of global isolation. If we were dependent on everything being perfect before we received salvation, hardly anyone would be saved. Christ's salvation must work not only through man's sin but also through the consequences of that sin (e.g., that a man in the Amazon may not have had the privilege of actually hearing about Christ in his lifetime). As Jesus said about the sabbath ("the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath") and allowed abnormal circumstances to be remedied on the sabbath (e.g., saving an ox that fell into a ditch), so it is with salvation. Salvation was made for man, not man for salvation. There are abnormal circumstances we confront in this sinful world (e.g., an Amazon who cannot hear the Gospel). But if we allow salvation only for certain candidates (e.g., those that actually hear about Christ) then we make man for salvation, not salvation for man. Fourth, it is incorrect to say that God put the man in the Amazon because he doesn't intend to save him. This is an ex post facto fallacy. Not even Protestant theology teaches that God put him in the Amazon because he doesn't intend to save him. No, the solution is that every man has the opportunity to be saved despite his condition, otherwise God would not be just. God's integrity is at stake here, and thus you can depend upon it that God is fair to everyone, otherwise Christianity isn't worth the paper it's written on. According to Romans 1-2, the Amazon man knows God exists and what God requires of him. QCM is merely saying that if he obeys those requirements, he can have Christ's atonement applied to him and thus have eternal life, regardless whether or not he actually hears of Christ before he dies. That is exactly what we would expect from a fair and rational God. This is why Catholicism has the only answer, since it shows that God is fair and rational, not arbitrary and capricious.
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