God is not a Tyrant
For some reason this: http://carm.org/catholic-do-you-know-you-are-going-to-heaven popped up in my news feed last night, so I’ll treat it as news and tease out the heresy.
The argument is that Catholic Christianity leaves room for doubt about salvation while his brand of Christianity doesn’t. The core of his argument is that God saves unconditionally, which is the second of Calvin’s “Five Points”. This is the shorthand about the heresy, but what does that mean worked out in our lives?
In the Catholic understanding of Christianity, if this man is correct, it means that we don’t have communion with God. The fact God graces us with the honor of cooperating with our salvation shows that we have communion and friendship with God. If it was all upon God alone and regardless of our cooperation, it fails to be communion and becomes dictatorial — God dictates those who will be saved and those who won’t be saved. Christianity in it’s traditional understanding as Catholic sees our faith as all about communion — both with God and neighbor. It is the two great commandments of Love that are the lenses by which we see Jesus’ mission. To put our salvation solely upon God without any cooperation on our part breaks down that communion between us and Him, and neuters the commandment to love God. How is it love if it is a forced salvation — if we are saved even when we reject God?
To stoke fear about eternal salvation the author lists some of the necessities of salvation that the Church lays out for us. Looking at just one, the necessity of Baptism, we can find the Church is far more flexible than he would suppose, and this is because the law is for our good and to help us love God, not because the law is arbitrarily laid down (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts was Luther’s view). In paragraph 1259 of the Catechism, we read, “For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament”. The Church teaches that, when possible, it is required to cooperate with God for our salvation. If that is not possible due to no fault of our own (i.e. Death), God understands that. Neither God nor the Church (as minister of God’s Sacraments) requires more of us than we can give. But to actively refuse what God asks of us is to reject God and that rejection of God through non-cooperation with his divine plan is to breakdown communion between God and ourselves. Heaven is communion with God and neighbor fully expressed, so rejecting communion with God on Earth (through our own fault) is a rejection of Heaven and therefore a rejection of salvation.
How the author of the linked to article can believe we can actively reject friendship with God and Heaven, yet still go to Heaven, is beyond my understanding. The Catholic view is that God doesn’t force us to do anything. If we desire communion with God, we receive that in Heaven. If we reject communion with God we receive that in Hell. To my limited understanding, I see the author as promoting “God the arbitrary dictator” and not “God the loving friend”. I, for one, prefer the loving God over the tyrant God.