About a year ago, I posted an article regarding the salvation of Catholics, prompted by the death of John Paul II. I took the position that regardless of all the accretions and heresies that have accrued in Catholic theology, they still trusted in Christ for their salvation, and thus salvation might be possible for them, even for a knowledgeable Catholic. As I’m sure you recall, many of you took me to task for my views.
I decided to do some research on the subject, and since we were dealing with a particular man, it seemed to me most appropriate to address the writing of that particular man. Or actually, his speaking. I found a book call The Way of Christ, which is actually a series of lectures that the former Pope delivered to groups of college students at a retreat in the ’70s. It’s a little dated, but hopefully it will give us some insight into the beliefs of this man in particular.
From p. 72, on the subject of witness:
“This [Christ giving Himself to mankind] is constantly taking place through Christ, because he is constantly creating us, coming to us sacramentally and creating us from within, to the extent that we allow and in accord with the opportunities that we provide….
“However, there is a second aspect of this situation, inasmuch as we too create Christ. This is not an empty expression, for the Christ we create is known as the Church. We often hear it said that the Church is the mystical body of Christ and that we are part of it; we are its components, or, if we want to retain the anaolgy, its cells. So we can say in a certain sense that he depends on all of us. The mystical body of Christ, the Church, depends on us; it is our creation or our work. The action begins with him: he creates us, and we, who have been created divinely by him, in turn create him, the church.
“My dear ones, we create him first and foremost through the witness we bear him. I have said this in different contexts in the past few days. We create Christ above all because we bear witness to him.”
What follows from this is a discussion of the crucial role that the church, martyrs and Mass all have to play in “creating Christ”. The church, therefore, is in an ongoing process of creating Christ and recreating Christ through its witness, which puts the RCC’s reliance on tradition in a whole new light for me.
From p. 73:
“You may have been struck by the fact that at Mass the priest bends and kisses the altar. He does this because the altar contains relics of martyrs who bore witness to Christ with their death…”
The priest therefore consciously involves the worship of the martyr with the worship of Christ, since the martyr played a part in creating Christ, and in “a certain sense” WAS Christ, because the martyr bore witness of Christ, and it is bearing witness of Christ which creates him in us and us in him.
Now, on p. 84, turning to the subject of prayer, John Paul II tells us that we pray because we know God exists, and everyone prays, whether they know what they are doing is prayer or not. Then, this:
“We can understand the expression ‘witness of Jesus Christ” in a very specific and literal way. We all know who Jesus Christ was, and we know how he gave his witness, a witness made up of deeds and words…
“The witness of Jesus Christ can be broadened to include all God’s revelation to mankind from the beginning to the end. Thus the witness of Jesus Christ contains both the original revelation which we find in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, and also later revelation, linked to the history of the People of God in the Old Testament…
“Believing means having the witness of Jesus Christ within oneself, and many people do have it. However, people have it and carry it within themselves in very different ways: Christians do so, as is clear from their name and from their baptism, but non-Christians also do so, in a different manner. Since the Second Vatican Council we have come to see this question more clearly and accept it with an open mind.”
The former Pope has therefore said that God communicates revelation to man in a variety of ways, that all of this revelation is “bearing witness” of Jesus, and that containing this witness within you is “believing” in Christ. Therefore, not just the church, but all of mankind, insofar as they believe anything true at all about God, are bearing witness of Christ, and per the previous section, are therefore creating Christ and being created by Christ. The witness of Christ includes what we see in the Bible, what we see in creation and what we see through the history of God’s people, both Old Testament Israel and New Testament church.
Having read this material, I believe I can now very safely come to the conclusion that the Pope was in fact teaching “another gospel”, and is therefore anathema. He has denied the importance of belief in the Gospel; he has denied that faith in Christ is the only way to heaven; he has blurred the distinction between God and man; he has mocked the need for Christ’s death. To what degree this theology is the theology of the whole RCC I am not perfectly aware, though the RCC certainly did say that people other than Catholics can go to heaven, and now I know what they mean when they say that.
I thought I’d throw in this gem, too: On p. 23 of the book, talking about Christ and turning his attention for a moment to Mary, he says this:
“When God first revealed his plan for the incarnation of his son, he spoke to the serpent about the Mother of God: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she will bruise your head. (Genesis 3:15)
“She was with Christ at his birth and also at his death. Thanks to Mary we are with Christ. Through her, as her descendants; hers and his; his and hers.”
I bet you didn’t know that all our Bibles have Genesis 3:15 wrong. The Vulgate says, “_She_ will bruise your head, and you will bruise her heel.”
We can therefore add to the Pope’s crimes, that he denied that salvation was by Christ “alone”; it was in fact by Christ and Mary, according to him.