Written by Sherry
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 06:03
Many interesting comments below which I've spent time responding to rather than posting.
But I did want to make visible Lawrence King's comment on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism below. Larry is trenchant as always (we were fellow parishioners at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle together and Larry is now a student at the Dominican School of Philosophy Theology) and quotes the ever quotable Tom of Disputations in the bargain.
As Larry puts it:
"Sherry, this exactly matches my experience as well.
I have found that those Catholics who are reasonably well educated about their faith know that "Vatican II said that non-Christians can be saved". (They often are unaware that this wasn't a novel teaching, of course.) And they won't say that all people are saved, or that all people must be saved.
But as you suggest, they almost always assume that all people are saved. Or at least, all the "basically decent people" that they know must be saved. Or at the very least, there is nothing that they as a Christian can do to help other people be saved.
The author of the Disputations blog phrased this in a wonderfully concise way:
It seems to me that there are three possibilities:
1. My neighbors can go to hell for all I care.
2. I don't think believing in Jesus makes much of a difference in terms of salvation.
3. I've got to preach Christ to my neighbors.
None of these is especially appealing, but the first is unneighborly and the third means taking on work with a high risk of humiliation. So it's in my own interest to massage the second possibility into a form that's more or less consistent with my understanding of the Catholic Faith.
His "option # 2" is a perfect description of what most of the educated and active Catholics I know tend to assume most of the time. In fact, even though I am very active in evangelization, I tend to assume this much of the time as well -- which is a bit worrisome. "