(urth) Quasi Christ?

Matthew Weber palaeologos at gmail.com
Tue Feb 10 10:41:11 PST 2009

On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 10:34 AM, Joe Riley <whamdoodler at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I'm not a Catholic, so this could be wrong, but someone mentioned it on the
> list once before, and I remember being floored by it then.
> Didn't the Second Vatican Council (1965) rule that even "those who have not
> yet received the Gospel" can go to heaven if they've discerned the nature of
> God through their own religion?  Here's what Wikipedia says:
> "Perhaps the most famous and most influential product of the council is the
> Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, *Lumen Gentium<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumen_Gentium>
> *.
> In its first chapter, titled *"The Mystery of the Church,"* is the famous
> statement that "the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to
> be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His
> Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles
> to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as 'the
> pillar and mainstay of the truth.' This Church, constituted and organized as
> a society in the present world, subsists in<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Subsistit_in%22_in_Lumen_Gentium>the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the
> bishops in communion with him" (Lumen Gentium, 8). The document immediately
> adds: "Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found
> outside its visible confines."
> In the second chapter, titled *"On the People of God"*, the Council
> teaches that God wills to save people not just as individuals but as a
> people. For this reason God chose the Israelite people to be his own people
> and established a covenant with it, as a preparation and figure of the
> covenant ratified in Christ that constitutes the new People of God, which
> would be one, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit and which is
> called the Church of Christ (*Lumen Gentium*, 9). All human beings are
> called to belong to the Church. Not all are fully incorporated into the
> Church, but "the Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the
> baptized who are honored by the name of Christ, but who do not however
> profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or
> communion under the successor of Peter" (*Lumen Gentium*, 15) and even
> with "those who have not yet received the Gospel," among whom Jews and
> Muslims are explicitly mentioned (*Lumen Gentium*, 16).
> Doesn't this make multiple Christs unnecessary, so long as the sentient
> aliens came to an understanding of God through their own gods?  Being a
> dogmatic Catholic, I'm sure Wolfe would have been aware of this.
> -Joe
It's a strikingly humble stance, compared to earlier positions, but
yes.  *Lumen
Gentium* is probably what I was thinking of in my earlier response.

Going back (again) to C.S. Lewis, there's a passage in *The Last Battle *that
addresses this.  Aslan (Narnia's Christ) receives a Calormene (the
Calormenes are Narnia's Muslims, more or less) into his kingdom, and says
that though Tash is a false god, the Calormene has served him in the same
spirit of charity and justice as Narnians are to serve Aslan; and so the
good that the Calormene did in Tash's name has been counted as good done in
Aslan's name (just as wickedness done in Aslan's name will be counted as
wickedness done in the service of Tash).  All this, btw, is in the context
of a book-long controversy over where Aslan and Tash are the same god--some
of the characters even start referring to this hybrid as "Tashlan".

Matt +

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and
there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war
or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
Plato (c. 428-348 B.C.), The Republic, bk. VIII, 566-E
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