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Columnists > The Christian mission is not ‘the salvation of souls’; it is the salvation of the world

12 May 2016 | by Carmody Grey

The Christian mission is not ‘the salvation of souls’; it is the salvation of the world

 

The resumption of meat-eating after Easter was met with rejoicing and relief in my university chaplaincy. Abstaining from meat in our community is an ascetical rather than an ethical practice: we give it up because we enjoy it. The idea that abstaining from meat might be a positive sign of God’s kingdom provokes resistance and even derision among many Christians I know.

This is not surprising when you so often hear people express the purpose and meaning of Christian faith in terms of “the salvation of souls”. I don’t understand how we have got away with this language for so long when it is really bordering on the heretical. In modern English, it inescapably implies that God’s purpose in salvation is to retrieve from the mire of earthly existence a spiritual essence of each human being, which will be whisked away to somewhere called “heaven”, where it will float in a blessedly immaterial manner for all eternity.

As though God’s first creation, this world, was simply furniture, a pleasant setting for our brief sojourn; as though its manifold non-human lives are just passing entertainment, the sea and sky, mountains and forests a pretty backdrop to the true drama, which is conducted in a vaporous realm of soul and spirit. 





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User Comments (14)

Comment by: MC
Posted: 24/06/2016 05:45:55
Heaven was closed to Mankind with the fall of man; The Father sent Jesus to SAVE Mankind and thus open heaven to him.
Jesus died a criminal's death for mans salvation. "Go into the whole world and preach salvation to all men" is why the Saints and martyrs have given their lives to save as many souls as possible. At Fatima, Our Lady showed the children HELL and said this is where poor sinners go who have none to pray for or make sacrifices for them. Nothing on earth is as important as the person's immortal soul which stands before God in judgment at the moment of death. What's in his heart when he dies is where he goes. At his birth it was announced ,"He shall be called Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins." The term 'Saving the world ' means saving the souls in the world.
Comment by: Speighdd
Posted: 24/05/2016 23:41:02
Bernard says “The Penny Catechism was written before the theory of evolution was established and before the scientific facts of the Big Bang were proven”, but so were the Gospels, and like the Gospels, the Penny Catechism was in general use throughout England and Wales right up to the end of Vatican II, and furthermore, nothing has been retracted from it ever since, least of all by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The fact that the world, or what’s left of it at the General Resurrection, will be transformed into something spiritual, is not in dispute between Bernard and me. That the ‘present’ material world is really spiritual already, is what I disagree with. “Spiritual” means essentially “immaterial”, so that the very idea that the material world is to be transformed into something immaterial, needs accounting for. It is explained only by Heavenly intervention occurring at the end of time to resurrect the righteous from the dead, and to let the wrongdoers finalise their choice to die forever. That is why the salvation of this world is initiated in Heaven by God’s love, and is ultimately achieved only in Heaven for those who love God, and not at all for those who do not.
Comment by: Bernard
Posted: 24/05/2016 10:59:58
Matter in, in its true reality is spiritual substance. We have a history that is pre-history ... a thought in God’s mind. ‘Before I formed you in womb I knew you. ’Original Sin was a transcendental catastrophe. We all committed Original Sin, except Jesus as the Word Incarnate, and the Unblemished Idea, who is Mary Immaculate – who freely chose to come into exile with us. ‘We adore you O Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross You have redeemed The World’.
The Penny Catechism was written before the theory of evolution was established and before the scientific facts of the Big Bang were proven. The present Catholic Catechism was published (under the imprimatur of Pope John Paul 11) in1994. Relating to the Day of Judgement it teaches (C.C.1059) ... ‘all men will appear in their own bodies before Christ’s tribunal to render an account of their own deeds.’
C.C. 1060: ‘At the end of time, the kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ forever and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then ‘be all in all’ in eternal life.
So the risen bodies and souls of the ‘goats’ will go to Hell for eternity. Those of the ‘sheep’ will go Heaven – as will all the rest of the material of the ‘transformed universe’.

Comment by: Speighdd
Posted: 22/05/2016 23:29:37
It is true that “the material bodies of Jesus and Mary rightfully belong in heaven” and that our eating of Jesus’ body makes our bodies less and less unfit for being “taken into” Heaven when we all rise again at the end of time. That means making our bodies ever better instruments for us to learn “to know, love and serve God in this world in order to be happy with Him in the next” (‘Penny’ Catechism). In other words, this finite world of ours is perfected only by greater, if inevitably limited, incorporation eventually ‘into’ Heaven, and by the more effective and wider control of our bodies by our minds/souls that it will mean. Neither Christ’s body nor our own will ever be infinite, since matter is by definition finite, but our bodies are intended finally to be as effectively under our spiritual control as Christ’s body became under His own spiritual control, after His resurrection from the dead. So, the point of saying all this, is to show that unless Christ saves our souls, He will not be saving our bodies, or the world they inhabit, either; and the whole point of saving the world and our bodies within it, is to make them more effective instruments for saving our souls.
Comment by: Bernard
Posted: 22/05/2016 11:24:46
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of he earth.

Through his life, death and resurrection Jesus is redeeming the world

The Risen Body of Jesus in heaven and in the Eucharist is infinite and contains the whole cosmos, which will be perfectly shared by all of us as one infinite living body in the parousia.

However, in order that the infinite marry the finite without annihilation of the latter, Jesus accepts to be present as living bread under finite constraints within the cosmos. The Marriage of the Lamb then raises the whole cosmos to its true transcendental reality, lost in the beginning by Adam and Eve.

The living bread is truly infinite but present as immaculate finite substance. In all other modes of presence, in the priest, Scripture, the faithful etc, Jesus is present within finite blemished substances.

Immaculate substance, eg the material bodies of Jesus and Mary rightfully belong in heaven, hence the Ascension of Jesus and the assumption of Mary. The continuous celebration of the Mass and Eucharist is incrementally redeeming the whole of creation

In all other modes of presence e.g. in the priest, Scripture, the faithful etc, Jesus is present within finite blemished substances.

Comment by: Speighdd
Posted: 21/05/2016 21:55:25
God is the everlasting Creator of everything that there ever is, so the everlastingly created temporal world does not create anything itself, except as a variant form of and within God’s creation of it. As Creator of everything once and for all, God does not revise His creation, so the form of God’s creation that the world is, does not revise or “recreate itself” either, but is only formed by God via its otherwise aimlessly constant changes (and aimlessly changing constancy) into the variant forms of Himself that God intends it ever to become.
Comment by: Bernard
Posted: 21/05/2016 11:42:00
The Word is the complete knowledge, idea or image of the Father. The Word made Flesh is the complete idea of the Father, or divinity, and also the complete idea of humanity, or Creation.
The Word made Flesh has equality with the Father and, simultaneously in flesh, equality with all flesh and all material substance, which in its true reality, at transcendental level, is immaculate spiritual substance.

Having created the whole universe “the Lord God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it.” (Gen.2.7).This occurred before Adam sinned. So the “soil” was part of the immaculate, immortal substance of Eden. Therefore Adam, like Eden, was perfect and immortal, made from immaculate, transcendental substance, in the true image of God.

We imperfect humans are chemically based on the element carbon. Every flawed carbon atom in our bodies was made in a star, formed after the Big Bang, caused by Original Sin about 13.7 billion years ago. We are made from the imperfect, perishable dust of Planet Earth (raised up from the dung heap). Each of us came into being through the process of biological evolution and procreation. Each individual needed, wanted, created and loved by God. We are brought into the world by a loving Father, redeemed by Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, and nourished for eternal life by His body and blood (living bread, down from heaven) – in this fruitful universe, which the Creator permits and assists in re-creating itself.

Comment by: Speighdd
Posted: 20/05/2016 22:44:05
Bernard will appreciate that the Bible also says that God never goes back on His word, nor ever changes His mind, so He never reverses “the processes” of His creation. What He does do is let the material world take the consequences of its own innate self destructiveness, and then always re-orientates whatever survives its destruction, towards an ever closer resemblance to His own indestructible perfection. However, no matter how far material progress gets in imitating the excellence of God, it always remains “whatever is no longer” temporarily becoming “whatever is not yet”, and “whatever is not yet” destructively becoming “whatever is no longer”, and as such can never even be fully present here and now, let alone eternally present, everywhere and forever, as God is. The reason why we humans exist in our “true reality” at a “transcendental level” is because we are not only material, but spiritual, and spiritual to the very extent that we are not just material.
Comment by: Bernard
Posted: 20/05/2016 15:30:23
There is symmetry in what God does. He puts things right by reversing the processes the put them wrong. The first and last books in the Bible, Genesis and Revelations, outline the beginning and end of creation. Beginning in Eden (Paradise), with humanity, given the freewill choice of knowing both good and evil, made the wrong choice, Original Sin. Result the Big Bang and the beginning of a finite and flawed universe, with all subject to decay, pain and death.
We imperfect humans are chemically based on the element carbon. Every flawed carbon atom in our bodies was made in a star, formed after the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago. We are made from the imperfect, perishable dust of Planet Earth (raised up from the dung heap). Each of us came into being through the process of biological evolution and procreation. We are brought into the world by a loving Father, redeemed by Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, and nourished for eternal life by His body and blood (living bread, down from heaven) – in this fruitful universe, which the Creator permits and assists in re-creating itself.
Exceptionally Jesus as Word Incarnate, and the Unblemished Idea Mary Immaculate freely chose to come into exile with us. The Word made Flesh has equality with the Father (Nicene Creed) and, simultaneously in flesh equality with all flesh and all material substance, which in its true reality, at transcendental level, is immaculate spiritual substance.

Comment by: Speighdd
Posted: 20/05/2016 01:09:54
How divine a kingdom do Kla2 and Mike McL expect this world to be, by the time Christ returns to it at His Second Coming? Will it be paradise itself, and God’s eternal presence where all who are there, angels and humans alike, rejoice in awestruck love and admiration of Him, now and forever, and forever now. That world would not be this world, but Heaven itself. Eternal salvation cannot “wait” for the salvation of this world which by comparison will “pass away” (along with “the heavens”), while Christ’s words forever will – and already do – stand. What sort of a “Kingdom of God” would be made out of a world that is not a preparation for Heaven? Would it not be one where education cannot be told apart from propaganda? Reform apart from revolution? Justice apart from power? Equality from uniformity? Democracy from anarchy? Aid from profligacy? Politics from political correctness? Science from scientism? Religion from superstition? Morality from sentiment? Spirituality from culture? Art from transgression? Comedy from coarseness? Charity from manipulation? Law and Order from corrupt organisation, and God from society? Is this what Mike McL expects Pope Francis to teach?
Comment by: Bernard
Posted: 19/05/2016 20:08:29
Where this fits with the Lord’s coming again, the resurrection of our bodies and the renewal of all creation, I don’t know. In the Scriptures, the purpose of God is to save the world, the “kosmos”. In that peerless expression of the Gospel of John, Christ is given “for the life of the world”.

‘He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them’. (1 Samuel 2:8King James Version)
Not only will God lift up the poor from the dunghill, He will lift up the dunghill, the material universe itself! The C.C. 1060 teaches “At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ for ever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will be ‘all in all’ (1 cor15:28), in eternal life.

Is this not the final unity of all, the one body, as Jesus prayed for at the Last Supper – ‘that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, (Jn. 17: 20.26)

Comment by: Mike McL
Posted: 18/05/2016 16:04:21
You are right, Carmody - Heaven and "salvation" can wait - Our task is to save the world in the sense of bringing about the Kingdon of God here and now and we are making a bed job of it. We permit an economics which prioritises the wealthy and oppresses the poor both here and overseas,. which destroys the environment, which makes this country because of its high leve ofl inequality near the bottom of the league in most social areas from mental health , imprisonment, mutual trust, illegai drug use etc. - Its time ordinary catholics stood out against the general population in their commitment to the human community. Sadly we do not. All surveys since the 1970s show no noticeable difference between the views of the general population and those of catholics on vital issues such as racism. Let is start to listen to Jesus through the recent writings of Pope Francis.
Comment by: Speighdd
Posted: 15/05/2016 22:46:52
Carmody Grey should pay closer attention to Jesus Christ’s explanation to Pontius Pilate, that “My Kingdom is not of this world”, which is borne out by the fact that, far from being merely renovated when Jesus comes again, this world will be utterly destroyed in the catastrophe that she herself refers to, and replaced by the “new Jerusalem”, which the Apocalypse refers to as coming down out of Heaven. The Gospels repeatedly tell us that the life lived in God’s Kingdom does not end in death like it does here on Earth, and St John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus will be returning to fetch His followers to bring them “to be with Me where I am” forever, when they, as St Paul also says in his 2nd epistle to the Thessalonians, all rise again on the last day. So people DO have a spiritual dimension whose proper home is Heaven, where Christ, shortly before His crucifixion, tells the Sadducees that people will be “like the angels in heaven are”. The closeness of Carmody Grey’s to the Sadducees’ views, could well earn her Christ’s criticism of them that “you understand neither the Scriptures nor the power of God…..you are very much mistaken.”
Comment by: kla2
Posted: 13/05/2016 18:53:24
The first question is what form "God’s commitment to come back and finish what he began" two thousand years ago will take. And if Christs work, indeed, remains unfinished, what of religious claims? Self evidently the church is without the understanding necessary to finish the 'job'. And secondly, if "We are readying the world for the return of the king." what happens if the King returns but the message he brings is antithetical to the theological construct of religion as we know it? There is as yet no 'religious' understanding capable of transforming the world from its predominant materialist paradigm. And facing a looming environmental catastrophe, if we don't blow ourselves up by other means first, to save our world will require something much more profound and potent than the existing 'faith' which religious history and tradition offers. Religion does exist, but whether it has anything to do with God, history has yet to 'judge'. But when and if it does, I would expect that judgement to be final!
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