Sunday, May 03, 2015

It's a Salvation Issue

In 1 Corinthians 10, the Apostle Saint Paul exhorts us to all agree with one another and let there be no divisions among us. Disunity, however, is a reality that we have to deal with. Our Lord says that weeds will grow alongside the wheat, and in the fifth chapter of Galatians, contentions, dissensions and sects are listed amongst the works of the flesh. The difficulty in unity is that even if a person where perfect in charity, it would only take his companions being imperfect to cause disunity and quarreling.

It can be very frustrating to be on the sidelines of a fight between Christian brethren who are acting in passions of anger. There does appear to be occasional break periods where a journal here, a blog there, a bishop over there, and so on, will scream the need to stop fighting and unite to (insert noble cause here).

Have you read the exhortations to stop arguing over issues like canonical jurisdiction to make a united Trad Catholic Voice. Like this call for Unity that Rorate Caeli Posted in January of last year.

Calls to unity can also be found from the Russian Orthodox, asking for an end to confrontation between Catholics and Orthodox and a relationship of solidarity so that we might fight relativism and secularism. (Like Archbishop Hilarion said during an address to the Sant’Egidio community on September 17 or extreme examples like Saint John Paul II inviting the leaders of the worlds religion to pray for and work towards the promoting of peace.) Some Eastern Catholics on the internet express upset (the self identified "Orthodox in Communion with Rome") that the West cannot just jettison 1000 years of theology in the name of unity and nuance the meaning out of Papal Supremacy so we can be united with the Orthodox again (thus betraying Christ, and the noble Eastern Catholic Martyrs and Confessors) . Father Laurent Cleenewreck, an Eastern Orthodox Priest, wants Christians to return to a pre-Nicene confession of the faith, so that all us Christians can stop fighting.

We have been exhorted to dwell in unity; so why do some Christians insist on fighting over dogma or practice?

Because these can be salvation issues.

When people unite at the expense of truth, they construct a new tower of Babel destined to not only fail, but to cause even greater disunity. Our faith is weak, or possibly dead, if we think our numbers will make a difference. God cares not for numbers, but faithfulness, even if the numbers are reduced to a remnant of "the remnant".

Should people remain silent if they believe (Insert dis-unifying belief here) will actually result in someone going to Hell? Admonishing the sinner has guidelines, we must not throw our pearls before swine, and Our Lord admonishes us to correct someone only so many times before (in effect) shunning them.

If a person is wrong about a belief being a salvation issue, it may be a salvation issue to them for if they violate their conscience and they would actually commit a soul-destroying mortal sin. “Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. (Rom 14:13–15)”

How must we deal with salvation issues, whether we our or neighbor believes that X is a salvation issue? By supplying evidence with patience and charity.

The Rule of the Poor Knights provides an excellent outline for how we should speak, and not speak, in these inevitable disagreements in our fallen world.

Do not give free play to wrath, do not bear anyone a grudge, do not nurse deceit in your heart, do not give a false greeting of peace, do not abandon charity…. Speak the truth with your heart and your lips, do not render evil for evil, do not wrong anyone, love your enemies, do not return insults or slander, but rather respond with benevolence towards our offendersChapter 4, The Instruments of Good Deeds.

Are we in the position to lay down the sword of truth if our friend wants to join the the Eastern Schism so we can avoid contention? Will we stay silent if a dogma of our Faith is questioned by a protestant standing next to us at a Pro-Life demonstration, because he is "basically a good person"? Are we going to let our friends go to Sedevacantist church with our blessing because they have been scandalized and are "traditional"? Should we stay silent if our family wishes to attend the illegal ordination of a priest who, upon ordination, would be suspended?

I hope to God that I be found not wanting for words then. "Love thy neighbor as thyself." If you believe something is necessary to do, or to avoid for your salvation, do not be silent because your words might stir up contention. “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And as a man's enemies shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36

It only takes one mortal sin for a person to lose the grace of God. What if God's providence chose you to be the person  to warn somebody about their impending spiritual suicide? So what if we have a united "Trad Front" if a quarter of those trads go to hell? So what if we have a united Christianity if a large segment of that rejects Dogma necessary for belief in order to be saved? And you won't avoid one day of warfare by different religious leaders pledging peace when God decides if we will have war or peace, lest we forget that the Angel of War is sent to punish those who reject the Gospel. I would hope that if I was in danger of losing my soul a friend would take the time to patiently and charitably correct me.

We can make our arguments firm, we can use strong evidence and even be forceful if need be, but we must always strive to do it in charity. If we cannot start with charity it is be better to stay silent, but not for unity’s sake, for God’s sake. "A judicious silence is always better than truth spoken without charity." ~St. Francis De Sales

We must always keep charity, and that is also a salvation issue.


Anonymous said...

Very Good Article; thank you

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the article but I need some practical advice in this area. I have a cousin who just came out as "gay" in college. The family, lite Catholics at best, has not in any way made an issue about this but have welcomed him with open arms so long as he acts like a "man" when around the family. I have always felt like I should say something or give him something to read to enlighten him but I'm not sure what to say. To be honest, I'm also a bit scared too. I have faced scorn and insults as it is when I try to tell them about the true Catholic faith. Please help. God bless you for your wonderful blog.

Noah Moerbeek said...


I am sorry to hear about your family situation. To my knowledge you are not obligated to seek out your cousin and confront him. If you do not believe that it would do any good (IE that he will not listen) then it may be best to avoid the confrontation. If you look in the above article there is a link to St. Thomas Aquinas on admonishing the sinner that should hopefully provide some guidance.

You must in no way give approval or assent, even if your family will persecute you for it. St. Augustine teaches that all Christians will be persecuted and that often times the worst persecution comes from fellow Catholics.

Here are a few select quotes from his Sermon 38 that you might find encouraging

"Evil and lukewarm Christians hinder good Christians who are truly earnest, and wish to do the commandments of God which are written in the Gospel. This multitude which is with the Lord hinders those who are crying out, hinders those that is who are doing well, that they may not by perseverance be healed. But let them cry out, and not faint; let them not be led away as if by the authority of numbers; let them not imitate those who became Christians before them, who live evil lives themselves, and are jealous of the good deeds of others. Let them not say, Let us live as these so many live. Why not rather as the Gospel ordains? Why do you wish to live according to the remonstrances of the multitude who would hinder you, and not after the steps of the Lord, who passes by? They will mock, and abuse, and call you back; cry out till you reach the ears of Jesus. For they who shall persevere in doing such things as Christ has enjoined, and regard not the multitudes that hinder them, nor think much of their appearing to follow Christ, that is of their being called Christians; but who love the light which Christ is about to restore to them, more than they fear the uproar of those who are hindering them; they shall on no account be separated from Him, and Jesus will stand still, and make them whole."

" For observe this too, Holy Brethren, what it is to persevere in crying out. I will speak of what many as well as myself have experienced in Christ's name; for the Church does not cease to give birth to such as these. When any Christian has begun to live well, to be fervent in good works, and to despise the world; in this newness of his life he is exposed to the animadversions and contradictions of cold Christians. But if he persevere, and get the better of them by his endurance, and faint not in good works; those very same persons who before hindered will now respect him. For they rebuke, and hinder, and withstand him so long as they have any hope that he will yield to them. But if they shall be overcome by their perseverance who make progress, they turn round and begin to say, He is a great man, a holy man, happy he to whom God has given such grace. Now do they honour him, they congratulate and bless and laud him; just as that multitude did which was with the Lord. "

You can read the whole thing here

I hope you find that helpful.