I”m not sure how many of you saw this Reuters article on President Obama”s response to the question, “Why are you Christian?” It”s not my purpose here to critique his response, which seemed to blend sincerity with political savvy, though only he knows the proportions of each. And we can readily sense the difficulty of fielding such a question in a way that alienates neither Christians nor the secularists that form much of his political base.
To me, all this brings to the surface some issues I”ve pondered for many, many years. For one thing, are many people saved, or relatively few? God desires the salvation of all (1 Tim. 2:4), yet Scripture is also clear in saying that all salvation comes through Christ (Acts 4:12), leaving a big question mark concerning those with no conscious awareness of this fact. Beyond that, even among those who in some fashion “accept” Christ, there is justified uncertainty regarding their being in communion with the one, true Church.
Further still, there are many instances where Scripture that describe the road to eternal life as narrow (Mt. 7:13-14), or difficult (Lk. 18:25). On one occasion, Jesus even said, “Not every one who says to me, ”Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father in heaven” (Lk. 7:21). He goes on to call those who claim to be Christian but who fail to do God’2012-04-24 18:34:09′s will “evildoers.” [more]
I”ll go into this issue in more depth in upcoming posts, but it seems to me that where we come down on all this affects every aspect of the Christian life. We don”t know the percentages, and we don”t know how God inwardly deals with people who do not have a living relationship with Him at the hour of their death. But does our answer–and President Obama”s answer–to the ultimate questions about Jesus Christ matter? And if it does, what does that answer require of us? We”ll look at that in an upcoming post.
The other question I like to ponder is what constitutes a “Catholic” in practical, meaningful terms–especially when it comes to those at times exasperating polls concerning what “Catholics” believe and think.
President Obama says he”s a Christian and so we take that at face value. But then Our Lord seems to say that there are those who call upon His name but in truth are evildoers, or at least not part of His company right now. So what does that mean for those of us who call ourselves Catholic? The Church is clear that Catholics must persevere in faith, hope, and charity in order to be saved, so there isn”t a question on the level of doctrine. Still, in practice many of those who identify themselves as Catholic are leading lives far removed from Christ and His Church. That gets back to the original question, Are many saved, or are few saved? Is the road to eternal life narrow and difficult, or do all roads lead to the same place? These questions matter greatly, at least to me.
We will come back to this in future posts.