THE UNITY OF CREATION, REVELATION, SALVATION, & ESCHATOLOGY

  1. THE ROLE OF CHRIST IN THE DIVINE ECONOMY OF GRACE
    1. Grace is Universal
      1. Grace is offered to every person.
      2. Grace is required by every person to be saved.
        1. The human vocation is more than “natural morality”
        2. A supernatural vocation (from God in Christ)
        3. Therefore requires a supernatural gift (the grace of God in Christ)
      3. Christ died for all (thus, the universal salvific will of God)
      4. Christ was raised for all (thus, the universal grace of Christ)
    2. Grace is Christological
      1. Grace is always (by definition) the “grace of Christ.”
      2. Even the benefits which come to those who participate in other religions, or who discover God in nature, exist by and are instances of the grace of Christ.
      3. Thus, there is the possibility of being an “anonymous Christian”—loving God and proclaiming “Jesus is Lord” through one’s life, without formal membership in the Church or knowledge/recognition of the explicit message of the Gospel.
    3. Grace is Ecclesial
      1. Grace always ‘connects’ the person to the Church, the Body of Christ and People of God
      2. This may be a connection through the mystical body of Christ without actual membership in a particular community of Christians
    4. Questions: Explicit Christianity
      1. What level of explicit consciousness of the Personal God is required for salvation?
      2. “Purgatory.” Is there a type of duration between death and final communion with God?
      3. “Limbo.” Can a human person arrive at the end of earthly existence without having arrived at the use of freedom and without having made a personal decision for or against God? (I.e., is the idea of “Limbo” necessary?)
      4. “Final Option.” Does Rahner’s idea of a ‘final option’ devalue Baptism by giving both baptized and non-baptized persons the same possibility of salvation and beatitude?
    5. Definitions
      1. Heaven: Fullness of communion with God and the saints.
      2. Hell: Exclusion of God’s companionship by human freedom; eternal “punishment” of the whole person, due to this free decision to exclude God.
      3. Purgatory: The possibility of purification, sanctification, progress in the love of God after death, i.e. ‘after’ the definitive decision for God, but ‘before’ definitive communion with God. In no way is Purgatory to be equated with the punishment of the damned.
      4. Limbo: The eschatological ‘place’ reserved for those who died without the opportunity to choose for or against the Gospel of Christ.
        1. It is described in terms of natural beatitude but not beatific vision; the person is not punished for sin which is not personal (i.e. for original sin).
        2. This idea is not dogmatically defined. Is it possible to live without making a choice for or against God? Is there such a thing as natural beatitude without beatific vision which does not entail a type of ‘punishment’ for non-personal/original sin?
    6. Timeline
      1.  “soul”------------------------------------------------------End
      2.                                                          |                  Second Coming of Christ
      3. |BeginningIndividualIndividualGeneral Resurrection &
      4. |CreationBirthDeath & JudgmentUniversal Judgment
    7. Predestination
      1. God’s will that each individual become conformed to the image of Christ, i.e. be saved; God’s universal salvific will.
        1. Basic Assumptions
        2. God’s action is not in time.
        3. The logical and metaphysical priority of God’s free will.
        4. Our destiny is not determined, like fate, but is a free choice.
      2. Rationale
        1. God desires the salvation of all.
        2. God offers grace to each person.
        3. Human free will exists; we cannot deny it.
        4. Human free decision generates a free ‘permanent’ attitude (i.e. a habit) of free will exercised in a particular (positive or negative) direction.
        5. God knows what to us is “future.”
        6. But, this knowledge does not destroy human freedom since it is not “future” to God.
        7. No one is predestined to evil/damnation; God’s grace cannot be the cause of evil or damnation.
        8. No one can predict with absolute certainty whether or not he/she will be saved.
          1. On the part of God, one can have absolute certainty of hope.
          2. But, on one’s own part, one cannot predict with absolute certainty one’s own free sins or virtue.
    8. Conclusions
      1. The Church upholds
        1. the true freedom of human creatures in regard to their own salvation/”predestination,” as well as
        2. the true grace of God persuasively moving us to that end (salvation).
  2. CREATION, REVELATION, SALVATION, & ESCHATOLOGY
    1. The Grace of Creation
      1. The gift of natural endowments (free will, reason, personality, bodily existence, a sustaining environment, social relations)
      2. and of supernatural gifts (image of God), vocation (call to salvation, humanity perfectly liberated for loving relationship with God and others)
      3. and supernatural aims/goals (everlasting life, vision of God, intimate union with God and the saints through participation in the divine life).
    2. The Grace of Revelation
      1. The making known of the universal salvific will of God in Christ reconciling the world to Godself
      2. The making known of Godself in the process (and as the primary agent) of this reconciliation.
    3. he Grace of Salvation/”Predestination”
      1. The gift of God moving us, persuasively, to a salvific end -- i.e. to liberation from evil and for a life of freedom in the love of God.
    4. Grace and Eschatology
      1. There is continuity between the theology of grace/salvation and eschatology.
      2. The Holy Spirit (which is the Spirit of Christ) gives the fundamental continuity between this life and the next.
      3. But, there is also discontinuity, a radical break between our present darkened vision of God and the future promise of knowing even as we are known.
      4. The eschatological goal of humanity is the completion of the salvific will of God for each person (if that person says “yes” to God and God’s will for salvation).
    5. All Grace Is the Grace of Christ
      1. the life and love of God himself ‘shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.’
      2. Christ is the agent of Creation
      3. God creates by Word and Spirit, and the Spirit is the Spirit-of-Christ.
    6. Christ is the Fulness of Revelation
      1. In the Hebrew Scriptures, revelation comes about through God’s Word.
      2. In the New Testament, revelation comes about through God’s Word-made-flesh.
      3. In the entire life, the words and deeds, of Jesus Christ is revealed the nature of God as a God-for-us, and the activity of God who is reconciling us (indeed the whole world) to Godself.
      4. Nowhere is this more clear than when the Word of God actually takes on human nature and limitations, human life and history, to invite and begin the intimate relationship of love with God-made-manifest. [Heb. 2:14-18]
    7. Christ is the Agent of Salvation
      1. The Incarnation of Christ is the re-creation of the human race, reformation into the image of God.
      2. It also makes irrevocable not only God’s offer of loving relationship with each of us, but also God’s permanent attachment to humanity (and to the entire world) through the hypostatic union of the human and divine natures in Christ.
        1. God has indeed taken on our humanity, not just temporarily, but in a permanent union with the divine nature.
        2. And, fundamentally, this means that we are able to “become partakers of the divine nature” [2 Pet 1:4] through solidarity with Christ (in Baptism, Eucharist, etc.).
    8. Christ Is the Agent of Our Eschatological Goal/End
      1. Christ will come as Judge and as Shepherd
      2. He will gather all the people of his fold together to present them to the Father.
      3. The grace of Christ gives us the power to say “yes” to this end
      4. The initial aim which was given to humanity in creation (and to each of us when we personally came into existence) sets us on a trajectory toward this salvific end; and the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation continually draws us back on this track to this goal.
      5. Christ as forerunner has shown us the way; Christ as brother strengthens us, by the Spirit, to continue on this way, faithfully, in the hope that does not fail.
    9. Through Christ, Even Now, Christians Participate in this Eschatological Reality/Goal
      1. Even now, we participate in the beatitude of vision and communion with God (though through a glass, darkly); even now we share in the new covenant of Christ’s body broken and blood poured out to strengthen, nourish, and bind together and to God all those who were far off.
      2. This happens through Liturgy, and especially through the Eucharistic celebration.
      3. It happens through daily living in the body of Christ.
        1. While the world is far from perfect, glimpses of that final, divine perfection break through even now.
        2. Individuals grace our lives with the sacramental presence of Christ in the Spirit.
        3. We are called and chosen to be Christ to one another, to be the hands of God in the world, sharing in God’s project of re-creation and renewal.
      4. Though skirmishes still occur and the war has not yet been brought to a close—neither we not the world are yet perfected—we know that the victory is already won by God in Christ reconciling the world to Godself.
        1. Indeed, the Easter Proclamation can say that “This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave. ... Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth and humanity is reconciled to God!”
        2. The completion of creation has already begun, and is breaking forth into the light of day.
        3. We have only to recognize it, and freely to give ourselves to the One who is doing this great New Deed. [Heb 12:22–29]