Jason has responded to my reply:
<< The Church receives it as canonical, evidenced by the citation. "Catholic Bible scholars" have nothing to do with anything. If evangelicals don't receive it as canonical, that's fine. But your views have nothing to do with the DI citation. Even conceding the possibility that it is not canonical, the citation itself indicates that DI is affirming what the passage communicates, regardless of its canonical status. >>
This is the statement in the DI that we’re talking about:
<< He [Christ] himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5). >>
The immediate question is not whether it’s canonical, but whether it’s true. The DI cites the long ending of Mark as a prooftext to justify its affirmation that Christ “himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism.”
This is more than affirming what the passage “indicates”—in terms of the necessity of faith and baptism. Rather, this is affirming that Christ himself, in his own person, and his own words, explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism. Their necessity may be true (or false) irrespective of a dominical assertion for that effect, or even in the absence of a dominical assertion to that effect. That’s not the issue.
The issue is whether Jesus ever said ir, as recorded in the long ending of Mark. Does this preserve the authentic ipsissima verba or at least the authentic ipsissima vox of Christ in his post-Resurrection appearance?
And the quality of our textual witness is certainly germane to the answer. Just as I don’t take my information about the life of Christ from apocryphal Gospels, I don’t take my information from a spurious postscript to the canonical Gospel of Mark.
So what is Jason really saying? That the DI can make a falsehood true? Or that the falsity of the prooftext is irrelevant to the claim--even though the claim is specifically grounded in to that prooftext (along with Jn 3:5)?
Frankly, this is a systemic problem in Catholicism. You have Roman Catholics who would never tolerate such loose views of the truth in their personal conduct or in other field of knowledge, but when it comes to theology, a very different standard, if you can even call it a standard, comes into play.
<< << Pagans who have never heard the Gospel have the moral law written on their hearts. While it is easily blinded by sin, it is there nonetheless. Christians have the moral law written on their hearts, but they also have it in the explict sources of divine revelation (Scripture and Tradition). >>
I assume that “the moral law written on their hearts” is an allusion to Rom 2:15 and Jer 31:33. If so, there are a couple of fundamental difficulties with Jason’s appeal:
1.The allusion is to the New Covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah. In context, then, both in terms of the original viewpoint as well as its NT fulfillment, it has reference, not to pagans, but to members of the New Covenant community.
This is inclusive of gentiles, but Christian gentiles rather than pagan gentiles. For the supporting arguments, see Feinberg, Harrison, and Thompson on Jeremiah, as well as Augustine, Cranfield, and Wright on Romans.
2.But assuming, for the sake of argument, that the reference is to the heathen, how does the law function in Romans? Can a man be saved by law-keeping? According to Paul, the role of the law is to mediate the knowledge of sin (3:20; 5:20; 7:7), not the knowledge of salvation. It supplies the standard of judgment (2:12-16), not of salvation.
<< "To whom much is given, much is expected." >>
I don’t deny that.
<< I did not respond to your wider questions on Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus, as my post was in response to one specific assertion you made, which was factually erroneous. The Church specifically denies what you proposed. >>
1.Even if the RCC specifically denies what I have proposed, that doesn’t solve the problem, for the issue is not merely what the RCC affirms or denies, but what it implies. Is the magisterium consistent in its teaching?
2.How was my specific assertion factually erroneous? This is the assertion you were responding to:
<< "It’s safer to be outside the church. The less you know the better. Ignorance is your best defense. By contrast, the most dangerous place in the world, spiritually speaking, is inside the Catholic church!">>
This assertion is generated by the interrelation between three different propositions:
I) Pagans can be in a state of invincible ignorance. This constitutes an exculpatory circumstance by rendering their unbelief in Catholic dogma inculpable.
ii) Pagans can be saved apart from faith in Catholic dogma or formal membership in the visible church.
iii) Catholics, due to their explicit knowledge of dogma and direct access to the means of grace, are liable to greater judgment. Their privileged situation is an aggravating circumstance should they resist the means of grace: “If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged.”
iv) Ergo, a pagan can be a beneficiary of saving grace without incurring the added liability to which a Catholic is uniquely vulnerable and chargeable.
I’d add that a practical level, there is a high percentage of men and women who were baptized and brought up in the Catholic faith, but have since turned their back on the church and are now living in a state of mortal sin. So the risk is far from purely hypothetical.
Finally, since Steve Jackson has drawn our attention to a review of the DI, we might as well quote a few choice selections from that review (see below) inasmuch as it offers an independent commentary which happens to coincide with elements of my own interpretation
While DJ rightly rejects the hypothesis of a universal economy of salvation of the Holy Spirit, it puts forward the view that the Holy Spirit is sent forth upon all of mankind. The Scripture adduced in no way justifies that the Holy Spirit has been sent upon mankind since the beginning of history. The farewell discourse of Jesus in the Gospel of John shows that Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit only to His disciples and the Church. He did not send the Holy Spirit to the world or to mankind as a whole, which, insofar as it does not believe, could not and cannot receive this Holy Spirit. As a result of the intimate bond between the mystery of Christ and the mystery of the Holy Spirit, DJ deduces a twofold salvific operation of Christ with and through the Holy Spirit in the Father's plan of salvation (DJ§12): 1) The entire work of building the Church through its Head, Jesus Christ, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit down the centuries; 2)The salvific work of Jesus Christ with and through the Holy Spirit beyond the visible borders of the Church.
Thus, according to DJ, the Catholic Church's relation to non-Catholics is analogous to her relation to non-Christians: the Catholic Church's absolute claim is not to be understood as being exclusive and separating, but inclusive and uniting. There is a, full and a less full communion with the one Church of Christ. There is the fullness of truth and grace in the Catholic Church and an imperfect participation in it in the non-Catholic communities.
<< [t]his truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism....If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation. >>
That is why the Church is bound to proclaim Christ, in whom "men find the fullness of their religious life." So it is not a question of salvation versus perdition, but only of salvation versus the fullness of salvation. This chimerical alternative is erroneous in itself and a source of heresy.
According to DJ, other religions are genuine mediations of salvation. They point to Christ and lead to Him. This estimate of the non-Christian religions cannot be supported by Scripture nor tradition. The weakness in DJ is that the position of the partner-in-dialogue is not articulated according to the partner's self-understanding, but determined on the basis of the contemporary Church's position. The alleged salvific elements in other religions are not specified but merely declared to be "seeds of the Word" in some vague sense.
The view of the other religions in DJ is not true to historical reality. In reality these other religions are totalities, each possessing its own core of life and organization, on which all assertions are to be understood and interpreted. They are not oriented to Christ, but to their own cores. In all of DJ there is no presentation of a single non-Christian religion in its specific, historical form. Compare historical religions like Buddhism or Islam with the Catholic Faith and it is immediately clear that, seen as totalities, they contradict Catholicism and are not oriented to Christ through their supposed "semina Verbi."
DJ’s inter-religious dialogue is in reality a monologue. The dialogue-partner himself does not speak. DJ itself, in an entirely abstract way, pronounces its verdict on the quality of salvation offered by the non-Christian religions, and on the way they "anonymously" lead to Christ.
It is completely baffling that DJ, in its evaluation of the other religions, ignores mankind's original sin and inclination to sin, which, after all, are the very preconditions of redemption. Therefore, it is not in line with Scripture nor St. Paul, who, in both his speech at the Areopagus and Epistle to the Romans (Rom. l:l-9ff.), showed his negative estimate of the pagan religions around him.