03/01/2018, 14.11
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In Christ alone is our salvation, no to reductionist tendencies of Christianity

A Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirms that salvation consists in our union with Christ, God and man. A rejection of " individualism centered on the autonomous subject ", whose "realization depends only on its strength" of neo-Pelagianism and the "merely interior" salvation of neo-Gnosticism.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The foundation of Christianity for which Jesus is the only Savior of all mankind and of all humanity, encounters reductionist tendencies of an individualistic and spiritualistic kind in today's culture. To reaffirm that salvation consists in our union with Christ, God and man, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today published the Letter Placuit Deo (Pleasing to God) "in light of the greater tradition of the faith and with particular reference to the teachings of Pope Francis, to demonstrate certain aspects of Christian salvation that can be difficult to understand today because of recent cultural changes".

The document, which bears the express approval of the Pope, particularly aims to contest two tendencies present in contemporary culture: the first in a certain way attributable to Pelagianism stems from an "individualism centered on the autonomous subject", whose " sole fulfilment depends only on his or her own strength ", which sees Christ as a"model that inspires generous actions with his words and his gestures, rather than as He who transforms the human condition by incorporating us into a new existence, reconciling us with the Father and dwelling among us in the Spirit ". The second, defined as neo-gnostic, aims at "a merely interior vision of salvation is becoming common, a vision which, marked by a strong personal conviction or feeling of being united to God, does not take into account the need to accept, heal and renew our relationships with others and with the created world".

Neither, affirms the document, capture the meaning of the Incarnation of the Word.

"A new form of Pelagianism is spreading in our days” claims the Congregation “one in which the individual, understood to be radically autonomous, presumes to save oneself, without recognizing that, at the deepest level of being, he or she derives from God and from others. According to this way of thinking, salvation depends on the strength of the individual or on purely human structures, which are incapable of welcoming the newness of the Spirit of God.[5] On the other hand, a new form of Gnosticism puts forward a model of salvation that is merely interior, closed off in its own  subjectivism.[6] In this model, salvation consists of improving oneself, of being “intellectually capable of rising above the flesh of Jesus towards the mysteries of the unknown divinity.” [7] It presumes to liberate the human person from the body and from the material universe, in which traces of the provident hand of the Creator are no longer found, but only a reality deprived of meaning, foreign to the fundamental identity of the person, and easily manipulated by the interests of man".

But "both neo-Pelagian individualism and the neo-Gnostic disregard of the body deface the confession of faith in Christ, the one, universal Savior. How would Christ be able to mediate the Covenant of the entire human family, if human persons were isolated individuals, who fulfil themselves by their own efforts, as proposed by neo-Pelagianism? Also, how could it be possible for the salvation mediated by the Incarnation of Jesus, his life, death and Resurrection in his true body, to come to us, if the only thing that mattered were liberating the inner reality of the human person from the limits of the body and the material, as described by the neo-Gnostic vision?".

On the other hand, man has always posed the question about the foundation of his being, referable to "who am I?" And at the same time has an aspiration upwards, which is not only a desire for economic, political or relational affirmation. "Regarding these aspirations, faith in Christ teaches, rejecting all claims of self-realization, that these can be fulfilled completely only if God himself makes it possible, by drawing us toward Himself. The total salvation of the person does not consist of the things that the human person can obtain by himself, such as possessions, material well-being, knowledge or abilities, power or influence on others, good reputation or self-satisfaction[10]. No created thing can totally satisfy us, because God has destined us for communion with Him; our hearts will be restless until they rest in Him”.

And if through sin man has turned away from God, "In the fullness of time, the Father sent to the world his Son, who proclaimed the Kingdom of God" and "has fully revealed himself as the Lord of life and death in his paschal event ". And the salvation that Jesus brought in his own person does not happen only in an interior way. "In fact, the Son was made flesh, in order to communicate to every person the salvific communion with God (see Jn 1:14)". "Therefore, Christ is Savior in as much as he assumed the entirety of our humanity and lived a fully human life in communion with his Father and with others. Salvation, then, consists in incorporating ourselves into his life, receiving his Spirit (cf. 1 Jn 4:13)".

"The place where we receive the salvation brought by Jesus is the Church, the community of those who have been incorporated into this new kind of relationship begun by Christ (cf. Rom 8:9). Understanding this salvific mediation of the Church is an essential help in overcoming all". Understanding this saving mediation of the Church is an essential help to overcome any reductionist tendency. "The salvation that God offers us is not achieved with our own individual efforts alone, as neo-Pelagianism would contend. Rather, salvation is found in the relationships that are born from the incarnate Son of God and that form the communion of the Church". Moreover, contrary to the neo-gnostic vision of "a merely interior salvation", the Church "the Church is a visible community. In her we touch the flesh of Jesus, especially in our poorest and most suffering brothers and sisters" through "the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. "

In its conclusion the Letter affirms that "the knowledge of the fullness of life into which Christ the Savior introduces us propels Christians onward in the mission of announcing to all the joy and light of the Gospel.[24] In this work, Christians must also be prepared to establish a sincere and constructive dialogue with believers of other religions, confident that God can lead “all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way” towards salvation in Christ "all men of good will, in whose heart grace works invisibly". While devoting herself with all her strength to evangelization, the Church continues to invoke the definitive coming of the Savior, since "in hope we have been saved" (Rom 8:24). The salvation of men and women will be complete only when, after having conquered the last enemy, death (cf. 1 Cor 15:26), we will participate fully in the glory of the risen Jesus, who will bring our relationship with God, with our brothers and sisters, and with all of creation to fullness. Total salvation of the body and of the soul is the final destiny to which God calls all of humanity". (FP)

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