Who Saves

William Oddie struggles with being called out on some basic Christian theology:

I have been pondering on one response to a blog I wrote recently, the headline of which ended “Few understand this pontificate: but it’s the Church that saves us”. The response began “… Wrong! It is Jesus Christ who saves us”. I naturally assumed that this was written by a Protestant …

drillIt was a Catholic challenge, thank goodness, and spot-on. Dr Oddie scrambles to suggest that the Church is the tool through which Jesus saves, so therefore the Church saves. It’s also difficult to take “friendly fire” for one’s fuzzy theology, so naturally, only meaniehead Protestants attack “faithful” Catholics.

I suppose the distinction is apt as well for my power tool: I tighten and remove screws, but it is really my drill that does the work.

Does my drill get callouses and strains? Does it plug itself in and make adjustments with extensions?

When it wears out, can’t I just buy a new tool?

It is a fundamental Catholic principle that the unworthiness of the minister cannot effect the validity of the sacraments he celebrates.

Not only the sacraments. It is the strange and twisted affirmation of God that even a pope disliked for his “confusing” statements about traditional trimmings can actually restore credibility lost to the focus on the institution. A pope who just shows up for Mass and celebrates as a baptized person, not as a priest as such. A pope who suggests we must start with people rather than the law. A pope who identifies himself as a sinner–an admission that’s likely to get you put on a traditionalist’s hit list for ridicule, job loss, and (horror of horrors) identification as a Protestant–gasp!

Dr Oddie focuses on the sacramental life of the Church and sacramental efficacy. And well he should, as a good Catholic. But if the sacraments are so important to salvation, perhaps it is time to reassess sacramental practice at the margins. Somehow, I don’t think the whole supernatural edifice of grace will come crashing down if a few remarried Catholics are returned to the sacraments.

Does the church save? Maybe a little too much.

Image Credit.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Who Saves

  1. FrMichael says:

    “A pope who identifies himself as a sinner–an admission that’s likely to get you put on a traditionalist’s hit list for ridicule, job loss, and (horror of horrors) identification as a Protestant–gasp!”

    Pope Benedict in his writings identified himself as such all the time. I don’t recall any friendly fire from the right about such statements.

  2. Devin says:

    To quote St. Joan of Arc: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.” To argue whether it is the church or Jesus who saves us is like arguing if it is the eucharist or Jesus who saves us. Same difference.

  3. Dick Martin says:

    Typical response for dead spiritual Catholics. The Saving Savior offers the GIFT – FREE. The Catholic CHURCH is a Pay me and ill save you business. Proven over the centuries. It’s business even continues after you Die. your free will stops at death and your destiny is sealed. you have been judged already. We all have a part to play if you have the correct instructions. Following a organization or a Man or a different Book than the one written by God Himself ;( The Bible),Don’t follow someone who says this is the way, follow me or a Church. Christianity is not a set of rules but a Personal relationship with Jesus. Quote: Depart from Me , I didn’t know you. You have to know Him. He’s Sheep recognize His voice, and they follow Him. Don’t be deceived. In Love Dick.

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