Friday, November 21, 2014

All Dogs Go To Heaven, Unless They're Catholic

Will Cooper go to Heaven?

One of the Bear's most popular posts, now remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and presented to a (partly) new audience.

The Bear recalls a certain Herr Doktor Bear at the Bavarian Equestrian Culinary and Theology School who taught a class on Vatican II. To the best of his recollection, the Bear here records some highlights of his talk on Lumen Gentium. Lumen Gentium deals with the Church, and includes paragraphs explaining how everybody goes to Heaven. Well... almost everybody.

Herr Doktor Bear: If you will look at Paragraph 15, you will clearly see our separated brethren are not so separated after all. Being all part of the Church of Christ, the Holy Spirit works through their imperfect observances to provide sanctifying grace.

Bear: So Protestants are fine where they are?

Herr Doktor Bear: Indubitably. Have you not read the assignment.

Bear [not entirely truthfully]: Yes, I have.

Herr Doktor Bear: Protestants, our Orthodox sisters and brothers, they are all embraced by the Church of Christ.

Bear: What is this "Church of Christ?"

Herr Doktor Bear: Just what it says. Imagine the Catholic church as a circle. Now draw a bigger circle that encompasses the Catholic Church, Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc. That should be clear enough.

Bear: What about extra ecclesiam nulla salus?

Herr Doktor Bear: What? What's that?

Bear: No salvation outside--

Herr Doktor Bear: Nonsense. No such dogma exists. Why, I've never heard of it. Have you been studying on your own again? Stop. If you ate a pony 500 years ago, would you still say you are full? Of course not! Vatican II is today's meal. You won't find nourishment in what came before it.

Bear: What about Moslems, are they saved, too?

Herr Doktor Bear: Why of course! How could we leave out The Religion of Peace? Where is it... ah, yes. "In the first place amongst these there are the Mohammedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind." The Three Great Abrahamic Religions all share a belief in the same God. Judaism, Islam, and, of course, Christianity.
Allah = Holy Trinity?

Bear: Allah is the same as the God of the Bible, the Holy Trinity?

Herr Doktor Bear: Close enough. A Divine Person more or less is not important.

Bear: Don't Jews have to accept Christ as the messiah?

Herr Doktor Bear: Aren't you listening? Absolutely not. They are faithfully pursuing their own plan of salvation. God does not go back on his promises! That kind of talk will get you into trouble!

Bear: What about non-Abrahamic religions, then? Say, Hindus?

Herr Doktor Bear: I'm glad you asked. Paragraph 16. "Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Savior wills that all men be saved." So yes, Hindus, animists, all saved. Lumen Gentium says so.

Bear: The part that says "that all men be saved." That's 1 Timothy 2:4, isn't it?

Herr Doktor Bear [warily]: It might be.

Bear: Isn't the rest of the sentence "and to come to the knowledge of the truth?"

Herr Doktor Bear: Of course there was some editing of supporting scripture to focus on the main points, and to save printing costs.

Bear: Seems to me there isn't much need for missionaries.

Herr Doktor Bear: That's the first intelligent thing you've said, Bear. Priests should stay in civilized countries and present circus masses, don't you think? What Bear doesn't love a good circus mass? [Smiles and general agreement all around the classroom.]

Bear: Surely, Herr Doktor Bear, atheists need to come into the Church!

Herr Doktor Bear: Perish the thought! Do they not have human dignity? Paragraph 16: "Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life." So if an atheist strives to lead a good life, then of course he will be saved.

Bear: So let me get this straight. Jesus founded a Church that appears to be irrelevant to salvation, since nobody has to be a part of it to get to Heaven. Not Protestants, who tore the Church, not Jews or Muslims, who deny Christ, not pagans, who deny Christ and furthermore worship idols, and not atheists, who profess no belief in God whatsoever, and are often hostile to the very idea. Herr Doktor Bear, I must ask. Is anyone in danger of Hell?

Herr Doktor Bear: Well, there is one group.

Bear: Who?

Herr Doktor Bear: Perhaps ironically, Catholics.

Bear: Catholics?

Herr Doktor Bear: Yes. You see, in Paragraph 14, it says that since Catholics are in the Church and receive all the graces and benefits the Church provides, they will be strictly judged. And, should a Catholic leave the Church, I'm afraid the case is pretty much hopeless.

Bear: So the best strategy for salvation -- if you do not already have the misfortune of being Catholic -- would be to stay as far from the Church as possible, because it is only Catholics that are in danger of Hell.

Herr Doktor Bear: We're rather hoping not many connect the dots.
The Bear invents the blog.

Bear: Thank you, Herr Doktor Bear, this has been most educational. Some day, I'm going to start a blog and discuss issues like this.

Herr Doktor Bear: A blog? What's that?

Bear: Nothing yet. But it will be like a ship's log, where important matters are written down on a regular basis. And, since it will be written by a Bear, I've added a "b." Blog. Every day I'll write an essay onto parchment and nail it to a tree on the edge of the Big Clearing, where the woodland creatures can read it. Goodbye, Herr Doktor Bear.


  1. aaaahhhhhhh, now there it is......


    (Just a quick question....was Herr Doktor's first any chance?......nawwww, couldn't be.....)

  2. South America isn't much for the bears...

  3. Vatican Council II has a continuity with the past with respect to the other religions ( dogma on salvation), ecumenism and religous liberty

  4. The practical effect, in my humble opinion, has been to kill missionary spirit, finish off EENS, encourage an unwise emphasis on ecumenical and in general muddy the waters unnecessarily with concepts like "Church of Christ." Or do you believe the identity of the Church was insufficiently clear before V2 and LG? As with all V2 docs here is the pastoral text, then there is what B16 called "the media Council" (although I think it was more than that). With regard to the former, if you believe EENS used to be a dogma of the Church, I would have to disagree. The two are simply not consistent. I am not one who believes V2 was invalid. I believe it was unwise and the uses to which it was put were nothing less than criminal.

  5. Of course, they did add an "ad terrorem" clause after the language I had a bit of fun with, saying there are those who will go the wrong way, but outside of the excellent "Will Many be Saved" by Dr. Ralph Martin, nobody seems to have noticed it. He makes the added point that LG and ideas shaped by it makes Hell so remote as to be outside of the moral calculus.

    I think Here Doktor Bear is not a caricature of many clerics and academics.

    Thank you for your excellent contribution.

  6. From wcieniu:

    AFAIR the above brilliant strategy ("stay as far from the Church as possible, because it is only Catholics that are in danger of Hell") was probably invented by Emperor Constantine himself (the same that dug the famous 16 century black hole for neo-cat-echumenals).

  7. St. Augustine writes in his Confessions about how baptism would be postponed lest the Christians fall into sin!


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