The Bottom Line On Salvation

I saw a video on Facebook of Larry King grilling semi-televangelist/semi-New Age Guru Joel Osteen about the question of salvation. A lady caller, apparently a Christian, asks Osteen to be clear on whether he believes Jesus is the only Savior and it’s necessary to believe in Jesus to be saved, essentially pressing him to answer whether he’s really a Christian. King hounds Osteen on the question, from the other angle, of the infamous, “So are you saying Jews are going to HELL???” Osteen, thrown off his guard, stammers out a pathetic answer about yes, that’s what he believes, but he also believes God judges each soul individually??? The video is presented as “Osteen Denies Jesus is the only Savior,” but he doesn’t really deny it. He just fails to articulate any competent theology. Further, for a guy who built his name on his “discovery” that there’s no such place as Hell, Osteen even refers to Hell. For a guy whose whole message is a twisted form of universalism, that “It’s OK to live as you like, because if you don’t go to Heaven, you just cease to exist! Yay!”–you’d think he’d have a ready answer for those questions.

All it showed me about Osteen is that he’s a shyster and an idiot and has no theological competence, but it raises some questions about that underlying notion.

It actually ties into something else I was reflecting on. I watched _Star Trek V_ the other night, and was reading up on it in the “Memory Alpha” and “Memory Beta” wikia pages. Now, Star Trek has never been friendly to Christianity, except in a more allegorical way, but I have always appreciated stories like _The Final Frontier_ that at least show the characters open to God’s existence. In the late 1990’s, Pocket Books published a series of novels–Q-Space,Q-Zone, and Q-Strike, which tried to explain some of the mysteries of “Q” in Star Trek the Next Generation as well as, as “Trek” fiction often does, provide explanations for other Trek phenomena. The back story is that, millions of years ago, “Q” was part of a band of higher-plane beings who terrorized the galaxy for millennia until the Q Continuum finally punished them and put various restrictions on Q’s companions (Q himself was exonerated for helping the Continuum fight his former friends, and his punishment was to undo the damage he did by training growing civilizations, including humanity). One of those companions was the entity from _Star Trek V_, and at one point one of the characters says, “He’s the guy who invented monotheism.” I’m glad I never read the books.

It’s an intriguing notion, for pretty much anyone with a non-Abrahamic worldview (and even some who claim a Judeo-Christian worldview), that monotheism was a deception by a power hungry “higher power” who wanted to shut everyone else out.

Monotheism, as Larry King attests and Joel Osteen shies from, is a challenge. When Pharoah Akhenaten tried to introduce monotheism to Egypt, he was solidly opposed, and the reforms he enforced were disposed of soon after his death. The Jews were a thorn in the Romans’ backsides because they were monotheists. The Romans didn’t care what you believed as long as a) you acknowledged the divinity of the emperor and b) you tolerated everyone else. Judaism held that there was one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose Name is the great Tetragrammaton, and that one should have no other gods besides Him. And while Jews did not seek to convert Gentiles to their faith, they still looked down on the Gentiles. Christians took it a step further and said that a guy the Romans crucified was the son of God–the very title of the Emperor!–and that He should be worshipped, *and* the Christians called for the Gentiles to adopt their faith and turn away from other gods, including the emperor. This was a major problem for the Romans, just as it is for today’s “multiculturalists.”

Judaism doesn’t officially even address the question of “salvation”, as the Sadduccees would gladly point out. For Sadduccees, the notion of Heaven and Hell was as troublesome as the notion of Purgatory is for Protestant Christians, for the same reason: they didn’t see where it was in the Bible. Of course, Jesus showed Sadduccees how the Resurrection is implied in the Torah, and Catholics are constantly trying to show Protestants where Purgatory is implied in the Bible. But the point is that the Hebrew Scriptures do not even directly teach about resurrection, so if Osteen stood by his teachings, and King stood by his own religion, they ought to be able to shake hands in agreement, that Larry King, if he remains Jewish, will not go to Heaven, and he will not go to Hell: according to Osteen, and the literal reading of the Old Testament, he will simply cease to exist.

The Abrahamic tradition is radical in claiming there’s only one God, but the Old Testament primarily deals with the worldly consequences of failing to properly worship that one True God. Christianity is radical in introducing the notion that there is One Savior, that no one can come to the Father except through Him, and that, yes, people will go to Hell simply for not believing in Jesus.

This is because the underlying thought of people like Larry King and Joel Osteen is that, whatever they may say, their minds are deeply secular, and they still see religion as ultimately a more sophisticated form of “Santa Claus” and the “Tooth Fairy.” People call me a nut for saying it, but this is the teaching of Freemasonry, as I say time and again. It’s one of the main points in the original Papal documents condemning Lodges from the 1700’s: the notion that all religions are equal and exist primarily to make people good citizens. This notion has so deeply infested our society that even sincere people of faith think it.

I’ve also written many times of how Our Lady of La Salette predicted these New Age “Near Death Experiences”. She said, back in 1846, that in the late 20th Century, people would claim to be back from the dead, bringing stories of the afterlife that contradict the Faith, and not to believe them because they would be possessed. So, today, people “come back” with stories of seeing “beings of light,” or “Illuminati” or “Enlightened Ones” or whatever (clear-cut Freemasonry), or people who say they saw family members, or people who say “If you’re a Christian, you see Jesus. If you’re a Muslim, you see Mohammed.” Now, there *are* true Near Death Experiences: Saint Augustine had one. Lots of people have authentic visions of nearly dying and encountering Christ and nearly going to Hell or possibly tasting Heaven, but these modern stories exist to muddle the truth.

Another common falsehood is this image of people dying and being judged by St. Peter, a popular misinterpretation of Matthew 16:19. If anything, the words of the ancient Roman liturgy say that the dead are guided to judgement by St. Michael, the Standard-Bearer, but they are still judged by Jesus, and Jesus alone. God does not sit off in an office somewhere. His eye is in the sparrow. He counts the hairs on your head. He’s going to be there when you die and not a mysterious distant person in a metaphorical office. And He’s going to be there in the person of Jesus Christ.

The plain fact is: Jesus is real.

That is the answer Joel Osteen should have given. There is One God, and One Savior, Jesus Christ, and He is a real being, a Person, whom you will encounter directly when you die, and how you react to Him when you meet Him will determine your eternal destiny. St. Faustina said Jesus told her that, in the split seconds before people die, He calls out to them three times. The Catholic Church allows a priest to administer extreme unction or even baptism for a certain period of time (I’ve heard 30 minutes) after death since we do not know when the soul leaves the body. St. Teresa of Avila says that each person, when he or she dies, will see Jesus and react instantly in either fear or love, and that is what Judgment will be.

So, that’s all there is to it, Joel and Larry. When you die, you face Jesus. It’s entirely possible that at this moment, there are some Muslims, atheists, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Pagans making their last breaths, and they’re seeing Jesus face to Face and saying, like C. S. Lewis’s Emeth and Orual, “Really? It was You, all along? I was so wrong. I’m sorry, Jesus. I love You.” And it’s absolutely certain there are lots of Christians at this instant facing the Man they claimed to love and worship, and like Victor Hugo’s Javert, reacting at disgust that the Person they thought they were serving was not at all like what they expected, and choosing to go to Hell rather than spend Eternity with a God who disgusts them.

That’s the answer to Larry King’s question. It’s all about a Person, the Person of Jesus, and, yes, it does matter in this life, because even though there are lots of Christians in Hell and, while there may be plenty of people in Heaven who only became Christians in the seconds before death, the better we get to know Jesus *now*, the better we will react to Him when we meet Him

7 responses to “The Bottom Line On Salvation

  1. (ps: you might have html to fix)

  2. Let us call a spade a spade- this is gnosticism.

    But we CAN learn from pagans. The Tibetan Bardo would suggest that Jesus is but one yidyam among many that men choose from, and you go to the place of your yidyam, unless of course you were an atheist, in which case you missed the point in life and it is time to face your Karma and take another turn at the wheel of eternal redeath.

    Heaven and hell in that context are but two possible destinations. And yes, my interpretation is different than the Dali Lama’s who WANTS another turn at this life.

    • Ted, what’s Gnosticism? (Meaning, are you saying something I said is Gnosticism or something another commentor said, or that Buddhism is Gnosticism but has something to teach us)?

  3. catholic christians do believe that jesus is the only way for believers. However, non believers will be forgiven due to ignorance and judged merely on their love of fellow man, or something like this.

    • Karen, I’m sorry, but you misunderstand the teaching of the Catholic Church. Faith is required for salvation. The operative condition in your statement is “will be.” The binding, dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church is that “outside of the Church there is no salvation.” That means that a) the Catholic Church administers God’s salvation; b) no other religion has the power to administer salvation; and c) anyone who is saved is grafted on to the Catholic Church, *somehow*.
      The operative question is whether *some* people who are not Catholics might find salvation, and the answer is that, yes, that’s a possibility if they’ve been truly seeking the Person of Jesus Christ but been misled in this life regarding the truth about Him.
      However, your formulation is Pelagianism, because you imply Jesus will forgive them based upon their “love of their fellow man.” No, those who exemplify perfect virtue (if they exist at all) but do not believe might go to a place of eternal worldly happiness, probably a suffering-free area of Hell, called Limbo, but they cannot see the Beatific Vision. The problem with that position, however, as C. S. Lewis (a non-Catholic) explains, is that without Christ’s grace you’re gonna find it pretty hard to find a virtuous person. By mere virtue of choosing false religions, they’ve rejected God–and that gets back to the question of Karl Rahner’s “Anonymous Christian” (the person who has literally been ignorant of Christianity). Someone who has consciously chosen to reject the Church (i.e., an ex-Catholic) cannot be saved on the basis that he has rejected Christ. Someone who has consciously chosen to live life of debauchery cannot be said to “love his fellow man.” That’s a wonderful example of “judge not, lest ye be judged” in reverse. We don’t even know what secret sins our fellow Catholics are harboring, so we mustn’t presume virtue of non-Catholics.
      That’s why I say the bottom line is the encounter with Christ, because we’re not talking about intellectual abstractions or fairy tales or wishful thinking. And the only business we have in talking to non-Christians at all is to do everything we can to get them to *become* Christians.

  4. Amazing how we waffle when we are put on the ole waffle iron. I will pray for Joel Osteen. I do not agree with his lukewarm theology, but you cannot give what you have not been given. Hope many are praying for me, as well. Though I profess to know my faith, I am amazed and disgusted as I look back on my life, how I wimped out sometimes when I was put on the spot. We were fraught with succumbing to “political correctness” even long before such a despicable phrase was coined.
    Guess that’s why it is the practice of the Catholic Church (and perhaps others, as well) that only an ordained priest or deacon should deliver an actual homily and interpret the Word of God. We need to be well-formed and have the gifts of the Holy Spirit acting through us to be able to speak on God’s behalf. How many times have I rightly been humbled in trying to voice my opinion about faith? Certainly we are all entitled to our opinions, but when we assert that what is most convenient to me should be what everyone must tolerate as public policy, is it any wonder that God needs to correct me?

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