Thursday, April 28, 2016

Following Further

There is at least one obvious pitfall near the (optimistic, possibly-pious, opinion) "Infantes in Limbus Patrum", and that is indifferentism: if "all" that is needed to be bound for Heaven is to live and die righteous, whether one has heard the Gospel or not... why risk preaching the Gospel at all?

Apart from the fact of being commissioned, there are at least two answers, closely related but different.

The first is: lacking the Gospel makes knowing true virtue (which finds fullness of expression in Our Lord himself) a difficult task. To be sure, there are plenty who do know the Gospel in some wise, who are even in the Sacraments, and nonetheless appear other than virtuous. People like me, for instance. But I should be still worse off without them! There are definitely things I wouldn't even know to fight if I hadn't been taught, though they still would not conduct happiness at all.

The second answer is: even within Heaven, while all in Heaven are holy, there are also better and still better. Or, as St. Therese "petite Fleur" imagined it: in Heaven all shall be as a glass that is filled; but some glasses hold more than others. Even those who find virtue by unaided reason can still be enlarged, enriched in holiness, by the help of the Gospel, and so be better saints in Heaven.

I really wanted to have a more-developed version of both these responses, but I seem not to be in an expansive frame of mind anymore; this will have to do.

Still hoping for thoughtful replies,
the usual batty fellow


TGWWS said...

An additional thought from my father-in-law (a theologian who's given some time to this issue): Perhaps we are to understand the unbaptized infants who reach heaven (if they do--and I certainly hope they do) as signals of God's MERCY as opposed to of his JUSTICE or his covenant.

To elaborate: the baptized who persevere in responding to God's grace in some sense merit heaven (insert the necessary anti-Pelagian comments here), not because good deeds or baptism are magical or anything like that, but because God has graciously promised us that this is how it will be, and He is a God who keeps his promises. It's a matter of justice because He's made it so. That certainly wouldn't stop Him out from accepting of mercy (which we know He also has an abundance of) the righteous infidel, or the unbaptized baby ... and but it would be folly if we, on that account, were to rely on His mercy and slack in evangelizing or baptizing. In any case, we can hope without presuming that heaven will fill out God's glory by having both kinds of saved person present: those saved by justice and those saved by mercy.

Apologies for the diffuseness!

Belfry Bat said...

Hmm! God's Word is effective, one might say... also, you've reminded me "Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed".

Thank you for sharing this... we might call it your new family tradition, perhaps?

I shall let it simmer for a while, and if anything pops out of the pot, we'll get back to it.

TGWWS said...

I shall await hoping (without presumption) for a stew of well-assimilated ideas!

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