Friday, April 06, 2018

Quaeritur: Doesn't the Necessity of Baptism Imply a Miopic View of Salvation?


Quaeritur: The dogma that there is no salvation without baptism bothers me.  Can't God work outside our little theological box?  It seems miopic and close minded to think that God is bound by the Sacraments that He Himself instituted.  And it is especially arrogant for you theologians to think that your little theological boxes can contain God's infinite mercy.

Respondeo: Your criticism of theology is (1) self-referentially inconsistent, and (2) not sufficiently aware of what Catholic theology actually says regarding this matter. 

(1) You clearly think theology does not have the full story about God and salvation.  And in doing so you are theologizing.  In fact, any criticism of the very project of theology is ipso facto a theological act.  So you can't belittle all theology without at the same time creating your own theology, therefore criticizing your own act of theologizing.  That is, in critizicing all theology you are critizicing your own (theological) criticism of theology.  So first of all please stop and think about how your insufficiently reflected-upon theology could in fact possibly be less adequate than the theology that you belittle, given how little you have thought about it, and compared to two thousand years of theological discussion. 

(2) Moreover, you are clearly underestimating Catholic theology.  Actually, the principles of our theological "box" are the articles of faith, which were revealed to us by God Himself.  And in that box we know there is not only sacramental baptism, but also baptism of desire and baptism of blood.  And also that God is not bound by His sacramental economy, but that He chose to institute this economy as the ordinary means of salvation for all humankind.  And not only that, but also the very limitations of our theological knowledge and of intellectual knowledge in general are a vast topic of discussion in traditional Catholic theology.  And all of this is either explicitly or implicitly contained in God's revelation, and theologians for centuries have discucssed this.  Theology --any theology--cannot help being miopic in a certain sense, because while we are in via, short of seeing the Divine Essence, we cannot really understand God's truth fully.  But its being limited does not give us the right to belittle this sacred science, which ultimately is nothing other than a humbling of human intelligence before God's gift of revealing Himself to us. 

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