Today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Fatih released a document entitled Placuit Deo, On Certain Aspects of Christian Salvation. The focus is on the gift of Salvation that is ours through Jesus Christ. Likewise, the document draws attention to some of the errors in today’s concept of the human person as well as certain concepts of Christian Salvation that can be difficult for people to properly understand.
The document seeks to correct two modern ways of thinking, which are called a ‘neo-pelagianism’ which is an extreme individualism which believes each person is capable of saving themselves, and the other being a neo-Gnosticism which believes salvation is achieved through an interior union with God, disconnected from relationships with others and creation.
One of the footnotes of the documents explains these two early church heresies:
According to the Pelagian heresy, developed during the fifth century around Pelagius, the man, in order to fulfil the commandments of God and to be saved, needs grace only as an external help to his freedom (like light, for example, power), not like a radical healing and regeneration of the freedom, without prior merit, until he can do good and reach the eternal life. More complex is the gnostic movement, sprung up in the first and second centuries, which has many different forms among themselves. In general, the gnostics believed that the salvation is obtained through an esoteric knowledge or gnosis. Such gnosis reveals to the gnostic his true essence, i.e., a spark of the divine Spirit that lives inside him, which has to be liberated from the body, external to his true humanity. Only in this manner, the gnostic returns to his original being in God from whom he has turned away due to a primordial fall.
We are reminded that our creed states our belief in the resurrection of the body – of the whole human person, body, soul, spirit. Of essential importance is that Salvation comes to us through the person of Jesus Christ, who humbly entered our human condition, taking on our human flesh. Throughout his earthly ministry he revealed to us the proper understanding of God, and through his suffering, death and resurrection, attained salvation for all humanity.
Included in this gift of salvation is the Church, and the importance of our membership in the Body of Christ. It is through the Church that the Risen Christ shares his life with us, primarily through Baptism and Eucharist. The gift of salvation not only frees us from sin, but incorporates us into the Divine life of the Trinity.
I strongly encourage all to read this fairly brief document, prayerfully and carefully. It can be found by clicking the link above. You may also wish to have close at hand a copy of the documents of Vatican II and the Pope Francis’ Encyclical, The Joy of The Gospel.