Friday, April 08, 2011

Knox - Belonging and Salvation

If you believe in the holy Catholic Church, then it follows that you believe in all the rest of the Credo; it would be silly to believe in the Church and not believe in what the Church tells you. So we'll get right down to it ... we'll stick to the idea of the Church in general, and remind ourselves what the Church means, and how jolly it is to have a Church to belong to ...

Part of the fun of being a Christian is belonging to a Church. It gives you a sort of cozy feeling ... For Christian people, and for us Catholics especially, this feeling of comradeship forms part of the stuff of our religion. It gives us a curious lightening of the heart, difficult rather to explain, when we find out suddenly that the policeman who stands on duty at the street corner or the girl who does our hair ... is a Catholic too ... there is a bond, after all, between you and them ... But, of course, it isn't just an association ... The Church is a supernatural association, which is meant to get us to Heaven. It isn't merely something which unites us together, you and me, it is the thing which unites us to Jesus Christ. And that, I think you can say, is the main difference between Protestant and the Catholic idea of salvation.

The Protestant hopes to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ; the Catholic hopes to be saved by living and dying as a member of the Church which Jesus Christ founded. You can put it quite simply in this way. If you think of the human race as sailors, travelling over a sea, which is this sinful world, and trying to reach a harbour, which is Heaven - the Protestant thinks of getting to heaven as something like being washed up to shore as a shipwrecked man, clinging to an empty barrel. But the Catholic thinks of salvation as sailing into port on a ship, and that ship is the Church of Jesus Christ.
- Ronald A. Knox

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