Warning: the following advertisement may have been produced under the pressures of a time crunch and a house full of sick kids. Extreme snarkiness is possible. Read at your own risk.
“Everyone who lives a good life goes to Heaven!” You’ve all heard that catchy phrase, well now this cheerfully inclusive worldview can be yours—just subscribe to the idea of Salvation-By-Charity-Alone.
No longer is Faith-Alone your route to heavenly happiness—nowadays its all about Charity: “as long as a person is living a good life, they are eternally set,” the Charity-Alone advocate says.
Imagine the peace of mind this philosophy will bring you when you think about your friends and family who may not be living that traditional “Christian” lifestyle. There will be no more embarrassment, no more distress and certainly no need to direct them to Truths which tell them their lifestyle is wrong. Since faith isn’t a component of Salvation, having a relationship with God and seeking out what He says about an issue isn’t strictly necessary.
Now if living a good life is the key to salvation, then we really need to define what that “good life” looks like. But we can’t hold all of humanity to the same God-given standards because that would mean faith mattered for salvation. Besides, given the plethora of religions in this world, choosing the standards of any one faith over another would be discriminatory—which is way gouche. The only way to avoid this is to have everyone define the standard for themselves. This is the great beauty of this philosophy: YOU get to decide what is or isn’t charitable behavior and get into Heaven on YOUR terms based on your personally developed faith.
Relativism rules the day—how great is that!
Consider: a young woman’s boyfriend wants sex. This would cause tensions in the relationship if she felt obliged to look at what the HD say on fornication but that doesn’t matter in the Charity-Alone philosophy. If she believes putting her boyfriend’s happiness first is charitable, she’s good to go.
Or consider a husband and wife in an unhappy marriage. They both are miserable. They both want out. If they had to take their traditionally Christian faith into consideration, they would be stuck in their miserable state because Jesus Christ says that divorce is only allowed in instances of adultery. But in our Charity-Alone approach, they are free to shatter the shackles of marriage and seek happiness elsewhere by saying that they are putting the charity of the other first.
Now you will need to ignore those confused- individuals who think Salvation is a product of both Charity & Faith. And that a person’s ability to serve the neighbor charitably is dependent on his faith. And that the correctness of faiths vary dramatically from worldview to worldview: the New Christianity being the most true (and consequently, the most good), the Old Christianity being the next best (because the next most true), the Muslim religion being the next best, Budhism and other “gentile” religions being less good than the above, and Secularism being the least good.
Do not give in to their pessimism!
Everyone who lives a good life goes to Heaven!
The Fine Print: The Proponents of Charity-Alone do not take any responsibility for the loss of limb or soul of individuals who live out their life according to this philosophy in the event that Salvation may actually be determined by a person’s Faith in God as well as a life of charity based upon that faith.
“all people in the entire world are saved who acknowledge God and from religion refrain from evils as being sins against Him.” CL 343
4 thoughts on “Peddling Salvation by Charity Alone”
Hmm … I never thought of the “charity alone” problem as we have previously judged the the “faith alone” model. Faith and Charity really need each other, don’t they? Thanks for the insight.
Do I sense some Cabin Fever?!
I think some of the confusion comes in when we think of what comes ‘first’. Love, Charity, these should/do come first.
That doesn’t mean ALONE, however. And it can’t come first in time, we need to learn truths to contain, form, give structure, to our loves.
I was just reading in the Arcana yesterday and had to chuckle because within a few numbers, these two statements came:
1: What is more pleasing than to live after the flesh, and yet be saved if only one knows what is true, though he does nothing of good? Every cupidity that a man favors forms the life of his will, and every principle or persuasion of falsity forms the life of his understanding. These lives make one when the truths or doctrinals of faith are immersed in cupidities. Every man thus forms for himself as it were a soul, and such after death does his life become.
Nothing therefore is of more importance to a man than to know what is true. (spacing emphasis mine)
When he knows what is true, and knows it so well that it cannot be perverted, then it cannot be so much immersed in cupidities and have such deadly effect. What should a man have more at heart than his life to eternity? If in the life of the body he destroys his soul, does he not destroy it to eternity? AC 794
And then a few numbers later:
2 …the church is never predicated of things of the understanding, but of things of the will.
Religious knowledge and its attendant rational convictions [scientificum et rationale fidei] by no means constitute the church or man of the church, but charity, which is of the will. (Spacing mine)
All that is essential comes from the will; and consequently neither does what is doctrinal make the church, unless both in general and in particular it looks to charity, for then charity becomes the end. From the end it is evident what kind of doctrine it is, and whether it is of the church or not. The church of the Lord, like the kingdom of the Lord in the heavens, consists of nothing but love and charity. (Arcana 809).
I do not think these in any way contradict, but it is an example of what may need to come first in time, or be seen clearly to give form (doctrine leading to truths/faith) and then can come what is the essential, most important part (good/charity). I know the second number mentioned doctrine, not Truth, but it was an interesting contrast within a few numbers.
(This could also open a whole discussion about how things have changed since the fall of the MAC, and how we now need to go around through the Truth route…but anyway,)
It seems neither charity nor faith do well without each other. Isn’t that the marriage underlying all of Creation?
Haha, thanks for the disclaimer!
And thanks for the thoughts, Eden–I do agree with the ideas, and know that I can get lazy and hazy “everyone can go to heaven” thinking because it’s easier and feels nicer. The Truth really really does matter and I don’t want to ever forget that.
And I don’t know that it’s that useful for me to go around thinking about how wrong so many people are. I guess for me it’s a balance of remembering how incredibly merciful the Lord is, and how many of the “simple good” He IS able to lead to heaven (I’ve always loved the idea that the Lord lets a lot more people into heaven than you or I would), AND also holding fast to the idea that the truth really is the Truth, and it does matter exactly what we learn and live by (and what we teach our children).
Great thoughts, Eden! Its important to consider, love AND wisdom AND use. People have to practice what they know to be true. It is supremely difficult to find the line when dealing with those we love. Watching people I love make choices I don’t like, don’t agree with, not what I believe in or have taught, is extremely hard. At the end of the day, the higher belief for me is that the Lord IS leading “them” too, and at the end of the day, what matters is between each individual and the Lord, (even between spouses) and that I can have my boundaries for the choices in my own life, but not the choices of others. But it sure can be hard, when my beliefs about their choices differ. That is when I have to call upon the Lord’s mercy and know that it will be worked out between them and the Lord when the time comes.
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