After reading a defense for Bishop Robert Barron’s misleading of Ben Shapiro, I had to give a response to what is becoming the standard apologetic for making a near full eclipse on the Gospel of our Lord. Someone asked if we could imagine this all from the other side, and how bad the “nones” (those with no religion watching) would have reacted to the idea that their souls are in danger if they don’t believe in Christ, or how badly Mr. Shapiro would have reacted if he were told that he is obligated to respond to the Gospel or else be condemned. This was my response to that.
The question was “I’m a law-keeping Jew (Phil 3). I’m a good person (Rom 3) . I am a light to the world (Rom 2). Am I screwed?”.
Well, not only is he a “law-abiding” Jew, but he is also one who has not accepted the Lord Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, nor has he responded to the summons of God in the gospel. What did St. Paul say about Jews who were “law-abiding” and refused to believe in Christ? Even in his most generous and optimistic tones (latter half of Rom 11), they are still (1) blind, (2) stumbling, (3) lost, (4) cut off from Christ, (5) perishing, and (6) in desperate need of salvation! By giving Mr. Shapiro the option of continuing as he is, a “law-abiding” Jew, and making it to heaven through his conscience is the strongest denial in terms of the anguish Paul expressed when he said:
” I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites”
That is the viewpoint of a man who has been impacted by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Paul is not interested in the intellectual speculations of what might be ontologically possible in the realm of all worlds sort-of-speak. That would be like telling someone who asks, “Hey can I make steer clear of mortal sin even if I commit adultery?”, and the answer given being, “Yes, its possible with the right tweaks to personal culpability”. This is the sort of “technically correct” yet “misleading” type of answers we are so used to hearing from the Fr. James Martin SJ’s of the world, and the Fr. Anthony Spadaro’s of the world. I hate to make the comparison, since I don’t think there is anything remotely close between the theology of Bp Barron and these men, but I cannot help but see a slight parallel in this one shrivel of instance.
Concern for how people would have taken the message that God summons men in Christ to conversion and faith, as well as the great danger to soul & body which can be imminent as a result, is the least of concerns in comparison to the concern over people hearing the whole truth.
Can you imagine if Mr. Shapiro took to heart the words of Bp Barron and then died that night? He asks, “Am I screwed?”, and he was basically told “No”. If he would have died and dropped into hell, I think he would realize the disservice. I don’t think Shapiro, at that point, would be making the proper distinctions such as “Well, I asked him if I COULD be saved” not “WILL I be saved”, and “he is technically right because there is a small portion of the Catechism which says its POSSIBLE that I’d be saved”.
Sure, Christ was called the “privileged path”, but that means nothing to the world. What the world needs to hear is precisely what Christ said, “He who does not believe will be condemned”. And yet, none of this was shared, out of concern for offending people. Well, I’ll tell you what, it is precisely that offense that converted my soul @ University in 2005. Someone who wasn’t so concerned about my right-to-be-pleased opened up the Sacred Scriptures to tell me that I was a creature made by God, and I have obligations to Him which are now enlisted to me in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I did not respond right away, but that very message weighed on my soul day and night for the next 6 months, and then I finally clung to the cross of Christ.
Was I screwed without Christ? You betcha.
“Turn or burn” not effective? Let’s not kid ourselves here. It is a lack of “turn or burn” preachers that has the Catholic Church in the ditch that she is in!! Give me 100,000 turn or burn preachers over the Vatican Enterprise for human rights! Give me 100,000 doomsday preachers instead of the Episcopal Caspar-Milquetoast celebrities we have today