Where is Salvation found?

Is salvation found in the teachings of the Magisterium, in and of themselves? No, certainly not. For mere words, no matter how true or how important, cannot save. However the teachings of the Magisterium point out the way of salvation and are essential to God’s plan for our salvation. But by themselves the teachings of the Magisterium cannot save. Salvation is not contained within the teachings of the Magisterium, even though they point out the way of salvation.

Is salvation found in the words of Sacred Scripture, in and of themselves? No, certainly not. For mere words, even the infallible written words of God, cannot save. It is the Word of God, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate who alone saves. All the words of Scripture are Christ speaking to us. But even the words of Christ, by themselves, cannot save. Or if they could, then why would He die on a Cross? If we were already saved by words alone, His death and resurrection would have been in vain. Such is not the case.

So how does Christ save? If His mere existence as the Second Person of the Trinity were salvific, He would not have had to become Incarnate. But if His mere Incarnation by itself were salvific, then He would not have to teach and heal. But if His mere teaching and healing were salvific, then He would not have to die on a Cross. It is Christ’s death on the Cross that brings about our salvation. Now certainly all of these other events, from the Incarnation through every suffering and teaching and holy act of Christ in His entire Life, contribute to our salvation, as do all the deeds of God throughout salvation history. But the pinnacle and height of Christ’s work of our salvation is His salvific death.

Christ’s death on the Cross, along with all of the surrounding deeds of Christ’s Life and all of the surrounding deeds of God throughout salvation history, is our salvation. And the very same is Sacred Tradition itself. For Sacred Tradition is defined as “the deeds wrought by God in the history of Salvation” (Dei Verbum, n. 2), which certainly includes the deeds wrought by Christ, the Son of God. Therefore, Sacred Tradition itself contains our salvation, whereas Scripture and Magisterium do not contain our salvation.

But if Tradition were defined in some other way, which did not include the deeds of God, and particularly the deeds of Christ, in salvation history, then salvation would not be found within Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium. Tradition and Scripture is Divine Revelation, authentically interpreted and taught by Magisterium. But if Tradition is defined as anything other than the salvific deeds of God, especially of Christ, then Divine Revelation would be insufficient for salvation. If Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium are insufficient for salvation, then our faith would be in vain. Such is not the case.

Salvation itself is found within Sacred Tradition. Scripture proceeds from Tradition, so Scripture is also closely involved in salvation. Magisterium proceeds primarily from Tradition and secondarily from Scripture, so Magisterium is also closely involved in salvation. Therefore, Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Magisterium, is salvific.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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