Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Accusation against Jews and Muslims

From the interview of July 12th, 2013:

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: “It has to be clarified, because there is, there are two substantial different levels, substantial different levels, because we as Catholics we can adore, we do adore God always as Trinity, God Father, God Son and the Holy Spirit. Our adoration is an adoration of Faith, supernatural Faith, and to worship God as creator only or as one God only, you have not to, there is no need of Faith, it is sufficient the use of your reason.”

“This is a dogma of the first Vatican council, that every human person is able only by his reason, natural light of reason, natural, without the light of faith to recognize the existence of one God as creator and consequently to worship him according to his knowledge of natural reason, and these are the Muslims, they have no supernatural faith and therefore have no supernatural act of worship, and even the Jews, who rejected Jesus as God, as Trinity they rejected Him, have no faith and therefore their worship is also natural, not supernatural.” [Source: Interview by Michael Voris]

We Christians adore God as Trinity; that is true. It is an act of theological faith to worship God as Trinity; to worship Jesus as the Son of God, too. We adore Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Fine.

“The same holy mother church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason : ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” [Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter I]

The First Vatican Council taught that human persons may know by reason alone that God exists, and that he should be worshipped. However, this does not imply and the Council did not teach that anyone who does not believe in the Trinity, but who only believes in the one God (e.g. the Jews before Christ), is doing so not with theological faith, but by reason alone apart from faith.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider says: “there is no need of Faith, it is sufficient the use of your reason.” Yes, but this still does not imply that the person who believes in one God, but not in the Trinity, lacks supernatural faith. Proof of this is found in examples from the Catholic Faith. The entire moral law is open to reason, and can, at least in theory, be understood by reason alone. But the reason of fallen sinners often fails to understand the moral law correctly and fully, and so divine revelation, believed by faith, allows the believer to accept moral teaching they would otherwise no understand.

And when a believer adheres to a truth — such as that God exists, that God is the Creator of all things (except Himself), or to the truths of the moral law — he does so by an act of theological faith. Are any of these things which can be known by reason also formal dogmas, which must be believed with divine and catholic faith? Yes, certainly. Then belief in them can be and often is an act of theological faith.

This proves that those who believe in one Creator God do not necessarily do so by reason apart from the infused theological virtue of faith. The Jews believe in one God due to Divine Revelation. And they adhered to this belief — with much difficulty and many missteps historically — while surrounded by pagan peoples who believed in many gods.

So when Bishop Athanasius Schneider claims that the Jews “have no faith and therefore their worship is also natural, not supernatural,” he errs gravely. They believe in one Creator God, due to Divine Revelation. And even though, in theory, a person can know that God the Creator exists and should be worshipped by reason alone, for fallen sinners, this realization and this worship often includes theological faith.

This point is proven by the words of Saint Paul, who says that the Jews before Christ had a type of baptism, which we today call the implicit baptism of desire, despite not knowing about the Trinity and having only veiled knowledge of Christ.

[1 Corinthians 10]
{10:1} For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and they all went across the sea.
{10:2} And in Moses, they all were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea.
{10:3} And they all ate of the same spiritual food.
{10:4} And they all drank of the same spiritual drink. And so, they all were drinking of the spiritual rock seeking to obtain them; and that rock was Christ.

We also know that many of the Jews before Christ died in the state of grace, and awaited him in the limbo of the Fathers. So they certainly had the infused theological virtues of love, faith, and hope, because they died with those virtues in the state of grace. Thus, they were worshipping the one Creator God, based on Divine Revelation, with theological faith, despite not knowing the Trinity.

And if you object, by saying that the Jews since Christ reject Christianity and the Trinity, my reply is that they often do so without the full culpability of actual mortal sin. Therefore, they do not lose the state of grace. Those Jews who truly love God, do so with theological love, and therefore they also have theological faith. Their love for God and neighbor proves their faith is supernatural. Their baptism, like the Jews of Old Testament times, like the Patriarchs, is an implicit baptism of desire which gives them supernatural love, faith, and hope.

As for Muslims, they too can enter the state of grace by an implicit baptism of desire, and they therefore have the supernatural virtues of love, faith, and hope. These virtues show themselves when devout Muslims worship the one Creator God, pray frequently, fast and perform other devout acts, and when they show in their lives a true love of God and neighbor. Therefore, their worship of God is of this supernatural infused virtue of faith, and with love and hope, it is salvific.

Now if someone has no supernatural faith, they necessarily also lack supernatural love and hope, and they necessarily lack the state of grace. Since the state of grace is absolutely necessarily to the path of salvation, and is required at death for eternal life, anyone who dies without supernatural love, faith, and hope, that is, without the state of grace, would be condemned to Hell forever. That is the theology which applies to all human persons. Anyone who dies without the theological virtue of faith in their soul also lacks love, hope, and the state of grace, and therefore will be judged and sent to Hell. This dogma is undeniable [cf. Benedictus Deus].

I believe, as a devout Catholic Christian, that Jews and Muslims who love God and neighbor have the state of grace, which includes the infused theological virtues of love, faith, and hope. I believe that all such Jews and Muslims who love God and neighbor go to Heaven, unless they lose that love by an unrepentant actual mortal sin according to their own conscience. But even if they lose that love by sin, they regain it by perfect contrition (sorrow for sin out of love for God), that is, by repentance in full cooperation with grace, or even by implicit perfect contrition.

And I utterly reject the following claims of Bishop Schneider on this subject:

Bishop Schneider: “these are the Muslims, they have no supernatural faith and therefore have no supernatural act of worship, and even the Jews, who rejected Jesus as God, as Trinity they rejected Him, have no faith and therefore their worship is also natural, not supernatural.”

The claim of Bishop Athanasius Schneider implies that Muslims cannot be saved and that they not only lack supernatural faith, but also supernatural love and hope, and the state of grace. A person can have faith without love, hope, or the state of grace, by everyone without infused faith lacks love, hope, and the state of grace. So his claim implies that all Muslims are not saved, unless they convert to Christianity. His claim excludes the possibility of an implicit baptism of desire for Muslims and the possibility of perfect contrition (which in an unbaptized person would constitute a baptism of desire). His claim implies that Muslims do not and cannot love God or neighbor with true supernatural love. Bishop Athanasius Schneider is therefore condemning all Muslims to Hell, unless they repent and convert to Christianity.

The claim of Bishop Athanasius Schneider also implies that Jews cannot be saved and that they lack supernatural love, faith, hope and the state of grace. His claim implies that Jews do not truly love God and neighbor, and that they cannot do so unless they repent and convert to Christianity. His claim implies that all Jews who do not convert, go to Hell. His claim implies that Jews are unable to repent from grave sin with perfect contrition and unable to obtain an implicit baptism of desire. Bishop Athanasius Schneider is therefore condemning all Jews (since the time of Christ) to Hell, unless they repent and convert to Christianity.

Finally, let me say that Jews who love God and who worship God according to the beliefs and practices of Judaism are not so much rejecting Jesus and rejecting the Trinity, as they are simply continuing in the ancient religion of the Jews, founded by a covenant between Abraham and God, renewed between Moses and God, and based on true Divine Revelation. The Jewish faith, despite not accepting Christ as the Messiah, continues to be that same religion.

As for the question of Covenants, the Old Covenant was not dissolved. Rather, it has been transformed or transfigured into the New Covenant. This New Covenant of Christianity is the new higher form of the Old Covenant. In following the Old form of this one Covenant, the Jews continue to have a faithful loving relationship with the one God who formed this one Covenant. They do not realize that the Covenant has been transformed into something greater. But it is the same Covenant, just as Jesus is the same person before and after the transfiguration, or before His death and after His resurrection.

What else does this position by Bishop Athanasius Schneider necessarily imply? If even devout believing and practicing Jews, who follow the faith of Abraham and Moses — whom Jesus says are both in Heaven — cannot have supernatural faith, and therefore cannot be save without converting to Christianity, then it is implied that only Christians are saved. For outside of Christianity, the faith closest to the path of salvation is certainly that faith that literally gave us the Messiah. If Jews cannot be saved without converting to Christianity, as Bishop Athanasius Schneider necessarily implies, then no one can be saved without that conversion. And that is the condemned heresy of Feeneyism. Bishop Athanasius Schneider is a Feeneyite heretic.

The Teaching of the Catholic Church is that non-Christians, including Jews, Muslims, other believers and perhaps atheists can be saved without converting:

Pope Saint John Paul II: “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.” [Redemptoris Missio 10]

As for persons who reject Christianity or even reject belief in God:

Pope Saint John Paul II: “It is a mysterious relationship. It is mysterious for those who receive the grace, because they do not know the Church and sometimes even outwardly reject her.” [All Salvation Through Christ]

The holy Pontiff teaches that some human persons who reject the Church, that is, who reject Christianity, perhaps even implying some who reject belief in God, can still be in the state of grace and be saved by the Church implicitly. They love their neighbor in full cooperation with grace, and receive an implicit baptism of desire. They repent from any actual mortal sins by implicit perfect contrition. God finds a way to offer salvation to all sinners, even despite objective mortal sin.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider rejects the above teachings of Pope Saint John Paul II. The teaching of the Church is that salvation “is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church.” Schneider says the opposite. He rejects this magisterial teaching.

This article in the first in a series on errors on salvation among certain conservative leaders.

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

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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2 Responses to Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Accusation against Jews and Muslims

  1. Robert Fastiggi says:

    Thank you for this perceptive article. Someone recently sent me this link: https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/abp-vigano-the-world-neo-religion-will-have-its-temple-with-the-popes-approval
    It seems that Archbishop Viganò is not only accusing the Roman Pontiff of promoting apostasy but also accusing Vatican II of laying the groundwork for this apostasy. I think .Archbishop Viganò needs to review what Vatican I teaches about the indefectibility of the See of Peter.

    • Ron Conte says:

      They say that nothing in Vatican II is infallible. But the successive Popes and the body of Bishops have taught many of the teachings of Vatican II as one doctrine definitively to be held, making much of it infallible under the ordinary and universal Magisterium. The rejection of Pope Francis has emboldened his critics to reject anything in Catholicism they judge to be incorrect. Faith requires us to be believe that the Church, the Pope, and the body of Bishops are each and all indefectible.

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