Are Orthodox, Copts, and Similar Killed for the faith Christians? July 14, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, Ecumenism, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, martyrdom, persecution, Saints, sanctity, sickness, Society, Virtue.
Two weeks ago, I did a post on the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt. A commenter objected that those holding heretical views or in schismatic groups are not Christians. I argued back that they are certainly considered to be Christians by the muslims, and are dying for the Faith, even if they hold erroneous beliefs.
This may seem like hair-splitting, but touches on matters foundational to our self-understanding as Christians. As such, I ran the matter past a local traditional priest, and was gratified to find his understanding of these folks essentially identical to mine.
In normal situations, it is not wrong to say that Copts or Orthodox are not Christian, or are at least highly faulty ones. They hold views that are erroneous, dangerous, and perhaps even damnable under certain circumstances. Of course, most all of these people know no better, they were raised in this error or in schism and were taught it was right and correct from a very early age. Their personalresponsibility for holding such errors is, then, highly debatable.
However, my post was not describing a normal situation. It was describing a situation of dire, religious-oriented persecution. These people are being wounded and killed for professing Jesus Christ as their Savior and rejecting islam. They can, in that sense, even be considered martyrs. Of course, the specifics of individual situations mean everything, but broadly speaking, they are dying for their belief in Jesus Christ, an act always held to be immensely meritorious. It is even quite possible that in some situations this profession was sufficient to overcome whatever guilt they hold for their erroneous/schismatic beliefs and provided a baptism by desire/blood into the True Church. That’s an elaborate issue and goes beyond the scope of this post, but I believe, and the priest agreed, that such a profession of faith could – could – even be meritorious of salvation.
And that’s precisely why the muslims torture, maim, and kill them, because these people refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their savior and refuse to accept the false, demonic religion created by the Arabian goat herder Mohammad.
A critical note of distinction: these people are NOT dying for the errors they hold or in rejection of the Catholic Faith. If they were, their actions would not be efficiacious of Grace and would be greatly offensive to God. They are dying for Jesus Christ and His religion by the lights they have. Those lights may be faulty, but they are the best they have. Those lights are not extinguished from merit due to these errors. In the same sense the Church has declared martyrs and Saints certain souls from the days of the Fathers who died for the Faith even though they had not been formally received into the Church and probably still held wrong beliefs even up to the moment of death.
As I said, it’s a complex issue. Fundamentally, I believe in Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus as a straight up, literal interpretation, but I have a hard time believing souls holding errors innocently would still be damned by God for all eternity after dying for the Holy Name. Since they are being viciously persecuted for Christ, since they are dying for Christ, I will call them Christian. The priest agreed.
I’m open to refutation based on quotes from Saints, Fathers, and/or Councils. I don’t think there is such, but one never knows. There has always been a mystical element of the Faith, however, in that we must recognize that what we can see and record is not all there is to reality. God operates beyond time and space and even a murderer who viciously repudiated the Faith throughout his life was often considered saved by a mere kiss of a crucifix on the gallows. We don’t know what God sees in the human heart.