Vatican II against individualism
Reading the documents of the Second Vatican Council, it seems that a primary concern was that men know salvation is only found within the context of a community. The 4 major constitutions relate to this in some way. Dei Verbum teaches that Scropture must be read within the context of the Church. Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches that worship must arise from tradition and include the participation of all. Lumen Gentium most clearly states the need of a Church, saying that God did not will to call men one by one, but rather he willed to bring them into a people for himself. The document goes on to explain the unity of this body and ends with the first among her members, the holy Mother of God. Gaudium et Spes is the document I am least familiar with, but t seems to situate the Church within the community of the world at large. None of us come into this world entirely alone, so also none of us enter the next alone.
Perhaps it is a perennial heresy, that men seek God apart from the community established by him. Then again, St. Augustine calls Pelagius' heresy a new one and perhaps the form of individualism in our day is of a new sort. Protestantism seems to have planted the seeds for this. Protestants removed the mediation established by God and sought a 'direct line' with him. No priests, no sacraments, and ultimately no Church. Of course most Protestants will claim to take church in a different sense of the word, it remains empty for many. "It's between me and God," they say. In doing this, the Church really becomes a kind of ornament or arrangement for those being saved, rather than the chief instrument and sign of salvation. Indeed, it is only insofar as men are part of the Church that they have hope of salvation.
Lumen Gentium spends much of chapter one talking about the Church as the body of Christ. Christ only has one body, and if we are not part of this, we do not die and rise with him. How essential it is that we be there! Bad philosophy may be involved. There is a renegade form of personalism lurking somewhere, and this needs to be exposed. It is the personalism of someone like Ratzinger that leads to seeing need for a place within a community. There is also the problem of secondary causes. How can the Church be essential to salvation if God is the one who decides? For God has willed that it be so.
I read 2 Thessalonians today. It is frightening to read about those who reject the truth. Lord, save me from that number. Gather me with the rest of your saints!
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