Thursday, August 26, 2010

100th Anniversary of Mother Teresa's Birth

Today (August 26, 2010) is the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth. She was an amazing combination of grit, compassion, courage and persistence. She's considered a saint by most. Yet (and in this I must disagree with my dear brother-in-Christ Romanós) there's significant reason to doubt that she really knew the Lord Jesus. I say that not because she was Roman Catholic, but because her theology and her practice were grossly deficient in several respects. She seems to have believed that all religions lead to eternal blessing. She seems to have depended on good works, not on the Lord Jesus Christ.

I don't claim to know what was in her heart, and I don't claim to have as much courage as she had. I don't desire to trash her memory, nor to deny that she was a remarkable woman from whom we can learn much. Still, unless a person is truly in Christ, that person is not in the Lord's kingdom. Did she really know Jesus? She showed sacrificial love, but she denied basic, elementary spiritual truth of Jesus. The Lord knows all, and will deal wisely with her as with all.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:11-12 ESV)


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Neither you nor I can judge her either in her favor or against. To do so would be spiritually dishonest, as we know that only God can judge that way. As outside observers, we cannot know her real relationship with the Lord. I think if you and I disagree on anything, it is only on where we lay the limits of hope. To me, this is neither here nor there, in other words, it has no real effect. I do not promote what is not evangelical, as you know, and you also know that to me Roman Catholicism is one of many potentially soul-destroying heresies. Where we might also disagree, and in this area somewhat more profoundly, is where we set the limits on doctrinal knowledge. In other words, if one has an imperfect knowledge or understanding of true doctrine, can that cause him not to be saved, in spite of his faith in Christ alone to save him(absolutely rejecting a concept of salvation by works). This is where opinion kicks in, and I opine that a defect in understanding or knowledge, especially one that is not willful, cannot take away the promise of Christ to that individual. Rather than debating points like these, as you know, I would rather concentrate on just disseminating true knowledge and understanding of evangelical truth, rather than worrying what happens to believers who lack it.

Greek Orthodox tend to hope optimistically for the salvation of others, even when we know those others are misguided in one way or another, but we insist that salvation can only come through Christ, as I keep saying in my blog. The Church is comprised only of those whom the Father has drawn to the Son, and of no others. Since that lies within the Divine will and economy and is mostly hidden from us, we are not to fuss and bother about it, or speculate. When we do, even a little bit, see what happens?

Your always loving brother and friend in Christ,


Jim Swindle said...

Thank you, my brother, for the careful, kind comment. I'd agree completely that "if one has an imperfect knowledge or understanding of true doctrine" that won't "cause him not to be saved" if he has "faith in Christ alone to save him." When I became a believer, I didn't believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. I didn't reject it; I just hadn't thought about it much. I've known others who were members of various soul-destroying heresies, but genuine believers in Jesus. Eternal life is in Jesus.

My concern in writing the post was not to say that Mother Teresa could not possibly have been a Christian, but to say that there's considerable reason to doubt the validity of her faith. We can celebrate her wonderful qualities, but should not hold her up as a balanced example of the Christian faith. Christian love should always be coupled (however imperfectly) with truth. It's an act of love to tell a dying man (humbly, respectfully) the message of Jesus that brings eternal life. To encourage him in his idolatry is not an act of Christian love.

Again, thank you for your comment and for the attitude of love displayed in it.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Yes, you are right about Mother Teresa. She held to some pretty strange beliefs, though I know from reading many of her testimonies, that she was not your typical Roman Catholic. For example, she was not afraid to correct priests who came to teach her congregation of sisters wrong things. She would wait patiently till the priest was done teaching, thank him and see him to the door, then turn around and tell the sisters, "I will not invite him again. Sorry, but what he taught us was incorrect. Let's just forget about it." And in many cases, from my viewpoint, what she objected to was exactly the same anti-evangelical nonsense that you or I would reject.

But denominationally, of course, she was a Roman Catholic, and that pitted her against us on some levels.

Let's hope that her faith in Christ was true. Only He knows.

Jim Swindle said...

Truly, the Lord is the one who knows all hearts.