Jesus, the Saviour of ALL
It is difficult to open a paper or journal these days without seeing rants from fundamentalist Christians against Harry Potter, or the Narnia Chronicles of C.S. Lewis, or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The fundamentalists condemn the imaginative inventions of such authors – wizards and elves, magic spells and dragons, talking animals and walking trees, and condemn them as being anti-Christian, against the message of the Bible.
But what these Bibliolaters have failed to realize is that such works of the imagination all show the cosmic battles between good and evil. And in every one of them, good wins out. But not without much suffering, and the greatest of the suffering comes from the spirit of self-sacrifice and love which inspires the heroes. In other words, Tolkien and Lewis and Rowling and many other writers are presenting in fantastic and imaginative forms “the old, old story of Jesus and his love”.
What really upsets the fundamentalists is the implication in such tales that it is not just explicit Christians who will be saved, but all who love and sacrifice themselves for others. Yet this is what the Christian revelation teaches: Jesus died “so that all might be saved”. The mystery of God’s saving intention for a all even includes the sub-human creation which “groans and travails until the glorious revelation”.
Recently the German Catholic Church has been resisting the literalists in the Roman Curia who say that the translation of “pro multis” in the Eucharistic Prayer can only be translated by “For many” and not “for all”. This has been contested by Greek and Hebrew scholars, and even in English, we have such phrases as “Was it for the few or for the many?” which clearly means “for all”.
I believe that “Salvation is through Christ alone” and that Jesus meant it when he said: “No one comes to the Father but by me” but I am far from despairing of the salvation of anyone, just because they have not met the Christ in this world. I love the hymn “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea … There is room enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this…But we make His love too narrow by false limits of our own”. The Trinity is infinite, as is His love which we have seen in the form of the God-man, Jesus. As Bishop Haggart of Edinburgh once said in a sermon to ordinands who were wondering if they should be priests: “Leave it to the Holy Spirit: he’s a dab hand at getting his own way”!