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More About C. Peter Wagner & Francis A. Sullivan
Charles Peter Wagner (born 1930) is a Christian theologian, missiologist, missionary, writer, teacher, and church growth specialist best known for his controversial writings on spiritual warfare.
Wagner served as a missionary in Bolivia under the South American Mission and Andes Evangelical Mission (now SIM International) from 1956 to 1971. He then served for 30 years (1971 to 2001) as Professor of Church Growth at the Fuller Theological Seminary's School of World Missions until his retirement in 2001. He is the author of more than 70 books. He was the president of Global Harvest Ministries from 1993 to 2011 and is currently the chancellor emeritus of Wagner Leadership Institute, which serves to train leaders to join in a movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation, an organization Wagner also helped to found. He is currently the vice president of Global Spheres, Inc.
C. Peter Wagner currently resides in Colorado Springs, in the state of Colorado.
Reviews - What do customers think about Salvation Outside the Church: Tracing the History of the Catholic Response?
A good history of this doctrine, with a few gaps Dec 10, 2005
Some Catholics, if asked about the history of the Catholic Church's teaching on salvation outside the church, will simply say "Oh, that teaching was changed." However, this answer is not very theologically lucid. Doesn't the Catholic Church teach that popes and ecumenical councils can make infallible statements? How can these be changed?
This book by Francis Sullivan does an excellent job of addressing these questions. Sullivan understands the rules by which theologians determine which teachings by popes and councils are infallible, and which are not. (His book "Creative Fidelity" is the best introductory text on the question of infallibility.)
For example, the statement by the Council of Florence about salvation is not infallible. Why not? Because one of the conditions for infallibility is that the teaching be addressed to the universal church. This document was merely a statement that the Coptic delegate to Florence was required to sign; it wasn't addressed to the universal church.
"Salvation Outside the Church" gives a good history of the Catholic Church's views regarding salvation of non-Catholics since the 15th century. However, Sullivan does not explore the diversity of views on this matter among the early Church Fathers. William Most wrote a good article on this subject (search the web for the phrase "salvation of those who are or seem to be outside the church").
For the history of this doctrine during the past several centuries, Sullivan is excellent. For those who think that the Catholic teaching changed at Vatican II, this book will be very useful. Take a look at the statement by Pope Pius IX in 1863 that distinguishes between those who are truly "outside the church" because they knowingly reject the church, and those who are accidentally outside the church because they are honestly unaware that the Catholic Church is the church founded by God. Pius IX points out that God will not punish those who, for no fault of their own, are unaware of the truth!
Quality historical-theological review Sep 6, 2005
For those who don't know: Fr. Sullivan is the most well-known Catholic ecclesiologist in the English-speaking world (with perhaps the exception of Cardinal Dulles, whose work covers much more than just ecclesiology), and he is now a professor at Boston College (after many years at the Gregorian). This book is, as far as I know, the only book-length survey of original research on the Catholic response to the issue of salvation outside the Catholic Church (Fr. Stravinskas' book on this subject was largely based on Sullivan's research). This book is not a polemic nor an apologia of the Catholic view. It is simply a work of historical theology, wherein the scholar interprets the theology of an issue in its various contexts from the beginning to the present (in this case, from the early church to Pope John Paul II). However, I do think that, if interepreted in view of Cardinal Newman's (and the Catholic Church's) view on doctrinal development and proper interpretation, the book vindicates the Catholic dogma of no salvation outside the Church as understood by Vatican II. The main issue for those acquiring this book will be how Vatican II's document, Lumen Gentium, can be consistent with the statement at the Council of Florence (15th century) that Jews, Muslims, pagans, and heretics were damned (thus reaffirming Pope Boniface VIII's papal bull, Unam Sanctam, in 1302 that non-Catholics were damned). This restrictive view of salvation to only Catholics was not largely held by the fathers of the early Church. When the early Church fathers spoke of no salvation outside the church, they were only refering to heretics and schismatics -- those who had explicitly rejected the Catholic Church. Those ignorant of the orthodox, catholic faith could still be saved (and through Christ but without explicit knowledge of Christ as the instrumental means of their salvation). So why is the medieval view so restrictive? The answer is simply that the medieval worldview did not see beyond the Muslim territories that surrounded Christian Europe and knew nothing of the pagan lands across the Atlantic. They believed that the Church had reached to all nations (as Christ said that it must do). It was presumed that Muslims, Jews, and any who remained pagan had heard enough of the gospel to be culpable for their remaining outside of the Church. Indeed, the violence of Muslims toward Christians in the East (which began the Crusades) only confirmed this view of their rejection of the true faith. Thus, the medieval magisterial statements on salvation outside the Church cannot be interpreted as applying to those who were inculpably ignorant. These statements were only addressed to those believed to be culpable, just as the early Church fathers addressed their statements of no salvation outside the Church to those believed to be culpable.
That is just a quick summary (in more polemical terms) of what I got out of the book. Fr. Sullivan culls all of the important statements on this dogma, both ecclesiastical statements and the reflections of theologians and missionaries. Also included is a fascinating account of its modern development, such as how the true Church of Christ wholly subsists in the Catholic Church, yet gifts (e.g., sanctification and truth) proper to the Church, as the mystical body of Christ, are extended to those formally outside the Church, or, rather, those outside the Church partake (imperfectly) in the one, true, visible Catholic Church through these gifts. At least, that is one way to define it; see Lumen Gentium for a better expression of the Church's view.
Presents modern view, but doesn't interact with objections sufficiently Jul 15, 2005
This book rates a four based on my attentive reading of it. Francis Sullivan sets forth several citations used by those in disagreement with the Church's teaching regarding the optimistic view of salvation (as he himself describes it) of those not in full communion with Rome, and not even with explicit Christian faith.
He does a wonderful job of tracing the thought of several Fathers, mainly St. Augustine, and then camps out with St. Thomas Aquinas for a while. His basic thrust is that with the discovery of the New World (North America) that had not been evangelized, many theologians had to rethink the universal salvific will of God and what was required for salvation among those whom the Gospel had not reached.
He does an excellent job of tracing Jesuitical theology, starting with Trent and up to Vatican 2 on the subject, showing how the views progressed.
You may not agree with his take on it, but if you want to understand the thought behind the modern Church's attitude towards non-Christian religions, then this book is a good choice.
Personally, I wish he would have spent more time making seemingly contradictory teachings fit with eachother. That would be hard with his line of "new geographic knowledge" which is condemned in Vatican 1, where the view that Church dogmas must sometimes be given meaning according to the progress of science, different from what has always been taught, is denounced.