Integral salvation

Integral salvation

A reader writes to ask what Pope Benedict means in Message for Lent 2006 when he refers to “integral salvation.”

If you look at the Lenten Message it comes from a quote from Pope John Paul’s encyclical Redemptor Hominis

The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world a “gradual secularization of salvation” has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated, reduced to his merely horizontal dimension. We know, however, that Jesus came to bring integral salvation, one which embraces the whole person and all mankind, and opens up the wondrous prospect of divine filiation.

The word integral is not being used in the plain everyday sense, but in a technical theological sense, related to integrity. It means that it is a salvation that embraces our whole being and our whole life. Some people want to say the Church provides spiritual salvation while certain kinds of secular ideologies, like Marxism, provide political salvation. The Pope is saying that the salvation provided by Christ is for us as whole persons, addressing the integrity of our personhood.

That’s my take anyway. Those who are better theologians are free to take a crack at it.

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1 comment
  • As Dom says, Jesus’ death and resurrection saved every aspect of creation. This is why we are called new creations. Thus, everything that we do should be renewed. Our politics, our philsophies, our habits, our ways of speaking, thinking and acting – all have to reflect the new creation. We can’t separate the spiritual from the physical or even the spiritual from the political. We are one person and hence our entire beings are renewed in Christ, which the Pope calls integral salvation.

    This is to counteract what some might say, such as “personally I am opposed to abortion but I support it politcally.” The pope would reject that kind of poisition because Christ’s blood saved all of humanity and all of creation.