instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, May 09, 2011

Shed for one unto remission of sins?

In a comment on the post below, Fr. Dismas writes:
If Bin Laden had been the only person to fall to sin, then I believe that our Lord would've done whatever it took to redeem him for this life and the next.
This could make an interesting (and perhaps not altogether pointless) thought experiment: Given what faith and reason tell us about the world as it is, what might be the case in a world in which only one person fell?

The one case I really hope would not occur is that God would save the fallen soul without a free act of repentance on the soul's part. I hope this would not occur because I believe God will not save fallen souls in the cosmos He has created without free acts of repentance on the souls' part, and I don't see why freedom and repentance would be any less important to God in the case of a single person than in the case of everyone.

I don't think God would simply let the person die in his sins without offering him a chance to freely repent. That would be treating a human as though he were an angelic being, at least in St. Thomas's conception; at any rate, it would be treating a human as though we are not capable, with God's help, of changing for the better in time.

Would something like the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection be the means by which God would offer the one fallen man a chance to freely repent? I suppose it might be, although I can't imagine what a crucifixion would look like in a world with only one sinner.

And if it were, if God were to send His Son into the world to redeem this one sinner, would there be any possibility of the sinner not being saved? Can God's word return to Him empty? We know that none of those given to Jesus are lost; the Incarnation was a complete success, if I may, when measured against its purpose. Would an incarnation be a success if the Son did all that was necessary to redeem the one sinner, yet the one sinner wasn't redeemed?

And what does any of this say about God's mercy and salvation, which we are celebrating this Easter Season?