Supernatural adoption as children of God for non-Christians

Baptized Christians are not the only human persons in this life who have supernatural adoption as children of God. Everyone who is in the state of grace is a child of God, in the same sense of supernatural adoption. Many Jews, many Muslims, many other non-Christian believers, and even some agnostics and atheists can be and, by the mercy of God, are in the state of grace.

Consider the teaching of Sacred Scripture on this subject.

[Matthew 5]
{5:1} Then, seeing the crowds, he ascended the mountain, and when he had sat down, his disciples drew near to him,
{5:2} and opening his mouth, he taught them, saying:
{5:3} “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
{5:4} Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
{5:5} Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be consoled.
{5:6} Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
{5:7} Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
{5:8} Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
{5:9} Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
{5:10} Blessed are those who endure persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
{5:11} Blessed are you when they have slandered you, and persecuted you, and spoken all kinds of evil against you, falsely, for my sake:
{5:12} be glad and exult, for your reward in heaven is plentiful. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Whosoever fulfills any one or more of these Beatitudes, by full cooperation with grace, is truly a child of God by supernatural adoption. For such a person is in the state of grace and is on the path to an eternal reward in heaven. For how could anyone be foolish enough to claim that a person who is poor in spirit, or meek (in the true spiritual sense), or who mourn out of love of neighbor, or who thirst for justice, or who practice true mercy, or who are pure in heart and therefore “shall see God”, or who suffer for the sake of justice are not also true children of God — unless they are a baptized Christian? And as for the true peacemakers, Jesus explicitly calls them sons of God, i.e. children of God.

Consider the Centurion:

[Matthew]
{8:5} And when he had entered into Capernaum, a centurion approached, petitioning him,
{8:6} and saying, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and badly tormented.”
{8:7} And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
{8:8} And responding, the centurion said: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
{8:9} For I, too, am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
{8:10} And, hearing this, Jesus wondered. And he said to those following him: “Amen I say to you, I have not found so great a faith in Israel.

The Centurion had supernatural faith as well as love for his neighbor, so much so that Jesus wondered. The Centurion was not a baptized Christian, nor a devout Jew. He likely followed the pagan religion of the Romans (which is really one step short of atheism or agnosticism). Yet he had the state of grace, including love, faith, and hope. Therefore, he too was a child of God by supernatural adoption.

[1 John]
{2:10} Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause of offense in him.

All those who love their neighbor abide in the light, and there is no cause of offense in them — no unrepented actual mortal sin. For the true love of neighbor is always found in all persons who are in the state of grace, and it is never found in any persons who are not in the state of grace. Therefore, everyone who loves his neighbor is a child of God.

[1 John]
{2:29} If you know that he is just, then know, too, that all who do what is just are born of him.

Everyone who does what is just is born of God, making them true children of God by supernatural adoption. For true justice is only done in full cooperation with grace, thereby implying the state of grace. Persons who are not in the state of grace can cooperate with actual graces, but only haltingly and partially. For if they ever were to cooperate fully with actual grace, they would then enter (or return to) the state of grace.

[1 John 3]
{3:1} See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we would be called, and would become, the sons of God.

Even an atheist or agnostic or someone whose religion contains many errors can be a true son of God, i.e. a child of God by supernatural adoption.

[Romans]
{13:8} You should owe nothing to anyone, except so as to love one another. For whoever loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
{13:9} For example: You shall not commit adultery. You shall not kill. You shall not steal. You shall not speak false testimony. You shall not covet. And if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
{13:10} The love of neighbor does no harm. Therefore, love is the plenitude of the law.

Whosoever loves his neighbor, also loves God, at least implicitly. The love of God and the love of neighbor are inseparable. And that is why “whoever loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law”, that is, the eternal moral law. By the true love of neighbor in full cooperation with grace, even an atheist or agnostic or non-Christian believer can be in the state of grace and be a true child of God by supernatural adoption.

All who enter the state of grace by the formal Sacrament of Baptism are Christians and are true children of God by supernatural adoption. But Christians are not the only children of God. Many non-Christians are in the state of grace and are true children of God by supernatural adoption. The claim that only baptized Christians are children of God by supernatural adoption is heresy. It is a false claim contrary to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.

Little children, take care not to be led astray by false teachers within the Church. For they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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One Response to Supernatural adoption as children of God for non-Christians

  1. Christine says:

    You are blessed Ron Conte! You explained this so wonderfully. Many Catholics are running around pointing fingers which is so sad. They were never taught properly.
    I will invite all my friends to read this. Thank you again.

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