Erased and the Two Forms of Salvation

Happy Low Sunday or Divine Mercy Sunday!  The anime Erased has got me thinking about the topic of salvation, as you know from my last article on the show.  In the finale, Yashiro was given a final chance of salvation by Satoru on the hospital roof: the statute of limitations had expired on Yashiro’s attempted murders.  He could have continued his ordinary and law-abiding life because Satoru had prevented his evil deeds.  Yet, Yashiro could not give up his evil obsession and was caught in the very trap he set: “They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they dug a pit for me; they themselves have fallen into the midst of it” (Psalms 57:6).  Like the reprobate soul I described in the past article, Yashiro pursued his own destruction despite all the help Satoru gave him.  (After all, if Socrates’ dictum that the one doing harm is harmed more than the one harmed is true, Yashiro himself received more benefit from Satoru’s acts than the children Satoru saved!) Yashiro refused to be deterred from sin and must now repent of it.

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This brought to mind that there are two ways in which we are saved from sin: by prevention and by rescue, as it were.  This solves the problem some Protestants have with the Catholic doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Mary being preserved from all actual sin as well.  (I’ll mention here that the early Protestant reformers Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli also believed in those Marian doctrines.) They contend that if Mary were preserved from all sin from conception, then she would not need Christ’s redemptive sacrifice and salvation which flows from it.  Yet, Our Lord’s sacrifice was applied retroactively to Mary such that she was saved from sin in a more excellent way than any other person.  God preserved her first from original sin and concupiscence and then from any other sin through the foreseen merits of Christ.  Our Lord’s grace went before St. Mary and she always perfectly corresponded with it.  Far from thinking that she did not need God’s salvation, Our Lady’s gratitude toward God for the inestimable favor granted her is more perfect than and exceeds the gratitude of all the other saints combined.

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The rest of us must be saved from original sin, the sins we have committed, the sins we commit daily, and the sins we may commit in the future, i.e. we must be both rescued from sin and prevented from sinning.  We rightly thank God for the superabundant mercy He has shown in forgiving our sins, but we should also thank God for saving us from the many and possibly horrific sins we might have done.  St. Philip Neri one day saw some convicts led to the gallows and exclaimed: “There goes Philip Neri but for the grace of God!” We can think about this form of salvation more clearly when we consider how many times we have foolishly placed ourselves in the near occasions of sin but came out unscathed.  How we deserved to fall and forfeit the grace of God!  Yet, God, in His unfathomable mercy which extends even to the ungrateful and to the wicked, has preserved us from the guilt and sin our presumption merited!

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We may hate Yashiro or be disgusted by him.  But, if we examine our lives and our all too clear inclination to sin, I think we too might say, as we see Yashiro dragged off by the police: “There would I go but for the grace of God!”

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3 comments on “Erased and the Two Forms of Salvation

  1. Cytrus says:

    Not so sure about this – I think the author was going in a different direction.

    If you don’t care for manga details I picked up from some other people, skip the following spoilerish lines

    > > >

    Apparently Yashiro killed around 30 people in his “career”. He could have avoided responsibility for most of his deeds if he wanted, but in fact he was extremely cooperative after his arrest, telling in detail how he went about carrying out his crimes. Which was why he ended up receiving a death sentence.

    < < <

    So Yashiro does not have to repent for what he did. In fact, he takes the easy and convenient way of a "game over", whereas having to move on would be much more dreadful for him. The only thing Yashiro ultimately feared throughout the series was having to live without the stimulation Satoru provided.

    In this sense, it is even difficult to view Yashiro as a sinner because his sin is not so much in his choices as an integral part of his nature, Personally, I neither hate nor feel disgusted by him, but rather feel sorry for the man. Because of his nature, there is absolutely no possibility for a happily ever after for him. Either he gets caught and dies, or keeps succeeding until he runs out of stimuli that can temporarily quench his thirst. Bad or bad. Yashiro himself recognizes this situation and states he is inherently lacking something as a human being.

    You may see that "something" as the divine mercy which allows men to be satiated with good. Or, the dual nature between men's compulsion to sin and his call to holiness, which is a prerequisite for the existence of actual choice in life. (Which does align well with what you write in the latter part of the post.)

    Which would make the main question whether Yashiro truly, fully and inherently lacked the above, or whether he was just turning his eyes away from the possibilities offered. And then further, whether such people also exists in our world. Though I think the issue is more deeply explored through Fate's Kotomine Kirei.

    • The author might indeed have been going in a different direction. Thirty murders….He does more fit the description of a reprobate soul I wrote about in my prior post.

      The question of what causes people to be like Yashiro is an interesting one. I’d say that human nature is wounded, which causes us to constantly do things against our conscience. But, the nature of the wound does not make people utterly depraved like Yashiro. He seems to have had a naturally non-empathic nature from an early age and various brutal deeds changed him from unfeeling to cruel, that is, finding delight in causing suffering. (Brutality chiefly differing from cruelty in that a brutal man thinks the suffering he causes is somehow necessary even if he does not enjoy it, e.g. A revolutionary condemning aristocrats to the guillotine because they are obstacles to his new order.) One might say that Yashiro was a natural sociopath, but not all sociopaths become murderers. So, I would say he lacked empathy, transformed a lack of empathy into a delight in cruelty through brutality, and did not respond to graced situations to turn him from murder.

      Then again, people like Yashiro are eventually turned into monsters, and it would take an extraordinary grace indeed to change them from the monsters they have created themselves to be. Russell Kirk argues that it is then a mercy to execute such persons who cannot change from being the monsters they have made themselves into. Yet, the above is all highly theoretical and mysterious (as is everything involving grace and psychology).

  2. […] My dear readers could see how it sparked my imagination to write one post on reprobation and another on salvation.  The initial three episodes swept me along in the intense mystery presented by the […]

Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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