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Not Nulla Salvatio

In response to:

Comrades from the August 12, 1993 issue

To the Editors:

John Bayley’s citation of “no salvation outside the Church” in the context of Gorbachev and the Party in his review of Lenin’s Tomb [NYR, August 12] is extremely apt; but his version of what “the medieval theologians used to say” is incorrect: not (as Bayley has it) nulla salvatio but nulla salus. And it was not really “the medieval theologians” but the fathers assembled at the Fifth Lateran Council (1512–1517) who were responsible for the phrase—and unfortunately, as usual at Councils, too few of them were theologians.

Roy Andrew Miller
Honolulu, Hawaii

John Bayley replies:

My thanks to Dr. Miller for his good-humored and enlightening exposition of nulla salus (not salvatio as I supposed) extra ecclesiam. As he implies, it remains a potent and a dangerous doctrine no matter which fathers (or bad theologians) propound it about family, state, church, or—as more often nowadays—political correctness and literary theory.

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