Are Protestants and Orthodox Christians in ignorance of the Catholic faith?


My original question was:

If a Protestant or Greek Orthodox Christian sincerely believes that he is in the true religion and a Catholic comes along with Church documents and the Bible in hand and shows him what he considers to be the truth, that is, the Catholic faith; can that person who is not Catholic after he is shown the Catholic faith, be saved, even if he rejects the Catholic claims because he believes sincerely that it is not the truth and that he is not sinning against his conscience in rejecting the truth?

When does invincible cease to be? And, I have heard that Karl Keating on the radio show state that if one does not believe in the Catholic faith after a demonstration then he is not held guilty for not becoming a Catholic if he considers the Catholic faith as not from God.

Also, ByzCath quoted: Fr Alexander Schmemann who was an Orthodox Theologian – is he saved? He rejects and knows of the Catholic faith?

Is there salvation outside the Catholic Church?

Did not Paul VI revoke the excommunication of the Orthodox Church in 1965?

Did not John Paul II call Martin Luther a Great Theologian?

#2 choice of font and font size makes me cry.


Being shown the truth and receiving the truth are two different things. There are millions of God-seeking Protestants who honestly believe that they are doing what the Lord wants of them, and following Him faithfully. If they are shown other information, but it contradicts something so deeply, culturally ingrained as their own perception of truth, then they are not denying the truth by denying Church documents and apologetics materials. They are denying a culture, not Christ or the truth of Christ’s divinity and power of salvation.


When does invincible cease to be?

Surely God knows when that line is crossed in a man’s heart.

Your question uses the word “sincerely” as in: even if he rejects the Catholic claims because he believes sincerely that it is not the truth[size=2][font=Arial]. I think that word basically assumes it is invincible at that point. Unless, of course, he sincerely believes the truth is not the truth because he has deliberately filled his mind with lies for years, so that his mind, by his own doing, is not able to see truth when it is before him. Then the word “sincere” starts to not really mean sincere. However, I don’t expect most Protestants deliberately fill their minds with lies!!!

Anyway, God will sort it out.


Maybe it would help to think of invincible ignorance in terms of a vice or bad habit for which one is not responsible (which it is: it is the a bad habit of the intellect, to persistently arrive at an erroneous conclusion – it is opposed to the virtue of wisdom or knowledge). Since invincible ignorance is a non-culpable vice, it is overcome with as much difficulty as other vices. For example, smoking is a bad habit; it destroys the health of the smoker, and smokers should quit. Many smokers started before they knew (or believed) it was bad for them. But having developed the bad habit, it cannot simply be overcome by being shown true information about the harmful effects of smoking. Many smokers “know” that smoking is bad, but they don’t know it to such an extent that they are willing and/or able to change. It usually works this way with all kinds of bad habits. Usually, such bad habits are not overcome simply by getting more information.

Non-catholics may be in similar situations: they may have the habit of believing “sola scriptura” and believing that the Church relies on merely human traditions (even though these are objectively false) to such an extent that they cannot “see” the truth, even when presented to them. They could STILL be invincibly ignorant even though to outward appearances they “should” know better. If non-catholics have a bad habit of mind (and they are not responsible for that bad habit) it may make them unable to see the truth, and so would not be guilty of what is objectively a bad state to be in. Or, they may obstinantly refuse to see, or want to believe what they know (or ought to know) to be true. Only God can know which of these two it is: genuine invincible and inculpable ignorance (or error), or obstinant, willful, culpable and vincible ignorance. The point is ONLY GOD KNOWS. This does not seem to be such a hard point to understand.


Anyone else had it with EENS, No salvation outside the Church, Can protestants be saved etc for the moment? There have been enough threads recently that anyone could find out easily what the Church teaching in this area (see Catechism) is or the ‘rad trad’ position espoused by several posters.

The poster who simply posted a dead horse being flogged summed it all up.

I think this topic should go the way of sedevacantism (i.e. Catholic Answers will forego discussion…)

Any seconders?


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