Can a heretic be invincibly ignorant and saved - Martin Luther?

Hi,

If baptized non-Catholics or Protestants don’t know the Catholic Church to be the One Church Jesus Christ founded, then they aren’t heretics, since they are invincibly ignorant…as far as I understand.

But if someone such as Martin Luther is labeled a heretic according to the Catholic Church, assuming he is, he cannot be invincibly ignorant and thus rejected Christ and his Church and therefore is in hell.

But i know the Church doesn’t place people in hell by decree. Only Saints are declared Saints in heaven.

I am not sure that I am distinuishing my terms correctly. Please help me to better understand.

Are heretics understood NOT to be invincibly ignorant of Jesus Christ and His One Church by definition of heretic?

OR

Can a heretic be invincibly ignorant and saved?

God Bless You,
Brian

Interesting question…

The Church will never declare any one is definetively in Hell because only God can judge our hearts when we die.

Yes any heretic has placed himself dangerously in peril of loosing his soul, but who can say what (S)he’s last moments entailed. Did (s)he repent?

Only God is the judge of that. Let us rather worry and concentrate on attaining our salvation instead.

Heresy is the obstinate belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. It is hard to argue invincible ignorance here.

Anybody that isn’t an orthodox Catholic is, by default, going to have a certain amount of heretical thinking, although a person isn’t actually a formal heretic unless they’re a catechized Catholic and protesting from Church doctrine. This does not mean that everybody outside of the CC is invincibly ignorant, they just wouldn’t be a formal heretic since they were never of the faith to begin with.

Since, in your example, Martin Luther - a Catholic priest - was very well catechized, he would definitely be considered a staple heretic, and so it would be ostensible that he could surely not be invincibly ignorant. This doesn’t eliminate all avenues for a formal heretic to be saved, but if they are saved, it is extremely doubtful it could ever be out of invincible ignorance. They would either repent before the darkness, or there would be some mysterious element to their rebellion which compromised them such that, by the infallible judgement of God, He deem them not to be in mortal sin, but a friend of God.

Nailed it! :thumbsup:

Thank you for the responses. I just read this, as well:

A person professing heresy. Ecclesiastical law distinguishes between a formal heretic, as one who is sinfully culpable, and a material heretic, who is not morally guilty for professing what may be objectively heretical doctrine. - catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33904

By definition a heretic cannot be invincibly ignorant. Heresy applies to Catholics who know what the Church teaches and reject one or more infallible teachings.
However, just like any sinner if they repent and die in a state of grace they will be saved.

Article 1. Whether heresy is a species of unbelief? - newadvent.org/summa/3011.htm#article1

Still in the process of reading, but thought I would pass along the info.

Does the disagreement need to be a dogmatic teaching or can it also be a doctrinal teaching? I am assuming the former in order to be a FORMAL heretic, since in order to be in good standing with the Church a person needs to believe in all Church dogma, including immaculate conception, for example.

It seems invincible ignorance and FORMAL heresy, opposed to MATERIAL heresy, is very similar doctrinally speaking… if not the same?

Here’s another interesting question…

Who, according to Catholic Church law, has the authority and competence to name someone a heretic?

Assuming the person knows the act they commit is a sin of grave matter and they go ahead and commit the act anyway (thereby satisfying the conditions for a mortal sin) then:

Rejecting an infallible teaching is a mortal sin and heresy.
Rejecting a non-infallible teaching is a mortal sin but not heresy.

CCC 2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

Why does anyone have to name someone a heretic?

A heretic is anyone who commits heresy and that act is defined in CCC 2089. It does not have to be publicly declared for someone to be a heretic.

That’s a good question.

Martin Luther was not only a heretic, he fervently attacked everything that was
Catholic. He attacked the Bible, Doctrine of Purgatory, even attempted to boot
out the Book of Revelation…I am very uncertain how Luther is fairing now.

Right. I realize that.
My question was perhaps poorly worded. At times it seems the word heretic appears in every other conversation with lay theologians. My question is about having the authority and competence to use it in relation to specific people we come in contact with, not about the definition of it.

That is one of my other questions… don’t think we have that power as laymen to label someone a heretic. Good question.

I think Material Heretics would be considered invincibly ignorant so they are not culpable for “being” a heretic… but Luther seems to have been labeled a Formal Heretic by the Church?

If that is the case, it seems Formal Heretics merit hell, but the Church doesn’t pronounce people to be in hell. So not sure what that means, since maybe they repented in ways known to God. I guess we just don’t know for sure…

Can a person believe all Church dogma and still be a heretic?

It seems it is not only not believing in dogma that renders someone a heretic, but believing something in addition to Church dogma… or is there another name for such a person?

Can you think of any examples?

A heretic, by Church definition,“the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same” CCC 2089

As such a baptisted non Catholic who denies such a truth would be a heretic.

But then we must take a look at culbability. The Church further divides heretics into Formal and Material Heresy.

A Formal Heretic has culbability. Martin Luther would be an example. They knew and then rejected, the teachings of the Church.

A Material Heretic would be most modern day Lutherans, who did not have the education in Catholic teaching that Luther did. Their culbality is reduced to nonexistent

It is separate from invincible ignorance, which is actually a very hard standard to meet, especially in today’s educated world.

The word heretic can only be applied to those to which our laws apply, Catholics in the Latin Church.
The catechism defines what heresy is, it does not say who IS one, or give us the right to apply the label to anyone. There is a difference between a definition and a flesh, blood, and soul person. Modern day Protestants are not heretics and should not be labeled as such.

There is plenty of searchable discussion on this by authoritative posters here.

Not true, for example, the Church holds that the definition of Marriage applies to others, not just Roman Catholics.

In addition, we Confess ONE Baptism. There really is only the Catholic Church that anyone can be Baptized into, for there is no other Body of Christ.

The catechism defines what heresy is, it does not say who IS one, or give us the right to apply the label to anyone. There is a difference between a definition and a flesh, blood, and soul person. Modern day Protestants are not heretics and should not be labeled as such.

I did not say that I had that authority, I will say that the Church does, and therefore I must accept any whom the Church states commits the errors outlined in CCC 2089

There is plenty of searchable discussion on this by authoritative posters here.

Yep,

Such as the Catholic Encylopedia

** The heretical tenets may be ignorance of the true creed, erroneous judgment, imperfect apprehension and comprehension of dogmas: in none of these does the will play an appreciable part, wherefore one of the necessary conditions of sinfulness–free choice–is wanting and such heresy is merely objective, or material. **

That would be material heresy, not sinful, but the term would still apply to someone, for example, who denies the Authority of the Papacy, or the doctrine of the Assumption.

I am not saying that such a person, as described above, is consider by the Church to be guiltily of anything, or in sin because of it ( quite to the contrary) , but they still are a material heretic.

Heresy thus willed is imputable to the subject and carries with it a varying degree of guilt; it is called formal, because to the material error it adds the informative element of “freely willed”.

And this is formal heresy, specifically willed.

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