Can non-Christians be saved? - part 2

An apologist responded to my question, but I don’t think they answered it. Please refer to the 11/23 question “Can a non-Christian be saved” for the detailed Q&A. The response included a quotation from CCC 847-8. I think this is not adequate for several reasons:

  1. The particular question asked by “Mira” (again refer to the original thread) asked about her non-Christian father being saved. In his case, the entire family around him was Catholic. Therefore, he not only was exposed to the gospel (Christianity), he was also exposed to Christ’s True Church (Catholicism). And implicitly, he denied both by still remaining a non-Christian after this exposure. I think this point is very key for those of us who have “fallen away” Catholic or Christian relatives. Are you really trying to use the “invincible ignorance clause” on someone who is exposed to Christ and His Church on a daily basis and still denies it?

  2. While we do not know for sure individually who will be saved and how, Church, Tradition and Scripture give us some good guidelines. The good thief and Old testament faithful notwithstanding, the general rule seems to be that one must be a believing part of Christ’s body (Church). Otherwise, why would Peter preach to all the “good Jews” and try to convert them to the One True Church? Why would Paul travel all around the Medeterranian and preach to all the "good pagans and and try to convert them to the One True Church? Why would Catholic missionaries travel around the world and try to convert savages and barbarians throughout Church history? Why would Jesus command us all to spread the gospel around the world?

As you can see, I’m having difficulty with your response. Please try to clarify again.

Dear Basil,

Invincible ignorance can in no way justify not preaching the Gospel. It is much easier to attain salvation with the gift of faith and the sanctifying grace we receive from the sacraments.

And this is the KEY to understanding what I said in an earlier answer. One can be surrounded by Catholics and a wealth of solid arguments, but without the GIFT OF FAITH, one won’t believe. We cannot hold people responsible for not receiving the gift of faith. We are dealing with mystery here. Another person may very well have received the gift of faith and chooses to refuse it. In this instance he or she does NOT have invincible ignorance. We only see the surface. Only God knows the state of each soul.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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