Can trying to preach the gospel to the invincibly ignorant put them at risk of damnation?

What I mean is if someone is of another religion and puts everything they have into it. They love their version of God with all their heart and want to please him. They are happy and content with their religion and at peace. They are ignorant of Christianity, hell, etc…and then one of us Catholics goes and tries to convert them and indoctrinate them on Christianity…the person doesn’t believe the Christian religion and decides to stay with their religion because that is the religion they have grown up with and have become attached to…now we kind of put them in a bad situation.

So sometimes would it be better for us to not try to convert the ignorant since it could be counterproductive?

Because they were on there way to sainthood by being faithful to their religion though they had an erroneous belief…but now the Catholic added confusion, doubt, etc. and if they reject the Catholic faith they will go to hell.

No. They were never “on their way to Sainthood” by following the wrong religion. ignorance is not a means of grace.

If they knowingly reject the Church, it’s actually better for them than if they remain ignorant, because God has said, “Be hot, or be cold. The lukewarm, I spit out from my mouth.” God would rather be hated than ignored.

Are you saying that if one meets a devout and holy Jew or Muslim that one should try to convert them to the Catholic faith?

Invincible ignorance excuses from sin only for sins that you really don’t know are sins. Typically, people commit other mortal sins that they know are wrong through natural law. For any mortal sins knowingly committed, the only salvation is through explicit faith on Christ, or through perfect contrition, which is hard to acquire, especially in a false religion which may not teach about perfect contrition. You can’t rely on invincible ignorance for everything because the natural law is written on the heart.

Does that resolve your difficulty?

This applies for protestants as well. They are so close to the Truth but not close enough that we should feel “comfortable” with their situation. Some circles of the Church seem to focus more on ecumenism and lose sight on the goal of ecumenism, which is evangelization. Christ does not desire “any” of His children to be protestant. Protestant-“ism” is heresy. It fills its followers with confidence that they are doing the Lord’s will yet leads them just short of actually finding the Lord and His will.

I had a priest friend, who warned me about confusing those types of people. He was wrong!

I always remember John 6.

We all should remember to do our part and let God do his.

From my understanding, we really shouldn’t think that way or worry along those lines because God will be absolutely fair in his judgements and can see into the nuances of the human heart in ways we can not. We need to trust God that He will be fair, that He desires all men to be saved, and: we need to obey God, he commanded us to share and proclaim the gospel. He did not say, “be sure to only share the gospel with those who you think will accept it for sure, because if they hear it and don’t accept, they’ll be damned.”

Above all, we shouldn’t fear or worry because these emotions are not of God. We need to be valiant in faith, hope, and charity. That includes faith and hope that the people we teach will be better off for having heard the message.

One of the reasons why I ran away from Catholicism years ago and did not investigate further, is I allowed Catholicism to become a terrifying, “black and white” faith. I got caught up in questions such as this and envisioned a scary God, hovering in judgement wherein it would be better for people to never know the faith. As if ignorance is our last hope because the Catholic God is impossible to satisfy. I was a regular Martin Luther: obsessive and scrupulous. My failure was that I lost faith and hope; I didn’t believe that God could really accomplish salvation with an imperfect person like myself, or with a very imperfect world.

The truth is that Hell is real and we must not be cavalier about God’s judgements. We have a moral responsibility to flee from sin and be the salt of the earth. However, we must also be valiant in the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. We must hold these two seeming paradoxes in our minds: God punishes and is just, AND God is merciful and wills all men to be saved. We do not know how God will accomplish this: only God does. So, our job is to hold ourselves to the highest moral standard possible and proclaim His truth as He asked us to. Then, we need to live in a spirit of faith, hope, and charity: again, that includes having faith and hope that all people we share the truth with will be the better for it.

We must remember Christ’s first miracle: turning water into wine, wherein he brought great joy to the wedding festivities. This is supposed to represent the purpose of His entire ministry and passion: ultimately, He has brought great joy to mankind by redeeming us. The gospel is truly “The Good News.” We must never forget that, and we must be strong in faith and hope, believing that it is truly good news for the whole world. We were not created to live in a spirit of fear, instead we were created to trust and rejoice in God, sharing our Christian joy with one and all.

Do the best we can, then not worry.:thumbsup:

Matthew 19 comes to mind:

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Every religion has a seed in it which God can use to open hearts to Christianity. Remember St Paul preached to the Greeks about their altar to the Unknown God, and said that Christ was that God. Many listened to him.
I remember reading about a group of tribes, cannibals, I think, who killed the first missionaries sent to them. Missionaries thought there was no way of reaching them, because they believed that treachery to one’s enemies was admirable. But they had a custom called something like “Peace Child,” wherein the chief’s child of an enemy tribe would be handed over to them as a hostage for peace. Sometimes the enemy would eat the child (sorry).
So the missionary explained that Jesus was God’s Peace Child sent to us, and they were all converted. It was an amazing story.
There is no religion which doesn’t allow room for God’s mercy.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.