Catholic Theologians Respond

General Protestant theology has that if one has no knowledge of Christ (through their own ignorance, or geographical location, race etc.) that one can never get to heaven, no matterr what. They are automatically bound for hell. This would include all in 3rd world counties, separate continents (especially before modern travel) etc., etc., ad infinitum.

I have put this one out many times, and have only gotten two responses. I am honestly looking for a confirmation of this point. Thanks:

My understanding of Catholic theology is that what Paul is saying in Romans 2:12-14, is that, through no fault of their own, they can adhere to the law written on their hearts (Conscience - Natural Moral Law - C.C.C. #'s 1954-1960, and here is the specific Catechism link)
vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6U.HTM
have a *possibility *of salvation. Through no fault of their own, they did not receive the gospel, but followed God - to the best of their ability - in their hearts. Of course, once one hears the gospel, they are obligated to explore, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to believe. If they do not, then they are in mortal error.
Of course I do not promote this, and do not present it as a work-around in promoting Christ and Catholicism

I have been having (friendly, and over coffee) debates with a couple of Protestant’s (one a pastor), and do not want to misrepresent Catholicism.

Is this correct? Any references would be welcome.

There is such a thing as “invincible ignorance”, meaning that through no fault of their own, that person/people have no knowledge of Christ or specifically knowledge or understanding of the Catholic faith.

That said, say that that soul in question is really living the tenants of Christ without being aware of it. Maybe he/she does not call God “Jesus” or know about him, but yet he is doing all he/she possibly can to be the human being God created that person to be.

God does not make mistakes and ALL people on earth are Children of God. Therefore, God knows of those who do not have access to the Truth. After all, God placed that soul in that position.

Also remember that the mercy of Christ is infinite and that he is not bound by time as we humans are.

In the split second or moments it takes a person to die, they can meet Christ and choose to accept him.

Of course we don’t konw for certain what happens, but as Catholics, we do believe in the infinite mercy of Christ and his ability to save regardless of seemingly insurrmountable odds.

God can overcome everything, but that does not contradict our free will when given the opportunity to accept the Savior, whether that happens throughout life or just as we take our last breath.

I hope that helps!

[quote=Hibernian]General Protestant theology has that if one has no knowledge of Christ (through their own ignorance, or geographical location, race etc.) that one can never get to heaven, no matterr what. They are automatically bound for hell. This would include all in 3rd world counties, separate continents (especially before modern travel) etc., etc., ad infinitum.

Is this correct? Any references would be welcome.
[/quote]

you may be able to convince them that THEY don’t even believe this! you could do this by appealing to the case of abortions/s.i.d.s babies/toddlers who die in car wrecks. these people have either 1. never heard the gospel or 2. have never been able to “believe” (having not reached the protestant “age of accountability” - the reason they refuse infant baptisms). as such, these people would all be bound for hell - and yet, you will find VERY few protestants who accept this or preach this as doctrine.

so the question, then, is why not? why don’t the babies burn in hell? they have original sin, and the wages of sin are death (rom 3:23). why aren’t they damned? why is God’s mercy limited only to children, and where in the bible does it say that this is the case? the answer is that God’s mercy is limitless, and He will have mercy on whomever He wills, and the bible doesn’t say that only children will have mercy. end result, we cannot know the mind of God and on whom He will or will not have mercy.

as for references, the ccc is a wonderful tool to keep you orthodox - that said, it doesn’t help you argue very well. you may try reading some “chapter & verse” articles on the main www.catholic.com site about salvation. these are VERY helpful!

RyanL

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