Invincible ignorance an invention?



It seems that Lumen Gentium allows for non-Catholics to be saved through invincible ignorance, yet the earliest I have been able to trace this tenet of invincible ignorance is to 1863 in a papal encyclical of Pope Pius IX.

Augustine states that “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.” Does he also discuss invincible ignorance?

Luke 23:34 has Jesus asking his Father to forgive those who crucified him because they knew not what they did. If there was no chance of their being saved because of their ignorance, then his statement makes no sense.

Are there papal references to invincible ignorance before the Reformation? I’m searching to reconcile Lumen Gentium and Pope Boniface XVI’s papal bull of the 1300 which proclaims no salvation outside the Church.

God bless,



Have you seen this article?

Keep in mind that it was plain in all ages of the Church, that no one before the time of Christ was officially/formally/consciously in the Church Christ established, and yet since God wills the salvation of all, he must have provided a means for salvation.

Implicit in statements on this topic is that you have to willfully place yourself outside the Church in your rejection of salvation, which can be done in a number of ways depending on your level of knowledge.

Another article:


The concept of invincible ignorance seems to come from the words of Jesus found in Luke 12:47-48:
47And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.


It is a mistake to say they were saved by their ignorance. Rather they were saved by the truth that God plants on all men’s souls and the truth that he gives them the grace to understand. They are simply not culpable for what they are ignornant of.

Romans 2:15
13] For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
14] When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15] They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them
16] on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Biblical considerations:

The Bible gives us many “windows” in to the answer to this question. The Apostles want Jesus to cast fire down upon a man casting out demons in Jesus name. The man is not one of them. Yet Jesus said “those who are not against us are for us” and recommended leniency. The three wise men were not Jews or Christians, yet had some knowledge of God. God’s spirit led them. The Good Samaritan was held up as an exmaple of proper Christian spirit, even though the Samaritans were pagans who included the God of Israel in their many Gods. Cornelius was neither Jew nor Christian, yet was said to be a “God-fearing and righteous man” BEFORE Peter came to him. I don’t believe the God-fearing and righteous go to hell.

With regard to ignorance, it should be noted that in Luke 12 Jesus says “to the one who knew, he will be treated with the unbelievers, but to the one who did not know, he will recieve but few lashes.”. Luke 12 around v. 48.

I have some quotes that I will post later. One from Pius IX.


Thanks, Thessalonians, Todd, and De Fide,

I 'll study the Catholic Answers articles!

Thanks for the Bible quotes; they’re truly valuable.

Thess, I have the Pius IX information, along with Augustine’s 43rd Epistle dealing with heretics who are less culpable.

Do you know of any quotes or info. between Augustine and Boniface XVI of the 1300s?

I’m trying to build a bridge of use from Jesus to the 1800s with references to invincible ignorance.

All of you are in my prayers,


closed #6

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