Invincible Ignorance and Salvation Outside the Church in Scripture


#1

The Church grants that it is possible for one to attain salvation without a conscious, explicit faith in Christ. One can have an implicit connection to Christ and the Church and thereby still attain salvation.

Question: Recently, I have been looking for examples of this in Scripture where God shows mercy and forgiveness or one receives the Holy Spirit with only an implicit faith in God or Christ or the promise of Christ, or no faith due to invincible ignorance. Are there any?

Below are three examples I have considered. Example 3 is the closest one I have found. I understand there doesn’t have to be an example for the concept to be supported by Scripture, but thought maybe there is one. If not, I might ask for help explaining how it is supported by scripture.

Example 1
In Jonah, Jonah tells the Ninevites that God will destroy them because of their wickedness. Then, Jonah says the Ninevites believed in God and turned from their wickedness, so God relented and spared them. Notice, it is only after they believed and turned from their wickedness first that God did not destroy them. They were forgiven after they believed, so the answer to the question is no.

Example 2
Acts 10:45–47 demonstrates unambiguously God giving Cornelius the Holy Spirit before Cornelius received baptism. This was after Christ and the apostles had already preached the necessity of faith in Christ and baptism for salvation. But, here, Cornelius received the Holy Spirit after he had already feared God and prayed to God continually, so the answer to the question is also no.

Example 3
In 1 Kings, God sent Elijah to stay with Zarephath, a widow who did not believe in the Lord. When her son became ill and died, Elijah prayed for God to bring her son back to life. Afterwards, the widow acknowledged that “the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."

This example can possibly be a yes to the question because God brought her son back to life, an act of mercy, apparently, before Zarephath shows any saving faith. Perhaps, she had implicit faith.
Actually, this is referenced by Christ in Luke 4:24-26 as an example of God going outside his covenant people to show mercy and grace, which made Christ’s Jewish audience indignant.


Can Someone please explain Invincible Ignorance to me?
Can Someone please explain Invincible Ignorance to me?
#2

There are certainly examples, in scripture, of people being forgiven for doing(that they didnt know was wrong–Jesus stated this) something obviously wrong(or sinful) such as when Jesus said, " Father forgive them they know not what they do." This is the point with invincble ignorance. They are excused for committing sin if they arent culpable or guilty of the sin. In this case, it would be formally accepting the Catholic faith (the sin being rejecting it). If the person had the virtue of faith (meaning if they knew the truth they would accept it), and had no other mortal sins on their soul they would be saved. Of course only God knows who is culpable and who isnt. It also, would seem very logical, in my opinion, that those formal members of the Church would have a much better chance at salvation (dieing in the state of grace) then all others. This is why we must (becuase of Christ’s command) go out and try to convert every single person.


#3

So God plays a guessing game, right?

If there is an indivudual out there, who desires truth, yet does not know Christ, or at least the Christ according to Catholicism, and never goes under the tittle “Catholic,” yet yearns to know Truth, but cannot accept catholicism because of disagreements, he/she is still dammed?

Or let’s say there is one having psycological problems, depression, OCD, anything that makes faith all the more difficult, especially having no good influences around, yet also desires Truth, but stumbles alot, ever continuing because of that desire to find the Truth, then dies. Is he/she dammed according to the catholic Church?

This strikes me as nonesense, and no God I imagine plays a guessing game. If one TRULY desires Truth, he/she shall find it. And that Truth is God.

Does Catholicism really mean to say that everyone, in every other non-catholic religion, innerly knows Catholicism is the Truth, yet refuses to accept it because of pride? That ALL of them are arrogant and wrong? If so then I’m glad I’m not Catholic. That’s the most arrogant thing I ever heard. Attitudes as this is why the violence of the medevil days erupted.


#4

The repentant criminal hanging on the cross beside Jesus received salvation.
Luke 23v.39-46
But will you also say no because he did express faith in the moment before he received the words of salvation?

But I wonder if at the moment of death, those who are invincibly ignorant are instantaneously shown who Jesus is and in that moment have the freedom to accept or reject, and if to accept, receive final salvation? I cannot believe that God in His mercy does not at that final instant show Himself to the spirit of the dying person…


#5

I agree!


#6

No, God does not play a guessing game.

If there is an indivudual out there, who desires truth, yet does not know Christ, or at least the Christ according to Catholicism, and never goes under the tittle “Catholic,” yet yearns to know Truth, but cannot accept catholicism because of disagreements, he/she is still dammed?

According to the Church, this individual could attain salvation assuming they meet all the requirements for invincible ignorance.
If the indivdual fully knows the Catholic Church is the one true Church necessary for salvation but does not accept this, he/she is damned.

Or let’s say there is one having psycological problems, depression, OCD, anything that makes faith all the more difficult, especially having no good influences around, yet also desires Truth, but stumbles alot, ever continuing because of that desire to find the Truth, then dies. Is he/she dammed according to the catholic Church?

No, again, I can only tell you what the Church teaches, this individual could attain salvation assuming they meet all the requirements for invincible ignorance.

This strikes me as nonesense, and no God I imagine plays a guessing game. If one TRULY desires Truth, he/she shall find it. And that Truth is God.

Well, then, you agree with the Catholic Church. :wink:

Does Catholicism really mean to say that everyone, in every other non-catholic religion, innerly knows Catholicism is the Truth, yet refuses to accept it because of pride?

No, that’s not what the Catholic Church teaches. :nope:

That ALL of them are arrogant and wrong?

Really, the Church takes a more sensitive tone than this to other religions and non-Catholics. It reaches out to them in open dialogue. :slight_smile: Is there one Truth, one God, one Church? Yes, to not point this out would be bad, but it’s not as simple as calling others arrogant and wrong.

If so then I’m glad I’m not Catholic. That’s the most arrogant thing I ever heard. Attitudes as this is why the violence of the medevil days erupted.

Hope my brief response starts to help clear-up some misunderstanding. :slight_smile:


#7

Right, he believed in Christ, so this would not be an example of invinicible ignorance.

But I wonder if at the moment of death, those who are invincibly ignorant are instantaneously shown who Jesus is and in that moment have the freedom to accept or reject, and if to accept, receive final salvation? I cannot believe that God in His mercy does not at that final instant show Himself to the spirit of the dying person…

Interesting thought. I was listening to Jimmy Akin on the radio yesterday and he said something similar. We don’t know what people may think in there last moments. It’s reasonable to think one could sincerely accept Christ at this time and receive salvation.


#8

This is an excellent point, Rodger. Who do you think Jesus was asking the Father to forgive? Everyone? The Jews? This may sound like a dumb question, but do you believe God answered this prayer?

Forgiveness would not automatically mean they would have salvation, would it? But this could be an example of God showing forgiveness to unbelievers.


#9

The following thread goes into more detail on invincible ignorance including the scriptural basis.


#10

“According to the Church, this individual could attain salvation assuming they meet all the requirements for invincible ignorance.
If the indivdual fully knows the Catholic Church is the one true Church necessary for salvation but does not accept this, he/she is damned.”

So God plays a guessing game. Unless one is perfect, remains clean from all sin, understands every theological doctrine perfectly, one is dammed. The Church in pas ttimes has called many “acurssed” simply for different theological beliefs.

Then, God plays a guessing game, according to these “men.”

Again if one disires Him, he/she shall find Him, and will eventually abandon all sin. God shall not abandon such a soul, nor will He say, “opps, you guessed wrong, and comitted one sin 4 seconds before death, see you, into the lake of fire forever to burn burn burn.”

sighs I suppose you’re going to cast stones at me now, go a head.


#11

A TLM Catholic I know (my wife’s uncle) believes even one as the Amish is dammed because they’re not “Catholic.” I despise such self-righteous attitudes as this, though I love him. But it’s a perfect example of God playing a “guessing game.”


#12

Again if one desires Him, he/she shall find Him, and will eventually abandon all sin.

Really? I don’t know anyone who is sin free. Do you? Where did Jesus or the Apostles say this?

God shall not abandon such a soul, nor will He say, “opps, you guessed wrong, and committed one sin 4 seconds before death, see you, into the lake of fire forever to burn burn burn.”

It depends on the sin. If you committed a willful murder, or rape, or an act of pedophilia four seconds before you were killed would you deserve salvation?


#13

12 5 All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, 6 while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.


#14

LOL–Good question!!! I specifically didnt mention who I thought Jesus was talking to. It is in dispute. Many scholars have different opinions. However, it does show that people can commit a sin, but because of their ignorance(because Our Lord said “they know not what they do) they can be forgiven. This is the point. If one rejects the Church, and is not culpable for that particular sin(or if his ignorance reduces the sin to venial) then he wouldnt be damned beuase of it. He may go to hell for a different mortal sin. So, if he isnt culpable, and has no other mortal sins on his soul, and has the virtue of faith (if he knew the truth he would believe it) then he would go to heaven even though he isnt a formal member of the Catholic church. That is alot of “ifs.” I think it shows how desperate our non-catholic” freinds" are. Combine this with Pius XII’s warning in Humani Generis that we shouldnt make the teaching “Outside the Church There is No Salvation” into a meaingless phrase, then it seems that our non-catholic “friends” are in very near danger of going to hell. LET’S CONVERT THEM THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT!!! :thumbsup:


#15

This is not what the Catholic Church teaches. I didn’t fully explain it and I might have done a poor job. Why would you think I would cast stones at you? If you would like to learn more, please ask away. I may not be able to help personally, but I wouldn’t want you to have the wrong idea.


#16

You make more good points. :thumbsup:


#17

Well Mr. All Knowing, then I’d say that person obviously isn’t looking for Truth. And if one desires God, EVENTUALLY he WILL abandon sin.


#18

Thank you for the sarcastic comeback.

No man is without sin. It is only by the strength given us by the Grace of God that we avoid and continue to grow toward the ideal of a totally sin free life. In this life we never achieve that ideal. We are not perfect as Christ was.

Your above statement makes it sound as though we are able, in our own strength and desire, to achieve the goal of a sin free life. I hope and pray that I have misread your statement.


#19

“Thank you for the sarcastic comeback.”

I’m sorry. Truly. But don’t be so quick to condemn, because I read sarcasm in your post as well, which was what sparked me. Especially your opening word “really,” as if you know so much better than I. I know the way religous arguments go.

Yes, only by the Grace of God does one find Him.
therefore if one desires Truth, God is calling him/her, and he/she shall find that Truth. That’s what I meant. The difference is, I don’t believe one must claim the tittle “Catholic” to be saved.


#20

Perhaps these:
John 15:21-24 But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake: because they know not him who sent me. If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin… (this passage shows that one must “hear” the Word properly in order to be guilty)

Luke 12:47-48 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more. (this passage shows how the degree to which someone knows the Truth is how he will be judged)

Exodus 22:21 You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt…If you do afflict them, and they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword… (this last verse prefigures the protection of those innocently outside the faith…it at least shows God’s mercy extends to “outsiders”)


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