Invincible ignorance applies to those who have heard and consciously reject Christ and His Church?


#1

Does invincible ignorance also cover those who have heard of Christ and His Church but consciously reject Him because they sincerely do not believe it? If so, then it would seem this renders null and void that teachings of Christ in the scriptures that say that the consequences for unbelief are condemnation.


#2

No.


#3

No.
[/quote]

Hold on… why is the answer “no”? Let’s take Native Americans of a few hundred years ago for example: if they sincerely did not believe, because they were convinced of the truth of the religion that they were raised to believe and truly did not understand the Christian faith, would they not still to some extent fall under the category of invincible ignorance? :confused:

Why? Even granting your premise is true, wouldn’t it be that condemnation is the consequence of unbelief for those who do not have invincible ignorance… so that if invincible ignorance did indeed cover the above category of people, then we would have no contradiction here.

The real problem is going to arise if the answer to your first question is indeed “no”… Exactly how much does it take to remove invincible ignorance? And even if it is removed but the person truly is not convinced (yet still stives to live their life the best that they can based on the way they were raised), are they really going to be condemned for that, and if not, why not?


#4

No. It certainly didn’t seem to apply to Pharaoh, did it? He refused to believe God was God, and to obey Him.

If you are in a building which is on fire, and someone points you to the fire exit door, and yet you refuse to believe it is the exit, will you burn?


#5

It is impossible to judge whether another person’s ignorance is vincible or invincible. That is for God to decide.

– Mark L. Chance.


#6

If ignorance is “invincible”, then there is no “remedy” for it.

I think we’re talking specifically of someone who manages to go through all of life ignorant of the truth of Christianity through no fault of their own.

There are those who make choices which either directly or indirectly keep them ignorant of the truth (both inside and outside the church). They are “culpably ignorant” as a result and are responsible for their ignorance.

“Those who have heard and consciously reject Christ and His Church” very well might be included in either category. That is, assuming it’s possible to say someone can consciously reject Christ and His Church through no fault of their own. Example, someone whose judgment is impaired by circumstances beyond their control might hear the authentic Gospel and reject it, but not be culpable for the rejection because he’s not culpable for the impaired judgment.

Yet, others might consciously reject the authentic Gospel out of pride and self-love, thus being culpable for it.

DJim


#7

This is a good and essential point. Man has been granted sufficient grace to perceive the truth of the Gospel. If we turn away from it, we have done so out of our own free will and are culpable. Sincerity has nothing to do about it; there are I’m sure many sincere people in Hell for their sincere sins.


#8

From the Catholic Encyclopedia at NewAdvent.org:

So far as fixing human responsibility, the most important division of ignorance is that designated by the terms invincible and vincible. Ignorance is said to be invincible when a person is unable to rid himself of it notwithstanding the employment of moral diligence, that is, such as under the circumstances is, morally speaking, possible and obligatory. This manifestly includes the states of inadvertence, forgetfulness, etc. Such ignorance is obviously involuntary and therefore not imputable. On the other hand, ignorance is termed vincible if it can be dispelled by the use of “moral diligence”. This certainly does not mean all possible effort; otherwise, as Ballerini naively says, we should have to have recourse to the pope in every instance. We may say, however, that the diligence requisite must be commensurate with the importance of the affair in hand, and with the capacity of the agent, in a word such as a really sensible and prudent person would use under the circumstances.

So to the OP’s original question, those who have heard the truth yet reject it are not technically “invincibly” ignorant. However, they may not be completely guilty of rejecting the truth depending on the “capacity of the agent” as the Catholic Encyclopedia states.


#9

[quote=masterjedi747]Hold on… why is the answer “no”?
[/quote]

Because the question included this consideration: those who have heard of Christ and His Church but consciously reject Him because they sincerely do not believe it?

[quote=masterjedi747]Let’s take Native Americans of a few hundred years ago for example: if they sincerely did not believe, because they were convinced of the truth of the religion that they were raised to believe and truly did not understand the Christian faith, would they not still to some extent fall under the category of invincible ignorance? :confused:
[/quote]

Yes. Why? Because they either did not know of the Christian faith or did not understand it. They are invincibly ignorant.

[quote=masterjedi747]Why? Even granting your premise is true, wouldn’t it be that condemnation is the consequence of unbelief for those who do not have invincible ignorance.
[/quote]

You have misunderstood my premise. Damnation may well be the consequence for those who do not have invincible ignorance. But it is God’s decision, not mine. We can only pray that God will be merciful.

[quote=masterjedi747]so that if invincible ignorance did indeed cover the above category of people, then we would have no contradiction here.
[/quote]

I believe we are in agreement. :slight_smile:

[quote=masterjedi747]The real problem is going to arise if the answer to your first question is indeed “no”… Exactly how much does it take to remove invincible ignorance?
[/quote]

Full knowledge and rationality. In other words the capacity to exercise free choice.

[quote=masterjedi747] And even if it is removed but the person truly is not convinced (yet still stives to live their life the best that they can based on the way they were raised), are they really going to be condemned for that, and if not, why not?
[/quote]

We cannot know the decisions of God for the Salvation of each individual soul. However, if someone – in full knowledge of the Gospel and with full capacity to choose rationally – then rejects it: well he/she is playing with fire. Literally.


#10

I have been told by more than one faithful priest that invincible ignorance can even apply to non-Catholics who have actually been told about Jesus and His Church. Yet John 3:18 says that those who do not believe are condemned.

This teaching of the Church is very troubling. Not because I want anyone to go to hell. But rather because it seems to so water down things that they mean almost nothing. Under the understanding above there are virtually no non-Catholics who have heard the gospel who are held responsible. If sincerely not believing the gospel upon hearing it is a viable excuse then really the vast majority of people who hear and disbelieve aren’t going to be condemned. Yet John 3:18 and several other verses in the Bible say those who choose to disbelieve are condemned. Those verses don’t say “those who hear, really do believe, but refuse to join the Church” rather they say (in a completely unqualified way) that those who don’t believe are condemned.

It seems that practically the only people held responsible for the scriptural command to believe are Catholics. Practically everyone else is excused under invincible ignorance - this includes those who have heard the gospel, too.

The Catechism’s teaching on the necessity of being Catholic and the Biblical teaching on the necessity of faith in Christ — under the above understanding these apply to practically nobody outside the Church. Yet nowhere is it recorded that Jesus made these kind of exceptions. This troubles me.

For those who said that invincible ignorance does not apply to those who have heard: this view is consistent with biblical teaching. But to my knowledge it is not being taught by anyone in the Church that I’m aware of. Please reply and let me know if you know of authoritative sources within the Church teaching this view.


#11

At first glance, perhaps the Church’s teaching does sound troubling…but add to your John 3:18 the following:

1 Timothy 1:13
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.

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…

Luke 23:34
And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Romans 9:13-16
As it is written: “I loved Jacob but hated Esau.” What then are we to say? Is there injustice on the part of God? Of course not! For he says to Moses: “I will show mercy to whom I will, I will take pity on whom I will.” So it depends not upon a person’s will or exertion, but upon God, who shows mercy.

See the Catholic Encyclopedia excerpt I posted a couple posts ago.

Also consider the Catechism as an authoritative source (these can apply to those who have heard, i.e. vincible ignorance):

Paragraph 1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

Paragraph 1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

In short, I don’t think you should be troubled with the Church’s teaching but assured. God can show mercy (Rm. 9:16, Lk. 23:34) if the person’s ignorance is genuine (1 Tim. 1:13, John 15:24). But it has to be genuine, as the Catechism emphasizes by saying, “Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.”


#12

I inserted the bold text – with the bold text included this is what the Church teaches. The original makes no such exception like the Church does today.

See the Catholic Encyclopedia excerpt I posted a couple posts ago.

I did. And I’m a fairly intelligent person. But I have to say that it went completely over my head, and I did not understand it. Please feel to explain or paraphrase – maybe that would help.

Paragraph 1859
Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent.

In other words, almost nobody outside the Catholic church can commit a mortal sin since very few of them have full knowledge. From the outset they very likely may not know that a given sin is mortal. So mortal sin exists but again the only people held accountable for it are Catholics. This seems illogical as it sounds like those outside the Catholic church are far less likely to commit mortal sin (since they don’t have full knowledge) so therefore those outside have a better chance of going to heaven.

Q: Since invincible ignorance applies to those who have never heard the gospel, (aside from Christ’s command to do so) what is the practical good of evanglizing? I mean people can go to heaven anyway without ever having heard of Jesus. In what way does hearing the gospel objectively increase their chances of making it to heaven? For instance, without the sacrament of confession do they have to have perfect contrition for sin to be forgiven for their mortal sin (which it seems very unlikely they could commit)?


#13

[quote=eric3141]In other words, almost nobody outside the Catholic church can commit a mortal sin since very few of them have full knowledge.
[/quote]

Except that we have knowledge of sin written on our hearts. Natural law.

[quote=eric3141]From the outset they very likely may not know that a given sin is mortal. So mortal sin exists but again the only people held accountable for it are Catholics.
[/quote]

We are held to a higher standard. From whom much has been given, much is expected.

[quote=eric3141]Q: Since invincible ignorance applies to those who have never heard the gospel, (aside from Christ’s command to do so) what is the practical good of evanglizing?
[/quote]

Not to evangelize would be to disobey Jesus.

[quote=eric3141] I mean people can go to heaven anyway without ever having heard of Jesus.
[/quote]

We cannot say for sure. Only God can say for sure. But we can say what is risky behaviour.

[quote=eric3141] In what way does hearing the gospel objectively increase their chances of making it to heaven?
[/quote]

Presumably there other benefits. Like knowing God. Like knowing God’s commandments. Also hearing the Gospel explains what God expects of us.

[quote=eric3141]For instance, without the sacrament of confession do they have to have perfect contrition for sin to be forgiven for their mortal sin (which it seems very unlikely they could commit)?
[/quote]

Knowledge of moral law is written on our hearts. So for a person who is genuinely searching for God, then sin would signal moral pain and the person would feel contrition. Everything is not intellectual. Some things are emotional or spiritual.


#14

I inserted the bold text – with the bold text included this is what the Church teaches. The original makes no such exception like the Church does today.

The Church is not in the business of making “exceptions”–the Church is in the business of teaching the truth…and that truth is what is taught today and what has been taught before. It’s all one thing.

In other words, almost nobody outside the Catholic church can commit a mortal sin since very few of them have full knowledge.

That’s not what the Church teaches, since no human being can judge who has “full knowledge” and who doesn’t…

From the outset they very likely may not know that a given sin is mortal.

But no one judges the individual, except God.

So mortal sin exists but again the only people held accountable for it are Catholics.

You seem to keep saying this, but the Church doesn’t teach this and never has.

This seems illogical as it sounds like those outside the Catholic church are far less likely to commit mortal sin (since they don’t have full knowledge) so therefore those outside have a better chance of going to heaven.

I’m not sure you are interpreting “full knowledge” correctly. One thing is sure–the Church does not teach anything on the subject of whether Catholics or non-Catholics are more or less “likely” to commit mortal sin…

Q: Since invincible ignorance applies to those who have never heard the gospel, (aside from Christ’s command to do so) what is the practical good of evanglizing?

What does it mean to “hear the Gospel”???

I mean people can go to heaven anyway without ever having heard of Jesus.

Perhaps never hearing of Jesus in this life, but I think it’s a safe bet that those who go to heaven hear about Jesus rather quickly…

In what way does hearing the gospel objectively increase their chances of making it to heaven?

It’s not all about the destination–some of this is about the journey. The BEST journey by far is through the Catholic Church. That’s what Jesus commanded, at least.

But, God does not ask the impossible of us. That’s what “invincible ignorance” is about. If we’re not at fault, God does not hold us to the impossible task of following the command to embrace the Church.

Really, we should leave it at that, in my view. We are never in the position to judge who is and who is not “invincibly ignorant.” All we can/should do is be thankful to God for being both infinitely merciful and infinitely just…

DJim


#15

No, because most mortal sins are not held only by Catholics…i.e. murder, thievery, lust, etc… and like Ani said, there is morality written on our hearts.

Because the must assured way to get to heaven is through the Church. Because we are told to do so by Christ. Because we don’t know the hearts of those who are supposedly “safe”. And because those who have not heard the truth are always obligated to learn the truth…if they don’t, then they are culpable of that, and would not be entirely “innocent” of their ignorance. The best way to heaven is through the Catholic faith.

I’ll try to paraphrase that Catholic Encyclopedia article for you. In the meantime, hope that helps, do some prayin’, that always helps enlighten a person. And don’t be so cynical! :slight_smile:


#16

Just for the record, I think I was referring to eric3141’s premise, not yours… :slight_smile:


#17

[quote=masterjedi747]Just for the record, I think I was referring to eric3141’s premise, not yours…
[/quote]

[quote=Ani Ibi]No.
[/quote]

[quote=masterjedi747]Hold on… why is the answer “no”?
[/quote]

:slight_smile:


#18

Ok, regarding the Catholic Encyclopedia excerpt. Basically it is saying that a person’s level of ignorance can be based on several things. Here are the classifications and what it includes.

Invincible: the individual had not the capacity to avoid the sin or the lack of faith. This could be due to something like genuine ignorance or forgetfulness (like missing a Holy Day) or having been incorrectly taught (like on contraception). This person must still strive to learn the truth to the best of his abilities.

Vincible: the individual should have known better because he went against the conscience written in his heart.


#19

So assuming that someone outside the Church can commit a mortal sin, do they have to have perfect contrition in order to be forgiven since they cannot go to the sacrament of confession? I think that the Church teaches that for Catholics they can only be forgiven a mortal sin (outside of going to confession) by having perfect contrition.

And don’t be so cynical! :slight_smile:

I appreciate your concern. I’m actually not cynical. I just see many things that seem to be contradictions and this troubles me. I tend to ask questions in a direct way without a lot of “fluff” - I’m just trying to get to the truth as quickly as possible and have found that asking direct questions seems to work best for me.

And thank-you SO much for not taking offense. :slight_smile:


#20

Yes, I believe that is correct.


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