[font=Fixedsys]“Invincible ignorance” has always been a part of
the Church, though not necessarily using those exact words.
A diligent search in the Fathers shows a similar situation in regard to
"no salvation outside the Church." We find again two sets of assertions,
very often by the same writers. One group of statements speaks very
strongly, and almost stringently, about the need of membership; the other
group softens this position by taking a remarkably broad view of what
membership consists in.
As we said, in the problems of the human knowledge of Jesus, the Fathers
eventually did find out how to reconcile the two kinds of assertions. On
our present question of membership in the Church, they seem to have found
only part of the answer. But, with their help, we will, at the end of this[/font]
appendix, propose a new Scripturally-based solution.
[font=Fixedsys]And the solution?
[/font][/size][/font]So we seem to have found the much needed solution: Those who follow the
Spirit of Christ, the Logos who writes the law on their hearts, are
Christians, are members of Christ, are members of His Church. They may
lack indeed external adherence; they may never have heard of the Church.
But yet, in the substantial sense, without formal adherence, they do
belong to Christ, to His Church.
They can also be called sons of God, for Romans 8:14 adds: “All who are
led by the Spirit are sons of God.” As sons, of course, they are coheirs
with Christ (Rom 8:17), and so will inherit the kingdom with Him.
We can even add that objectively–though probably those who drafted the
text or voted for it did not realize it–Vatican II taught the same thing:
“For all who belong to Christ, having His Spirit, coalesce into one