So it is the Logos, the Spirit of Christ, who writes the law on their
hearts, that, it makes known to them interiorly what they need to do. Some
then could follow it without knowing that fact. So Socrates: (1)read and
what the Spirit wrote in his heart; (2) he had ; (3) he . We see this obedience in the fact that Socrates
went so far as to say, as Plato quotes him many times, that the one who
seeks the truth must have as little as possible to do with the things of
Let us notice the three things, just enumerated: St. Paul in Romans 3:29
asks: “Is He the God of the Jews only? No, He is also the God of the
gentiles.” It means that if God made salvation depend on knowing and
following the law of Moses, He would act as if He cared for no one but
Jews. But God does care for all. Paul insists God makes salvation possible
by faith for them (cf. Romans chapter 4). Faith in Paul includes the three
things we have enumerated which Socrates did.
So in following that Spirit of Christ Socrates was accepting and
following the Spirit of Christ, But then, from Romans 8:9 we gather that if
one has and follows the Spirit of Christ, he " Christ". That
is, He is a , which in Paul’s terms means a , which is the Church.
So Socrates then was a member of the Church, but not formally, only
substantially. He could not know the Church. So he was saved, not his
false religious beliefs <but in spite of them. He was saved by faith, and
similarly protestants and others who do not formally join the Church today
are saved not as members of e. g. , the Baptist church, which some seem to
think is an integral part of the one Church of Christ – no, they are saved
as individuals, who make use of the means of sanctification> they are able
to find even outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church.
Many other Fathers speak much like St. Justin. A large presentation of
them can be found in Wm. Most, <Our Father’s Plan>, in a 28 page appendix.
Lumen gentium also likes to speak of the Church as a <mystery>. This
is correct, for it is a mystery, since it is . It does
have visible structure, and no one who knowingly rejects that can be saved.
It has members visibly adhering. But it also has members who belong to it
even without knowing that, and without external explicit adherence. Hence
there is much mystery, to be known fully and clearly only at the end.
So all other forms of Christianity are heretical and/or schismatic. They
are not legitimate.
The Decree on Ecumenism states that the worship and liturgical actions
of other Christian bodies 'can truly engender a life of grace and can be
rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of
Here is the actual text of the Decree: “In addition, out of the elements
or goods by which, taken together, the Church herself is built up and made
alive, certain things, or rather many and excellent things can exist
outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church: The written Word of God,
the life of grace, faith, hope and love, and other interior gifts of the
Holy Spirit and visible elements: all these things, which come from Christ
and lead to Him, belong to the one-only Church of Christ. Even not a few
sacred actions of the Christian religion are carried out among the brothers
separated from us. . . which beyond doubt can really generate the life of
grace, and are to be said to be apt to open the entry into the community of
We notice the things mentioned: (1) – Protestants read it.
(2)– yes, one can reach the state of grace without
formally entering the Catholic Church, as 16 says:“They who
without fault do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but yet seek
God with a sincere heart, and try with the help of grace to fulfill his
will, known through the dictate of conscience, can attain eternal
salvation.” Even pagans can do this. (3) - yes, outsiders can have
faith, at least if they are not misled by Luther’s great error on what
faith is. (4) - again, even a pagan may attain these.
(5)– yes, if outsiders reach the
state of grace, they also have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (6) - Baptism if validly given. BUT we must note the next
words in the decree:" all these things. . . belong to the one-only Church
of Christ." In other words, it is not a protestant church as protestant
that can provide these things -these are things that belong to the Catholic
Church, which the Protestants have not completely rejected. So some
religious actions are carried out in protestantism which can really
generate the life of grace. Yes, Baptism does that. Reading of Scripture,
prayers, and other things enumerated above in the first 6 items can do
that. But again, it is not protestant worship as protestant that gives
grace – it is things the protestants have retained even after breaking
with the one-only Church of Christ. As the previous sentence said:"
So the Decree continues in the next sentence cited above: "they belong
to the one-only Church of Christ."
Sorry about the Cut and Paste, due to this particular comp. its safe IMHO this way.