The protestants are actually members of the Catholic Church !?

EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS (No Salvation Outside the Church)
And the protestants, actually, are INSIDE the Catholic Church!

They don’t believe in real presence so they don’t have mass; they don’t believe in the authority of the Pope; they are anti the BVM, etc… nevertheless, they actually are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.

Who belongs to the Catholic Church?
“The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”

Their rejection of the many Catholic doctrines is not putting them outside the Catholic Church so long they believe in Christ and have been properly baptized.

Now, this is the game changer:
Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. Lumen Gentium 14

Therefore, for the benefit of the doubt,** is it charitable to believe that all protestants don’t know if the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ?** Because, the truth is that only the all-knowing God who knows exactly what each protestant knows and how deep is his/her knowledge about the Catholic Church which was made necessary by Christ.

Most protestants believe sincerely, that many of the teaching of the Catholic Church is against the bible, hence it’s impossible for them to know that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ.

Is my argument valid? Please enlighten me if I am wrong. Thanks!

Hmm. So Lutherans are cafeteria catholics? I knew it!

You are speaking of invincible ignorance, which is valid. It would apply to those Protestants today who were raised in a non-Catholic faith tradition and, through no fault of their own are ignorant of the Catholic faith. I’m not sure how it would apply to those on this forum who become well aquianted with the Catholic faith yet still reject it.

I asked about this once.

As I understood it, the test for invincible ignorance is if you “fully believe”. What I have, given that I mostly understand the Catholic position and yet reject it for my understanding of God’s will is, from the Catholic perspective is called voluntary ignorance.

This dovetails well with the Lutheran teaching that “God doesn’t play tricks.”

My understanding is: no, they are in material heresy (unless they are Catholic converts, in which case they are in formal heresy, and thus excommunicated).

Nowadays the Magisterium teaches - in a spirit of ecumenism - that those who have received a valid Baptism are “not in full communion”, but theologically speaking there’s much that could be said here… and there’s some subtle difference between the Church - the mystical body of Christ - and the Catholic Church (the visible structure of the Church constituted and organized in the world as a society and governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him). I’m quoting Lumen Gentium in the last part.

From the Catholic perspective I believe what you are describing as “voluntary ignorance” is termed "vincible ignorance. Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say, in part:

“Invincible ignorance, whether of the law or of the fact, is always a valid excuse and excludes sin. The evident reason is that neither this state nor the act resulting therefrom is voluntary. It is undeniable that a man cannot be invincibly ignorant of the natural law, so far as its first principles are concerned, and the inferences easily drawn therefrom. This, however, according to the teaching of St. Thomas, is not true of those remoter conclusions, which are deducible only by a process of laborious and sometimes intricate reasoning. Of these a person may be invincibly ignorant. Even when the invincible ignorance is concomitant, it prevents the act which it accompanies from being regarded as sinful. The perverse temper of soul, which in this case is supposed, retains, of course, such malice as it had. Vincible ignorance, being in some way voluntary, does not permit a man to escape responsibility for the moral deformity of his deeds; he is held to be guilty and in general the more guilty in proportion as his ignorance is more voluntary.

In the broadest sense, the Trinitarian baptism is a Catholic sacrament of initiation. Baptism incorporates us into the mystical body of Christ.

So when a person receives this baptism, one is within the Catholic Church, and that is why we refer to Protestants as our separated brothers and sisters.

In certain cases, if a Protestant wants to become Catholic and affirms and believes in the essentials of being Catholic, depending on the discretion of the pastor, that person can start going to Mass the very next day. Their belief brings them into full communion with the Church.

I probably have the term wrong, as that definition doesn’t sound at all like what I understood - the conversation was in French, not my best language.

At least you have a “not my best” language. :smiley:

I think it’s not ignorance (neither vincible or invincible) if you actually KNOW and understand the Catholic position and yet reject it. It’s probably obstinacy. That is, if you REALLY know and understand. If part of your lack of understanding is because you willfully don’t want to know and understand Catholic teaching or spend adequate effort and time for it, the it’s vincible ignorance.

For me, it just gives me the ability to embarrass myself in multiple countries :slight_smile:

The gist of the conversation I had was that being exposed to Catholic teaching didn’t put anyone in danger. Otherwise, it would hinder Catholics who would only want to approach people they knew would accept the teaching for fear of exposing others to knowledge that could ‘condemn’ them. In order to reject the Catholic Church, you had to full accept it first - and the idea was that intellectual knowledge didn’t rise to that level.


It just seems to me that from this perspective no one should attempt to evangelize, not even Protestants, because there may be those that will reject it and therefore condemn themselves. Christ never avoided truth. He allowed 5,000 people to walk away from him after telling them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. He did not run after them. He told the Apostles, concerning those who rejected them, to shake the dust from their sandals and move on. They did not have to first accept and then reject the Gospel.

If the Catholic Church is the one, true Church and does indeed possess the fulness of truth and those who hear this truth reject it, then it seems to me that they are in spiritual danger to the degree that they reject it.

Here’s where having a Lutheran around may be useful - generally we hold a diminished view of free will when it comes to initial salvation, and would say that God would never put someone at risk unless he was going to bring them into the faith and give them saving grace. We would also say that any positive evangelical effort is truly done by the Holy Spirit.

So from a Lutheran view point, go out there a make enthusiastic Catholics!!!:thumbsup:

Wow - this is all very insightful and complex. I’m re-reading everyone’s post in an effort to learn more.

I read there are subtle differences between the mystical body of Christ and the visible Church constituted by Christ… so what is an example of the subtle differences?

Is it that the visible Church on earth has yet to complete her mission on earth or that we are not yet the Church triumphet??

Thanks ahead for any thoughts. James

Not exactly. Even if you understand the catholic position fully, but have concluded that where we disagree, the disagreements arose from human weaknesses and failures of catholic leaders, you are still doing your best to surrender your will to Christ’s.

It’s not like you’ve become aware the Christ REALLY DID will for there to be a visible apostolic succession of authority upon which he bestowed the Grace of infallible teaching and yet you’ve rejected it because you like your own way better.

If you’ve truly done your best to discern truth from errors and accepted the opportunities of Grace that you recognized as such, you won’t be damned for those opportunities you failed to recognize as genuine Grace.

The sad part for the church is that this mercy extended by God to those who have rejected His plan for the church may not condemn those who draw wrong conclusions, but it still profoundly damages the witness the Church was intended to be for the world.

The Church on earth is the Church militant because we are in a spiritual battle. The Church in purgatory is the Church suffering. The Church in heaven is the Church triumphant and the destiny of all Christians.

The mystical body of Christ is the Church in all of its forms. Christ is the head. We are the Body. We are, then, intrinsically united (being one body) with the saints in heaven, thus the doctrine of the “Communion of Saints” which is why we can ask for their intercession on our behalf. The uniting factor in all of this is the Eucharist which makes us truly one.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

•The members of the Church are bound together by a supernatural life communicated to them by Christ through the sacraments (John 15:5). Christ is the centre and source of life to Whom all are united, and Who endows each one with gifts fitting him for his position in the body (John 15:7-12). These graces, through which each is equipped for his work, form it into an organized whole, whose parts are knit together as though by a system of ligaments and joints (John 15:16; Colossians 2:19).
•Through them, too, the Church has its growth and increase, growing in extension as it spreads through the world, and intensively as the individual Christian develops in himself the likeness of Christ (John 15:13-15).
•In virtue of this union the Church is the fulness or complement (pleroma) of Christ (Ephesians 1:23). It forms one whole with Him; and the Apostle even speaks of the Church as “Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
•This union between head and members is conserved and nourished by the Holy Eucharist. Through this sacrament our incorporation into the Body of Christ is alike outwardly symbolized and inwardly actualized; “We being many are one bread, one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

You are correct in saying that evangelization is really accomplished through the Holy Spirit. Regardless, we do have a role to play in being instruments of the Holy Spirit.
As far as diminished free will, I think that might be where we part company, although I would have to know more of what is actually intended by this statement. I also have a very difficult time with believing that God intends to bring some into the faith and not others. Christ died for all and desires that all be saved. It is quite possible that I am misinterpreting what you intended. Maybe you could explain further.

This is indeed sad, and it is why you will never (I pray) find me disagreeing with a Catholic who is not absolutely sure of his faith. I will always do my best to never lead one of God’s sheep away from where God has rightly placed them.

Now for anybody going to a mega-church, they’re fair game!! :slight_smile:

I’ll do my best to bring them into my faith so at least they will have some better nourishment.

Thankfully, we don’t believe that either! I know that God intends all of his children to come to full communion with him. How this happens is a mystery to me!

The Lutheran concept of free will when if comes to salvation is quite the rabbit hole of paradoxes and mysteries all trying to be wrapped up in a human language that seemingly always fails.

The running joke I have with my pastor is that “the only time Lutherans have free will is when we’re talking about free will.” We all chuckle, but it’s a nervous type of chuckle because we’re all wondering if we had enough free to laugh freely. :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit