invincible ignorance
#1
Sorry for so many questions  :LOL: I just realized there's a whole bunch of stuff I never learned about! or didn't learn enough. I'd appreciate any help :D

I read that invincible ignorance is when a person can't find the truth even if they search for it. (clear example: living on an island that was never evangelized with no contact at all with the outside world). However, is it still invincible ignorance if a person is seeking the truth with an open heart but they simply don't come to it for other reasons? not a complete absence of information. For example, a Greek person living in Greece who never becomes Catholic because culturally, there's not much about Catholicism and the thought never even enters their mind.. they're Orthodox just because of their culture, but they don't reject Catholicism knowingly or at all. Or maybe they really like Catholicism but they never come to an understanding that it's the true faith, but they never had any rejection of it. Is that like invincible ignorance or not?

By the way... I'm all for leaving the judgement to God. In particular cases I don't like to speculate because maybe even if the person didn't have invincible ignorance, maybe they were given an understanding of the truth in their last moments and accepted it.. I think someone like St Augustine had that idea about well-meaning pagans, so maybe it's true for other cases as well. St Padre Pio said that people might get a "last chance" in their very last moments when they seem unresponsive but are still alive. So.. there's always hope. They can receive perfect contrition too. But in general, how do we understand invincible ignorance in the traditional way? thank you.
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#2
It's a tough call, I mean a Greek or a Russian that grew up in a robust Orthodox culture,had faith in Jesus Christ, went to confession, kept the fasts etc is somehow still " outside the Church" juridically speaking I suppose, but I would not so much despair of their salvation.  I guess  privately I believe that basically Orthodox Christians and us Catholics are really not all that different,at least as individuals. I think we'll be surprised should we get to heaven just who we might find there. I hope that men like Barsanuphius of Optina, Paul of Obnora ,the three martyr monks Trophim, Ferapont and Vasily ( murdered as the Paschal bells were ringing in 1993 at Optina) , or the Coptic Father Matthew the Poor might be there despite their confessional differences!

When it comes to unbaptized pagans, aborigines or those on desert islands I suppose only God knows. I'm still of the opinion that explicit faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation, but I'm hopeful that those who do not know Christ for whatever reason may recieve some sort of interior inspiration, perhaps unknown to an outside observer, that gives them an opportunity to make an act of faith in Jesus Christ before the soul leaves the body,and with sorrow for their sins. Surely Jesus Christ can do this,or send an angel to teach them like he supposedly did with some of the Alaskan natives before the first Russian mission came etc.
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#3
Well, most people (except a few crazy baptist, as always) were pretty unanimous that those twenty something Coptics who were murdered by ISIS were indeed martyrs. So, in a way, they had to be in Christ's body or participate in it somehow. So, it is possible that there is something to formerbuddhist's (and VII's) ecclesiology. Of course one shouldn't be presumptuous.

About ignorance: ignorance is not a virtue, so one shouldn't presume either whether that little Asian fella who never heard of Christ is saved or not—otherwise, what's the point of Christ commanding His Gospel to be preached and people baptized? But I don't know.
Also, St. Augustine discusses how ignorance (in the positive sense) is evil precisely because evil is lack of something (he even uses analogies with food and concludes that ignorance is both ingesting poison and being in a state of starvation). St. Thomas discusses ignorance here.
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#4
(05-02-2015, 08:00 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: About ignorance: ignorance is not a virtue, so one shouldn't presume either whether that little Asian fella who never heard of Christ is saved or not—otherwise, what's the point of Christ commanding His Gospel to be preached and people baptized?

I've heard various expressions of that question quite a bit:  "if some people might be saved without having heard the Name of Jesus, then why preach the Gospel?" But I don't get it, to be honest.

The Gospel is the Good News, so why not share it? God has sent His only-begotten Son to die for us and allow us the possibility of being with Him -- and our loved ones whom He also deigns to save -- forever and ever. Who wouldn't want to spread the great, astounding news that God is Love, that He wants to save us from death?

On another level, civilizations build on Gospel principles make sense. They are sane and bring about the most Just, ordered, beautiful ways of living possible, with sane laws centered around Catholic social teaching that sees the family as the key structure that needs to be guarded. So, again, who wouldn't want to spread the News that Christ set up a Church that can teach us how to live lives that are the best they can be, temporally speaking (minding that Utopia is not an option)?

And finally, no matter whom God deigns to save (or not), He told us to preach the Gospel. So that's reason enough right there.

Hell is a reality, of course, but I think focusing on it "too much" and having a "fire and brimstone" approach to evangelizing misses the bigger, most important points. And it typically doesn't work. People don't want to be terrorized, and that's how they feel when hearing those types of preachers. Obviously, some people *do* need to hear that aspect of the Gospel in more detail than others (e.g., the cold-blooded, malicious types). If Love won't bring someone in, then fear of God and His Justice might be enough to make them think twice and express attrition, at least, if they can't manage contrition.

To me, the fire and brimstone types are not only ineffective, generally, and can lead people to think of God as a tyrant Who's out to get them, but they're focused on personal salvation rather than on God Himself. "You want in the club and to avoid roasting over the fires of Hell? Then say the Sinners Prayer!" What about the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of God Himself? What about His Love for us, a Love that makes Him want us to be with Him forever? The fire and brimstone approach leads people to attrition rather than contrition. It leads people to scrupulosity and unhealthy fear, to wanting to avoid the wrath of God above loving God and wanting to please Him, etc.  It's bass-ackwards, IMO.
 
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#5
Are you denying the need for baptism (and thus of faith and repentance) for one to be saved? This is something that not even the post-VII more conservative folks (like Ratzinger) deny (that would be hard to deny, since its denial is anathematized).
Christ commanded baptism and teaching not because its salutary for civilization (this is merely a by-product). Also, our God is not a voluntaristic God: His commandments are reasonable (remember the Regensburg address). And its not always easy to simply share the good news if you're not a St. Francis or something. Indeed, the most immediate interpretation of the commandment is that it was commanded for the salvation of the world.

And I'm not preaching hell here, I just answered that one should not be presumptuous about the salvation of some distant fella just because he never heard of Christ. This is the basic teaching even in our new Catechism (1257).

About fear of God: St. Maximus (bearer of the great monastic tradition up to the seventh century) teaches that first one begins with fear of punishment and this generates detachment and this, in turn, generates love, cf. Centuries on Love, I,3. He then complements it saying that there are two kinds of fears: one of punishment and one that is more close related to reverence (so one can say with the psalms and proverbs that “Timor Domini sanctus, permanens in saeculum saeculi”, or some variation thereof), cf. I, 81, and this later is coupled with love and drives out the first. Also, fear of God is linked to humility and gratitude. In one of his most beautiful passages, St. Maximus writes:

Quote:The one who fears the Lord always has humility as his companion and through its promptings is led to divine love and thanksgiving. For he recalls his former worldly life and different transgressions and the temptations bedeviling him from his youth, and how the Lord delivered him from all these things and made him pass from this life of passion to a divine life. And so with fear he receives love as well, ever thankful with deep humility to the benefactor and pilot of our life.

So, fear is even coupled with the Eucharist (thanksgiving), where we literally do nothing and just open our mouths and receive love.

Of course, this is not the simple, animal-like, fear of hell and suffering. But for those of us at the beginning of the spiritual life, this fear of punishment may be very necessary for continence and detachment, so that love can flourish.
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#6
Is the question above for me? I don't at all deny that we need Baptism for salvation. I just read about ideas like Baptism of desire, Baptism of blood and invincible ignorance and I'm trying to understand them in the context of the doctrine. Since these ideas are in Tradition too I think they must not contradict the doctrine and I'm trying to understand that.
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#7
(05-02-2015, 10:57 PM)little_flower10 Wrote: Is the question above for me? I don't at all deny that we need Baptism for salvation. I just read about ideas like Baptism of desire, Baptism of blood and invincible ignorance and I'm trying to understand them in the context of the doctrine. Since these ideas are in Tradition too I think they must not contradict the doctrine and I'm trying to understand that.

Sorry, that post was addressed to Vox Clamantis.  :P
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#8
(05-02-2015, 10:26 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Are you denying the need for baptism (and thus of faith and repentance) for one to be saved? This is something that not even the post-VII more conservative folks (like Ratzinger) deny (that would be hard to deny, since its denial is anathematized).
Christ commanded baptism and teaching not because its salutary for civilization (this is merely a by-product). Also, our God is not a voluntaristic God: His commandments are reasonable (remember the Regensburg address). And its not always easy to simply share the good news if you're not a St. Francis or something. Indeed, the most immediate interpretation of the commandment is that it was commanded for the salvation of the world.

And I'm not preaching hell here, I just answered that one should not be presumptuous about the salvation of some distant fella just because he never heard of Christ. This is the basic teaching even in our new Catechism (1257).

About fear of God: St. Maximus (bearer of the great monastic tradition up to the seventh century) teaches that first one begins with fear of punishment and this generates detachment and this, in turn, generates love, cf. Centuries on Love, I,3. He then complements it saying that there are two kinds of fears: one of punishment and one that is more close related to reverence (so one can say with the psalms and proverbs that “Timor Domini sanctus, permanens in saeculum saeculi”, or some variation thereof), cf. I, 81, and this later is coupled with love and drives out the first. Also, fear of God is linked to humility and gratitude. In one of his most beautiful passages, St. Maximus writes:

Quote:The one who fears the Lord always has humility as his companion and through its promptings is led to divine love and thanksgiving. For he recalls his former worldly life and different transgressions and the temptations bedeviling him from his youth, and how the Lord delivered him from all these things and made him pass from this life of passion to a divine life. And so with fear he receives love as well, ever thankful with deep humility to the benefactor and pilot of our life.

So, fear is even coupled with the Eucharist (thanksgiving), where we literally do nothing and just open our mouths and receive love.

Of course, this is not the simple, animal-like, fear of hell and suffering. But for those of us at the beginning of the spiritual life, this fear of punishment may be very necessary for continence and detachment, so that love can flourish.

Renatus, I'm sensing that you're thinking that I'm thinking you're going all hellfire and brimstone, are "preaching Hell and nothing else" and that I have some sort of grievance with you. That's not the case!  I want to get that out of the way and assure you that I wasn't directing my comments to -- or about -- any given individual. S'all good!

To answer your questions, my take on it all boils down to "Do what God tells you, and trust Him to sort things out in accordance with perfect Justice and Mercy." Or, as the FE Twitter tagline goes, "Love 'em all; let God sort 'em out" LOL

What I think can be read here, in the EENS section:  http://www.fisheaters.com/101.html 

Though I'm not an "SSPXer," Lefebvre wrote a couple of things that might help Little Flower with all this. I've posted them before a number of times, but I'll do it again. Any emphasis, in bold, will be mine:

Archbishop Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics Wrote:"We must say it clearly: such a concept is radically opposed to Catholic dogma. The Church is the one ark of salvation, and we must not be afraid to affirm it. You have often heard it said, "Outside the Church there is no salvation"--a dictum which offends contemporary minds. It is easy to believe that this doctrine is no longer in effect, that it has been dropped. It seems excessively severe.

Yet nothing, in fact, has changed; nothing can be changed in this area. Our Lord did not found a number of churches: He founded only One. There is only one Cross by which we can be saved, and that Cross has been given to the Catholic Church. It has not been given to others. To His Church, His mystical bride, Christ has given all graces. No grace in the world, no grace in the history of humanity is distributed except through her.

Does that mean that no Protestant, no Muslim, no Buddhist or animist will be saved? No, it would be a second error to think that. Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian's formula, “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” also reject the Creed, “I confess one baptism for the remission of sins,” and are insufficiently instructed as to what baptism is. There are three ways of receiving it: the baptism of water; the baptism of blood (that of the martyrs who confessed the faith while still catechumens) and baptism of desire.


Baptism of desire can be explicit. Many times in Africa I heard one of our catechumens say to me, “Father, baptize me straightaway because if I die before you come again, I shall go to hell.” I told him “No, if you have no mortal sin on your conscience and if you desire baptism, then you already have the grace in you.”

The doctrine of the Church also recognizes implicit baptism of desire. This consists in doing the will of God. God knows all men and He knows that amongst Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and in the whole of humanity there are men of good will. They receive the grace of baptism without knowing it, but in an effective way. In this way they become part of the Church.

The error consists in thinking that they are saved by their religion. They are saved in their religion but not by it. There is no Buddhist church in heaven, no Protestant church. This is perhaps hard to accept, but it is the truth. I did not found the Church, but rather Our Lord the Son of God. As priests we must state the truth."

If I'd written all that, I'd add to that last paragraph: "And whomever God deigns to save -- whether he be Buddhist, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, or pagan -- will be saved only and solely by the grace of Christ alone and by no other means. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man sees the Father without the work of Christ."

Lefebvre also wrote this:

Archbishop Lefebvre, "Against the Heresies," pages 216-217, on Proposition #16 of the Syllabus of Errors, in which Pope Pius IX condemned the following statement: "Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation" Wrote:"Evidently, certain distinctions must be made. Souls can be saved in a religion other than the Catholic religion (Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), but not by this religion. There may be souls who, not knowing Our Lord, have by the grace of the good Lord, good interior dispositions, who submit to God — God in so far as these people can conceive Him — and who want to accomplish His will. There certainly are not many such persons, because these people, not being baptized, suffer more than Christians the effects of original sin. But some of these persons make an act of love, which implicitly is equivalent to baptism of desire. It is uniquely by this means that they are able to be saved. Implicit baptism means the Church: by the very fact that baptism of desire is found implicitly in their act of charity and submission to God these persons belong to the Church. They are saved by the Church, by Our Lord Jesus Christ. For there is baptism of water, baptism of blood, baptism of desire (that of catechumens), then baptism of implicit desire, which is contained in an act of true love of God. How many are saved by this form of baptism? God alone knows. It is a great mystery for us. One cannot say, then, that no one is saved in these religions, but if he is saved, it is always by his attachment to the mystical body which is the Catholic Church, even if the persons concerned do not know it."

I most definitely agree with you that Christ didn't command Baptism for its social effects! All that *is* a fruit of Baptism. But those effects are still real and are still a good reason to evangelize, even if we hadn't been commanded to spread the Good News. The Church isn't a Social Workers Center, much to the chagrin of the pant-suited Sr. Joans of the world, with their primary focus on "social justice" (for which they have leftist solutions, of course). But part of Her Beauty is that She touches all areas of life, including the social, political, economic, etc., and if the various governments were to base their laws on Her teachings, we'd be a lot better off.

Fear of God:  I'm definitely not "down" -- per se -- on talking about the necessity of "fearing God." There's a lot of "stuff" wrapped up in that word -- fear -- that complicates those sorts of conversations, though. While Catholics know -- or should know -- that "fear of the Lord" refers to having the proper respect and AWE of His perfect Justice, most people, I think, hear the word "fear" and think of being on the receiving end of a bully's nastiness, or of a woman cowering in fear of an abusive husband, etc. So if I were a street evangelist, focusing on "fearing God" wouldn't be my approach, just as hellfire and brimstone wouldn't be. Both are real and true things, and both need to be taught, talked about, and properly understood, but I don't find those topics as fitting for an initial approach to pagans, while shouting on the corner. It just isn't effective, is too easily misunderstood, is prone to set the evangelist up for unnecessary mockery,  and doesn't focus on God Himself other than His Judgment, which people tend to personalize and think about in terms of their own particular Judgment.

For folks reading over our shoulders, here's Aquinas's take on "Fear of God":  http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3019.htm

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#9
I think that this idea of "invincible ignorance" is inextricably tied to notions of Predestination and notions of Heaven and Hell and God's omnipotence and omniscience. All rather nebulous and not specifically defined. There are about as many nuances of what they mean as there are saints and doctors and the immediate circumstances they are addressing.

Let's try and condense the argument to what is certainly known and leave the circumstances to the Judge to judge.

It is opposed to Justice that anyone will be condemned to eternal torment for a fault that is not their own. It is also opposed to Justice that anyone could be redeemed from the Original Fault (and thus merit Heaven) without some kind of Baptism.

That would imply (to me, at least) that there are some who, through no fault of their own, do not have the offer of Sanctifying Grace... (necessary prerequisite for Heaven) but who are naturally good (according to the natural good inscribed in every rational soul) but who never had any real opportunity to know and love the Redeemer. Impediments to that opportunity may be physical or cultural.

Having said all that, though, I suggest that "invincible ignorance" is only an ignorance that is caused by circumstance that is beyond the control of the subject. No one can claim ignorance because they just didn't want to know.

As it would, the notion of "Salvation" came up in Vox's  post as I was pontificating.

Just what is "Salvation"? Is it the Beatific Vision or is it not eternal perdition?
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