VINCIBLE IGNORANCE vs. INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE
Lack of knowledge for which a person is morally responsible. It is culpable ignorance because it could be cleared up if the person used sufficient diligence. One is said to be simply (but culpably) ignorant if one fails to make enough effort to learn what should be known; guilt then depends on one’s lack of effort to clear up the ignorance. That person is crassly ignorant when the lack of knowledge is not directly willed but rather due to neglect or laziness; as a result the guilt is somewhat lessened, but in grave matters a person would still be gravely responsible. A person has affected ignorance when one deliberately fosters it in order not to be inhibited in what one wants to do; such ignorance is gravely wrong when it concerns serious matters. (Etym. Latin vincibilis, easily overcome; ignorantia, want of knowledge or information.)
CCC1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
CCC1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
CCC1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
CCC1793 If – on the contrary – THE IGNORANCE IS INVINCIBLE, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
CCC1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time “from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.
Romans 2:14-15New American Standard Bible (NASB)14 For when Gentiles who do not have [a]the Law do [b]instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having [c]the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
CCC846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.
CCC847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too MAY achieve eternal salvation.
Pope Pius IX says: It must likewise be held as certain that those who are affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord (Singulari Quadem of December 9, 1854, Denzinger 1647).
Clearly, “ignorance” is a lack of knowledge – so whether someone is “ignorant” or not is not really the issue here. The real distinction comes in when we discuss whether the issue is “invincible” or “vincible.” Let us borrow from www.m-w.com (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary):
Main Entry: in·vin·ci·ble
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Late Latin invincibilis, from Latin in- + vincere to conquer
: incapable of being conquered, overcome, or subdued
Main Entry: vin·ci·ble
Etymology: Latin vincibilis, from vincere to conquer
: capable of being overcome or subdued
We must keep in mind that this teaching of Invincible Ignorance is an interpretation of men in the Church. It has never been “defined” as a dogma, but rather has been used as an explanation of how some who, no fault of their own, have not accepted the Gospel and/or the Apostolic Church that was founded by Christ on the Twelve Apostles, MIGHT be yet saved. The message we, as Catholics, must be presenting is not a “loophole salvation” of Invincible Ignorance but that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church.” To preach anything less would falsely represent both traditional and the modern teaching of the Church.
WE MUST NOT JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH
1 Corinthians 5:12-13King James Version (KJV)12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
Luke 6:37New American Standard Bible (NASB)37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; [a]pardon, and you will be pardoned.
JESUS IS THE ONLY JUDGE
John 5:22New American Standard Bible (NASB)22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,
James 4:10-12New American Standard Bible (NASB)10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?
WE SHOULD OPENLY REBUKE RATHER THAN JUDGE
Proverbs 27:5New American Standard Bible (NASB)
5 Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
PARTICULAR JUDGEMENT vs GENERAL JUDGEMENT
Hebrews 9:27New American Standard Bible (NASB)27 And inasmuch as it is [a]appointed for men to DIE ONCE AND AFTER THIS COMES JUDGEMENT,
NO ONE HAS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN?
John 3:10-13New American Standard Bible (NASB)10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
We must keep the verse in context. Jesus is talks about His authority and the validity of His teaching. Jesus tells Nicodemus that He has been teaching what He knew firsthand: “We speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen”. Jesus explains why He is uniquely qualified to teach of the kingdom of God—namely, because He alone came down from heaven and possesses the knowledge to teach people about heaven. Jesus alone has seen the Father, and He alone is qualified to declare God and make Him known.
John 1:18New American Standard Bible (NASB)18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
John 3:13New Living Translation (NLT)13 NO ONE HAS EVER GONE TO HEAVEN AND RETURNED. But the Son of Man[a] has come down from heaven.
In claiming a heavenly abode, Jesus was claiming deity. Nicodemus himself had already admitted that Jesus was extraordinary.
John 3:2New American Standard Bible (NASB)2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for eno one can do these [a]signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus was not teaching that no one had ever gone to heaven before. Obviously, the Old Testament saints had gone to heaven when they died. He was teaching that, of all rabbis, He had the best credentials. Jesus has direct contact with heaven; He is an expert on the subject. Another thing is when the Transfiguration of Jesus happened, Moses and Elijah appeared and they cannot come from anywhere but from heaven and take note that they did not teach like Jesus after their descent from heaven in the transfiguration of Jesus.
Mark 12:26-27New American Standard Bible (NASB)26 But [a]regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God [b]of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.”
Genesis 5:24New American Standard Bible (NASB)24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Hebrews 11:5New American Standard Bible (NASB)5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
2 Kings 2:11New American Standard Bible (NASB)11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a [a]whirlwind to heaven.
Luke 9:29-30New American Standard Bible (NASB)29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and [a]gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah,
GENERAL JUDGEMENT AND REFUTATION OF SOLA FIDE
Our Lord will judge us accordingly. For those who have died and already have faced the particular judgment, their judgment will stand. Those living at the time of the Second Coming will receive judgment. Those who have rejected the Lord in this life, who have sinned mortally, who have no remorse for sin and do not seek forgiveness, will have condemned themselves to hell for all eternity. The souls of the righteous will enter heavenly glory and enjoy the beatific vision and those who need purification will undergo it.
CCC687 “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”7 Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.”8 Such properly divine self-effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.9
Matthew 25:32-46New American Standard Bible (NASB)32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 FOR I WAS HUNGRY, AND YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO EAT; I WAS THIRSTY, AND YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO DRINK; I WAS A STRANGER, AND YOU INVITED ME IN; 36 NAKED, AND CLOTHED ME; I WAS SICK, AND YOU VISITED ME; I WAS IN PRISON, AND YOU CAME TO ME.’ 37 then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you DID it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [a]take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
CCC2092 There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).
James 2:21New American Standard Bible (NASB)21 Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED BY WORKS offered up Isaac his son on the altar?
Jeremiah 17:10New American Standard Bible (NASB)10 “I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways,
ACCORDING TO THE RESULTS OF HIS DEEDS.
Revelation 2:23New American Standard Bible (NASB)23 And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you ACCORDING TO YOUR DEEDS.
Luke 23:39-43New American Standard Bible (NASB)39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 BUT THE OTHER ANSWERED, AND REBUKING HIM SAID, “DO YOU NOT EVEN FEAR GOD, SINCE YOU ARE UNDER THE SAME SENTENCE OF CONDEMNATION? 41 AND WE INDEED ARE SUFERING JUSTLY, FOR WE ARE RECIEVING WHAT WE DESERVE FOR OUR DEEDS; BUT THIS MAN HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG.” 42 AND HE WAS SAYING, “JESUS, REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME IN YOUR KINGDOM!” 43 AND HE SAID TO HIM, “TRULY I SAY TO YOU, TODAY YOU SHALL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.”
See how deeds affected the two criminals beside Jesus? They have recieved their sentence because of evil deeds. Before Jesus let Dimas the repentant thief enter paradise, Dimas first did a good work by rebuking the other crucified criminal.
NO ONE CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD
Romans 8:37-39New American Standard Bible (NASB)37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice that it is not written that OURSELVES cannot separate us from the love of God.