The theory that “invincible ignorance” saves can also be refuted by reducing it to its absurd principle, which is this: If being ignorant of the Savior could render one worthy of salvation, then Catholics are actually doing non-Christians a disservice in preaching Jesus Christ to them. St. Paul, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Francis Xavier, Fr. Pierre De Smet, the North American Martyrs and the other countless heroic missionaries in Church history, who suffered mind-boggling hardships to preach the Gospel to the ignorant pagans, were simply making these people more culpable and more guilty before God, according to the modern heresy of salvation for the “invincibly ignorant.” If the missionaries had just stayed home, according to the invincible ignorance heresy, the sincere pagans could have been saved for never having heard of Christ through no fault of their own. But by making the effort to preach Christ to them, as the missionaries did, they were – according to the invincible ignorance heresy – rendering these persons without excuse if they failed to live up to the obligations of the Gospel or rejected it altogether. Thus, preaching the Gospel to the non-Christians, according to the heretical “invincible ignorance” theory, puts the pagans in a situation in which it is more likely that they are going to be damned. Thus, the modern heresy of salvation by being “invincibly ignorant” actually makes preaching to the pagans counterproductive for the salvation of souls. But such a notion is absurd, of course, and proves the illogical and false nature of the invincible ignorance heresy.
But, in fact, the heresy has gotten so bad today in the time of the Great Apostasy in which we live (See Section 34) that most “Catholics” today readily profess that pagans, Jews, Buddhists, etc. who know of the Gospel and reject it can also be saved by “invincible ignorance.” But this is only the necessary result of the invincible ignorance heresy; for if pagans who’ve never heard of Christ can be saved “in good faith,” then pagans who reject Christ could also be in good faith too, for how much does one have to hear to lose his “invincible ignorance”? Once one strays from the principle – that is to say, once one rejects the divinely revealed truth – that all who die as pagans are definitely lost without exception (Pope Eugene IV, de fide), the clear cut lines of demarcation are rejected, and a gray area necessarily takes over, a gray area according to which one cannot possibly know or set limits on who is possibly in good faith and who is not.
I was recently talking to a scholar who considers himself a “traditional Catholic.” This person holds the invincible ignorance heresy. We were discussing his belief that Jews and other non-Catholics can be saved. In the discussion, he admitted that he held that Jews who hate Christ can possibly be saved. Before he admitted that, however, he said: “it depends on how much he [the Jew] has heard of Christ. If he has just seen a crucifix…” His point was that if the Jew had just seen a crucifix, but had not heard of Jesus Christ in any substantial way, the Jew might be able to be saved in good faith; whereas if Our Lord Jesus Christ had been fully preached to the Jew, he probably wouldn’t be in good faith. (As I’ve said, the scholar eventually admitted that even the latter case – the Jew who totally rejects and/or hates Christ – could also be in good faith, but I bring up the argumentation he employed before admitting that point to illustrate my following point). The “scholar” is actually showing the absurdity of the invincible ignorance heresy by his argumentation; he is admitting that the Jew who has seen the crucifix but not heard of Christ may be in good faith, but if the Jew makes the effort to investigate the one hanging on the crucifix – or has a friend preach to him the one hanging on the crucifix – he probably wouldn’t be in good faith! Thus, preaching Christ crucified, according to this “scholar” who had fully imbibed the “invincible ignorance” heresy, would not save, but possibly damn the Jew. But this is obviously false and heretical.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2: “Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand. By which also you are saved…”
The other heretical consequence of the invincible ignorance heresy is that it would mean that infants could also be saved without baptism, because infants are the most “invincibly ignorant” persons on earth. Hence, the argument would go, if “invincible ignorance” saves non-Catholics, then it can save the “invincibly ignorant” infants also. But such an idea has been repeatedly condemned by the Catholic Church; it is a divinely revealed truth that not one infant can enter heaven without water baptism (See “Infants Cannot Be Saved Without Baptism” section).
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