Some absurdities of implicit faith, Part 4.

I will conclude this discussion on implicit faith by giving a description of what true implicit faith must consist of.  True implicit faith is, first of all, an act of a person's own free will; it occurs when an individual hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embraces it fully, mind and soul.  Having come to explicit faith in the One and Only Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Creator of all that is "seen and unseen," the Alpha and the Omega, our new convert resolves to believe all and everything that God has revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Since Christ and His Mystical Body, which is the Holy Roman Catholic & Apostolic Church, are "one thing," true implicit faith also means submission of one's mind and will to the Church, which is the keeper and guardian of the One True Faith.  This Faith is what Christ entrusted to His apostles, the Apostolic College, of which Saint Peter, the first Pope, was the head.  Hence, true implicit faith means submission to the Pope, the Vicar of God, which means, above all else, submission to the Supreme Magisterium of the Church.  When speaking ex cathedra, the Successor of Peter, either alone or with a regional or ecumenical Council, proclaims those infallible truths of the Church which the Catholic faithful are forever bound to firmly and faithfully profess and believe in and which no future Pope, either alone or in Council, can ever change.

True implicit faith is encapsulated within genuine and true explicit faith.  One cannot have true implicit faith without the foundation of genuine explicit faith.  It would be like having a bridge without any pillars to support it.  Saint Thomas, as always, recognized this:

"After grace had been revealed, both learned and simple folk are bound to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed throughout the Church, and publicly proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation, of which we have spoken above (Question 1, Article 8). As to other minute points in reference to the articles of the Incarnation, men have been bound to believe them more or less explicitly according to each one's state and office." (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.2, a.7)

"Now a certain order is to be found in those things that are apprehended universally. For that which, before aught else, falls under apprehension, is 'being,' the notion of which is included in all things whatsoever a man apprehends. Wherefore the first indemonstrable principle is that 'the same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time,' which is based on the notion of 'being' and 'notbeing': and on this principle all others are based, as is stated in Metaph. iv, text. 9."  (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.94, a.2)

As Saint Thomas taught, true implicit faith never occurs in the absence of genuine explicit faith; one cannot have the former without having the latter.  Likewise, one cannot believe in a Creator God without believing in His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, for they are, as stated in the Athanasian Creed, "all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal." And to believe in Jesus Christ is to embrace His Mystical Body, which is the Catholic Church, the earthly head of which is the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ.

The Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition states this fact explicitly:

Ver. 23. It may be asked, why they had not implicit faith, worshiping the true, though unknown, God?[5] 1st. because the worship of the true God can never exist with the worship of idols; 2nd. because an explicit faith in God is required of all; 3rd. because it is repugnant to implicit faith, to admit any thing contrary to it, as comparing this unknown God with the pagan idols; for God to be at all, must be one. Lucan towards the end of his 2nd book, hath these words:
----------Et dedita sacris
Incerti Judæa Dei.
--- What, therefore, you improperly worship, that I preach to you, and instruct you in the true worship, far different from what you pay to your strange gods.

What about Cornelius?

Some will argue that Cornelius had genuine implicit faith in Christ, and for him, that was salvific.  No doubt such was absolutely true, however, Saint Thomas taught that the One and Triune God would supply the additional graces to allow such an individual to come to explicit faith in the Blessed Trinity and Incarnation:

"Everyone is bound to believe something explicitly...even if someone is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts. For it pertains to Divine Providence to furnish everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that on his part there is no hindrance. Thus, if someone so brought up followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must most certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or he would send some preacher of the faith to him as He sent Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:20)." (The Disputed Questions on Truth, q.14, a.11)

And, of course, Peter baptized Cornelius.

Implicitum votum -- the fatal flaw.

Most of the modern Church claims that someone can come to final perseverance and die in the "bosom and unity of the Catholic Church" without knowing that fact (that is, never having been consciously aware of it), and such is a denial of human free will. If one is capable of belief, then one must also be capable of unbelief. However, if belief can be unconscious, how does one go from unconscious belief to unconscious unbelief, as an act of one's own free will? Just as one cannot be an unconscious traitor neither can one be an unconscious apostate.

What about the invincibly ignorant?

It seems like everyone who is "not Catholic" must somehow be in this category. However, a phrase which all lawyers know (or should know):  “Ignorantia juris non excusat” (“ignorance of the law does not excuse.”) As with natural law, so, too, with divine revelation -- there are no “invincibly ignorant” people, at least of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pope Pius IX states this, “…can attain eternal life by the power of divine light and grace.”  The One and Triune God is, of course, a Perfect Being, which means that He can never lie, ever, which means that He would never, by His “divine light and grace,” lead someone who is sincerely seeking Him into a false religion or allow such an individual to remain in one.  To claim that there are “invincibly ignorant” individuals is to deny the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of the Triune God; it would be to claim that He is somehow incapable of bringing the Truth to His Elect or is unwilling to do so, which would be to deny His Perfection. Just as I can convince you that I exist, so, too, will Holy Spirit lead anyone who is genuinely seeking the Truth into the One True Church and One True Faith, outside of which no one at all will be saved.

Is this what Lumen Gentium was trying to say, albeit, in a “polite” way?  If we are to claim that the Catholic Faith is immutable and that Vatican II taught without error, then this is the only interpretation of the Council that makes sense.

Universal salvation -- A rose by any other name?

If "universal salvation" is, indeed, the ultimate truth, then implicit faith/desire/submission would just be an avenue, a "proxy", for getting individuals to their ultimate and final destination, which is Heaven.  Consider what Pope John Paul II said,
“Eternal damnation remains a possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it.” (General Audience — July 28, 1999)
More here:

Go out to "Papal Encyclicals" sometime:

Have a look at all the Papal bulls/encyclicals, especially, those from the Middle Ages, and then have a look at the "Council" subcategory page off the main page -- "rinse and repeat" for those. Try to find a condemnation of universal salvation/reconciliation. Such a canon would have been really easy to write. Just consider that convoluted one from the Council of Trent:
If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting,--whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism, for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false, --let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, 5th session, IV)
Wow, what a mouthful! Why not just say,
If anyone says that infants who die without sacramental baptism in Water are saved, let him be anathema.
What, a quarter of the words? Maybe less; haven't counted. Or, how about,
If anyone says that all men will be saved, let him be anathema.
Look, only one line! Or,
If anyone says that all infants who die without sacramental baptism in Water will be saved, let him be anathema.
Okay, two lines! I hope that you see my point here. Problem is that the "hope" offered by post-Vatican II statements such as #1261 in the CCC are now being cast as a "certain hope," which people are equating with "assurance" or even "absolute assurance."  Ultimately, however, "What is, is." 

Council of Quiercy

Even though it was never condemned, universal salvation was something that was definitively not taught.  One can find the following canons from a Council of Quiercy in Denzinger's "Sources of Catholic Dogma":
Chap. 1.  Omnipotent God created man noble without sin with a free will, and he whom He wished to remain in the sanctity of justice, He placed in Paradise.  Man using his free will badly sinned and fell, and became the “mass of perdition” of the entire  human race.  The just and good God, however, chose from this same mass of perdition according to His foreknowledge those whom through grace He predestined to life. [Rom. 8:29 ff; Eph. 1:11], and He predestined for these eternal life; the others, whom by the judgment of justice he left in the mass of perdition, however, He knew would perish, but He did not predestine that they would perish, because He is just; however, He predestined eternal punishment for them.  And on account of this we speak of only one predestination of God, which pertains either to the gift of grace or to the retribution of justice.
Chap. 2.  The freedom of will which we lost in the first man, we have received back through Christ our Lord; and we have free will for good, preceded and aided by grace, and we have free will for evil, abandoned by grace.  Moreover, because freed by grace and by grace healed from corruption, we have free will.
Chap. 3.  Omnipotent God wishes all men without exception to between saved [I Tim. 2:4] although not all will be saved.  However, that certain ones are saved, is the gift of the one who saves; that certain ones perish, however, is the deserved punishment of those who perish. 
Chap. 4.  Christ Jesus our Lord, as no man who is or has been or ever will be whose nature will not have been assumed in Him, so there is, has been, or will be, no man, for whom He has not suffered; although not all will be saved by the mystery of His passion.  But because all are not redeemed by the mystery of His passion, He does not regard the greatness and the fullness of the price, but He regards the part of the unfaithful ones and those not believing in faith those things which He has worked through loves [Gal. 5:6], because the drink of human safety, which has been prepared by our infirmity and by divine strength, has indeed in itself that it may be beneficial to all; but if it is not drunk, it does not heal.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church references the Council of Quiercy in a very "selective" quotation:
605 At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."  He affirms that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us.  The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."
Implicit faith -- not making judgments?

If "implicit" faith/desire/submission and "through no fault of their own" categories do not exist, then the Church, through her Magisterium, would be requiring canonical Roman Catholics, such as myself, to make judgments about the interior state of other "non-Catholics," those who were outside the formal boundaries of the Church, and such a "requirement" would force me, as a Catholic, to engage in multiple acts of mortal sin on an almost constant basis. As only the Church herself can make such fallible judgments, the Church would be compelling me and her other children to engage in sinful behavior by not acknowledging the possibility that baptized and non-baptized individuals who are not formally Catholic can attain eternal life.

Saint Thomas on the implicit.

No man ever had the grace of the Holy Ghost except through faith in Christ either explicit or implicit: and by faith in Christ man belongs to the New Testament. Consequently whoever had the law of grace instilled into them belonged to the New Testament. (Summa Theologica, Ia IIae, q.106, a.1, ad 3)

Therefore, as regards the primary points or articles of faith, man is bound to believe them, just as he is bound to have faith; but as to other points of faith, man is not bound to believe them explicitly, but only implicitly, or to be ready to believe them, in so far as he is prepared to believe whatever is contained in the Divine Scriptures. Then alone is he bound to believe such things explicitly, when it is clear to him that they are contained in the doctrine of faith. (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.2, a.5)

It is impossible to believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ, without faith in the Trinity, since the mystery of Christ includes that the Son of God took flesh; that He renewed the world through the grace of the Holy Ghost; and again, that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost. Wherefore just as, before Christ, the mystery of Christ was believed explicitly by the learned, but implicitly and under a veil, so to speak, by the simple, so too was it with the mystery of the Trinity. And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity: and all who are born again in Christ, have this bestowed on them by the invocation of the Trinity, according to Mat. 28:19: “Going therefore teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.2, a.8 )

Many of the gentiles received revelations of Christ, as is clear from their predictions. Thus we read (Job 19:25): “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” The Sibyl too foretold certain things about Christ, as Augustine states (Contra Faust. xiii, 15). Moreover, we read in the history of the Romans, that at the time of Constantine Augustus and his mother Irene a tomb was discovered, wherein lay a man on whose breast was a golden plate with the inscription: “Christ shall be born of a virgin, and in Him, I believe. O sun, during the lifetime of Irene and Constantine, thou shalt see me again”*. If, however, some were saved without receiving any revelation, they were not saved without faith in a Mediator, for, though they did not believe in Him explicitly, they did, nevertheless, have implicit faith through believing in Divine providence, since they believed that God would deliver mankind in whatever way was pleasing to Him, and according to the revelation of the Spirit to those who knew the truth, as stated in Job 35:11: “Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth.” (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.2, a.7, ad 3)

Unbelief does not so wholly destroy natural reason in unbelievers, but that some knowledge of the truth remains in them, whereby they are able to do deeds that are generically good. With regard, however, to Cornelius, it is to be observed that he was not an unbeliever, else his works would not have been acceptable to God, whom none can please without faith. Now he had implicit faith, as the truth of the Gospel was not yet made manifest: hence Peter was sent to him to give him fuller instruction in the faith. (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.10, a.4, ad 3)

Though all do not know explicitly the power of the sacrifices, they know it implicitly, even as they have implicit faith, as stated above (q. 2, AA 6,7). (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.85 a.4, ad 2)

As stated above (a. 1, ad 2; q. 68, a. 2) man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly; and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a fuller remission, as to the remission of the entire punishment. So also before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit: but aferwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fulness of grace and virtues. Hence in Ps. 22:2, “He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment,” a gloss says: “He has brought us up by an increase of virtue and good deeds in Baptism.” (Summa Theologica, IIIa q.69, a.4, ad 2)

Venial sin is never forgiven without some act, explicit or implicit, of the virtue of penance, as stated above (a. 1): it can, however, be forgiven without the sacrament of Penance, which is formally perfected by the priestly absolution, as stated above (q. 87, a. 2). Hence it does not follow that infusion of grace is required for the forgiveness of venial sin, for although this infusion takes place in every sacrament, it does not occur in every act of virtue. (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.87, a.2, ad 2)

As stated above (a. 2), no infusion of fresh grace is required for the forgiveness of a venial sin, but it is enough to have an act proceeding from grace, in detestation of that venial sin, either explicit or at least implicit, as when one is moved fervently to God. Hence, for three reasons... (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.87, a.3)

Ambrose here gives this reason why exception could, without inconsistency, be allowed in the primitive Church; namely, because the whole Trinity is implied in the name of Christ, and therefore the form prescribed by Christ in the Gospel was observed in its integrity, at least implicitly. (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.66, a.6, ad 2)

The pagan child.

Or, any other non-baptized child for that matter:

It is impossible for venial sin to be in anyone with original sin alone, and without mortal sin.  The reason for this is because before a man comes to the age of discretion, the lack of years hinders the use of reason and excuses him from mortal sin, wherefore, much more does it excuse him from venial sin, if he does anything which is such generically. But when he begins to have the use of reason, he is not entirely excused from the guilt of venial or mortal sin.  Now the first thing that occurs to a man to think about then, is to deliberate about himself. And if he then direct himself to the due end, he will, by means of grace, receive the remission of original sin: whereas if he does not then direct himself to the due end, and as far as he is capable of discretion at that particular age, he will sin mortally, for through not doing that which is in his power to do. Accordingly thenceforward there cannot be venial sin in him without mortal, until afterwards all sin shall have been remitted to him through grace. (Summa Theologica, Ia IIae, q.89, a.6)