If Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, what happened to the people who live in the Stone Age/Before Christ?

There were various approaches to answering this question.

Perhaps the most common variant in the high Middle Ages was the one depicted in Dante’s Divine Comedy[1): the Limbus, the so-called Vorhölle. [2

This arose from theological speculations on the same question.According to these considerations, there was no place in heaven for non-Christians or unbaptized people. Accordingly, purgatory, purgatory, made no sense to such people.(Purgatory is, so to speak, the precursor to heaven.) But a merciful God would not banish such innocent people to hell.

So they came to the “Vorhölle”.It was (as Dante portrayed it in the inferno) not a place of suffering, but also no place of shouting as in heaven.

Over time, the prelimine was divided into two areas: a limbus patrum for pre-Christian people who have not committed a sin, and a limbus infantium for children who died before baptism.

This faith spread throughout the Church of the Middle Ages in the West, but was never the dogmatic doctrine of the Church.

By the way, this is the source of the saying in English to be in limbo, i.e. “to sit between the chairs”.

Today’s approach of the Roman Catholic Church is also based on an old tradition, but a very different (and in my mind much more satisfying).This is interpreted in the dogmatic letter Lumen gentium of the Second Vatican Council. [3 In particular, sections 9 to 17 are of interest here. [4

Roughly summed up, I would put it this way: a person who does good and avoids sinful behavior does so through the action of the Logo (i.e. Christ) and the Holy Spirit, even if they are not aware of it, or do so.even if man has never heard of Jesus or God.

So God is in all of us and works through us, whether we know it or not.Only if someone knows about God and his Church, but still rejects it, will this be proven by the separation from God.

According to this doctrine, Jesus thus worked on earth even before his Incarnation.Strictly speaking, it also means that an atheist or other non-Catholic who leads a good life can also go to heaven.


[1 Divine Comedy – Wikipedia

[2 Limbus (Theology) – Wikipedia

[3 Lumen Gentium – Wikipedia

[4 Lumen Gentium

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