A question from my prior post is this:
What happens to those who’ve never heard a detailed, quality presentation of the gospel message, and feel satisfied with their own religion or worldview?
The implied question is whether God will accept this person on the day of judgment, given that the person had no compelling reason to investigate Christianity.
My response is that I believe God factors in all the circumstances of our lives in administering his justice.
That is, he holds human beings responsible for the amount of light they’ve been given, whether much or little:
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48).
However, I also believe that God’s presence is more universally recognizable than is often thought:
“What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).
To get back to the question, then: What of the fate of those who’ve never heard about Jesus?
Or never heard a “quality presentation” about Jesus?
At the very least, they can recognize God in nature (see Romans 1, just mentioned) and in conscience (see Romans 2:14-16).
Beyond that, it’s hard to say. Theologian David Clark writes,
“Somehow— it’s speculation to say exactly how— God is at work to draw all people to himself. . . . The clear part is that God has instructed Christians to offer others the opportunity to receive the gift of salvation. The less clear part is what God is doing behind the scenes. If God’s character and intentions are as the Bible says [God’s justice is intensely opposed to evil; God’s grace is expressed in a passionate love for people], I surmise God is doing far more than we know.”
Clark concludes that God “draws all repentant people to himself. . . . I believe God will give the chance to all. We don’t know how this works.” *
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In my next post I’ll tackle the question of whether it’s fair for me to expect a “satisfied” adherent of another religion to investigate Christianity. And would I reciprocate?
*David Clark, “Religious Pluralism and Christian Exclusivism,” in To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), pp. 299-300.
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