Hey everyone. I’ve seen discussions about salvation outside the Catholic Church (particular for those in Protestant churches), but I’ve seen less discussion of salvation for those outside Christianity altogether. Allow me to explain…
Just earlier today, one of my friends (one of those intellectual atheist types) told me I would probably have been a Muslim if I had been born in Iraq. I couldn’t deny that this was a possibility. He then asked me if I thought all of the Muslims were going to Hell. Well, I had to say no for the simple reason that I believe God is just, and He isn’t going to hold people accountable for something they’ve never heard. So, then he countered by asking if all these guys who set off car bombs and such are getting a free pass to Heaven. Well, obviously I didn’t believe that. I tried to explain the whole concept of people being required to respond to what God gives them. For some, they may simply have to determine from nature that God exists, that there is a difference between good and evil, and that good should be done instead of evil. For others, they may have to respond to the whole Gospel message. After all, “to those who are given much, much will be expected.”
Well, I actually did a worse job of explaining it to him than I did explaining it here. The problem is, whenever I would hesitate for a moment to think about my answer, he would keep asking questions. He is my friend, but he is very sarcastic, and his questions were more to fluster me than to actually gain information (or so I think).
So, in hopeful anticipation of further talks on matters of a religious nature, I was hoping some of you could help me answer his questions. Namely, what does happen to those who never hear the Gospel? It doesn’t seem right that they should be sent to Hell for their ignorance, but if their ignorance gives them a free pass to Heaven, then efforts at evangelism would be wrong. Of course, Jesus clearly tells us to “go into all the world and make disciples…” so we know we are supposed to evangelize. Obviously, our good works don’t “earn” us a place in Heaven, and even as a Protestant (for now…), I know Catholics don’t believe that. So, I guess the question is, on what basis are the unsaved, unreached people of the world judged? I believe with all my heart that God is just and merciful, so I know He must have some plan for the billions of people throughout history who have never heard the Gospel.
Despite the awkwardness of today’s conversation, I know more will come, so I am not discouraged. I just want to give a more clear, solid answer the next time around (which will hopefully be very soon). I thank you in advance for your answers! I also ask that you would pray for me and my friend (and all of my friends here). He good-naturedly makes fun of me for being a Christian all the time, so obviously he’s thinking about it. God has certainly been working in my life lately, and I would love to see Him work in the lives of others.