The Amazonian question


Hello, here is something that I’d appreciate your thoughts on.

I listen sometimes to a radion station in the UK called ‘Premier Christian Radio’. It is not Catholic & contains a wide range of teaching foem groups like Turning Point, Focus on the Family, Chuck Swindoll, US made mainly.

They always have the same message - Salvation through Grace of Jesus Christ via Faith alone. This means that every ‘unbeliver’ should make a ‘decision’ for Christ. I’m sure you are all very familiar with this.

To make this decision you need to hear the message.

Imagine a man who has lived his whole life in the Amazon. He has never heard of Jesus but he has lived an exemplary life. Is he going to hell? It is not his fault that he never heard the message & made his decision. Would a good God damn him?

Similarly, say he had met one of Chuck’s friends who told him of the Gospels & asked him to make a decision but the Amazon man said ‘no’. Is he now going to hell? What if the Amazon man heard the Gospels but didn’t not fully understand them. Is that his fault or the fault of the missionary?

If you say to a person on the street ‘Jesus died for your sins that is why you must accept Him as your saviour’. Do you think that they will always understand why that is important? If no one explains further are we negligent?

What do you think?


Here’s a more complicated question, from a story told by a Korean Catholic:

A young man in North Korea, where it’s illegal to even talk about God, becomes aware that there is something missing in his life. One day, alone in the field, God touches him and thinking that it’s perhaps some Korean deity, the man falls to his knees and gives himself up to Him.

Later, he escapes to the south, and only then learns Who it is touched him in that lonely field.

Was he saved when he acknowledged Jesus and was formally baptized into the Church, or when he gave himself up to the unknown God in that field?


The answer is, Yes!

Seriously, only God knows the answers to some of these questions. To be able to say otherwise is presumptuous, IMHO.



From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.


Thank you for the CCC quote, that does make a lot of sense to me. Howeversome Christians would insist that the Amazon man goes to hell because he hasn’t made his decision. Someone has already said that only God knows the answers to these question & I think is a good response. It really worries me when any person thinks he/she knows for sure what God would do.


That’s the Catholic position – no man knows if another man goes to heaven or hell.

As for the Amazon man not having made his decision – how would anyone else know what he has decided or not?


With all respect, I don’t think it’s a good question, or a useful one. He submitted to God in the first case, and again in the second. Salvation for most of us (those who do not die soon after submitting to God) is an ongoing event, not a flash in time.


Correct – the argument about “when was he saved” begs the question. That is, it asks to accept “once saved, always saved” as valid, in order to advance that invalid proposition.


This is why I am grateful for the CCC. It is a beautifully written book that gives us the correct answers for questions about what the Catholic Church really teaches.

I think that it is important that we don’t presume God’s Mercy or God’s condemnation. We are called to seek His will. He knows how sincere that search is in each one of our hearts.

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