I find it kind if strange that God didn’t reveal Himself to the ancient native Americans or Asians or africans and only “limited” Himself to the middle east and eventually Europe for a loooonf time. Especially considering that believing in Jesus is necessary for salvation. Why wouldn’t He reveal Himself? Or maybe He did…?
He did. Please contemplate the ‘Epiphany’. For example, the image of the Magi through the eyes of the artist Mantegna: mariologia.org/arte/images/mantegna01.jpg
Note that the artist is depicting a Magi from Europe, Asia and Africa as this is one interpretation of the who the Magi were.
To me one of the most compelling aspects of the Epiphany is how the Magi (perhaps from Europe Asia and Africa) were quite surprised to find how the local King regarded the coming of the new King - he saw it as a threat. So in fact, the arrival of the new King was greeted with more reverence by the far away Kings than the local one.
The Epiphany means the realization that Jesus came for the whole world and this is a key part of our faith. We also know that the Magi made it back home to spread the word, but had to go back by another way. So getting the word out to the world was dangerous business. Still is.
He did reveal Himself to other cultures. There is a popular misconception that Christianity is a foreign religion in China, for example, but a lot of people wouldn’t know that Christianity has been in China since at least the 7th century… maybe even much earlier than that. You ever hear the stories that the wise men who visited baby Jesus may have been of Chinese origin? The Han Dynasty were astronomers, they were fascinated by the heavens and the afterlife. They made a unusual observation of a new star in the sky around 5BC and there’s a good chance they sent some guys packing.
However, the Way is narrow, probably much more narrow than most people think, and few are those who find it, that’s all.
I’ve also wondered why God didn’t reveal himself in a more “universal” way to all the world, say at once… And yet, I’ve realized that this revelation has worked out quite well in these past 2,000 years. In other words- God’s way is not our way. He works throughout time- throughout decades, centuries, millennia and eons. Just look at how our bodies were created throughout millions of years of evolution. If evolution is right, it wasn’t over night. Jesus said that he’d be coming soon- and here we are two millennia later…
I think part of our problem with all this is the “scandal of specificity”. Why was it revealed to THESE specific people at THIS specific time and why was it THIS specific person?? And yet God uses specific nations and people in his plans. Taking a different view here- Imagine the world was just a big town. We might still ask- why THAT part of town and THAT time?? Why did it happen in THAT family??
Nonetheless, I think over time the message has spread quite effectively throughout the world. There are only a few places left in the world that have not at least heard about Jesus.
And remember that Jesus said that if he had not told them, they would have no sin. So no, I don’t think its the church’s position that those who have not heard of Jesus cannot be saved. They have sin only if they hear of Jesus, but reject him.
Agreed with everything else but this. This one is sticky because you’re close to denying Original Sin. Whether they were saved or not is entirely up to God’s discretion but we won’t have any way of knowing. But I’m fine with that.
Jesus himself was hardly European of course and nor is Christianity in essence an European ultimately although it is sometimes perceived that way. Some of the oldest Churches are not European and some non European countries adopted Christianity long before the majority of Europe was Christianised.
First, the Church teaches that invincible ignorance is not an impediment to salvation. So, just because cultures throughout the world and time hadn’t/haven’t received the fullness of revelation in this regard, doesn’t mean they will necessarily be excluded from the Kingdom.
Second, it is my opinion that God did/does reveal Himself to all cultures and all people. The method and kind of revelation that He gives is different, however, from culture to culture and person to person.
The Jews were given a unique kind of revelation in that they were offered and entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord, for the purposes of setting the stage for the incarnation and the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This doesn’t mean, though, that the other nations of the world didn’t receive different kinds of revelation.
In all the lore and traditions of the ancient and less ancient cultures of the world, we see vestiges of the truth, hints of the fullness of revelation that is found in the Church. From ritual cannibalism to human/blood sacrifice to trinitarian gods to demi gods to the indwelling (possession) of spirits to blessed/cursed objects to flood myths and divine-human interaction to savior figures and mother goddesses (just to name a few). There are millions of variations on a myriad truths found in other cultures and peoples, each imperfectly, often times more imperfectly, coming to us as a mere shadow of the great and glorious reality of God’s full revelation found in the history and tradition of the Catholic Church, rooted in the history and traditions of Judaism, handed to us from Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
And this is how God normally comes to us, as a culture or individually: hidden. He reveals enough to keep us longing and searching for Him. It was only in a singular way, and a particular time in history, through a specific culture and tradition that He revealed Himself in a more direct and open way, in the most direct and open way. Outside of that singularity, all other revelation is a shadow that is meant to draw us on. And all people, and all cultures have received this.
The Bible says: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God.” The gospel is wrtten in the stars, but the original meaning s have been. lost.
…because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made… (Romans 1:19-20)
The gospels tell us the Kingdom is like:
*]a mustard seed that will become the largest of trees
*]dough into which yeast allows it to expand until it is all leavened
*]and faith comes by “hearing”
[/LIST]It seems that God has ordained that the Kingdom should grow through the joint efforts of man together with God and His grace. “One sows, another reaps, and both rejoice together at the harvest.” Jn. 4:37.
I think that God did reveal himself to all the nations. He just didn’t do it in a way that we would expect, would have liked/preferred, or even understand. He does things in His own way. That’s just the way He is.
Others have already pointed out that the magi knew of Jesus’s arrival. As regards all the Nations, however their pantheons were established all the nations have/had their own gods. These gods were not YHWH by another name. And that’s not the evidence that God revealed himself to them. That just suggests that the nations did have a desire for and sought God. The evidence to me that God revealed Himself to them is that all the nations believed in and followed several universal truths. A cheap example, all the nations had some “law” against murder. In some way that I can’t explain, God revealed His laws or truths in their hearts. Is this also mentioned in the catechism? If the Nations longed for God, God would not have ignored them. In the parable of the Prodigal son, when the son was spotted in the distance, the Father went out to meet him. This tells me that God meets you more than half way if you seek Him. I imagine he did the same with all the Nations.
Faith is a tricky subject for me to understand, especially how it works, and how you get it. Basically I don’t get it at all. But I don’t see someone being automatically damned if they heard of Jesus but didn’t join the team. What if someone came to you proclaiming, “The Annunaki are the true Gods that created us and they will return in 2012!!! If you don’t believe in them and join us before they arrive, they will barbecue you!!!” What would be your thoughts? “Help. Don’t make any sudden moves. This guy fell off the track.” That is more or less the scene and what the Apostles did in the Book of Acts. Why was their message so outrageous to some who rejected it, but moving to others who accepted it? I don’t get it do you?
That’s why I don’t believe that rejection or non-belief is automatic damnation. I always think of the “you without sin throw the first stone” story. In that story, Jesus showed us that there is no justice in the universe like the justice of God. And if God truly is as just and fair as Jesus says, then I think God will be just and fair to those that reject Jesus. There was some reason why a person might have rejected and not believe in Jesus, and only God can truly know why and measure it. So I think that in God’s absolute fair justice, these people will be judged on how much of His universal truths they believed in. God may even judge them based on what they believed they should have been doing per their religion or world outlook (if not religious). So if they believed that they shouldn’t be cheating on their wives but did it anyways, God will judge them on that. Because they were not baptized, they would say “hey I didn’t know!!!” and God would probably not hold that against them. When the devil accuses the ancient Native Americans, "They didn’t believe in Jesus!!! They will say, "Who is he? I never heard of him? And God would probably say “That’s right, strike the Devils comments from the record.” When it comes to His court, I’m told that ignorance is a defense. Kind of makes me wish this was the first thing they ever told me. I wouldn’t have bothered to learn the 10 commandments.
But all of this is conjecture. We’ll find out what really happens, I guess.