I’ve been reading a book on my phone (thanks Kindle!) called Radical, written by a southern pastor named David Platt.
The book discusses how the modern American church needs to overcome the seduction of the American dream by following Jesus in the way that the Bible prescribes. Good stuff overall.
Many questions I’ve always had about Christian living are answered by Pastor Platt, but he also brings up issues that have always given me pause. And by “given me pause” I really mean that I try not to think about them, as they tend to play a bit of havoc with my theology.
If you haven’t heard of Jesus, you go to hell
One such issue concerns the unsaved who have never heard the gospel. This is a topic that has never particularly bothered me before, I probably just assumed that God would sort it all out someday. But the persistent Pastor Platt has a different take on the matter, one I find far less enabling.
How would YOU answer this question:
If someone has never heard of the gospel and doesn’t know Jesus, can they somehow be saved?
If you’re David Platt from Alabama, you say NO and then back that claim up with Paul’s argument from Romans.
What Paul says in Romans
In the beginning of Romans, Paul says that everyone knows God, his glory has been revealed to ever person, but we have rejected that glory and God.
And since all have sinned and and fallen short of the glory of God, then we are all separated from Him. But God has given us a way of coming in commune with God, and that is through belief in Jesus Christ. Paul also goes on to say that the church is charged with bringing that message of the gospel to all peoples.
So, if all people fall short of God, and if someone hasn’t heard of the Gospel, then they are going to be separated from God for eternity. That’s a hard pill to swallow.
Something about this just doesn’t sit right
In the past, I simply assumed that God had grace for those that never heard of Jesus. That sometime, in some way they would be able to hear the gospel and have the choice. But maybe that’s not the case.
Honestly I’ve never been a fan of the concept of Hell, for obvious reasons. But it just never seemed like a quality of a loving God to send people to a place of eternal torment and torture. But this is different, more cruel somehow.
People go to hell because of random circumstance?
Why would God, who loved the world enough to send his one and only son, not provide another way for people who haven’t heard of him?
Seriously, the Aborigine in Australia who has never heard of Jesus Christ is going to hell because of location? That’s almost too random. It also means that I am going to heaven, essentially because of my “Luck” in being born in America.
I’m heaven bound because of my family, situation, and location. I get eternal benefits because of chance. That goes beyond fair into the realm of right and wrong.
And even worse; Is God the cause of damnation?
How can a loving God send someone to hell simply because of bad luck or random circumstance? And if the theory of Babel that’s accepted by most Christians proves correct, it’s God’s doing that set these people so far apart.
So God sends these people to the ends of the earth, and then penalizes them for being so far from where he revealed his glory. How is that the sign of a loving God? How is that loving or right?
Hard questions, fewer answers
How can God set up a system like this? How can a loving God so randomly and so callously send the people he created and has known since before the womb, to a place of complete separation from him?
I have no concrete answers but it all seems a little callous to me. And way too random. I don’t like it but I don’t have any other answers. What are we as Christians supposed to do with this? Any thoughts?