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The fate of those never had a chance.


StuddleyG

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One of the reasons that I have difficult time believing any other theology outside of mormonism is because of the understanding that God is love. The idea that God will send everybody without the right religion to eternal torment is beyond cruel. In mormonism, this problem is taken care of with missionary work and ordinances for the dead. As well with knowledge that God will judge us according to the "desires of our hearts." How do mainstream Christians view the fate of all those who died without a chance to learn of Christ's gospel? Where is God's love?

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One of the reasons that I have difficult time believing any other theology outside of mormonism is because of the understanding that God is love. The idea that God will send everybody without the right religion to eternal torment is beyond cruel. In mormonism, this problem is taken care of with missionary work and ordinances for the dead. As well with knowledge that God will judge us according to the "desires of our hearts." How do mainstream Christians view the fate of all those who died without a chance to learn of Christ's gospel? Where is God's love?

I asked this question several years ago (2001!) on another message board (Zion's Lighthouse). Here was my opening post:

I've asked this question before, but I have yet to grasp an understanding of the Protestant or Catholic position on it. Here is a description of my question, including the presuppositions and scriptural citations upon which the question is built:

1. Christ is the only means of salvation. (John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.")

2. Failure to accept Christ leads to damnation. (Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.")

3. The majority of the human race is not Christian. (www.adherents.com/Religio...ents.html)

4. The majority of the human race throughout history has not been Christian.

5. The majority of the human race throughout histroy has not had the opportunity to hear about and accept the Gospel of Christ.

6. The majority of the human race will be damned, even those whose individual circumstances made it impossible for them to hear about or accept the Gospel.

7. It is wrong to damn someone to hell for eternity for not accepting something they never had the chance to accept in the first place.

Question: How do Protestants and Catholics square the idea of a loving God in Heaven with #6 and #7 above?

Note: I recognize that some may accuse me of creating a fallacy of false dilemma. If you plan to do so, please explain which of my presuppositions you feel to be in error and why.

Thanks,

-Smac

The responses were . . . enlightening. I have attached a .TXT file that includes all of the posts in that thread.

It's sorta long, but I think it addresses some interesting points.

-Smac

begunia.txt

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Many years ago, when the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake, I took the then-editor of the Utah Evangel and then-director of Oklahoma-based Utah Missions, Inc. (an SBC pastor), and his wife out to lunch in Orem. (Lou Midgley came with us, and I believe that Bill Hamblin did, too.)

The conversation turned at one point to the fate of the unevangelized.

I raised the example of a rural peasant in ancient or medieval China who had never heard the name of Jesus. Was such a person damned? Yes, came the response, without hesitation. Somewhat shocked, I pursued the matter. Our guests were Calvinists, who even doubted the Christianity of Catholics. It seems, I said, that God favors the Dutch and the Scots (referring to two nationalities that had, at least historically, been prone to Calvinism, the True Faith). I got no objection. Returning to the matter of China, I said that it seemed pretty clearly unjust to set hundreds of millions, even billions, of people up in such a way that they had literally no chance at salvation. "Maybe God hates the Chinese," offered the pastor's wife. I looked for some sign of black humor or irony, but there was none. She was serious. I was stunned.

Just an anecdote, for what it's worth.

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Many years ago, when the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake, I took the then-editor of the Utah Evangel and then-director of Oklahoma-based Utah Missions, Inc. (an SBC pastor), and his wife out to lunch in Orem. (Lou Midgley came with us, and I believe that Bill Hamblin did, too.)

The conversation turned at one point to the fate of the unevangelized.

I raised the example of a rural peasant in ancient or medieval China who had never heard the name of Jesus. Was such a person damned? Yes, came the response, without hesitation. Somewhat shocked, I pursued the matter. Our guests were Calvinists, who even doubted the Christianity of Catholics. It seems, I said, that God favors the Dutch and the Scots (referring to two nationalities that had, at least historically, been prone to Calvinism, the True Faith). I got no objection. Returning to the matter of China, I said that it seemed pretty clearly unjust to set hundreds of millions, even billions, of people up in such a way that they had literally no chance at salvation. "Maybe God hates the Chinese," offered the pastor's wife. I looked for some sign of black humor or irony, but there was none. She was serious. I was stunned.

Just an anecdote, for what it's worth.

I've received this same type of response from one of my best friends; he is a born-again evangelical minister. When I asked about the fate of the African bushmen who had never heard the name "Christ," much less anything about his teachings, he confirmed that these people would be going to hell becasue they did not accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

To me this makes absolutely no sense; how can someone be held accountable for knowledge that they never received?

I don't believe in mormonism, but their teachings regarding the fate of the "unevangelized" makes much more sense than the teachings of the evangelical churches, and presents a much more loving god.

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In my conversations with mainstream Christians, there seem to be three ways of handling this problem, depending usually on fundamentalist/calvinist the person is. Here they are from worst/most cruel to best/most progressive:

1. God damns who he will, 'fairness' has nothing to do with it because he is God.

2. We don't know the ultimate fate of the unsaved, but God is merciful, and we can trust that whatever happens will be fair.

3. God damns no one, hell is a state of mind, a figurative place, or does not exist at all.

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I've received this same type of response from one of my best friends; he is a born-again evangelical minister. When I asked about the fate of the African bushmen who had never heard the name "Christ," much less anything about his teachings, he confirmed that these people would be going to hell becasue they did not accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

To me this makes absolutely no sense; how can someone be held accountable for knowledge that they never received?

I don't believe in mormonism, but their teachings regarding the fate of the "unevangelized" makes much more sense than the teachings of the evangelical churches, and presents a much more loving god.

I've never understood the EV position on this either and while I like the LDS position a little better, I still like the RCC position.

From the Catechism -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.

Letting God be God in regards to this issue seems best. Let's worry about taking care of the living and especially the poor who needs our help.

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Many years ago, when the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake, I took the then-editor of the Utah Evangel and then-director of Oklahoma-based Utah Missions, Inc. (an SBC pastor), and his wife out to lunch in Orem. (Lou Midgley came with us, and I believe that Bill Hamblin did, too.)

The conversation turned at one point to the fate of the unevangelized.

I raised the example of a rural peasant in ancient or medieval China who had never heard the name of Jesus. Was such a person damned? Yes, came the response, without hesitation. Somewhat shocked, I pursued the matter. Our guests were Calvinists, who even doubted the Christianity of Catholics. It seems, I said, that God favors the Dutch and the Scots (referring to two nationalities that had, at least historically, been prone to Calvinism, the True Faith). I got no objection. Returning to the matter of China, I said that it seemed pretty clearly unjust to set hundreds of millions, even billions, of people up in such a way that they had literally no chance at salvation. "Maybe God hates the Chinese," offered the pastor's wife. I looked for some sign of black humor or irony, but there was none. She was serious. I was stunned.

Just an anecdote, for what it's worth.

I too have been surprised at this attitude. I wonder how prevalent it is in Protestantism. Frankly, it seems to be the logical extension of today's prevailing Protestant doctrines.

Take, for example, this comment from my 2001 conversation on this topic (referring to the hypothetical Chinese peasant who never had an opportunity to hear about or accept Christ):

I feel badly for all these peasants but that fact of the matter is they like the rest of us aren't good.

Yes, but these peasants are unlike "the rest of us" if the "us" refers to those portions of humanity who have had an opportunity to hear about and accept Christ. As one poster responded:

But if they never had a chance to learn of the means of repentence so that Christ's blood could make them good, than it seems rather monstrous to consign them to everlasting flames.

The thread referenced in my first post (the comments of which are in the attached "begunia.txt" file) included comments from a power named "Begunia." Begunia's daughter had died the previous fall, and so Begunia stepped into the discussion and replaced the "Chinese peasant" hypothetical with a real-world example:

Here is a real (not hypothetical) question which might help crystallize doctrinal distinctions (&/or speculations) being discussed:

Our 10 year old daughter was killed last Fall.

Is she "saved?"

Here are the particulars for you to evaluate this with your ideas, standards, doctrine, etc.:

1. She had never attended church (except to ceremonies e.g. weddings).

2. She was never baptized.

3. We didn't talk much about religion at home, although she did have a "sense" that there is a God, Jesus, and heaven. (We started reading a children's Bible a couple of years ago but didn't get too far into Genesis before stopping.)

4. She knew the difference between right and wrong but was unaware of the concept of sin.

5. Although she was usually aware of (and usually remorseful) when she did something "wrong," I am absolutely certain that she had NO concept of Jesus' atoning sacrifice, the "good news" of the gospel, redemption, and needing redemption because she was a "sinner."

6. She was smart (not mentally compromised/incompetent), kind, gentle, compassionate, and loving to herself, her family, friends, and strangers.

Is she "saved?"

(And what does that mean either way the question is answered.)

The responses to Begunia were interesting. That is to say, the folks who had previously been rather blunt of their assessment of the hypothetical Chinese peasant (that he was damned) suddenly went mum.

Begunia noticed this:

I noticed that this thread was going "hot and heavy" until I posted the question about my daughter.

I don't know if this was a coincidence and interest in the thread "cooled" _OR_ if the answer to my question is a difficult one to accept and therefore state?

And here:

I am sorry for my very tardy reply to the follow-up question that I asked of Smac

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In my conversations with mainstream Christians, there seem to be three ways of handling this problem, depending usually on fundamentalist/calvinist the person is. Here they are from worst/most cruel to best/most progressive:

1. God damns who he will, 'fairness' has nothing to do with it because he is God.

This doesn't work, because the Bible describes God as just.

2. We don't know the ultimate fate of the unsaved, but God is merciful, and we can trust that whatever happens will be fair.

This is correct, but not really responsive. It dodges the issue.

3. God damns no one, hell is a state of mind, a figurative place, or does not exist at all.

Unbliblical.

-Smac

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I don't believe in mormonism, but their teachings regarding the fate of the "unevangelized" makes much more sense than the teachings of the evangelical churches, and presents a much more loving god.

Well, thanks for the tip of the cap. Perhaps this doctrine, like the proverbial camel's nose, will help Mormonism get back into your tent one day. But if not, we can still be friends of course. :P

John Sanders (the author of the book I mentioned above) is a Christian theologian who accepts the Bible and subsequent Christian tradition as sources for truth. He posits that the Bible describes "two essential truths" about God, truths which cause some tension for people who accept the Bible as authoritative.

First: God has a "universal salvific will," citing 1 Timothy 4:12: "God...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Second: "the particularity and finality of salvation only in Jesus," citing Acts 4:12: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven...by which we must be saved."

Sanders says these two assertions are supported in other verses throughout the New Testament, they are not isolated proof-texts. Sanders notes that "Holding both sets of texts together without neglecting either set requires a careful theological balance...We must hold to both sets of texts and seek to arrive at a theological formulation that does justice to both" (Sanders, No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized, 28-29).

On the second point Sanders makes a distinction between "the ontological and epistemological necessity of Jesus Christ for the salvation of individuals" (30). His book takes for granted the ontological necessity

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I've never understood the EV position on this either and while I like the LDS position a little better, I still like the RCC position.

Letting God be God in regards to this issue seems best. Let's worry about taking care of the living and especially the poor who needs our help.

Well said.

-Smac

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I raised the example of a rural peasant in ancient or medieval China who had never heard the name of Jesus. Was such a person damned? Yes, came the response, without hesitation. Somewhat shocked, I pursued the matter. Our guests were Calvinists, who even doubted the Christianity of Catholics. It seems, I said, that God favors the Dutch and the Scots (referring to two nationalities that had, at least historically, been prone to Calvinism, the True Faith). I got no objection. Returning to the matter of China, I said that it seemed pretty clearly unjust to set hundreds of millions, even billions, of people up in such a way that they had literally no chance at salvation. "Maybe God hates the Chinese," offered the pastor's wife. I looked for some sign of black humor or irony, but there was none. She was serious. I was stunned.

In my experience, Calvinists are the worst about this. A lot of mainstream evangelicals will back off from some of the harsher ramifications of their world view and give a "God will sort this out and God is good" sort of answer that seems to be at odds with their actual theology.

FWIW, I appreciate the universalist tendencies of LDS theology. I don't agree with most of the intermediate steps, but the end result is more humane and postulates a kinder, more loving deity.

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This is correct, but not really responsive. It dodges the issue.

From your response of Silverknights Option "2. We don't know the ultimate fate of the unsaved, but God is merciful, and we can trust that whatever happens will be fair."

I would consider myself an Evangelical who holds a similar position, but I don't see it as an attempt to dodge an issue. I'll try to briefly explain my thoughts here.

While its true, that I can't make a proof positive claim of what happens to the unevangelized of the world.

There is certainly evidence worth considering before drawing the conclusion that hell is inevitably the fate of all who do not hear the Gospel.

Romans 2 certainly seems to affirm that perhaps something different could occur.

In particular verses 6&7.

Rom 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

Rom 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

However, one can not make the forgone conclusion that there is salvation apart from Christ. The breadth of the NT reports with strength that there is only one way and that way is through Christ.

Certainly it should be recognized that for the covenanted people of Israel, righteousness was imputed to them by faith, even though they had no specific knowledge of Christ. This is not to say that they were saved apart from Christ. Instead, I would say that the atonement of Christ was applied to them without these people having specific knowledge of Christ.

I don't think it untoward to think that this sort of thing is simply a special pleading that applies only to Israel, if one is willing to consider that there seems to be Scriptural examples of those who existed outside of covenant Israel but also seemed to enjoy fellowship with God, Job being an example of such. I think that such things should be taken into account with equitable consideration of God's very nature as a loving, merciful and just God.

There is no pat statement in the Bible that specifically spells all this out. But I do certainly think the precedent for such a view is contextually reasonable and well worth consideration.

Regards,

Mudcat

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I love the way Bushman explains it in RSR. He explains that the revelation on the degrees of glory bridged that gap between absolute universalism and heaven or hell teachings. Universalism is problematic because it destroys the need for accountability for our actions and an incentive to serve God. The teaching that those who accept Christ go to heaven and those who don't go to hell is unmerciful. The degrees of glory creates a perfect middle ground by allowing both the mercy of universalism and the free will and accountabilty of heaven/hell to be in effect.

This is a reason I love the Plan of Salvation. I have never seen anything more beautiful and logical in any other belief system.

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The degrees of glory creates a perfect middle ground by allowing both the mercy of universalism and the free will and accountabilty of heaven/hell to be in effect.

This is a reason I love the Plan of Salvation. I have never seen anything more beautiful and logical in any other belief system.

Add in a little Progression Between Kingdoms and I am inclined to agree with your assessment of it.

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From your response of Silverknights Option "2. We don't know the ultimate fate of the unsaved, but God is merciful, and we can trust that whatever happens will be fair."

Note the presupposition here: "The fate of the unsaved."

That sorta puts the cart before the horse. We're trying to figure out what Protestant doctrine has to say about folks like the hypothetical Chinese peasant (or Begunia's daughter). Are they "unsaved?"

And Begunia's comment seems appropriate here:

I find interesting the variety of Christian responses to the issue of her salvation. I wonder why the answer is not more clearly discernable either
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I too have been surprised at this attitude. I wonder how prevalent it is in Protestantism. Frankly, it seems to be the logical extension of today's prevailing Protestant doctrines.

Take, for example, this comment from my 2001 conversation on this topic (referring to the hypothetical Chinese peasant who never had an opportunity to hear about or accept Christ):

Yes, but these peasants are unlike "the rest of us" if the "us" refers to those portions of humanity who have had an opportunity to hear about and accept Christ. As one poster responded:

The thread referenced in my first post (the comments of which are in the attached "begunia.txt" file) included comments from a power named "Begunia." Begunia's daughter had died the previous fall, and so Begunia stepped into the discussion and replaced the "Chinese peasant" hypothetical with a real-world example:

The responses to Begunia were interesting. That is to say, the folks who had previously been rather blunt of their assessment of the hypothetical Chinese peasant (that he was damned) suddenly went mum.

Begunia noticed this:

And here:

Begunia then went through all the previous posts and summarized them (dividing them into categories of Protestant, Mormon and Catholic).

Her conclusion:

And there's the rub. Protestant doctrine culminates in conclusions that are rather difficult to square with the notion of a loving and just God.

Begunia found this troubling:

I felt the same way (responding to a Protestant poster):

I think Begunia pegged it when she said this: "It is obvious that salvation is really the essential idea of Christianity. All the other doctrinal differences are interesting (and sometimes important) but it can all be boiled down to: What is essential for salvation?"

And to me, it seems that Protestantism doesn't have an answer that can be squared with the Biblical description of a just and merciful God. Catholics have some interesting thoughts on this (see the "Begunia.txt" file for references to "baptism of desire").

-Smac

-Smac

Hi Smac,

Thanks for the "Catholics have some interesting thoughts on this". "Stericycle" was me, representing the Catholic position, so if you or anyone has any follow-up questions nine years later, I am still happy to defend my points. I know that I am able to be consistent whether I am talking about an hypothetical Chinese peasant or someone who lost a loved one. Ordinarily, as Catholics, we cannot know about anyone's individual salvation or damnation, from a life-long criminal to a devout little lady who prayed her Rosary everyday. Everyone retains the potential for eternal life or death up until their last mortal moment, and only God knows what transpires in any individual soul at that time, or really any time. There are indications and signs that can give one a better or lesser hope. But apart from a rare supernatural revelation, we can truly hope for the salvation of everyone and not be absolutely sure about anyone.

ZLMB. Good days. If I ever get the time to go through the material, I could probably answer every question that ever falls within my orbit of competence with quotes from ZLMB. I regret that I didn't save all of my own posts. Now I'll have to go in search.

3DOP, aka Stericycle, aka Rory

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Many years ago, when the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake, I took the then-editor of the Utah Evangel and then-director of Oklahoma-based Utah Missions, Inc. (an SBC pastor), and his wife out to lunch in Orem. (Lou Midgley came with us, and I believe that Bill Hamblin did, too.)

The conversation turned at one point to the fate of the unevangelized.

I raised the example of a rural peasant in ancient or medieval China who had never heard the name of Jesus. Was such a person damned? Yes, came the response, without hesitation. Somewhat shocked, I pursued the matter. Our guests were Calvinists, who even doubted the Christianity of Catholics. It seems, I said, that God favors the Dutch and the Scots (referring to two nationalities that had, at least historically, been prone to Calvinism, the True Faith). I got no objection. Returning to the matter of China, I said that it seemed pretty clearly unjust to set hundreds of millions, even billions, of people up in such a way that they had literally no chance at salvation. "Maybe God hates the Chinese," offered the pastor's wife. I looked for some sign of black humor or irony, but there was none. She was serious. I was stunned.

Just an anecdote, for what it's worth.

Hi Daniel,

Wow, an unfortunate moment of candor. If explored further she probably would have cited Romans where St. Paul says something about where God says "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated". Southern Baptists are not necessarily Calvinistic. Most Baptists move away from a view that so rigorously allows that the elect are loved and the rest are hated. But if you believe in a strictly limited atonement, this is where you'll end up.

As I think you know, I was a Baptist minister for years and went to a Baptist college before that. At other times I have explained how I got into trouble once in college for innocently praying in a prayer meeting that for our Saturday visitation, that God would lead us to those who are "foreordained for salvation", or words to that effect. Boy did I get into trouble over that. Unknown to me as a recently arrived freshman, the "Calvinist heresy" was gaining a foothold on campus and the powers that be were doing their utmost to relieve any of us of that opinion, and prohibit our spreading it. We definitely believed that Jesus died for everyone as of course, I do today as a Catholic.

I mention this in the interest of letting everyone know that Baptists come in wide varieties of belief on essential doctrines. That is why there are dozens of denominations of Baptist that agree enough to share the name, but not enough to go to church together.

3DOP

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Hi Daniel,

Wow, an unfortunate moment of candor. If explored further she probably would have cited Romans where St. Paul says something about where God says "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated". Southern Baptists are not necessarily Calvinistic. Most Baptists move away from a view that so rigorously allows that the elect are loved and the rest are hated. But if you believe in a strictly limited atonement, this is where you'll end up.

As I think you know, I was a Baptist minister for years and went to a Baptist college before that. At other times I have explained how I got into trouble once in college for innocently praying in a prayer meeting that for our Saturday visitation, that God would lead us to those who are "foreordained for salvation", or words to that effect. Boy did I get into trouble over that. Unknown to me as a recently arrived freshman, the "Calvinist heresy" was gaining a foothold on campus and the powers that be were doing their utmost to relieve any of us of that opinion, and prohibit our spreading it. We definitely believed that Jesus died for everyone as of course, I do today as a Catholic.

I mention this in the interest of letting everyone know that Baptists come in wide varieties of belief on essential doctrines. That is why there are dozens of denominations of Baptist that agree enough to share the name, but not enough to go to church together.

3DOP

I'm coming to that realization as well.

There seems to be two main factions though. "Free Grace" followers vs "Lordship Salvation" followers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lordship_salvation

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Note the presupposition here: "The fate of the unsaved."

That sorta puts the cart before the horse. We're trying to figure out what Protestant doctrine has to say about folks like the hypothetical Chinese peasant (or Begunia's daughter). Are they "unsaved?"

Yeah... you just gave me a "Wow I should have had a V8!" moment. I tripped right over the semantics, but given the rest of the statement I think my assumption unsaved = unevangelized wasn't to off kilter.

Protestantism lacks a coherent answer to inquiries about the salvific destiny of the majority of humanity throughout history. That's a pretty big gap in the game plan.

IMO, implying Protestantism should offer a concise and unanimous answer is a bit of an umbrella statement. I would say that there are number of variant answers to the question.

Yes, well. That seems to be the go-to surmise of Protestants who address this issue, hence the last few lines in my 2001 post:

6. The majority of the human race will be damned, even those whose individual circumstances made it impossible for them to hear about or accept the Gospel.

7. It is wrong to damn someone to hell for eternity for not accepting something they never had the chance to accept in the first place.

Question: How do Protestants and Catholics square the idea of a loving God in Heaven with #6 and #7 above?

I can't speak for Catholics and quite a few Protestants on the matter. I have offered my current position on point 6. To be specific, given my response, what criticism do you offer against it.

On point 7, I would say that I would reject it outright as a valid point. My reason being, there are alternative views regarding the eternal punishment. The one I adhere to is annihilationism.

However, even if suffering in hell were eternal, it is not illogical to think that it would be so. The reason I say this is because of how we relate sin to punishment. It seems fair for a person to receive punishment for sin.. say affairs, rape, abuse of others and so forth. However we can not equate infinite suffering for finite actions with finite consequences. However, what condemns the unbeliever is not one of these particular sins but rather a different sort of sin, rejecting God and the salvific works of Christ. Our moral lapses are not what damns us, it is our rejection of God that does.

I don't have any good reason to think that agency doesn't occur beyond the grave. It may be plausible that such souls will continue in their sin after death, so it may very well be that if hell is eternal it is eternal because it is self

perpetuating. Now this isn't my view of things, but certainly its another way of looking at the situation.

I just can't reconcile the Protestant position on the unevangelized with the Biblical description of God and just and merciful.

I am afraid you will have to be more specific here. There are a number of views on the matter from Protestants. Are you dismissing all views carte blanche or is their a particular Protestant view or views that you reject?

Agreed. So what will happen to the billions of people who go through life without an opportunity to hear about and accept Christ?

Well, I thought I had offered an answer here. Was I to unspecific? If so I will do my best to clarify.

What evidence is there that Job was not of the covenant people?

Well I think the better question would be, is there any evidence to assume Job was a descendant of Abraham?

He certainly isn't in any documented genealogical line that I know of.

Some offer the possibility the Job = Jobab, which would certainly disqualify him.

Also, the Talmud places him as one of the advisers to Pharaoh when Pharaoh made his decision to kill the firstborn sons of Israel. This would seem a bit out of place for a child of Israel.

Seems most chronologically place Job in the Patriarchal era, so his lack of genealogy to Abraham seems meritorious.

However if you need another example, how about Noah or Melchizedek.

I agree with the observation that there are many good and righteous people outside of "the covenant." But they must, at some point, come unto Christ to be saved. LDS doctrine allows for this, but Protestant doctrine seems to disallow it (if the individual dies without accepting Christ, that is).

Well I thought I had offered an answer here in Romans 2:7. The KJV perhaps isn't the best translation for the conveyance of the message. Here are some alternates.

New International Version (

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I wrote a paper on the topic. It never got wide circulation (probably because it really sucks), but it has a lot of good information in it that could be a jumping off point for further discussion. In the paper I discuss the concept of the "intermediate state" or "Hades," what Christ did there, and how the dead are saved according to some early Christian sources. I then compare the early Christian concepts with modern Christians including Catholics, Protestants, and Latter-day Saints. Feel free to download it and take a peek if this topic interests you.

Hades.doc

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I know that to many on this board Reformed Theology and Calvinism are considered "abhorrent" to use a word by one of our more esteemed writers in this thread.

I suppose the basis for this visceral distaste is that many people believe that everyone, while maybe not deserving of salvation, at least deserve a shot at salvation.

Therefore the Chinese peasant, it is argued, is damned unfairly, because how could he choose salvation if he is not even aware of Christ? And while general revelation may exist it isn't enough.

The crux is, does God owe His mercy to anyone at all? Do we, as willing sinners, in rebellion against our Creator, have the right to demand that He, at the judgement seat show us Mercy? Does theology, to be true, need to be popular or at least palatable?

Without getting into all the strawman calvinism stuff, I would like the other side of the question discussed. Is equal mercy to all, a requirement for a Holy and Loving God? Could it be that our definition of Love (as understood by sinners) different from a Holy God's understanding of love.

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Hi, Paul.

If a holy God's idea of love includes creating people ex nihilo, placing them in a position where they cannot ever encounter the means of salvation, and then damning them to eternal torment because they haven't been saved, then, from my perspective, his notion of love and my notion of love have nothing whatever in common, and I see no reason to use the human word love in connection with him.

Sorry.

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