[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What about those who have not heard? Part 1








by Matthew

I want to tackel the thorny subject of those who have not heard the Gospel message during their lifetimes. There are a number of views held amongst Evangelicals as to their fate. Some Christians have hold to a strict Restrictivist position that holds that such people have no opportunity to receive eternal life. To show this is problematic, I will use a deductive argument.

(1) God loves all individuals.
(2) If God loves an individual He desires for her the greatest possible good.
(3) Eternal punishment is contrary to the greatest possible good.
(4) Therefore God wants all individuals to avoid eternal punishment.
(5) If God wants all individuals to avoid eternal punishment, He will desire to use some means to enable them to avoid eternal punishment.
(6) Therefore we can expect that God has provided some means for all individuals to avoid eternal punishment.


All Christians except some Calvinists agree with (1). I find it difficult to see how one could argue that (2) does not result from (1). Of course, God may have some other desire that means He is unable to make possible the greatest possible good for an individual, but He must at least desire the greatest possible good for all.

I think this argument is pretty sound. In the next post on this subject, I intend to consider the different approaches to the question of the unevangelized.

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10 Comments:

  • Hi Matthew!
    Yay! Matthew has posted on the UoG Blog!!

    I think your deductive argument is sound. That is why missionaries fulfilling the great commission are so important!!

    I look forward to this series. I know you have some interesting things to say about this.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, January 29, 2009 9:10:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew:

    A good subject. My take:

    (1) True, although He does not love all individuals equally. There must be some difference in there when God told Israel that He knew (loved) them of all the families of the earth (Amos 3:2) I take this to be relative, although there are some (thank you for your accuracy here Matthew!) Calvinists who would make it absolute. They are a very small overall number. Similar to the discussion over on Rose’s blog re: continuing sin and punishment in hell – can we argue that God loves the wicked dead with an everlasting love?

    (2) The key word is the word “desire” because there are things that God desires but does not follow through with the force of a decree.

    (3) Not the ideal situation. Agreed

    (4) But again, not with the force of a decree. But, yes, He expresses Himself in very positive terms, gives the widest possible invitation to all (“Whosoever”) and therefore no sinner has any reason to despair that salvation is not for Him. If the sinner be damned, then he has but damned himself. The cause of his damnation is and will always be his own chosen and loved sin. The wages of sin is death.

    (5) Again, dependent upon what God has actually decreed to do.

    (6) It will be interesting to see how you develop this 6th point and still do justice to the missionary thoughts of Paul in Romans 10:13-18

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 30, 2009 12:39:00 AM  

  • Rose, thnaks.

    "I think your deductive argument is sound. That is why missionaries fulfilling the great commission are so important!!"

    The preaching of the Gospel is clearly the means God has ordained for the salvation of the heathen.

    However, it is apparent that some people never get to meet a missionary and die in presumed ignorance. My purpose here is to argue that God can be expected to provide a means for their salvation as well as those who meet missionaries in their lifetime.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Friday, January 30, 2009 3:05:00 AM  

  • Colin, thanks for your thoughts.

    I will certainly say something about Romans 10:13-18 and a bit about decrees.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Friday, January 30, 2009 3:29:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Only those whom God quickens come to faith. Therefore, those who never hear the gospel are actually at no disadvantage to the non-elect who do hear the gospel. God uses men to spread the gospel and that is why Calvinists are very missionary inclined. We want to be faithful to God's command to get the external call to everyone.

    However, it is a comfort to know that 100% of those chosen before the foundation of the world will be saved. God will see that the message gets to his elect. Since we do not know who are the elect, we should have a burning desire to get the gospel out to all men and leave it to God to bring about the salvation of those he quickens.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Friday, January 30, 2009 7:53:00 AM  

  • Wayne, so we can conclude that a major part of humanity, both today and in the past were not among the elect and although God loved them and did not desire their eternal condemination He had some reason for choosing not to offer them eternal life?

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Friday, January 30, 2009 7:57:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Friday, January 30, 2009 8:29:00 AM  

  • Yes! Although he did not choose to not "offer" eternal life, he choose to not "give" them eternal life through the gift of faith and repentance.

    My deleted comment above simply said yes before I noticed the word offer.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Friday, January 30, 2009 8:33:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    You said,

    "Of course, God may have some other desire that means He is unable to make possible the greatest possible good for an individual, but He must at least desire the greatest possible good for all."

    Doesn't this contradict your #6? If God does have some other desire that keeps him from being able to make possible the greatest possible good for every individual, then we wouldn't necessarily be able to expect that God has provided some means for all to avoid eternal punishment.

    By Blogger Rachel, at Saturday, January 31, 2009 9:09:00 PM  

  • Rachel,
    (6) states:

    "Therefore we can expect that God has provided some means for all individuals to avoid eternal punishment."

    I stated 'can expect' as opposed to 'has provided'.

    The burden lies upon the objector to show that there is a reason that God would withold a means of enabling people to escape eternal punishment.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Wednesday, February 04, 2009 3:24:00 AM  

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