How do Christians account for the `millions of Chinese` & others who had no chance?

I put “millions of Chinese” in quotations because on a board strictly dedicated to Christianity, someone I was asking questions of dismissed my query as the “Milllions of Chinese” dilemma.

See, you’ve got that blanket “you can only get there through me” line from Jesus Christ. Pretty cut & dried if you ask me, and certainly, every Christian I’ve seen seem to agree.

Now, this is certainly a noble goal for our savior to have, but it is a perfectly unattainable one. First of all, you have the many folks whose lifespans commenced before Jesus was even a twinkle in G-d’s eyes.

Then, in the days before the Al Gore invented the internet, you had tons and tons of people throughout the planet who, due to no fault of their own, never heard about the joys of Christianity and how it’s “the only way.”

I’m willing to bet that a lot of them were perfectly nice people, many of whom followed whatever spiritual path was predominant amongst the populations where they were to the best of their abilities, as well.

I realize that in this time, missionaries have helpfully spread the “truth” throughout the planet, and you can’t stay at even a flea-bag hotel without the Giddeon folks letting the cat out of the bag.

But even today, there are remote places in Asia, Africa, and probably even in this country where people live and die without reading a Bible or even knowing it exists.

And this speaks nothing of kids who die before they can really know. And what of the mentally retarded? Can they really know Jesus if they can’t manage to figure out their own name?

So what of these people? Would God have devised a plan which doomed so many countless millions of His creation to an afterlife devoid of heaven right off the bat? Doesn’t seem sporting…

Now, some Christians answered me that God would take them into account. Okay, that’s a bit fairer, but what gives them this idea? Anything in the Bible, or just a hopeful hunch?

Now for the tricky part…

If we are to assume that the latter group of Christians are correct, then wouldn’t the best thing (under this system) be for Christians to NOT spread the word?

Think about it: I have some news for my friend. If I keep it to myself, my friend is no worse for wear. If I tell my friend, he has to accept it to be just as well-off as he was before I opened my mouth, and if he disagrees with what I tell him - Oops! Eternal torment!

I, personally, keep my mouth shut, content to see him on the other side. Ignorance is definitely bliss in this scenerio, so why mess that up?

Yer pal,

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Well, there’s at least one group, the LDS, who believe that vicarious baptism works.

Well, what if the people who died play a scenario through where they learn about god. They don’t know they are dead so they reject it based on whatever they would have in life. So, in that case it would be better to learn about god beforehand so some that might reject it have a chance to accept it.

There are Christians who believe that something like this will play out on the day of the Resurrection of the Dead.

As to the “millions of Chinese,” as pointed out elsewhere on the Board at least one major denomination (Catholic) has as official doctrine that salvation covers someone who is ignorant of Jesus (which may include the case in which the preaching done to them was so bad, distorted or superficial as to be useless) but who is a righteous person that “seeks the truth and to do the will of God according to his best understanding.” Rather than being directly in scripture, this is arrived at indirectly, through theological philosophy – but Catholicism allows that :slight_smile:

If I recall from my Southern Baptist days, I seem to remember something about the rocks and stones crying out if there were not one to spread the Word. Like you, I always wondered why churches didn’t save their missionary dollars and let the rocks and stones handle it.

As to the kids, most Protestants I ever knew believed in an “age of accountability” as the Catholics do. As JRD said, this is not based in Scripture as much as it is in “surely a loving God wouldn’t send all these precious children to Heaven.” That raises legitimate questions for the sola scriptura folks, but I’ll leave others to ask them.

Dr. J

PS: BTW, Satan, good to have you back!

Romans 1:19-23 says that the idea of God has been revealed in nature, and that anyone (whether or not they’d been expicitly told) could have reached the conclusion that there is a divine presence that runs the world, that it should be praised/thanked/worshipped. Therefore some make the assumption that God will use that as a standard.

For those who believe that that’s the standard, in case they haven’t come to that conclusion. Plus, there are those of us who believe that life in general is enriched through knowledge of Christ - so you would want people to have that as well as eternal life.

There are different theories, depending on which sect you talk to.

Some- think that “virtuous pagans” go to a special place, which is pleasant, like ideaized life of earth, but not heaven.

The Celtic Church feels that you go to YOUR “just reward”- ie all the major 'good" faiths have truth to them. Yes- you do not go to “heaven” but you can go to their “heaven”.

Others feel that the virtuous will be given a chance after death- that all have a chance at Christian heaven.
And, there are the very few, but very loud- who feel that everyone but “them” are going to Hell- forever.

It’s simple.

A minister explained it to me once.

Anyone who does not believe in God (Christianity), believes in other faiths or believes in nothing at all, shall be judged according to how well they followed the rules of their own faiths and/or social laws, which is basically saying that even nonbelievers, if they were good folks, can get into Heaven or, if bad, Hell.

Most preachers don’t seem to like to voice this little bit of information, probably fearing they might loose a covert or two.

WHOO HOO! Buddhism doesn’t have laws; only guidelines. I still don’t want to break them or convert, but it is interesting that I have a “cover my ass” safety net built in.

This is something we do not need to worry about, God will handle it just fine without our help. God is fair and just. He will make himself known to everyone.

Fundamental problem with this: Isn’t the first commandment pretty much a one way ticket to hell for Budists, Hindus, Yorubans, Shonans, Confucianists, Hare Krishnas, Mazdaznans, Shamanics, Pantheists, Shintites, & Umbandhans no matter how lawful & just they are? And let’s not forget the Unblechians who, although they are spiritually upstanding people with laws & morals (according to their own set of values) throught no fault of their own just happen to worship a chunk of Sky Lab that fell on to their island back in 1981. How do all of these virtuous people (who just happen to worship other gods) get to thumb their nose at the first amendment?

So you go to a suburb of heaven? Is it less classy than downtown heaven? Dirt roads instead of highways?

It would be more efficient if God just came down here with us & sent all evil doers to hell (or New Jersey). That way we get to stay right where we are. The earth will become heaven & we’ll all be elevated to various states of heavenly awareness & joy. I would quite like to stay right where I am, as long as all the murderers, adulterers, thieves, liars & covetors have been banished. Oh, and I could do without all these damed potholes too.

Hmmm… where’s the suggestion box?

Unfortunately there are quite a lot of people worrying about it. Every Sunday morning I turn on my television and see them all worrying about it at the tops of their lungs, trying to get me to become very worried about it. I sure wish they’d listen to you Jersey and stop worrying about it so damned much.

How could there be a god in heaven who would let me make a typo like that…

It’s still a bad deal you’re giving the person… if they remain ignorant, then from your view it should be:


If you decide you just have to share the good news with them, then the best case is:


However, some of them are bound to not believe without some tangible evidence, thus they end up with:


So, if you remain quiet on the subject, everyone wins and gets to enjoy the everlasting love of god because they didn’t know any better. If you decide to spread the Gospel, you have virtually ensured that somebody gets a one-way ticket to hell.

Given that this life is finite, and the reward is eternal, it would still seem best that Christians not go out and try to convert people.

First, Judges 1 1:19 shows that God can’t handle everything on his own. He couldn’t drive out chariots of iron, yet he’s going to handle judging all of humanity? I weep for us.

Second, the trick of an all-knowing god setting up Adam and Eve in the Garden, knowing full well they’d fail his test, and then acting upset about it, shows the big guy is anything but fair. Life has been rigged by him from the start.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled OP. :slight_smile:

Welcome back Brian!

I use a similar argument when dealing with fundamentalists. Namely;

“What about all of the people who led pure lives before the advent of Christ? Are they all damned to Hell solely because they missed out on the Messiah?”

You would be amazed at some of the contorsions people have gone through to justify or explain away the question.

Not quite. According to that line of thinking, if they remain ignorant there are two possibilites -
if they have figured out the divine presence, just not the details then:

but if they have ignored the idea of divine presence, then they get:
which is bad


No, you have not been reading the posts carefully- even if you have been exposed to the Word- if you are faithful to your own faith you will go to YOUR own reward, or be given another chance after death- or so most sects believe.

First things first: Brian, smug has composed a song about you and Libby. You should check it out - it’s pretty good.

OK, now to those damned (or, hopefully, not damned ;)) Chinamen.

First of all, John 14:6 (NEB) quotes Jesus as saying, “no man comes to the Father except by me.” What it doesn’t say is, “No man comes to the Father unless he confesses me as his personal Savior during this lifetime.”

In comparing the two statements, I think anyone can see that the actual language of the Gospel is considerably more open than the traditional fundie spin on this verse is. The only thing it is specific about is that the only way to the Father is through Christ. What it’s not specific about is where, when, or how one’s involvement with Christ takes place.

Second, there are numerous verses in the New Testament that suggest that all shall be saved. For instance, John 12:32 quotes Jesus: “And I shall draw all men to myself, when I am lifted up from the earth.” Or Philippians 2:9-11, which says that every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, Christ’s lordship.

Finally, I see in God a God of love, not a God of arbitrary and capricious standards. I don’t believe there’s anything tricky or game-theoretic about salvation; it’s simply about our willingness to accept, and in our small measure return, his love. I personally can’t buy the logic of the ‘suppose you died in a car accident tonight’ rationale for accepting Christ right now, rather than sleeping on it until the next morning. (I can’t imagine that God’s gonna send anyone to hell for resisting pressure sales tactics in His name!) I certainly don’t believe that our opportunity to accept His love comes to an end when we die. (That’s a personal belief, not a generally-held Christian belief, but I’m not exactly alone on this one; Madeleine L’Engle’s writings on the subject persuaded me.)

God loves the Chinese every bit as much as he loves us Westerners who have been exposed to the Gospel. I trust that he will find a way to bring them to him.

“You are fair and just.” – Arthur, to the Knights of Ni.

Reminds me that God once spoke to Moses out of a burning shrubbery. :wink: