Theology - Asking the right questions
Melinda Penner from Stand To Reason makes an excellent point about the salvation of people who have never heard of Jesus.
People don’t go to Hell for not believing in Jesus. People are judged for their sins. You see, the question puts the cart before the horse. Sin is the reason people go to Hell; Jesus is the way for pardon.
Is it just to punish guilty people? Yes. But often a doubt still nags. Yes, it’s fair to punish the guilty but it isn’t fair to punish people who never had a chance for the pardon. While there is an emotional resonance to this, it is just another way of posing the same wrong question. If it’s fair to judge guilty people, no pardon is owed to anyone. The Judge can offer pardon for His own reasons, which He hasn’t divulged to us. In human courts, when a judge pardons a criminal no one cries injustice because he doesn’t pardon the rest of the criminals. It’s not capricious and it’s not unfair. It’s grace. And grace, by definition, isn’t owed, it’s given.
This is certainly a line of thinking I have never thought about before. I think another such question is the often heard problem of suffering. People complain that a good God wouldn't allow suffering, yet most people do not think it wrong to lock up convicted murderers for their crimes. This obviously causes them to suffer, but it is justified because of their crimes. Yet how often, we we are suffering, do we remember that what we really deserve is death and hell. Suffering is not unjust, as it is actually far less than we deserve. The problem of suffering, much like the problem with people who haven't heard the gospel, seems to hinge on the assumption of injustice that is contrary to christian theology.