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How do we come into a relationship with God? What does that mean, and how does one go about that? How does somebody get to heaven?

Why is the chance for salvation unequal?

Postby Gundam » Sun Jan 27, 2019 9:10 pm

I researched a common question: if someone lacked any capacity to hear the gospel (i.e. an ancient Egyptian or infant mortality), do they receive damnation for their lack of faith? Expectedly many claimed that no, God is just and thus judges individuals based on their deeds and motivations RELATIVE to their capabilities. However, this answer presents a paradox: if a RELATIVELY good person is equally deserving of eternal life as a person who wholly devotes themselves to God, then logically there is no inherent value in devotion to Christ. Granted, one could argue that everyone has a unique "test" that God specifically tailors for them and therefore completion of your own "test" is worthy of salvation. But how does one reconcile with the fact that some tests are inherently more difficult and thus salvation is easier for some and harder for others?
Gundam
 

Re: Why is the chance for salvation unequal?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:52 am

> do they receive damnation for their lack of faith?

One of the things the Bible is clear about is that God will judge people fairly. There are plenty of variables at play.

Romans 5.13 says, "for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law." In other words, people cannot be held accountable for what they could not possibly have known. Romans 1.20 lets us know that they will be held accountable for what they do know. Theologians talk about in terms of "common revelation" (what everybody can see and have a knowledge of [things such as order, uniformity, purpose, function, cause and effect, the validity of sense perception, beauty, reason, personality, knowledge, the benefits of moral responsibility, will, and love; as well as a conscience inside of them]) and "special revelation" (the knowledge of things in particular, such as Jesus). Those are different accountability standards, and the Bible teaches that God is just and will be fair with people, considering what they knew and what they did with it.

For instance, we are told that the young people during the wilderness wanderings got a free pass to the Promised Land when others were punished for their rebellion, because they didn't know any better (Dt. 1.37-40: God's people are being judged for their rebellion, but the young ones who didn't have the mental capacity to make a reasoned and moral decision like that don't get judged). Scripture teaches that anyone who is not capable of making a deliberate, reasoned decision is not held accountable as the people who are. Don't get me wrong: they're still accountable, but in a different way and based on a different standard.

Based on Romans 5.13, I think it's fair to say that people who haven't heard of Jesus will not be judged on whether they believed in Christ or not. That doesn't make any sense. They will be judged fairly given their own motivations and actions. People will be judged according to the information they had, what they did with it, and their motives behind it. Every judgment will be fair based on what information people had, what they knew, what their motives were, and how they behaved given what they had access to. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fair. So if someone hasn't heard of Christianity, they can't be held accountable for Christianity. But they will be held accountable for what they do know. As C.S. Lewis said, "We do know that no person can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved by Him."

> However, this answer presents a paradox: if a RELATIVELY good person is equally deserving of eternal life as a person who wholly devotes themselves to God, then logically there is no inherent value in devotion to Christ.

This rationale is misguided for the following reason: There is no teaching that, even though the "good" person may not be sent to hell and may be allowed to enter heaven under certain conditions, that their reward will be like those who showed devotion and commitment. In the grand scheme of things, there could actually be TREMENDOUS inherent value in devotion to Christ.

> But how does one reconcile with the fact that some tests are inherently more difficult and thus salvation is easier for some and harder for others?

Justice doesn't mean equality. In the Biblical view, justice is not about equalizing, unifying and leveling all things so that distinctions and hierarchies are destroyed to bring about a social or, for some, metaphysical oneness in which even the fundamental distinctions are ignored. Rather, justice is giving to each their due in accordance with their nature, a nature that is created and defined by God. This does not undermine the equal value of all people made in the image of God. Biblical justice does not aim at the destruction of diversity, but a covenantal or relational unity within real diversity based on the true nature of all things created and defined by the absolute personality of God. In words, fairness doesn't mean that we all get exactly the same road to walk, the exact same situations, resources, challenges, temperament, and experiences. Instead, fairness has to do with dealing with each person individually with total regard to everything about them. That's where it helps to have a judge who is omniscient, totally righteous, just, fair, and just as ready to show mercy and grace as judgment, depending the situation. I would expect nothing less from God.


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