After my quick perusal of wikipedia to help me recollect what ‘Pelagianism’ is, it sounds like he could have had some similarities to what I said above … in terms of having a human nature with at least the capacity to choose good (even if we exercise that capacity all too rarely). But to the extent that Pelagianism has come to be associated with the view that we can earn our way into Heaven with our own good works, then I do not adhere to that. But I’m not a Calvinist either, and so will probably not do a fair job defending the doctrine of total depravity, as I don’t really have a dog in that fight either. I am committed to the proposition that we do have free will and that anything we call love (in the Agape sense) would not be possible without free will.
You ask good questions, and I won’t pretend to have the answers – at least not any that will satisfy the determined skeptic such as yourself. As with the ‘when does a child reach the age of accountability’ question in a neighboring thread, I don’t consider the many historic and prehistoric peoples to be a problem that we can productively worry about. It’s way above the pay-grade of you, me, and anybody else here. If God is just and merciful as we Christians claim He is, then there is nothing to worry about. If he isn’t – we’re screwed anyway --or if he doesn’t exist, then neither does the ‘problem’. None of those scenarios gives us any coherent reasons why this should be our problem. And for you, I suspect you don’t really see this as a problem at all except to keep handy on a short slate of reasons why you want to reject the notion of a Christian God. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I casually brush aside such concerns as irrelevant and of little-to-no disturbance to my faith. (And there are plenty of things to disturb my faith --make no mistake! That’s just not one of them.)
Earlier in your post you raise a better question – why hasn’t God done a ‘sit-down’ to explain all truth to you personally? Don’t we all wish for that! —or we say we do anyway. We imagine that we are the kindly, objective arbiters and highest judges in the universe, and that any god who wishes to be worthy of the job description (the one that we moderns wrote up) needs to make an appointment with us and show up, resume in hand, to apply for the job. And if we are sufficiently impressed we may deign to let them serve as our vending machine lackey.
Needless to say, no such god seems to exist, and Christians should always be happy to help you continue to bury and leave behind those kinds of notions of any god. But when we turn to whom we Christians see as the true God, then your questions can take on a more interesting flavor.
As to how responsible everybody all through history ought to be for rejecting or accepting God whether or not they were privileged to be born into an age that we recognize as explicitly reached by Christ – that is a question worth contemplating (not so much because we want to make sure God meets our approval in how these folks are handled --as I said before: way above our pay grade; but rather as a self-reflection on our own behaviors). There are too many biblical passages that just plain blow our complacent salvation doctrinal formulas right out of the water. The sheep and the goats (representing all the ‘nations’ through history I think we can safely say – whether Christ was preached there or not) unceremoniously plows right through the middle of all our doctrinal pretensions. And these explicit teachings of Jesus himself are accompanied by many other passages (hints, at least) of ways in which we are given enough (even from just what God gives us in nature alone) to be held responsible for our actions. Now – make no mistake, those who are given more – from them more will be expected. We do have the explicit teachings of Christ to help make things even more clear to us; so … to repeat an oft-used scriptural theme: will even Sodom and Gomorrah be able to stand up and condemn our generation? That should be a sobering question for all of us. [added edit: i.e. we, who claim to know so much more in every way than these ‘poor, ignorant ancients’, are we as a result, then, so much better than they were? That is a rhetorical question that should have us quaking in our modern boots! After reading so many of the prophets, I’m nearly certain that your concern for fringe peoples of history is entirely misplaced. We have our own hides to worry about here, and it seems to me that is plenty enough to keep us on our knees, sweating drops of blood.]
I know this doesn’t allay your concerns that what you imagine as a kind of ‘Christian’ god may not be doing the right things according to you, and as I don’t believe in that (answerable-to-you-and-me) god either any more than you do, I don’t feel a need to address that. But the Truth that exists beyond us and is not answerable to us – that is of intense interest. And on that foundation we look with hope and faith.
edits added in…