I’ll discuss it with you via PM…
The simplest answer is that I trust the God of Wisdom and Love to be both just and merciful.
To expand that: Your questions “What happens to people who do not have the chance to accept Christ? What of uncontacted tribes in the Amazon and New Guinea? Do they go to hell?” assume that people don’t have a chance to accept Christ.
It assumes that the only way a person could accept Christ is to have a human being go to each and every person to tell them the way of salvation.
I submit that the God, Who set the Big Bang in place, is capable of using a variety of methods to teach the evidence of Christ.
2 Peter 3:18 tells us that God is patient and seemingly slow but it is because God wants all to come to repentance.
Romans 1:20 says that there is enough evidence in creation that God exists so that no one has an excuse.
My aunt and uncle were missionaries to China in the 30s and 40s, before they escaped in 1948. They ministered to a small remote village.
One day a man came into the town and the townspeople directed him to my aunt. He was holding a corner of a page not greater than an inch. He asked if my aunt could explain it. She recognized the ‘begats’ from a page of Numbers. She located it in her Chinese Bible and read it to him.
Long and short, he became a Christian after saying that he found the scrap of paper on the ground and instantly knew it was very important because of the ‘begats’ (heritage was everything to him) and he had been walking for over a week trying to find someone who could explain it to him.
He found my aunt. I submit that seekers will find answers. And God puts things in people’s lives to draw people to seek God.
Another personal example occured when I was working at a church. I answered the phone and the person asked for me by name. She explained her psychiatrist told her she should go to a church to find people who would accept her with her severe physical illness that was killing her, and made it impossible to continue in her career. She had been asked to become a judge, but became ill and had to decline.
I invited her to come and befriended her–her walk was very uncoordinated and would no doubt make her feel self-conscious, but everyone was gracious. We became good friends and one day she shared the story behind her calling me.
After her psychiatrist had told her to find a church, she awoke one night in her home where she lived alone. Someone stood at the foot of her bed. He spoke to her and told her to call our church and ask for me–by name. She was afraid but he said she didn’t need to fear. She said that she believed it was Jesus speaking to her.
That next morning she called me at the office. She became a Christian, too, over time.
Another story: When I served on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) as chaplain, a senior chief shared a story told by a missionary from then, Burma. Christian missionaries were not allowed in the country. The missionary had traveled in a trunk for hours and was dropped off in a remote village where he learned there were canibals headed by a chieftan, whose rule was ‘no visitors in the village unless the chief invites them in.’
So he set up housekeeping in a cave a ways from the village. He prayed daily for an opportunity to witness to the people. Villagers would visit him in the cave out of curiosity but no one dared go against the chief’s orders.
He spent two years roughing it in the cave, when a messenger came from the chief saying, “Come. If your God is so powerful, then come prove it.” The chief’s prize bull had died a couple of days before and no one of the wise men could make it live again.
The missionary’s first thought was, God, couldn’t you have made this a little easier for a first visit? But he felt that niggling in his soul that said, ‘you asked me for an opportunity to witness. Here it is.’
So he went to the village and met the chief, who stood beside this huge bull. He commanded the missionary bring it back to life or he would be killed as a false prophet.
The missionary prayed in his heart–‘help me, God.’ and then placed his hands on the bull and said, in the name of Jesus, who has authority over life and death, Live.
It was very simple. No wasted words.
But that bull came to life and stood up.
The result was that the missionary was invited to live in the town and share the good news. Many declared their faith in God, including the chief, who said that the missionary’s God was the most powerful of all gods.
Jesus promised that whoever seeks, will find.
St Augustine of Hippo declared that
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
I submit God will find a way–maybe like talking to St Paul on the road to Damascus which resulted in his conversion, though the others thought it was thunder–to answer our desire to know the truth.
It may be in this world or as some believe in a transition time. I just know whom I have believed that God is faithful to the promise of salvation.
John 3:16 says God loved the world so much that Jesus was sent to save whoever would believe.
I submit that most people understate the amount of punishment Christ endured on the cross.
I submit that the physical pain of dying on the cross was 0 on a scale of a gazillion compared to the spiritual pain the moment when God turned away because the sin which covered Christ was so massive and repellent to the light.
We cannot conceive of the pain of carrying the weight of sin that Christ carried in the same way we can’t really conceive of infinity or the eternal. We are too finite to truly understand it.
The God Who gave up so much for us, can figure a way to reach every single individual who wants/hungers/searches to know, even if we cannot imagine how or figure it out.
I hope this helps. Your questions are great. I agree with many other answers for them, posted above.
Sorry it is so long. I didn’t have time to write a short answer.
Douglas Jacoby is a terrific theologian. He’s actually my favorite theologian. I’ve only gotten to talk to him a few times. He’s associated with Churches of Christ. He’s one of the. If first influences on my interpretation of scripture.
- What happens to people who do not have the chance to accept Christ? What of uncontacted tribes in the Amazon and New Guinea? Do they go to hell? I don’t see this as a problem as far as the OT is concerned, for the book of Daniel only says that those who are wise and lead men to righteousness will go to heaven.
- Scripture indicates that those who have never heard the gospel are judged by their heart. The laws are wrote on our hearts and our conscience condemns or frees us. I also believe in conditional immortality and that the body and soul are destroyed in hell.
- Is it fair to call looking at a woman with lust ‘Adultery’? It is only natural (and beyond our control) to feel sexual arousal.
- I also agree Christy said it well. I’ll reinstate it in my words though. We can’t control who we are attracted to. Recognizing beauty is not a sin. Beauty is referenced a few times in scripture. What we can control though is what we focus on, with our eyes and mind. If a beautiful woman walks by I’ll notice she’s pretty. I’ll instantly know what I thought was pretty about her. All of that is ok. But if I go beyond that and focus on specific parts of her for the sole sake of fantasizing about her then I’m committing list and it’s wrong. It says to treat them like our sisters.
Did the Gospel writers think the world was flat (Matt 4:8) long after it’s round shape was known?
Why does the New Testament treat disease as though it is the result of demonic activity? Is this appropriate?
I think it’s impossible to say. I am a cessationist. I believe that Satan is no longer here. I don’t believe demons walk the earth and I believe that miracles have ceased. I think that they ceased in the first century. They existed in the first century to combat demonic activities that no longer exists. So I do believe that it was demonic activity. After all mental disorders don’t make you super strong or knowing special knowledge.
I’m curious, after reading many of the responses you received on this resurrected post (pun intended ) from 2018: what are your overall thoughts on the things shared? What would you say you believe now about the NT?
While I’m at it, let me just throw in my two cents. Your questions are common ones that you could likely find reasonable answers for through internet searches (though you will undoubtedly find a range of believing and unbelieving responses to them, at varying levels of intellectual rigor and coherence) in addition to the answers you’ve already received here. But let me assume that you are still searching for an answer that satisfies you – which might be true for quite a long time. Would it be reasonable to accept the NT (and the whole Bible) without these questions answered? Yes. Every single one of us, regardless of worldview, has questions that we struggle to answer (some admit this fact more readily than others!). Having questions that we can’t answer does not invalidate the questions we can answer (rather, it doesn’t invalidate the answers to those answerable questions). You can believe in what you do understand without having complete, total, and perfect understanding of all related issues. Otherwise, no one could ever believe anything! In fact, the same could be applied to science: there are many questions I have about science and many scientific truths that I don’t know or understand. And yet I still believe in the aspects of science that I do know and understand. Having questions we can’t answer doesn’t necessarily indicate a deficiency in the object of belief; it’s an inevitability of a human with a finite mind.
Now, some questions need to be answered before one can reasonably believe in something. However, since the four issues you listed are secondary (or lower) to the core teachings of the NT, the issues listed aren’t among the “required questions.” There are faithful believers of the Bible who might answer some of these questions in different ways or have no answer at all; that fact indicates that the questions themselves ought not prevent you from accepting the primary Biblical teachings, such as salvation through Jesus’ substitutionary atonement. This is true even if your four questions are never answered to your satisfaction.
So, my primary exhortation to you is this: don’t allow secondary questions to get in the way of believing primary teaching. I am not encouraging you to lose your curiosity and give up on these questions! Not at all! I’m just encouraging you to keep these questions in the proper perspective of what is crucial to the NT and what isn’t.
You also alluded to some issues you have with believing the resurrection of Jesus. In contrast to the others in the list, the resurrection is a core teaching. Here are two references you might find useful on the question of the resurrection:
I appreciate your willingness to share here, Reggie. It’s my sincere hope that you find yourself believing the Bible’s teachings more and more each day.
I remember decades ago (remembering is remarkable, since I am a septuagenarian )… reading an article which contained an account (and I have no reason to think that it was apocryphal) about an aboriginal tribesman (I don’t remember what continent, but I think it was Africa) whose tribal beliefs where animistic. He was dissatisfied (shall we say “in his heart”) about the validity of that and felt compelled to set of on his own to find better. He did. He came across Christian missionaries “by chance” and became a Christian.
That in turn reminds me of several other things…
During a dark time in her life, a woman in my congregation complained that she had prayed over and over, “God, help me find you,” but had gotten nowhere. A Christian friend suggested to her that she might change her prayer to, “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” She concluded when she was recounting this to me, “The only reason I can tell you this story is—he did.”
Tim Keller, The Reason for God, p.240
Peace Child – A redemptive allegory had already been providentially ‘baked into’ their cannibalistic New Guinea tribal culture before the Christian missionaries got there. When they first heard the gospel, they thought Judas was the protagonist!
End of the Spear – also a movie. Good stories of God’s providence!