Monday, June 9, 2008

I Don’t Believe in the Heathen in Africa

I don’t believe in the heathen in Africa. I know that sounds odd. I mean I don’t believe in the sob story often posed as an objection to the exclusivity of Christ.

I’m sure you’ve heard it: If someone can only go to heaven by believing in Jesus, what about the heathen in Africa (or South America or New York) who’s never heard of Jesus?

I don’t think such a creature exists. Oh, there are people who die having never heard the gospel. And, frankly, the Bible says they have enough information that God feels He can hold them accountable for their choices.

But I don’t think people go to hell simply because no one got to them with the gospel. You don’t have to be a Calvinist to believe that if there is someone who would believe, the gospel will be delivered.

In Kings, Naaman was sent to Elisha by a girl in the right place at the right time. In Acts, the Spirit sent Philip to the Ethiopian who was ripe for the harvest and Peter to Cornelius, the God-fearing centurion. The same happens today as people in Muslim countries have dreams sending them to find Christian missionaries. I have no doubt it has happened for 2000 years.

If you’re feeling called to go to Africa, you may be the one who will be sent to the next Naaman or Cornelius. If you’re not feeling called to Africa, you may be the one who is sent to the family across the street.

Either way, we don’t need to spend a lot of energy worrying about those poor folks in the far corners of the world. "The Lord knows those who are His.”

Image by Brett Jones from Flickr


Pilgrim said...

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
Romans 1:20
Enough said!

Anonymous said...

"But I don’t think people go to hell simply because no one got to them with the gospel."

Yikes. You almost scared me with that statement. For a moment, I thought you'd go on to talk about how people who haven't heard of Christ somehow got into heaven because of their misfortune. I'm glad you didn't!

I couldn't agree with this post more. God knows who His sheep are. God is the One who chose them in the first place! He will send His workers to the right places at the right time to do His right and perfect will.

Anonymous said...

Beyond 2000 years, into the past, God met Abram in Ur. And, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness." As we are told, "The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." And, even those who are struggling with doubt. Just recently our pastor's grandson who was unbelieving, asked God to just "beat him up if he was real." Guess what? God did it. That young man woke up black and blue & believing.

Nancy said...

Joel, unfortunately, those of us who agree with this post are often accused of also believing just that heresy....