Does Christianity open the door to Heaven or Hell?

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Does Christianity open the door to Heaven or Hell?

#1

Post by Anonymous » Mon Jan 17, 2005 5:48 pm

Hi.
I know God and love Jesus, but I struggle profoundly with some of the stories found in Christianity. And the "God works in Mysterious Ways" slogan just isn't cutting it for me anymore. The following is an example:

Imagine a tribesman in a remote village in Africa with no exposure to Christianity. He goes about his life, loving his family, providing for them, and grows old, and eventually dies.

From what I've been told by many Christians, this tribesman would go to heaven. Since he did not have an opportunity to know Jesus, he goes to Heaven by default.

According to the Christian doctrine the same holds true for young children who do not have the opportunity to know Jesus. Or someone with mental disablilities that can't comprehend the questions at hand. They all go to Heaven.

So my question is this:
If they were all guaranteed a place in heaven before Christianity were presented to them as a possibility, then what's the point?

Why present Christianity to a group of people who are already guaranteed a place in heaven? In fact, wouldn't it actually present them with the possibility of going to Hell, when there was none before?

hmmm...

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#2

Post by Anonymous » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:02 pm

Because not all tribesman are as you described and majority commit sin without repentance, examples would be murder and sexual sins im sure. We spread the message of God to everyone, how are we suppose to know they were guaranteed into Heaven, also people who are destined to go to Heaven would accept Jesus anyway and go about living as before like your tribesman. So we don't hurt them by spreading the gospels, but actually enrich their lives as Jesus enriches ours.

As for children and mentally retarded well presenting christianity to them isn't really an issue as they wouldn't be able to comprehend it very well or at all.

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Re: Does Christianity open the door to Heaven or Hell?

#3

Post by Kurieuo » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:47 pm

googaly wrote:From what I've been told by many Christians, this tribesman would go to heaven. Since he did not have an opportunity to know Jesus, he goes to Heaven by default.

According to the Christian doctrine the same holds true for young children who do not have the opportunity to know Jesus. Or someone with mental disablilities that can't comprehend the questions at hand. They all go to Heaven.

So my question is this:
If they were all guaranteed a place in heaven before Christianity were presented to them as a possibility, then what's the point?
I would have to strongly disagree with these responses. Everyone must be given the choice, in my opinion, to accept or reject Christ and turn from themselves to God. Whether this happens now, or in the afterlife, is perhaps something else to consider. An afterlife choice is my personal belief of what happens to those who are aborted, infants, and young children, although one can really only speculate here.

Scripture is clear that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10,12,23). Therefore "all" require Christ. I believe that God will judge those who haven't been reached on the basis of their response to His self-revelation in nature and conscience. Scripture says that all people can know a Creator God exists, and that God has imparted His moral law into the hearts of everyone, so that all are held morally accountable to God (Rom. 1.20; 2.14-15). At the same time, Scripture promises salvation to anyone who responds affirmatively to this self-revelation of God (Rom. 2.7).

This doesn't mean such people are saved apart from Christ, but rather that the attoning of sin through Christ can be applied to them without their conscious knowledge of Christ. As Craig notes: "They would be like people in the Old Testament before Jesus came who had no conscious knowledge of Christ but who were saved on the basis of his sacrifice through their response to the information that God had revealed to them." (The Craig-Bradley Debate: Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?—recommend)

Kurieuo.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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#4

Post by Anonymous » Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:54 pm

I agree with you Kurieuo but children/mentally retarded can be somewhat different.

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#5

Post by Kurieuo » Mon Jan 17, 2005 8:52 pm

Just wondering... in what way would they be different?

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"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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#6

Post by Prodigal Son » Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm

i think children and the mentally retarded go to heaven automatically because they are incapable of really knowing christ.

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#7

Post by Anonymous » Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:20 pm

Well do you think they know from right or wrong, rather don't they do what they are told. I correlate it to a blind man, he doesn't know where he's going, someone has to lead him. Wasn't Jesus warning those who lead children away from him. Also didn't children automatically flock to Jesus meaning perhaps as a child we start off knowing God to a small degree? Just some thoughts...

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#8

Post by Kurieuo » Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:27 pm

Some I'm sure would know the difference (if not most), but then others who don't would remain under the "age of accountability" rule as they could never be accountable for their actions.

As such, they would no doubt be treated in the same way a baby or young child would.

Kurieuo.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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#9

Post by RGeeB » Tue Jan 18, 2005 1:49 am

One thing is sure - God is just and whatever happens - It will be fair.
Maranatha!

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#10

Post by Anonymous » Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:28 am

We spread the message of God to everyone, how are we suppose to know they were guaranteed into Heaven, also people who are destined to go to Heaven would accept Jesus anyway and go about living as before like your tribesman. So we don't hurt them by spreading the gospels, but actually enrich their lives as Jesus enriches ours.
Don't hurt them? Maybe it depends on which tribesman you asked. If the percentage of tribesmen that accepted Jesus was about the same as the percentage of people worldwide who accept Jesus, then 2 out of every 3 would go to Hell. How could that not hurt them? They were all going to Heaven before Christianity came into the picture, now they are not.
Scripture says that all people can know a Creator God exists, and that God has imparted His moral law into the hearts of everyone, so that all are held morally accountable to God. At the same time, Scripture promises salvation to anyone who responds affirmatively to this self-revelation of God.
I'm surprised you agree with me, but cool. Knowing Jesus is not necessary for salvation. Only knowing God is. And assuming the tribesman had a way of knowing God that was different than the Christian story, then it can be claimed that the Christian story is not the only path to God, both on Earth and after we die.
This doesn't mean such people are saved apart from Christ, but rather that the atoning of sin through Christ can be applied to them without their conscious knowledge of Christ.
If you claim Jesus is secretly working behind the scenes to save this person without their knowledge of it, then wouldn't we all be saved automatically through the “atoning of sin through Christ”? Assuming the tribesmen lead happy, loving lives and have a truly personal, meaningful relationship with God here on Earth and then go to be with God in Heaven after they die, then what's with all this missionary stuff? What is the Message of the Bible really offering them, other then the possibility of eternal damnation?
Some I'm sure would know the difference (if not most), but then others who don't would remain under the "age of accountability" rule as they could never be accountable for their actions.
Again, what is this innocent child being saved from? Weren't they guaranteed Heaven before? Seems like the “age of accountability” or the moment a young person can understand the Christian story is the moment the opportunity for Hell arises, where it didn't exist before.
One thing is sure - God is just and whatever happens - It will be fair.
I'm sorry, but this statement ranks right up there with “God works in mysterious ways”. If this forum is indeed a place for thinking people to ask questions, then answers like this hold no meaning to anyone who does not already call themselves a Christian.

I would also like to point out that although I question parts of the Christian doctrine, it in no way keeps me from following the LIFE of Christ and knowing God through Him. In fact, it is only through truly questioning that it can hold meaning.

Greg

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#11

Post by Kurieuo » Tue Jan 18, 2005 7:33 pm

googaly wrote:
K wrote:Scripture says that all people can know a Creator God exists, and that God has imparted His moral law into the hearts of everyone, so that all are held morally accountable to God. At the same time, Scripture promises salvation to anyone who responds affirmatively to this self-revelation of God.
I'm surprised you agree with me, but cool. Knowing Jesus is not necessary for salvation. Only knowing God is. And assuming the tribesman had a way of knowing God that was different than the Christian story, then it can be claimed that the Christian story is not the only path to God, both on Earth and after we die.
Don't hold your breath. What you advocate is something entirely different to what I do.
googaly wrote:
K wrote:This doesn't mean such people are saved apart from Christ, but rather that the atoning of sin through Christ can be applied to them without their conscious knowledge of Christ.
If you claim Jesus is secretly working behind the scenes to save this person without their knowledge of it, then wouldn't we all be saved automatically through the “atoning of sin through Christ”? Assuming the tribesmen lead happy, loving lives and have a truly personal, meaningful relationship with God here on Earth and then go to be with God in Heaven after they die, then what's with all this missionary stuff? What is the Message of the Bible really offering them, other then the possibility of eternal damnation?
You just went on about how morals are relative in one thread, but now, do you go all inconsistent? What is love, if not like hot and cold? Even Dr. Mengele "loved"—he loved his work within the Nazi death camps.

Now, because I feel you've twisted entirely what I meant, I have to clarify myself. Christianity is clear, the only way to God is through Christ! I'd advocate there being two standards—to those who have heard the gospel, they are judged according to their response to Christ and the gospel. To those who have not heard, they are judged according to their response to natural revelation (which appears to the implications from the verses I quoted previously in Romans).

Kurieuo.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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#12

Post by Anonymous » Tue Jan 18, 2005 8:35 pm

Googaly Jesus is God, and all godly men will receive him. Now if we preach to a group of tribesman, then does who receive him would have gone to heaven anyway prior to hearing about Jesus as they are devoid of the level of evil such as in the Jewish Leaders that prevented them from seeing that Jesus was the truth. Now anyone who doesn't receive Christ, then clearly the Kingdom of God isn't for them. We are merely enriching the lives of those who wish to come to God. Hell is for those who don't believe, not for the believer.

An example of this would be the lady who met Jesus on the wall. She quickly accepted Christ off 1 simple miracle while the Jewish Leaders and others wouldn't accept him after he had done many huge miracles.

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#13

Post by RGeeB » Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:49 am

googaly wrote:
One thing is sure - God is just and whatever happens - It will be fair.
I'm sorry, but this statement ranks right up there with “God works in mysterious ways”. If this forum is indeed a place for thinking people to ask questions, then answers like this hold no meaning to anyone who does not already call themselves a Christian.
Well Greg, you have set up your own standards for what is fair and unfair and you hold on to them absolutely. Now, Christians believe in God's standards of fair and unfair and hold on to them absolutely. To you and even me, they might seem mysterious, at this point in time. Here's another absolute truth Christians believe - Everyone will be judged by God. I think that makes a good case to suscribe to His 'get out' clause - Jesus. That is pretty straightforward thinking.

Your scenario with the tribesmen is imaginary. I would ask if you have actually interviewed any yourself or done some research to come up with the conclusions you have? I have heard from a missionary who preaches Jesus to a tribe in western India (The Bhils). She said that they have an awareness of (Christian) God. They spend their lives in fear and confusion. They constantly interact with spirits to appease them. They hear voices. (Their religion has been termed animist). When they find that Jesus is the only way to escape the anger of God, they receive Him with happiness. The issue is - How will you respond to the message of Jesus?
Maranatha!

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#14

Post by Anonymous » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:09 pm

Now, because I feel you've twisted entirely what I meant, I have to clarify myself.
I'm sorry if you feel I've twisted your words. I however do not agree, but it's all relative (down here at least). :wink: I have an honest question and look only for a reasonable answer.
Christianity is clear, the only way to God is through Christ! I'd advocate there being two standards—to those who have heard the gospel, they are judged according to their response to Christ and the gospel. To those who have not heard, they are judged according to their response to natural revelation (which appears to the implications from the verses I quoted previously in Romans).
Yes. I get your point. My question still stands. According to your own words, those who HAVE heard the gospel are judged according to the response to that story. Those who have NOT heard are judged according to their response to natural revelation, meaning finding God in nature with no external cues. So, assuming that person has a relationship with God in some form, then they will go to Heaven. Without knowing or accepting Jesus.

Looks like according to Christianity, I'm a goner. I fall into the first category. I've been exposed to Christianity, through no fault of my own, so I WILL be judged. Too bad for me I guess. I know God very truly and personally. I enjoy a happy life, I love my wife, am active in the community and respect and wonder at God's creation. But looks like since I was presented with Christianity, then I'm on the fast-track to Hell. Bummer. If only no one had told me about Christianity then I would be with God forever after I die.
Googaly Jesus is God, and all godly men will receive him. Now if we preach to a group of tribesman, then does who receive him would have gone to heaven anyway prior to hearing about Jesus as they are devoid of the level of evil such as in the Jewish Leaders that prevented them from seeing that Jesus was the truth.
But what of the person who decides the Christian story is not for them? What if they say “Thanks, but I'd rather know God the way I've always known Him”? Then that person would go to Hell, when they were going to Heaven before. Just because a person does not agree with your exact recipe for Salvation does not mean they cannot know God and truly love Him and lead a deeply meaningful and fulfilled life. For this person, the introduction of Christianity presented the opportunity for Hell.
Now anyone who doesn't receive Christ, then clearly the Kingdom of God isn't for them. We are merely enriching the lives of those who wish to come to God. Hell is for those who don't believe, not for the believer.
Whoa! Don't assume that someone who does not “receive Christ” is not interested in knowing God. I am living proof. I know a loving God and even use Jesus as a guide, but do not follow the Christian dogma. To assume that you enrich someone's life is to assume that their lives are not already enriched. Who are you to assume that others cannot know love and God differently than you? Or even more profoundly than you?
Well Greg, you have set up your own standards for what is fair and unfair and you hold on to them absolutely. Now, Christians believe in God's standards of fair and unfair and hold on to them absolutely. To you and even me, they might seem mysterious, at this point in time. Here's another absolute truth Christians believe - Everyone will be judged by God. I think that makes a good case to suscribe to His 'get out' clause - Jesus. That is pretty straightforward thinking.
My only point is that I came to this 'scientific' forum intentionally to debate what has been a contradiction within the story of Christianity for me. So to drop statements like “One thing is sure - God is just and whatever happens - It will be fair.” Is to assume that I already believe in your judging God. To say “one thing is sure” is meaningless in light of the fact that I am questioning the very thing you claim to be so sure of. That was my only point with this.
Here's another absolute truth Christians believe - Everyone will be judged by God. I think that makes a good case to suscribe to His 'get out' clause - Jesus. That is pretty straightforward thinking.
Yes, I understand that Christians feel their God judges all people. And I agree that to “subscribe to His get out clause” would be an easy way out of the very Hell Christianity presents. But the enlightened path is not always an easy one. Just Look at Jesus, he was clearly very enlightened and we KILLED him!

It sounds like you subscribe to Christianity to “get out” of something? Do you bow to the your God out of Fear of something? Eternal damnation perhaps? Or out of LOVE, as I do.
Your scenario with the tribesmen is imaginary. I would ask if you have actually interviewed any yourself or done some research to come up with the conclusions you have? I have heard from a missionary who preaches Jesus to a tribe in western India (The Bhils). She said that they have an awareness of (Christian) God. They spend their lives in fear and confusion. They constantly interact with spirits to appease them. They hear voices. (Their religion has been termed animist). When they find that Jesus is the only way to escape the anger of God, they receive Him with happiness.
No, I have no personal experience with tribesman. Good point. I'll do some research and get back to you. The fact that your friend claims that people already know a Christian God before it was ever even exposed to them sounds a bit outrageous. If you claim that there are similarities, then I would agree, just as there are many similarities between Christianity and the Pagan religions which came before it, including the Virgin birth and Resurrection. Regarding the “animist” religion that your friend encountered, yes that seems like a pretty scary existence. But what of the Buddhists who existed long before Christ. They do not live in this fear-based state, yet Christians feel obligated to change them and “show them the way”?
The issue is - How will you respond to the message of Jesus?
A good question. In fact it is through forums like this that I am able to come to answer that question. At this point, I am a believer in the basic message of Jesus: that God is LOVE. However I do NOT subscribe to the idea that God is FEAR found in other parts of the Bible. And on the rare occasion that Jesus does claim that God is FEAR I have no problem letting it go. I have no need to embrace it if it is not my highest Truth.

I give thanks to God for the opportunity to debate with you all. I think God, Jesus, Buddha, my Great-grandmother, etc all celebrate this interaction. For it is this sort of discourse that gives our theologies meaning. Without it, we are not exercising our God given gift of Free Will. To not truly question on the deepest level is to not choose. And to not have a choice in a given thing renders it meaningless.

So to answer your question “How do I respond to the message of Jesus?” I embrace it. The message of Jesus is one of Love (mostly). Basically I think he rocks! BUT I do not embrace the fear-based conception of a Judging God that sends us to Hell. Being that I already experience a Loving God, then the only thing Christianity presents me with is Fear. Put another way, since I already know Heaven then all Christianity brings to the party is Hell.

This may be hard for you to imagine, since you only know a Judging God. But Hell does not exist for me. I believe there are many ways to know God and that he saves every person. And if you think God sends me to Hell for that, then I guess He would be sending me to Hell for assuming he was more Graceful and Loving than He really is.

Respectfully
greg

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#15

Post by Anonymous » Wed Jan 19, 2005 5:36 pm

You can't know God without knowing Jesus as Jesus is God. Its pretty simple, you can't deny one aspect of the Trinity and expect God to comply.
I don't know what the argument is here. Everlasting life is a free gift from God, its not like you have to work for it.

People who deny Christ aren't accepting the gift, it basically comes down to that. No matter how "good" of a person you are, if you were truely good then you would recognize Jesus as the son of the living God, and follow him.

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