One of my Muslim colleagues invited me and my family to his home for dinner a short while back. When we arrived, we were shocked at the generous volume of food that he and his wife had spent the entire day preparing. I have never seen so much food prepared for only six people to eat! There were platters of beef, chicken, spaghetti, vegetables, desserts and more. My family and I were very impressed with their hospitality and we came to develop a new respect for their culture that night. My friend shared much information about his religion and beliefs and I saw in him and his wife the presence of much piety, respect, obedience, and love for Allah.
A few weeks ago, another colleague and I carpooled to a work event. I discovered during our ride that he is a very faithful believer in Hinduism. Like my Muslim friend who loves Allah, he very much loves his gods and he prays to them daily.
Do their prayers go unanswered? Do good people of other faiths achieve salvation? A friend on social media named Rene expressed a similar concern:
“Right away I have to strongly disagree. It is my contention that the Christian God has not made his existence universally known to all of us. It may be the case that he has made his existence known to you and other Christians, he hasn’t done the same for me and for other Non-Christians. The evidence for that is the fact that clearly not everybody believes as you do. This is not merely to say, that not everybody worships as you do, but not everybody has the propositional knowledge that you have, namely that Christianity is actually true. I know for myself at least, that I have no such propositional knowledge and I think it is reasonable to assume, that Muslims Hindus etc. also don’t have this knowledge, because then they would purposefully worship a false deity knowing full well, that they will miss out on an eternity of Heaven as a result.”
Rene’s full blog can be accessed here: https://iliketarsiers.blog/2017/09/04/becoming-convinced-my-response-to-a-christian-apologist-1/
Jesus Christ stated “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Many Christians believe that if one does not believe in Jesus by the day they die, that he or she will go to hell. Other Christians, such as C.S. Lewis, feel that people will have the option to follow Jesus even after they die. If the former is true, such implications would apply to billions of people who walked the earth prior to Jesus’ arrival and to billions who have lived since in places in which other faiths were practiced. That would mean that billions of faithful, conscientious good-hearted people who happened to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time are destined for hell.
Does that seem logical or fair? Is that really what the Bible says? Why would a loving God punish the innocent in such a cruel way?
1 John 4:8 says that God is love. He desires all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). One of the Bible’s most famous verses (John 3:16) says “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Revelation 20:11-15 explains what will occur on judgment day. It states, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
We have all sinned and all fall short of the glory of God, yet even the sinners and the imperfect will be welcome in heaven. Ezekiel 37: 23 says, “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people and I will be their God.”
Only God knows our hearts, so those who were not positioned in a place to find Jesus are likely to be included in the book of life. As Pope Pius XI noted in Quanto conficiamur moerore:
It is known to us and to you that those who are in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in his supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin.
Yet those who denied Jesus after being given the opportunity to worship Him will not be included in the book of life. This is explained in Matthew 10 where Jesus instructs His twelve apostles to spread His message. He says “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town” (verses 14 and 15). “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my father in heaven” (Matthew 10: 32).
In other words, it seems that people of all faiths will be given the opportunity to worship Jesus. However, those who deny Jesus’ divinity will be eternally separated from God.
Thank you for your time.