Those who have never heard

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Grillsy, Jul 14, 2009.

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  1. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    Although I am sure this has been covered here before I humbly submit this anyway.

    I was talking with an old professor of mine who was trying to say that Paul's letter to the Romans proves that those who have never heard the Gospel can be saved. I disagree.

    What say you? Have you ever been involved in this discussion? How would on prove from Romans that someone could be saved with hearing the Gospel?
     
  2. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    I've seen Roman Catholics use Romans to promote their soteriological views. They tend to focus on Romans 2. Here is one example:

    Who can be saved? by Mark Brumley (Catholic Answers website)
     
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think the proposal might be that since sometimes "the Gentiles do by nature the things of the law," showing they have the work of the law in their hearts, that somehow this could be understood to mean they are able to find an obedient way to please God.

    Rom 2:7, 10 "...to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;... but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

    I would have to ask your professor-friend, does he think people can be saved by law-keeping?

    This is entirely false, and completely misses the fact that Paul's purpose in the first three chapters of Romans (1:18-3:20) is to conclude ALL men under condemnation, and prove that only faith in Christ can (or even could) save anyone.
     
  4. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    A historical examination of the development of the Roman Catholic position may be seen in the article, Who Can Be Saved?, written by the late Avery Dulles. It appeared in the magazine First Things. The conclusion of the article says,

    Important to Rome's belief is the idea of "invincible ignorance" and this is seen in the position defended by Dulles.
     
  5. Jennie

    Jennie Puritan Board Freshman

    Although I don't want to get involved in the theological aspects of this discussion, I would like to add something. I have always found the belief that only Christians are saved to be, for lack of a better word, unfair. What about the Chinese and Russians who, because of their government, were unable to hear about the Gospel? What about my Anglo-Saxon and Celt ancestors who lived before Christianity was taken to England? Are they all in hell? The only church which deals with this issue is the Mormons (LDS), who perform vicarious baptisms for the dead. How would you answer my concern?
     
  6. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Jennie, perhaps this will help put it in focus: you must remember that we're not sweet, innocent creatures who are being deprived of a fair chance by a mean God. Rather, we are all already justly condemned sinners; we have broken the covenant of works; we are all guilty before a just God: we have willfully broken his most just and good law. Therefore, it is of infinite condescension and mercy that he would send the gospel to anyone at all. Those to whom he does not send the good news of redemption, he has justly left in their sins; to us who have received this word, we have so much the more for which to be grateful and rejoice.
     
  7. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks everyone for you replies. I sometimes ask questions with obvious answers on here just make sure I am think correctly. There are not too many Reformed folks in my part of Kentucky. That is why I have to drive to WV to an OPC congregation.
    I am thankful that God has raised up a resource like Puritanboard.com where like minded Christians can gather and discuss the meaningful (mostly) issues of the day. Now on the with off topic smilies :)
    ________________________________________________________-

    Jennie, there is not much more I can say here that hasn't already been said by others, save heed the advice that the men on this thread are giving. Pray for understanding and study the Holy Scriptures.
     
  8. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    If anyone can be saved apart from Christ, then the entire gospel falls to the ground.
     
  9. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    And did he make it to Romans 10?

     
  10. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    Yep, I quoted it. At that point he rolled his eyes and say "yeah, Willie you may be on to something, but I've never heard it interpreted that way before..." He then proceeded to quote N.T. Wright and Karl Barth.
     
  11. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    His problem is a high view of man. But, you probably know that.
     
  12. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    Not to detract from the discussion here, but the question, "What about those who never heard?" is one of the many typical questions answered in a good Reformed Systematic Theology text. If you don't have one, get one.

    :2cents:
     
  13. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Another point to consider is that God is sovereign. Not only is God's purpose not hindered by rulers of oppressive countries, God has actually put them in place for His purpose.

    Rom 13:1 - Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
     
  14. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Acts 4:11-12
    11This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”


    Cuts right to the point, doesn't it?



    Actually, it is quite true that the innocent man in the faraway jungle who never hears the name of Christ will go to heaven. The problem is that Romans 3:23 means exactly what it says, as is 3:10 and all the verses in between. There is no "innocent" man in all the earth, nor has there ever been. All rebel against their Creator who is just and righteous to pour His wrath on them. How could He do any less and not cease to be just? Praise God that He is constant, unwavering, unchanging and that all His promises are sure and true. Oh how hard it would be to worship the fickle not-gods of the world.
     
  15. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    Being good Calvinists, we all know that nobody will come to faith unless the Holy Spirit regenerates a man first. I know this has been discussed in previous threads, but I'd like to hear it fleshed out again: Is the Holy Spirit bound by the preaching of the gospel?
     
  16. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Daniel, we use the terminology ordinary [that is, ordained] means: God is not bound by any necessity to them; rather, he has revealed that this is how he will work. Can God do otherwise? Of course! Should we expect him to? Absolutely not. We're told the understanding with which we're supposed to live: "How shall they hear without a preacher?"
     
  17. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    That is a good point--we are supposed to live in light of that because the Word of God is powerful. But is that passage saying that a preacher is absolutely necessary???

    It's certainly not necessary for young children or the unborn--I'm not suggesting they all are saved upon death, but if ANY are, then it is due to regeneration apart from hearing of the gospel.
    I'm embarrassingly behind on my Old Testament study, but are there examples from the OT of men who were not a part of Israel and had no knowledge of a coming Messiah, but were chosen by God?

    I guess I'm just questioning that it is absolutely not possible that the Holy Spirit has and will work in the hearts of some who have no knowledge of a Christ, but through general revelation are made aware that there is a Holy God and be convicted that he is a sinner dependent on that God's mercy.
     
  18. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    I think your questions have already been answered, both here by Paul, but also in his elder brother Paul, who wrote the epistles to Rome, etc.

    It is certainly possible for God to work outside his normal means, BUT we must NEVER expect that it is the case. God knows exactly whom he has placed out of the reach (for the present, or indeed for any time, even their whole lives) of the Gospel message... and He does exactly what he wants with those people, and is just for doing so.

    We are living in a world in which Christ has come, and He is risen. Explicit faith in Him, which requires a preacher and the message preached, is the only normal means of salvation. We must therefore preach the word to every living creature because there is no other hope. God would be just to send every single person who never hears the gospel, whether infant, aged, or in utero, to Hell for their sinfulness, inherited and actual. We must rest with that fact. We must also sense the urgency of the fact that only in Christ's name is anyone saved, and that the word of God must be preached to them and the fact of Christ's being the only solution to this world of sin must be brought to their attention, and Christ set forth in His kingly, priestly and prophetic glory.
     
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