6/16/12 Ricardo, about 30
At Chicago's Oak Street beach I asked a bicyclist about his spiritual views. Ricardo is from Peru and told me he has abandoned the Catholic faith he grew up in. He claimed that he didn't think much about religion but as we talked his insightful questions told me otherwise. I'll focus on one of those questions here to share my answer to him and hopefully hear how others would answer his question. He asked "What about all the people who never hear about God. How could they go to heaven?" He told me he knows of different tribal groups in Peru and the rest of South America that have no contact with the outside world. Here is what I told him: 1.) All people have an inherent knowledge of the Creator based on the evidence of creation all around them. Romans 1:20 says "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." 2.) All people have a God-given conscience to which they will be held accountable. Romans 2:14-15 says "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them". 3.) Those who seek after God will be rewarded. James 4:8 says "Come near to God and he will come near to you" 4.) God will judge us according to what we have done with what knowledge we have been given - based on Luke 12:47-49 "That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." I told Ricardo that I personally believe God can and does reach such unreached peoples in miraculous ways, but that if he is truly concerned about them he should become a Christian and bring the Gospel to them himself! In the meantime, he is responsible for the knowledge of Jesus he has been given (even as I was speaking it to him) Whether they were genuine concerns or a sort of smokescreen to avoid the more personal questions about his accountability before God, Ricardo's questions were real and needed to at least be spoken to in our conversation, even if I didn't have time to give exhaustive answers. How would you have answered it? I would appreciate any feedback that can help me the next time I hear this question, and please remember to pray for Ricardo.