There are those who suggest that surely God would not banish from His presence for eternity those who never had an opportunity to hear and obey the Gospel message in the first place. Consider the following examples. In his 1909 volume, Systematic Theology, A.H. Strong wrote: Since Christ is the Word of God and the Truth of God, he may be received even by those who have not heard of his manifestation in the flesh.... We have, therefore, the hope that even among the heathen there may be some... who under the guidance of the Holy Spirit working through the truth of nature and conscience, have found the way to life and salvation (p. 843, emp. added).
Another modern-day evangelical, Neil Punt, invoked similar ideas in his book, Unconditional Good News, wherein he rejected the idea that sinners actually must believe and obey the gospel in order to be saved because “It is an error to think that there is anything that must be done to inherit eternal life” (1980, p. 135, emp. added). In What the Bible Says about Salvation, Virgil Warren wrote: “Our opinion is that scripture does not automatically assign the unevangelized to endless hell” (1982, pp. 105, emp. added). In their book, Answers to Tough Questions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart stated: Although the Scriptures never explicitly teach that someone who has never heard of Jesus can be saved, we do not believe that it infers [sic] this. We do believe that every person will have an opportunity to repent, and that God will not exclude anyone because he happened to be born at the wrong place and at the wrong time (1993, p. 137). Statements such as these certainly could cause some to conclude that God simply will not judge the lost, but instead will deem them worthy of eternal salvation merely (or solely!) because they never had an opportunity in their lifetimes to hear the “good news” made available to humankind through the Gospel of Christ. While at first glance such a notion may appear comforting, and may appease our human sensitivities, the truth of the matter is that it has monstrous theological and spiritual implications. Consider these facts.