One of the common arguments raised against the Christian religion is the age old question, “What about the innocent native who has never heard of Christ? What happens to them when they die?”
The question of course comes because of the exclusive claims of Christ and the Bible. There are two passages of scripture which give us a universal negative. The first is Christ’s own claim, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6, NIV). (The universal negative here being the “no one” enters heaven apart from him.)
The second universal negative is found in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” The universal negative in this passage is clear.
Now, if these passages aren’t enough, travel with me to the Garden of Gethsemane (See Matthew 26:36-46). Jesus is facing the cross. Three times he prays in effect, “Father, if there is any other way men could possibly be saved, don’t let me go to the cross.” Does he go to the cross? Yes. What is the implication of that? John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 are true. And that is where the rub for so many enters.
What about the innocent native anywhere who dies without hearing of Jesus? What happens to them? The answer is simple. The innocent native who dies without ever hearing of Jesus would be welcomed into heaven with open arms. Now, before you either rejoice at that statement or write me off as a heretic, let me explain. Of course the innocent person anywhere would be granted entrance into heaven. But the problem is, there are no innocents. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, NIV).
Now, if there are no innocents and since we (that is those of us who are Christian) believe that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, how do we deal with the problem of those who have never heard about Christ?
In Jeremiah 29:13 God promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” A person who is sincerely seeking God will come face to face with Jesus Christ. Why do I say that? If it is true that Jesus