I just finished a book by Jerry Walls entitled, Hell: The Logic of Damnation; I don’t often read philosophical books (I mainly stick to theology), but this book was a gift and I am interested in the topic. I found it to be an interesting book as Dr. Walls approaches hell from many sides and presents the case for his beliefs very well.
But, I bring up this book not to discuss it, per se, but to look at a quote that was included within its pages from another philosopher, one that said something I have been thinking for many years and, since I don’t read many philosophy books, I have never seen put into words on paper before.
But first, a little history. There are two major soteriological trains of thought: Calvinism, which says that God, before the age of time, arbitrarily predestined some people for salvation and heaven and the rest of the people to hell, irrespective of their actions, thoughts and desires; and Arminianism, which says that man has free will to choose to follow God if he desires and that everyone is given just enough (prevenient) grace to be able to believe in God for salvation.
God’s vehicle, so to speak, to heaven is Jesus Christ and the belief in Him as the Son of God is paramount to salvation. This means that one must have faith in the Jesus of the Bible, not some made up, fake Jesus. The Bible tells us that there is no other name by which we can be saved and therefore allowed into heaven.
This leads to the question about what happens to those who never even hear about Jesus Christ. How do they even get the chance to accept Him as Savior? Some would say that it’s totally unfair for these people to be sent to hell just because they’ve had no opportunity to hear about Jesus. I happen to be one of those people who say this.
This is where the book I just read and the quote I’m referring to comes in. Dr. Walls suggest that there might be a chance after death to accept Jesus’ offer of salvation; I don’t see this option presented in the Bible at all. But, on page 96 of Hell, Jerry Walls quotes renowned philosopher William Lane Craig from his book, The Only Wise God:
“it is possible that God in his providence so arranged the world that those who never in fact hear the gospel are persons who would not respond if they did hear it. God brings the gospel to all those who he knows will respond to it if they hear it… No one who would respond if he heard it will be lost.”
God is a just and merciful God. He wants all to be saved -- and everyone who would be, will be. Praise God!