What of Those Who Never Heard of God?

It has been said that, "If I can know the mind of God, then God isn't God." I do not know who authored that statement, but it is a teaching full of meaning and relevance. One part of attempting to know the mind of God is to attempt to decide how God is going to judge exceptional situations. How is God going to judge the person who grows up in a culture and a nation where they never hear anything about God or Jesus or the Church, and as a result spend their entire life fitting into their family and their designated role in life as defined by their culture. There is no question that some of us have had greater opportunities than others, and in the United States we have been especially blessed. I would suggest that a major part of that blessedness has been the logical result of following at least in part what God taught man to do, but those of us living today have inherited that blessing regardless.

One of the most basic precepts of the New Testament is that God judges man on what he does, not what he has. In the parable of the talents, the man who had five talents and used them well and the man who had two talents and used them well both received the exact same praise from God. In scenes of the judgment people were praised or condemned on the basis of what they did or did not do--not on the results of their activities (See Matthew 25:34-46). However God handles the situation we have posed, it will be fair and just. I am glad that the matter is not something my feeble mind has to deal with.

Recently there have been a number of findings that suggest that the assertions that there are whole nations who never heard of God, are not true. One of the more interesting of these appeared in Pulpit Helps, February, 1997, page 14, in which Chinese pictographs are shown to contain major portions of the Genesis account. Chinese written language dates back more than 4,500 years. The pictographs contain many basic elements of the Genesis account. In the word happiness, for example, the symbols for God, first, and man are combined.. Events like the Garden of Eden and the Flood are also found in the symbols.

If all humans have a common origin and at one time had a common language, this discovery is not much of a surprise. It will be interesting to see if this stands the test of time and other researchers. Will keep you posted.

                            --John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, Sep/Oct97.