To speak first about Babies, Bell acknowledges the common evangelical understanding (often seen among Baptists) that babies and children below an age of accountability will be saved. He uses this to make a grotesque argument that is presumably designed to lead to the idea that in fact all are saved. It is of course sometimes hard to see where Bell’s questions are leading, but it is clear that they are designed to lead away from more traditional understandings:
“If every new baby being born could grow up to not believe the right things and go to hell forever, then prematurely terminating a child’s life anytime from conception to twelve years of age would actually be the loving thing to do, guaranteeing that the child ends up in heaven, and not hell, forever. Why run the risk? “
Sinning by taking a life is no solution!
David must have thought he would SEE his Baby again, not merely die. Millions have taken comfort from that I believe rightly.
When it comes to what happens to those who have not heard, there are differeing evangelical positions, outlined in this helpful gospel coalition post.
I find the following argument from Bell confusing, and undermining of the idea that salvation is through the name of Jesus alone:
“Jesus was, he says, the rock. According to Paul, Jesus was there. Without anybody using his name. Without anybody saying that it was him. Without anybody acknowledging just what—or, more precisely, who—it was. Paul’s interpretation that Christ was present in the Exodus raises the question: Where else has Christ been present? When else? With who else? How else?”
“John remembers Jesus saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (chap. 14). This is as wide and expansive a claim as a person can make. What he doesn’t say is how, or when, or in what manner the mechanism functions that gets people to God through him. He doesn’t even state that those coming to the Father through him will even know that they are coming exclusively through him. He simply claims that whatever God is doing in the world to know and redeem and love and restore the world is happening through him. . .First, there is exclusivity. Jesus is the only way. Everybody who doesn’t believe in him and follow him in the precise way that is defined by the group doing the defining isn’t saved, redeemed, going to heaven…
Then there is inclusivity. The kind that is open to all religions, the kind that trusts that good people will get in, that there is only one mountain, but it has many paths. This inclusivity assumes that as long as your heart is fine or your actions measure up, you’ll be okay….
“then there is an exclusivity on the other side of inclusivity. This kind insists that Jesus is the way, but holds tightly to the assumption that the all-embracing, saving love of this particular Jesus the Christ will of course include all sorts of unexpected people from across the cultural spectrum. As soon as the door is opened to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Baptists from Cleveland, many Christians become very uneasy, saying that then Jesus doesn’t matter anymore, the cross is irrelevant, it doesn’t matter what you believe, and so forth. Not true.”
I do as I say accept that there is mystery here. I do not think we can comfortably assume that everyone who has not heard the gospel is correct. We have an important message to bring to them!
The Bible simply says “Shall not the judge of heaven and earth do right”
I am quite confident to leave in God’s hands the fate of the entirety of mankind. He will do what is right.
Romans tells us that the heavens preach, and that those without the law will perish or be saved apart from the law.
So there does seem to be some possibility that like the Old Testament Jews some may be saved through a Jesus they anticipate rather than know fully. But surely, we should share with them the full glorious news of Jesus. Paul seemed to suggest more than once that if we don’t preach the gospel the blood of the lost is in some way on our hands.