Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: But what of those who never heard?’

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Published: Thursday, July 31 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Far East USA, SC

Isn't the notion that the 9/11 hijackers would be rewarded with 27 virgins, also a "defensible claim"?

When it comes to religion, what would NOT constitute a "defensible claims”?

Excelsior, MN

The salvation of the unevangelized is one of the hottest topics in theological discourse in recent years. The suggestion made in Dr. Petersons article would seem to be an obvious option. The idea of Christ's descent to hell is contained in both the Apostles Creed and the Athanasian Creed, but not in the Nicene Creed. A prominent Protestant theologian, a few years ago, called for the removal of that clause from the Apostles Creed; he was met with some resistance. The idea that there can be no repentance after death has been a hard teaching for too many for too long. Ted Jones

Allen, TX

The atonement is universal and infinite. Therefore, all have access to it. It therefore becomes a discussion about the mechanism.

Harwich, MA

I think ALL of us are in for a big surprise when we pass on.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Both Jesus’ resurrection and a general resurrection to follow are religious beliefs. I respect them as such.

Whether salvation comes only through Jesus is a futile discussion. Whatever Jesus may have meant by salvation got lost in Christian theology centuries ago.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT

@Joe Blow

It's 72 virgins. Don't short change them.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?"

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
(John 14: 5-6)

This snippet from John shows the type of theology that was starting to gel two or three full generations after Jesus was gone. The synoptic gospels have a different focus.

If this is what Jesus actually said (which is disputed by some modern scholars), how do we know what Jesus meant by coming to the Father? Was he was talking about going to heaven? Or might he have meant something else altogether?


Even a Protestant recognizes the injustice of a God who would consign billions of people to eternal damnation simply because they did not have the opportunity to hear or receive the Gospel in this life. The doctrines of the Restoration aren’t just logical: they are indispensable in order for Christian theology not to seem completely cruel and savage.


No, JoeBlow, nor you, TheWraith the claim that the 9/11 hijackers would receive 72 virgins is not “defensible”, not even by the standards of their own religion. Islam offers no such promise, in the Qu’ran or anywhere else.

One can determine what constitutes a “defensible claim” based upon whatever acts as the foundation and source of doctrine for whatever religion is in question. In the case of non-LDS Christianity, that would be the Bible. In the case of Islam, the Qu’ran, in the case of Hinduism, the Vedas, Brahmanas, etc. You don’t have to believe them yourself, but from a theological standpoint, that is what makes them “defensible.” If I make a claim with no basis in scripture and cannot claim any additional authority or revelation for that claim, then I have no way to defend it. It is not a very difficult concept to understand.

Far East USA, SC

Wraith, My mistake. I short changed them by 45 virgins. Silly me.

"One can determine what constitutes a “defensible claim” based upon whatever acts as the foundation and source of doctrine for whatever religion is in question."

Well that leaves the door wide open. Even withing Christianity.

With the host of religions out there, with their various scriptures and teachings, there is much that is defensible.

And when you add in "any additional authority or revelation for that claim" then just about anything goes.

By your definition, the concept that the Heaven's Gate folks got on the Hale-Bopp Commet
is also defensible.

As I say, just about anything goes.

Orem, UT

I've read Stephen Davis's "Risen Indeed." But I'm betting that "Joe Blow" hasn't. It's not the vacuous and silly thing that he makes it out to be.

clearfield, UT

Craig Clark

You ask questions and make statements that, were you not doing so on DN, I'd refer you to the LDS religion. Because the questions you ask are in fact answered. Whether or not you want to believe them is your choice. But as the LDS Church claims to be founded upon the restoration of the true Christian Church, and sustained by modern day revelation and modern day Apostles, I'd think that would interest you. Otherwise, there will never be answers to questions not specifically addressed in the Bible, only speculation and opinions made by man. Or as the LDS might say, "the teachings of man, mingled with scripture."

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


"....You ask questions and make statements that, were you not doing so on DN, I'd refer you to the LDS religion. Because the questions you ask are in fact answered...."

I’m quite familiar with LDS belief in restoration of the gospel via revelation. I still would argue that all Christian theology draws on interpretation of scripture which is a highly subjective task that can’t be entirely divorced from the religious culture of the believer.

To put in a kind word for LDS theology which I eem speculative, the Mormon belief that souls who never even heard of Jesus will have a chance to hear the message and the freedom to accept or reject it is at least an encouraging humane step up from the ages old Christian dogma of irrevocable eternal damnation for so-called heathens.

See? Daniel Peterson and I may not agree on much but we do share a bit of common ground.

Westland, MI

"For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (Romans 2:12). Jesus Christ is the law (3 Ne.15:9). The key is the word sin.

'But what of those who never heard?’

If they died with a good spirit or good soul, or a good heart (no sin) they are in heaven and will undergo one final test before eternity per Rev.20:5-9. And nobody on God's green earth can perform anything in any building to change their status.

This is the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania), the only true succession of the restored gospel.

Salt Lake City, UT

That is the dilemma faced by faiths which believe they have the only true path to salvation. Decent Jews, who rejected Jesus as the messiah, are denied salvation. So are humane Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, and Muslims, who know of Jesus, but reject the notion that he is the only path to the Father. Faiths which require membership in good standing, participation in saving rituals, and that you accept their version of God, turn religion into a ritualized institution and God into more of a president of a fraternal organization. I could care less what faith one follows or even rejects the divine altogether, as long as they are selfless, kind, giving, and honest. Isn't that all that should matter to God? I envision a more God-like God, who would say, "I know you. After all, I am omniscient. You were a good person. Come on in." I also disagree with Paul accepting baptism for the dead. If taken in context, he was using it as an argument for those who doubted the resurrection. Outside of Corinth, there is no evidence it was an accepted practice in Christian communities in the first century.

Big 'D'
San Mateo, CA


I antodav was off the mark when they wrote:
"One can determine what constitutes a 'defensible claim' based upon whatever acts as the foundation and source of doctrine for whatever religion is in question. In the case of non-LDS Christianity, that would be the Bible."

We should read the scholarly book in question to learn why the author argues that the Resurrection is a defensible doctrine. (It might give you pause!) I imagine the author probably discusses the possible historicity of the Lord's Resurrection based on multiple, near-contemporary writings *outside the Bible* from early church fathers and historians that refer to this doctrine's genesis from hundreds of eyewitnesses who directly experienced this marvelous event.

In the case of 9/11 terrorists receiving numerous virgins in heaven (if the Quran's meaning can be twisted to classify them as martyrs of Islam), this claim relies on the revelatory experience between Allah and a single person, Muhammad. There were/are no other direct recipients of this revelatory knowledge-- only believers. Thus, the claim is less defensible.

Your notion that "anything goes" when it comes to "defensible" religious claims is misapplied in the context of this discussion of the Resurrection.

Roanoke, VA

I think we should ask ourselves what "no one comes to the Father except through me" actually means. Intellectual assent only? That, plus a moral life? I cannot imagine St. Peter at the Pearlies with a checklist, "Lived a moral life? Check. Loved neighbor as himself? Check. Acknowledged that Christ is Lord? Oops. Never heard you mention His name. Living in the South American interior, never hearing of Him, and dying young is no excuse."

Paul teaches us in Acts that Gentiles who didn't have the law, but who lived as if the law were written on their hearts, were accepted of Him. I don't think its a stretch to apply that view to non-Christians with reference to our Lord. Rather, it is Christians who claim His name but live like guttersnipes who need to sweat St. Peter's review.

@antodav ... That is probably good news. The prospect of having to put up with 72 demanding virgins would force me into atheism.

@Michigander ... Heaven is going to be an awfully lonely place if only the Monongahela people populate it.

layton, UT

RE: Moontan,"no one comes to the Father except through me". E.g…,

Jesus)”..no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again=(from above,Grk)(John 3:3).

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:44

Christ…chose(Christians) us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love, having,Predestined, us to adoptions as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved" Eph 1:3-6 (NASB). For Christians,Predestination is the doctrine of comfort and hope.

God is Sovereign, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. Romans 9:15-18

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

Great article - if for no other reason than in articulating the adult equivalent of two kids arguing over the relative merits of Batman vs. Superman, it does a good job of convincing the incredulous among us that the doctrines of religion are not only man-made but made up as we go along.

Westland, MI

RE: Moontan,

"And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that MANY of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day." (2 Nephi 33:12).

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