Q. How would God judge those who have never heard of the gospel before they died, or those who cannot comprehend i.e. infants, mentally incapable people?
A. When you’ve answered hundreds of Bible questions over the last decade, some of the same queries are bound to be raised by other inquirers. The one above is usually expressed in one of the following forms:
• What about the heathen? Those who have not heard the gospel. God did not give them a chance. It’s not fair if He sends them to hell.
• What about babies who died in infancy? They’re innocent! They haven’t done anything wrong. God wouldn’t send them to hell, would He?
Rather than repeat what I wrote earlier, let me refer you to the previous posts:
I would add the following comments not mentioned in the articles.
There is a concept in theology called the “age of accountability“. The term is not found in the Bible, but refers to the age when a child understands the implications of his actions and becomes responsible for their consequences. The Jews take this to be age 13, the “bar mitzvah” for boys when they become “sons of commandment” accountable for their actions. Obviously, each child matures differently. Some understand right from wrong, good and evil, as young as three or even two. Personally I believe there is no fixed age. God knows the heart. He knows when a child is “ready” or not to understand the gospel, and judges accordingly. But we don’t know, so it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children the gospel at an early age to establish their relationship with the Lord.
My second comment concerns the mentally challenged. I assume you are referring to those born that way, not those who became incompetent as a result of an accident or illness and had prior chances to accept or reject the gospel. Again, there is no defined “intelligent quotient” (IQ) below which a person could not understand the gospel. Most individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have mild (IQ 50-70) or moderate (IQ 35-50) mental disability. The average IQ of a young adult with DS is 50, equivalent to the mental age of an 8-9 year-old child. They can understand the gospel. I would say the same reasoning for the age of accountability applies to those with low IQ. God knows whether they are capable of understanding the gospel or not. He is always fair.
Don’t worry about those too young or too disabled to understand. Worry about those who can understand but are rejecting the Lord because of pride or other reasons. Pray and reach out to them before it’s too late.
2 thoughts on “Never Heard Gospel?”