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Defending the Faith: But what of those who never heard?

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  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    July 31, 2014 6:03 a.m.

    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”?

  • Unabiller Excelsior, MN
    July 31, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    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

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    July 31, 2014 8:21 a.m.

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

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    July 31, 2014 8:30 a.m.

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

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 31, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    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
    July 31, 2014 9:00 a.m.

    @Joe Blow

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

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 31, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    "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?

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    July 31, 2014 9:29 a.m.

    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.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    July 31, 2014 9:34 a.m.

    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.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    July 31, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    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.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    July 31, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    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.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    July 31, 2014 11:38 a.m.

    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
    July 31, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    happy2bhere,

    "....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.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 31, 2014 12:58 p.m.

    "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.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    July 31, 2014 2:51 p.m.

    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
    July 31, 2014 3:10 p.m.

    JoeBlow,

    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.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 31, 2014 3:30 p.m.

    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.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 31, 2014 5:07 p.m.

    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
    July 31, 2014 5:18 p.m.

    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.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    July 31, 2014 5:33 p.m.

    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).

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 31, 2014 7:07 p.m.

    @Michigander ... Nice passage. And what was the answer to that prayer?

    @Sharrona ... I agree that no one comes to the Father except through Christ. But I don't interpret that superficially. I do not exclude from salvation those who lived/live a Christlike life, but who, for whatever reason, never received the Gospel message. I believe Christ is more concerned with the content of our heart than with whether or not His name was mentioned or even known.

    Consider: Salvation comes through Faith, yes? Salvation is God's greatest gift to us, accessed by Faith. Yet ... 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that Love is greater than that which brings us salvation, which is Faith.

    I believe those who have heard and rejected or abused the Gospel message, and those who claim it but do not live it, are those who should be concerned about their future. Those who've not heard the message but live a life of love as He would have them do, are good to go.

    As for God punishing those whose hearts He hardened Himself, I reject the notion. I agree Paul wrote that, but it is contrary to everything else written about Him.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    Aug. 1, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    @ nonceleb

    "there is no evidence it was an accepted practice in Christian communities in the first century."

    Yeah, so?

    It would be like getting an old car out of a barn and concluding that the car never ran even though your Grandfather told you it did at one time. You only have your Grandfathers word that it ran at one time

    It might have not been a super important doctrine during the time period. Did the people in the first century have the luxury of paper to record everything? Not from what I have learned they didn't!

    Also in the LDS church we don't talk about Baptisms for the Dead at church on a weekly basis at least from what I have encountered.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    Aug. 1, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    @ Moontan

    "no one comes to the Father except through me"

    Christ has many names: Redeemer, Mediator, Savior, Only Begotten of the Father, etc.

    We have all been bought for a price. Jesus Christ paid the price through the Atonement. He redeemed us from not only the Fall of Adam (physical death) but also from Spiritual Death as well.

    It is for this cause that it is only through Christ through which salvation can be accomplished.

    He will stand as a mediator between us and Heavenly Father during Judgement.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    Aug. 1, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    @ nonceleb

    "Ancient Corinth was one of the largest and most important cities of Greece, with a population of 90,000 in 400 BC. After the Romans built a new city in its place and made it the provincial capital of Greece in 44 BC, the city population was between 100,000 to 700,000 according to different sources." Source: Wikipedia -> Ancient Corinth

    The key portion of this quote is "the city population was between 100,000 to 700,000 according to different sources."

    We don't have a clear view of what happened in the past. We have bits and fragments of things but the idea of Baptisms for the Dead just makes sense.

  • Goldminer Salem, ut
    Aug. 1, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    The interesting question I would ask is: why are we born at the time we are and not at a different time? I think that our actions in the Pre-existence has an impact on that. But, that is just my opinion.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Aug. 1, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    How sad it is to think of the multitudes who have gone to their gaves in this beautiful island and never knew there was a hell. – Mark Twain about Christianity being brought to Hawaii.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 1, 2014 11:22 a.m.

    Look out on a moonlit starry night. You see both darkness and light. There’s not just a riddle in that. There are thousands of them.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Aug. 1, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    @Moontan,

    The answer to that prayer is that MANY will make it to the new heaven and the new earth in eternity. Population statisticians have estimated that 50-100 billion souls have been born on the earth since Adam and Eve. What the exact number of redeemed souls who will be in the new heaven and new earth are only God knows. Maybe we also will know that exact number in that day. Of course MANY also, tragically, will be consigned forever to the lake of fire and brimstone. This is the greatest of dichotomies.

    "For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge;" (BOM, Moroni 7:16). Every man and woman has a conscience.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Aug. 1, 2014 12:11 p.m.

    Craig Clark

    I guess I would respond by saying, where else do you have to go? As far as I know, no other Christian church claims modern day revelation. So your point about scripture and theology being largely speculative, likely true. However, the best way to understand ancient scripture would be to have modern day prophets to give proper interpretation.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 1, 2014 12:24 p.m.

    RE: Moontan, I reject the notion. “who are you,a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes(salvation) and some for common use? (Rom 9:21-22).

    “.. he gave the right(Authority)to become children of God... “( John 1:12).

    @happy2bhere (1 Peter3:18-20)properly interpreted. (Jesus)….proclamation to the *spirits in prison , in ”the days of Noah” (Nephilim). *Spirits is only used of human beings when qualifying terms are added, the term here is restricted to supernatural beings. …the unclean *spirits(demonic)(Luke 4;36)E.g..

    if God did not spare [fallen]angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment. (II Peter 2:4)

    … the[fallen] angels who did not keep their positions of authority(first estate, KJV) but abandoned their proper dwelling--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 6 NIV).

  • Free Agency Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 1, 2014 12:45 p.m.

    Aside from what happens to those who have never heard the message about Jesus . . . what about those of us who have heard it and simply can't believe it?

    I'm not talking about being "willfully disobedient" by rejecting this message. (That would imply believing it but rejecting it anyway.) I'm talking about using the faculties which I believe God gave us, sifting this messages through our faculties, and then coming to the conclusion that it just doesn't make sense to us--not just intellectually but spiritually.

    What kind of God would condemn to eternal torture someone who sincerely can't believe in the Christian message? That, indeed, is one of the major reasons why I can't accept Christianity. It turns God into a monster.

    I wish Daniel Peterson had given specifics on how Davis defended the claims of Christianity.

  • brotherJonathan SLC, UT
    Aug. 1, 2014 1:41 p.m.

    Deseret news this is timely, truthful and if you look at the messages You have been approving for months: .
    You will know I speak the truth. Why not ask CEO Clark Gilbert if this should be approved?
    Censorship of truth is wrong.
    brotherJonathan, SLC, UT

    If you can believe Christ was resurrected from the dead.
    Why can't you believe that Satan was created to operate life forms for God?
    Instinct mechanisms are intelligent but must have one directive..
    Survival operations and all that must be required to operate behaviors without knowledge learned.
    Impossible life forms cannot exist, where are the brains to do countless autonomous actions just to live for one moment much less lifetimes?
    Hidden from our view. Satan is our artificial intelligence operators of reality.
    God
    Reveals this truth to man.........Will you accept this gift from God?
    Prove the truth.......Ask our LDS leadership, Pres. Thomas S. Monson is Satan revealed to mankind now?

    We prepare for our Lord Jesus Christ. What would you risk to serve our Lord?
    status quo, your survival advantage? These are required to follow Christ.
    good sheep, hear the voice of their master.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    Aug. 1, 2014 1:48 p.m.

    Article quote: "A believing Christian himself, Davis upholds the orthodox view that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. But does that doctrine (quite plainly taught in the New Testament) mean that God consigns such people — perhaps the vast majority of humankind — to hell? (Historically, hundreds of millions have died without so much as hearing the name of Jesus.) If so, can God still be considered just or fair?"

    That is an incredibly, amazingly simply (and entirely justified) questions, and yet I am both amazed and saddened by how many Christians have no clue at all as to how BOTH ends of the spectrum are fully satisfied...."ends of the spectrum" being "mercy" and "justice".

    How glad I am for my knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! I cherish it above all things! Praise to God AND the man He sent to restore this priceless knowledge.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    Aug. 1, 2014 3:15 p.m.

    @Sharrona ... I'm not talking back to God. Re. the analogy you quoted, if the potter gave the pot a brain and the ability to recognize injustice and to use deductive reasoning, it is perfectly acceptable - and expected by Him - to use it. If anything, I am telling Paul the totality of Scripture teaches us that the God of love does not harden someones heart and then consign him/her to eternal torment for reasons of His own doing. I'd also tell Paul he gave a ridiculous reason for permitting marriage (only to avoid fornication), and had a rather low view of women.

    @Michigander ... I agree with you.

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 1, 2014 7:26 p.m.

    re: Tyler D

    "if for no other reason than in articulating the adult equivalent of two kids arguing over the relative merits of Batman vs. Superman"

    Batman has Kryptonite... given to him by Superman. Case closed. Next Argument.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Aug. 2, 2014 1:51 a.m.

    Free Agency:

    According to the program for BYU Education Week, later this month, Professor Peterson will be lecturing for four days straight -- Tuesday through Friday -- laying out a historical case for the resurrection of Christ.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 2, 2014 3:58 p.m.

    RE: Moontan,”(Paul’s) letters contain some things that are hard to understand...”(2Peter3:15).

    E.g..(1Peter 4:6 NET)In context the phrase those who are dead refers to those ‘Now’ dead who had received the gospel while they were still living and had suffered persecution for their faith (see James Acts12:2 or Antipas Rev 2:13).
    Though they “suffered judgment” in this earthly life. Peter encourages Christians not to fear persecution nor death because life in the presence of God follows.

    “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in (gehenna)hell.”(Mt 10:28)No second chances.

    The God of the Bible is able to save perfectly and completely all He desires to save: the fact that not all are saved leads to the truth of divine election.

    “If the Salvation of all men was his overriding priority, He could prevent Satan from blinding the eyes of the unconverted so more would believe. He would work toward the softening, not the hardening of men.” Martin Luther

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Aug. 2, 2014 11:15 p.m.

    Free Agency: The vices you have this life, the knowledge you have all go with you into the next world. You will once again hear the Gospel as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints again in the spirit world. The problem is that all your knowledge and other things will go with you so that will influence your own thoughts then as now.

    You will still have the opportunity to decide whether you want accept the teachings or not. Your baptism and confirmation and all other ordinances will be done in the temple of our God. Again you will have the chance to accept or not again. If you fail to accept then then your chance is gone because the judgment will come.

    How you've conducted your life in this life makes a big difference as to whether you are received in the Lord's kingdom or not. It is all up to you. Nothing is forced on you but you must decide. The Restoration of the Gospel his here. The Only true and Living Church of Jesus Christ is upon the earth. IT is all up to you.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 2, 2014 11:57 p.m.

    Moontan

    That is your fear based thinking talking. When you start saying comments like certain groups of people "should be concerned" - you lose credibility. You don't know what goes on in the afterlife, yet you are speaking as if you have an absolute knowledge.

  • Raeann Peck Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2014 10:10 p.m.

    I believe God loves all of His children with a love that is all encompassing and greater than we can comprehend. Because of His sacrifice that overcame the effects of every aspect of the fall of man, Christ has prepared a way that by justice, grace, and mercy, all who have ever been born into this world will have opportunity to receive His redemption. I trust God will provide all that is needful for each of His children to freely receive or reject Christ.

  • Stormwalker Cleveland , OH
    Aug. 3, 2014 10:59 p.m.

    There are something like 40,000 Christian denominations in the world.

    I am somehow, through faith, supposed to pick the right one. If I don't I may spend eternity roasting in hellfire. And, there are thousands of non-Christian faiths, each making a claim to be the one true faith.

    This seems like a sloppy and inept way to run things, especially for a deity who supposedly created the entire universe. One would expect a bit of clarity.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    Aug. 4, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    @Brahmabull ... No fear involved. No claim to special insight/knowledge. It is more like common sense: if we claim 'A' but live as if we do not - whether it be a religious topic, a job, a club - there will be consequences. God's course is one eternal round. I don't think ideas of justice, hypocrisy, etc., are, in the afterlife, all that dissimilar to mortality. The self-professed Christian who lived as if he were Satan's little brother has more to account for than the moral non-Christian who was never given the Gospel message. God's law was written on his heart.

    @Sharrona ... God "will have all men to be saved , and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1st Timothy 2:4. This doesn't mean all men will be saved, of course, but it does indicate God won't stymie the effort.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 4, 2014 1:25 p.m.

    RE: Moontan, God desires all (all kinds of people) to be saved. God will have every tribe, tongue, people.( 1 Tim 2:4)

    E.g…"...for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed( specific, actual) us to God by thy blood “Out Of” every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; group and nation.(Rev 5:9)
    The Greek word for "from" is ek meaning "out of" - He redeemed people “out of” every tribe, language, people group and nation.. NOT all without exception, but all without distinction.

    Mormonism* fails to understand man's nature . We are by nature sinners (Eph. 2:3; Psalm 51:5). We all have sinned because sin entered the world through Adam: "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Rom. 5:12, NIV).
    “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who seeks for God. Romans 3:10-12.

    *Pelagianism was condemned by 7 Church councils throughout church history.

    Jesus is the one and only Son(Monogenes ) sinless, via the Holy Spirit(pneuma),The Virgin(parthenos) birth .

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Aug. 4, 2014 7:06 p.m.

    @ Stormwalker - Cleveland , OH "There are something like 40,000 Christian denominations in the world. I am somehow, through faith, supposed to pick the right one. If I don't I may spend eternity roasting in hellfire. And, there are thousands of non-Christian faiths, each making a claim to be the one true faith. This seems like a sloppy and inept way to run things, especially for a deity who supposedly created the entire universe. One would expect a bit of clarity."

    Yes, you are correct that there are thousands of Christian denominations.

    However....you're thinking is totally incorrect with your claim that you are just supposed to "pick one" by "faith".

    No.

    You are supposed to be led to the 'one' by, and I quote, "knowledge". You don't have to just guess nor are you required to just pick one and 'hope' that it's right.

    You are, instead, supposed to study and do the best you can with what you know and take your question to God, with faith, and let Him TEACH you...let Him give you "knowledge". It's all there in James 1:5.

    Do you have the courage to ask and obey?