Thursday, 26 February 2015

Salvation and the Mentally Handicapped

I was checking out the numbers on some of my posts. The one with the greatest number of page views by far is this one, on a Biblical age of accountability. I suspect it reflects the heartache and worry one feels when one loses a young child and wonders about its eternal destiny.

One of the comments on the original post was from a woman concerned with her mentally handicapped brother, and how God treats those without the mental capacity to actively and consciously understand the Gospel and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord.

I heard a verse mentioned on a Christian radio program the other day. I'm afraid I don't remember which one, or I would give them credit. It was John 9: 41,
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
It got me thinking. This verse had always seemed rather confusing to me. What did Jesus mean? Does it mean we shouldn't evangelize? If people aren't aware of Jesus, would they then not be guilty of sin? No, I don't think so. Read the first couple of chapters of Romans. Read John 3:19,
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
No. People, I'm convinced, are quite aware of sin. There is a standard of morality that runs across all cultures, peoples and generations. All fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and I believe all realize it, in some way.

As Hank Hanegraaff, possibly among others, has said, "It is not the ignorance of truth but the despising of truth that keeps people from God." I refer again to John 3:19, above.

Over and over again we see God and Jesus extending generous invitations to come to them. In the parable of the great banquet, where we see that God wants His house to be full; in passages such as  Matthew 11: 28-30, 1 Timothy 2: 3-4, 2 Peter 3:9.

So it occurred to me that perhaps John 9:41 (above) might just apply to those who have not the mental capacity to consciously reject Christ as Saviour. Now, don't take the equating of mental illness to blindness to be insulting. This was not wilful blindness. The man in the story in John 9 was born that way as are those who are mentally handicapped. Neither are in a position to heal themselves, by themselves. Some of those to whom we might refer as handicapped may indeed be perfectly able to make a decision for Christ, but some may not, and it is those who cannot to whom God, I believe, may extend His grace and apply to their account the shed blood of Christ.

As I argued in my original post, the Bible does indicate that there is an age before which young people know right from wrong. What significance that has in terms of eternal salvation, I'm prepared not to be dogmatic. But I am quite prepared to accept that God's grace and generosity extend to those who are incapable, because of immaturity or handicap, of understanding sin or making the intellectual decision to accept or reject Him.

In the end, I fall back on Genesis 18:25c,
Will not the judge of all the earth do right?
Take Care

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