Could you clarify how ancient races outside the Middle East had the opportunity to learn about God? E.g. what about the 40,000+ year-old aboriginal culture of Australia, Pacific islanders or the Aztecs? -- Several inquirers
Without the scriptures or the Hebrew prophets (who addressed a number of Middle Eastern nations), the gentiles had the opportunity to learn about God only through nature (Romans 1:18-20, Acts 14:16-17), conscience (Romans 2) and experience acquired through following or violating God s universal moral law (Romans 1:32). Yet this should not be taken to mean that ancient races could be saved by works -- by being decent persons or by reaching some minimal standard of God-consciousness.
The scriptures are clear that all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As Romans 2:12 puts it All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. Naturally God is the judge and he will make the final decisions, but the biblical pattern indicates the Lord brings people into relationship with him through a covenant. I am not aware of any covenant that extended to the aborigines of Australia, the Aztecs, or anyone else. What I do know from my study of ancient cultures and civilizations is that they were characterized by sin as much as we are today, including ritual prostitution, cannibalism, ecological irresponsibility, vindictiveness, and human sacrifice. Though they are often glorified by liberal sociologists anthropologists and artists, I do not buy the argument that primitive peoples were especially closer to "nature and goodness" than we are. Rather, as Paul stated: "All have sinned and fallen short."
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