This is a follow-up to the first ABI Quick Survey in this current series on an important theological and practical issue.
It is well-known that the way survey questions are framed can have a significant influence on the way people respond. One factor can be when questions are posed in such a way that they seem more real or personal to the respondent – and aren’t just theoretical / hypothetical. This can be particularly true with questions related to difficult theological issues.
I hope you will take a moment to read the following scenario and then continue to the second survey in this series.
Note: If you haven’t responded to the first survey, please go to that one-question survey first and then return here. (Available through the ABI Bulletin Board on the home page.)
I have traveled to India twice to teach in a seminary south of Bangalore. The seminary is located in a very rural area, which is home to what I suspect are some of the poorest, third-world villages in the world.
I have been to one of these nearby villages and briefly in the home of a Hindu family. As is true of most of India, this area is almost 100% Hindu. So, in the main room of this tiny house with a dirt floor there are pictures or small statues of Hindu gods, prayer beads and an altar where candles are lit each day.
Let’s suppose that one day, a baby girl is born to this honest, hard-working, faithful Hindu family. They name her “Ayanna,” which means “Innocent.” As she grows into a beautiful young lady, she stands out among her friends and has a reputation in her village for being especially kind, compassionate, honest and devout.
She looks at the world around her and knows in her heart that there must be a God who is immense and powerful. She has never had any exposure to Christianity, but she has been taught the importance of treating others as she would wish to be treated. She has never heard the name of Jesus – and never will, but she sincerely believes all that she has learned from her parents and the elders in the village. She prays each day and tries to the best of her ability to please whomever this unknown God might be. With so many in her village dying at a young age, she often wonders what might happen when she dies.
As I mentioned, the seminary is out in the country – and I have been on the road between the seminary and Ayanna’s village several times. It is narrow, hilly and winding, with drivers going far too fast and taking far too many chances – as seems to be typical in India.
One day, as 17 year-old Ayanna is walking down this road, the driver of a large truck doesn’t see her as he comes over a hill. In her final moments of life, she has a moment to wonder about what will happen to her after she dies.