Sunday, January 01, 2006

Sin, Ignorance, and Judgment

The question is often raised about people who sin without knowing it. It is part of a larger conversation about those who did not know Christ through no fault of their own, and did not know what God requires through no fault of their own, or the countless people who died in pagan lands before Christ was proclaimed in those lands. Today I will look at only the first issue: whether ignorance is taken into account in judgment.

The Bible states again and again that God takes account of man's ignorance in his judgment of their sins (though ignorance is hardly a guarantee of God’s favor!). The ancient law ordained that sins of ignorance are handled much differently than sins of defiance (Numbers 15:22-30). Jesus prayed that those who executed him be forgiven on account of their ignorance (Luke 23:34). Paul celebrated that he was forgiven his former blasphmey because he acted in ignorance and unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). There is a long-standing and ancient tradition that mere ignorance does not condemn anyone.

For the time being, we leave a lot of ground uncovered. Other related questions on forgiveness and judgment will be addressed in subsequent posts.

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