Rob makes it clear that Jesus is the only way; that Jesus alone is saving everyone. But that there are all sorts of possibilities in regards to how Jesus is doing things in the world, reaching people, meeting people interrupting the time frames and schedules of humanity.
In Exodus 17 the Israelites are in need of water and God tells Moses to strike a rock with his staff, he does and water comes from the rock. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul refers to this ‘rock’ encounter and paints a picture of the always existing Jesus playing a role in the sustaining of God’s people in the wilderness. Rob paints a picture of Jesus at work all over the place through ‘rocks that are everywhere.’
I really liked this chapter, it describes God as active and present in all of creation, discoverable to all. It also makes space for God to work in all sorts of unique and wonderful ways and that there is a mystery to that.
Some are critical saying that in this chapter Rob deems all religions as the same with Jesus in and at work in all of them, and thus it doesn’t matter what religion you are. I don’t think he is suggesting this at all. Ben Witherington 3 is concerned that Rob is pushing things too far when he says that some coming to the Father may not even know they are coming exclusively through him and it is well worth reading Ben’s critique.I’m not so sure.
I’ve grown up all my life imagining people in heaven, because of Jesus, though they may not have known Jesus in the sense that I do, but are judged accurately by Jesus. People in the back blocks of the Amazon who never meet a Christian, read a bible, hear of Jesus etc, alive today, and obviously throughout history. That’s the answer we’re often given as kids or in Sunday school. It still resonates with me, though I know it’s up for debate.
There is no chapter and verse (that I know of) for the idea of an age of accountability. The idea that children who die will find grace, forgiveness and eternal life. Yet it is commonly accepted across the spectrum of Christianity. I endorse it whole heartedly! The argument goes that children do not have the ability to reason, process, think, and make an informed decision. Obviously children have not matured to be able to do this and hence the idea of an age of accountability.
Is there not a second issue though; access to the accurate data that needs to be reasoned through, process and thought through out of which faith and repentance is entered into? Accountability surely requires the ability to be accountable and an understanding of what you are accountable for? Though it is not lack of data that condemns and makes one guilty before God but rather sin, the Good News of the Gospel is a helpful piece of information in sorting the sin issue out. Hence perhaps again, the degree of mystery in which we can simply trust God and join with the multitude of heaven who cry, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments?"