The sad state of the Island Man

Recently the question was raised about the fate of the Island man, and how confusing it must be for a Christian to try and predict with any certainty his eternal destination. viewtopic.php?f=5&t=162289

What is an “Island Man” you may be asking?

Allow me to borrow from the other thread, and paste the question here, and maybe you’ll get a better idea about the identity of an Island Man.

Mr. matisthinking says:

I have a few questions i’ve thought about over the years that im sure are common.

1. What happens if say, a tribe of people are raised on a remote island and never gain access to the bible or Christianity, yet they live a moralistic and natural existance. What is thier judgement? (heaven/hell ect.)

I usually hear this question asked in a similar context, although sometimes it is the man in the deep dark jungles of Africa who finds himself totally excluded (supposedly) from the God of all reality. The Island man is appealed to often enough, presumably for convenience sake, that I feel justified in calling this the “fate of the Island man” question.

The responses by the Christians in the forum to this were a little disappointing given the amount of material written on it in the past, as well as the explicit amount of relevant scripture references.

This question does have a very explicit and Biblically based answer.

Just to be clear, Mr. Matisthinking was specifically posing this question to the Christian. That being the case, we should always remember that there are some specific implied premises. There is a big unstated premise at the beginning of the question, and if stated, would read thus:

“Given the truth of the Christian worldview…what happens if say, a tribe of people….etc.”

Well, since we’re going to be discussing the island man in the context of a Christian worldview, then it should be noted that all men arose from one man, Adam. Also, through a well known series of events, the entire human race was destroyed, except for Noah, his three sons, and their families. From this, historians who study history from a Christian worldview can then begin to trace all the nationalities, and complexities of the human race, from the root of three individuals, Ham, Shem, and Japeth.

From whatever culture or people group the island man arose from, it is certain to the Christian that implicit in the verbal history and culture of this people, knowledge of the one true God has been maintained in some form. I highly recommend Bill Cooper’s book, “After the Flood” which deals directly with this topic. Mr. Cooper shows how certain ancient people groups like the Britons, and Celts, trace their royal lineages back to Japeth, (by investigating historical documents.)

There are other examples as well that could be given, like similarities in cultural stories of a great flood. So to if one looks at the beginning of the Aztec calendar, you would find a similar date to when Christian historians and geologist would claim for the flood. (This is an argument that Bill Cooper makes in his book, and expounds on further. I will not respond to any attempts to refute this particular claim here since it is not crucial to my point.)

We can already see, that from a Christian position, these island men are not as isolated from the Christian God as the questioner would assume.

There is an old saying that fits in nicely at this point: We all have enough knowledge to damn us, but not enough to save us!

Certainly whatever knowledge of God the remote culture had to begin with has been vastly diluted by the effects of time, so any residual knowledge would certainly not count as saving knowledge, at least, not on its own.

This is where a discussion of Romans comes into play.

The question has another implicit, yet unstated assumption. The questioner is assuming that salvation comes when an individual is presented with all the evidence, evaluates it, and comes to the conclusion that it is “good” causing him to obey the principals set forth by the revelation he is studying.

Paul says in Romans 1:19 that no man has an excuse not to believe in God. No man does. The blind man doesn’t, the deaf man doesn’t, the child doesn’t, the mentally handicapped man doesn’t, and neither does the island man. The one true God of all reality has revealed Himself through His creation in a way that it is impossible to doubt. Paul puts it this way in verse 20:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

According to this, the island men don’t just know God in some mysterious vague way, but rather, they know God directly, and unequivocally. The nature of these “invisible things” are such that, without the truth of the Christian God, man would not be able to use reason, logic, or science. Indeed he wouldn’t be able to use rational thought of any kind! (For a further exposition on this argument, see Van Tils “Defense of the Faith.”)

To say that the Island man is ignorant of Gods revelation, and therefore should be innocent of the guilt of sin, is to contradict the clear teachings of scripture. ALL men are guilty before God, because ALL men know Him.

To Finally Answer the Island Man Question:

So far, I’ve shown that within a Christian worldview, the island man would have some physical knowledge of God, as well as knowledge of God that is epistemically necessary. In conclusion, I’d also like to point to Romans chapter 2, and what looks to be a direct answer to this question.

Paul says in verse 4:

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Paul was berating the self righteous man who had seemingly forgotten that he was just as sinful as the unbeliever and that it was not by his own strength that he was saved, but rather by the goodness of God. This directly contradicts the implicit assumption of the Island man Questioner, who would assume that salvation is dependant on the decision of the well informed islander.

The wind of Gods Spirit blows in mysterious ways, and regenerates the hearts of men. This is a total act of grace on Gods part. These regenerated hearts are able to accomplish the will of the One whom they know implicitly through the revelation of Gods nature that Paul spoke about in chapter 1. Hence Romans chapter 2 verses 14 and 15 make a very clear statement:

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

It is my contention from the case above that, when the predestined island man has his heart regenerated by the monergistic quickening of the Holy Spirit, he is then able to act on the natural law of God that is epistemically necessary and revealed through our very existence. He would then have a thirst for knowledge that would lead him to a situation where the providence of God would potentially reveal the written word and gospel of Christ to him.

The island man, while faced with unique challenges, is still responsible before God, and in need of salvation.

Now that we’ve figured THAT out, we just have to figure out where we’re going to go when the volcano blows, cause I don’t know!
I don’t know….

Shotgun, I have read through your post concerning the topic which Mat raised several times. I’m still a little confused of what your answer was. Could you please state concisely the answer to his question? Thanks.

Tortoise, in Mat’s original question he asked if there was a group of people or tribe if you will and had no contact with the Christian God that were moral and good, would they go to hell if they had no salvation. If what you say that shotgun means they will go to hell, I would like him to clarify it a little better for me.

I’ve tried to make my position as blatant as I could, and I realize I still have work to do on articulating the message. I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough for you guys.

No man is worthy of God, none. Our salvation is a work of Grace, no matter if we are in the bible belt, or on a remote island somewhere.

Don’t focus on the limits of man… focus on the power of God.

Isaiah 64:6 says:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Thank God for the blood of our savior Jesus Christ, who washes us white as snow!

If I had to sum my article up into a single statement, it would be:

The man God wants… God gets.