Many in evangelical Christianity feel obliged to make some exceptions to the need to believe and respond the “Gospel”. Generally those exceptions are extended to children under a certain age and those with generic mental deficiencies. The prevailing notion is that those who are innately incapable of responding to the requirements of the “Gospel” should not be held accountable for a physical condition which is not their fault.
These exceptions to the requirements of salvation are problematic, as many who contemplate them realize. To my knowledge the scriptures no where directly address these extenuating circumstances. Some will no doubt point to Jesus’ statement that children are those of the Kingdom to reinforce their concept of an age of accountability. However, without a clear definition of at what age one becomes accountable, this exception has no practical application. Perhaps John 9:41 could be used to excuse the mentally incapacitated, but it is hard to see how this exclusion applies only to that category.
Some have pondered the idea of exceptions to the “Gospel” and its implications and concluded that there can be no exceptions whatsoever. Their quandary is apparently the realization that any exceptions open the door to a multitude of others. If the mentally incapacitated are not responsible because of the inability to respond as required, why isn’t the man who is just ignorant of the “Gospel” likewise exempted? In neither case is the inability the responsibility of the person in question. One can easily see how the issue of exceptions quickly becomes a theological quagmire for the orthodox.
Even more troubling for these strict believers is the implication that even aborted children go to Hell. Of course, this is no different from orthodoxy’s longstanding position that the civil government, as a God sanctioned entity, is justified in sending thousands if not millions to Hell in the name of national defense and criminal justice.
If God really operated in this either/or fashion in relation to man’s reconciliation, we would be justified in rejecting Him, as many are led to do through this false understanding. Thankfully, the one who does not author confusion has no need for exceptions because His Love covers all men.