The following information comes from a lecture I attended of William Lane Craig:
Religious pluralists often argue that there is a contradiction between the premise that “God is all-loving/powerful” and “some do not hear the Gospel and will be lost.”
To see them as contradictory there must be one of two hidden assumptions:
- If God is all powerful He can create a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and is freely saved.
- If God is all-loving, He prefers a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and is freely saved.
I will show that such is not the case, and argue that they are logically compatible.
God is All Powerful
The first assumption is false. While God can create a world in which everybody hears the Gospel, so long as everyone is free there is no way to guarantee that everyone will respond in faith and be saved. God cannot do the logically impossible—He cannot make creatures with free-will accept Him without taking away their free will.
God is All Loving
But what if God created a world in which everyone heard the Gospel and accepted it? Does God’s all-loving nature cause Him to prefer that world to the current world? Maybe not. Maybe there are some advantages to our world. Maybe the world in which all would be saved would be a world of only five people. The second assumption is false as well, then.
We can prove that our two premises are logically coherent. We need only find a necessary to obtain the best result. It’s possible that in order to create X number of people who would be saved, He had to create X number of people who He knew would go to hell.
How do we know that there is anybody who would have been saved if only they had received the Gospel? After all, many who hear it reject it. Maybe God had ordered the world in such a way that all those who never hear the Gospel and are lost would not have been saved even had they heard it. God ensures that anyone who would be saved if they heard the Gospel be in such a place and time that they hear it (Acts 17:24-27—God determined the times and places men should live so that men should find Him).
“God has created an optimal world which has an optimal balance between saved and lost, and those who never hear the Gospel and are lost would not have freely received it even if they had heard it.” So long as this is even possible, there is nothing logically contradictory about our two premises.
Given God’s will to create free creatures, God had to accept the fact that some would choose to separate themselves from Him forever.
God wanted to share His love and fellowship with free persons. The joy that comes from those who freely accept Him should not be vetoed by those who reject Him. This is similar to the way in which we humans should not be precluded from creating any children at all simply because there will be some who commit gross evil.