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What about 'the man on the island'?
January 31, 2003
By Jeff Robinson
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--If a man is stranded alone on an island from infancy until death and never hears the gospel of Jesus Christ, where will he spend eternity?
Do the trees and rocks provide the man with enough evidence to point him savingly to Christ's atoning death? Or will he be viewed as innocent because he was ignorant of the only way to salvation?
The answer to the question of the "man on the island" separates the pure biblical gospel from non-biblical expressions of it, argues Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Russell Moore.
And it will be one of the tough questions answered at Southern Seminary's annual "Give Me An Answer Collegiate Conference" to be held Feb. 21-22 at the school. The conference will address the various aspects of the exclusivity of salvation in Christ, seeking to answer the question "Why one way?"
Among the topics addressed will be the necessity of the doctrine of hell, the truth claims of non-Christian religions, the confusion over the "all will be saved" passages of Scripture and the conundrum of "the man on the island."
Moore will address the question of the man on the island. The question is vital to establishing a biblical view of sin, salvation and evangelism, Moore said, for evangelicals must assert that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.
"The discussion exposes all kinds of hidden assumptions that we have," Moore said. "What we think about 'the man on the island' tells us what we really believe about how sinful we are. It tells us what we really believe about the necessity of the Great Commission.
"I think this question is the most important question facing the 21st century church. If those who never hear the gospel are saved apart from the preaching of the gospel, then there is no reason to give one dime to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Unless we come face to face with the lostness of the 'man on the island,' we are going to lose the biblical passion for those who have never heard."
Moore said that it is especially important for college students to know what they believe.
"The next generation is in grave danger of losing this central truth of the gospel -- that salvation comes only through explicit faith in Jesus," he said. "All that the church needs to do to raise a generation apathetic to missions and evangelism is simply to say nothing. The culture will take care of the rest."
In addition to Moore, featured speakers will include seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., Thomas Schreiner, Ronald Nash, Daniel Akin, Thom Rainer, Thomas Nettles and other members of Southern Seminary's faculty.
For more information on the Collegiate Conference, call (ext. 4617).