I think that a common variant of Christian teaching is that believers are saved, those that reject the faith are damned, and those that live and die ignorant of Christianity might be saved — though they will be terribly shocked on arriving in Heaven.
“Odin’s beard! Vhat’s vith der vings und harps? Vhere’s all the wenches und mead? Und vhere’s that boi Sigur?”
Poor Sigur had heard of Christianity, you see.
Now, some say that the ignorant might be saved, but there’s no such grace for those that know of Christianity and reject it. And so there must be great laughter in Hell every time a Christian missionary goes forth, and each time a Muslim or Hindu moves to Christian lands: by Christian teaching, both result in more certain hell-fodder.
I wonder if any of these ecumenical priests and bishops ever finds himself thinking like this:
“Okay… That imam, Hell-bound for sure. That Jew, Hell. A Hindu, Hell. Anabaptist… hm, Hell. Me, Heaven. It’s good to know where we’re going.”
Hell is a nice concept, and I look forward to it, because by Christian logic Hell is filled with nice people: everyone from Anne Frank, the young Jewish diarist that perished in Auschwitz, to the famous scientists Albert Einstein and Stanislaw Ulam, who both were godless Jews. Not to mention most Japanese from since cross-carrying men landed on their isles, or Australian Aboriginals from first meeting an European on.
“Why are we here in the fire, o great Woolloomooloo?”
“Because, I gather, because we did not listen to the man dressed in black.”
“And where are our fathers, and our fathers’ fathers, o great and pouncy Woolloomooloo?”
“Umm. They are in a better place because they never knew of the man in black.”
“May the man in black be a running-track for kangaroos and the one in line behind a koala for all eternity!”
If those that don’t know of Christianity but still behave well are saved, but the Christians themselves have strict laws and orthodoxies, and their neighbors a sure ticket to damnation — well, wouldn’t the best thing for the world have been to never send out any missionaries at all?
Then no neighbors had been in danger, there would have been no narrow orthodoxy to stick to — and no fear of Hell.
Hell, oh well, what a funny concept.