PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER READ THE BIBLE CANNOT BE ASSIGNED TO HELL ON THAT BASIS. The Christian Bible Did Not Exist 2000 Years Ago. People have such distorted views about life and the truth that it is no wonder the god of this world reigns in their lives.
You come to me and say: 'People who don't know about Jesus are going to hell, it's just impossible. Jesus said that whoever doesn't believe in me is going to hell.' But many children in Africa don't even know what Christianity is
I have read 66 answers to your question from atheists, people who say they were once Christians, those who say they are Christians but belong to differing theological worldviews, and a few from non-Christian religious persuasions. There are a couple of answers to your question that touch on different aspects aspects of what I see that is written in the Bible. The following is what I see in the Bible.
God overlooks ignorance
In the Old Testament and the New Testament there are statements to the effect that TRUE ignorance is overlooked. In the book of Ezekiel, we learn that atonement (a means for reconciliation) was made for those who were ignorant and sinned. In the book of Acts, we learn that God overlooks the ignorance of everyone.
You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for any one who has sinned through error orignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple.(Ezekiel 45:20)
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)
In the case of the New Testament statement, atonement has been made for everybody. Rejection of the atonement made by Lord Jesus Christ is the means by which a person receives God’s Judgment for eternity.
Everyone has a conscience
The Apostle Paul points to a person’s conscience as being able to condemn a person. However, we can override our conscience and do things which we know are wrong to do and excuse ourselves. Before I became a Christian, I frequently excused my condemning thoughts and overrode my inner conflicts to the point that in respect to my aberrant sexual behavior, my conscience was dead. This is what the Apostle to the Gentiles writes:
When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:14–16)
As for those who do not know about what is written in the Bible or have no knowledge of what God requires regarding the Ten Commandments, each will be judged according to their ignorance. For when we override our conscience we are not ignorant of right and wrong. However, we might have been ignorant of our need to seek God, but given the opportunity, we would repent and ask forgiveness for our sins and plead for mercy to be shown. Now Jesus did say this:
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
Mercy triumphs over judgment. When we understand what Jesus said in respect to mercy, we are able to understand what Jesus meant when he spoke about the how people who think they are going to be saved are not going to be saved. These are those who believe they can do whatever they like because they are part of the unconditional election who were saved before they were born, or are saved by grace alone, or have paid penance by counting beads, etc.
Everyone Will Be Judged
When will the judgment of what people have done on Earth take place? The Bible indicates that this will be the White Throne Judgment prior to the Universe being dissolved and a new Universe being created. Jesus gives an indication of what this Judgment will be like in the book of Matthew:
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 31–46)
In the light of the above Scripture references, we can only conclude that God is just and merciful, and He overlooks the ignorance of each person. If a person does not know the Son of God or has no knowledge of the Bible’s existence, from what we read in the above text from the book of Matthew, each person will be judged according to the degree that he or she has been merciful when it comes to each one’s own actions. Those who know what is right to do, but who insist on overriding their conscience will have to give an account of themselves.
It is worth noting that Jesus also said regarding those who prefer evil and hate the truth, when they have to face the light that they refuse to do so. Whereas those who do what is true, love the light. (John 3:19–20) Admittedly, when people do what they know to be right there is nothing to fear, when deeds done are exposed by the light. This also means having shown mercy to those who otherwise would have been condemned, but because they asked for another chance, the opportunity to repent was offered.