Hey @Brittany_Bowman1, I do think @WarnerMiller made a great point about why other religions exist in the first place. In a sense, when Adam and Eve believed the snake instead of God they had created the first false religion with a false view of God’s goodness. However, I have also been asked by a Hindu friend of mine how God can judge people who have been born, lived and died in a place with zero access to knowledge about Jesus. Is that similar to your friend’s concern?
Generally I address this question from two angles. The first is that God has a plan for the nations and has been working through history to draw all people to Himself. The second is that on the day of judgment God will judge people according to the truth they had and the Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right! Below are a few more details.
God has a Plan for the Nations
It is a constant theme throughout Scripture that God has a purpose for each nation - even nations like Egypt and Assyria. God had mercy on Nineveh through Jonah. As the passage from Acts below points out, God has placed all nations in their place that they might find God. And as it says in Galatians, God sent Jesus at the appropriate time.
The article that you posted mentioned that spiritual forces of evil were behind false religions. Galatians points out that we are all slaves to the elemental spiritual forces apart from God. However, I think just like Adam and Eve, while there are lies from the enemy out there, it is we who choose to follow them and then somehow integrate them into our thinking.
How does this address your friends question? God may move slower than we would like, but He is on the move. And He has a plan for every people, tongue, tribe and nation.
Acts 17:26-27 - From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Galatians 4:3-4 - So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
God will Judge Justly
I think one of the major concerns your friend may have is that these people who have never heard of Jesus will be punished for what they never had a chance to believe. I simply do not believe this is the case!
Abraham was upset with God over this very issue when he found out Sodom was going to be destroyed. Abraham challenged God - “Far be it from you to do such a thing–to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25) And of course the answer is yes, God saved the righteous from destruction.
If we examine Scripture, we see that God’s judgment will in the end be based upon the secrets of men’s hearts. Romans points out that Gentiles are a law to themselves and many passages point out that God will judge men based upon their inner thoughts - their hearts.
Romans 2:14-16 - (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 - For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Hebrews 4:13 - Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Luke 8:17 - For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
Also consider the Old Testament saints before Moses and the law - Enoch - how was he saved? He did not know about Jesus - neither did Abraham. They were saved by faith in God - in the Creator.
Someone may make the objection at this point that there is no need for Jesus, but that is simply false! Jesus made it clear that if you know God the Father you know Him, because He and the Father are one. To reject Jesus is to reject God and to accept God is to accept Jesus.
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. -John 14:7
Are those thoughts helpful? Do you have any further questions? May Christ grant you wisdom and insight into your friend’s heart to address their questions with wisdom and grace!