Monday, February 16, 2009

Burning Questions: Do only those who believe in Jesus go to heaven? Or can non-Christians be saved? Part 2


In the last post on the subject (longer ago than I wish) I discussed how an "exclusive" approach to faith is not necessarily bad in and of itself.

So now the question: Does everybody besides Christians go to hell?

Most of you might know what I'm going to come with next: Jesus seems fairly emphatic that no one comes to the Father except through him. Posts like this sort of make me cringe, and so do all the times when Jesus talks about Hell in the New Testament.

*Possible Cop-Out Alert* I guess my answer to the above question, is "I hope not, and I'm glad its not up to me"

I will say this: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism are not the same thing as Christianity. To say that all paths lead to God is, to me, insulting to all parties involved. I don't see how any one really thinks that- Buddha and Jesus do not claim the same things. So the Buddhist and the Christian should take issue to that popular statement, or some picture about blind men and elephants.

I will say this: Jesus speaks explicitly about lots of people who think they know him, but don't. I find this terrifying. Jesus also speaks of very religious people happy to get attention but not really caring about other people. I think there is a lot of Christians out there who will be disappointed that Hell didn't have a few more places reserved.

The duty of the Christian is to love. Sometimes that love might mean talking to somebody about their beliefs, and what they think of ultimate destiny. Other times that same love might compel you to be patient with someone; knowing that some discussions could wreck a trust that's been built. I will refer you to Penn's video below, where he asks: "How much do you have to hate somebody NOT to proselytize them?"

At any rate, I believe this conversation can take place in any relationship where there is mutual respect and trust. It's when those things aren't present, in my experience, that emotions escalate and love deteriorates.

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."


jeremy zach said...

What a lingering question.

Adam it is so much easier to play God and tell everyone else they are going to hell. This black and white approach affirms not only our Christian worldview, but makes us feel pretty safe, comfortable.

I am confronted with this question a lot. I think we need to be sensitive and patient. In my experience, I try to make the student struggle through their question and make them search the other holy books and challenge them to see what holy teaching makes more sense of the afterlife.

keep struggling my friend.

Professor RJ Gumby said...

My answer - "It's not my call." That said, I have to share Christ, by example and by discussion. And I have found that I have enough to keep me occupied working out my own salvation in fear and trembling.

In addition, there is a theology that says people choose Hell by rejecting God. I have never probed that line to deeply, but I do not want to be separate from Him even though I trip over my sin trying to be with him.

But I do admit to a certain enjoyment out of having another Christian tell me I am going to Hell because I do not believe how they believe. Always sparks a lively discussion.

Maybe I am going to Hell for that?