Christian vs. Non-Christian: Who Gets Into Heaven?

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Mary

    LOVE LOVE LOVE

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      THANKS THANKS THANKS

  • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

    This is awesome, and the two and a half minutes is a textbook example of why I no longer have these conversations… pretty much because they never ended in this fashion (yay, JohnShoreVideoFundie, btw!). One just gets tired of explaining over and over why our *insert random religion/ non religion here* friends aren’t going to burn in hellfire forever. Anymore I’ve thrown in the towel and just remark that I have a hellsuite reserved in my name complete with a hot lava tub and a view of the lake of fire. Because the fact that I’m a Methodist renders me barely Christian, apparently.

    • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

      the FIRST two and a half minutes. Because eye kan tipe.

    • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

      Hellsuite with a tub of lava…. I just had a revelation.

      Hell is Subrosa! http://www.zeldawiki.org/Subrosia

      Yes, I referenced an obscure thing from the Legend of Zelda video game series. But, yeah, the cute little hooded people who live in the subterrainan sub-world of Subrosa do enjoy hot-tubbing in lava. If Hell is subrosa, at least your neighbors are all really cute little hooded blob-things!

      • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

        Well at least there’s that! Gotta be some compensation for the total lack of air conditioning.

        • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

          Try living in southern Arizona.

          I’m glad I don’t anymore!

    • Donald Rappe

      I’ve always suspected that was where Methodists went. Just kidding. My Aunt Bess was a pretty good Methodist and there’s no way the devil would let her in, since, she’d just go in and straighten the damn place out.

  • Suz

    Yay! Great ending! Does that ever happen in real life?

    • jack stockman

      As Christians, it’s never good to communicate in a relationship with others that “I’m OK~ You’re Not”. It IS good to communicate with them how loving God is. However, the fear (appropriate reverence) of God is the beginning of wisdom & sometimes (as in the story of Cain and Able) God only accepts things the way He accepts things. When Jesus said that no man (anyone) gets to the Father except through me, I don’t think He was saying “I get to decide who goes to heaven” or He probably would have said that. Probably that’s the Father’s decision predicated upon whether or not someone chooses to except His only provision for our sin. That only provision being Jesus Christ. God is love. He is also just and holy and has not only given us the strange gift of free will, but He also has given us a supreme honor of deciding to not accept that gift if we so choose. Hell is the absence of God. As when the Jews could choose to not accept the blood over the door post to protect them from the angel of death, one can also choose to not accept the only way that enables us to be face to face with the good and holy God. It is our choice.

      • DR

        For those who never hear about Jesus, things are a bit more complicated than choice. Some of us who are Christian focus on “you choose, non-believer” quite a bit and it makes sense that’s out there. Though the Evangelistic church’s current offering of “everyone chooses Jesus or else” is – when held up to the light – not a rich enough or thoughtful enough response when discussing matters as important enough as salvation, it simply does not take in the realities of the human condition – where people are raised, cultural experiences of faith, etc. But we’re evolving as a church and it’s going to take some time.

        • jack stockman

          “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”

          I could see when presented with the proper way to make a sacrifice to the holy God… Cain seeing if he was able ~ when held up to the light~ to find another way to give another gift than the one asked for by God. Perhaps one more thoughtful or rich.

          • Ken

            The Genesis 4 passage of Cain and Abel does not tell us why God accepted Abel’s offering over Cain’s. Cain does not repent. Yet God keeps talking to Cain, and protecting him. Cain makes no choice for God; God still makes a choice for Cain.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        How funny. Do you know I WROTE a book called, “I’m OK–You’re Not”?

        • jack stockman

          Hence, my use of the phrase “I’m OK~ You’re Not”…. although my book would be entitled “I”m Not OK~You’re Not OK~ God is OK”

      • Donald Rappe

        John the Gospel writer makes it very clear that he identifies the divine figure of the Lord Jesus Christ with the Logos of God which has been present since before the birth of Jesus and since, here and in all places. Only in this context does he put these words into the mouth of Jesus. Coming to the Father through Him has everything to do with faith, little to do with historical beliefs and nothing to do with creeds.

        • jack stockman

          I think you are right in saying that John makes it very clear that he identifies the divine figure of the Lord Jesus Christ with the Logos of God which has been present since before the birth of Jesus. A very cool thing. John continues to say in that same chapter that the Logos was “coming into the world” and that He was witnessed by a real person (John the Baptist) who was himself not the Logos. When Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove to also witness to it. The entire spiritual world was sitting on their collective edges of their seats in eager anticipation to see how the Father was making His will known @ that point of history in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

          It seems that you think an historical Jesus (Logos made flesh) is not essential to the Christian faith and it is certainly not my place to argue (in the negative sense) that with you. I can say that for me I believe that it is essential. Whereas it is right that without faith it is impossible to please God… what is it or to whom is it that I am to have faith? For me Jesus is God, was with God in the beginning, was looked forward to in the old testament, and was Spirit made flesh when he was born on earth at a specific time in history. I don’t need to win a fight or be cruel in my presentation. I do need to proclaim that for me Jesus is the way, the truth and the life… no one comes to the Father except through Him. I am personally grateful that He is not only life, but life overflowing.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/10/06/about-lgbt-folk-ill-listen-to-my-god-thanks/#comments slick

        Jack,

        You said, ” When Jesus said that no man (anyone) gets to the Father except through me, I don’t think He was saying “I get to decide who goes to heaven” or He probably would have said that. Probably that’s the Father’s decision”

        I suspect you are correct on the part about Jesus. We pray through him to our Father in heaven. As far as the decision as to who is saved in heaven, I am 100% certain Father decides who will have an eternity in heaven. I’m surprised there is even a question about that. Approximately 5 years ago, I went through judgement. At the end, Father asked me if I had any questions. I asked about all the people who are always saying they are saved, etc. Father told me that no one is saved until he tells them that they are saved. There was strong emotion in his words. I think he’s tired of everyone thinking they have more to say about who is saved, then he, our heavenly Father has to say. Of course, that is just guesswork on my part. He clearly felt very strongly about the question though.

        If you are wondering why I’m still here, Father came to me about a month after saving me and was going to take me to heaven. I asked to stay and he allowed me to. I’ve wished many times to reverse that decision.

        As far as whether someone can be saved without Jesus, personally I think they can. Many people lived before Jesus was even born. Also in my case, when Father came to me I had been out of the church for 30 years. I’m not going to go into detail about this, but suffice it to say, I did give the church a chance and left them when we had a major disagreement over a prayer I led in church.

        Don’t think, though, that church is unimportant. Father explained to me why I was saved, despite leaving the church. Father also told me that he didn’t hold me to the same standards that he would someone who had spent their life in the church. I think if you are in any kind of a position to do it, you need to at least give church a chance. It’s one thing to leave the church after doing your best to worship your Father and Savior (Jesus) in that manner and having a valid disagreement with the church. It is quite another to never give the church a chance at all.

        Oh by the way, the big secret comes in the form of one word. LOVE. That’s what saved me, despite being away from the church for years.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          As beautiful and wonderful as your encounter with God appears, I do believe you and Mr. Stockman are mistaken.

          In any case, telling people the verdict (which, technically, only the Word can do anyway—that is, the Son) is not the some role or function as judging their salvation.

          For sound theological reasons, it’s been the teaching of the Church from the get-go that it is the Son who sits in judgment on the Last Day (and, of course, we with Him). It’s in the Creed & numerous places in the New Testament. If the words of CHRIST (as they have been preserved transmitted to us through the ages) have any bearing on what CHRISTians believe: “[T]he Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…” (John 5:22)

          But you’re absolutely right about one thing: the key position of Love—without that, all is rubbish. That we may have hope which drives us to love is the very reason to have faith; indeed, it is the reason for reason!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/10/06/about-lgbt-folk-ill-listen-to-my-god-thanks/#comments slick

            Hi Matthew,

            Thanks for your very knowledgable reply. I said in my post , “Father told me that no one is saved until he tells them that they are saved.” That is nearly a direct quote, I believe. Of course, it has been over 5 years. The reason this particular thing sticks so firmly in my mind is that Father said it in a very forceful manner. But if there is a weak link in what the Bible says, what God says and what I say, then I think we all can guess quite accurately which of the 3 is the weak link.

            I think I understand what you are saying that there is a difference between judging people and announcing the results of the judgement. Father implied that he would tell people if they were saved and that no one is saved until he tells them they are saved. So I can’t really argue with what the Bible says or your interpretation of it. Also I have read many of your previous posts and am aware and fully respectful of your excellent knowledge of the Bible.

            ” When Jesus said that no man (anyone) gets to the Father except through me,” it was always my belief that this was in reference to prayer. I am thankful that you have corrected me on that point. It looks like John’s video and Tim’s response above were right in their interpretation of this quote that Jesus does the judging.

            I was a little shocked when I first viewed your response last night. The reason for the shock was the possibility that I had misquoted the Lord God Almighty. My first response to your post was to start praying, just in case I had misquoted God. I thought, and still do, that I was giving a totally accurate representation of what Father said, but even the possibility of misquoting Father was a very unsettling thought to me. I love him deeply, but I am also respectfully aware that I am dealing with the most powerful being in the history of history. But I think my deepest concern is that I could misrepresent in any way one who has given me so much.

            You said, “As beautiful and wonderful as your encounter with God appears,” and it has been that. Although to be honest, the second time Father came to me, when he asked me if I was ready to go with him, it pretty much scared the crap out of me. I think the reason is that I was stone cold sober at the time, whereas the first time Father came, approximately one month previous, I was on heavy pain medicine from surgery, if I recall correctly.

            As I’m sure you surmise, Father is extremely smart. One funny recollection I have of an encounter with him, after he had saved me, was when I prayed to him to give me more money. I didn’t give him a valid reason for the request and I was in very good financial shape. I just wanted more money. I mean, who doesn’t want more money?

            Well, I didn’t get a direct response from Father on that one. Sometimes Father does respond directly and sometimes the response comes through an angel, and of course sometimes there is no discernable response at all, other than the unacceptable response of no (just joking here, Father, really I am).

            That time the response came through an angel. “Your Father has decided that if you spend all the money you have, he will make certain you have more money.” To make a short story shorter, I immediately decided that I would not spend my entire net worth just to see if Father really meant what he said, particularly when I had no idea how much more money he would make sure I had.

            Sorry it took me so long to respond Matthew, but your response made me do a lot of thinking.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            No need to apologize, Slick. I enjoyed your anecdotes on your relationship with our Father. My own interactions with God are rather less verbal in nature and, consequently, difficult for me to verbalize, but I appreciate the sort of witness—that kind of testimony that would be valid in a court of law—that’s an important confirmation of God’s truth to our secular world.

            I think you faithfully represented Father but that it is the limitations of fallen human reasoning that are to blame here. Perhaps we can clear up the confusion over what Father/Son/Spirit do vs. what Father/Son/Spirit say: we have to remember that they are one; in fact, we should think not “they are”—but “He is”—One.

            Sometimes, God refers to Himself in the plural (“Let us make man in our image”) (perhaps mostly when talking among himself), and sometimes in the singular (“I am that I am”) (perhaps mostly in talking to man), but either way it seems to me that this implies the fullness of His triune Self (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

            When one of the Trinity speaks of Himself in distinction from the others, it seems to me that He does not use pronouns that refer to one’s self. So, for example, Jesus uses “The Son of Man” in Luke 24:7 (“The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners…”); but he uses “I” in John 8:59 (“Before Abraham was, I am”); and both in John 8:28, in a way that seems clearly intended to imply that distinction (“[27] They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. [28] So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he…’”).

            My point is, our Father could have said to you, “No one is saved until I tell them that they’re saved,” and still mean that it is through the Son that that takes place. You see, the Father’s Word (through which He reveals Himself), which was made flesh, *is* the Son—and the Spirit (by which we receive His revelation) is what breathes life into the Word, as well as into the flesh of you and of me!

            God bless!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/10/06/about-lgbt-folk-ill-listen-to-my-god-thanks/#comments slick

            Thanks for your very awesome explanation Matthew. I find great comfort, and I strongly suspect, truth, in your words.

            As I had been away from the church for many years, I was not really up at all on the concept of the trinity. It really only came into my view when I started reading John’s blog about 6 to 8 months or so ago. John mentioned it, and as his writing often does, the concept intrigued me and I began to research it to some extent.

            It caused me some confusion and still does. I always thought God was simply our Heavenly Father. Now I know, or at least have read many times, that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also a part of our Lord God Almighty.

            There is a very informative graphic of the trinity if you scroll down about 1 screen on the below link:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity

            My solution to my dilema was to learn to love all three of them. Of course, I’m still very partial to my Heavenly Father. He’s the one I have the closest relationship with and he did some good stuff for me like saving me and giving me life in the first place and giving me all the blessings I’ve ever had or at least that’s the way I feel about it. But if it turns out that it was God in the form of the Trinity that did all that… Well I’m good with that too. Just a little confused, that’s all.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/10/06/about-lgbt-folk-ill-listen-to-my-god-thanks/#comments slick

            One other thing to add Matthew. I don’t mean to imply that Father talks to me all the time. It happens actually pretty rarely. It just seems like it happens often, because everytime he says something it is just so awesome that he is saying anything to me at all and so it is really hard to forget it each and every time it happens.

            Father has been more communicative and supportive with me lately, I think because I suffer from depression frequently and when I do I tend to feel unloved. And when I do feel unloved, at least within the last 3 or 4 months I had developed a strong tendency to not be quiet about the fact that I was unhappy about being unloved.

            I say I had (past tense) developed this tendency because the matter came to a head recently and Father ended the situation.

            It played out like this. I was very unhappy about how my life was going, etc. I was praying about it with great drama, because of late I’ve developed into a bit of a drama king (I’m a guy.) The reason I’ve gotten this way is that Father is more likely to respond directly to me if I’m really upset. Of course, as I’m sure you can imagine, this is clearly a double edged sword being handled with reckless abandon by a rank amature.

            As I was really upset, I played the strongest card (excuse the metaphor, if that’s the correct term, here) that I had. I told Father that I loved him, even if he didn’t love me. This was a powerful statement to Father, because for 30 years of my life, after leaving the church, I thought I was banned from Heaven and that God either hated me or at the very least, wanted nothing to do with me. I openly and repeatedly mentioned those feelings in my prayers to him over the years. I know they had to have been like an open wound to him.

            Father’s response was to play the “Do not ever dare to doubt your Father’s love for you,” card. In truth, the response may have been angelic, because of the wording of the response. Either way, it was profound.

            I quickly and guiltily removed the card I had played first and replaced it with the “I love you no matter what” card which was far more acceptable to Father. Of course, there followed some sincere prayers of apology for doubting Father’s love in the first place.

            Since then things seem to be going much better between Father and myself. Sorry, but I tend to get carried away when talking about our Father.

  • Susan G.

    What Mary said!

    Oh – I’m SO happy you did this! John, you made my day!

  • Susan G.

    PS: love the Moose Lodge analogy.

  • Mary G

    Sounds about right …. up until the ending. I’ve NEVER had a Christian say “Thank you” for sharing alternative viewpoints. They’ve always just dug in their heels and insisted that I was “WRONG!”

    Seems to me most Christians care more about being “right” than about hearing Christ’s Words.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Well, you know … I took creative license.

  • Susan in NY

    Awesome!

  • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

    Whenever I’ve seen this kind of thing mentioned – the whole “Decider” thing, my mind goes to something in the last book of the Narnia series. It’s been a bit since I’ve read them all, but I seem to recall the end of “The Last Battle” featuring Narnia’s version of Heaven, most of the principal characters from past books being there because they were dead, and there being one character who had not served Aslan in his life who was most surprised to be there.

    He expressed his surprise to Aslan and Aslan basically said that the kid was there because he wanted him to be there – that the young man was a noble enough soul in his service to (the false god, Tash), that Aslan decided to count the good works this kid had done as service to him.

    Just saying that this “controversial” idea on the “Decider” bit might not be very new at all, being in a book written quite a long time ago.

    • DR

      The boy who worshipped Tash? That’s exactly what I believe as well as well as the reference I use for the Decider. That Jesus knows our hearts so well that He knows when we are truly worshipping Him, even if its someone else’s name.

      • Diana A.

        Indeed!

      • jack stockman

        A rose by any other name…

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Shadsie: Who said it was new?

      • Donald Rappe

        I second that. It’s the original meaning, except rephrased into the language of “choice”.

  • DR

    Breathing in the good air of this video, washing away the hundreds of well-meaning yet totally toxic conversations I’ve had with Evangelist/Fundamentalist Christians who tell me as a Catholic, I’m going to hell. And they mean it, some have even cried.

    It’s so creepy and scary to be on the receiving end of these conversations. And I think as a result, it’s pretty clear that I’ve absolutely lost my patience with anyone who tries to go there now both online and off. Do I need to remember their intent and try to be patient and kind? Yes. Do some Christians go absolutely defensively ballistic when this kind of Scripture is challenged? Yes and I refuse to own their reaction anymore if I choose to call it out (which more of us – in my opinion – should).

    Undoubtedly you’ll get a ton of mail from those people calling you a false prophet. For me, this kind of thing is an emotional and spiritual breath of fresh air, so thanks for being willing to wade through the hostility barrage should that come (I guess I always brace myself for it having been on the receiving end of it so much, I hope I’m wrong!)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thanks, DR. I appreciate all you’ve said here.

  • Richard Lubbers

    Awesome post John! I had just posted on Facebook that the bible is not a resource of arguments to support one’s bias. Then I saw this, and posted it as an example of what I meant.

    Tammy and I left a church where we felt the pastors were continually misinterpreting the bible in the same way the well meaning Christian in this video was. We now attend what has been considered an “emergent church” led by Rob Bell, where it’s okay to have a brain, and use it without the fear of being labeled an apostate!

    I’ve been thinking the bible is not a good picture of God. Seems to me that it is more a bad picture of Man.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      It’s good to hear from you, Richard. Sounds like you found the right church for you. Thanks for sharing the video.

  • Rebecca

    i like you… i really really like you. And it’s really weird to me that I do… :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Do you … tend NOT to like people, I guess? Or cuz I’m a Christian, you mean?

      • http://www.quotidian-torture.blogspot.com QuoT

        Probably the latter, and I fall into the same boat.

        For secular progressives (like moi, and I suspect Rebecca as well), it’s easy to forget that there are loads of sane, moderate Christians around, especially with all the sickening examples of fundamentalist hatred flying around our media environment. ESPECIALLY when oh-so-few of them do anything to counteract the damage done by their hard-line brethren.

        So thanks, John, for being a voice of sanity. You’ve definitely fallen into my “don’t always agree with but still pretty awesome” category.

        • vj

          See, John, *this* is why what you do is so important!! Keep it up, hope you and Cat are all better soon.

  • Tim

    I really love the idea that Jesus decides who does and doesn’t go to heaven. And I suppose such is true in the grand scheme. After all, Jesus has taken the full mantle of the Father’s power and authority over all things. Power and authority He can evidently pass to anyone who asks the Father in Jesus’ name (John 16:23). But if John 14:6 is simply saying that Jesus decides who goes to heaven regardless of whether a person is a Christian or not, why do verses 1 through 5 talk about Jesus preparing a place for those who believe in God, and likewise believe in Him (Jesus)? Seems pretty clear that belief in Jesus as the Son of God is essential to have a place to go to. In verse 5, Thomas is unclear on WHERE Jesus is going, so he states that he cannot know the way if he doesn’t know where Jesus is going. “I am the way”, Jesus answers. Later in chapter 11:25, Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

    Consider also, John 3:3. Unless a person be born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God. While this text is debated heavily regarding what constitutes birth by flesh/water, it seems fairly plain to me that being born of the Spirit, is the moment we come to faith…or I should say, faith comes to us by God’s Spirit of grace.

    Without faith, our works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and it is impossible to please God (Heb.11:6).

    So I do think belief and faith have a bit to do with salvation/entrance into God’s kingdom. But in the end, I guess it is Jesus who cracks the Book of Life to see whether a person has their name listed there.

    • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

      A stray thought:

      Maybe (sincere) belief in Jesus is the “guarantee” as it were (and I mean sincere, change of heart and everything because he does have something to say about people who used his name and “never knew him”). Maybe we’ve got the straight-shot guarantee of eternal life, but that doesn’t *necessarily* exclude others – or at least would not exclude them from having a chance after they die.

      I really hope so because one of my good online friends is a skeptic-agnostic who has told me she’s pretty much decided that nobody really “knows” everything, she’s more concerned with creating justice for all in this one, guaranteed life, and has decided on the whole afterlife/existance of God thing that she’ll “know when she gets there.” If she dies and finds she still has a soul instead of obvlivion, she’ll decide then. She honestly just “can’t see” what religious people find of vital importance “in the now.” – And I *really* want her to have a chance of Heaven then because she is a really good person.

      Also maybe the “kingdom” is less “Heaven” per se and more the Way itself. (One of the verses the athiests just love to trot out about how “Christianity has been prooven false” was something about Jesus saying that certain people would not taste death until the coming of the kingdom and how Jesus hasn’t done the Second Coming thing yet. I always shake my head at that because I remember one of my old church’s pastors describing the “kingdom” there as being the Ressurection and the ushering in of the Christian Era). If one takes the “kingdom” as being (true) Christianity itself, of course most people never see it – they never see Life, Universe and Everything through the same lens we do. I don’t know.

      If I make no sense, I am sorry. I am quite ill today *and* beating myself up for it because I am quite ill quite often and miss a lot of work. I was getting ready today when I started throwing up and called in last minute, which, in turn, messes up everybody else’s plans, so I’m both sick and hating myself today so my brain probalby isn’t at full-capacity.

      • Diana A.

        I think what you’ve said makes a lot of sense. Get well soon, Shadsie.

      • Tim

        I agree with Diana. What you say makes a lot of sense. In fact when Jesus talked about that generation seeing the coming of His kingdom, it wasn’t the eternal abode of heaven Jesus was referring to as much as it was the day-to-day abiding with Jesus once His Spirit came to all those at Pentecost who believed. It IS a guarantee. It is our insurance policy that He will never leave us or forsake us. Salvation isn’t exclusive because I wasn’t a Christian when faith came to me. Sometimes I still doubt that I am a Christian since I do not live a life free of sin and weakness. I repent and ask forgiveness almost every day. I am also part agnostic because I agree with a man I respect greatly (Woody Wirt) that the more I come to know Christ, the more I see how little I actually know. I hope to maintain Sherwood’s admirable level of reverence and humility. Jesus is just and Jesus is love. I throw myself on the mercies of His court. But I do fear for those who blaspheme His Spirit. I really do think such rejection is made at their own peril. My opinion, FWIW.

        Cheers, Shadsie

      • DR

        I hope you feel better tomorrow, Shadsie. :(

      • Donald Rappe

        I always love to hear what you have to say Shadsie. At my brother’s recent funeral I referred to myself as a “Christian Universalist”. I know I got that from you. May God bless you with health and serenity.

    • Donald Rappe

      King of kings, Lord of lords, He shall reign forever and ever. To sit at the right hand of God is indeed to be the “decider”.

  • Benny

    “The argument upon which Christians most commonly rely…” [excerpt from your YouTube video description]

    After reading through some of your blog posts, I like your writing quite a lot. In the case on this video though you’ve picked a very convenient strawman to tear down. We should all try to rise above the craziness that is the way Christians most commonly behave, as you put it. But if you had added the word “shallow” in front of the word “Christians” in your description then I could agree wholeheartedly. However, if you want to engage with a more thoughtful Christian who yet sees only a narrow way (and one that’s not a cartoon of your own imagination) then the discussion could be much more interesting and more productive one. For instance, here’s a few explanations from someone who believes there is a narrow way to true peace and happiness who’s not a professional theologian but not a dumb cat either:

    1) How “Good” is “Good”?

    The male in the video makes two statements that stood out to me:

    “Why would I go to hell? I’m a good person” and later,

    “I will simply love my neighbors in the way that Christ commanded be done by all who believe in Him”.

    Jesus said at least two things regarding what He commanded be done by all who believe in Him. In Matthew’s gospel (fifth chapter) He says, “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”. In Mark 12 Jesus is recorded as saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. These were the two most important commandments according to Him.

    So do you really think you love your neighbors in the way that Christ commanded be done? That you love your neighbors perfectly in the same way you love yourself? In fact in that same chapter in Matthew, Jesus also commanded that you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Do you love your neighbors as well as your enemies? Perfectly? That is, as the male in the video puts it, “the way that Christ commanded be done by all who believe in Him?” That’s Jesus’ standard, by His own admission.

    I would hope that any rational person would admit that they fall short of that standard. So if that’s how you define being a good person (to adhere to that standard) then how can you in your heart of hearts, seriously consider yourself a good person? In fact these are only a few verses. There are plenty of other words of Jesus in which He time and time again places the bar so high that none would be able to look at Jesus or His Father and say, “Why would I go to hell? I’m a good person.” We can look at those around us and comparatively say, “I’m a good person” because, by definition, we tend to do the things which we can morally justify to ourselves. But saying, “I’m a good person” when staring down the face of a perfect, all-powerful creator is completely different.

    So that’s the bad news. If Jesus left us there with the bar so high that no one had a chance to go to the Father then He would be more of a destroyer of any hope than a savior. As it were, He brought good news as well. He Himself provided a way back to good standing with God the Father despite ourselves. A gift we could never acquire on our own. The apostle Paul put it succinctly when he wrote, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus (God himself) bore our penalty for our violating God the Father’s will so that God’s justified anger might turn away from us, restoring our communion with our creator.

    This is “the way” He spoke of. This is “the truth” He spoke of. This is “the life” He spoke of in John 14:6. No one comes to the Father except through Him. His sacrifice, His atonement, His reconciliation. His act. His life. His death. The best part of it all is that it’s a gift! All that’s required of us is that we accept the gift! The more you consider that truth and read more about His life and death then I don’t see how someone couldn’t, over the course of their life, just fall head over heels in love with such a gift-giver!

    2) I’ve found the cure!

    I think the female in your video was poorly living out (but living out, nonetheless) this truth that Paul writes about in 2 Corth 5:20 (We are Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God). Say there’s a large hospital room full of patients, all with the exact same type of terminal cancer and there is no known cure. Now say you walk in, having been diagnosed with the same type of cancer a year ago and who just now finds yourself compeletely 100% cured due to some new, experimental therapy. It saved your life! Wouldn’t the loving thing to do be to try and convince those in the room to use the therapy that cured you? Wouldn’t you be just a little more than beligerent about the matter? Lives are at stake. It seems crazy to think that patients would sit and listen to you then complain that you are being too much “in their face” or that, “I don’t like only having one treatment option, that’s too narrow for my liking” or, “why do you think you are better than us, just because you are cured” or, “what makes you so special”. They’d be missing the point that their own life is at stake and maybe that’s as much your fault for faulty communication as anything but the fact is that God loved the world in this way: He gave His son so that whoever trusts in Him won’t die but will live forever in Peace with their creator. If I believe that deep in my soul and didn’t try to spread that to others then how could anyone call me “loving”?

    3) What’s the worst thing that could happen? They could get their feelings hurt?

    To use another metaphor, the proper evangelist is like a beggar trying to show another beggar where to find bread. If they don’t want it or are even offended by being called a beggar in the first place then that’s the risk the evangelist is willing to take because they care that much that their fellow man be nourished and fed. Many beggars may turn away and be offended but those who honestly want bread in the same way the evangelist did, they’ll get bread. And that’s what it’s all about.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      1)

      “I would hope that any rational person would admit that they fall short of that standard.”

      What sort of “hope” is that? The hope of my faith is this, that any person—somehow, somewhere, some day—might actually *not* fall short of the standard Christ has set for him or her. What, may I ask, is your faith, that it leads you to such high hopes? (And is this the time and place come for matters of the spirit to be judged on particular a rational basis? Surely I am glad Christ Jesus is not a rational person then.)

      2)

      You see, it’s like you said, “It seems crazy to think that….” The difference in what constitutes people’s reasonable reactions to these efforts to “save” them is really quite telling. The problem in your thinking appears to lie in the vast difference in how one goes about bringing to others different sorts of salvation.

      3)

      I actually really like the metaphor here.

      And, in the end, you’re right: that is what it’s all about.

    • Donald Rappe

      What does the Lord require of a man but this: that he do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with his God.

    • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

      I like the cancer metaphor – If there’s a cure, but a person refuses it, there’s nothing more you can do, is there?

      Still, I have a metaphor of my own:

      Christianity (or any philosophy, for that matter) is like Tabasco sauce. Some folks live by the stuff, some have tried it but cannot stand it, and some are afraid to taste it. Now, if the great cafeteria of life, it’s very rude to pour Tabasco sauce on other people’s food. It’s even worse to assault them and try pouring the stuff down their throats. If you pester someone who’s already told you they don’t want it, you may find them throwing the bottle in your face and swearing never, ever to try it.

      No, one must leave the Tabasco sauce on the table. Make people aware of it, but don’t press. They’ll take it if they want it. Perhaps if they see you genuinely enjoying it so much, they’ll be curious enough to take it off the table and try it.

      • Diana A.

        I like this!

      • carlsan

        This is a very good analogy! I like it!

    • Brian

      Benny- couldn’t have said it better. I get queasy when people tend toward pluralism, but I understand Johns point about narrow minded and uneducated Christians. Knowledge with humility is much more attractive than ignorance with faith.

  • Donald Rappe

    I think it’s along these same lines that when Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” he is not telling us what the Way, Truth and Life are, He is telling us who He is.

  • Lili C

    I’m sure you already know this or someone has already posted about it, butthis blog entry is highlited on the front page of the Huffington post today. Just lettin’ ya know incase you missed it.

    • Lili C

      Oops that’s right, I still can’t be trusted without spell check…

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Thanks, Lilli–but I believe you’re mistaken. YESTERDAY, yes. Today, no. At least … I don’t see it.

        • Lili C

          It’s on the “most popular on Huffpost” list at the right. It has popped on and off throughout the day – apparantly you’re in a hot contest with some other posts!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Ah! Okay, I gotcha. I’ll go check it out. Thank you very much for letting me know, Lili. I appreciate that.

          • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

            Could be from all the fighting in the comments (why did I participate and try to reason?)

            Could be being page-bumped by all the one-liner spouters assuring us that we’re stupid because “Heaven doesn’t exist!” A lot of people were doing that. *Shrug*

  • http://GroundShaking.blogspot.com Colin Mansfield

    What about the people group that has never been touched my missionaries? What about natives in foreign lands that never heard of Jesus of Nazareth? Are they cast into Hell because “Well, sorry, but you didn’t come to Me through Jesus.”

    I’m glad that it’s up to God to judge the heart of man, and not me. Because here’s the thing: I have a suspicion that God is more interested in getting people into Heaven then He is in keep them out. It’s not up to me to judge someone based on their beliefs, or even their actions (not to say that I don’t, because I’m sure I do. Still, it’s not my place). All I can do is Love people like Christ told us to. I love the Tabasco metaphor posted by @Shadsie (above, close to the top). All I can do is leave the Tabasco on the table and enjoy it with my meal. Hopefully others will see this and want to give it a shot.

    Do I love Jesus? Yes. Do I want others to love Jesus? Yes. Do I believe that you have to say the words of the sinner’s prayer and say “I accept Jesus into my heart” to get into Heaven? No. Because in the end, it’s a heart thing. It’s not about the prayer, it’s not about the words, it’s about the heart. And if the heart change is there, with or without a missionary, pastor, or Christian, who am I to say that the person is not saved?

    So basically: thank God I’m not God.

    • Aldo F. Rodriguez

      My thoughts exactly, Mr. Mansfield, and I’m glad I’m not the only who think that way.

  • http://andyswaffar.com/ Andy

    Excellent. Nothing else need be said.

  • http://www.CanIGetThere.com Rusty Williams

    Love it!


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