Jesus the Decider: Do Only Christians Get Into Heaven?

Jesus the Decider: Do Only Christians Get Into Heaven? June 3, 2008

Yesterday in a coffee shop I totally eavesdropped on a conversation between an Evangelizing Christian (“EC”) and a guy who Wasn’t Having Any (“WHA”). Here’s the gist of their exchange:

EC: But you can’t get into heaven unless you’re a Christian.

WHA: Why not? I’m a good guy. I lead a moral life. Why should I be kept out of heaven?

EC: Because in the Bible, Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

WHA: But that doesn’t say you have to be a Christian in order to get into heaven. That just says that Jesus decides who does and doesn’t get into heaven. “You have to go through me to get into heaven” isn’t the same as, “You have to be a Christian to get into heaven.”

EC: Yes, it is.

WHA: No, it really, really isn’t. If Christ had meant, “Only Christians get into heaven,” he would have said that. But he doesn’t say that in this quote—which is weird, since that’s the quote Christians invariably rely upon as their ultimate proof that only Christians get into heaven.

EC: But that’s what, “No one comes to the Father except through me” means. It means you have to accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior in order to gain eternal life with our heavenly Father.

WHA: Well, that may be what Christians have decided that quote means, but that’s not what the words of that quote actually say. All Jesus actually says there is, “You have to go through me to get into heaven.” In other words, “When it comes to admission into heaven, I am the decider.” It doesn’t say anything whatsoever about what you have to think, believe in, or be before you can make the cut. It doesn’t say anything beyond that Jesus will determine who is and isn’t acceptable to him. That’s it. There’s nothing there to indicate that Jesus would necessarily refuse a Muslim or a Jew into heaven. That quote only refers to the process by which people do or don’t gain entry into heaven. It doesn’t stipulate any kind of qualifications for getting in at all. And for Christians to assert that that quote does mean what its actual, literal words clearly don’t support it meaning, isn’t good for Christians. It can’t help but make them seem exceptionally dense, willfully irrational, or lying. Either way’s not exactly an inducement to join their club.

Quite the speech! It worked, too: My evangelizing brother in Christ shut down like a Hummer dealership.

After the Christian effected an exit, I started up my own conversation with Mr. Articulate Atheist. I liked him; he was a decent, forthright guy. In the course of our talk, I promised him that here, on my blog, I would do as I have done, and recount his conversation with the proselytizing Christian. Furthermore, I promised him that I would ask whether any of my readers would be willing to take a stab at refuting his assertion that “No one comes to the Father except through me” doesn’t, in fact, say anything whatsoever about whether or not one has to believe in Christ in order to get into heaven.

If you’re inclined to answer this earnest seeker, he’s listening.

Follow-up post: Mr. Wasn’t Haven’t Any Responds to Christians.

See a related post of mine, “What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear,” here.

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  • augustonfire

    This is definitely a subject I will pursue with some friends, but for now the best refute I can think of is John 3:16

    "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

    Belief in Jesus as the son of God=Christian.

  • mhogue

    I John 5:11-13 says:

    "And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life."

    Note: The term "Christian" wasn't around in Jesus' time, thus it's not in the Bible. If I was an unbeliever and I was told that to go to Heaven I had to be a Christian, I would roll my eyes and think, "Oh great, I have to go to church and follow the ten commandments, that's impossible," because that's generally what Americans think of "Christians."

    Jesus didn't say "Be a Christian." He said, "Believe in me and have eternal life." Maybe we need to give a little better of an explanation instead of getting hung up on "Christianese" terms.

  • Nishant

    John 3:

    35The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

    There are many more.Please understand that if you have ever looked at a woman with lust,you are an adulterer in God's eyes,and if you have ever harvored hate in your heart,you are a murderer in His eyes.

    Your sins need to be paid for.God has done His part.You must do the rest.

  • mhogue

    See also,

    John 17:3: "And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth."

    Mark 16:16: "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned."

    John 10:9: "Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures."

    Acts 4:12: "There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved."

  • arlywn

    I mean this in no ill respect for the christians, any of you, but…. since we are stabbing at this…. maybe the sentence "No one comes to the Father except through me.” is really his effort to get people to sleep with him?

    ( no, I'm really not mocking you…. or christianity for that matter. When one brainstorms, we brainstorm everything. even how illogical it could or could not be. "Once you have eliminated the impossible-what ever remains, no matter how improbable it is, must be the truth" Holmes had brainstorming down pat) so thats my count.

  • mhogue

    That's why we shouldn't pull a verse out of context– it can appear to have many meanings.

    The full context of the phrase is found in John 14:1-7…

    "'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.'

    Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'

    Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'"

  • FreetoBe

    John, using your verse, if I don't believe in Jesus, I wouldn't have to get thru Him to come to the Father, right? So I would have to believe in Jesus in order to come to the Father, that's what that verse says. I'm not sure belief in Jesus = Christian, as has been previously written, but then "Christian" comes from Jesus Christ, so I guess it makes sense.

    My 2 cents.

  • Lufia

    I agree with the guy, Jesus will decides who goes in heaven and who don't. The thing i also believe is the difference between a christian who believes that Jesus is his or her savior will be that there won't be any judgment. The judment will be on the unbelievers. For me it is logical because without that way of thinking almost everybody on the planet willbe in hell. For most of humanity ( dead or alive) are NOT christians. It would be illogical for a God to put almost all His creation into hell.

  • Nishant

    Buddha never claimed to be God. Moses never claimed to be Jehovah. Mohammed never claimed to be Allah. Yet Jesus Christ claimed to be the true and living God. Buddha simply said, "I am a teacher in search of the truth." Jesus said, "I am the Truth." Confucius said, "I never claimed to be holy." Jesus said, "Who convicts me of sin?" Mohammed said, "Unless God throws his cloak of mercy over me, I have no hope." Jesus said, "Unless you believe in me, you will die in your sins." –Unknown

  • Lufia

    Just want to add this. On John 3:16 … that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. It doesn't say that it is the ONLY way to have everlasting life. I really think taugh that it is the best way. It is mine.

  • Nishant

    John 8

    23And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

    24I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

  • mhogue


    The word Christian means "little Christ." My point was not that believing in Jesus is not the same as being a Christian, but that in America especially, many people say they are "Christians" because they go to church on Sundays, but do not follow Christ as He calls us to. So as an unbeliever, I would be very confused as to why I should need to become a "Christian" in order to get to Heaven, because many "Christians" are no different from any other average, non-religious person. What separates Christians from the rest of the world? It SHOULD be that Christians believe in Jesus Christ and acknowledge that He is the only way to Heaven, and live their lives according to His will and for His glorification.

  • "If I was an unbeliever and I was told that to go to Heaven I had to be a Christian, I would roll my eyes and think, “Oh great, I have to go to church and follow the ten commandments, that’s impossible,”"

    I just want to point out, as an unbeliever, that I would find it really easy to go to church and follow the ten commandments.

    I happen to disagree with or think most of them are silly, but I could still follow them quite easily. (At least in action. I don't happen to view belief as a choice, so that would make the first a bit hard, but that's a different topic.) And I went to a church every week for years.

    Just sayin'.

  • "Buddha never claimed to be God. Moses never claimed to be Jehovah. Mohammed never claimed to be Allah. Yet Jesus Christ claimed to be the true and living God."

    So, shouldn't we be looking at Jesus' claims much more skeptically, since he makes the much bigger claim?

    (Sorry…now I'm just trying to stir up trouble. I'll stop. 😉 )

  • timothy1st

    It's funny how many non-christians are trying to interpret God's word without a relationship with Him. If you would consider this: who can talk about your dad better than you? No one. Therefore, you would have to be a Christian to understand the Word of God. Otherwise you're just a kid on the street trying to figure out someone else's dad.

    Sad thing is, this Dad has the ability to give you Eternal Life and whether you believe in Him or not won't change the truth: HE IS.


  • "If you would consider this: who can talk about your dad better than you? No one. Therefore, you would have to be a Christian to understand the Word of God"


    But this is a father with about 2 billion children, and about a million different interpretations of their father.

  • Hint: Quoting biblical passages to a non-believer is just about the *least* effective way to make inroads with them. I would guess it would be second only to saying "I will pray for you."

  • Therefore, you would have to be a Christian to understand the Word of God

    Hmm. So no Jew before Christ understood scripture? No Jew today?

    When Jesus said that he was the Way to the Father; do you think he may have meant we were to act precisely as he did? If so then….uh-oh.

  • The gentleman is making a point that the world is shouting out to us. I read it best in an example provided by a Muslim who was asked what he thought was the strongest critique against Christianity. His reply, in essence, was, "Christians claim the inerrency of their Scriptures. So does Islam. We have one book, the Koran, written in one language, unchanged for centuries. Whereas the Christian Bible is translated into hundreds of different languages that can take on vastly different meanings from one to the other. Your Bible says not to add or take away from Scripture and yet…." Is he implying that to maintain purity and to ensure the faith, believers should be fluent in Hebrew and Greek? By extension, does that mean many may not be saved because of this?

    It requires some thought. Because God really did say in Revelation 22:18-19, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." And God really did say in Proverbs 30:6, "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."

    Christians have taken great liberties with God's Word over the past two millenia. They have done it to their own peril. Not only does this spot the Church Body, but it also gives all the necessary ammunition to the devil and the world to refute our claims and rebuff our evangelistic approaches.

    As such, I have written three manuscripts to encourage believers to return to the pure Word and righteous faith. "Christian Mythology", "The Remnant", and "My Little Children" are a trilogy written to the Church Body of Christ to bring them back into obedience to Ephesians 5:25-27. Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready right this very instant?

  • I really don't have time to go into a huge discussion on the topic and list the numerous verses that would give the "atheist" problems.

    I would like to assert that you cannot base salvation in that one verse alone. The atheist is of course looking at the verse alone and making a judgment on it alone, however he is not recognizing and reading through the numerous other verses that help clearly define that it is faith in Jesus Christ alone, so just because the atheist says it "reads" in a specific way, he is proven wrong by scripture.

    "For Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…"

    "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory."

    "During the days of Jesus' life on earth…he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…"

    I have heard this argument before, and simple logic apart from Biblical scripture would say that even if Jesus is the final decider and it does not matter who you are and who you worshiped in the end, then scripture is nothing but a big fallacy anyway. Essentially those who have lived a surrendered and sacrificial life for the cause of Christ as we are called to do from scripture would have done so for nothing. Those who "took up their cross and followed Him" would have done so, only to receive the same treatment as those who didn't and those who chose to follow some other religion and god, as well as, those who simply lived their life for themselves. Where is the human logic that says that view makes sense, much less the scripture that supports that point of view. If the atheist is correct in his assertion, then he should be able to point out other scripture to back up his opinion.

  • ncarnes says"The atheist is of course looking at the verse alone and making a judgment on it alone, …"

    Uh…no! The atheist is looking for evidence…any evidence at all.

  • A fantastic discussion and a fantastic title! Jesus–The Decider.

    Tossing aside all my church kid-ness…if a guy named Bob was the decider, I'd be less worried about being a "Bobian" than knowing what it was that Bob was basing his decision on. So I guess I'd want to make sure I knew Bob as well as I could. Yeah, I'd read his published papers, and I'd probably consult with some Bobians whose opinions I valued to get their take on his writings. With such high stakes though, I'd want to talk directly with Bob to see what he meant in his writings.

    If I didn't think Bob existed, or I thought he wasn't who everyone was making him out to be, I have to say I'd be hard pressed to change my entire outlook based on one person (or even several) telling me that I really should believe in Bob and his writings. That's not to say I would never ever ever change my mind, just that it would be highly unlikely based only on fanatics telling me to change my mind. Now if Bob walked into the room or made himself known to me in some way, that'd be another story…

  • @ Mike – According to the post above by the author of the blog, that is not the case I based my comment on. No where in the post did it say the "Atheist" is looking for evidence, it only pointed out the argument that he was making, therefore my comment is accurate to that degree.

    In the post the focus was only on the argument being made to the EC about what the verse says, not the evidence that supports the verse from I am assuming a physical standpoint. –

    If scripture alone is not evidence enough, I would suggest researching men and authors who have held the viewpoints of an atheist at one point, but through extensive research and study have seen that there is plenty of evidence that supports a true and living God, as well as, the claims of the Bible and Christ being true.

    (Lee Strobel – "The Case for Christ" – "The Case for a Creator" Etc…)

    (Josh McDowell – "Evidence that Demands a Verdict 1 and 2 Etc…)

    And there are several others…

  • Those were not supposed to be emoticons…

  • Yep, Jesus is the gatekeeper. He makes the call.

    I foresee many Christians getting very angry at some of the calls Christ makes.

  • But they're cute anyway.

  • (the emoticons, that is)

  • Candace

    Works for me, Skerrib. Nicely illustrated.

    All in all, until Bob does walk into the room, we're all just a bunch of non-Bobs, busily (with a nod to William James) rearranging our prejudices.

    (I mean that in a good way …)

  • Candace

    ncarnes wrote, in part:

    (Lee Strobel – “The Case for Christ” – “The Case for a Creator” Etc…

    (Josh McDowell – “Evidence that Demands a Verdict 1 and 2 Etc…

    And there are several others…

    In a less academic vein, I recently read CS Lewis's "The Pilgrim's Regress", and the introduction (preface? whatever) was helpful to me. Particularly the stuff about the "intense longing" and the only satisfaction for it.

    (I fit the "former atheist/agnostic, now convinced" profile, but the conversion wasn't accomplished, for me, through the serious study and research I did, or that of others whom I read. Those sorts of things became more meaningful for me after I was God-whalloped. But all they did beforehand was raise more skepticism and questions. Not that that wasn't useful in its own way.)

  • wordsseldomsaid

    someone said,

    the term “Christian” wasn’t around in Jesus’ time, thus it’s not in the Bible."

    sheesh…it is only in the bible three times…

    acts 11:26

    acts 26:28

    1 pet 4:16

    though it was after JESUS time on earth…

    please read the bible before you try to teach what is and is not in it…thanks…

    as to the o.p. …someone already showed with the context what JESUS was saying…

  • Matthew Wiley

    The problem here is that you're getting preoccupied with details that don't matter. I'm reminded of the phrase, "rearranging deck chairs on the titanic." You bog the atheist down with irrelevant details by over-complicating what's basically Pascals Wager. He doesn't have to and shouldn't believe anything in the bible without a reasonable evidential excuse. Who cares if he interprets the a few lines in the bible a certain way, you Christians have proven very good at reading the same book slightly different ways and making a big deal about it. Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter who's right, because everyone's wrong concerning particular details in the Bible; it's not a legal document that can be taken to court, it's fantasy. It's like arguing about the phrasing in an instruction manual for a product that doesn't exist. The bible's a fictional history book, you know, like Stephen King.

    Also, would it matter that the guy you were spying on was an atheist? He could have been a Buddhist or even another Christian and your quibble would still be the same.

    You know who writes pretty good instruction manuals? Volkswagen and Microsoft. The dawn of man was approximated at conservatively 100,000 years ago; that's when a slightly more primitive version of us split off from our cousins officially. God inexplicably waited 98,000 years before he sent down Jesus, and we got a pretty poor book about it and absolutely no evidence. If he had waited just a small fraction of time longer (2,000 years or so) he'd be able to recruit the best and brightest to make a succinct and easy to understand holy book like a medical text, with graphs and diagrams and pictures and hair samples. Then you wouldn't have to be searching for the phantom needle of truth in the haystack that is the bible.

    Sorry guys, you're fighting a losing battle. Reason will always prevail, eventually.

  • Candace

    Matthew, you sound just like me, for the first 50 years of my 51 on this earth.

    So certain, you are. 🙂

    But things can (and do) change. For some, anyway.

  • Richard

    The fundamental issue is "through me". There is a criteria stated in scripture that will not change because man does not believe it, regardless of how long or loud they shout or the endless documents that are wriiten. The Bible cannot be reduced to a singular verse to support a doctrine. It is a totality that cannot be divided into what we like or dislike.

    The resort to "Reason" is a euphemism for the arrogance of man, a belief that I say it is so and therefore it must be. Time will be the proof of any form of belief. Eventually we die and will discover the truth – that the Bible is right or wrong. Other than that we are left with speculation which is an endless debate.

    Your atheist is imprisoned by the philosophy of "creating God in man's image", that is to define God by his own desires. To say that I am a good person therefoe I go to heaven is only said in ignorance by a person who has not read the Bible, and insists on writing his own version.

    The above is forwarded for consideration.

  • Candace

    One of the things about this discussion that interests me is WHAs view of himself as a good guy, leading a moral life. I guess I'd want to know more about what that means to him.

    An awful lot of people — most people, actually — view themselves exactly that way. But if you look at reality, it's almost always … less "clean". A little (or a lot) more messy.

    That was the case for me, anyway.

  • @ncarnes,

    Yes, there are some who went from non-belief to belief and I have read several of them (Strobel among them). The unfortunate statistic, though, is that nitty-gritty research produces far more non-believers than believers. Look at the National Academy of Sciences whose ranks are 74% atheistic (93% if you include agnostics).

    Research, on the whole, diminishes belief. Citing the anecdotal cases of research leading to belief, does not diminish this fact.

    As an aside, the believing authors I have read were PAINFULL to read. Most begin with invalid presuppositions to build their case or create straw men to beat down.

  • @ Mike, I would have to look into that research as I am not familiar with it, however from personal experience the only people I have ever known that took a "journey" to discover God, his reality and authenticity and were turned away from belief or from accepting Christianity are those who looked more externally at those who say they are "Christians" or followers of Christ and deemed them as hypocrites or as posers. Ghandi said, "I like your Christ, I don't like your Christians; Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. – Unfortunately some are looking for Christians to be perfect as an evidence of a Christ or God, and the truth is they will never find perfection, just those who think they are 🙂

    Unfortunately if I were looking at some people who called themselves Christians I would be tempted to turn away as well, but there are too many evidences for me personally to say there is no God. Christ has done too much in my life for me to reject him. I have been illuminated to his truth and for that I cannot deny it or turn away from it.

  • Looking thru the many messages, I think maybe a point has been missed here. "WHA" claimed the verse was only saying Jesus decides who gets into heaven, not that you had to be a Christian. (And several commentors agreed with his claim.)

    But that's not what the verse is saying, either. Look at it again:

    "No one comes to the FATHER but by Me." It doesn't even say "heaven."

    Granted, the Father is in heaven, and Jesus was ultimately going back there to be with His Father. But I think this verse means much more than where you go when you die. I think it is talking about relationship with God. I am not dead yet. But I have already come to the Father–through Jesus Christ.

    In this whole passage Jesus is affirming His one-ness with the Father through statements like "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." Jesus is pointing the way to the Father through His own life. I think too often we wrongly engage people in arguments that boil down to whose religion is the best. For Jesus, it wasn't about religion at all. It was not about the label "Christian" (which did not yet exist). The heart of this passage is that it is through Jesus alone that access to the Father has been made. Relationship with God. And that occurs now, not merely at the gates of heaven.

  • The problem is the word Christian and what is has come to mean in the world to day.

    Follower of Christ and Disciple are much more accurate terms, for what a person needs to believe to be at the point where Jesus does decide.

    We have to allow Christ to take our sin to the cross for us, and believe in God's saving Grace.

    II Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    No one will get to Heaven unless they gaze upon the wonders of the Cross and believe that Christ died for them. Was raised again to defeat death and make us eternal beings in our belief in Him.

    This opportunity to believe is open to everyone of every Race, Color, Nation,

    "Go preach, Teach, to all nations, the Jeasus Christ is Lord" …Some one famous said that I think…. 😉

  • @ncarnes,

    There are those that seek the spiritual and there are those that seek the empirical. At risk of painting with two broad a brush; the former are really working on a presupposition of a higher being and, generally, disregard that which is not affirmative of their supernatural worldview. Those that look at the empirical evidence find that nothing stands up to scrutiny. Whether it is the efficacy of intercessory prayer, out-of-body experiences, spiritual experiences, accuracy of scripture, miracles and more…none of it holds up…at all.

    Looking at the universe based on evidence; the universe looks just as it would if no intelligent entity were involved. This does not deny the "spiritual experience" or the "transcendent experience". People have them, but there are other explanations for them…and we can sometimes artificially reproduce them. These experiences, though, do not mean that the god of Abraham (or Vishnu, or Osiris or ….) exists. It only means that the *experience* exists.

  • No problem. Anybody who can afford to pay a substantial bribe makes it in. Forget all the other nonsense.

  • Okay, that did seem a tad dramatically bitter/caustic/cynical…

  • wordsseldomsaid

    you say 70 something percent of sceintist don't believe and 94% if one includes agnostics…so you are saying that only 20 something percent are really being honest than…yes that is what you said whether you will admit it or not….

  • wordsseldomsaid

    mike said,

    "Looking at the universe based on evidence; the universe looks just as it would if no intelligent entity were involved."

    please how us the evidence mike…

  • wordsseldomsaid

    here mike…i will make it easy for you…

    the bible in gen says the stars were placed in the heavens on the fourth day…it also says things were going on on earth in the days before that…which makes some say that might possibly indicate the bible as teaching us that the earth is older than the stars(depending on how one reads it)…of course science says they can show us that is not true and stars are much much older…

    can you explain to us how they know that?…


  • arlywn

    acutally, john post doesnt say whether or not they were looking at all the passage, or just one sentence of the passage. It says they were discussing one sentence… just like it doesnt say wether or not the atheist man was an atheist or buddist, or wearing a flower print dress.

    It does sound like jesus is the decider, and no he doesnt explicitily say you have to be christian, he says you have to go through him… well, since we dont honestly know he's only going to chose christians, then that makes the arguement less important, like skerrib said. He could in fact be choosing only blonde, blue eyed people- like hitler. We dont know.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Matt 16:27 "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works."

    According to his works, not his faith. You can pick your chapter and verse on either side of this issue.

  • But Hitler had black hair. 😉

    All this talk of stars placed in the heaven at certain times – perhaps some theists as well as atheists are taking the Bible a bit too literally and then coming to opposite conclusions. I don't think the writers expected such a literal take on things – heck they probably hoped we would appreciate their poetry and artistry and in the process inhale the truth of what they were trying to say. (Besides, they weren't really 'writers' were they? Genesis was oral history for a long time before someone put quill to papyrus.)

    We face the same problems when we try to figure out exactly what it is that Jesus was saying about the Way and his Sonship and Heaven and Hell. I think if Jesus had wanted to he could have been much more explicit about things. But he wasn't – in fact he rarely answered a question directly, relying upon the Aramaic equivalent of "Well, it's kind of like this…." Seems like he was hoping that we would come to our conclusions about God, rather than being spoon fed doctrine and dogma. You know, treating us like adults instead of children.

    No offense, but I think it takes a certain maturity to understand and accept the truth of scriptures (and not just the Judeo Christian ones) without insisting that everyone else understand it in the same fashion. As someone on my blog said, it is crazy to think that someone with a six pound brain is going to comprehend the enormity of God or the Universe. There are certainly many humble atheists out there who seem to get the much more of God's truths than many of us who call ourselves Christian. And part of that truth involves being gentle with ourselves and towards each other.

  • Ack! Typos!

  • @wordsseldomsaid

    I don’t think I misspoke. A 1998 well-responded study published in the journal Nature documented the level of belief in the (at the time) 517 member National Academy of Sciences (NAS) with the following results:

    The latest survey involved 517 members of the National Academy of Sciences; half replied. When queried about belief in "personal god," only 7% responded in the affirmative, while 72.2% expressed "personal disbelief," and 20.8% expressed "doubt or agnosticism."

    In my previous readings related to the study; the scientists with the highest levels of belief were mathematicians. Those in the area of biology, cosmology and physics (those that focus on the hows and whys of the universe) were pretty much universally non-believers. I don’t know where you were going with the “only 20 something percent are really being honest”…but I don’t like it.

    You then ask for evidence that for my claim that “the universe looks just as it would if no intelligent entity were involved”. All I am saying is that what we know of the universe fits nicely into our understanding the interaction of matter and the time frames that that are predicted. I am NOT saying that empirical knowledge exists that defines anything prior to the “big bang”. (There are reasonable theories, but none are deeply satisfying [to me] or testable) The important point here, though, is that NOT knowing what predated the big band, in no way gives credence to any theistic creation story…it merely leaves the door open for a deistic worldview. Theism requires far more evidence.

    As far as how we know the how old the stars are…

    We have, with precise instrumentation, accurately assessed the size and motion of the bodies within our universe and the distance between them. We know how light travels and know how long that light would take to reach earth. If you gaze at a star that is 6 million light-years away (the distance travelled by light over one year in a vacuum), you are seeing that star as it looked 6 million years ago. For all we know that star may no longer exist, the light showing us its death hasn’t reached us yet. For any of the creation stories to be true; God would have had to create the light from the stars already in transit toward earth otherwise our sky would be black because no light would have reached us yet. The fact that we can see stars that are billions of light-years away, means that they are at least billions of years old. It’s rather simple.

  • @wordsseldomsaid

    …and by the way, the trend is that scientists are believing less and less. You can see one summary of the NAS survey here:….

  • tsfgodguy

    Yes, if you go outside of one verse and look at the whole of the Bible, you find all kinds of interesting things….

    “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10

    “Research, on the whole, diminishes belief. Citing the anecdotal cases of research leading to belief, does not diminish this fact.”

    Fact? Hmmmm, I’m with you ncarnes. This statement does not in any way reflect the years of life experience I am aware of. I have spent my life in study of not just Christianity but other religions or lack of religions and I have become convienced in the Christ of the Bible (though I realize that is follishness to those who do not know Him).

    “Sorry guys, you’re fighting a losing battle. Reason will always prevail, eventually.”

    I agree with the last half of your statment which is why I disagree with the first half.

    Good discussion here ……..

  • FreetoBe

    @ #12 mhogue: I understood your point; just saying that the verse the EC was concentrating on says that “no one comes to the Father except thru Me.” And we have to believe in Jesus in order to go thru Him to come to the Father.

    Acting on that belief is a whole different subject.

  • Jeff McQ says:

    “No one comes to the FATHER but by Me.” It doesn’t even say “heaven.”

    Granted, the Father is in heaven, and Jesus was ultimately going back there to be with His Father. But I think this verse means much more than where you go when you die. I think it is talking about relationship with God. I am not dead yet. But I have already come to the Father–through Jesus Christ.

    YES! This is the point (and I think someone else makes it in this thread) – we are doing our best to find our way based on a text translated into English from a vernacular Greek which most likely was translated from Aramaic. “Comes to the Father” “the Kingdom of God” “My kingdom” “Believeth on me” – these would be hard enough to comprehend and agree on if they were dictated from the mouth of God directly into English. There’s much we don’t know/can’t comprehend, and Jesus knows this. For every place his words seem to damn (the non-believer, the rich, etc.) someplace else he redeems. Honestly, I wasn’t able to come to Christ until I STOPPED worrying about whether I was getting into Heaven and started worrying about living the life I should be living because it would please God. I still do a lousy job of it, can’t even claim to be doing my best, which is why I need an understanding savior. I can’t program the doggone VCR – I’m supposed to judge others based on texts written in a language I don’t understand 2,000 years before I was born?! The most Christlike human being I ever knew was an avowed atheist. It’s a paradox. I can’t understand it. I trust and hope to someday.

    Thanks, John, for spurring and sustaining this type of conversation.

  • Kate

    Dear Friends,

    If I can call you friends, for what is in your (our) hearts only God knows completely – we even fool ourselves with deceitfulness.

    Jeremiah 17;9-10 states:

    The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,

    a puzzle that no one can figure out.

    But I, God, search the heart

    and examine the mind.

    I get to the heart of the human.

    I get to the root of things.

    I treat them as they really are,

    not as they pretend to be."

    We all like to think we are good people…there are always others who we compare ourselves to who don't make our standard, but there are others who are better than us. God reminds us that all of us fall short of His standard. He reveals to those of us who are willing to admit that we are arrogant and we keep reproducing our own lower standard of life. It's the best we can do!

    "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."

    Galatians 6:6-8

    Now, WHA, if we really want to know what is real we ask in sincerity (and God, who knows the sincerity of our hearts, gives wisdom generously and doesn't hold back)

    "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own".

    John 7:16-18

    Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

    Galatians 3:5-7

    So, my friend WHA – to your heart I beg the question: If there is a God who credits righteousness to a person…and if He credits it according to our believing in Him and His promises, then we are accountable for knowing what those promises are and if we believe in those promises.

    "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

    John 5:23-25

    "If God were your father," said Jesus, "you would love me, for I came from God and arrived here. I didn't come on my own. He sent me. Why can't you understand one word I say? Here's why: You can't handle it. You're from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn't stand the truth because there wasn't a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies. I arrive on the scene, tell you the plain truth, and you refuse to have a thing to do with me. Can any one of you convict me of a single misleading word, a single sinful act? But if I'm telling the truth, why don't you believe me? Anyone on God's side listens to God's words. This is why you're not listening—because you're not on God's side." John 8:44-46 The Message

    WHA, whose side are you on? Choose. To not choose…that is a choice. I pray for your Peace.


  • this is something i've been thinking about quite a bit recently. i haven't come to any kind of conclusio yet, but i keep thinking about something i read in a brian mclaren book, i think it was a new kind of christian. to paraphrase, it went kind of like: "jesus said 'i am the way, the truth, and the life. no one comes to the father except through me.' but most christians visualize it as jesus, not AS the way but standing IN the way of salvation."

    plus there's a crazy before-his-time cs lewis story that my brain hasn't really come to terms with yet. i can't remember the title of the story and it's really bugging me. it's time for me to do some googling, i guess. it was about a man who served a different god, and then he died and God told him that everything good he had done in service to the evil idol, he had kept for himself. it was very interesting and thought-provoking. obviously.

  • So I want to go back to the top of this comment tree and ask another question as long as we're being persnickety about words…

    >"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects >the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

    Okay, so what does that mean "eternal life"? Who says that's the same thing as heaven? Under the Christian system, don't people in "hell" have eternal life, even if it is an eternal life of burning, sulfur, and anal probes?

    Maybe believers have the shot at Eternal Life and Jesus (or a surrogate?) decides if the believer goes to heaven or hell while the rest of us poor schlubs just have the eternity we deserve, of blessed nothingness.

  • @ Mike, you say that the accuracy of scripture cannot hold up to scrutiny? Where do you come up with that conclusion?

    How do you account for the hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled throughout scripture? Do you fall into the camp of those being mere coincidences? Hundreds of "coincidences" predicted by the authors of the Bible, without one contradiction, you have to admit, that's pretty good…

    As far as more and more scientist choosing not to believe, what does that have to do with there being a true and living God? The Bible says that in the end days there will be a falling away from the truth. I can point to instance after instance of what could persuade those scientist in one way or another…secular education system that indoctrinates in a secular slant, the humanistic view of looking to one's self for answers versus to a higher power, nothing is new though, all throughout the Bible men turned to sorcerers and fortune tellers to try and find answers, its no different than man looking to science instead of to God. We are all given a choice and it does not mean there is a lack of God because some choose not to believe, where is the evidence in that? Romans says that man is without excuse when it comes to believing because of nature, but then we have the theory that has become a religion to most called "evolution" for which man tries to disregard the creator of that nature. It cannot be done, it has not been done, and it never will be…those scientist and anyone who decides they want to side with them have to make their decision for themselves.

    I would love to know how you believe an experience can exist without a source to create that experience. Now you are simply moving into realism, which is not going to prove your point. An apple is red because it is red, not because I think it is red, just because you want to call red, blue doesn't make the apple blue for you and for your experience. My experiences line up with the Bible, and what it says, you can try to disregard that, but the fact is, you cannot discount personal experience, especially when there are millions of people who have shared in the same experiences even though specific details may vary. All you are doing is quoting "theory" to try and disprove something from existing, but you cannot disprove something with a theory.

    All I read in each of your responses are man's opinion and apparently, your opinion…someone can give you an answer but because you do not accept that answer it does not make it untrue, but it at least gives you an out and a reason to say it doesn't hold up under scrutiny, yet you are giving no examples of your claims. It takes more faith to trust in science than it does a true and living God who created all things as the Bible says, when you said, "Looking at the universe based on evidence; the universe looks just as it would if no intelligent entity were involved." I laugh because that is simply ridiculous…all of the complex elements of nature, every species and their specific functions, the atmosphere and how it works, as well as the perfect functions of the Universe, the complex make-up of the human body, all of its functions, abilities and design, just happened out of the thin blue air, and then perfectly evolved into what they are today, you want me to believe that over God, right.

    At least if you don't believe in God, a higher power, there's no one to be accountable to, right, which means you can do as you please, live as you please, and there are no consequences. I guess your life is meaningless then, since you were not created, because to be created would mean that their was a purpose or a reason behind that creation, but to just evolve to pop into existence would mean that everything is pretty much pointless. So really we should have no laws, there should be no moral code, people should be able to rape, kill, and do as they please because after all of this, there is nothing, just pitch black nothing, so why bother here, its so much easier to live how I want and to do what I want, so why try so hard to live a disciplined life, to treat others with respect and love, according to you, it gets us no where right? I think your point of view makes life easier, interesting!

  • Lynn

    Hello “Seeker,” I’m sorry your name was witheld from this post.

    How does one get into heaven? The first step is by faith. Determine (find out) for yourself that Jesus is who He says He is.

    How can one get to know Jesus? By reading the bible.

    The verbage “EC” used regarding a “christian” means, in other words, a “believer.” How does one become a “believer?”

    Come to realize you are a sinner. Find out for yourself that Jesus Christ is God’s one and only Son. Find out for yourself what He did on the cross, that He sacrificed His life for your sins. Find out for yourself that His resurrection power will lead you to heaven.

    If you haven’t read any books by C.S. Lewis please do so, at your convenience.

    May I offer you a challenge? Read the book of John (4th book in the New Testament).

    The bible says if you seek the Lord He will be found. Find out for yourself.

  • Christian: Extremely well thought out, and said, as always. You're a great … commenter.

    Dr. John: To be fair to WHA, all he was saying is: A: Christians rely upon John 14:6 as their primary proof that only Christians get into heaven/get to be with God in the afterlife, and B: The actual words of that passage don't actually say that. I don't see anything there that warrants an assertion that he's in any way being dishonest.

  • Lufia

    Christian, i too totally agree with you: To find faith is a personnal thing. One will be a believer after seing how wonderful the Universe is, another after reading the Bible, another after having at the bottom and cried over God for help. There are many ways to God.

    I never been able to convince anyone with a particular argument that leads directly to God. It is a personal search.

    The only thing we can do is plant a seed and hope that God will let it grow

  • Pam

    First I'd like to address the gentleman's comment that Jesus did not say "you have to be a Christian." I'll leave the research up to the reader on this, but it is a historical fact that the word Christian was a derogatory term at the time, that was NOT coined by Jesus or his disciples. It was first coined by non-believers who lived in the city of Antioch. Over time, however, the followers of Christ took that name on for themselves (most believe after the time of Christ's death & resurrection).

    Over a period of time, I could quote many areas where the Bible expounds on the fact that we achieve salvation through our belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation – and many have already done so here. The Bible tells us in both the Old Testament (when the prophets of old wrote about the coming Messiah) and through Jesus' teachings, and subsequently through his diciples that he charged with "spreading the good news" that God sent Jesus to pay the ultimate price for our sins, so that we would be "redeemed."

    However, I'll add to this discussion by presenting to you Ephesians Chapter 1where Paul talks about redemption, which means to deliver by paying a price. (definition summed up from 3 different Greek interpretations of the word redemption.)

    As Paul writes to the Christians in the city of Ephesus, which according to geography experts is now western Turkey, he is telling them about God's love & mercy, and that through Christ Jesus we are redeemed. If you read on in the entire book of Ephesians (which this is one area of the Bible that it pays to do so, to understand all of Paul's message) I think you will see that it supports the Christian view.

    I could be misinterpreting what this "athiest" man said, but it seems that he and the other gentleman both were focusing on just the one verse – "no man cometh to the Father except by me." If you take ALL of scripture and put it all together on this subject you will see that it is not just by believing in Christ – like "yeah…hey I believe the guy lived and he was crucified, and I even believe that he was resurrected" —but it is by understanding the fullness of it all. It's understanding that we are able to obtain forgiveness & salvation "through" what Christ did for us. He was the conduit, if you will, that brought us back into relationship with God. If we believe that He did this all for us, so that we could come back into right standing with God, then we only begin to grasp the fullness. Basically, God had kinda given up on humans. He put us here for a purpose, he gave us free will and the tools and resources to rule this planet, an WE screwed it all up. This was what he decided to do to try to save us. But we still have free will. We can either accept it, or not.

    I'd like to ask you to pay special attention to verse 13.

    Ephesians 1:7-14

    7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession–to the praise of his glory.

  • telectro

    What's the context? "We don't know where you're going, how can we know the way?" "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

    Jesus is talking about the way to go. Traveling, not just arriving. How do you get there (to the Father)? You travel the 'Jesus way', you learn the truth that is an intimate relationship with the Father, you walk in the life that he guides and directs. He is the decider, as all authority has been given to him, but it is not taking the whole scenario into account to reduce it to a mere decision point.

    Jesus is talking about a whole lifestyle. That lifestyle is the Jesus life –modeled after him, empowered by the Father, destined to become like him. "You know the way…"

    Call it Christian (or not) –it is the way of Jesus.

  • Dr. John Henderson

    The man was parsing words, pretending to be contextual when in fact he was applying definition apart from the context of Scripture. He was proof-texting in reverse. He was insisting on his choice of definition as to what it supposedly means by clouding the issue with what it does not say. It doesn’t say a lot of things but that does not change its clear meaning. My grandfather, a former trial lawyer, once told me something I never forgot. I was trying to convince him of his need for Christ by quoting isolated verses from the Bible. He said, “Son, remember this: when you use a verse like that, be sure you know what went before and what comes after that gives it its meaning.” If this man wants to be honest, really honest about it, let him do the same.

  • The problem with using prophecies (predictions) as an apologetic argument is that they are only seen as such when one accepts the premise of the incarnation. Every one of them has an alternative explanation that is very reasonable and some of them seem to have been manipulated by the Gospel writers to underline their point ie. the confusion over Jesus’ choice of mount upon his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem.

    Although some claim to have been brought to faith by the logical arguments of folks like Lewis and Chesterton I think that it is almost impossible to argue a person into having a faith. God’s evidence may be in abundance throughout nature but his ways are counterintuitive to natural man.

  • hmmmm. My post with the corroborating links didn't seem to get up. I will try to reformat it this evening to that spam filters don't block it.

  • Max Snow

    Well, let's see……. If the only way to get to heaven is through Christ then I believe it implies that your beliefs and faith must be aligned with what Jesus was teaching. That who so ever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life( or something like that ).

    The only way to make spegetti is by boiling spagetti pasta. Penne pasta is not spagetti. It may still be good but it is not the same thing.

    Jews and Muslims, as well as other religions, don't accept christ as savior. But they will oneday so they still have a shot.

    So if Jesus lets you into heaven it is because you believe what he says to be true. That he came to set the sinner free and through his death and resurection you are offered salvation. If you believe that then you are a christian! CONGRATULATIONS!!!! WE WILL SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE!!! If not, sorry. Bring alot of solarcain.

  • @ncarnes

    Here are some links related to some of my statements:

    The Creighton University study comparing religiosity with societal ills:

    The above is dense and difficult to read (by design?), so a nice graphical representation is found here:

    Here is the paper on (what is commonly referred to as) “The Madison Monkeys” where rhesus monkeys would forgo food to keep their conspecifics from getting shocked.

    Here are several of many books by renowned primatologist Frans de Waal ( who, among other distinctions was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in 2007.

    Here is the Canadian University study comparing active-nonbelievers with devout believers:

    These are just some from the top of my head. Let me know if you would like more.

  • Is it even worth pointing out that the golden rule is found in Matthew 7:12? Not trying to start a fight, just an observation.

    I'm thinking that the response will be along the lines of "it may be in the Bible, but Christians don't have a monopoly on it." Fair enough…

  • Jack

    Jesus the decider: Concerning who gets into heaven.

    I have read some of the postings on the blog concerning this issue. I do not believe that it is Jesus who is the decider, but that it is the Father.

    – In Matthew 11:27, it reads, "All things are delivered unto Me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."

    – In Luke 10:22, it reads, "All things are delivered to Me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him."

    – In John 5:21, it reads, "Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so also the Son gives life to those He chooses."

    In late September of 1974 I decided to call it quits and bring an end to my life here on earth. Several hours later I woke up in the recovery room of the hospital at which time a nurse said to me, "By rights, Mr. Beeksma, you are supposed to be dead."

    I knew without a question of doubt in my heart that there was no possible way for me to have survived the suicide bid that I had made: so even I could not understand how I had been brought back to life. And once again I became angry and demanded that I be released and allowed to go on my way, but that was only possible if I agreed to sign out.

    When I signed out, the doctor said to me, "We cannot understand how you ever lived?" Well neither could I?

    After leaving the hospital and walking down a dark and lonely street I could feel the tremendous pain in my chest and knew that the doctors had to have pounded my chest for quite some time while my heart was stopped.

    Seven years later I accepted Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior as the only hope in this life and the life hereafter. For it was by the grace of God, whether the choice was of the Father or of the Son, is unknown to me. But when I look at John 5, verse 21, as noted above, it could have been either the Father or the Son that chose to give me life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    So my dear friend I challenge you to accept life eternal, free of charge, for Jesus is standing at your door and He is waiting for you to open it.

  • @ncarnes

    How do you account for the hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled throughout scripture?

    Real scrutiny of prophecies has shown they are sufficiently vague that any of them could have come to pass myriad times through history. Some have been documented to have been recorded after their occurrence! But nothing I say could convince those that hand their hats on the prophecy card. Google “debunk bible prophecies” to get some flavor as to where many people rank prophecies as proof. Now if there had been one tiny nugget of unambiguous insight (i.e. the size of the universe, our place in it, the makeup of our sun…THAT would be pretty impressive.

    As far as more and more scientist choosing not to believe, what does that have to do with there being a true and living God?

    All I am saying is that those that look at the universe, our world, and the life on it with our best techniques come away with less and less reason to credit the supernatural for anything in our observable universe. There may have been some intelligence that got the top spinning (the big bang) but all observations would indicate that intelligence has not been involved since.

    …secular education system that indoctrinates in a secular slant

    If you are referring to the ID movement; I have no problem with ID being discussed in schools. I just shouldn’t be in the science classroom (philosophy maybe, mythological studies even better). And don’t forget our Constitution that mandates no favoritism toward any one religion. If Christian narratives were taught in public schools, then every other religious narrative would have to be taught in schools…even Scientology. Let religious indoctrination be left to those that are not receiving my tax monies.

    the humanistic view of looking to one’s self for answers versus to a higher power

    I have no problem appealing to something that I believe exists. I am not wired such that I can appeal to the non-existent. That said; it should be know that I used to be a believing Christian who DID pray in times of difficulty. At times, it did seem to help, but other stress-relief methods work just the same…be they meditation or praying to Hindu gods (if that is your culturally dominant religion). Since Hindus and Christians receive the same comfort and equivalent results from mutually exclusive gods, wouldn’t it seem another factor is in play? Check out

    I would love to know how you believe an experience can exist without a source to create that experience.

    I don’t claim that there is no source for the experiences. I (and others) claim that they are electrochemical processes in the brain as opposed to supernatural. With targeted electrical stimulation of the brain, we can reasonably reliably induce 1) the sense of another presence (culturally prevalent deities, aliens, or ‘others’), 2) the sense of ‘oneness’ with the world (interrupting the sense of self), 3) disembodiment or floating, 4) the “feeling of knowing” something absolutely. (On the latter; read the book that I review here: . )

    you cannot discount personal experience, especially when there are millions of people who have shared in the same experiences even though specific details may vary.

    As per above, I don’t discount the experience, but we have evidence to discount the claimed source.

    All you are doing is quoting “theory” to try and disprove something from existing, but you cannot disprove something with a theory.

    It is not realistic to, in this forum, educate you on the scientific method or just what ‘theory’ and peer-review are. I will merely say that, to my mind, the scientific method is more about eliminating wrong answers than find some precise final answer to a question. Do you believe that water is made up of two parts hydrogen and one part water (H2O)? Do you believe that atoms are made up of protons and neutrons surrounded by a cloud of electrons? Do you believe that gravity is a real force? These are all theories backed up by crushing amounts of evidence and we live our lives as though they are fact. Evolution by Natural Selection is in that same pantheon of theories where multiple fields of science converge on the same answer. Evolution is a theory; but just as we live as though gravity is a fact, we can live as though evolution is a fact. It is that well supported. I wish I could spend more time on this, because it apparent there is much you don’t know about science.

    So really we should have no laws, there should be no moral code, people should be able to rape, kill, and do as they please because after all of this, there is nothing, just pitch black nothing, so why bother here, its so much easier to live how I want and to do what I want, so why try so hard to live a disciplined life, to treat others with respect and love, according to you, it gets us no where right?

    This, ncarnes, is where it gets nasty. Let me start with a couple of points of language. I will be using the terms ‘ignorant’ and ‘stupid’. The former (‘ignorance’) is a resolvable problem. In days of old, prior to the discovery of microorganisms and their role in disease, many thought that sickness was caused by demons and spirits. They were ‘ignorant’ of bacteria and virus. For lack of another explanation in those darker days, it was not unreasonable to attribute illness to the supernatural. We, as a species, seem predisposed to create supernatural actors to fill the gaps in our knowledge. With the advent of the microscope and further investigation, we now know that colds and flu and myriad more physical maladies are the direct result of these microorganisms. Someone of average intelligence, when exposed to new facts and evidence can work that into their knowledge base and become less ignorant. If someone, today, were to claim your sniffles were caused by demons (assuming they had been exposed to western culture, media, and science) you could rightly consider that person to be ‘stupid’ (or otherwise mentally impaired). Keep this distinction in mind.

    I shall be blunt here about why you find the ‘angry atheist’. This is where the vitriol that is spewed from the pulpit shows itself as a cancer on society. It would seem to me, from what you are saying, you subscribe to the theistic dogma that morality and ethics can only exist because of your god…that, without god, there is no right and wrong, there are no caring impulses, that the non-believer, necessarily, cannot have a reference for right and wrong. If my assessment is accurate, you would be ignorant of many compelling studies that showed the trait of reciprocal altruism to exist in many other species. You would be ignorant of the “Madison monkeys” trials that showed monkeys preferred starvation to having their lab-mate receive a painful shock. You would be ignorant of the Creighton University study (a Christian university) that showed (in the MOST flattering interpretation) that there is no correlation between level of religion and societal ills in ‘prosperous democracies’. Indeed the societies with the fewest societal ills (as defined by the university) were the Nordic countries that are almost universally non-believers. You would be ignorant of the Canadian University study that compared devout believers to active non-believers in measures of education, racism, and much more. Non-believers bested believers on all but one count (charitable giving, but we don’t have clubs). I could go on. If you are not exposed to compelling contrary information you are ignorant. If you are exposed to compelling contrary information and you don’t incorporate it, you are stupid. If you are only willing to seek out that which affirms what you already believe, then you are not work conversing with.

    Now the part the makes my blood boil. There are many that will claim loudly and publicly that, without a divine set of moral rules, the non-believer cannot be moral that “people should be able to rape, kill” in the non-believers world. These people will demonize a segment of society on nothing by evidence-devoid, vacant dogma. These people are willing to hate other people because their preacher, pastor, mullah, priest told them to. Are YOU willing to hate people because someone told you to? Are YOU willing to hate someone with no evidence that they deserve it? I certainly hope not. All that being said; I respect a person’s right to believe it, but I don’t have to respect the holder of those beliefs or the religious institutions that promote them…and I will work very hard to be sure that religious law does not corrupt our secular state.

    As far as your contention that the non-believer’s “point of view makes life easier”; it is just the opposite. We non-believers have “the golden rule” (along with many other species). I live my life by the simple idea that “if there is a victim to my actions, then it is probably wrong”. Add to that, we don’t have the luxury of thinking that dictators and despots “will get what’s coming to them”. Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler is NOT writhing in a lake of burning sulfur. He got away with it. We need to take these people to task now, in the world that we know exists. We have to be responsible for all our actions and the people around us. When something needs to get done, we don’t have the option to appeal to some higher power. We need to make it happen ourselves…how is that easier?

  • @Skerrib

    I put "the golden rule" in quotes to use it as a metaphor. The "do unto others" premise was documented at least a millenia before biblical times. All indications are that the core trait of reciprocal altruism (which is the fundamental base of "do unto others") is identified in many other species.

    It is a reasonable argument that all the holy texts took their best stab at documenting morals and ethics and proper conduct given their knowledge of the day. "Do unto others" is innate in [most] us…and would have to be for us to thrive as a species.

  • "You know, you have a remarkable insight here. You've shown some important observational skills and the ability to think critically about what the text actually says.

    "I haven't met many folks like you. I wish there were more, but our churches are sadly filled with lots of folks who don't really give much thought to what the Bible actually says.

    "Let's take those observational skills and think through what Jesus meant when he uttered the words recorded in John 3:18."

  • @ncarnes

    Another point on scientific corroboration of the supernatural or religious narratives…

    Many believe that science has their eyes closed to the possibility of your (or any other god). The reality is, though, that any scientist who properly documented and CONFIRMED (lets say) the efficacy of intercessory prayer, would be showered with awards and notoriety.

  • Patson Chomala Sinka

    The bible for sure doesnt say only Christians will go to Heaven but the truth is the one to lead us to His Father is Jesus Christ.We can only be led to the Father if you identify yourself with the Man(God in this case) who is the key to Heaven.As it is even in the corporate world one has to be identified with the company inorder for them to do business and access any information about the company.The name Christian is drawing from a Group of believers at Antioch according to the book of Acts who lived their lives like Christ hence the name.However if one accepts Jesus Christ as their Saviour then Jesus Christ will decide who goes to heaven.If a moslem,hindu,earthiest or whoever accepts him then they are identified with Him as Christians.

  • The problem is not what Christians have "decided" the verse means, the problem is that the word "Christian" could be defined in different ways. Let's drop the "Christian" conversation completley. Jesus said he was the only way into heaven, and we know from reading the rest of scripture that Jesus has forgiven the sins of those who confess their sins and ask him for forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins; he has redeemed us, or bought us back. In Revelation (20 I think) Jesus will admit into heaven those whose names are written in the book of life. Called them Christians, born-again, the saved, whatever you will. Those who have accepted Christ he will go to heaven, and Muslims have not. They do not believe God has a son. You be honest, moral, good hearted, outgoing, etc. and not have accepted Jesus Christ as you savior, and you will die and go to hell. That is what Jesus is saying.

  • Sukumaran Nayar

    Hi guys. Why act like children. Why some religions have this obsession with heaven and eternal life. Heaven to some is a five star hotel where you don't have to pay the bills. Eternal life? Couldn't that be boring? Imagine that you are able, thanks to modern medicine, to live for 500 years. Will you welcome it. Not me. Ugh! I will be fed up. Why think of God, who is the creator of all the universes right from the smallest atom to the huge planets, complex structures, as a cigar chomping chairman of a corporation called heaven, with his only begotten son acting as the CEO and also door keeper. I thought Peter had the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

    Does a worm need the adoration of man. Does omnipotent God need the adoration of puny man. There is an outer world – a sprawling universe. Similarly there is an inner world. Why don't you first understand the inner world of man before venturing to explore the outer world. To say man was born in sin is itself a sinful statement. When the secrets of the inner self is revealed to you the mystery of the entire universe will also be revealed to you. When the haze of ignorance is removed truth shines forth.

  • Suk: That's a great metaphor, about God being the chairman, and Jesus the CEO. That's really good. I'm stealing it. AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!


  • stephanie

    I like this.

  • Bruce

    The more I read the discussion above, the more I think "Calvinism."

    God will touch the hearts of who He will touch when He's ready to do so.

    What's that scripture? No one can see the kingdom unless he's been born again? God touches, makes new, the eyes see, the heart can then respond.

    Those who see: love each other and your neighbor and your "enemies."

  • Comdischick

    BUt what if it’s not necessarily belief in jesus, but belief in God? It seems to me that the sacrifice is demonstrative of how far he’s willing to go for love, but the belief needs to be in God and the fact that he would do such a thing. Because that entire statement is written in third person, so perhaps it was referingt GOd himself rather than belief in Jesus? (Don’t stab me, just a pondering)