I like Rob Bell. He’s a cool Preacher, savvy marketer, pretty decent author. I think he’s also theologically dangerous. Giving people what they like is not always better than giving people what they need. For example, Rob Bell says, (my paraphrase) “I’m not sure whether Gandhi is in heaven or hell. Jesus said there would be lots of surprises regarding the issue of who is and who is not in heaven.” One of Bell’s fans says she likes that he doesn’t just spoon feed the standard Christian answers. Bell says he likes people to think for themselves.
Fair enough. I too don’t know whether Gandhi is in heaven or hell. But shouldn’t both Rob and I explain why we aren’t sure? For me, and as I understand the Bible it must be the same for Mr. Bell, the answer is that we simply don’t know beyond doubt what relationship Mohandus Karamachand Gandhi had with Jesus before the Hindu leader died.
Mark 16:16 - Jesus said, “Those who believe and are baptized will be saved but those who refuse to believe will be condemned.”
John 1:12,13 Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you can never get into the kingdom of heaven.” There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust Him to save them. But those who don’t trust Him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God.
John 5:24 - Jesus said, “I say emphatically that anyone who listens to My message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life and will NEVER be damned for his sins. He has crossed from death into life.”
John 8:24 - Jesus said, “For unless you believe that I am the Son of God, the Messiah, you will die in your sins.”
Romans 3:27,28 - Our acquittal is not based on our good deeds, it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him. So it is we are saved, by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.
If what Jesus said is true, then Mahatma had to make some changes in his relationship with Jesus or he will not be in heaven.
“Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”
It is what it is! And unless Gandhi had a deathbed conversion, then according to Jesus, and I hope according to Rob Bell, Gandhi is not and can not be anything but eternally separated from his Creator.
To make their point, atheists often resort to the example of a murderer who accepts Jesus’ offer of salvation and Mahatma Gandhi who did many good things but did not convert to Christianity. Both atheists and I would agree that the murderer has done wrong by society. Gandhi while making life difficult for a few people (eg. his wife from his adulteries and lies) did enormous good for many, many others. What atheists ignore or cannot comprehend, what they’re unwilling or unable to accept is that both the murderer and Gandhi have committed grievous offenses against Creator God. That is why the one’s forgiveness for his crimes against God and the other’s refusal to admit a need for forgiveness is what allows the murderer to go to heaven while Gandhi goes to hell. It’s called a spiritual reality.
Of course, the idea that we’re all on the same road to God or that there are many paths to God is ludicrous. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I Am who I say I Am, you will die in your sins.” The answer to the question, “Was He right?” is not in the same category of questions like, “What is the most pleasing thing in life?” or “How would you describe the perfect holiday?” If there is a Creator God, then the answer to the question of His existence is of the same order as the answer to the question, What is 2 + 2? The answer will either be right or it will be wrong. Period!
. If God has revealed Himself to us, as Jesus said that He has, and
. If God has provided a path of belief that is intended to lead us to Him, again as Jesus said that He has, and
. If our very salvation depends on us following the path that has been laid out for us by Creator God, as Jesus said that it does,
. Then other paths or alternate paths can only lead us away from Creator God, and not to Creator God.
To know what Jesus taught and to then deliberately choose to follow Buddhism or Native Religion or Hinduism or anything else instead cannot and will not place you on the same path to God as Jesus directed.
As C. S. Lewis pointed out, there may be many wrong answers to any given mathematical problem. And some of the wrong answers will be much closer to the right answer than some of the others (2 + 2 = 3.95) But there will always and only be one correct answer. Everything else will always and only be a wrong answer. Likewise, there are several thousand answers to the questions, What is God like? and How can we know Him? Some of those answers will be closer to correct than others in their understanding of Creator God. However, one thing is certain, there is only one right answer to both 2 + 2 = , and Is Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life? And not just any old path will lead you to either answer.
A decision must be made, and according to Jesus there are eternal consequences to how we answer His question of “Who do you say that I Am?”
Jesus may be many things to many people but one thing He isn’t. Jesus is not ‘sort of important.’ If He is correct in what He taught, then what you do with Jesus is the most important decision that you will ever make. So, are you going to believe what Jesus says about Himself and salvation, or are you going to believe what some atheist says about Jesus and salvation? Either Jesus is correct about Himself or somebody like Hugo is correct. It can’t be both.
Regarding the means of salvation and how it applies to Gandhi as well as to us, Jesus is saying something like, “I’ve already bought the concert tickets for you but you have to go and pick up the tickets by three o’clock on the day of the concert. If you don’t pick them up and if you just tell the attendant at the door, “I’m a really good person, so let me in,” it won’t work.” Sounds simple doesn’t it? Makes sense? Not to atheists. In fact, it makes them furious. Explaining Jesus’ plan of salvation to one atheist, a single mother of two, caused her to call me a “Fuckwitted Fundy.”
So, as simply as I can make it, the scenario goes like this:
The murderer has wronged society in a way that requires punishment
Gandhi has not wronged society in a way that requires punishment
The murderer has wronged God
Gandhi has wronged God
Society demands justice of the murderer
Society demands nothing of Gandhi because he tries to do good things
God demands justice of the murderer whose heart is not right toward God
God demands justice of Mahatma Gandhi whose heart is not right toward God
Justice is served for the crime against society on the murderer (death or imprisonment)
No justice is demanded by society for Gandhi
Justice is served for crimes against God on behalf of the murderer by Jesus
Justice is served for crimes against God on behalf of Gandhi by Jesus
This undeserved payment by Jesus is accepted by the murderer.
This undeserved payment by Jesus is rejected by Gandhi
This undeserved Grace from Jesus is accepted by the murderer.
This undeserved Grace from Jesus is rejected by Gandhi
Paradise is given by Jesus to the murderer
Jesus is not able to give paradise to Gandhi because he has rejected the offer.
It’s a Spiritual Reality.
Grace is a concept the is incomprehensible to all atheists, to Mahatma Gandhi and all other non Christian religious people.
In Ezekiel, Jesus is quoted as saying, “I don’t take any delight in the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways so that they can live! You don’t need to go to hell. Rather than tantrum like a frustrated child, do what it takes and you will never need to experience eternal separation from Me.” Ezekiel 33:11.