So a guy kills a bunch of people, burns their house down, robs a bank, all on Friday. And then Saturday repents and becomes a Christian. Will this fella go to Heaven? Will Jesus save him?My answer:
What about an old Buddhist lady who has lived a pious life without committing any crime or serious offense, and was otherwise a kind and caring person. Someone who was familiar with Christianity but didn't care for it. Will she go to Hell?
You know Christianity is one of the most diverse religions -- if you have 10 Christians in the room, you'll have 12 opinions among us.The original questioner replied:
As far as your murderer -- he's not beyond the reach of God's love. There's always hope. There's always redemption. There's always a way back. Even if he realized his soul was messed up. Maybe that's why he became a Christian.
As far as the pious lady, I'm glad I'm not her judge but I have a couple of questions:
Why isn't she fond of Christianity?
- Does she not think "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is part of the right path?
- Does she not think "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you" is part of the right path?
- Does she take offense at Jesus' claim to *be* the right path, to *be* the source of light she seeks in Enlightenment? ("I am the way ... I am the light.")
- Did she hear some sort of form of Christianity that had nothing to do with the Christ of the New Testament, so she had a false idea of Christianity?
What kind of "pious" was she?
- Did she fast twice a week, pray/meditate regularly, give 10% of all she had to the poor, and thank God / the gods that she was better than people like guy #1?
- Did she do her good works in public to be seen and admired, or did she help people in secret that God alone might have the praise?
- Did she see someone hungry and feed him, thirsty and give him a drink? Did she see someone a stranger and welcome him, or without clothes and clothe him? Did she see someone sick and in prison, and visit him? If so, she may have already met Christ, and believed in him, and loved him, without recognizing him. Jesus says there will be a lot of that going around on the last day.
You can personally define pious however you like. In this hypothetical scenario, the lady is aware of Christianity but has no want or desire to convert and is perfectly happy the way she is. She has never committed a crime, been arrested, murdered someone etc, and is a caring person.My next round went like this:
The scum bag who murders and steals, however, is just that... a scumbag. However he "finds Jesus" after committing his crimes.
The scumbag who murders and steals, who is just a scumbag, is exactly the kind of person Jesus would have had dinner with. "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." He was fond of outcasts and sinners. Not so fond of the people who told him he was wrong to love them. Does it offend you that, in Christianity, an absolute scumbag has hope of redemption?That one didn't get a reply, unfortunately.
About what it means to be pious: Bingo! We can all personally define pious however we like; so that makes it fairly meaningless to say someone is "pious", if each person can tailor the word to mean what they want and it could just mean the person says "I approve of myself". Jesus said that not all kinds of piety are alike. The "holier than thou" piety was actually obnoxious to him. The piety that saw the face of God in the outcast stranger was precious to him; he said he himself was the outcast stranger. So the question was: when our undefined "pious" lady saw Jesus, the outcast stranger, how did she react? Love? Hatred? Indifference? Did she define "piety" as recognizing God in the face of the stranger (i.e., being loving), or did she define "piety" as improving herself and being impressed with her progress (i.e. spiritual narcissism)?
And we haven't quite determined how someone can be "pious" and have no interest in Jesus, whose most distinctive teaching is the primacy of love. It becomes a very pressing question how she defines "pious" if "love" does not seem like a good path to her. Remember, it was the "pious" people who were lining up to kill him, because they didn't like the picture of God he was painting ... the kind that would be interested in the fate of scumbags, and in second chances.