And there’s a simple answer if, like me, you don’t believe Hell exists.
But for “Bible-believing” Christians the answer isn’t so simple, if Todd Friel of Wretched Radio is any guide.
How can that be? After all, it’s well known that Steve Jobs was a Buddhist, not a Christian, and according to the fundamentalists who believe in an inerrant Bible, there is no leeway for non-believers, no matter how great a positive impact they have had on the world. Steve Jobs has got to be in Hell, right?
But, according to Todd Friel, on Tuesday’s edition of Wretched Radio, the correct answer is “We don’t know.”
Hmm. His argument seems solid enough:
“What we do know is that if you have Jesus in your heart, you will go to Heaven. If you don’t have Jesus, then you won’t. We don’t know what was in Steve Jobs’ heart [the moment he passed away].”
Agreed, but I think you would also agree that the odds of Steve Jobs having a death-bed conversion after being a Buddhist almost all his adult life, are pretty slim. If the Christian fundamentalist concept of Hell is true, then Steve Jobs is almost certainly just getting settled in for an eternity of unbearable torment and pain in the Lake of Fire–agonies that will have him yearning for the days when all he was suffering from was terminal pancreatic cancer.
The funny thing is, these same Christians are far less reticent when it comes to the eternal fate of certain other people when they die–like, say, Josef Stalin, Timothy McVeigh, or even Senator Ted Kennedy (a favorite target of hate amongst the religious right). It doesn’t even cross their mind that these people might have, in their very last moments, been “born-again.” Evil people deserve to go to Hell, so it’s okay to talk about them being there. Indeed it’s only right that they should be sent there after all the terrible things they did.
But according to their fundamentalist belief system, every other unsaved person deserves to be there too, right next to the worst evildoers in history–including Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, that tireless Mormon charity worker who lived down the street, and that nice fifteen-year old daughter of an atheist neighbor who was always willing to lend a hand, and so on. Even the kindest, most generous people in history are screaming in agony right next to mass murderers and brutal rapists if they happened not to have heard about Jesus.
But Bible-believing Christians can’t go about telling everyone that–not unless they are trying to lead a bitter and lonely life with no friends–so if the question of a recently deceased, non-evil person’s eternal fate crops up, the weasel words come out: “We don’t know what was in their heart.”
I also suspect it’s a way to avoid thinking too hard about it themselves–to duck the full ramifications of just how cruel and nasty their doctrine of Hell really is.