Engaging the Culture
1/17/17 at 11:19 AM 0 Comments

Is Gandhi in Hell?

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In a recent interview with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Tim Keller was asked a question that both Christians and non-Christians wonder about at one time or another.

I’m troubled by the evangelical notion that people go to heaven only if they have a direct relationship with Jesus. Doesn’t that imply that billions of people — Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus — are consigned to hell because they grew up in non-Christian families around the world? That Gandhi is in hell?

As usual, Tim’s response was perceptive and satisfactory . . . as far as it went. However, he never really answered the question. Instead, he ended his comment by suggesting that there is an answer, but that answer is hidden in the mystery of God.

There is still the question of fairness regarding people who have grown up away from any real exposure to Christianity . . . I don’t think it is insurmountable. Just because I can’t see a way doesn’t prove there cannot be any such way. If we have a God big enough to deserve being called God, then we have a God big enough to reconcile both justice and love.

It Wasn’t Always This Way

Kristof’s question would not have posed as big a problem for believers in the early centuries of the Christian Church.

During the first five centuries after Christ, most Christians believed that God would ultimately redeem all of His creation. For them, hell was real, but it had a positive purpose. And it didn’t last forever! They believed Jesus Christ succeeded in His mission to seek and save the lost. The greatest story ever told was the greatest story that could ever be told!

Their answer to the question? Gandhi and every other person created by God will ultimately be in heaven.

However, for the last 1,500 years, most of Christendom has been told that the majority of the billions of people who have lived on this earth will remain separated from the love and mercy of God for all eternity. The moms and dads . . . grandmas and grandpas . . . sons and daughters . . . relatives and friends who have not exhibited the “right kind” of faith here in this life will be shut up in a place called hell to suffer forever.

But is that really true?

Is the greatest story ever told – the story of the creation, fall and redemption of mankind – really a tragedy for the vast majority of people who have ever lived . . . including many who you know and love? Will most of the people God created in His image never walk through heaven’s doors?

To answer Kristof’s question simply and directly – no.

The God who created all things is all-powerful. The God who created all things is all-wise. The God who created all things is all-loving. And this Creator has specifically said He wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

With that kind of God, it’s not hard to believe that He will actually accomplish what He said He desires to do. Jesus Christ did not fail in His mission to seek and save what was lost. He’s the Savior of the world, not just the Savior of a small part of the world.

Tim Keller was right.

“If we have a God big enough to deserve being called God, then we have a God big enough to reconcile both justice and love.”

Adapted from Heaven’s Doors . . . Wider Than You Ever Believed!
Available Spring 2017
Download a Free Preview at HeavensDoors.net

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