The Tentative Apologist
5/29/09 at 12:18 PM 0 Comments

Do all Muslims go to hell?

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Many Christians answer with a ready "yes" and point to passages like John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

But what does it mean to come to the Father through Christ?

In order to explore this question, let's spend a moment contemplating the Rwandan genocide. In three months in 1994 more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered while the international community stood by. (The mood is captured by one US official who summarized the demonically bureaucratic calculus of geopolitics: "one American casualty is worth about 85,000 Rwandan dead.")

On this side of judgment day we will never know the full horror of this genocide, but here is one description from Romeo Dallaire's executive assistant who arrived too late at a church run by Polish missionaries: "When we arrived, I looked at the school across the street, and there were children, I don't know how many, forty, sixty, eighty children stacked up outside who had all been chopped up with machetes."

How did people of faith respond to this nightmare of bloodlust? Sadly, many, many Hutu Christians, including pastors and priests, were complicit or actively involved in the genocide. One of them was Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a leader in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In the middle of the genocide several Tutsi Adventist pastors had written Ntakirutimana a letter appealing for help: "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families." Instead of providing assistance to the Tutsis, Ntakirutimana transported Hutu militias to the Mugonero complex so that the Tutsis might be butchered. In 2003 the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Ntakirutimana guilty of genocide.

But others engaged in selfless and brave acts in the midst of this living hell. One of them was Mbaye Diagne, a captain from the Senegalese army ... and a devout Muslim. Working for U.N. forces, Diagne repeatedly flouted the orders of his commanding officer not to save civilians. Instead, he ventured out time and again to pick up Tutsis in his Jeep - about five at a time - and transfer them to the relative safety of the UN compound. In order to accomplish this feat he repeatedly bargained his way across dozens of Hutu checkpoints using little more than cigarettes and his good humor. In this way Diagne saved more than a hundred lives before he was killed on May 31 from flying shrapnel.

Assuming that Diagne died a Muslim, can you be certain that he is in hell?

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (Matt. 25:34-40, TNIV)

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