It’s important for people to understand that Christianity is not nearly as exclusive or as complicated as many non-believers think it is.
Christianity does not teach that only Christians deserve to go to heaven. Rather, it teaches that no one deserves to go to heaven, because we have all done wrong during our lives (Rom 3:23). We can gain admittance to heaven by repenting of our wrongs, accepting Jesus Christ’s death as payment for our wrongs and deciding to follow and worship Him as Lord.
The principle and cornerstone of Christianity is that Jesus is the only way to God, not any particular church or denomination, not other faiths, and not non-believers who believe in their heart of hearts that they are good people who do not deserve eternal suffering.
Thus, salvation is accessible to everyone and is intended by God for everyone even atheists who object on moral grounds or because the concept of Hell offends their personal sensibilities.
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! (Is 45:22)
Simply put, if you want to be saved, you can be, it’s for everyone, no one is excluded unless they chose to be.
As a believer all of that seems easy to understand and should be easy for anyone, believer or not, who has even a basic knowledge of Christianity to understand.
That being said, I’ve always been a little baffled by atheists who never seem to tire of faking ignorance and asking believers if we think they are going to Hell.
Here’s an example.
If you don’t believe in God then logically you don’t believe in Hell either, right?
So, what’s the logic in someone who doesn’t believe in Hell asking anyone if they are going there?
I don’t believe in reincarnation so I would never ask a Hindu if I am to be reincarnated after death. I don’t care, it doesn’t matter.
I think the real reason atheists ask the question is because they know, according to Christian beliefs, that if they don’t confess and ask Jesus for forgiveness then yes, they will spend an eternity in Hell. In other words, the question is less of an honest inquiry and more of an obvious, and too often effective, attempt to undermine the Christian faith and be condemned to Hell by a Christian.
The “Am I going to hell?” question is designed to paint the Christian God as a cruel, merciless, and immoral despot who offers absurd “love me or die” ultimatums and a being who is not worthy of worship and His followers as heartless schmucks who don’t care about their fellow man.
The fact is, answering the question does little but force Christians to play God which is something they cannot, and should not try to, do.
Think about that for a second. How can I, or Frank Turek, or any other Christian say with any certainty what the afterlife of any atheist will consist of any more than we can say whether they will be stricken with a horrible disease, win the lottery, or be shot and killed during a home invasion?
After all, atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers are converting to Christianity every day; any one of them Christians have the opportunity to speak with could very well have a religious experience and become devout followers of Jesus before they die; only God can know for sure. It is therfore, the responsibility of Christians to give reasons for the hope that we have, not condemn non-believers who almost demand condemnation just so they can make a larger point.
So, should believers dodge the dishonest question?
Without sounding like I am telling anyone to sidestep it altogether, yes we should. Instead of condemning our questioners, we should simply remind them what the Bible (a book most non-believers claim to know better than we do) clearly says on the matter.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
– John 14:6
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”
– John 3:36
Dancing around the issue? Yep.
But this doesn’t matter when the real issue people need to think about is the choice they were given and how they chose to respond.
God has given each of us the free will to decide whether or not we want to spend eternity with Him, we aren’t robots, He will force no one to spend eternity in His glorious presence if that is not where they genuinely want to be.
Bottom line. It’s not up to Christians to tell non-believers where they will spend eternity, it’s up to them to decide where they want to spend eternity and start living their lives accordingly.