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The God Squad: More than one path to heaven

November 30, 2012|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

During this season of trying to remember that the ways we're different are so much less important than the ways we're all the same, I present a typical letter from someone who doesn't quite see things this way.

— Rabbi Gellman

Q: I feel very sorry for you. Your beliefs regarding the soul will cause a lot of lost people to spend eternity in hell. The belief that all souls except for the very bad will go to heaven and people of all faiths and no faiths will inherit heaven is so far off that it's a sin for it to be published.

I won't even touch the subject of reincarnation; that's too ridiculous to think about.

I'm afraid some lost and confused people will read your column and determine that somehow they can become good enough to go to heaven. Of all the people in world, a Jew should know, from the Bible, that following all the laws in the world, which no man can ever do, will not get you into heaven.


You and all the lost, before it's too late, need to read the complete Bible, not just the first five books. Only then can you possibly understand that only through a full belief in Jesus Christ can you ever get into heaven. I will pray for your understanding of the truth. If I'm wrong, then, according to your words, I will still go to heaven? If I'm right and you are wrong, then you will spend eternity in hell. Think about it.

— Regards, F.E.A., via

A: You asked me to think about your claims and I've spent years doing just that. Here are my conclusions:

How can you know if someone really believes in Jesus? Is saying so enough? What about the people who say they believe but really don't? Or what about the people who say they don't believe but really do?

One of the reasons I love the laws in the Hebrew Bible is that they're about actions, and it's much easier to determine if a person has acted in a proper way. Placing such a heavy burden of salvation on belief requires some way to determine sincere belief, and this seems nearly impossible to me. Think about it.

I do not understand how you can believe that a terrible person who's lived a corrupt life but who accepts Jesus at the last moment of his or her life is admitted to heaven, while a person who's lived an exemplary life but does not believe in Jesus is kept out of heaven. Do you honestly believe that Gandhi is in hell? If a recently converted serial killer is in heaven and Gandhi is in hell, I must tell you that I would absolutely, positively rather be in hell. Think about it.

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