how do you know you’re going to heaven?


Our friends at Grace Church have an application form for people who want to become members. One of the questions on the application form is quite intriguing:

How do you know you are a Christian and going to Heaven? 

What kind of sales pitch can one Christian give to another Christian to prove they are going to Heaven? What separates a proper Christian from wishful-thinking-Christian, and how can another human being evaluate that?

Lots of Christians believe that if you don’t have a full body immersion baptism, your sins haven’t been cleansed and you’ll go to hell. If you think a god that requires a bath in exchange for eternal life is petty, it gets worse. What about the god that gets picky about his oils? I read a post recently that celebrated a Catholic convert joining the fold, where one of the concerned commenters asked the recent convertee if the priest had used vegetable oil or olive oil (for what I don’t know) because if it been vegetable oil, his eternal soul would be imperilled.

The truth is, that given the vast differences in interpretation of the Bible that exist in the world, no Christian can be sure they are a proper Christian and that they are going to heaven. Yet for some reason, they all think their interpretation and their rituals are correct.

Lots of Christian denominations are waking up the fact that their claim to be the correct interpretation of Christianity is, quite frankly, improbable. So, officially, they accept that anyone who has “Christ in their heart” (whatever that means) is a Christian.

Unfortunately, at an individual level, everyone still thinks everyone else is doing it wrong. Ask the average Catholic what they think of Protestant worship and vice versa. Ask any Fundamentalist what they think of anyone who believes the earth is over 6000 years old. Ask anyone who’s not a Mormon what they think of Joseph Smith’s special revelation.

Everyone’s wrong except for me. And as an atheist, I join that noble human tradition of looking at every denomination of Christianity and every religion in the world and asking, “How on earth can they believe that?” The only difference being, I can’t see the one that looks correct, or in any way possible.