Here's my response to this week's challenge:
This week's challenge is an argument that attempts to prove that Christianity is false based on two premises:
A.) Christianity states the following:
1. God is benevolent, just and fair
2. When you die, your soul goes either to heaven or to hell…
3. The only way to salvation (i.e. Heaven) is thru a belief in Jesus Christ. One literally has to accept Jesus as ones savior
B.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (better known as just Gandhi) is universally accepted as a great and decent human being who:
1. Lived for just over 78 years and is now deceased
2. Was a Hindu
3. Was a deeply religious and spiritual man however never accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour in the 78 plus years of his life.
The three following conclusions can be drawn from the above statements:
1.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is now in hell as he never accepted Jesus as his saviour
• Therefore God is not benevolent, just and fair.
• Therefore Christianity is wrong
2.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is now in heaven
• Therefore a belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as your saviour is not necessary to go to heaven
• Therefore Christianity is wrong
3.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is neither in heaven or hell
• Therefore your soul does not go to heaven or hell when you die.
• Therefore Christianity is wrong.
There are all sorts of mistaken assumptions and problems with this challenge, but I want to focus on two main concerns I have. The first is the notion of what it means for God to be just and fair. The second thing I think they're mistaken about is the notion of salvation in Christianity. They presume that salvation in Christianity is based on good works rather than God's grace.
The argument is that in order to get into heaven, you have to do good deeds, and that's how you achieve salvation in Christianity. The argument says Gandhi did all these good deeds, but he didn't do the one good deed – accepting Jesus as your Savior – and that's why Gandhi is in hell. Of course, that would make God unjust because Gandhi didn't do that one good deed. He’s done all these other deeds, so that would justify him going to heaven. Since he's in hell, this is what makes God unjust and unfair.
Not only does this challenge get the notion of the gospel and salvation in Christianity wrong, it actually gets at the opposite to the true gospel. People don't go to hell because they don't believe in Jesus, they go to hell because they’re guilty of crimes they’ve committed against God, and God is punishing them for it.
Suppose Gandhi does all the good deeds that people think he does, but one day, in a fit of rage, he carjacks someone and steals their car. He goes before a judge, and the judge says, “We're going to punish you and send you to jail. Gandhi says, “Hey wait a minute. I've done a lot of good deeds in my life. I'm universally accepted as being a good moral person. I’ve done all sorts of great things that liberated India. I've done all these actions without resorting to violence. I have achieved so much good. You can't punish me for what I just did.”
The justice says, “I'm glad you’ve done all these good things, but you stole a car. Stealing a car is a crime. When you commit a crime, you deserve to be punished.” In fact, I would submit to you that a judge that didn't punish Gandhi for committing that crime would be an unjust judge.
I think this is also true in the spiritual realm. Even if Gandhi has done all kinds of great deeds, so long as he's committed a crime against God, he still deserves to be punished. In fact, that's the case for all of us who commit crimes. We deserve to be punished regardless of how many good deeds we've done in the past.
In fact, I submit to you that in the same way we would think a judge who doesn't give a punishment for committing a crime is unjust in the physical realm, so God would also be unjust if he didn't punish wrongdoing. Jesus plays a role in the gospel story, but it’s only after you understand we deserve to be punished, including Gandhi. We've committed moral crimes against God.
Here's how Jesus fits into the picture. God says, “You deserve to be punished, but I'm willing to offer you a pardon. I get to decide the terms of the pardon because you violated under my jurisdiction. Here's how the pardon works: I will allow my son Jesus to pay for the crimes that you deserve to be punished for. However, in return you have to give me a lifetime of commitment.”
Here's the deal: you can accept that pardon and go free, or you pay for the crimes yourself. It's your choice. The bottom line is that you can't prove Christianity is false if you mistake what it means for God to be just and fair and you mistake the notion of how you achieve salvation. Those aren’t just some trivial points in Christianity, those are fundamental aspects of the Christian worldview.