Friday, July 10, 2009

An Open Letter to Lily

Dear Lily,

You recently came to me with some interesting questions. Unfortunately, I did not feel like I got the opportunity to answer you properly. This note will hopefully fix that problem. It will make me feel better at least.

The gist of your questions, as I remember and understand them, was "Do people who are not Christians go to heaven?" There were some specifics to your questioning that are not dealt with here, but the general idea is the same. I would like to answer you by asking (and answering) three questions of my own.

  • Who are Christians? This is the problem, isn't it? For you and I are not qualified to judge the spiritual commitment of another. And even if we were, we are in no position to declare someone right or wrong. But, we believe what we believe. We believe it because it seems right. There is evidence to support our faith and we think that it is true. That means that we have begun judging. If my faith is right, then someone else's faith is necessarily wrong. Your question had to do with Mormons, and we are often asked questions about Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists and others whose beliefs seem different from our own. My recommendation to you is that you decide what it is that you believe, what is important for your faith, and then to begin to evaluate it in relation to the beliefs of others.
  • Who gets to go to heaven? This question gets to the heart of the issue. If my beliefs are right, then someone else must be wrong. For example, Jesus cannot be the Son of God and only a good teacher and example for us to follow. He must be one or the other. I believe that we must believe in Jesus as God to get to heaven. Therefore, those who do not believe that must not get to go to heaven.
  • How should we relate to others? Here is where it gets complicated. I do not have to believe what Mormons do, and they do not have to believe like me. And if we choose to disagree, we can be civil and loving to one another. Just because someone disagrees with me does not mean that I should- or ever would- commit them to hell. I need to offer them love, understanding and patience. More people will be won to my way of thinking through grace and peace than through argument and antagonism.

I am not sure if this will help you, but it does help me to systematize my thoughts. I hope that you can find peace with your questions, your friends and your faith.

God bless you.

Uncle Dewey

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