Forty years ago followers of Charles Manson committed what many call the most shocking celebrity murders ever to hit Los Angeles. Sharon Tate, along with 6 others, was brutally killed by these individuals. On the front door, painted in blood, read the words, “Death to Pigs.” The city of Los Angeles was hit with terror in the face of this horrible crime. It took 3 months before the name Charles Manson and his followers were linked to this crime.
Today Charles Manson and the majority of his followers are still in prison; each serving life sentences. Two of these murderers, Charles “Tex” Watson and Bruce Davis, while in prison, have become followers of Jesus Christ. Currently, they are ministers and are actively meeting the needs of prisoners. The Bible teaches heaven is for followers of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–  not by works, so that no one can boast.” Saved in this verse refers to being forgiven of your sins and being granted heaven by the grace of God; this all comes as a result of faith. According to the Bible if Watson and Davis are Christians when they die, both will be in heaven. But how can this be? How can two murderers, who committed such heinous crimes, be allowed in heaven? Is this really what Christians believe?
I was once asked this question by a Muslim taxi driver as he drove me from Washington DC to Baltimore. We were in a spiritual discussion as we drove along and I was sharing why no one can earn heaven (Muslims believe God will weigh good deeds and bad deeds and the good person goes to heaven). He then said to me, “Steve, do you mean if I live a good life but don’t believe in Jesus I will go to hell, and a murderer who believes in Jesus will go to heaven? If this is what you believe, I cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ because this is a terrible teaching.” This was a tough question. I knew I was in trouble. At that moment my mind went blank; he had confronted me with what sounded like the most ridiculous belief possible.
How could anyone justify allowing murderers into heaven? How can the Christian God send good people to hell? Is this what we Christians really believe? How would you answer the taxi driver?
I am on vacation and I when I get back on Monday I will show how I answered the taxi driver. I would love to hear what you think.
(Today I caught a limit of good sized trout fishing at Convict Lake in Mammoth, CA. Great fishing!)