Website owner: James Miller
EVANGELICAL BELIEF ON SALVATION 3/98 Evangelicals, most of them at least, believe that a person will or will not go to heaven according to whether he has or has not performed a certain action. If he has performed that action he will go to heaven; if he has not, he will not go to heaven. The action alone determines whether he will or will not go to heaven. It follows then as a direct corollary that after he has performed the required action nothing else in the way of actions, conduct, attitudes, values, beliefs, affections, etc. has any relevance or bearing as to whether he goes to heaven or not. It is a totally separate issue, an unrelated matter. He can live an immoral, profligate life, do anything he wants, and still go to heaven. This conclusion follows immediately and inescapably from their belief. They may hem and haw when asked about this but it is a direct consequence. And, of course, this conclusion stands in direct conflict not only with a large body of scripture, but also with common sense. If it were true God would be a God of sham. Wicked people would be going to heaven and good people would be going to hell. Let us now compare their view that a person's eternal destiny is determined by the performance or nonperformance of some action with my view that it is determined by the affections of the heart and mind (i.e. whether a person loves God and is following in his way or not). Their view is legalistic and mechanical, nonsubstantive; my view is substantive --- it refers to what a person is, what drives him. The evangelicals use various phrases to describe the action to be performed in order to go to heaven: "accept Christ as your personal Savior", "give your heart to Jesus", etc. These phrases are somewhat vague and nebulous as to their meaning and their meanings vary --- they are not completely consistent with each other and really represent different criterions for salvation (some are just rewordings of those scripture that state that if you just believe in Jesus you will be saved). However, in practice, the action generally involves just saying a prayer to God telling him that you want to accept Christ as your Savior, give your heart to him, etc.. The evangelical question is, "Did you give your heart to Jesus?"; my question is, "Is Jesus the lord of your heart?" They want to know if you have done something; I want to know what you are, who is in control of your heart. Do I have any objection to someone giving his heart to Jesus? Of course not. It is the proper place to start. But one must keep one's mind clear on what makes one a Christian. I believe you are not a Christian because you have done something; you are a Christian because of what you are, because of who is ruling your heart. And I know that the beliefs and doctrines of evangelicalism lead into deep self-deception.