The New York Times‘ Charles Blow writes on the op-ed page (“Heaven for the Godless?,”12/27/08): “The Bible makes it clear that heaven is a velvet-roped V.I.P. area reserved for Christians. Jesus said so: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬Ãƒâ€šÂ
He then expresses puzzlement that many Christians nevertheless avow that Jews, Muslims, Hindus and even atheists can get into heaven.
Maybe these Christians know their Bibles better than Blow does: In his most explicit discussion of Judgment Day (Matthew 25:31-46), the Jesus of the Gospels describes the Son of Man saying on his return:
Come, you who are blessed of my father,inherit the kingdom prepared for youfrom the foundation of the world.
ForI was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink;I was a stranger, and you invited me in;naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and youvisited me;I was in prison, and you came to me.
…Truly I say to you,to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.
Note the lack of any reference to believing in Jesus. Blow suggests that “many Christians apparently view their didactic text as flexible.” If by “flexible” he means open to varying interpretations, that’s obviously true. But Blow seems to think that a “literal” interpretation of the Bible requires one tobelieve that Jesus was not speaking literally when he said that helping other people alone could get you into heaven.