Thursday, May 23, 2013


I wrote this article in 2007, but have held back publishing it until today. It is controversial. Until today, I would have posed this question (which is the title of my article) to the reigning Pope of Rome and to all fundmentalist Christian leaders: 'You mean Gandhi and George Burns aren't in heaven but pedophile priests are?'  But today, Pope Francis released the most inclusive and correct statement, that even "atheists are redeemed,' which verifies my long-held understanding of Christ's teachings.  

Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics



Lydia Cornell

A man arrives at the gates of heaven. St. Peter asks, "Religion?" The man says, "Buddhist" St. Peter looks down his list, and says, "Go to room 24, but be very quiet as you pass room 8."

Another man arrives at the gates of heaven. "Religion? “Muslim.”  Go to room 18, but be very quiet as you pass room 8."A third man arrives at the gates. "Religion?" "Jewish." "Go to room 11, but be very quiet as you pass room 8."

The man says, "I can understand there being different rooms for different religions, but why must I be quiet when I pass room 8?"

St. Peter tells him, "Well only Christians are in room 8, and they think they're the only ones here."


Late in life when Gandhi was asked if he was a Hindu, he replied:
"Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew".

I hate to break the news to certain Christians who are waiting for the Rapture, but Jews, Hindus, Muslims, atheists, abortion doctors, and even liberals, are just as welcome in the Christian version of heaven as you are. Not that Jewish people believe in an afterlife — but a mensch like George Burns is not going to burn in hell on a technicality — just because he’s Jewish, or because certain “Christians” say so.
Ghandi was Hindu pacifist and George Burns was a Jewish comedian. Two more peaceful, loving, delightful souls one cannot imagine. They each lived the very law of love the Great Peacemaker came to teach us. But according to most fundamentalist evangelical Christians, these loving spirits — along with all deceased Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, secular liberals and atheists — are currently burning in an actual place called hell, because they aren’t officially “Christian” by religion. They may walk like Christ, talk like Christ, love their enemy and neighbor as themselves and follow all of Christ’s teachings, but they are burning in eternal hell for not declaring that ‘Jesus as their savior.” 
Could anything be more ridiculously un-Christlike than to judge and condemn another human being based on their color, race, tribe, status, money or religious beliefs?
I’m in conflict with the Church on this, and I’ll probably get into a lot of trouble for speaking out against current evangelical and Pharisaical thought, but I have prayed deeply about this and been given a “revelation” of my own. When Christ said, “I am the way, the path… no one comes to the father but by me,” he meant LOVE is the way and the path. He didn’t mean to be so exclusive, so focused on his “Jesus-ness.”  He meant that he who hates his neighbor, can’t forgive his brother, declares war against his enemies, retaliates in the “an eye for an eye” Old Testament way — or who judges others while ignoring his own pride and the plank in his own eye — none of these children are  ready yet for the kingdom.
My definition of heaven may be different than yours, but I believe all God’s children are welcome, regardless of whether or not they have accepted Jesus as their savior.
Some people these days are so fixated on eternal hell, damnation and judgment for sinners – they have completely forgotten God’s orders to love one another. Without love, nothing matters. We are also supposed to “leave judgment and vengeance to God.”  Doesn't this sound familiar?  Didn’t the Jewish people wait for centuries for a coming Messiah only to reject him because he didn’t come in the robes of an earthly king, dressed in gold?  Could the Dominionists have it all wrong? Do they really think the Prince of Peace will return with a vengeance in a bloodbath?
Back to the Jewish question: can you imagine Larry David, creator of the funniest TV series in history, going down in flames with all his Seinfeld episodes? Or Billy Crystal? I highly doubt any of these gifted funny men are going to burn in hell just because they didn’t accept Jesus as their savior. The Jewish people often have a better understanding of the meaning of life and God’s will than modern-day political evangelicals (the ones that are the most vocal about their Christianity.)
The Jewish people believe in the kind of charity that makes the most of this life, right here. No wonder I always wanted to be Jewish.
            For all of those who use the LaHaye-Jenkins “Left Behind” books as their bible, the only people who are going to be “left behind” are the ones who think others will be left behind! I don’t say that to be cynical or cruel, but since God is Love, and the Kingdom of heaven is within you (according to the Bible) — then it’s obvious isn’t it — that those who don’t have love in their hearts will not be “entering heaven?” To attain heaven means filling our hearts with so much love, love is all we see.
Here’s how it works: since God is love, the people whom militant “Christians” ostracize and judge so harshly — in other words, the peacemakers, the anti-war activists, the poor, the meek, the outcasts (including prisoners, gays, liberals and lepers) — and anyone who loves his enemy, talks to his enemy or uses diplomacy rather than weapons  — will be in heaven before the exclusionists will be. Love casts out fear.
There are 70 million Evangelical Christians in America right now, and many believe in the Left Behind revenge fantasy books, which hope to hurry up the end of the world in a blood bath of catastrophic proportions.  These books promote the theory that good Christians will be raptured or “caught up” with Christ in heaven, leaving their eyeglasses and everyone else behind — everyone who didn't technically declare Jesus Christ as their savior. I guess that includes the unborn!  This selfishly bizarre theory, believe it or not, might actually be determining America's current foreign policy in the Middle East. The Evangelical market is so big now corporate America doesn't dare ignore it. But I believe this brand of evangelism is not only severley misguided, but dangerous and sophomoric.    The word "Rapture" is not found in the Bible. There is also no single word used by the biblical authors to describe the prophetic factors which comprise the doctrine. A mere human being invented the ‘Rapture’ theory in the 1800s. It is an extremely divisive man-made theory. It was theologian John Darby who popularized the Rapture with the scriptural arguments which seem so convincing to some.  But it was a woman named Margaret Macdonald who, in 1830, while ill — had visions of a two-phase Second Coming of Christ. This is where the rapture theory began. Its formulation has come about by means of induction. Certain biblical passages concerning the second coming (and the role that Christians will play in that event) have been inductively blended together to establish the teaching. The modern expression "Rapture" was then invented to explain the overall teaching. It may come as a surprise to many Christians, but the doctrine of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings of which we have knowledge, until after the year 1830 A.D. Whether the early writers were Greek or Latin, Armenian or Coptic, Syrian or Ethiopian, English or German, orthodox or heretic, no one mentioned a syllable about it.[1]
I probably have a lot of nerve speaking up like this. I threw myself to the lions by hosting a bible study full of couples who believe that the only issues to ever consider when voting are the abortion and gay marriage issues. This boggles my mind! No one seems to be aware of the Great Peacemaker’s teachings. These bible study friends took the liberty of warning me that my gay sister is a hedonistic sinner and must never, EVER act on her sexual impulses, unless she converts to heterosexuality.

You do not have to go through a priest or dead saint to get to God, nor do you have to touch a rosary or say seven Hail Mary’s or have any intermediary.  God is directly available to those who choose him.  Since God is the force of unconditional love, and this force dwells within every human being, it is our birthright.  We only have to remember our true nature.  It is arrogant and heinous for Christians to say that no one else can get to heaven who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
The kingdom is at hand. It’s not far off into the distant future or the afterlife. We have to make the most of loving each other right here, right now.
When humans can love each other unconditionally — love their enemies and their neighbors as themselves — then the “rapture” will happen. We will then see heaven as we “become one” with God, or love. It will not be a big Broadway show; it will be a change in consciousness.
Aside from misinterpreting the core of The Great Peacemaker’s teachings, these misguided Christians are obsessed with excluding people who have not technically accepted the name of Jesus as their savior – rather than including those who actually practice the principles Christ taught, regardless of their religion! They care more about the letter than the spirit, the very danger Christ warned about.
Eternal salvation is actually a state of highest consciousness where we merge with God, LOVE, at its purest, ego-less form. Here is where we experience atonement, “at-one-ment” or being one with God. We can only get there by the path Jesus speaks of: the path of love. This is the Second Coming. It will occur in the hearts of men. At this stage of bliss, we are not aware of selfish, self-centered, egotistical agendas. There is no politics. This is for everyone who seeks it, whether or not they say "Jesus is their savior" or not. They just need to abide in love. When mankind loves his neighbor as himself, turns the other cheek, loves his enemies — this is when we will see heaven or “the Second Coming of the risen Lord.”
            There is not going to be a rapture that evaporates people. There will be no "sinners left behind or thrown into eternal damnation". This is not what the God of Love would do, who loves all his children. Those who so arrogantly judge others will be left behind by their own narrow-mindedness — because their hearts are not big enough yet to love their enemies.  Their enemies are the people who are offensive or frightening to them.  They are not ready yet to let Love conquer their fear and realize we are all ONE.
These rabid new "Christians" would have Gandhi, Elton John and even a mensch like George Burns in hell — while pedophile priests go to heaven — simply because the priests worship the cult of the personality of Jesus; simply because they utter a few words proclaiming the flesh Jesus as their savior. The most ludicrous example of this is the “deathbed Christian:" a war criminal can be “saved” by announcing he has faith in Jesus right before his death. Words, dogma, letters strung together without meaning, without essence, without spirit — the letter of the law without the spirit behind it. This is the very thing that so angered Jesus about the Pharisees, whom he called hypocrites. They sauntered through town in hats and fancy robes, praying openly to make sure people knew they were pious — but their hearts were made of stone.
Pedophile priests, rapists and murderers can be redeemed if they heal these ancient wounds by truly “abiding in love for their fellow man,” which is soul-changing. To be remade or reborn in the Lord means to give up selfishness, to “lose their material fixations, and gain eternal life.”
Christ, as Love personified, came to teach us not to worship the man Jesus, his fleshly body and personality, his “Jesusness” — but to love our neighbor as our self (this means our immigrant neighbors too) and to take care of the least among us. We are to love our enemy, for God is love. 
According to Christ’s command, Christians must “resist not evil” which means stop fighting and hating each other.  If we turn to love, which is our very nature, we will have this so-called “eternal salvation,” but here’s the catch: we cannot exclude those who don’t believe in Jesus — for this is not loving. It is absolutely un-Christian! And it certainly won’t get us into heaven. We can’t go around telling non-Christians that they are going to hell, and that only “we” are saved!  This is arrogant, divisive, exclusionary, inflammatory and it isn’t even true!
            Jesus himself would never have snubbed anyone, least of all people who rejected him. Christians have been misguided by the religions that sprung up around Christ — but it is absolutely false to say that Hindi, Buddhists, Secularists, Jewish and Muslim peoples are all going to burn in hell because they don’t declare Jesus as their savior!
            These modern-day rapture-obsessed Pharisees are so set on the show, the style over substance – and on being superior to the heathens, homosexuals and sinners – they are going to be very surprised when the meek inherit the earth.  The meek are the ones who don’t brag, don’t talk so loudly, and don’t even think they are going to heaven!
            The joke is, a God of unconditional love would never be so cruel as to throw away his creation, man, his masterpiece – made in God’s own image, just because he committed an earthly “sin” or mistake. Jesus never hated anyone or condemned anyone. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to wake up. 
But if you are of the narrow man-made belief that you have to technically, verbally or silently declare your belief in Jesus Christ before you physically die — or you are condemned to eternal damnation (or you will burn in hell) – then you have been terribly misguided.  The good news is that this bizarre, unloving belief can instantly be reversed and replaced by the loving, gentle Christ Truth. God loves us each unconditionally and doesn’t see “bad” or evil. Accordng to Genesis One, God is good. God is all-in-all. The minute we remember our innate goodness, we turn away from “sin” and forgive ourselves for our bigotry and intolerance of others.  Just abide in love and follow Christ's Golden Rule.  And as Stuart Smalley says, "It's easier to wear slippers than to carpet the whole world." 

The controversy surrounding Dan Brown’s blockbuster bestseller The DaVinci Code has opened an important dialogue about the foundations of the world’s oldest religion. I think it’s important to say here that whether or not one believes that Jesus was married or not makes no difference; his essential message stays the same:  love one another. I happen to believe he performed healing miracles and wanted us all to do the same, for the same mind that was in Christ “is in us; and the kingdom of heaven is within.” He wanted us to uncover the Christ consciousness within all of us. The DaVinci Code in no way diminishes the beauty and reality of Christ’s ministry; after his crucifixion, his name and his teachings expanded. Christianity grew exponentially and took on a life of its own: the Romans saw this as an opportunity to capitalize on this movement and form a ritualistic church in order to control this booming trend. But Jesus himself taught no theology whatsoever. In fact, the main evil he warned against repeatedly was overly religious people, and Pharisaical thought. 
“You have to lose your life to save it.” Here Christ means that we have to lose our self-centeredness, our dependence on materialism and fear — in order to extend ourselves to think of others first.  We have to lose our grip on self, which includes worry about what we eat and wear, our fascination with disease, money and status. We have to help others; then we will be “saved.” This is the salvation Christ was talking about.
Did our Christian president bring peace and tender loving care to our enemies in 2005 by aggressively invading and bombing Iraq with “shock and awe?”  Of course it's hard to send love to someone you think is trying to kill you, that’s why the ‘gate is narrow’ that leads to salvation.
If a presidential candidate calls himself a Christian, he should at least follow Christ’s actual teachings. A true Christian leader would never promote fear of other religions in a country founded on freedom of religion. True Christians are called to love their enemies (which actually means “a soft answer turns away wrath” – it means to “see no enemy or to stop defining a person as an enemy — because you then define him, solidify him, and lock him into that picture. In Quantum Physics, this is actually how a particle becomes a wave; it’s the way thought creates matter: the observer ‘particularizes’ the object by his judgment.)  It is much wiser to trust the universe and choose to never to fear our fellow man, for love casts out fear. Christ said there is no value in returning love for love, even criminals do that; you must return love for hate, and love even those who momentarily appear unlovable in the mortal realm.

Most Christians think they are saved by grace, but this is not what Christ meant when he said you don't have to earn salvation. None of us have to earn our birthright. But we do have to learn to love each other as God loves all his children, even the Pharisees. When they wake up and see the error of their ways, they too will be fit and clothed in righteousness. There is a spiritual key to the Bible.

All of Christ's teaching is about the sins of intolerance and hatred. These need to be cut out of the new man with the spiritual sword, which separates hate from love. The new pre-millenialists or right-wing Christian religious fanatics believe they will be saved simply because they state they “believe” Jesus as their savior (while not walking in his footsteps of loving those they hate and turning the other cheek to the people who offend them: homosexuals, lepers, prostitutes, the homeless, the "liberals.")  Here's the most obvious example I can come up with:  Gandhi, a man who actually lived exactly as Christ wanted us to, who nourished the poor, couldn't be corrupted or “bought,” resisted war against all odds — is he in “hell” simply because he didn't technically state that Jesus was his savior?  He was Hindi, but full of love and peace. When Christ said, “None comes to the Father except by me” and “by your fruits you shall know them,” he meant LOVE is the way to the Father.


Lydia Cornell ©
Copyright 2007

[1] The Rapture Theory: Its Surprising Origin.