For heaven’s sake, say what the Bible says

This is ridiculous – it took an atheist to clarify what the Bible says about who goes to heaven.

In the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend, Mike Carlton, an atheist, rightly contradicts Cardinal George Pell:

Tony Jones: … is it possible for an atheist to go to heaven?

George Pell: Well, it’s not my business…

Jones: You’re the only authority we have here.

Pell: I would say certainly.

Jones: Yeah?

Pell: Certainly!

Thus, with one small word but one grand gesture, Gorgeous George swept away the brilliant edifice of 2000 years not just of Catholic teaching, but of Christianity itself. You don’t have to believe in God to make it past St Peter and in through the pearly gates. Still less do you need the encrusted paraphernalia of organised religion, the bells and smells and so on. You just have to be good.

I’m not sure he’s right, though. Reluctant as I am to quote scripture to a prince of the church, this would seem to fly in the face of John 14.6: ”Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

Christened a Catholic, educated an Anglican, I was always taught this meant that only faith in Christ got you to heaven. Heathens of any sort need not apply.

As an atheist now, this doesn’t worry me. But it is cheering to think that if I am wrong and there is a Christian God, she’ll judge me on my merits and not whether I went to church.

Wherever I end up, I hope I don’t get stuck near Richard Dawkins. Brilliant chap, but painfully devoid of a sense of humour.

See the full debate between Dawkins and Pell here.