As a theologian, I have always been intrigued by the aspect of Christianity and Christian teachings about the afterlife. Recently, I became interested in reading more about whether non-Christians can go to heaven too. To gain more insight, I conducted extensive research from the Bible and consulted Bible Scholars and clergy from different denominations, where I learned a lot. Last Monday, students in my theology class wanted to know if one can go to heaven if they are not Christian. This question arose after one student mentioned that some religious leaders claimed that even atheists would go to heaven if they did good works on Earth. Through my extensive research, I was able to give them in-depth biblical answers. So, can you go to heaven if you’re not Christian?
Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans 10:9-10 teaches the importance of faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation and eternal life. This means it is impossible to go to heaven if one is not Christian. Being a Christian means putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who is the only way to go to ‘The Father’ (heaven), according to the Book of John 14:6.
In this article, I will explore what it means to be a Christian, what Jesus taught about non-believers and their eternal destination, the Catholic Church’s stand on non-Christians and their afterlife, if God forgives the non-believers, and if there are other religions in heaven.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
Simply put, Christianity, or being a Christian, is to put your faith and trust wholly in Jesus and to follow His teachings. It means believing in who He is and believing that He died for your sins and was resurrected. John 1:12 teaches that only those who believe in Jesus have the right to be Children of God. Christianity also means becoming a new creation. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, those who believe in Christ are transformed into new beings. 1 John 2:4 teaches that being a Christian means following Jesus’ commands.
What did Jesus teach about non-believers and their eternal destination?
John 3:18 states that if you do not believe in the name of God, you stand condemned, while 1 John 5:10 explains that if you do not believe, you make God a liar because you do not believe in His testimony about Jesus.
In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus taught that when non-believers die, they temporarily go to Hades, which is a place of torment. After judgment, they will spend eternity in hell (lake of fire) as per Revelation 20:12-15. Jesus, in Matthew 3:12, compared non-believers to ‘chaff” that He will burn in unquenchable fire.
What does the Catholic Church say about non-Christians and their afterlife?
The Catholic Church believes that the final judgment of both Christians and non-Christians fully depends on God alone. However, the church doctrine bases its teachings of the afterlife on God’s Mercy. According to The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), those who might not know Christ but strive in their hearts to do good might be saved eventually.
The Vatican II’s “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” states that Just as Jesus suffered, died, and resurrected, believers must also die. However, there is hope of resurrection after the grave. It continues to state that this also applies to all men of goodwill in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way because Jesus died for all men and not believers only.
Does God forgive the non-believers?
Yes. According to 1 John 1:9, God forgives non-believers if they confess their sins. The Bible continues to state in Luke 15:7 that heaven rejoices when just one non-believer repents. 2 Peter 3:9 teaches that it is not the will of God for anyone to perish but for every human being to repent and be saved.
Are there other religions in heaven?
Most Christians believe that salvation is achieved only through faith in Jesus Christ, and therefore heaven is reserved for those who believe in Christ. Others believe that God’s merciful judgment might favor those who have not heard the Gospel. They might be judged differently and even allowed into heaven. However, Biblically, the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, as taught in John 14:6. Jesus told His disciples that no one could see God except they believe in Jesus. John 3:16 also states that anyone who believes in Jesus will go to heaven. This, therefore, implies that the only religion that will be in heaven is that which believes that Jesus is their Lord and that He died and resurrected.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.