Do nice people go to heaven?
Jay Carty, founder of Yes! Ministries and former pro basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, began addressing the question at a Focus on the Family chapel service by comparing sin with onions.
"Sin makes you stink," he said. "We're kind of like onions. We stink.
"If you put an onion in the refrigerator, everything will stink."
In heaven, no "stink" is allowed. Otherwise, like in the refrigerator, one onion can stink up heaven.
Going back to the question "Do nice people go to heaven?" Carter says no.
The question is one of the most commonly asked and standard questions the unchurched has. Dr. Hal Seed and Dr. Dan Grider list similar questions – "Can a loving God send people to Hell?" and "Do all religions lead to heaven?" – as some of the most standard questions the public has in their book, The God Questions. But it's also a question most Christians wonder about, said Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson at the chapel service attended by the organization's staff.
Yet, you don't hear it talked about in church very often, Dobson pointed out.
Some people use a scale to answer the common yet difficult-to-address question. The scale of measuring how qualified a person is for heaven consists of Hitler, considered the most evil person in history, at one end and Mother Theresa, considered the most virtuous, at the other.
"That's how you come to the conclusion that God grades on the curve," said Carty. "That's how you come to the conclusion that nice people really don't go to hell because you got the wrong standard.
"The minute you take on the absolute holy standard of God, then nobody qualifies."
To put it simply, "Being a nice person won't cut it;" or more bluntly stated, "Nice people really do go to hell."
That's a concept many Christians struggle with, including Carty who said there is no doctrine in the Bible that he wants to be wrong any more than that one.
So what do you do with the onion?
You saran wrap it. Then it won't stink anything up, according to Carty. The blood of Jesus Christ serves as that saran wrap, he indicated.
Alluding to the popular story of Jesus saving the one lost sheep while leaving the other 99, Carty told the room of believers to make saving souls a passion. "If it takes 99 Christians to save one lost sheep, God says, 'Very good trade.'"
The Focus on the Family chapel service in Colorado Springs was featured in the ministry's daily audio broadcast on Wednesday.