Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress has argued that Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi is going to hell for not being a Christian, and suggested that former President Jimmy Carter may be leading others to hell for suggesting otherwise.
During his Sunday sermon at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Jeffress positioned that there is nothing else that can save people — not naturalism, moralism, or even religion, including Judaism.
"It doesn't matter if someone is a sincere follower of another religion; they are sincerely wrong," he said.
Jeffress pointed to a recent interview Carter did with The New York Times, where he talked about his Christian faith, and was asked whether someone like Gandhi, who led India's independence movement through nonviolent campaigns, would be going to hell for not being a Christian himself.
"I do not feel qualified to make a judgment. I am inclined to give him (or others) the benefit of any doubt," Carter, who teaches Sunday school, said in reply.
Jeffress said of Carter's answer, "Now that sounds so good. That sounds so humble. 'Oh, who am I to judge, only God can judge.'"
The Dallas pastor agreed that only God can make the judgment of who goes to heaven or hell, but suggested that in Gandhi's case, his non-Christian path makes his destination clear.
"God has already made that judgment," Jeffress said, raising his voice.
"He (Jesus) has said 'Nobody comes to the Father except through me.' And when we stutter about that truth, and hesitate and try to be humble in front of people, we are responsible [for] leading people to hell because we are suggesting there is another opening somewhere, and we have shirked our responsibility as ministers and proclaimers of the truth of God's word."
The pastor focused his entire sermon on that message, insisting that the only way to God is through faith in Jesus Christ, rejecting any theology that suggests there could be other ways as well.
"Jesus said in Luke 13:24: 'Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able,'" he told the congregation.
"There is a broad way that most humanity is on that leads to eternal separation from God. And there is the narrow road, that few are on, that leads to eternal life."
Jeffress noted that there are many people, including many Christians, who challenge such a view, and insist that "it just can't be right" that billions of people are going to hell.
He said that they often also engage in theological questions, such as what happens to the "heathen in Africa" who never heard the Gospel message and so has not had a chance to respond to it.
Jeffress repeatedly insisted, however, that Jesus makes it clear that He is the only way.
"There is a way that seems right to people, but it leads to destruction. Jesus emphasized that over and over again — there are two roads and the one that leads to eternal life is very, very narrow."
"Jesus Christ is the only door that leads to Salvation," he repeated. He paused in the middle of his sermon to admit that he has had more trouble with this week's sermon than any other one in a long time.
"I had trouble because it seemed like I was saying the same thing over and over and over again. Over these last couple of weeks and months we have talked about this repeatably, that there are not many ways to heaven, there is one way to heaven," the pastor explained.
He revealed that he was able to put aside his concerns after realizing that Jesus Himself also repeated this message often.
"We cannot say that loudly enough or frequently enough," he stressed.