11/22/11 Paul, about 50
While grocery shopping I talked with a man named Paul who had an unusual reason for feeling sure he would go to heaven when he dies. He had a near-death experience - a motorcycle accident - yeas ago and he remembers seeing a white light and feeling a tremendous sense of peace, which he believed was heaven. He reasons that as long as he continues to be just as good as he was when this incident occured, he will still go to heaven. He knows of a former coworker that had the same thing happen to him, except he felt that he had been to hell and back. Its hard to argue against something one has experienced personally, but as we talked it was clear that Paul believes fiercely in his own goodness for salvation rather than in Jesus and the cross. He feels he has suffered enough in this life, and that he now deserves some sort of reward. He told of his struggles with childhood neglect, depression and suicidal thoughts. I would have expected him to have low self-esteem, - and I think he did in terms of social confidence - but when I asked how God would judge him he was bursting with pride. He knows he isn't perfect but because he has gone through so many difficult times he believes God accepts all the excuses he has for breaking His laws. He no longer attends church because of a bad experience he had several years ago, in which he felt offended when a church he was attending wouldn't lend him some money when he found himself unemployed. Try as I did to help him take responsibility for the sin in his life, he always found a way to put the blame on God or someone else. He overlooks the good news of Jesus because he sees no need for Him. He ignores the Saviour because he is convinced he doesn't need saving.