Got a One-Way Ticket...But to Where?
In this post, I present a thought exercise for Christians and any other individuals who believe in a deity who passes judgment following corporeal death. I realize, according to Christian doctrine, only god is allowed to judge and any assessment made by a mere human would be guesswork. However, I believe the answers—tentative and uncertain though they inevitably shall be—might be instructive for my readers. With that housekeeping note out of the way, the remainder of this entry shall be a summary of the life of Henry Toole, a character whom I invented for this exercise. I shall be as detailed as necessary, so the case can be properly adjudicated.
Henry Toole was born to a family of Southern Baptists living in
Over the next few years, doubt began to enter Henry’s mind. The tales of Adam and Eve, a global cataclysm flooding the planet and corpses rising from the tomb no longer seemed as convincing to Henry as they had when he was ten. He married a girl from his town, Patricia, who was moderately religious. By the age of 28, Henry had lost all faith and adopted the label of atheist. His abandonment of his religious convictions was not the result of a personal tragedy or being influenced by skeptics around him. Rather, he simply came to the firm realization that he no longer believed any of the dogma with which he had been raised. He ceased all churchgoing activities; Patricia, under no pressure from Henry, adopted an agnostic stance three years later.
Henry and his wife had three sons, none of whom was raised Christian. Henry never addressed the subject of religion with his sons. In fact, he never discussed religion at all; he was not the type to badmouth the church or blaspheme the deity in which he no longer believed. When they started their family, both Henry and Patricia agreed they would not push their children in any direction with respect to religion, choosing instead to let each find his own way. And, in fact, all three sons eventually became Southern Baptists. Henry and his wife never expressed any objections, and joyfully attended each son’s religious wedding.
Henry and Patricia had a happy marriage, which lasted 58 years. Although there were occasional temptations, neither one ever strayed from the other. Henry was a loving, generous, attentive and supportive husband, as well as a dedicated father who provided all he could to his family. In addition to his work schedule, for roughly half a dozen years, Henry found time to volunteer at a local children’s hospital. A fitness enthusiast, he also regularly participated in walkathons and marathons for charitable causes, ranging from treatment of chronic disease to elimination of poverty. Perhaps his most selfless moment was when one of his sons needed a kidney transplant. With little hesitation, Henry agreed to donate a kidney to his son.
Throughout his life, Henry never regained his religiosity, and neither did his agnostic wife. He died at age 83 and had a secular funeral ceremony, as he specified. His family, including many grandchildren, was devastated, overwhelmed with grief from the loss of “pop-pop,” as he was affectionately known.
Where shall Henry Toole be sent?