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Matthew 25: Will There Be Any Evangelicals in Heaven?


Warning: I paint with a broad brush in this post. If you are not the type of Evangelical mentioned in this post, no need to whine, complain, moan, and object to my unfair characterization of your tribe. Perhaps you should ponder why you are still an Evangelical instead of feeling butt-hurt over being unfairly characterized. When Donald Trump was elected, that was your cue to run, run, run. Unless you have no legs or are in a wheelchair, I can’t think of one reason for thoughtful, decent, socially aware Christians to remain Evangelical. Note that this was initially written in 2018 and has been updated.

Many critics believe that Evangelicalism is imploding; that the baby birthed by the Moral Majority decades ago has now turned into a full-grown, power-hungry monster. Drunk with political success, many Evangelicals have abandoned all pretense of being followers of Jesus. Eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — arguably the most unqualified, most vile man to ever sit in the Oval Office. In 2020, Evangelicals lined up and voted for Trump again. Trump made and continues to make a mockery of virtually everything Evangelicals supposedly hold dear, yet the former president continues to have widespread support in the Evangelical community. Trump is a pathological liar, capable of repeatedly contradicting himself in a matter of minutes. He is also guilty of trying to overthrow the Federal government. Showing all the marks of being a sociopath, the former president has no regard for women, children, the disabled, or, quite frankly, the human race. Trump is a one-man band, and all that matters to him is the fawning love he receives at campaign rallies and from positive news coverage. Trump continues to attack the very foundation of our democracy. He daily lashes out at the media — calling them fake, threatening them with punitive action. It is clear to all who are paying attention that Trump is in bed domestically and internationally with people out to destroy our country. Winning at all costs is what matters to Trump. Despite all these things, Evangelicals still overwhelmingly support porn-star-loving, pussy-grabber-in-chief, Donald Trump. It seems the disgraced ex-president was right when he said that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and people would still vote for him. It leaves me to wonder if there’s anything Trump could do that would cause Evangelicals to turn on him and demand an end to his reign. (And, no, Ron De Santis isn’t any better.) I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, the pathological need for a return to the mythical days when America was white, Christian, and heterosexual precludes most Evangelicals from ever seriously asking themselves the question, what would Jesus do?

The current state of affairs has me wondering if there will be any Evangelicals in Heaven? I have my doubts. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

According to this passage of Scripture — and yes, I am well aware of all the ways Evangelicals use to get around the clear intent and implication of this passage — there is coming a day when Jesus will return to earth with his angels and sit upon the throne of his glory. At that time, he will gather humanity together and judge them, dividing them into two categories: sheep and goats. The sheep will be rewarded with eternal life, whereas the goats will receive everlasting punishment as their reward. How will Jesus determine who is in what category? Will it be, as Evangelicals contend, right beliefs that put them in the sheep pen, and wrong beliefs that land most of the human race — past and present — in the goat pen? Is right belief the true gospel Evangelicals preach? Or is there some other standard by which Jesus will judge the dead and the living on judgment day? The aforementioned passage of Scripture is clear; it is good works and not right beliefs that determine our eternal destiny. I have long argued that one must ignore much of the Gospels to conclude that good works have nothing to do with salvation. Note carefully what Jesus said would be his standard of judgment:

  • Feeding the hungry
  • Giving drink to the thirsty
  • Taking in strangers and caring for them
  • Clothing the naked
  • Caring for the sick
  • Caring for those in prison

Considering the current state of affairs and Evangelicals’ continued support of the Republican Party and Donald Trump, it’s fair to ask if there will be any Evangelicals in Heaven. In fact, I wonder if the largest section in Hell will be reserved for American Evangelicals. Using Jesus’ standard of judgment, there will be few Evangelicals in God’s eternal sheep pen. And it’s just not their support of Republican policy and President Trump that will land them in Hell. For decades now, Evangelicals have increasingly found themselves on the opposite side of the teachings of Christ. While Evangelicals revel in their love for zygotes, many of them show little interest in life after birth. Once born, children are left to the wolves, expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps before they even own a pair of boots. Evangelicals overwhelmingly support government-sponsored violence. Ever the flag wavers, Evangelicals continue to support the murderous actions of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and countless other countries. Drones rain violence and death from the sky, and Evangelicals say nothing, believing that part of making America great again is fighting them [Muslims] over there [Middle East] so we don’t have to fight them here. Evangelicals seem indifferent toward the maiming and killing of hundreds of thousands of children, women, unborn babies, and innocent bystanders. I wonder what Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would say about Evangelical support of these things? Something tells me that, much like asylum-seekers on our southern border, Evangelicals will be turned away at St. Peter’s gate. You see, it’s behavior that matters, not beliefs. Don’t tell me what you believe, show me!

Evangelicals not only support the American war machine, but they are staunch supporters of unbridled capitalism and its immoral destruction of our planet. Jesus had a lot to say about money, and something tells me that if Jesus were alive today, he and Bernie Sanders might be best friends. Greed rules virtually every aspect of American life, yet most Evangelical preachers never say a word. How can they, with their fancy churches, stained-glass windows, and multi-million-dollar church budgets? Something tells me that these modern moneychangers would find themselves at the end of Jesus’ whip as he overturned their media tables and soundboards. Think of all the good that could be done with the money Evangelicals spend on buildings, staff, and incestuous programs that do little more than entertain fat sheep — or fat goats. Evangelicals support the rich getting richer at the expense of working-class people. I wonder who Jesus would hang out with if he came back to earth today? The ruling class? The rich? The powerful? Big name preachers? I suspect, as the Joshua series of books — written by Catholic priest Joseph Girzone — so aptly showed, that Jesus would be found hanging out at the local pub and caring for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned — the very people Evangelicals have no time for. But Jesus, some Evangelical might say, we are having a worship service in your name tonight. Surely you will want to spend your time with us. Why, we even pray for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned. And you know Lord, once a year our church has what we call Serve Day (a local church does just that). For five hours, we do good stuff for people. Don’t you want to join us, Lord, as we take five hours out of our busy masturbatory Jesus-worship schedule to give back to our community? I suspect that Jesus might inquire as to where all their money went; the money he gave them to do good works; the money he gave them to, you know, care for the weak, the poor, the disadvantaged, and marginalized.

Thanks to widespread ignorance concerning matters of science, many Evangelicals are also global climate-change deniers. Believing that the earth is six thousand twenty-six years old, created in six literal twenty-four-hour days, will ruin the best of minds. Besides, why worry about increasing sea levels, increasing temperatures, and wildlife habitat loss when the return of Jesus is imminent? To heck with the world, Evangelicals say, God is in charge of the weather, and if he wants increasing sea levels and increased temperatures, who are we to object?

Everything that I’ve written above will likely just piss off Evangelicals. I’m an atheist, humanist, pacifist, and a socialist, so Evangelicals will likely ignore what I have to say. I’m just a guy with an axe to grind. I hate God (just kidding — I don’t in any god), so it’s no wonder that I have it out for God’s chosen ones. However, Evangelicals might consider that perhaps I am right, and that their continued support of Republican politics, Donald Trump, capitalism, and a host of other anti-Christian behaviors might earn them a bunk in Hell. Perhaps Evangelicals need to consider Pascal’s Wager — you know, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, caring for strangers, and all the other things that Jesus said are the markers of a man or woman who follows after him, just in case Jesus really meant what he said. Yes, I am an atheist. The miracle-working Jesus of the Bible is a myth, but the human Jesus who walked the streets of Jerusalem and the shores of Galilee said some good things that Evangelicals might want to put into practice if they expect to be singing four-part harmony with the angels in the sweet by-and-by. And even if there is no Heaven or Hell, no afterlife, no judgment — don’t you want to be kind, thoughtful, and helpful to others? I know I do.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    I don’t know how historically accurate one can take the gospels as they were written decades after the death of Jesus, but either he was that kind of teacher or people wanted him to be. In any case, the Jesus of the gospels would probably be appalled at the TV evangelists asking for money in Jesus’ name so they can buy a jet; at those who proclaim to follow Jesus but advocate mistreatment of LBGTQ people, immigrants, people of other or no religions; people who seek to legislate their beliefs onto a population instead of getting down with the people and comforting, feeding, clothing those in need. I am not saying all evangelicals are like this – I know some who do get down and dirty – but those are few and far between. One of my progressive Christian friends (formerly evangelical) told me she met more non religious people consistently doing charity work than she met religious ones.

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    They say the bible is the word of their God, and they claim it’s their guide to faith and practice, but that’s just lip-service. I was a Christian for 50+ years, and I never met a person who truly took the book seriously, myself included. They call themselves “Christ followers”, however, they don’t meet the criteria. According to the book, Jesus instructed the rich young ruler to sell all his goods and donate the money to the poor, as a condition of being a follower. I have yet to meet someone who has done that.

    They don’t follow the teachings of Jesus. They prefer the words of Paul, because Paul’s teachings allow them to keep their stuff. But, Paul contradicts Jesus. Paul preaches right belief as the means to salvation, but Jesus clearly preaches good works. I saw this contradiction years ago, and it is one of the main reasons why I began to question. I see this as one of the proofs that the book and the religion cannot be of define origin; surely a true God would not be so inconsistent, especially about something as important as the means of salvation.

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    Actually…if you take the Bible literally (as evangelists are wont to do) Maybe it is literally sheep (Ovis aries) that will be in heaven. Humans (Homo sapiens) need not apply…it’s going to be baaaaad!.

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    The problem with judging based on belief is that belief is something over which we have no control. No matter how much I might utter the words ‘I believe Jesus existed and was born of a virgin’ the fact is I don’t. Nobody can help their beliefs, though irrational ones can sometimes be swayed by evidence though, being irrational in the first place, doesn’t really bode well for an understanding of evidence.

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    Look at rhe big picture. If Trump really is as unethical and immoral as you claim, more so than such truthful non-perjuring presidenta like “I did not have sex with that woman” Clinton, and evangelicals don’t care, then maybe secularism really is winning over religious virtue!
    That said, I don’t think anyone has expected truth from our leaders since “I am not a crook” Nixon, or even further back the lies that perpetuated Viet Nam under Johnson.
    I am more worried about the fourth estate, the media, which seems to be hell bent on misrepresentation of Trump, even lying with photos* Details matter. By the way, the separation of children from parents was made mandatory by liberal lawsuit under democrats. Look into that.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I do not share your sentiments about the media — in general. Not perfect to be sure, but even at Fox News there is an honest reporter two. Reporters generally try to get stories right, and I admire their hard work. That said, I don’t turn a blind eye when reporters lie or misrepresent. The problem with Trump — well one of the problems — is that he is a pathological liar. I wish the media would use the word lie more often when reporting Trump’s verbal nonsense. His constant “fake news” charge just doesn’t hold up under examination.

      Are you familiar with whataboutism?

    • Avatar
      Bob Felton

      I have written, literally, dozens of magazine features, once worked as a magazine editor, have journalism in my family, and have worked with AP and Pulitzer-nominated journalists. All are obsessive about getting it right.

      Errors inevitably happen — and are corrected and acknowledged.

      Trump gets so much bad press because he deserves it; he is a walking disaster — a poor executive, impetuous, chronically dishonest, and prone to the sort of ex post facto rationalizations expected of children. Assuming the country survives him, he’ll be the benchmark for corruption and ineptitude long after Nero has been forgotten.

    • Avatar
      Becky Wiren

      Misrepresentation of Trump? Ahhahahahahaha! You say he is being misrepresented but you don’t show us any proof. I’ve been voting over 40 years and if I think of all the people who ran for president, I would take either party’s nominees, no matter how much I loathed them then, over Trump any day. Trump cares for no one, is thin-skinned and lashes out, and is making money (illegally) while he is president. But his defense of the white supremacists @Charlottesville last year should’ve finished him in everyone’s eyes. He’s racist, he’s always been racist, and how you can believe in him is amazing to me.

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      Trump is not unethical and immoral as “I” claim, he is as unethical and immoral as evangelical Christians who actually voted for him claim. This is all overlooked because he can be used as a tool. So Donald “no rubber with porn star” Trump who has no doubt financed countless abortions is the key to stacking the supreme court to not only overturn abortion but also make as a matter of policy the Christian sharia that Trump will usher in. I don’t blame evangelicals for sticking with their man, they are getting results.

      As far as religion goes there is nothing stopping evangelicals from not following Trumps immoral example. They can do their little church thing every Sunday but why do they need to implement their moral system into what is constitutionally a secular country?

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      Grammar Gramma

      Dell, please source your statement that ” the separation of children from parents was made mandatory by liberal lawsuit under democrats.” I am unable to find anything that would back that up.

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    Bruce thanks for ruining Hell for me. I was lookng forward to an eternity without the sanctimonious brown nosers who are so far up trumps ass that they cant even smell the shit that he is throwing on the fan and spreading everywhere. Does anyone know of an afterlife I can join that leaves these idiots and their righteous arrogance behind.

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    I apologize I should not have called them idiots, many of them are smart people who made a very bad desicion. Others are just sheepfollowing the herd.

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    in answer. IF there WERE god and IF he HAD a heaven, then yes. the bible says ok to beat women and children and slaves. the bible tells the israelities to kill all “other ites”. so, yeah. they believe they will meet zombie jeebus. it is the one fact that makes me sad that there no god. they will not receive their eternal punishment and they be dead and won’t know

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    Not only will they be dead, and not know how wrong they were, but they won’t have to spend a single second living with regret for all the hurt they caused other people in the name of their non-existent God. They won’t have to live with the fact that all that hate was for nothing.

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    Never heard of Joseph Girzone and his Joshua series of novels. Looked him up on the Wiki. Wow. What an example to all. So, looked up his novel “Joshua” on thrift books dot com and bought a copy. Thank you for mentioning him.

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    I still have a hard time with evangelicals who support Trump. I have read countless books and articles from scholars and journalists, listened to dozens of podcasts with scholars and journalists, examined my own upbringing and spoken with people who grew up with me or who had similar upbringing, and I cannot justify their slavish devotion to Trump at all. I still come to the conclusion that given the evidence – words that have been spoken by Trump himself, not based on another’s interpretation – if you are an intelligent and decent human being, you CANNOT support this man. If you support this man, you are either unintelligent, indecent, or both. My brain is a master at seeing issues from a variety of angles, on seeing nuances, of understanding that little is binary and much is on a broad spectrum. Yet I cannot in any way justify following this man. Period. Therefore, I cannot help but conclude that if you claim to be a Christian and still follow Trump, Christianity is a corrupt and indecent religion that cares nothing for “the least of these” and cares only for money and raw, unfettered, oppressive power and control. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there is one where these Christians’ deity rewards its followers for Trump-like behavior, I would want no part of it.

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    Lady M

    I have thought for decades now that Evangelical Christians are nothing they purport to be. That old notion that Christian = Good is just bull crap. If I am in trouble I’d sooner turn to an atheist or a witch – I know some terrific witches.

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Bruce Gerencser