Jeffrey Dahmer Is In Heaven, But You May Not Make It
I’ve been traveling around the blogosphere a bit recently, and came across an excellent post on Rachel Held Evans’s blog regarding the eternal fate of Anne Frank. This got me to thinking about salvation, and who does, and does not, “get into heaven.” Honestly, I think we spend entirely too much time and breath wondering about this (and not looking to our own souls). I’m fairly certain that when God said He wasn’t willing that “any should perish, but that all should should come to repentance,” He meant it. And what about Jesus’s own statement about “drawing all men unto me?” Pretty sure He meant that, too. Instead of speculating about who, or who isn’t there, or who will, or won’t, go, it would be far more beneficial for us to take His message out into the highways and byways. That’s our obligation: to share the Gospel. It’s real simple: if the message isn’t received, we move on to the next person, and the next, and the next. We do the proclamation, and leave the reception up to God.
In all this, it would do us good to remember that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” Fact is, we never know when one of those seeds we plant will take root, and grow into a saving relationship with Christ. If the Book of Job is any indication, God isn’t really into giving us any more information on His “sovereign plan of the ages” than what He’s already revealed in the Bible. We probably couldn’t understand it anyway. (I realize none of this prohibits us from speculating, from asking questions, from wondering what He’s up to, but if Job, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes are any indications, it’s not God that’s uncomfortable with our questions, but ourselves). What we already know is that grace isn’t fair, that it isn’t just.
According to this account, the heinous Jeffrey Dahmer received Christ in prison sometime before he was beaten to death. On the flip side, we’re told that those who fail to forgive, won’t be forgiven themselves. Putting this all together means that the family members, friends—perhaps even ourselves, outraged as we are at his acts—of Dahmer’s victims risk their souls by not forgiving. But Dahmer himself may in fact be in heaven already, because he was forgiven by God in Christ. That is not fair, that is not justice, but it is the scandalous nature of grace. God is no respecter of persons. Think of the thief on the cross, with his eleventh-hour confession: he didn’t live “an effective life for Christ,” but nevertheless found himself in paradise. Thus it seems to me that God will accept all who recognize in their own hearts their need for Him. This may, or may not, take a form that we Evangelicals recognize, but what’s that to us? We are to follow Him. He knows who His sheep are.