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Wanting Charles Manson to 'rot in Hell' would put you at odds with God
It's probably his fate, but if you're rooting for it, that grieves God every bit as much as the soul that's been lost.
It doesn't seem very likely that Charles Manson is headed anywhere but Hell. This is not because his sins are worse than most people's - although they surely are - but because there is no reason to believe he repented or sought the grace of Jesus Christ at any point prior to his death.
Only he and God know for sure, and if it happened, it happened. There's really no way for you or me to find out and it's not really our business to try. All I can go by is basic observation of what's commonly known, and if there's a hint of repentance I sure don't see it.
But there's a difference between thinking he's probably in Hell and declaring that you hope he is. You're seeing that a lot today, as you always do when a particularly evil person dies.
May he rot in Hell!
It's the unsurprising, visceral human assessment that a particular person was so evil that he shouldn't have access to forgiveness. But there's a problem with that: God disagrees with you on multiple levels.
First, let's examine how far and wide God casts the net of mercy. Consider 2 Peter 3:9, which tells us:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
He doesn't just want everyone to come to repentance, but He wants that for a very specific reason - so that no one will perish. No one. No exceptions. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, as Romans 3:23 tells us, so there's no one among us who doesn't need to repent and receive the grace of Christ to escape the fate of perishing. And Peter doesn't say "no one except really evil people." He says no one.
But if you think God would not accept the repentence of a man like Manson, you should consider the example of Saul of Tarsus. Remember, Manson didn't actually murder Sharon Tate and her friends. He ordered his followers to do it. Compare that with what happened to Stephen in Acts 7:54-8:3:
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Manstanding at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
1 And Saul approved of their killing him.
2 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Saul was a bastard. He was part of a cultish movement and he ordered people dragged off and jailed, and in at least one case murdered, for opposing that movement. It's not at all a stretch to compare Saul to Charles Manson, which probably helps explain why the other disciples were so alarmed when he showed up later in Damascus wanting to work alongside them.
We're supposed to work with this guy?
But that was God's call, not theirs. He extended the offer of His grace to Saul and the offer was accepted. Even Saul acknowledged that he didn't deserve his commission because of the evil he had committed, but he also recognized that his merits were beside the point. God had made His choice and that was that.
So if God would not only forgive Saul but call him to be one of His apostles, then there is no reason to think God would not make His mercy available to Charles Manson, in the event Manson repented and asked for it. If Manson asked in the name of Jesus - and again, I know of no reason to think he did - then God would grant Manson the gift of His grace.
I think most Christians who understand the proposition of salvation by faith understand this. If you're in the "Manson should rot in Hell" camp, it's not that you think God would say no. You know He wouldn't. But you hope that Manson wouldn't ask because you figure Hell is what Manson deserves.
The problem with that is a) you're opposing the heart of God as expressed in 2 Peter 3:9, and b) you're making a person's merit a part of the salvation equation by asserting that some people are too awful sinners to be worth salvation. You're basically saying that if Manson were to plead the blood of Jesus, if Jesus were to declare him pardoned as a result, that Jesus would be committing an injustice.
Why? Because Manson was so bad.
But you're not? Are you sure you want to open up that can of worms? I'm not suggesting you're "as bad" as Manson. I'm simply saying that it's in everyone's best interests to have God's grace available to all regardless of the extent or depth of our sin, because once it's possible to be "bad enough" to not qualify for the grace of Christ, then everyone's salvation is called into question.
So no, I don't hope that Manson is rotting in Hell. I suspect he probably is, but I'm not celebrating it because I know it grieves God whenever a soul is lost. And parting company with God is what got Manson in trouble in the first place.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!