I am Jewish. One of my best friends, "Mary," is the daughter of a Pastor and a fundamentalist Lutheran. She believes that every word of the Bible is literally true. Mary thus believes that the path to heaven is only through faith in Christ. As I do not believe in Christ, her faith tells her that I will go to hell.
This belief causes Mary a great deal of pain. She loves her faith and believes in it very strongly; yet, she too loves me, and numerous other Jewish/athiest/etc. friends, all of whom she is certain are destined to be barred from heaven.
As a Jew, this Christian concept of hell is very difficult for me to understand, and this is why I am turning to this board.
I was raised with the belief that all people, Jew and non-Jew alike, go to heaven. This is in line with my perception of god as all-forgiving and benevolent. Though we all make mistakes during our time here on earth, god ultimately forgives all his children, and welcomes them each to heaven in the afterlife.
I cannot understand how such a god, forgiving and benevolent, could damn anyone to hell simply for being Jewish. Faith, by definition, exists in the absence of evidence and logic. Yet, because I do not believe in Christ -- a belief predicated entirely upon faith -- I must go to hell? How could a forgiving and kind god punish me simply because I do not hold an arbitrary belief in Jesus as my savior, when I lack this belief only because of the circumstances of my birth? It seems to me that such action is petty, cruel, and completely out of line with all the other teachings of Christianity.
I have tried searching the internet for answers, but have come up short. Many web pages tell me that Jews go to hell, but none have explained WHY. I am not trying to avoid going to hell (for, by virtue of being Jewish, I do not believe I am). My concern here lies for Mary. I hate seeing her so hurt every time we talk about religion.
So I suppose I am asking for two answers here:
1) What is the rationale for requiring that only Christians to go heaven?
2) Is there anything I can do/say to help alleviate Mary's distress?
I truly hope that I did not offend anyone with the wording of this post. It is difficult to talk about heaven and hell without using strong words.