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  • Frank Romans

THE GOOD PERSON TEST


What defines a good person? A person who is good to others? A square-shooter? I believe we are all in agreement on most of the important stuff, like being kind, fair, and just; and it is bad to cheat, steal, and murder.

When I was a young boy, I said something to my mother that became an inside family joke. She felt a need to warn me to "be good" before some relatives came to stay with us, and I posed the question, "How do you be good?"

Isn't being a good person enough to get someone into heaven? A variety of religions teach if your good deeds outweigh the bad, you're in. Not so, it would seem with the Bible. Recently, I had lunch with an old friend and former colleague, and we discussed this matter over a meal. He gave me some literature on the subject, and I promised to read them.

I learned there is an actual test you can take to determine if you will make the final cut. A summary follows.

Them: Being a good person is not enough.

Me: OK.

Them: Let's look at five of the commandments.

Me: Only five? What about the other five?

Them: Good person test number one - lies. You shall not lie. Have you ever told a lie? It doesn't matter how big or small, white or black, etc.

Me: Well, sure. Who hasn't?

Them: Thank you for your honesty. Since you have lied, what does that make you? Bad Person - Human - A Liar.

Me: I'm gonna go with human. I mean c'mon.

Them: Wrong! If you've lied, you're a liar. You only have to tell one lie to be a liar, just like you only have to kill one person to be a murderer.

Me: Wow. That's harsh but ok. No lies...got it. Get me to Jesus.

Them: Question number two - theft. You shall not steal. The situation or circumstances are not important. Did you ever take anything without permission? Either Innocent or Guilty.

Me: Let's see...yes, I took candy from a grandchild's Halloween bucket without asking. So...guilty.

Them: Thank you for being honest. Since you've stolen, what does that make you? Bad Person - Human - A Thief.

Me: Human?

Them: If you've stolen, you're a thief.

Me: It was just candy. It isn't like I stole a car or robbed a bank.

Them: We try to make our sins look smaller by saying things like..."They won't miss it." If you took something, not yours, you are a thief.

Me: This test seems a bit tainted, and slanted.

Them: Next Good Person question - lust.

Me: Ah, a favorite of mine...well, not anymore, but back in the day...

Them: You shall not commit adultery. And if you look with lust, you have already committed it. Have you ever looked with lust? Innocent or Guilty.

Me: What? No Human option? Hey, I was sixteen once. Guilty. Guilty as hell, which is apparently where I am going.

Them: So, if you looked with lust in your heart, you've committed adultery.

Me: Yeah? Well, Me and Jimmy Carter. I defy anyone to pass this stupid test.

Do you see where this is going? It is impossible to give an acceptable answer, as they guide you to the preferred outcome.

Them: Good Person Test number four - hate. You shall not murder.

Me: Wait a minute. What if I hate without committing murder? Do I get a pass?

Them: Have you ever hated anyone...even if you have never spoken or acted out your hatred? Either Innocent or Guilty.

Me: I guess I'm guilty of murder. Because I hate insurrectionists who try to overthrow our government. Then, of course, there are the rapists, pedophiles, and serial killers.

Them: If you hate someone, God sees you as a murderer at heart.

Me: Yep. That's me all right. Charles Manson and Jim Jones got nothin' on me.

Them: Good Person Test Question number five - blasphemy. You shall not use God's name in vain. Have you ever put Jesus Christ or God in a sentence like a swear word?

Me: Only every time I open my mouth. Just kidding. What if I don't say it out loud, or just thought it?

Them: You are a blasphemer.

Now you click forward for your results, to a litany of screens, and are notified you failed. This was no big surprise. It is a good thing we didn't do all ten commandments. Next, the warning screen. If you answer you have done none of these things, pop-ups challenge you. Are you sure? Blah - blah - blah. when you have finally admitted you are a major-league hopeless failure, the solution is given.

I admit this is where I stopped. Christians know they need to be saved. I dispute they need to be evangelicals too for it to count.

The informative propaganda booklets I received spell it out in black and white. There is no gray and there seems zero tolerance for other faiths. Therefore, billions of Asians or Muslims are screwed because they didn't hear the word. Their good person arguments are not good enough. We tend to forget Jesus was not a white, male protestant...its love, American style.

It is hard to tell the difference between high-pressure sales and Christian evangelism. I would humbly suggest these folks act more like Jesus. He noticed what was needed in a community and responded. That resembles Christianity far more than recruiting like a multi-level marketing company. Confronting people with your "truth" will not have them fall on their knees to be saved. I love the usual opener, "If you died tonight, do you know if you'll go to heaven?" Next, they attempt to intellectually "win" the argument, backing it up with bible verses. Most of us can't wait to get away from these folks.

They are operating from what I feel is a myth. The myth of universal Christian duty to evangelize. They are guilt-tripped by many leaders to do so. Here is a spoiler alert...There are no biblical grounds for an individual mandate to evangelize. It is an American capitalistic marketing and sales approach applied to scripture. Let's face it, just as some are better suited to sales than others, it is so with marketing Christianity. Be prepared if asked, but show it in actions and deeds. That is far more effective in spreading the word.

Here are my suggested test questions for someone's Bible-study group.

  1. Why is there evil in this world when God is all-powerful?

  2. Does God really expect to be prayed to in a particular manner in order to hear me?

Religions are humanistic institutions and can be quite political. Religious dogma is believing with unquestionable certainty.

Where will I go? I have no idea.


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