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Question 178

Q: My 90-year-old mother is a member of a certain denomination.

She’s being taught that only members of that particular denomination will be going to Heaven. I attend a Baptist church here in Alabama, and I’ve discussed this with her—and told her that this teaching is incorrect.  She’s continually trying to get me to attend that denomination in fear that I’ll be lost if I don’t. I’m a Christian, and I know what one has to do to get to Heaven. What can I show her in Scripture that will let her know the truth? 

Asked by: James, Alabama

A: My friend, your mother is 90 years old and I need to tell you up front, it’s very difficult for a person of that age to change his or her mind, so you do have a challenge.

Couple of things, first of all, point out that the Bible says “whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Remind her that the thief on the cross was saved even though he didn’t belong to any church, let alone any denomination. He wasn’t baptized, he didn’t participate in any rituals, he never had the opportunity to do good works. His faith was limited, but thank God, it was in Jesus and he was saved and given the assurance that he would be in paradise.

Also it seems to me that your mother needs to understand false religions. They always want to control their people. They want to make exclusive claims, saying that only they have the truth. Now of course, I do believe in exclusive truth, but I don’t think that it is limited to one church or one denomination—it’s what is found in the Bible.

Third, I would really challenge her and ask her whether or not she is sure she that she’s going to go heaven when she dies. And it would be interesting to find out where her faith is really placed: is it in the denomination or is it in Christ? All that I can do is to tell you that there are some ritualistic churches that tell you that if you believe and if you come and participate in their rituals, they’ll take care of your relationship with God for you. If that’s what’s happening in her life, point out that error. Bottom line, my heart to yours, I’m praying that God will give you wisdom as you approach her and help her to see the truth. 

Scripture references

  • Romans 10:13

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