A couple of months ago, the death of Robin Williams was broadcast widely across every social media outlet. Millions publically mourned their sadness through a comment on their Facebook page or Twitter feed.
When the information eventually surfaced in regards to the manner of his death and the possible reasons behind his suicide, sympathetic and negative remarks spread across media and social networks.
Some were quick to come to his defense, while others expressed judgment that alluded to biblical accounts of suicide, going as far as declaring without doubt his eternal destination. So what is the correct position that a Christian should have when facing someone who genuinely asks: Did Robin Williams go to hell?
We point to this dilemma to push you to think more critically about the issue of suicide, but not because the absolute truth concerning eternal destiny after suicide can be described in 500 words or less. Instead, we approach this question so you understand what you can and cannot expect from our blog.
A Little Background
The majority of contributors to our blog are faculty members at Grand Canyon University with advanced degrees in biblical, ministerial and theological studies. We are highly opinionated individuals who have the strongest desire to make a difference in the life of the church and the culture around us.
We cannot help but formulate theological thoughts when we learn about incidents like the death of Robin Williams. Our opinions matter to those we influence, and for that reason we draw from the deep wells of academic study and from our pastoral experience
We are thoughtfully hesitant to provide quick and simple answers to difficult and challenging inquiries like this one, and so we begin by asking more questions.
The Theological Questions
One might ask if the eternal state of all who commit suicide has already been predetermined by God or if there are exceptions to the rule. For instance, a key question needs to be fully addressed and debated – Is suicide declared a sin in the Bible? But even this question requires more questions?
Do the narratives of the death of Saul and Judas provide once and for all answers to the dilemma posed? Or could we read biblical texts dealing with suicide as examples of persons battling depression? Can we distinguish between different types of suicide?
For example, is the willful suicide of a bomber who ends his or her life with an act of violence that terminates innocent lives the same as the suicide of a person who is suffering from the disease of depression?
We have all probably known someone in our circle of friends and family who has suffered with clinical depression and who may have even opted to end their life. So instead of passing quick judgment from a rigid biblical position, it might be better for us to really think through the questions and perhaps agree to disagree.
Any thoughts? Leave a comment or send us an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.