My Take: Is Judas in heaven or hell? God only knows
April 21st, 2011
12:01 AM ET

My Take: Is Judas in heaven or hell? God only knows

Editor's Note: Craig Gross is the pastor and founder of XXXchurch.com. He has written seven books and speaks across the country on a range of topics. He just turned 35 and is no longer a hip 20-something pastor from California.

By Craig Gross, Special to CNN

I heard a news clip promoting my recent speaking engagement at a church, and they mentioned that I deal with some of "the greatest sinners of all time."

I thought to myself: Do I? Would people who are caught up in porn and sexual sin addictions consider themselves some of the greatest sinners of all time? Probably not.

Without a doubt, Judas, the biblical disciple of Jesus, is considered the greatest sinner of all time because of what he did to Jesus.

Here is the passage from Luke 22:21-22.

Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? It's true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out.

No surprises there. But for the one who turns him in - who turns traitor to the Son of Man - this is doomsday.

Let me tell you a little bit about what the Bible says about Judas:

He was personally chosen to be an apostle by Jesus.

He spent 3 1/2 years traveling with Jesus.

He saw all the miracles of Christ in person.

He watched as Christ healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons.

In terms of experience with Jesus, whatever you can say about Peter, James and John, you can say about Judas.

On top of all this, he handled the money, which is most of the time the most trusted one in the bunch. No one suspected that Judas would betray Jesus, which tells me he was a believer.

His life was changed.

He knew Jesus personally.

In a dark moment of his life, he made a mistake. A big one. He sold Jesus out for 30 silver coins or so. The moment he knew what he had done, he felt remorse, and he killed himself.

I am not here to debate theology. The facts are the facts. I don't think Judas was “The Mole,” like the reality show character who's there to sabotage the game from the beginning. I think he made a mistake and now has gone down as committing the biggest sin of all time.

Judas heard every message, saw every miracle, and still screwed up.

Recently, I asked on my Facebook page: "Is Judas in heaven or hell?"

The first response was:

Judas is in hell today. He has been there for 2,000 years and he will be there forever.

There is a button on Facebook that I have started to love. It is called “unfriend.” I won't unfriend you because you believe differently than I do, I just don’t need more theologians as my friends on Facebook who speak with such confidence when it comes to someone's place in eternity.

A debate continues on my Facebook wall. I love how everyone is so convinced they know whether Judas is in heaven or hell.

I don't know who gets in, actually. Do I believe in heaven and hell? Yes. I believe one is dark and one is light, and they both last forever.

Belief Blog: What if there is no hell?

What is interesting to me is that in the upper room where Jesus and his disciples shared their last supper together, the 12 disciples all talked about how they were so great. Peter left the room and denied Jesus three times.  Judas left the room and sold Jesus out for 30 coins.

One committed suicide, and one went on to build the church as we know it today. Both Peter and Judas committed the same sin. They both denied Jesus. But why do most people think one goes to heaven and one goes to hell?

This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in. We don’t know. Instead of wasting our time on these types of arguments inside our little Christian world, maybe we should look inside ourselves this Easter.

It is easier to debate these issues and make speculations about others than it is to actually look at ourselves in the mirror. It is always easier to think someone else is worse off then we are.

But maybe as we approach Easter, we can be reminded that for Christians, the cross and the grave should silence all of these debates. We all fall short and deserve death, but because of what Jesus did on the cross 2,000 years ago, we are able to have life. And I believe that where you end up, God only knows.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Opinion

soundoff (2,323 Responses)
  1. ThinkYourself

    People that believe in heaven or hell haven't progressed passed the Dark Ages.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Artist

      In order for a scam to work, the scammer must have the target establish faith in the scammer.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  2. Rick

    It would depend on if you believe man has free will. Many of the religious talk in terms of God having a plan, if that is the case then we are all just puppets and putting someone in hell or heaven simply for being manipulated by God into fulfilling his plan would be ludicrous, though not as ludicrous as actually believing there is an omnipotent, omniscient being who amuses himself with this puppet show.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  3. Martin

    Judas may be forgiven for carrying out God's plans, but his real sin is taking his own life afterward out of guilt therefore losing his soul.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  4. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Why is a complete non-surprise that Adelina the muttonhead is the first to post on this blog?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  5. Qularkono

    the question is not what did Judas experience, or what did he know ..... the Devil knows who Jesus is ... and the Devil rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior.... The question is.... was Judas a repentant sinner ..... which is exactly the same question for each and every person. The answer is .. Judas was remorseful .... compared to Peter was repentant.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  6. Logic

    Religion is BIG business. It has to keep their customer base intact or jobs will be lost. The problem is keeping customers requires brainwashing.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  7. cooper union

    Does the Easter Bunny lay the eggs or does he collect then distribute?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Eric G

      Let me put it this way. If the Bunny was responsible, that is not a Milk Dud you are holding.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  8. verbum_sap

    What an incredibly silly discussion on a fairy tale. Grow up and live in the real world of Darwinian natural selection and adaptation: learn the principles of natural selection and you will open your world to what it means to be a species on this planet. http://www.biology-online.org/2/10_natural_selection.htm

    April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  9. Gwen

    IAs a Christian, I believe that God knows all things..he knows our beginning and he knows our end....He knows the people who are goiing to accept his offer of salvation and he knows the ones who will never accept him...I believe this was the case with Judas..God knew that Judas was never going to repent therefore he was used as a part of the plan of redemption for mankind...God would have never chosen someone that he knew would repent and ask for forgiveness for betraying Jesus as Peter did....He gave all of us the gift of free will and there will be some people who will use it to believe and to love God freely and there will be those who will never believe or love God no matter what, just like some of these people on this post...That's why he said "I knew you from the begining of the world, before you were formed in your mother's womb"...So as a results, I think Judas is in hell right now and will continue to be eternally.....

    April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Eric G

      So, using your logic......

      Your God created people that he knew in advance would never accept him and thus would go to hell? If the future is already laid out, what does it matter what you do on earth? It all contradicts itself.

      As George Carlin said: "This is not the type of work one should expect from a "Supreme Being". This is the type of incompetence you would expect from an Office Temp with a bad att-itude."

      April 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • vel

      Love the Christian cherrypicking here. Tell me, how can we tell which of you has the "right" interpretation of what God "really" meant? Do we need to have another contest with altars again, whoever gets their god to light it is the right one? And free will? No, nothing about that in the bible. Read Romans 9, where people are damned through no action of their own. Read where JC says he intentionally makes sure that some will never understand him and will be damned. See the pharoah, where God says that he will prevent the man from doing anything since he wants to show off his magic god powers by killing children. Wow, what a great god.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Chris Keeley

      You contradict yourself logically... "God" cannot know our end, or whether we will accept him, etc, while at the same time claiming that "He" has given us free will. You cannot have a predetermined outcome and an undetermined one at the same time. This is one of the many illogical contradictions that religion offers it followers.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  10. Justin Ubsurvur

    I love these "pastors" that operate out of the back seat of their cars and storefronts with degrees from backwoods religious degree-mills. Anyone can preach as well as be gullible.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  11. AZllib

    He is part of the propaganda machine for the GOP.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  12. Genevieve

    Someone had to betray Jesus to fulfill the Scriptures. Judas may have been chosen by God to be the scapegoat. If so, he was predestined. I think he had to be forgiven as he was an instrument of fulfilling the prophecies.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • bp

      So if it was predestined what happened to our free will you all claim we have though it makes no sense given an omniscient deitey?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  13. Patty

    I have always believed that God is a loving and forgiving Father. Perhaps it was Judas’ destiny to fulfill Christ’s crucifixion on the cross. Undoubtedly, Judas was tormented by what he did to Christ. Is one sin worse than another? We humans seem to think so. It wouldn’t surprise me that Judas prayed for forgiveness before he took his own life and, even if he didn’t, I believe God/Christ forgave him and he is in heaven. I do not harbor anything against Judas as I have forgiven Judas for what he did and I am a mere mortal. If I can forgive him, I certainly think God can.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • vel

      your god has a great track record. Making innocent men do horrible things. Killing off entire families on a bet with Satan, and again allowing Satan to corrupt more innocents when your god "must" allow the big bad guy out of the pit again after everyone "evil" is dead and JC is rulling for years (see Revelation 20-21 for a good read). Why do you believe in such things? Is it the fear or the feeling that some magical being thinks you are the "chosen" ones? Either way, it's rather sick.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  14. John M

    Please read the Gospel of Judas. I have no clue if God is real or not, but after reading this Gospel, I would bet Judas is in heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  15. cicisbo

    Who are we to say who goes into heaven and who is denied? We're mere mortals–that's all. It's up to God to determine who is with or without sin. Judas wasn't perfect, therefore he was apt to his mistakes. And why do people seem to forget the criminal who died next to Jesus and was given a place in heaven? So that does mean that even those who commit horrendous crimes can still have a place next to God.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  16. bp

    I don't understand how you can argue the details in the bible such as "whether Judas is in Heaven or Hell" when the existence of god has not even been prooved, let alone that your god is the correct god. That being said this whole article is defunct. It's like watching two kids argue whose imaginary friends is better (quite funny).

    April 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Genevieve

      IIf you need proof of God's existence, look at the night sky and trace the constellations and tell us how anything like that could be random or happen by chance? God leaves proof of His existence all around us. There is none so blind as he who will not see, says the Scriptures.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • dannyHolloway

      Many, many lols. That was hilarious, great analogy. Thank you.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • bp

      What kind of logic is that Genevieve. If I stared at an ink blot long enough I'm sure I would start to "see" some sort of order. Anyways lets just "assume" your horrible logic was correct. How does this prove it was your god that created everything?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Sybaris

    "The facts are the facts"

    Uh, sorry. There is nothing to verify these stories other than themselves. Regardless, every story needs its villain. It's just a tried and true recipe played out in a religious setting, nothing more.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  18. Chris

    So CNN, if I write an article talking about, and disproving, christianity would you post it? I can't believe that a corporation that considers itself a legitimate news source has a section devoted to religion. How about this as a story here in the "belief blog", one of the Several stories about priests, preachers, pastors, reverends molesting children. Or the stories of the same people stealing money from the churchs member donations. No? not going to print those are ya?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Paul

      Actually, CNN does print stories about abusive priests, etc. But 1.) as wrong as they are, they don't make up anywhere near the majority of good preachers and pastors who are doing GOOD towards society. As a matter of fact, it might be safe to say that CNN reports more on the wrongdoings of the clergy than the things they do right: things which FAR outweigh the bad. So what's your argument?

      Furthermore, CNN has a religion section because most people are religious. The agnostics, atheists, etc. are by far the minority. Thus, it stands to reason that the majority of people reading the news at CNN.com are religious and articles about religion are of interest to them.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  19. Kathy

    There is no hell. Nice try at the manipulation though.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • ThinkYourself

      Well said.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • TVC

      I think some body is in for a rude awakening!

      April 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  20. Matt

    Jesus knew that he was to die in order to rise again on the 3rd day. Looked at this was you can suspect that Judas was playing his part in fulfilling Jesus' destiny. While on the cross Jesus forgave his executioners, so certainly Jesus would also have the capacity to forgive Judas. Not saying that he did, just saying it could have happened. The real issue, in my mind, is if Judas wanted to be forgiven or if he wanted to separate himself forever from God.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Qi

      He is in fact in hell. I have seen him working at a convenience store in Moon Lake, Pasco County. He is very rude...

      April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • MarkInPDX

      "The facts are the facts." Really? Sure, if you believe the fairy tales that comprise most of the bible.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • MarkInPDX

      Sorry. Didn't mean for my post to be a reply to this. It was a general comment.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
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