I’m sure many of us have heard of Ted Turner, the founder of CNN. He is also well known for helping to bring bison back from the brink of extinction, for his restaurants that sell bison burgers, owning a baseball team, sailing his yacht in competitions, etc.
CNN published a very long article on Ted Turner with the headline, “Ted Turner wants to go to heaven.” You can read the entire (very long) article at this link.
Towards the end of the article we read this:
‘I don’t want to go to hell’
Even though he is a son of the Bible Belt, Ted Turner and God haven’t been on the best of terms. Despite his strong stance against religion in the past, he’s not an atheist. He’s an agnostic, trying to make sense of it all — his way.
He revised the Ten Commandments, which he considered outdated, coming up instead with his Eleven Voluntary Initiatives, which he printed on cards small enough to carry in a wallet. He tossed out the commandments that struck him as outdated — a host of the “thou shalt nots,” particularly the one banning adultery. “People have had a lot of fun breaking that one. I know I did.”
Then the author of the article writes about Turner and the issue of death and suffering. I’ve read before that this topic of death and suffering, particularly in regard to what happened to his late sister, was a major reason Turner rejected belief in a loving God. If only Ted Turner had understood that death and suffering is our fault because we rebelled against God—that we sinned in Adam! Death is the penalty for sin. As sinners, we don’t even deserve to exist—but God is a gracious God, a God of salvation. Knowing man would sin, God had worked out a plan of salvation from eternity: God’s Son would step into history to pay the penalty for our sin and offers a free gift of salvation.
Here is what the author states in the CNN article:
As with most things, Turner’s rocky relationship with his supreme being, assuming there is one, stems back to childhood. When he was very young, he dreamed of being a missionary. Then his little sister, Mary Jean, got sick at age 12. He watched as she suffered terribly from a rare form of lupus and complications that left her with brain damage and screaming in pain for years until she died. It shook his faith profoundly.
He could not understand why any God would let an innocent suffer.
“She was sick for five years before she passed away. And it just seemed so unfair, because she hadn’t done anything wrong,” he said. “What had she done wrong? And I couldn’t get any answers. Christianity couldn’t give me any answers to that. So my faith got shaken somewhat.”
I’m not sure what Turner meant when he said, “Christianity couldn’t give me any answers to that. So my faith got shaken somewhat.” Actually, sadly today, many Christian leaders couldn’t answer Turner’s questions about the death and suffering issue because they’ve compromised millions of years with Genesis! (For more on this, see our booklet Why Is There Death and Suffering?)
What a reminder of how important it is to give answers and defend the Christian faith and stand on the authority of the Word! Who knows? Maybe the right answers about the origin of death may have had a positive impact on Turner had he been given them.
Then we read a quote from one of his ex-wives, actress Jane Fonda:
“Given his childhood,” Fonda said, “he should’ve become a dictator. He should’ve become a not nice person. The miracle is that he became what he is. A man who will go to heaven, and there’ll be a lot of animals up there welcoming him, animals that have been brought back from the edge of extinction because of Ted. He’s turned out to be a good guy. And he says he’s not religious. But he, the whole time I was with him, every speech — and he likes to give speeches — he always ends his speech with ‘God bless.’ And he’ll get into heaven. He’s a miracle.”
The reporter continues with the following:
Turner listened intently. There was a long pause. Was he tearing up? Finally, he spoke.
“She said that?”
Another long pause.
“Well, I sure don’t want to go to hell.”
“Did she say I was gonna buy my way in?”
The old Ted Turner — the one who made billions and won the America’s Cup and the World Series and launched CNN — probably would have tried to buy his way in. But the do-gooder Ted is earning his way in by saving bison and other endangered species and fighting for the oceans and preserving 2 million acres of ranch land and standing up for women and supporting causes near and dear to the United Nations.
That Ted Turner gets into heaven, by Jane Fonda’s accounting.
What a sad article. So can Ted Turner earn his way into heaven? The truth is that no matter how many billions of dollars Ted Turner (or any one for that matter) gives away, no matter how many animals he saves, and no matter what great things he does for people and this planet—none of this can get him to heaven. None of it!
There is only one way to heaven:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
No one can buy their way into heaven:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3–5)
Salvation is a gift—it is free—we cannot earn it or buy it:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
If we receive the free gift of salvation—then we can know we will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord:
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Ted Turner’s millions can’t buy his way into heaven, but God offers a free gift of salvation. Today let’s all pray specially for Ted Turner, that he will receive this free gift.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,