Is forgiveness possible?


A friend reminded me of this clip so I wanted to run it again.  The video is fictional, of course, but the premise occurs countless times every day around the world: People need and want forgiveness, but the world tells them lies.

Christianity has the truth and the Good News, but far too many people claiming the name of Christ are unequipped and/or unwilling to share it, even when asked.  If that applies to you, then do something about it.  Right away!  I recommend Tactics by Greg Koukl as a great way to learn how to share your faith as an effective ambassador and apologist for Christ, just as the scriptures command.

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.


It was surprising but so encouraging to see that the clip below was on the TV show ER a couple years back.

The chaplain is the classic fake Christian you’d expect to find in most theologically liberal churches today.  I love how the patient doesn’t buy her “just make up a god in your own image” type of platitudes.

The money quotes from the dying patient:

All I’m hearing is some new age “God is love” one-size-fits-all crap . . . I don’t have time for this now . . . I want a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real Hell . . . I don’t need to “ask myself,” I need answers, and all your questions and uncertainty are only making things worse . . .

I need someone who will look me in the eye and tell me how to find forgiveness, because I am running out of time!

Hey Christians, time to fire up!  Some people don’t want the truth.  But there are lots of real people like this in the world who need and want the truth.  They must be so sick of the lies and the politically correct “God is whoever you want him to be” nonsense taught by the world and by far too many churches.  Is it really so hard to understand that you do not get to tell the creator of the universe how eternity works?  You don’t set the terms and conditions of salvation any more than you get to tell your boss to triple your pay and give you 50 weeks of vacation, or tell your teacher that he must give you an A without you coming to class.

Are you ready to tell people the truth and the Good News?  Forgiveness, redemption and eternal life are possible, but only through trust in Jesus.

28 thoughts on “Is forgiveness possible?”

  1. Interesting clip. I love the show ER, but have recently not watched a lot of the episodes (my wife would rather watch the opposing show on CBS – Without a Trace?).

    First, let me say I agree with your post. Especially the tag line “Are you ready to tell them the Good News?” In case anyone else missed it, the Bible is clear that we are to always be ready to share the hope that is in us.

    The video is troubling to me personally on another level though. There is a feeling among right-wing Christian Conservatives (a lable I proudly wear) that Chaplains in hospitals can’t tell the Truth. That they can only pass along the “one-size-fits-all crap” or the “look inside yourself” mentality.

    Fortunately, that’s not true. I have a step-son who was in the Army for four years as a chaplain’s assistant. The first thing he did in Afghanistan was to set up a baptistry for soldiers who wanted to be baptised. We have pictures of him doing the baptism and pictures of him helping the chaplain (who was Mormon). He’s certain that something less than 100% of the baptism were for soldiers who had truly accepted Christ, but he did them anyway. He also spent some time in Iraq and ministered to soldiers and even children there.

    I also have a step-daughter who is a chaplain for Hospice. She sees patients every day. Previously, she was at a hospital like the lady in the video. She shared with a family of a young teenage girl. I can’t recall the situation, but she ended up leading the funeral. She shared with them how Jesus sought out the little children.

    She’s married to a man who’s going to Southeastern Theological Seminary for his MDiv degree. He will be a chaplain in the army. While this is a liberal Baptist seminary, it is Christian and his background won’t let him accept the liberal aspects.

    I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for the Truth, these chaplains can help. If you think you know the truth, they won’t correct you. They’re being paid to do a job and they will do it. More importantly, if your family is there and they are looking for answers, they can help. In some ways, their job is like that of a counselor or psychologist. On some occassions, they get a chance to really share the Good News.

    Sorry to wander on this Neil, I know where you were headed. Just to take it back, I too am surprised this was on TV. And I’m glad you’re taking the opportunity to use it to start conversations. Each of us needs to be able to go into the work place and say “Hey, did you see that episode of ER last night?” and use it as a starting point.


  2. Hi Randy – thanks so much for sharing that. It is terrific how your step-kids are out there making such a positive impact for Christ.

    I haven’t done in-depth studies of how chaplains operate, so I wouldn’t draw conclusions based on the clip. I think the pool to analyze is all clergy, not just hospital / army chaplains.

    For example, I a retired UMC pastor I know is basically a universalist. If he talked to someone on his/her deathbed (or anywhere else) I think he would come across like that lady did. He would not be inclined to share the Gospel and our need for Jesus.

    I’m part Calvinist, I suppose, because I trust that God will reach who He will reach despite our failures (mine included), but it makes me sick that when people are looking for the truth from Christians they get some New Age stuff instead.

    Again, kudos to you and your family and thanks for sharing that!


  3. Neil,
    That was good. I’m really surprised to find that on ER. I have to post that clip it was so good. Yes, we need to be ready to give an answer. This is why I pray for opportunities to share our faith, faithfully. In this world of relativistic truth, we need the real TRUTH.


  4. What a great find Neil! Thanks for sharing it! I used it in my post today.

    That video sure does present a powerful argument against the “God is love” and the “no need for repentance” New Age psychobabble that is often being passed off as salvation “truth” these days.


  5. This really is good, because now that I’ve had time to think about it, we really need someone asking these questions. The pyscobable that Chrisinewjc points out is so true. So many preach God is love, that why wouldn’t He accept us? They never preach the law, and the gospel is not really the gospel without the law. After all, what do we need to be saved from if God loves us so much?

    Or another way to put it, of course God will save me, He loves me so much because I’m so special, He needs me. The reality is that we have broken His Law and transgressed so much, that He is completely justified in sending us all to Hell. We deserve Hell. It’s by His grace that He provides us forgiveness through His Son.

    This is what I think is missing in so many churches today. There is never a proclamation of God’s moral and just requirements to show us how we have sinned against Him.

    Just a thought…


  6. Agreed, Christine & Timothy.

    Another thought: This guy was apparently on his deathbed – or close to it – but we never know how much time we have. We are all “running out of time,” so to speak, and don’t know whether we’ll get 50 more minutes or 50 more years.


  7. I love that they’re having this conversation on ER, but there’s another troubling angle to this patient’s request. He sees none of the transcendent mystery and power of the Trinity and seems to be looking for a checklist-style answer to a question that’s bigger than any checklist. “What must I do to be saved?” is a crucial question, but it’s just the very beginning of the journey.

    This basic level of engagement with God (“Give me simple answers for what can God do for me”) is a fine place for a seeker or new Christian to start, but we must then grow beyond this into a real relationship (that includes ambiguity and uncertainty, at times). This guy’s attitude is good enough for the guilt-ridden and spiritually immature, but it should not be held up as the example of true or noble faith. Faith is much more complicated in practice. He’s not more right than she is; he’s just in a different place on his faith journey. (And he’s crazy-hostile and unwilling to listen, which is a HUGE problem when God comes calling in a whisper, asking us to humble ourselves.)

    That may sound new-agey and “one size fits all,” but I’m trying to articulate a position that respects the mystery of God while still making a place for right and wrong, Heaven and Hell. I guess I’m also concerned in the long-run that American faith seems to favor the direct, simple answer over the one you must struggle with for years. Each answer has its place.

    Thanks for sharing this.


  8. “This guy’s attitude is good enough for the guilt-ridden and spiritually immature, but it should not be held up as the example of true or noble faith. Faith is much more complicated in practice.”

    Hi Luke – thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree that it shouldn’t be an example of true or noble faith. In fact, it isn’t faith at all yet – he needs someone to give him the truth about what he should place his faith in – namely, Jesus. Again, it is just a TV clip, but I interpreted it as someone who wants the truth but can see he’s being fed a lie.


  9. Good clip. And, unfortunately, the young lady who was trying to help him was just as lost as he was. But she didn’t see it and he did.

    Too bad the ending couldn’t have been one where he found freedom and forgiveness by accepting Christ.

    Bet she went to Rob Bell’s church…


  10. Sure, that makes sense too. I may be reading too much into it. 🙂

    But I got the feeling watching this clip that scores of Americans would side with the sick guy as he embarrasses this wishy-washy lady, and that’s unfortunate. He may be in a unique position to demand quick truth before he dies, but I want the rest of us to remember that quick truths are just the beginning of something deeper and, ultimately, more ambiguous.

    Or maybe I’m just secretly jealous of deathbed conversions!


  11. WOW! That was awesome.

    I love when he tells her that all she is giving him is some new age crap.

    People today eat up that new age, it is up to us what God wants teaching. It is garbage. God tells us precisely and clearly what he wants. We get to decide to follow our own way or His way.


  12. I think maybe she is the pastor of Dan Trabue’s church. Or ER’s. Or maybe she’s Geoffrey’s wife.

    Anyway, My take on this character portrayed in the clip is someone who’s afraid of what comes next. In fact, he says that.

    He’s looking for fire insurance, not God. If she was a Godly chaplain, she would show him how to find Christ, and in finding Christ, how to find salvation.

    But I like that line, “One size fits all”. Pretty much describes all new age humanist so-called religions. It still boggles my mind how people can grow up in a Bible believing church and still swallow this crap.


    1. I disagree. I think he was truly concerned about meeting the Creator, and wanted to find the redemption you are referring to. He recognized what she was selling as the “let’s all sit around and feel good about ourselves” garbage that gets sold (I chose that word purposely) in so many “Christian” churches today.

      He knew he needed the truth, not some watered down version of the scriptures. And he also saw that she was not the person he was going to get that from.

      Great scene.


  13. As a Christian, I used to be “hands off evangelism.” I thought people who stood on street corners and shouted “Repent” were off their rocker. I still think that.
    However, the sobering statistics of suicide has changed my mind about saying nothing at all. When it is time to talk to a young person or anyone in dispair on the verge of giving up, we need to have better answers than the empty “truisms” and “Christian cliches” Aunt Gertie taught us.


    1. Good distinction about effective evangelism. My daughter just noted that there is a guy like that at her college. I told her I’d pay for her to give him a copy of Greg Koukl’s book “Tactics.”

      We need to be good ambassadors and apologists, and not just yell at people.


    2. My wife and I were supposed to have dinner with a couple that both worked at my place of employment the following Friday. I was friends with the husband. The wife, whom I didn’t know, had a unique name, and as such, in a chance meeting in the work place, I asked her husband’s name and introduced myself. She lightened up and told me that she was exited about the dinner engagement because her husband had told her that I went to church and she wanted to talk to us about that. I wanted to say more right then, but there simply wasn’t enough time and the situation didn’t lend itself to a productive conversation.

      She committed suicide that very evening.


  14. I have to admit, I stink at evangelism. But I love to encourage those who do not. Share, share, share and point others to Christ. Just like John the Baptist, point them to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. BTW, I do share a lot. I just don’t see anyone coming to Christ for it. But then, that is not our job, but HIS. 🙂


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