Gun Slinger (Chick tract)
Gun Slinger is a Chick tract whose description is "A hired killer trusts Christ and, at death, goes to heaven. But the law-abiding marshal who hunted him rejects Christ and goes to hell. Clearly shows that salvation is through grace, not works."
In the old west, Terrible Tom comes to town. Tom is a hitman who is hired to kill the town preacher. Upon hearing the preacher's sermon, Tom has an attack of conscience. Instead of killing the preacher, Tom falls on his knees and accepts Jesus Christ.
An hour later, Terrible Tom is arrested by the town marshall, who describes himself as "the most honest, law-abiding man in this whole territory." Tom spends his last day chatting with the preacher from jail, and says that he is ready to go meet God.
In an ironic twist, the marshall is killed by rattlesnakes hours after Tom is hanged. Since the marshall did not accept Jesus, he goes to hell, while Terrible Tom goes to heaven.
The moral of the story is laid out in the last panel, which says: "Going to heaven is not a matter of GOOD or BAD. It's a matter of SAVED or LOST. No matter how bad you've been, Jesus still loves you and wants to save you right now! Will you let him?"
This tract starkly lays out Chick's fundamentalist philosophy that it does not matter how good or bad you are. Many people view heaven and hell as reward and punishment for good and bad behavior. Hank Hanegraaff has argued:
"[C]ommon sense regarding justice dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler's Holocaust would never be righted. Justice would be impugned if, after slaughtering six million Jews, Hitler merely died in the arms of his mistress with no eternal consequences. The ancients knew better than to think such a thing. David knew that it might seem for a time as though the wicked prosper despite their evil deeds, but, in the end, justice will be served. We may wish to think that no one will go to hell, but common sense regarding justice precludes that possibility."
- — Hank Hanegraaff, Why Should I Believe in Hell?
Incidentally Hank Hanegraaff is wrong, common sense could lead one to expect Hitler to receive a finite punishment.
Jack Chick's philosophy turns this question on its head. If salvation is based entirely on grace rather than works, then it is entirely possible that Hitler not only died, but then immediately ascended to heaven. Hitler was a Catholic, of course, and Chick believes that all Catholics are deluded. But who is to say that Hitler did not, like Terrible Tom, experience a conversion and acceptance of Jesus hours before his death? Worse yet, many of Hitler's Jewish victims probably died in their sins and went straight to hell (in Chick's world view).
This cartoon should make it clear that some Christians do not regard heaven and hell as divine justice at all. Salvation and damnation are not based on anything that a person has done in their lives. It is quite clear that the use of heaven and hell is more for fear mongering to scare people into believing in Jesus as they may be perfect in every other way but if they do not accept him, they will go to hell.
It is cherrypicking Christianity at is worse as there are passages in the KJV of the Bible (like Psalm 62:12, Jeremiah 17:10, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 25:41-46, Luke 10:26-28, James 2:17, and Revelation 20:12-13) which state that good works are required for salvation. Matthew 16:27 is one of the bluntest in this regard: For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
- Who do you want me to kill?
- A man who has been a curse to my town... The PREACHER!
- He came here three years ago and started a church. I HAD a thriving business!
- LOTS of drinking, gambling, wild women and hell raising! Then he started PREACHING!
- Everyone got religion! My prostitutes joined his church and got married.. Men swore off the bottle and quit gambling. Now I'm almost OUT OF BUSINESS!
- I'll be in his church Sunday... By Monday, he'll be in a CASKET!
- (40 miles away) Excuse me, kind folks. Have you seen this outlaw?
- Yes, Marshall! He was headed for Bottlesville. Much obliged.
- Sir, why ya wearing your guns to church? Shut up, boy, or I'll kill you where you stand!
- Welcome, stranger. God bless you!
- (Sunday morning service begins) The devil is NOT going to get this town back. The Bible says "Resist the devil, and he will flee..."* Devil! Get out of here! * James 4:7
- What's happening? I feel STRANGE!
- Sheriff, have you seen this cold-blooded KILLER? Yes, Marshall. He's in church.
- CHURCH? Trouble's brewing, Sheriff! Get ALL your deputies and lots of shotguns... and surround the church!
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him... should not perish (in hell), but have everlasting life (in heaven)."* *John 3:16
- No matter what sins you've committed, Jesus already paid for ALL of them on the cross.* *1 Pet. 2:24
- King David was a murderer, but after he repented, God called him... "a man after mine own heart..."* *Acts 13:22
- The Apostle Paul killed many Christians, but God saved him... then used him to write much of the New Testament.
- The man who was crucified next to Jesus was a criminal. But the Lord PROMISED him... "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
- No matter how BAD you are, Jesus can forgive you... and He WANTS to come into your heart and change you. (2 Cor. 5:17)
- Preacher I never thought God would forgive a terrible sinner like me. He will, if you will repent and turn to Him. Pray this prayer with me.
- (1 Hour Later) Freeze... gunslinger! You're under arrest!
- (Next Day) Preacher, thanks for telling me that Jesus loves terrible men like me.
- You're not terrible anymore, Tom. You are a child of God! "But as many as received him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" John 1:12
- (That Night) I'm ready to meet you, God. I'll see you in the morning. "...the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
- (Next Morning) CRACK
- At last! Terrible Tom got exactly what he deserved.
- (Minutes Later in Heaven) Welcome home, my son. "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life..." John 5:24
- Well, Marshall, Tom's finally gone. Now, how about you? Won't YOU trust the Lord Jesus as YOUR Savior?
- Reverend, I'm the most honest, law-biding man in this whole territory! If I'M not good enough for heaven, then NO ONE is. "there is none righteous, no, not one:" Rom. 3:10
- (3 Hours Later) YAAAAH
- "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation..." Hebrews 2:3
- (Minutes Later in Hell) Wait! This CAN'T be! I was a GOOD man! I UPHELD the law!
- But you NEVER received Christ as your Savior. "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36
- Going to heaven is not a matter of GOOD or BAD. It's a matter of SAVED or LOST. No matter how bad you've been, Jesus still wants to save you! Will you let Him?