“Once Saved, Always Saved” Works Well… if You’re a Murderer

Orginally published on Monday, August 10, 2009 at 8:14 AM
by Todd Rhoades

George Sodini rests in heaven now because he professed a faith in Jesus years before his shooting rampage, according to a leader at his church. "George is going to heaven, but he's not going to get his rewards," said the leader. And Sodini won't be offered all of heaven's benefits because of his sin.

But wait, there's more...

Shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sodini walked into an LA Fitness Center and opened fire in an aerobics room filled with women. In addition to killing three, he wounded nine others before killing himself.

Sodini wrote in his online diary that the pastor at his church convinced him it was possible to commit mass murder and still be welcomed into heaven.

In his blog, Sodini alleged that the Rev. Alan “Rick” Knapp taught church members that committing such a crime could be forgiven.

“Holy [expletive], religion is a waste. But this guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven. Ask him,” Sodini wrote.

There is so much wrong here… where do you start?  Can a murderer go to heaven?  Sure.  (Hopefully David and Moses will make it).  Is it responsible to teach your church that committing mass murder is a forgiveable offense?  Ahh… I don’t think so.

And from the quotes above… I’m wondering how sincere the murderer was in his faith..  Doesn’t sound real stable to me.

What do you think?


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  There are 37 Comments:

  • Posted by

    Surprised???  You shouldn’t be.  Christianity Light has its financial benefits...high Sunday turnouts, more potential offerings in the plate, notoriety and even fame.  But when the TRUTH about the exceeding sinfulness of sin is not clearly taught, you get, at worst, George Sodini...and at best, a church filled with “professing Christians” that live like the world from Sunday at noon until the following Sunday morning at 10:30.

    90% Law and 10% grace instead of the other way around will clear out the pews, strengthen the Church and free up the pastor to lead his sheep out into the community and tell the world about the Gospel.  Instead of having to spend millions for a larger facility to house all the false converts, they could use that money for the sake of Christ and the Gospel and really impact the world.

  • Posted by Ian

    1 John, Galatians, and Romans are all pretty clear about sin. We’re supposed to put off the deeds of the flesh. I do believe that a murderer can go to heaven, but to preach that from the pulpit is irresponsible and an incomplete examination of the Scriptures. The gift of the Holy Spirit helps us to avoid the deeds of the flesh. I realize this may be an oversimplification for some, but we don’t sin in order for God’s grace to abound.

    People who use God’s grace as a license to sin aren’t really saved at all according to Jude 4. So much to write, so little time.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    Yeah, I’m thinking that sincerity was lacking here…

    Christopher writes [90% Law and 10% grace instead of the other way around will clear out the pews, strengthen the Church and free up the pastor to lead his sheep out into the community and tell the world about the Gospel.] I can’t disagree strongly enough about this approach. I was trying to think of a Scripture to offer… perhaps the entire book of Galatians?

  • Posted by Daniel Griswold

    It doesn’t seem like this pastor is looking at the Justice demands of God in the Old Testament or in Jesus’ teachings either.  That those who spill blood are responsible for their own atrocities, and though forgiveness is possible - it must be true repentance.  I am pretty sure that it doesn’t work out to true and sincere repentance very often, when someone commits atrocities while counting on an end game of forgiveness.  That is a very low level of morality, based on a lack of consequences.  God holds all humanity up to a basic standard - when you kill people (made in the image of God), it is like killing God himself.  The pastor really needs to weigh that in his conversations - as part of the whole Gospel from beginning to end, rather than giving people the portion in the middle (that while magnificent, isn’t the whole story of God). 

    Yes, there is forgiveness for those who are sincerely sorry and reform their lives.  But pastors need to remind their congregants to the Image that the prophets portray so often: That of God ruling with power and justice over a wonderful new world where the nations come to God for knowledge, wisdom, guidance, and righteousness.  In that world, there is no place for murderers (those who still harbor evil).  This pastor’s congregants need to know that we need to live according to this ideal image.  God in charge - expecting Good and Righteous (Just) lives of His people.  This kind of faith is not worthless, it refines - makes people stronger and more loving of one another.

  • Posted by

    Hum, You can’t sin and live like the devil down here and get by with it even as a believer. The Bible says you will lose your REWARD [caps mine], but you’ll be saved so as by fire. YOU WON’T LOSE YOUR SALVATION [caps mine], but there’s a whole lot to lose, brother, by sinful living.

  • Posted by

    This is why good theology and doctrine are so desperately needed in our churches (and sadly, based on this article and others, so often neglected).

    The Book of 1 John makes it clear that when a person lives a sinful lifestyle, including focusing on it, planning it, and looking forward to it, that person is of the devil and not of God.  Based on Sodini’s blog and his actions, I genuinely hope that his repentance for his sins before he blew his brains out was the kind that God commands, but have a real tough time believing it based on the volumes of evidence to the contrary.

    For his pastor, especially after all of this, to be so casual as to pronounce him saved and in the presence of the Lord in Heaven, shows a man who needs to repent--both of this proclamation and of whatever teachings he gave that made this man believe that his actions were acceptable by God.


  • Posted by

    I always love those “I hate large churches” guys. I’m always interested on what they think Pentecost was like - “about 3,000 souls” were added that day. Then on top of that Acts ends with “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The first established church was a mega-church even by our modern day standards. It was huge!

    Not only that but it even sounds like God was playing the “numbers game” in that passage because somebody was obviously counting people and decisions. Do “large church haters” really think every large and growing church waters down the Gospel? The opposite would be that ever dead and declining church is preaching the “true” Gospel. That’s absurd. I’ve never met a pastor at a large church that thought every person who claimed they were a Christ follower really was one. Matthew 7:21 is clear that it isn’t that way whether the church is small, medium, large, or huge (like the church in China with over 1 million members).

    Why in our minds does “cleaning out pews” strengthen the church? Jesus preached consistently to those who could “hear” and those who couldn’t. His audiences were filled with people all over the spiritual spectrum. It’s interesting to note that persecution has always purified the church but it is also in the purifying of the church that is has blossomed with even more people coming to faith. Hence how the churches in China have grown so large. It seems that in the process of the church becoming more pure (as we would all desire) it doesn’t shrink up and stay small but rather becomes more attractive to a lost and dying world translating into many coming to Christ. 
    Well that’s my rant for the day.

  • Posted by

    We have told our students that no matter what you do God will always love you.

    We never say do what you want & God will forgive you. There are laws of the land that we are held accountable to & commanded to obey them.

    There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more & there’s nothing you can do to make God love you less.

  • Posted by

    With just a cursory glance at this post, I am inclined to give a HUGE benefit of the doubt to the pastor.  C’mon you guys, you don’t really think a pastor is going to encourage mass murder in such a way do you?  Are we really going to believe this guy’s online writings so easily and even suggest (C’mon Todd!!) that it is at all accurate that this pastor might actually be a part of this guy’s thinking???  I am not falling for it… but again, I have just glanced at this post… without more info, I am in the pastor’s corner!

  • Posted by Pat

    Well, we need to hear from the pastor what he said that might have been construed to mean that you can murder and go to heaven.  Given Sodini’s history, it sounds like he might have taken something out of context.  In other words, he heare what he wanted to hear.  But then again, maybe not.  By his reaction, sounds like the church had let him down.  Sounds like he was searching for something different that the church didn’t provide.

  • Posted by Pat

    We’ll probably never know if there was someone in his life that could have made a difference and helped to prevent this crime.  If you’re his pastor, it’s got to be a very sobering event.

  • Posted by

    Here we go agian, wow it is just amazing to me how twisted it can get. Just like when the famous die, no mention of judgement or retribution, we just see faces in the clouds people say. I think clear Biblical understanding is needed now more than ever. Sin is sepeartion from Jesus our Lord, Romans 6 tells us so, James 5 lays it out as well, 2nd Timothy lays it clear. All I can say is Wow to this easy grace filled society. WOW.

  • Posted by

    Man, I do agree with you. My post was a quote from Dr. Charles Stanley’s book, “Eternal Security,” and I was waiting to see if anyone would take it on.

    What I quoted, and even more in his book can very well give a person the idea that whatever they do after salvation--there is no danger of losing it.

    Heck, Stanley even says, Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy {pg. 93]. He goes on to say “...believer who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation, for God remains faithful [pg. 94].

    It is no wonder that people become so confused. When a big timer like Stanley make such statements, the weak are going to grab his teaching and run with it.

  • Posted by

    Kerry....great point!


    I have no problem with a church being huge.  As long as it is growing in numbers because the preaching is Biblical which brings the knowledge of sin and the need for a Savior.  You know...like Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost.  He boldly told those Jews that “they have a God-shaped hole in their hearts that only God can fill” and “God loved them and has a wonderful plan for their life” and “just ask Jesus into their hearts because He stands at the door and knocks...” I’m sure he had them all sign a commitment card as well.  If we would just do like Peter did on the Day of Pentecost, then we would have churches grow at a rate of 3000 every time we preach it and they would all be true believers!

    CS...you say it better than me.

    Fishon...you can’t lose your salvation..IF..you are saved by the miracle of God’s regenerating power of His Holy Spirit.  Damnation is God’s response to man’s choice....salvation is man’s response to God’s divine choice.  Many are deceived by the preaching of a different gospel that they are saved. They get just what they want....a god that is ok with their sin.


    Wasn’t Paul trying to remind the Galatians that their salvation was NOT by works nor the keeping of religious traditions but by the grace of God.  This epistle was written to correct the believers in that region from the erroneous teachings that had worked their way into that church.  It doesn’t negate the importance of using the Law in evangelism. On the contrary, it affirms it. (Gal 3:24) Sodini is the result of neglecting the importance of the Law in modern “Christian” churches today.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm


    No one is saved by the law. No one.

    Sodini is the result of a defective emotional state, who knows what caused by, exacerbated by bad religious teaching, but not, I think caused by it. If he truly thought that he could just believe in Jesus and do what he wanted, it is obvious from Scripture and from plain reason and experience that he was not even close to being regenerate.

    You indicated that preaching should consist of 90% law. That is, imho, a false statement.

    But I am enjoying the discussion.

  • Posted by


    You challenge me to search Scripture and for that I am thankful to God for you.  I enjoy our discussions...I really do.  Make no mistake...or as our president says “let me be clear”...I absolutely agree with you in that no one is saved by the Law in that keeping the Law, or attempting to, can lead to righteousness.  But Nathan the Prophet, Jesus, Paul, Peter, Phillip, and John all used the Law in an effort to bring about the knowledge of the seriousness of sin.  That’s what it does and it does it well.  It is the knowledge of sin that causes men to cry out “What must I do to be saved?” I was a member of Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge from May of 01 to July of 03.  I can honestly say that in the 2 yrs I was there, I cannot remember ONE sermon from any of the pastors there that expounded on the high standard of God’s righteousness.  Not once in those 2 years did Pastor Dino Rizzo ever teach a book of the Bible.  Every sermon was topical and some never even opened the Bible.  It is churches like this that are hotbeds for doctrinal ignorance.  Joel Osteen is another one.  No doctrine at all!

    You wrote: “Sodini is the result of a defective emotional state, who knows what caused by, exacerbated by bad religious teaching, but not, I think caused by it. If he truly thought that he could just believe in Jesus and do what he wanted, it is obvious from Scripture and from plain reason and experience that he was not even close to being regenerate.”
    I like the way you put that....I wish I would have said it that way.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm


    I suspect we agree more than not,

    That said, I think that the 90% law preaching you espoused earlier is too close to pharasaical legalism. Law as a launching pad for expaining God’s Grace? AWESOME! Law as a fear tactic in a WOTM-style “hard sell” gospel presentation only geared towards creating a “transaction”? No thanks.

    I do agree that a sermon with no biblical texts behind it is very very faulty, but I don’t think that all preaching needs to be expository to achieve balance, either. Jesus certainly didn’t shy away from topical preaching one bit. I think if all preaching in a given church is topical, but still scriptural, it’s fine. (Some seem to think that the only biblical teaching is expository, I just can’t agree with that.)

    But we veer off-topic on that, don’t we…

    Thanks for the exchange!

  • Posted by

    In his post, Todd wrote, “Is it responsible to teach your church that committing mass murder is a forgiveable offense?  Ahh… I don’t think so.” While it may not have been responsible to “assure” someone that since they have made some sort of statement of faith in Christ, they get a free pass and will go to heaven anyway, I think that it is important that we do talk responsibly about God’s forgiveness.  The stories (the veracity of which I can not confirm) of Jeffrey Dahmer’s conversion underscores the the power of God in forgiving those who commit the most heinous of crimes.  Certainly none of us would say that God couldn’t, or wouldn’t, forgive even the most egregious offenders.  Responsible teaching will seek to address all the issues surrounding grace, justice, righteousness, love and forgiveness. 

    Also, without a bit more insight into what the pastor actually taught (or said in passing), I must agree with Jeff and give this pastor the benefit of the doubt.

  • Posted by

    I would agree with Jeff and Ian and give this pastor a bit of grace here.  Sodini was disturbed.  His blog, his actions and his history at the church (being banned for harassing a woman) all cast a gigantic shadow of doubt as to his ability to hear clearly what this pastor taught. 

    According to one pastor on staff, he had not been around since 2004 when he was asked to leave.

    Anyone who has ever done work with someone who is mentally disturbed (I think he was) can attest to the disturbed persons inability to process many things around them and their tendency to fixate on what they want to hear. 

    This is sad, people are dead, families are forever changed.  I pray for them.

  • Posted by


    “His blog, his actions and his history at the church (being banned for harassing a woman) all cast a gigantic shadow of doubt as to his ability to hear clearly what this pastor taught. “

    That’s fine, but then the deacon (not pastor, as I originally thought) should not be so swift to pronounce him as being soundly saved and in Heaven right now.  Such a proclamation can cause a variety of problems both inside and outside the church.


  • Posted by

    Sadly, it seems as if a major problem is ignored here. I have no idea what Rev. Knapp taught or teaches. However, going back to Todd’s title of the piece: “Once Saved, Always Saved” Works Well… if You’re a Murderer,”

    I have seem it many, many times, “Once Saved, Always Saved” Works Well… if you’ve died in a drunken stupor.

    “Once Saved, Always Saved” Works Well… if You’re an adultress, leave your family and never darken the door of the church again.

    “Once Saved, Always Saved” Works Well… if a practicing homsexual died of AIDS while never having repented, but oh yes, saved at 15.

    And can’t forget Dr. Stanley, “Once Saved, Always Saved” Works Well… if you abandon Jesus Christ and live like the devil.

    Yes, millions of Calvinist will declare their loved one into heaven who have lived like the devil, and their pastors back it up, but if the George Sodini’s pop up on the scene and declare heaven for themselves, well of course, “He really never was saved,” or is the result of a defective emotional state.

    On and on the excuses go for the most egregious sins committed by a Christian as to why he/she never really was; however, if the sin is not so vile, why of course “Once saved, Always saved.”

    Dang, I though sin was sin and God didn’t grade sin? Silly me.

  • Posted by CindyK

    Context.  We’re taking that one tiny segment of Sodini’s blog and not getting the full context.

    I read the full blog - because I live in Pittsburgh and was clearly feeling the pain of the tragedy at the health club.

    Sodini was being sardonic and quite clearly making fun of his former Pastor.  He said “if you don’t believe me call him” and he gave his phone number, and even his home address. 

    He was very bitterly criticizing the teachings of the Church as a whole.

    He very clearly did not have any faith what so ever.

    I would not be so quick to pick the Pastor apart here.  Sodini was clearly delusional and… well nuts.

    I believe his Pastor told him that Jesus loves you no matter what.

    The blog is still out there places if anyone wants to read it, but it’s so disturbing that I’d not recommend it.

  • Posted by

    None of us know who is saved or not. Nor do we know who will be in heaven for sure. So we should stop trying to guess.

  • Posted by

    Oh I disagree phx. The Bible makes it clear that those who do not become follower of Jesus, through repentance, will not be in heaven.

    I will just make a wild guess: One of the men on the cross with Jesus is in heaven, the other is not.

  • Posted by

    I would simply ask one question…




    If you are a sinner, then you are condemned to hell.

    Unless of course you are a sinner who is saved by CHRIST’S FINISHED WORK ON THE CROSS.  In which case, you will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.


    Jesus declared “IT IS FINISHED”

    He either finished the work or he didn’t.

    I for one am better the farm on Jesus.

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