Since Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide after battling depression, a debated topic was whether a born-again Christian would lose their salvation as a result of taking one’s own life. Is the 27-year-old son of the Saddleback Church lead pastor in heaven?
Dr. Stephen Chan, president of Reformed Theological Seminary and associate professor at Seattle University, affirmed with The Gospel Herald in an interview that God will not renounce Matthew Warren’s salvation for committing suicide.
While the Bible doesn’t directly comment on suicide, it does say that killing an innocent life is a grave offense to God (Genesis 9:6), he said. Based upon the biblical principle on the sanctity of life, the patriarchs of Christianity have all agree that suicide is a sin.
According to the reformed doctrines, the only sin that ‘unpardonable’ is ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:29, Luke 12:10), which is opposing God and rejecting salvation, said the Chinese theologian. Therefore, suicide is not an offence or sin that cannot be forgiven by God, he said.
Moreover, Bob Kellemen wrote on Biblical Counseling Coalition website, “The Apostle Paul is clear that there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Paul continues that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ, including death –by any means (Romans 8:28-39).”
“Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death atones for all the sins of his people – past, present, and future (Romans 3:25),” he wrote.
In a recent issue of Catholic Digest, it explained that the Roman Catholic Church used to not perform Catholic service and burial for a person who committed suicide, but it has since changed its views.
According to the theology of the Roman Catholic Church, the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, Number 2283 states, "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives." However, the catechism points out that, "Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide."
Rick Warren said Saturday on his social media pages that “mental illness” is a poor term since it is commonly thought of as a problem inside the mind, but a “broken brain is as physical as a broken bone.”
In conclusion, Chan said that Christians must view this issue with a broader perspective that includes explanations from counseling and mental health studies along with theology.