CNN founder Ted Turner talked briefly about his newfound faith in an extensive interview in light of his upcoming 75th birthday. The successful businessman and former atheist who once called Christianity a "religion for losers" now considers himself to be agnostic.
According to CNN, Turner is "more open now to the possibility that something larger than himself is out there -- a higher power, perhaps." The outspoken billionaire who was once "virulently anti-religious" told CNN that he "tosses off a little prayer now and then, hoping there's 'somebody out there' to hear it."
Turner's former wife, Jane Fonda, told CNN that she believes he will go to heaven based on his good works. "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 ... he always ends his speech with 'God bless' ... he'll get into heaven," she says. The notion that people can please God by doing good deeds, however, is heretical. In Isaiah 64:6, God says that all of our good deeds are like filthy rags before Him - we can in no way "earn" our way into heaven. There is no one righteous, not even one.
Some might applaud Turner's change of attitude toward religion, but in the end, a simple belief in God - or in Turner's case, a supernatural being - will not save anyone. Even demons believe in God (see James 2:19), yet their future will be spent in eternal torment, along with satan and those who refuse to humble themselves before God and receive Jesus' salvation (see Revelation 20:10,15).
It is of utmost importance to know this beautiful truth - that anyone who truly repents from their sin and places their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation will be saved. The new birth is a gracious act of the Holy Spirit, as men dead in their sin are not capable of desiring what is perfect, lovely, and true. Ephesians 2:1-9 says:
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (English Standard Version).
Therefore, even the hardest heart can be broken in godly repentance by the power of the Spirit working through the Gospel - though Turner celebrates promiscuity, says he enjoyed committing adultery, and rewrote the Ten Commandments as "Eleven Voluntary Initiatives" to suit his own value system, there is hope yet for him.
My own testimony is that of a general belief in God and even an acknowledgement that Jesus had died on the cross for sins, but these beliefs did not give me saving faith. In His great mercy, God opened my eyes as a young adult to see not only His holiness (righteousness, perfection), but also my lack of it. I felt godly grief for my sin in the light of God's holiness, and Christ's tender offer of forgiveness through His blood shed on the cross wooed my heart unto repentance. God saw my every sin and all of my shame, yet steadfastly held out His hand offering me new life. By His grace, the Holy Spirit gave me faith in the Gospel and repentance, a new heart which longs for obedience to God, and the promise of eternal life with my Heavenly Father, Who has adopted me into His family.
Hopefully, Ted Turner and others who share his same worldview will realize that mere belief in a god will not save them, no matter how genuine or earnest their faith is. Turner's response to Fonda's spiritual assessment was, "Well, I sure don't want to go to hell." Hopefully this desire will help him seek the Lord and respond in faith to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.