Jack Chick finally knows.
He knows the secret of the afterlife, having died yesterday at age 92. Today he’s seated in heaven, feeling satisfied and rewarded for a job well done. Or maybe he’s roasting in hell with the other demons because even though he lived a virtuous life, it *still wasn’t virtuous enough* for the stern and unrelenting God he’s been depicting all these years in his famous Jack Chick tracts.
Here’s hoping, for his sake, that it’s heaven, because Jack Chick’s hell is a pretty rough place.
For more than 50 years, Jack Chick created his little 2×4-inch comic book tracts, small and easy to carry — and easy to leave behind on subway seats, diner tables, at ATMs and anywhere else a soul might be saved. Chick’s official biography describes how it all got started:
One day, Bob Hammond, missionary broadcaster of The Voice of China and Asia, told Jack that multitudes of Chinese people had been won to Communism through mass distribution of cartoon booklets. Jack felt that God was leading him to use the same technique to win multitudes to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Chick Tracts get read” became his motto, and indeed they did. The numbers speak for themselves: 800 million copies distributed since 1960 in over 100 languages.
But it wasn’t all sweetness and light: Jack Chick was down on Catholics, he was down on Masons and Mormons, he was down on Halloween and homosexuals and on a lot more. In “The Nervous Witch,” Jack Chick even came down hard on good old Harry Potter:
Sure, the Potter books opened a doorway that led untold millions of kids into hell. But at least they did get the kids to read. It’s a tradeoff.
Always one for saving souls any way possible, Chick was prescient enough to grab the URL “Chick.com” years ago. More recently he created e-versions of his tracts, like “This Was Your Life.” One of his earliest and most famous tracts, it established the trademark Chick themes: the sneering elitists who think they don’t need Jesus, the all-seeing, all-judging God, and (especially) the split-second binary system: accept Jesus one second before your death and live in heavenly bliss forever, accept him one second after your death and suffer hellfire for all eternity. For Jack Chick, there was no middle ground.
Chick was a stern Calvinist: salvation comes by faith alone, and good works are bunk. Indeed, in nearly every Chick comic comes the moment when the poor condemned soul says “But I was a good guy!” or can’t believe that God would send nice old Aunt Judy or Grandpa Joe (or, say, the entire membership of the Jewish or Buddhist faiths) to a fiery hell. But indeed, Jack Chick’s god certainly would:
Yikes! There’s no doubting that Jack Chick tracts were effective and scary enough in their way. Probably they did bring a number of people to Christianity at that. He made his mark. But here’s hoping God is just a little more forgiving than Chick made Him out to be.
See our full Jack Chick biography »
Comments ( 2 )
God would have said to him
God : “I heard and saw what you did, Jack…you know NOTHING of my works. I don’t send souls to a torture chamber for eternity, I send them to serve penance for their sins before they’re allowed into heaven. Sorry, but I can’t allow you into heaven in your current state. You will hereby be reincarnated as one of the groups you demonised. You will live a life in their shoes and you will experience the persecution they felt first hand. After all that is done, THEN….and only THEN will I consider letting you into heaven. Farewell.”
I remembered him somewhat fondly from finding his tracts around town going back to the 1980s (when I was riding a lot of busses, prime turf for finding them). The design is very simple and effective, and so is the theology in a blunt-force way. To put it in high-tech writing terms, he had a very strong “call to action” at the end of each communication.
That said, I didn’t remember how strongly (even viciously) he condemned practically everybody in the world except born-again Christians. His website says “We don’t hate everybody, we *love* everybody, that’s why we want to save them,” but that’s not really how it came across in his stories.
And yes, I probably *am* one of the wishy-washy Christians he describes in his tracts, the guy saying (as you note) “It just don’t make no sense that God would condemn people to a torture chamber for all eternity, just for being born in the wrong country or into the wrong religion.” Or for believing in evolution, or reading Harry Potter, etc, etc.
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