On the April 25, 2011 broadcast of “The O’Reilly Factor,” Bill O’Reilly had as his guest a “pastor” who believes that there is no hell and that no one will be punished for eternity, not even Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, etc.
O’Reilly, giving the Catholic view of eternal reward, said, “Non-Christians who seek God with a sincere heart (i.e., Mohandas Gandhi), and move by his grace, try to do his will as they know it through the dictates of conscience, can also be saved without water baptism. They are said to desire implicitly. That is called baptism of desire.”
Ephesians 4:5 says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” If Mr. O’Reilly is correct, then the “baptism of desire” is the only one available for Christians. But the Bible demonstrates that water baptism is the only baptism which takes away sin (John 3:5; Acts 8:35-39). It must be combined with belief (Mark 16:16), repentance (Acts 2:38), and confession (Romans 10:9-10). Because it washes away our sins (Acts 22:16) and saves us (1 Peter 3:21), it is essential to go to heaven.
There are a lot of sincere, but mistaken, people. Cornelius was a sincere, devout person (Acts 10:1-2), but he was not saved. He needed instruction (Acts 11:14). The conscience can be faulty too: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25). What people need to feed their desire is not sincerity and the dictates of conscience. It is the truth. The truth sets free (John 8:32). The gospel saves (Romans 1:16).