Can Tex Watson Really Be a Christian?

FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS

volume 16, number 36, September 7, 2017

“I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and the one who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” -Romans 9:33

Can Tex Watson Really Be a Christian?

Charles Denton “Tex” Watson was born on December 2, 1945 in Farmersville, Texas and he grew up in nearby Copeville, being the youngest of three children. He attended the Copeville Methodist Church as a child and while in high school was an honor student, excellent athlete, and served as the editor of his high school newspaper. He worked summers picking onions to pay his way through college at North Texas State University where he joined a fraternity. In 1967, while working for Braniff Airlines as a baggage handler, he used free tickets to visit friends living in Southern California. It was there that he was introduced to psychedelic drugs and the rock and roll music of the Doors, Beatles, and many other bands of the day. While there Tex met several young women who were followers of Charles Manson. Tex was intrigued. He met “Charlie”  and joined “the family” at Spahn Ranch. 

At the command of Charles Manson, on the night of August 8, 1969 Watson went with Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to an estate on Cielo Drive in Hollywood, which was leased by movie director Roman Polanski and his wife, the actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time. Polanski was in London working on a film. Watson cut the telephone wires and entered the estate grounds, shooting eighteen year old Steven Parent five times in the chest and abdomen, as Parent begged for mercy. Watson entered the estate through a window and let in through the front door Atkins and Krenwinkel. Watson tied Jay Sebring (a famous hairdresser) and Tate together. Abigail Folger (heiress to the Folger Coffee fortune) and writer Wojciech Frykowski attempted to flee the house. They were run down and murdered on the lawn by Watson, who had already shot and stabbed Sebring. At least twenty-eight knife wounds were in Folger’s body. Sharon Tate, begged for mercy, crying out for her mother numerous times. She begged Watson to spare her child’s life. Tate was stabbed sixteen times.

Charles Manson was not at all pleased with how they did the job so he led them the next night to the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and commanded Tex Watson and the girls to murder the LaBiancas. They smeared the blood of the victims on the walls of the home with words from Beatles’ lyrics, such as War, Healter Skelter (sic), Rise, and Death to Pigs.

Watson and the others were later arrested, put on trial, and found guilty of murder, and sentenced to life in prison. Watson and Krenwinkel are still in prison. Atkins died in 2009. 

In 1975, six years after murdering seven people in cold blood in the most heinous and violent manner imaginable, Tex Watson says that he became a Christian. He wrote his autobiography, Will You Die For Me?, a few years later which describes the murders and his conversion. Watson has a ministry called Abounding Love Ministries.

Here’s the question – is it really possible that such a heinous, vile, murderous man could really be saved? Let’s take it one step further – only God knows the eternal state of the LaBiancas, Sebring, Tate, Folger, Parent, and Frykowski, but let’s assume for a moment that some or all of them died without Christ, and are now in hell. Is this fair? Think about it—a horrible murderer, in killing innocent victims, sending them to hell, is now a Christian and has the promise of eternal life. Really?   

Now, I am not saying that Tex Watson is a real Christian. Only God knows for sure, but he has given evidence of saving faith these many years in prison. Could a man like this really be saved? 

If you say, “No way,” then you do not understand the gospel of grace. Then you are stumbling over the scandalous nature of the cross of Christ. Paul in Romans 9 is answering the question as to why so many of the Jews, God’s chosen people, have rejected Jesus as the Messiah. The basic thrust of Paul’s argument is the doctrine of election. “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated. . . For it does not depend upon man who wills or runs but on God who has mercy. . . So God has compassion on whom He desires and He hardens whom He desires. . . He speaks of vessels of wrath prepared beforehand for destruction and vessels of mercy prepared beforehand for glory.” He closes out his argument by saying that the Jews did not pursue righteousness by faith, but through the law. They stumbled over the stone of offense, the scandal of free grace. It goes like this, “We are God’s chosen people. We have earned our way to God by our works. The Gentiles are the unclean, godless, pagan people who are utterly rejected by God. They are unworthy of grace and forgiveness. We are deserving of it because of our religious pedigree and adherence to religious ritual.”

If God is positively just, then how can He forgive Tex Watson and promise him heaven while Watson’s victims may now be in hell? Isn’t it unjust for God to save Tex Watson? 

To go further, though none of you reading this have done what Tex Watson did, you nonetheless have committed murder and adultery in your heart times without number. How can God forgive you? The only way, my friends, is for there to be a just and acceptable payment for our sins. And that, of course, is the propitiating work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ, that God is just (Christ satisfies the Father’s holy justice) and justifier (He acquits, pronounces “not guilty”, declares to be innocent of all charges) of those who have faith in Jesus. This does not come, my friends, by any other religion or methodology. Buddhism, Hinduism, animism, or Islam can never remove the genuine guilt, hostility, and condemnation of sin. It only comes by the propitiating death of the Lord Jesus on the cross. 

Self-righteous people looking at the Tex Watsons of the world don’t get it. They stumble daily over the scandalous nature of the cross of Christ. Glory in it, my friends. Freely offer the gospel to everyone. No one, absolutely no one, is beyond the pale of God’s mercy in this life.  

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