Is Robin Williams in Hell?


Robin Williams’ death brought on the expected flood of tributes, but also a smaller wave of hellfire warnings by judgmentalists—because Robin lived a sometimes sinful life and died at his own hands. These warnings were countered by gentler folk who chose to focus on Robin’s many acts of kindness. But who’s right?


Eternity isn’t about goodness or badness.*

According to the Bible, it’s about relationships (although actions can reveal what’s in a person’s heart).  King David was called “a man after God’s own heart” despite the fact that he was an adulterer and a murderer. The Apostle Peter disowned Jesus on the night of His arrest, but was later called to lead His church. According to Jesus, the unforgivable sin is not suicide, but “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” refusing God’s life-giving Presence. But if bad behavior is not a guaranteed ticket to Hell, neither is good behavior a fast track to Heaven: “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not [do good works] in your name?’ And I will reply, ‘I never knew you.’” (Matthew 7:22-23)  Reflecting on this, I recall an epiphany from my youth…

I was 10, and had reached the end of a gleefully misbehaving day…

My cronies and I had been lobbing olives at cars (our neighborhood was built on the site of an old olive grove), which would then erupt in purple explosions against windshields, causing reactionary curses and wild careens. It was all good—well, alright, evil—fun. Until my mom spotted us! She’d come to the door to call me in for dinner. There must have been some guilt in my pre-manly breast, for when she called me in, adding the proverbial “wait till your father,” I thought, “Why doesn’t she call Rory in instead?” (Rory was the only kid who’d refused to throw olives.) And then, lo, a marvelous truth fell upon me, “She doesn’t call him in because she’s not his mom, she’s my mom! And nothing, even the fact that I did really bad stuff, can change that!” Interestingly, this realization did not produce licentious behavior in me, but the opposite. Sure, I did other bad stuff, but I never threw olives at cars again. Because once I’d realized living with Mom and Dad was a gift, it made me want to do better.  Of course, there would be hell to pay when Dad got home.  But not hell to go to!

Heaven and hell are about who we know…

…not what we do: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God.”  John 17:3

Robin’s death hit me hard.

Only Steve Martin has had as much impact on me as a humorist (I had a whole first career in sketch comedy and still do guest speaking dates). I have a similar psychopathology (but with a less brilliant silver lining) and a like tendency toward ADDled monologuing. But what I always found most compelling was the humanity beneath Robin’s persona, the desire to make a connection with his audience, to be real and, yes, to be loved.

Did he long for the same with his Creator? There are indications he did: he was a professing Episcopalian and a fan of C.S. Lewis, old+cottage+1-1whose books contain profound explorations of faith (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was reportedly his favorite book). I hope so. I’ll even settle for an 11th hour “Thief on the Cross” conversion. I so want to bunk with him and my other brother Steve when we’re all finally called Home!

* This article avoids the questions of what, where, or even if, heaven and hell are. We’ll explore that another time.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Is Robin Williams in Hell?

  1. Dana Glasgo says:

    Mitch, this is beautifully said.

    Dana Glasgo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely LOVE this. Glad you shared about the “hints” of Robin’s faith. Makes me feel so much better. And you are sooooo right. It is about relationship. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

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  4. Your last paragraph made me want to love people more… I’m looking over at your “good fruit” and then at my empty hands.

    Thanks a lot.
    You know I mean it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mitchteemley says:

    I’m honored, Rubble.


  6. Lucie says:

    Robin’s death hit me very, very hard….he was a brilliant man and very loving human being. His humility and concern for everyone truly amazed me and I can’t but help think that he “last gesture of caring for others” was to end his life, so that ultimately he didn’t place a burden or hardship on his wife or loved ones…..I’m hurt, angry and sad…all rolled into one. He was such a marvelous human being and I’m so sorry that he’s gone…… 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    A year ago today. RIP, old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am all too happy to let Jesus be the One to judge the living and the dead. I was with a woman last night….. her sister just lost her 23 yr old grand child to a heroin overdose. I will keep my’ eyes on Jesus and let Him be Master of the Universe. I weary of the conversation of whether one person or another was ‘really’ saved. The regret for those who commit suicide is that it sets an example and …… when people have the courage to live and die outside of their own control I well imagine that God is most able to accomplish the deep communion that He desires to have with His creation. Or so I imagine!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. canadaslim says:

    Mitch, first let me begin with saying that I admire the courage of your convictions, and I am certain that when your time, hopefully a very distant day far in the future, to shrug off this mortal coil arrives you shall do so with confidence and strength in your faith, but until the day comes when someone can show me unequivocally the existence of God, heaven or hell, then I have to say I have a difficult believing in something that can neither be proven or disproven. For my self, it is the prospect of unavoidable demise that leads me to value this life, not in an “eat, drink and merry” sort of life, but rather as something precious to be appreciated. Robin Williams was truly one of the greatest modern comedians I had the honour of seeing and hearing perform, albeit never in person, and I am immensely pleased to see that my admiration for the man is so universal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      “Proving” the existence of an immaterial, omnipotent Being is certainly a tall order, Slim! There is, indeed, a “leap of faith” involved–at any rate there was for me when I slo-mo jumped from atheism to belief. But it’s not faith in a half-proven theory, it’s faith in a Person, the Person I first met in the pages of the New Testament, and still meet in prayer in every day.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. de castro says:

    It is appointed onto men once to die
    But when !😇??
    Is suicide the answer !😈😇

    Liked by 1 person

  11. de castro says:

    Life after……….no proof.
    Believe in God……jury out.
    We will never know.


  12. kerbey says:

    I did not know that lobbing olives at cars was a thing. This should be a scene in a movie. Purple explosions would stay in the memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. hoojewale says:

    Definitely, it’s about Who you encounted with the aid of the Holy Spirit and not what you do. The Christian world had taught Arminianistic theology for centuries that we believe unscriptural stuffs, over 90% of faithfuls! Please, do sound eternal soteriology loudly and clearly. Thumbs up & more grace to your elbows, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Roos Ruse says:

    Blubbing here… this is that beautifully written, Mitch. \0/

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Andreea Gutu says:

    Robin’s death hit me hard too. I absolutely admire his work and I hope he is in The Lord’s hands, resting.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It hit me hard when I learned of Robin Williams’ death too. I couldn’t believe it although when I learned of his other physical and emotional ailments, I kind of understood because sadly I’ve seen it happen to other families. Regardless of how the person looks outwardly — wealth, good looks, etc., if the mind is ailing and there is no will left, then it does feel like hell, hopeless. Of course, I have no idea what kind of relationship each of those people had with Jesus so I wonder if perhaps it could have been stronger, from their end . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What an amazing reminder of what faith really is. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ron Whited says:

    I’ve always thought it strange that people become so fixated on whether or not someone else “made it” (regardless of how they departed this life). Do we have that same level of concern for our selves and our own families?

    It is obvious that we will never know this side of heaven who made it and who did not,and I am of the opinion that there will be many,many surprises in that day. After all, didn’t Jesus tell us that many would come to Him in that day,only to be told “I never knew you”?

    My hope is that all would turn to Jesus before leaving this life, sadly however we know that is not reality.

    Liked by 1 person

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  20. Diana Reese says:

    We are not saved by works. Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Another great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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