I have a question: Can we be responsable for somebody ending in hell
beacuse we did not share the gospel with them or did it in a way they did not understand
or reject it? Can we have such a huge responsability?
If we could then it would be possible for one of us to decide to do something that sent someone else to hell. I don’t believe that God has given us that sort of power, therefore I don’t believe it’s possible.
That’s one of the reasons I don’t believe in an eternal hell, it would give too much power to humans.
There are some scriptures which do indicate that God will punish those who put other people in the position of needing to be punished by God, but the matter is somewhat vague and indirect.
I don’t really think it’s a problem so long as (1) we aren’t talking hopeless punishment; and (2) we’re talking about God punishing intentionally irresponsible teachers or people who don’t want to be bothered with trying to help other people, in other words an attitude problem of the heart not an honest mistake made in otherwise good faith.
Still, it’s a complex and nuanced situation. Let us say Woman A carelessly raises her children in such a way that she allows or even ideologically encourages them to misbehave, and they grow to have warped, destructive and self-destructive personalities; then Children Set B go on to have children of their own (grandchildren of A), who being raised by such parents naturally find their own lives and behaviors pathologically twisted around. Even if WomA is saddened and horrified at how her children and grandchildren have turned out, she herself does bear some responsibility not only in how her children developed but, by that extension, her grandchildren. And let us say that she not only had no idea her own lapses in parenting would lead to these results, but certainly didn’t want her family to end up so damaged and dysfunctional, a danger to themselves and others. The children may be malformed enough that trying to heal them in this life will be difficult or even impossible, and even if they are cured by God eventually before or after the resurrection they may have formed habits of thought which they will have to make choices about accepting or rejecting subsequently and still choose rebellion for a while. So even in the best possible outcome from this point (universal salvation of the descendants from sin), the descendants may have to be disciplined with chastening to some extent or even to some far extent, and the healing itself may be very unpleasant and inconvenient to them.
Just how far is she morally blameless for what happened, though? – even though a lot of it was an effectual result of her responsibility, it might have been accidental. Even so, if she doesn’t accept that level of accidental responsibility, then she’s intentionally acting irresponsible about the situation now (to at least that degree). And then, what if all this came from her acting with intentional irresponsibility to begin with, doing things she had some good reason to believe were wrong in defiance of what light she herself could see, out of selfish gratification?
Although I am using an imaginary example for illustration, I bet we all know people who fit this description; and if not, then this is also a fairly accurate description of God’s own chosen people of Israel! Even though God eventually makes clear that He is primarily interested in individual responsibility and does not just condemn subsequent generations for the sins of the fathers (nor spares them for the repentance and righteousness of the fathers), He also speaks with anger at generations of Israel who by their chosen behaviors have poisoned the lives of their children and grandchildren for multiple generations afterward, saddling them with conditions and ways of life which they cannot be effectively brought out of without harsh suffering, even where the children had no personal culpability. A modern equivalent would be babies born with addictions and malformities thanks to the parents insisting on using crack cocaine or other drugs. In the long run the whole fallenness of the human race can be described along such lines!
Of course, following this line of responsibility, God Himself shares part of the responsibility for creaturely sin in several ways, even though unlike the irresponsible parent the results didn’t happen due to lapses of competency or morality on His part. But being ethically responsible, God insists on taking authoritative responsibility for the bad results – and insists not only on paying for our sins, but for working toward making it all right in the end, until He gets it done.
In a very literal way, God requires our blood at His own hands, too, not only at the hands of people whose irresponsibility results in the degradation of others.
(I’ve also written about this in more theological detail, from the direction of checking what kind of ideas on the topic fit trinitarian theism, over at the Cadre Journal this past July.)
I don’t think of hell as being a realm or a place. I think of hell as being the natural results of sin. Hell is loneliness, self-loathing, poverty, fear, war, etc. So in that sense, when we hurt another human being, we do “send them to hell”. But rather than dwell on this, I think it is best to cultivate an attitude of love for those around us. An attitude that genuinely desires the well-being of those we meet. I Peter 4:8 says:
I no longer believe there is a Hell. Rather, I believe that Jesus saves us from this “Present Evil Age” as Paul says in Gal.1.4. By default we are born into this PEA soup and it takes Jesus to save us out of it. It’s our job to share the Good News of God’s love and kingdom with all, trusting God to save all in His due time, loving people into the kingdom.
One of the principles that, well, scares the hell outta me is “To whom much is given much is expected!” I’ve been given so much love and grace in my life I just hope to be a faithful steward of that love and hear one day “Well done” from our Father! We all shall be judged and give an account for every idle word we’ve said, every missed opportunity, and every good deed! But we must have faith that salvation is wholly by grace based on the love, mercy, and justice of God!
PEA Soup…I’m totally going to steal that and use it from now on.