Trish S – I have always questioned the belief that folks who may have little exposure to Jesus but are “good” people will spend eternity in Hell. Perhaps this comes from my Roman Catholic background!

Dave – It’s not just Roman Catholicism but most Christian churches believe that Hell is everlasting torment for all who do not believe in Jesus (born-again). I noticed you put the word “good” in quotation marks which is good because no one born of Adam’s seed is good. All humans, except Jesus of course, are the “walking dead” until they are born-again in Christ. That said, one has to wonder about little kids or babies (including those aborted in utero) who die. None of these humans could even begin to understand salvation’s terms. I think the safe answer is that we do not know but God is just and perfect in all judgments He makes. Perhaps the criterion is different for humans who die at an older age because they had the chance of seeking the Truth. God promises humans that they will find the Truth if the seek it. I maintain, however, that simply seeking truth (small “t” on truth) does not necessarily cut it because the condition of the individual’s heart may not be pure. By pure, I mean they have a willingness to do God’s will as Jesus said in John 7:17. There are many truths found in various philosophies, but adhering to them does not cause one’s sins to be forgiven.

Jewish tradition has this thing called the “age of accountability” which holds that a child’s sins are on the parents’ soul, but from age 13 on they are not. It assumes that before this age is reached, the child is without sin and if he/she dies within this time frame, they go to Heaven. So this would be a sudden shift of guilt and blame based on a time clock. It is not found anywhere in the Scriptures.

We do know that some will receive harsher punishment than others based on what they rejected on earth. For example, those who rejected Jesus are in the most trouble. But what about a person who has never been exposed to the Gospel and dies? This is a tough one. We don’t like the idea that this soul will be thrown on the Lake of Fire, whether or not it is eternal suffering or a literal second death as the Scriptures say it is. Jesus spoke of separating the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the chaff. He said the chaff does get thrown into a fire. Wheat does represent saved souls and chaff does represent unsaved souls. It seems to me that any soul not redeemed by God’s Blood cannot have eternal life…but eternal torment for human souls is extremely difficult for me to accept, whether or not it is accurate. It makes more sense to me that Hell for human souls is the second death. Death means death, or going out of existence. This belief, of course, is a serious error to most Christians, so I would never teach it although the possibility of it being true does rest in my mind.

Some Christians feel if this “error” is taught then concern for the lost would be diminished. I would argue that the Lake of Fire is still a horrible, frightening fate and therefore we all need to get the Gospel out to others.