Q&A: If they’re going to hell, why make them?

Question:  If God knows if someone is going to hell, why does He give them life in the first place? Does He want them to experience something good so that when they get to hell they’ll “regret” their decision?

Response:

God ‘makes’ individuals in the sense that He made all of humanity. But, God does not individually make individuals. Humans do. I’m making this point because the question to some might sound like we’re accusing God of individually making someone (He didn’t) so that He could then throw that someone into hell (He doesn’t).

Second, it’s important to differentiate pre-knowledge from causation. I might know how someone is going to react to something, but that doesn’t mean I made the person react that way. Knowing what someone is going to do, is not making the person do it. God’s knowing the ultimate destiny of someone is not God making that the person’s destiny. The person does that. It’s important to make sure we make responsible the proper party.

Third, there’s a linkage here between someone going to hell, and it being God Who sent someone there. That’s why you’re able to ask if God ‘sent’ someone there for a particular reason (yours being the suggestion that the reason was to make sure one regret one’s decision). God did not send the person there. The person did.

Discussion:

Now we can get into this more clearly. If God is not sending someone there and the person is choosing it, it makes you realise what value your choices have. I might know that my kid that I send to school might pick up bad habits. Should I not permit my kids to go to school?

The plane that my child and I board might get hijacked, should I never travel? God forbid, the piano teacher I hired for my kid could be a serial killer. Should piano lessons be forbidden or avoided? You get the picture.

As for hell: what is it? Some people might say that hell is regret. So the suggestion that He sends someone there to regret decisions would be redundant in that case. Others suggest that hell and heaven are the same place, experienced differently. Still others think hell’s fire and brimstone. These are all different teachings on hell that have some basis in the Tradition of the Church.

So, what’s my point? My point is that God did not choose to send people there, people choose to go there. What it is exactly (hell), we do not even really know.1 What’s more, is that God does not individually make people, and he definitely does not make people so that they go to hell.

Consider:

What is of utmost importance, is that we realise how important our decisions are. If you choose to cheat on your spouse, there are consequences. It’s not because your spouse chooses to be a jerk, you chose to be a jerk. Your choice illicited a response from others, but you cannot blame the other party for reacting to you.

Of equal importance to realise, is that any ‘punishment’ of God, is always restorative. Any chastisement is to fix something, not to break something. This is true in any case where it is God Who has done the doing. When God does the doing, it is always Loving. That is His identity. Our decisions are not God’s. Let’s own them.

One thought on “Q&A: If they’re going to hell, why make them?”

  1. +
    I got some questions about what I mean here, especially given that the Bible has our Lord teach about hell.

    What I’m saying is that the Church has fathers that have expressed the nature of hell in different ways. For some it’s the literal burning, for others it’s the feeling of deep regret, and for others, it’s the hating of God’s love while being in God’s love. So what hell is (substantially) is not agreed on in the fathers and has traditions of various kinds, but there’s not a mainline disagreement about there being something called ‘hell’.

    The Fathers, on whom the Church relies, have given various interpretations on the words of the Lord. None of the fathers are saying our Lord didn’t say what He said. The fathers are interpreting what those words mean in various ways. The Church gives Dogma as law, and doctrine (which can’t contradict Dogma) as explanation. Our Church has allowed different interpretations on *how* or *what* the suffering of hell actually looks like.

    The fathers, whom our Church venerate and revere, recognise that there are various ways of understanding suffering, because it’s not always clear. Is there material in hell? Is there material in heaven? When the book of Revelations speaks of heaven with rubies and emeralds – is that really what will happen in a spiritual world (have material)? Angels are spirits but are described as having six wings, and as my Bishop says, this is impossible because having wings means they have a skeleton and are bodily!

    It’s so important that we’re not contradicting the words of our Lord. The fathers are applying their own interpretations of the words when they feel the gospel needs clarification or interpretation.

    pray for me!

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