Q: If someone is born with a developmental disorder or has a mental illness that prohibits them from believing, will they go to hell?
A: No. I don’t believe anyone will be judged beyond what they can comprehend. I believe that scripture teaches that we are responsible for responding to what we know. According to Romans 2:14-15:
"Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right."
According to Paul, the writer of Romans, people who don't have the written word of God will be judged according to what they know. How do people know there is a God? The creation and their conscience. The creation speaks to the evidence of a creator. People also have a conscience that tells them right from wrong.
So what if someone cannot comprehend this? What if they can't understand scripture, the creation, and don't know right from wrong? I don't believe they qualify for the judgment and are exempt. This does get tricky, because it's hard to draw an exact line of where that exemption lies. People of many different theological stripes disagree on this issue. For me, it comes down to the fact that I believe God to be merciful, loving, and gracious. He wouldn't unfairly punish someone who is not even able to understand or take responsibility for their actions. —T.A.
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This information is given with the understanding that the author is not rendering medical or legal advice. This is provided for educational purposes only. Names and identifying information have been omitted.