The quickest and easiest answer might be "not at all, as it's only between God and that person", but this question can lead to other question. For example, to the responsibility of a priest. Even as not a priest, for example, I can get a feeling that maybe if I tried better, I could have helped turn someone from the evil road. The accent is on "helped", as in the end it is not me who does the turning.

I don't remember seeing or hearing any significant discussion about this topic. Are there established viewpoints or dogmas about this? Notable theologians or at least an explanation about the official views of notable denominations is what I'm looking for.

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    The degree to which any given Christian perceives himself responsible for other people's salvation likely hinges on the individuals belief in free will, predestination, works vs. faith, etc. Given the immensely broad range of opinions on those three factors alone, I think this might be "too broad" to answer without narrowing it down to a specific view or denomination. – David Stratton Dec 18 '13 at 13:44
  • @vsz I did not speak at all about "good" or "bad" nations or denominations. Anyway, as it annoyed you, I removed my comment and will remove this one too later. – Ingo Dec 18 '13 at 14:06
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    Re my comment above, narrowing it to Evangelical Christians would suffice. – David Stratton Dec 18 '13 at 14:18

How much ? We can't know. Only God knows. We don't necessarily have to know.

Our christian faith teaches us that :

  • there IS free will and personal responsibility (or else we are not free creatures but mere puppets)
  • none of us is fully "free" since our decisions are affected by many factors : health, education, culture, past experiences, other creatures etc.
  • we are responsible for ourself and each other as far as we can. God respects our dignity and doesn't "assist" us like babies. It does however take care of all of us to ensure our personal growth through what we call "Providence". But we have to freely respond.

Recent social studies show that we are all influencing each other more than we may have previously thought. For example, divorce and suicide have been shown to be "contagious", i.e. a person doing it greatly increases his relatives chance to do the same.

It seems also that God leaves to us the task of propagating knowledge of Him (at last up to a certain mesure) though He could reveal himself to all people if He wanted to.

So we are definitely at last partially responsible for each other salvation, at last the part that doesn't depend on their own free will.

But evaluating "how much" we affect each other would require a full understanding of human mind and social interactions. We are VERY far from such knowledge.

Saints testimones (ex. st Joan of Arc) show that they honestly and genuinely didn't dare to presume that they were "in God's grace" which can be understood as "contributing to their own salvation and other's salvation". So saints didn't know either.

On the other hand, since Christian faith is about our personal, loving relation to God, such "how much" questions can be seen as irrelevant. Evaluating "how much" may imply the desire to "do only one's share" or "evaluating one's contribution", so introducing some kind of "due" or "contract". This is not how a love relation is supposed to work.

So a way of answering for a christian may be "I don't now, I can't know, I don't need to know. I just want to do the best for my brother humans out of love for God and them, without counting. I'm definitely not doing all I could but I'll do my best to sincerely and creatively help everyone's growth and have confidence in God's help and forgiveness on that matter." This is how saints like St Theresa or St Vincent of Paul expressed it.

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  • "God respects our dignity and doesn't "assist" us like babies." Is there any source for this? I've grown agitated anytime I see some athlete make a score and then praise Jesus for it... like God cares about football or whatever... Then if that is the case, how far does his lack-of-care extend? Does he really care about my job? My family? What exactly should I thank him for other than the life I've been given? – LordStryker Dec 18 '13 at 15:59
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    @LordStryker that would make an interesting question on its own ;) The holy scripture clearly says that He cares and a lot ! (down to every strand of hair) He is the one who is seeking us the most, it's just we (and me) who don't answer. However He won't intrude in our life unless we want to ("I'm at the door and knocking"). About what happen in the world... There is more than for just a comment... – Offirmo Dec 18 '13 at 16:15
  • I'm almost too afraid to make another post but I would immediately favorite one that addressed this. And I forgot about the 'strand of hair' thing. Good call. A part of me feels that it is morally wrong to 'include God' in trivial things such as "Thank God I made that touchdown" or "Praise the Lord that I won that scratch-off lottery ticket." Who am I to say what God is and is not involved in? There are such horrible atrocities in the world that makes me wonder how God could care about a football game, or what I had for lunch. – LordStryker Dec 18 '13 at 16:19

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