The Great Mystery: What Happens to Children That Die?

In my opinion the “Problem of Dead Babies” is one of the biggest problems in all of Christian theology (and is probably a dire issue in other religions as well). In fact, this issue of dying babies, when properly appreciated, seems to transcend every simplistic theological answer we hold dear. It is an inexplicable conundrum that has produced more confusing ideas and theories than a bus full of fundamentalist Mormons. That said, I want to warn you, grappling with this question is not for the lighthearted. If you want to continue skipping along with Sunday-School theology, please skip right past this, if you want to wrestle with one of the toughest paradoxes in Christianity, buckle up.

SALVATION IN CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

To truly comprehend the difficulty here we must first summarize the doctrine of salvation within the Christian worldview in a way that would encompass the widest possible denominational and ecclesiological variety. Simply put, we are defining “Christian salvation” in a way that almost all Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians would agree. Here it is:

  1. We are born with (a) original sin, or (b) a tendency to sin
  2. The consequences of sin is (a) eternal torment in hell, (b) eternal annihilation in hell, or (c) something very bad
  3. Salvation from judgment in hell is atoned, won, showcased by Jesus, but only when we have (a) faith and/or (b) obedience.
  4. In order to symbolize, achieve, or prove this we are baptized by immersion or sprinkled.

The following conclusions are therefore central in every branch of Christianity, from Calvinist Presbyterians to Arminian Pentecostals.

  1. No one can be saved by being a good person or simply avoiding sin.
  2. No one can be saved by believing in another deity except Jesus.
  3. No one can be saved without accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
  4. No one can be saved without exercising faith in Jesus as the Son of God.

These are the very principles upon which the whole endeavor of mission work and evangelism rest. These are the exact types of phrases heard at every altar call. These are idioms that almost every single Christian denomination holds as official positions. Any deviation from these statements is considered heretical and leads to excommunication.

And this is precisely where the problem of dead babies becomes visible for the enigma that it is.

WHERE DO DEAD BABIES GO?

What happens to children who die? Especially tiny babies who don’t talk, believe, pray, or make choices? It’s very common for people to make matter of fact statements like “well duh, all babies who die go to heaven.” Yet few realize the practical, philosophical, and theological implications that are unavoidable with these types of statements. Below I will outline and summarize all of the possible views and the vast array of problems posed by each one.

1. The Limbo Theory

The early Church understood the gravity of this situation far more than any of the careless ad hoc theologians of today. In fact, so profound was the belief that apart from baptism in the church there was no salvation, that early church fathers stated unbaptized children who die will go to hell. This was strongly promoted by the famous Saint Augustine of Hippo.

  • The Council of Carthage (A.D. 419) make the following declaration “let him be anathema” who teaches that there is an “intermediate or other happy dwelling place for children who have left this life without Baptism, without which they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, that is, eternal life” (1)

However, later Catholic theologians felt that simply designating unbaptized infants to hell was far too uncharitable. Thus was born the doctrine of limbo, which stated that unbaptized infants would neither enter heaven, nor feel the full pain of hell, instead they would simply be stuck in limbo. According to the Vatican:

  • the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision [being with God in heaven], nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin.” (2)

The ideas presented by the council of Carthage, that babies are sent to hell, if unbaptized, appear horrendous. What did these children do to deserve such a horrible punishment? It appears as though nothing. The later clarification that in limbo rules out the pain of hell helps, however brings questions of its own.

  • If God genuinely loves everyone, and genuinely wants to be with everyone, why would he reject babies and send them to limbo? Even though they bear original sin, why couldn’t God simply forgive that original sin and  let them enter heaven? To us it feels unfair that God would reject those that didn’t have the same ability as us to hear and respond to the evangelion. If feels unfair that God does not give equal chance for babies to grow up and make their response to the Gospel.
  • Where in Christian theology is there a third permanent option to hell and heaven? Where does the Bible even speak about this third possible state of eternal being? Catholic theology does include the temporary refinement of purgatory, yet even that is only a stepping stone to one of two possible final outcomes. Likewise, Protestant and Orthodox theology is based upon two modes of eternal being, life or death, there is no in between.

 

2. Age of Accountability Theory

Other factions in the early church, one led by a monk named Pelagius, were against the idea of Original Sin, and taught that infants are born perfect and without the blemish of sin. Then upon growing up and reaching some unknown “age of accountability” these children would finally be accountable for their own sins. One or another version of this theory is probably the most predominant in Protestant Christianity. There are those who fully reject the historical doctrine of original sin, like the Latter Day Saints, who say

  • “Because all children who die before the age of accountability are pure, innocent, and wholly sin-free, they are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven“(3)

Others don’t reject original sin outright, but define original sin in a way that allows children who have not yet reached the “age of accountably” to not be held responsible for sin. For example, the Assembly of God position is as follows:

  • children are loved by God, and until they come to an age of understanding (some call it “the age of accountability”), they have a place in the kingdom of God. This means that should a child die before developing to a point where the knowledge of Christ can be understood and applied through forgiveness, the child would inherit eternal life in heaven as an heir of God’s kingdom.” (4)

At first glance, this idea seems foolproof, however, as it turns out, this causes many more problems than it solves.

  • First, sets a theological precedent that unequivocally states “faith” and “obedience” are definitely not required to be saved (even though Christian doctrine emphatically states they are). Can infants exercise faith in Jesus? No. Can infants show obedience to Jesus? No. If Children are saved without faith or obedience, why does Christian theology explicitly mandate those are the only ways to salvation?
  • Second, the age of accountability issue basically boils down to the following idea, those who cannot yet grasp or understand concepts of good and evil are not judged. However, why does this principle not include anyone else? First, adult mentally ill people are certainly the best candidates, and many theologians do include them. Also, what about a sinful adult who is sane, and then later gets diagnosed with a severe case of dementia or mental retardation? Will this person be saved on the same principle? He or she is clearly outside the scope of “accountability.” What about others that are in this grey area. For example a teenager with a very low IQ who lived in a wild jungle tribe, and died at 14, while being largely ignorant of cosmic good and evil? Why does an infant’s ignorance lead to salvation, but the teenagers equal ignorance does not?
  • Third, and by all means the hardest point to grasp. If (A) all babies who die go to heaven, and (B) most adults, according to Jesus, will go to hell, why risk B, when you can physically cause A? If you as a parent know there is a 70% chance your child will grow up, leave the faith, and go to hell for eternal torment, but you have power in your hands to send them to eternal paradise, right now, why would you not do it? Surely the momentary pain the baby feels will be less than the eternal pain of burning in hellfire forever and ever?! If I was to end up in hell, I’d certainly hope someone killed me before I grew up! In fact, I would stand before God and tell him it’s unfair that many others were lucky to be killed as babies, but I didn’t have such luck. If you had a proven prophecy that your baby would be born to end up in hell, and you could change that by aborting him, would you really allow him to live, knowing his eternal destiny torture and flames? I am certainly not advocating killing babies, but we must agree that the teaching about “age of accountability” makes this the quickest way to ensure the least amount of people in hell.

 

3. Fathers Mercy Theory

Theologians that are more astute, do not throw out bumper sticker slogans on this issue as carelessly. Rather than focusing on the idea that it’s the child’s young age and ignorance that saves them, many make the focus on God being a merciful father. This is often done in order to salvage the doctrine of original sin, as well as mandate that all infants go to heaven. The ‘Bible Answer’ man summarizes this more careful position as

  • For instance, some theologians say that if a child should die before reaching an age of accountability — an age when he or she is capable of making a conscious moral choice — then God, out of grace and mercy, will save that person.” (5)

John Mac Arthur also assents to this notion

  • that question was asked of a panel of very astute theologians — no one gave an adequate answer. And I thought, “How can we have theologians who don’t know the answer to that question? … I also believe, that up until that point of real saving faith, God in His mercy, would save that child, should that child die.” (6)

The only difference about the “Fathers mercy” idea, as opposed to the “age of accountability” theory, is that the defining issue is not the child’s lack of sin per se, but the overriding mercy of God that justly could, but mercifully wont condemn one who hasn’t lived and committed their own sin. Yet this view accepts almost all of the same criticisms as the “Age of accountability theory.”

  • First, it argues that faith and obedience are not required if one is for some reason (such as infancy) ignorant of God. How can we mandate that faith is a necessary composed for every single individual, and then make an exception for billions of souls?
  • Second, why is God’s mercy not applied towards all those who are not “capable of making a conscious moral choice” or are not yet intellectually “up until that point of real saving faith? Why is God being a hypocrite and being merciful to babies that can’t make the choice, and not drug addicts, low IQ folks, or others who are just as equally incapable?
  • Third, is the argument from killing children. If in fact we can make God be merciful to infants that we kill, why don’t we kill all the heathen children? We can allow Christian children to grow, to proliferate the human race, and in hopes that we can keep them Christian, but we should carpet bomb the heathen! Their death will be their salvation! This is an undeniable logical conclusion. At this point you are probably thinking I am absolutely insane. Yet here is how William Lane Craig, arguably the most famed Christian apologist, uses this exact line of reasoning to defend the Israelite slaughter of Canaanine babies mentioned in the Bible: “If we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.” (7) So apparently it was indeed perfectly good to “save” those heathen babies in the past, but today we ought to let them be damned? (Again, I don’t want to kill babies, but the logic and rhetoric of others leads there.)

 

4. Universal Election Theory

There is a novel approach by Low Calvinists who want to incorporate the sentimental idea of all infants going to heaven and with sovereign election of Calvinism. Alber Mohler and Daniel  Akin, who are leading Southern Baptists write:

  • We believe that Scripture does indeed teach that all persons who die in infancy are among the elect” (8)

This argument is made on purely on the basis of scriptural references that we will be judged on the basis of sins we committed “in the body” rather than Adams sins. (8) The implication is that because infants did not commit sins ‘sins in the body’ they are automatically the elect of God. As with most views, I agree with the desire to wish all infants into heaven. However, Mohler’s statement is obviously an ad hoc extrapolation, rather than clear exegesis of an explicit statement in the Scriptures. It is hard, if not impossible to teach that every child the Israelite army butchered, or even the multitudes of firstborn in Egypt, were actually the elect of God. This position, like all the rest, has considerable problems.

  • First, at its core Calvinist doctrine states that God’s election is not based on anything within the human being. The ‘U’ in the theological acronym TULIP, stands for unconditional, meaning there is no condition, or nothing that one can do to become elect. Yet the Universal Election of Infants clearly gives a condition: infancy. If every single infant who dies is part of the elect, it logically follows that being a dead infant is a condition to being one of the elect.
  • Second, of course, is that pesky baby killer question. If dropping a bomb on Afghanistan tomorrow will result in God (from infinity past) to elect and save all of those Afghani children from eternal fires in hell, why don’t we do that? Do we want those babies to burn forever in hell or for a few seconds on earth?
  • Third, this means we can directly influence God’s election. Traditional Calvinism teaches that while human preach the Gospel, it’s only through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit that a person can be saved. There is nothing we can physically do to cause God to elect someone, because it’s a divine mystery not under our control. However, if all dead infants are elect, then it follows that election of infants is a direct, fully effective, result of the work of our hands. We push the nuke button, and a baby becomes elect, 100% of the time. Even the hard sciences have a higher failure rates.
  • Fourth, if God elects babies on the condition that have no knowledge of sin, salvation and etc, why doesn’t he elect others who also have the condition of not having knowledge of sin and salvation, like the ancient Aborigines?

 

5. Selective Election Theory

We can also drag up and review a much hated ‘High Calvinist’ theory found in the halls of history. The idea is deadly simple, just as adults are mysteriously divided up into two categories, the elect and reprobate (“those who are passed over”), so too are the infants divided by the same divinely mysterious will. In Christian antiquity we find the writings of Augustine who argued that babies who are not baptized (and therefore not elect) will be condemned to hell, though they might suffer milder condemnation.

  • such infants as quit the body [die] without being baptized will be involved in the mildest condemnation of all. That person, therefore, greatly deceives both himself and others, who teaches that they will not be involved in condemnation” (9)

Though this view has (for obvious reasons) been abandoned by contemporary pop-theology, and is not held by most Neo-Calvinists, many historic Calvinists, as well as a small minority today, teach the reprobation of infants. The famed Jonathan Edwards had this to say

  • “We may well argue from these things, that infants are not looked upon by God as sinless, but that they are by nature children of wrath, seeing this terrible evil comes so heavily on mankind in infancy… [he then cites in detail the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah]… they were evidences of God’s wrath towards infants; who, equally with the rest, were the subjects of the destruction” (10)

This view is obviously abhorrent to many because of the psychological horror of imagining the suffering of small children and infants. However, the imagery of God destroying infants is clearly prevalent throughout the Old Testament (in the examples listed by Edwards as well as the flood that wiped away humanity, infants were included), thus to those that hold to a literal-historic reading of Old Testament, this sentimental argument shouldn’t be a problem, should it? There are however, other issues that arise with this view.

  • First, Calvinism has oft been criticized as making essentials of faith and obedience completely irrelevant. However, the Calvinist response has always been that election leads to and causes these essential outworking’s of the faith; “faith is the ‘how’ of salvation, election is the why.” However, infant election and reprobation happens completely apart from issues of sin, faith, baptism, and so this criticism comes right back, twice as hard. What is the point of the Bible constantly teaching that faith is the instrument of salvation if the majority of people in history are excluded from this? Historically more babies died than lived, even today infant mortality in developing (and therefore the largest) countries is 40-60%  (11) There are probably more dead babies, than dead adults. So then, if God did election apart from faith and obedience, for a majority of souls, what’s the point of faith and obedience? Can we truly teach faith is a requirement of salvation when elect infants are saved completely apart from it?
  • Second, this makes God look frightening and cruel. Once all the theological babble is dismissed the idea that God eternally tortures infants, purely on account of some arbitrary thing called ‘original sin,’ that they had inherited by no choice of their own, is nothing short of cruel and unfair. Calvinism is feasible as God choosing some sinners to save, and passing over others in their own choices to sin and the consequences thereof. The damnation is directly due to the actions of the sinners. However, in unconditional infant damnation, God appears as nothing short of unjust, frightening, and cruel, for He creates living, feeling, beings that first become aware of their consciousness while dangling in the fires of hell.
  • Third, everything in this world becomes irrelevant; as examples, this includes the Bible, mission work, church, and preaching. With traditional Calvinism, these things are the physical means to fulfilling Gods eternal decrees and brining in the elect. They are the only road towards the end goal. With infant election and damnation, these things become irrelevant. Not only does they play no part in an individual infants election or reprobation, but furthermore they are shown to be irrelevant through it. Let us imagine that Disneyland is heaven, and there is only one bus (with Jesus as the driver) that can take us there, it’s called “Bus #7-mission, church, and faith.” If you believe that Bus# 7 is the only bus takes anyone to Disneyland, you can assume it’s a very important bus, correct? Then, imagine finding out that half of the world went to Disneyland by simply closing their eyes, is Bus #7 still relevant? Can we still teach everyone it’s the only way to get to Disneyland? Is there really a point to obsess about filling up the gas tank? Why not just close your eyes and go to Disneyland that way?

 

6. Faith by Proxy

A small minority view is that the children of believing parents will be saved on the account of their parents righteousness. This view, surprisingly, stems from passages in the Bible, rather than pure speculation and feeling, like many other views. The key passages used by proponents of this view are the following:

  • For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” (1 Cor 7:14)
  • They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.” (Ezekiel 37:25)

In fact, the key theme of the circumcision was one of formally contracting a believers child into a relationship with God, and thereby assigning him into the chosen people of Israel. Though of course, being circumcised had profound symbolic power, and did ground one socially with the Hebrew people, it did not actually serve to prevent sinfulness. The arguments against a modern view that children of believing parents are instantly rewarded with heaven are as follows:

  • First, there is no specific teaching in the Bible that allows faith by proxy to save a person who doesn’t have their own faith.
  • Second, if we allow “faith by proxy” to save infants, why does this not work for others? Can an adult child be saved by the faith of a believing parent? Can the child of heathens be saved by the faith of believing neighbors?
  • Third, we are introducing a new way of being saved. Salvation is no longer the result of an individual who exercises faith in Jesus and proves it with obedience, but rather a special status that comes through genetic inheritance. (This begs the question of adoption as well; do adopted children get damned because their blood-parents are heathen, or saved because their new guardians are Christian?)
  • Fourth, the primary reason infants born in unbelieving homes are not saved, like infants in believing homes, is the sin of the parents. It is arguably unfair for one humans eternal destiny to be irrevocably based upon to another humans behavior.

 

7. Foreknowledge Theory

The next, particularly nuanced theory comes from the Arminian or Semi-Pelaginan sides and deals with God’s exhaustive foreknowledge. This idea is far less popular today than the “Age of Accountability” or “Fathers Mercy” theories. However, early in Christian history it was one of the main options offered by opponents of Augustine.

  • They respond that the reason why some infants are saved or condemned before they had any will or actions is because of Gods foreknowledge. God granted those infants, whom God foreknew would have merited salvation had they lived, the grace of baptism.” (12)

I have personally seen some variations of this idea discussed in online forums and in person conversations, but the literature defending this view from contemporary authors is very scarce and almost nonexistent, while there are critiques. (13) However, for the sake of argument, here are the issues with holding this as a dogmatic answer.

  • First, the fact that our planet exists devastates this theory. If God’s plan was to use his divine foreknowledge to sort between infants, and separate them on the basis of which ones would hypothetically reach a certain way, he would have. Yet instead, we have a physical planet with physical laws, words, and actions. In light of the ontological evidence, this theory can be simplified to the following: (a) God did not want to merely project the future possibilities of unconscious souls, but to create real people and let them live it out, (b) thus he made a world for this to happen, (c) and then for the majority of unconscious souls he only projects their future, rather than letting them live in this world.
  • Second, if God has the ability to foreknow which persons would freely choose him, if they were to be given life, and makes his determination to damn or save based on that potential foreknowledge, it logically follows that he creates people (and infants) specifically for hell. Those who argue for this theory, state that God knows the end result of each soul, before they are born. Thus, God knew Hitler would end up in hell, before God made Him, yet He still made the active choice to create him. But this appears worse with infants. (a) God knew infant X, if created, would die an unrepentant sinner, (b) God had the option to not create this infant but chose to, (c) God doesn’t even allow the infant to commit the sins that would earn the condemnation, and (d) God instantly throws the newly conscious soul into hell. From the perspective of the soul, it first and only memory is an eternal fire, without any other knowledge, and it can only know the pain of fire, as though its only purpose from the beginning was to burn. To the soul, the information about potential sin is just irrelevant semantics.
  • Third, would not different consequences possibly affect the projected foreknowledge of a souls future? If the same soul is born into a violent warring tribe in ancient India and then again as a child in the family of one of the Apostles, would not there be a huge possibility that seeing all the sign-miracles, such as the lame men walking, change the projected future outcome of that soul? What if that infants soul was born in the place of St. Thomas the Doubter and had the opportunity to touching the holes in Christ’s hands, would that change its fate? It seems very dishonest to say this is not the case. Now obviously being in close proximity to Jesus didn’t work for Judas (though his fate was predestined) but it seemed to work for the rest of Christ’s apostles. There was a 100% higher rate of Christian conversion in 0AD Jerusalem than 0AD India. So which one of these possible projected futures does God calculate an infant’s eternal fate with? The best possible scenario? The worst possible?

 

8. Postmortem Response theory

Another minority view is that children (as well as others with complete ignorance and inability) will have a postmortem chance to hear the preaching of the Gospel and repent. This is, in part, based on the theological idea that when Jesus went to Tartarus (in Greek mythology a word designating the worst part of hell) and he held a postmortem evangelization rally. The passage this conclusion is drawn from is:

  • “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,  in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison [Tartarus], because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”  (1 Pet 3:18-20)

I have heard proponents of Postmortem Response theory argue that Jesus preached the Gospel to people who died in the worldwide flood of Noah, because they had previously not heard the Gospel, and many of them were saved. According to this logic, it was argued, infants who die without hearing the gospel will hear a clear articulation of the gospel and have a chance to obey or reject Jesus in a postmortem experience. The criticisms of this theory are many.

  • First, the idea that infants will have this postmortem chance is completely absent from Scripture, and in the accepted teaching in any Orthodox, Protestant, or Catholic denomination or group. If we can believe this theory with absolutely no biblical evidence, why can we not believe in the ideas of Mormonism?
  • Second, if children, on the basis of their ignorance of the gospel, are given a postmortem chance to respond, are others included? Why not? Certainly it would be unfair for adults who have died with just as much ignorance to the Gospel as children, to be devoid of this postmortem chance? If an infant who knew nothing at all, has a chance to respond after death, why not an ignorant adult who inherited not only ignorance, but also false primitive teachings that pushed him into a negative direction? If infants are given a postmortem chance because of ignorance, should not the adult who was indoctrinated falsely into paganism from birth be given an even bigger postmortem chance to make up for it?
  • Thirdly, a postmortem chance would almost certainly lead to salvation because seeing the reality of things currently unseen, would result in the transformation of faith into fact. It is intellectually dishonest to postulate that those who stand at a literal crossroads between a kingdom of bliss and a pit of eternal fires would select the latter option. On this planet, most people sin because there is an immediate reward of selfish pleasure, not because they genuinely want to burn in eternal hellfire. Rather they don’t believe in the Christian faith or hell; an option that would be impossible when confronted with the reality of it.
  • Fourth, if infants are given a postmortem chance on the basis of ignorance, and therefore the unevangelized are offered the same option by the same theological principle, it logically follows that we should cease evangelization. For those people who we do not evangelize, will have the option of making their choice postmortem, when everything is much clearer and physically visible. Our human methods of evangelism are not perfect, and we might fail to present the gospel clearly, whereas, postmortem it would be presented perfectly, without our failures. Why risk a failure now, if those people whom we skip over will get a presentation after they have experienced death and are much wiser? (All of this is conjecture, however, for someone who gives the answer that infants will be granted a postmortem chance to hear and respond, this conjecture becomes a tenable logical conclusion.)

 

 9. Universal Reconciliation Theory

Origen, an early Christian Theologian and Apologist, considered one of the Early Church Fathers, taught a doctrine called apokatastasis (translated as ‘restoration’). In this doctrine was the idea that Christ would reconcile all things to himself, and through a postmortem refinement and chastisement in hell, everyone would be saved.

  • “For the destruction of the last enemy must be understood in this way, not that its substance which was made by God shall perish, but that the hostile purpose and will which proceeded, not from God but from itself, will come to an end. It will be destroyed, therefore, not in the sense of ceasing to exist, but of being no longer an enemy and no longer death. For to the Almighty nothing is impossible, nor is anything beyond the reach of cure by its maker.” (14)

His student, another early Church Father, Gregory of Nyssa, who was a bishop in the early church, argued that even satan would eventually be saved, writing that the:

  • “the originator of evil himself will be healed” (15)

It took three hundred years for a part of the Church to condemn Origen’s teachings about apokostapsis (this happened in 553 AD by the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople). However, before then Origen maintained notoriety throughout the early church, and is called “one of the most distinguished theologians and scholars of the early Christian Church” who influenced other Patristic Fathers such as Athanasius, Ambrose, & Jerome (16) and found amongst his defenders “Eusebius of Caesarea; Didymus the Blind, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and the Cappadocian Fathers—i.e., Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa.” (16)

That said, the idea of Universal Reconciliation is strongly opposed by most Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox Christian, though it has been gaining traction in recent years. It is beyond the scope of this post to deal with issues of universal reconciliation, however, it must be noted that those who believe in an apokatastasis are virtually alone in having no criticisms in response to their statement that all infants go to heaven, for in their theology, eventually everyone does.

 

10. The Best Possible Theory

I don’t know. Honestly, that’s it. All of the answers we give are filled with far too many intellectual holes and lead to strange logical conclusions. All of the answers we give contradict the traditional teachings of every branch of Christianity. Perhaps then, it is best to avoid giving answers and rest in the enigma of it all.

Perhaps the best answer is really another question, does God really love us?

 

 

References

  1. “Council of Carthage (A.D. 419) – Canon 110. (Greek cxii. bis).” NEW ADVENT. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3816.htm (accessed October 9, 2013).
  2. International Theological Commission. “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised.” Vatican: the Holy See. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html (accessed October 9, 2013).
  3. Lybbert, Merlin R.. “The Special Status of Children .” lds.org. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1994/04/the-special-status-of-children?lang=eng (accessed October 9, 2013.
  4. “Water Baptism: Infant Baptism, Age of Accountability, Dedication of Children.” Assemblies of God (USA) Official Web Site. http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/gendoct_11_accountability.cfm (accessed October 9, 2013).
  5. Hanegraaff, Hank. Salvation and the Age of Accountability – Christian Research Institute .” EQUIP, Christian Research Institute, The Bible Answer Man, Equip App – CRI. http://www.equip.org/perspectives/salvation-and-the-age-of-accountability/ (accessed October 9, 2013).
  6. MacArthur, John. ” The “Age of Accountability”.” GTY. http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A264 (accessed October 9, 2013).
  7. Craig, William. “Slaughter of the Canaanites .” ReasonableFaith.org – Defend Biblical Christianity, Apologetics, Bible Questions. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites (accessed October 9, 2013).
  8. Mohler, R. Albert, and Daniel L. Akin. “The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven? – AlbertMohler.com.” AlbertMohler.com. http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/07/16/the-salvation-of-the-little-ones-do-infants-who-die-go-to-heaven/ (accessed October 9, 2013).
  9. On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, ; cf. Study by the International Theological Commission, 22 April 2007], 15–18]
  10. (Edwards, Jonathan. “Defending Original Sin.” In The works of President Edwards: a reprint of the Worcester ed., with valuable additions and a copious general index.. New York: J. Leavitt and J.F. Trow, 1843. p378.
  11. Norton, M (2005). “New evidence on birth spacing: promisng findings for improving newborn, infant, child, and maternal health”. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 89: S1–S6.
  12. Hwang, Alexander Y. In Intrepid lover of perfect grace the life and thought of Prosper of Aquitaine. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2009. 113.
  13. Giesler, Norman. “The Salvation of Infants.” Ankerberg Theological Research Institute, John Ankerberg Show. http://www.jashow.org/wiki/index.php?title=The_Salvation_of_Infants_-_Part_2 (accessed October 14, 2013).
  14. Peri Archon 3.6.5 (trans. Marguerite Harl, Gilles Dorival, and Alain Le Boulluec. Paris, 1976, p.67)
  15. Catechetical Orations 26. The Catechetical Oration of Gregory of Nyssa. Edited by James H. Srawley. Cambridge, 1903, p. 101
  16. “Origen.” New World Encyclopedia. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Origen (accessed October 14, 2013).
  17. “Origen (Christian theologian).” Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/432455/Origen/5404/Influence (accessed October 14, 2013).

3 responses

  1. I agree, all of these theological frameworks fail when taken to their logical conclusion. However, I do not agree that these are the only theological frameworks to to operate in. If I may be blunt, it is evident to me that, given the conclusions that are reached, the doctrines leading to such conclusions must be false. As the author has pointed out, said doctrines lead to false conclusions, I would take it a step further and claim that the doctrines leading to such conclusions are also false. If anyone is interested in engaging with a different theological framework, check out the links below and read them in their entirety. They avoid the problems that these false doctrines must fall into, and present a coherent view of reality.

    1) http://www.gospelway.com/salvation/original_sin.php
    2) http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1202&topic=86
    3) http://www.gospelway.com/salvation/infant_baptism.php
    4) http://www.gospelway.com/salvation/baptism_purpose.php
    5) http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2748&topic=86
    6) http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1331&topic=86

    For further reading, please read any of these articles:

    7) http://www.gospelway.com/salvation/calvinism.php
    8) http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11

  2. In response to “Dave” above, I would say that the point of this author presenting another question, “Does God really love us?”, is to evoke thought within his readers as to HOW MUCH God loves us.

    Yet, even this author’s suggestion to contemplate this latter question… definitely has limits.. and is likely to be(come) unsatisfying, IMO.

    To the fair, this author does present a myriad of pointed questions, designed to provoke doubt with each possible ‘theory’. Yet this author does not present any summation, or conclusion as to what (s)he thinks of the matter. Thus, we’re presented with only a negative side of each theory…. and little in the way of positive ‘possibilities’.

    Admittedly, the subject matter is exceptionally difficult… especially to try to be dogmatic. His words here have some (limited) value in helping us think about the various ‘theories’….. but ultimately provides little or no input or even a hint.. as to how one should ‘proceed’.

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