Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What Happens To The Souls Of Infants Who Die?

          There are a number of different positions amongst Christians as to what happens to the souls of children who die. Augustine postulated that unbaptized infants were punished eternally in hell, but to a lesser degree. His views softened over time. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church unofficially taught that the souls of deceased children go to a place called Limbo. The Greek fathers did not discuss this topic at length, but some believed children who died went to some place distinct from both heaven and hell. The stance defended here is that the destination of little children who pass away enter into the presence of God in heaven.

          Scripture implicitly affirms the concept that we call the age of accountability (Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 7:15-16). This is relative due to the fact that everybody develops differently. Thus, there exists a period of time in childhood in which God in His mercy does not count sins against a person due to lacking reason and understanding. While babies are born with a sin nature, they still cannot actually commit acts of evil. 

          Jesus Christ stated that the kingdom of God is not only for little ones, but also for those who become like children in their faith (Mark 10:13-15; Luke 18:15-17). If babies were to be sentenced to hell upon death, then why did He welcome them? The gospels record Christ having compassion on children as He called them to His side and sat them at His feet in the crowds (Matthew 18:3; 19:14-15). If they were to be sentenced to hell by God for original sin, then why did Jesus commend their simplicity?

          Consider the mourning of King David when the Lord took away his newborn child as discipline for acts of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:22-23). Even in the midst of his selfish and brutish conduct, we see God exercising mercy as his own life was spared. He is in charge of life itself. The text of 2 Samuel affirms that both would go to the same place at the moment of physical death. Moreover, Hebrews 11:32-33 tells us David entered into the presence of God. Why should we believe that the souls of deceased children go to some place other than heaven? 

          The God of the Bible is one of love, mercy, righteousness, and truth. He would not condemn to hell somebody who never even had a chance to live. We must also keep in mind those who have severe cognitive disabilities. Though it is a teaching of Scripture that God has inscribed a moral law into the hearts of men, every person needs to have the mental capacity to act. Each man will be judged according to his own conduct (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 1:17). Babies cannot do anything on their own. What could God judge them for?


Anonymous said...

Tank you, Jesse. I saw your message from Lucas Banzoli's blog and I came here to see your opinion about the theme. I agree with you two. Forgive if my english is wrong, I am from Brazil hahaha
God bless you!

Jesse Albrecht said...

Hello Gabriel,

No problem. I am glad that you found this article helpful. May God bless you too.