Wednesday, March 26, 2008

RE: GRM Question #2(B) "All Babies Go To Heaven?"


The question on whether babies go to heaven has been bothering me, tormenting me, eating away at me even. The question holds extra significance to me. Mikayla, my three month old “cutiepie” has been keeping me busy and away from many things. One of the things, among many things I severely miss is – movies. I have even been feeling left out from conversations when people start talking about the latest movies. I can only comment on whether the poster looked good, and the posters mostly looked fantastic! Mikayla is such a gift, she has been learning to make sounds. About two weeks ago she began to say “gooh”, then it was “ang-gooh”. This few days she has been making all kinds of new sounds. Melanie and I are ecstatic. My parents (a.k.a. Mikayla’s grandparents) are missing out on all the action as our internet at my home has been out since the last time they were around (11th March). The combination of baby and limited connectivity has kept me away from the blog. I am now resorting to other means…

As you can clearly see, I have some problems focusing. Back to the question at hand...

Let me just simply explain some of the theories on whether babies (or the mentally handicapped) go to heaven when they die. As far as I understand babies and mentally handicapped people fall into a similar category. There are some differences between the two but I believe, in relation to the question at hand, their lack of judgment and/or ability to think puts them in a similar position. I do not mean to offend anyone here and I sincerely hope that no one will be offended by my stand or by my choice of words. The “politically-correct” language changes by the week, I cannot keep up, however I sincerely mean no disrespect.

To deal with this question we will also have to consider the theology of original sin. “Original sin” simply states that all we are all born sinners, this is particularly clear to me from Psalm 51, among other Bible verses. I agree that we are all sinful from the time we are born. Since Adam and Eve sin has been passed on from generation to generation.

Yes we know well from the Bible that we all are born sinners and God is just in condemning sin. But apart from verses that condemn sin in general, there are no verses in which God deals with the sins of a baby. However, I find that there are verses that suggests God’s grace, love and mercy towards babies.

The Roman Catholic Theory:
Traditionally Roman Catholics believed that anyone, anyone at all – baby or mentally handicapped, has to be baptized in order to go to heaven. Still births, miscarriages, or babies who were too young to be water baptized will go to purgatory. There they are said to enjoy an “eternal state of natural happiness but without being in communion with God”.

Because of the believe that absolutely nobody can get to heaven without first being baptized, the Catholic Church also came up with the ordinance of extreme unction, or the baptism of the dead. This gave believers of the Roman Catholic faith hope for their loved ones, especially babies or the mentally handicapped.

I find this theory very leaky and Roman Catholic church is trying to plug the holes in their stand. I do not believe in “purgatory”. Firstly it was not mentioned in the Bible, but mostly because the concept of purgatory (or limbo) distinctly contrasts with the teachings of the Bible. Christianity is a religion of love and grace, the idea of purgatory tells me that I need to work for my salvation. As far as I understand, purgatory is a place for people who God cannot decide whether to send to heaven or hell. I would be very disappointed if God made me go through purgatory. It would be as though God’s grace was not sufficient to save us. And if God’s grace was indeed sufficient, then it would seem to me that God is simply just being mean. Jesus came all the way, became flesh, died a bloody death, and after all that told me it was all for nothing. It is as if a person traveled a great distance to visit, but refused take the final step to come into the house.

I believe water baptism is merely a symbolic act. The act means nothing in itself unless we understand the meaning behind the symbolic act. But water baptism becomes meaningful when we understand we that we were once dead but now we live through Christ’s death. If someone goes through the act of water baptism but does not understand the meaning behind the symbolic act, it does nothing for the person. So would a baby understand what water baptism means?

The Roman Catholic church is a great church, however not perfect (yet). I believe the Roman Catholic church are on the brink of a reform. One of the changes that might be made would be on this theory. For more please see:
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/04/20/limbo-in-limbo.html. Also see http://www.newadvent.org for more on the Catholic faith.

Rejection Theory
This other theory holds a baby will go to heaven because a baby, or a mentally handicapped person has no ability to reject God. There are people who believe that in order for a person to deserve hell, this person must reject God outright. The verse normally cited to support this view is John 3:18A baby is not able to choose to accept God but at the same time also has no ability to reject God, therefore, a baby who cannot reject God will not go to hell and instead go to heaven.

There are also some who believe that babies are not capable of committing sins that “deserve hell”. Sins like those mentioned in John 16:9 and 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. Revelations 20:11-15 tells us that on judgment day we will all be judged according to our works that are recorded. Again a baby would not have been responsible for his/her actions and incapable of committing a sin. A factor of “the age of accountability” also normally comes into play. The “age of accountability” is like juveniles who are judged by different standards than those of an adult. This term is not found in the Bible itself but it refers to the age when a person is able to understand the Gospel. The age of accountability is subjective an differs from person to person depending on their individual mental development.

Believing Parent Theory
Based on 1 Corinthians 7:14, it reads: For the believing husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

This theory would mean that not all babies would be saved, except only those who are children of a believing parent. The first part of the verse is hard to understand and explain, however the latter part of the verse is clear enough.

I think this stand is not unreasonable. Some might think that if God were like this it would not be fair to other “innocent babies”. In this world of “political correctness” we might have become too politically correct for our own good. I believe nothing is fair, when Jesus who was sinless had to bear the sins of the world, I do not think anything in this world can ever be said to be fair (or unfair) anymore. If God were to be “fair” we being sinners would all be in hell, end of story. Instead, God chose grace and mercy over “fairness”.

Willful Transgression Theory
As you can read from the funky names of the different theories you would know by now that I am making names up for different theories that already exist. This theory is mainly based in Deuteronomy 24:16 which reads: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin".

This verse acknowledges the theology of original sin but puts it in the backseat. The Bible deals with men as reasonable, responsible, and accountable beings. Instead of judging men’s original sin, the Bible seems to indicate that “every man shall be put to death for his own sin”. Only those who have willfully sinned against God will be judged and punished.
...

I believe there are many more arguments for as well as against babies going to heaven. However I believe I have enough evidence to reasonably and rationally believe that my little baby Mikayla will be in heaven if she dies before the “age of accountability”. I am definitely satisfied with what I have found, although it is by no means comprehensive, it is sufficient.

Even though I believe babies will most likely go to heaven when they die, this does not mean babies who are alive are regenerated. I do not fully understand the matter at hand and cannot reconcile this contradiction. What I have discovered evinces that babies who die most likely go to heaven. However, I doubt there will be anyone who can comprehensively answer and satisfy everyone on this subject. Like many age-old questions, all we can do, until we meet God, is to just trust that Our God is just and he will do what is right (Genesis 18:25).

Further readings? Go to:-

For reasons and verses, for and against babies going to heaven. Recommended for the easy point form reading format. Read and judge for yourselves.
http://www.barr-family.com/godsword/babys.htm

A transcript of John F. MacArthur’s sermon on the subject at hand.
http://www.ondoctrine.com/2mac0142.htm

An article on the same subject.
http://www.all4god.net/when_babies_die.htm

4 comments:

YTW said...

Very well-written article with good summaries. Very hard to believe in "original sin" when you have such a beautiful baby picture with the article!! You are very gifted in writing. I hope you will read and write more. We may never know all the answers to these difficult theological issues but we must not give up on our honest search for the right answers.

JoelWho said...

I believe the same

pam said...

hi lemuel, just wana let u know tat i like ur blog's content, n have added ur blog address to my blogroll. dun mind ya. ;)

Lemuel Yee Ngan Foong said...

Thank you all.

I feel like a dwarf among giants. Got theologians, and pastors, and doctors interacting with me on my terms... now the pressure is on me to put up good stuff.

Once again thanks =)

See you all around.