Babies and children

Milarepa

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*If a baby or child is too young to understand faith... and they die.
Will they go to heaven or hell?
*What about stillborn and aborted babies?
 

jsimms435

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No, they don't go to hell.
 

Lämmchen

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*If a baby or child is too young to understand faith... and they die.
Will they go to heaven or hell?
*What about stillborn and aborted babies?
Faith is a gift given by God and comes to mankind through His Word which is what we find in the Holy Bible. His Word does not go out and return to Him empty and faith is defined as man trying to understand things. As a young child I had faith even when I couldn't talk or explain it.

Christians rely on God to use mankind, and that usually means the parents, to share with the child about God even while in the womb. Babies can hear in the womb and we know that John the Baptist had faith and it was evident by him leaping for joy when Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus at the time, came near.

As for babies who have not been exposed to God's Word we rely on God to be just and we know that whatever happens He still is "just".
 

JRT

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According to the Doctrine of Original Sin they certainly do. This one of the several reasons that I reject that Doctrine as incompatible with God's love and compassion.
 

Josiah

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*If a baby or child is too young to understand faith... and they die.
Will they go to heaven or hell?
*What about stillborn and aborted babies?

@Milarepa;


Several points....


1.
Where there is faith, we have the promise of salvation. God gives faith and in my opinion, He is not rendered impotent just because the receiver is under some mysterious, unknown age. God can give what He wants to whom He wants any time He wants. Even when yet in the womb (as He did to John the Baptist, who had faith before he was born)


2. No one understands faith. Faith is TRUST and reliance. Babies trust their mom - without any cognative reason to do so. LOTS of people board a plane with zero understanding (or wrong understanding) of how the plane works. And no Christian ever has all understanding.... there are countless mysteries, starting with why does God love ME? (I've not a clue).


3. If God can save a soldier with faith killed in battle, He can save a baby killed in abortion.


4. While we have no promise, I'm not sure it is outside God's ability (or heart) to save those who never were baptized or knowingly came to faith. Just as Jesus forgave those who killed him (even though they did not repent and had no faith - typical requirements for forgiveness), perhaps He can also be gracious to the young. No promise, however, I realize.


5. There are some hints. For example, remember the last of the 10 pleagues in Egypt? The death of the first born male (of man and beast) - their death REGARDLESS of age (1 day old, 100 years old). But God provided a way for that son to be saved, and, interestingly, it had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with anything in or from that son. The believing PARENTS were kill a special lamb.... the PARENTS were to put it on the doorposts of their home... and because of what the believing/obedient PARENTS did, their son would be saved from death. Now is this SPECIFIC to all people, is it specifically about baptism? No... but it is a very clear example of God looking to the faith and obedience of the PARENTS to save their CHILDREN (regardless of age and without ANYTHING is or from the receiver of this blessing). Circumcison is another example, this act of faith and obedience BY THE PARENT results in the receiver being ushered into the covenant of God, with nothing supplied by the one circumcized..





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hedrick

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Original sin doesn’t necessarily imply that infants are doomed. Most Reformed think that people who die in infancy are saved. I think others do as well. It’s not that infants are sinless. Rather, they find a few Scriptural passages suggesting that God saves them out of sheer grace.

I don’t object. But you can find even more passages saying that he loves everyone and died for everyone, so I’m not sure why the same kind of argument doesn’t produce universalism. Why should God be prejudiced against adults?

My own theology would probably be considered heretical by most. I don’t think we’re exactly born innocent. But I also don’t think we’re born damned. What God wants isn’t moral perfection. In the Bible righteousness means loving God and neighbor and repenting when we do the wrong thing, not some unattainable moral perfection. Infants start out being self-centered until they learn to relate to others. But they don’t start out opposed to God. That develops in some people. I don’t know why or even how many, but it certainly happens.

As I read 1 Cor 15, in the end Jesus brings all people to himself, with the likely exception of those allied to the evil powers (15:24), who perish before that. Of course 1 Cor 3:12 warns that the process involves judgement, as Jesus himself teaches. But 1 Cor 3:12 is probably aimed at people who are saved, and I think many of Jesus’ teachings about judgement are as well. He doesn’t talk about atheists but lazy servants, and his quite varied imagery needn’t always be understood as implying final destruction (though again, I’m not quite suggesting universalism, so some of it probably is).
 

Milarepa

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So does it make a difference if the parents are Christians as to whether their unborn child will go to hell?
 

Lämmchen

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So does it make a difference if the parents are Christians as to whether their unborn child will go to hell?
Scripture tells us that we are saved in the same way "by grace through faith". It is not dependent on the parent's faith but upon God's grace that He gives faith for salvation and eternal life.
 

Milarepa

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Do all babies in the womb have faith? Some do? Some don't?
 

Lämmchen

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Do all babies in the womb have faith? Some do? Some don't?
Nowhere in scripture does it indicate that all babies in the womb have faith or are given faith. We do know that faith comes by hearing God's Word and that babies can hear while in the womb. Other than that, how some babies could get faith from God (since it is a gift by His grace) we aren't told and anything else would be purely speculation.
 

Josiah

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@[USER=1752]Milarepa[USER=1752];



Faith comes from God; God GIVES it. There's no indication that God is impotent to give faith to one under some unknown age, IQ or educational level.


Can God give faith to one still in the womb? Well, I'm always hesitant to form a new dogma over one's personal opinion of what God cannot do. Telling God He can't do something seems... well.... unwise. But perhaps read Luke 1:41-44. Open your Bible and read it. John the Baptist - yet UNBORN, yet IN THE WOMB - appears to have faith, or at least that's implied by his act of faith.


Does parent's faith have SOMETHING to do with this? Well.... Muslim parents are not as likely to share the Christian message with their children or to take them to worship and Sunday School. And they are not as likely to baptize their children. And I think the stats are that something over 90% of Christians had Christian parents, so that alone would tell you that parents do seem to play a role here. And note this point made above: remember the last of the 10 plagues in Egypt? The death of the first born male (of man and beast) - their death REGARDLESS of age (1 day old, 100 years old). But God provided a way for that son to be saved, and, interestingly, it had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with anything in or from that son. The believing PARENTS were kill a special lamb.... the PARENTS were to put it on the doorposts of their home... and because of what the believing/obedient PARENTS believed and did, their son would be saved from death. The salvation of the son had NOTHING to do with the son thinking, believing, doing, knowing anything. Now is this SPECIFIC to all people, is it specifically about baptism? No... but it is a very clear example of God looking to the faith and obedience of the PARENTS to save their CHILDREN (regardless of age and without ANYTHING is or from the receiver of this blessing). Circumcison is another example, this act of faith and obedience BY THE PARENT results in the receiver being ushered into the covenant of God, with nothing supplied by the one circumcized.




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tango

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*If a baby or child is too young to understand faith... and they die.
Will they go to heaven or hell?
*What about stillborn and aborted babies?
This is one of those thorny issues where things we've always been told prove to be inadequate to address a particular issue.

On one hand if our default position is that we are not saved (which most variations of the doctrine of original sin would hold), the logical conclusion is that until such time as we accept Jesus as our Savior our demise would result in going to hell. This creates all sorts of problems in cases like you describe, where a child who was born and only lived a few days before dying clearly didn't have chance to respond to any message. To condemn such a child doesn't seem like the act of a loving God to me.

On the other hand if we are born pure we have to either figure when we cease to be pure (which may be a fuzzy concept, such as "when we understand the difference between right and wrong") which is itself a tricky issue, or we have to accept it's possible for someone to live an entirely pure life and earn a place in heaven on their own merits. This clashes with other passages in Scripture that make it clear that salvation is a gift and not earned.

The simple reality is that I don't think anyone can point to a definitive answer and say, with no fear of contradiction, exactly what would happen. I suspect situations like this simply indicate that God gets to make the decisions we don't necessarily understand.

Do you have a specific reason for asking this?
 

Josiah

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This is one of those thorny issues where things we've always been told prove to be inadequate to address a particular issue.

On one hand if our default position is that we are not saved (which most variations of the doctrine of original sin would hold), the logical conclusion is that until such time as we accept Jesus as our Savior our demise would result in going to hell. This creates all sorts of problems in cases like you describe, where a child who was born and only lived a few days before dying clearly didn't have chance to respond to any message. To condemn such a child doesn't seem like the act of a loving God to me.

On the other hand if we are born pure we have to either figure when we cease to be pure (which may be a fuzzy concept, such as "when we understand the difference between right and wrong") which is itself a tricky issue, or we have to accept it's possible for someone to live an entirely pure life and earn a place in heaven on their own merits. This clashes with other passages in Scripture that make it clear that salvation is a gift and not earned.

The simple reality is that I don't think anyone can point to a definitive answer and say, with no fear of contradiction, exactly what would happen. I suspect situations like this simply indicate that God gets to make the decisions we don't necessarily understand.

Do you have a specific reason for asking this?

Perhaps dogmatically....

But I think there is a different perspective if we replace PERSONAL CHOOSING with GOD BLESSING. For monergists, for classic orthodox Christianity, justification is not a matter of self giving self faith (and thus needing to be ABLE to do that), it's a case of God (typically working through His means) to give life/faith. It's a different starting point.

I think, too, we have a CLUE in looking to the Bible. In the OT... for perhaps 1500 years.... children received the blessings of God because they were circumcized (at the age of one week) and THUS were ushered into the Covenant of God and the Family of God. This was in response to the faith and obedience of the parents, the child rarely CHOOSE this (it hurts). This faith/obedience of parents was a HUGE, HUGE part of the Jewish religion because they charished their children and held that children don't choose God, God blesses them. And I think of another HUGE, HUGE part - the passover. It was all about saving their first-born (even if their first born was 80 years old or 8 hours old). They would die except God made a way for the PARENTS' faith and obedience to result in their salvation. In both cases - circumcision and the Passover - the child did/does nothing and chooses nothing, in neither case was there a required min. age or IQ, in neither case was there a test involved.... in both cases, PARENTS' faith caused them to DO something, applying a means God provided. Neither is specific to BAPTISM of course, but both of the huge aspects of Judaism was about saving CHILDREN and both had to do NOT with what the child choose or knew or accomplished but rather was the result of PARENTS applying a means of grace, a way through which God blessed. IMO, there's a pattern.... in two of the biggest aspects of the faith... both involving children. BTW, because of the Passover, for orthodox Jews, that first born son is called a "child of God" and said to belong to God - because of the Passover.... at which no child did or supplied or choose anything, but the PARENTS did.


Thanks!


- Josiah




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