Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Infant Baptism Questions

Let me make this article one full of questions - and really ask more questions than provide answers.   Who out there has the courage, will and fortitude to answer? I look forward to the comments, and I will add my own comments and answers, as best I can give, as well.

What happens to unbaptized babies?  Do they go straight to Hell?  Does God show mercy and allow them into Heaven, or perhaps even Limbo?

That being said, we've seen many "Evangelicals" condemn the practice of infant baptism - so I ask them, what happens to these baptized infants?  These infants have made no cognitive decision to be a Christian, so are they condemned to Hell in the eyes of these "Evangelicals?"  Or, do said "Evangelicals" believe that everyone goes to Heaven if they die prior to the "age of reason" since they could not possibly be held culpable for sins?

I wrote this after reading through:  http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/04/fate-of-unbaptized-babies.html

13 comments:

  1. The split in Protestant beliefs on infant baptism shows us why any system of Protestantism can not be trusted to lead us to the truth. If they can't make up their minds on this, why should we believe them on anything else?

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  2. Exactly, Scotju. And infant baptism is only one of dozens, if not hundreds, of point of disagreement between these sects. Most of the time their only commonality is their hatred for their mother Church, the one that Christ founded, now called Catholic.

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  3. Interesting that no Evangelicals have attempted to answer yet.

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  4. Again we see that Hays is not the master logician, nor the great theologian he thinks he is. In properly understanding original sin, it is no surprise that Church has long held that the most probable eternal resting place for unbaptized infants is hell (Limbo). The loss of original justice puts any man at the outset undeserving of heaven. In other words, no man comes into the world being owed the beatific vision.

    Since an infant has no personal sin however, they would not endure any physical or mental anguish so to speak in hell, therefore Limbo, or the loss of the beatific vision only is the most probable outcome. The Church has only said that by God's mercy he may offer the beatific vision to the unbaptized in some act of mercy, but there is no way of knowing this, so that is only a hypothetical theory. Again, when the Prots rejected Gods grace through the sacraments they lost all hope of being true Christians in the full sense of the term.

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  5. Scott,

    I am in no wise an authority on this issue. My understanding is that sin cannot be taken in to account where there is no law, and before a certain age children are not able to understand sin and thus are unaccountable to it, even though they are born in a condition of it.

    Protestants don't believe in baptismal regeneration, but in salvation by grace through faith, so whether we practice infant baptism or not has no bearing on the destiny of unbaptized children. Those who practice child baptism do not do so believing that it wipes away the stain of original sin or makes the child saved or anything of that nature, and mostly use it as a New Covenant form of circumcision.

    I hope that answers your question. If not, I will be glad to provide actual citations and such when I have more reliable internet access.

    Grace and peace,
    JL

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  6. Before I begin, let me just thank you, John, for responding here.

    John writes: I am in no wise an authority on this issue. My understanding is that sin cannot be taken in to account where there is no law, and before a certain age children are not able to understand sin and thus are unaccountable to it, even though they are born in a condition of it.

    So, your position is that their sin is not taken into account - so do you believe all children and/or persons who never reach the "age of reason" (for the mentally retarded, that could be their entire lifetime), go straight to Heaven?

    John continues: Protestants don't believe in baptismal regeneration,

    Correction, most do not.

    John continues: ...but in salvation by grace through faith, so whether we practice infant baptism or not has no bearing on the destiny of unbaptized children.

    But my question remains unanswered, what happens to them?

    John continues: Those who practice child baptism do not do so believing that it wipes away the stain of original sin or makes the child saved or anything of that nature, and mostly use it as a New Covenant form of circumcision.

    OK, so what did circumcision accomplish? Does not the fulfillment of the a command of the Lord mean something? If so, what?

    How does the Protestant NOT believe that baptism saves when 1 Peter 3:21 explicitly states "Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also"? Bear in mind, this passage goes on to say: "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Baptism does not merely cleanse filth of the flesh (it's not a physical cleaning) but cleanses the conscience (the soul) towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Pax tecum,
    Scott<<<

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  7. Hey Scott,

    I do not know what I believe concerning those who do not reach the age of reason before their death. Just because their faults are not taken in to account does not mean that they are granted eternal life through the Son, so there may be a "limbo"-like state for them with no punishment or reward. But that's speculation. Scripture does not teach us anything on this issue, besides that God in his mercy forbears punishment when there is not knowledge of the law. So I don't know.

    Whatever does happen to them, though, happens regardless of their baptismal state at death. Whether they are baptized or not will not be a determining factor in what the Lord pronounces over them in judgment.

    The issue of whether or not baptism is salvific is a completely different question, and one that I am afraid I do not have time to get in to right now.

    Thank you for asking these questions.

    In Christ,
    JL

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  8. Well John, again I thank you for your responses. I'll let you continue to wrestle with the concept of what happens to unbaptized babies and whether or not baptism does indeed now save us. I believe that question is not only not "a completely different question" - it is one which will demonstrate to you that there IS a difference between those who are baptized and those who are not. Therefore whether or not "baptism doth now save us" is wholly related to the subject at hand.

    Pax tecum,
    Scott<<<

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Limbo is a theological theory. It is neither a dogma, nor accepted by all Catholic theologians. In fact, the whole notion has been dropped by most modern Catholic theologians.

    I personally don't believe God is that merciless. I do happen to believe that unbaptized babies go to heaven. I will die believing that. It is a conviction based on Christ's life and His forgiveness of sinners. He healed physical ailments by forgiving sins, showing to the Jewish teachers that physical problems were not the result of the parents' sins. IOW, they were not being punished for their fathers sins.

    In the same way, I don't believe Jesus will condemn babies for the sins of their fathers. I believe that, despite original sin, babes who die (or are murdered in abortion clinics) do not carry the burden of the punishment of sin. Our God, the Christian one at least, is all-merciful, all-loving, all-forgiving. Jesus loved children. He will be the final judge of those children's fate. I believe in His love and mercy.

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  11. My answer to your question is: infants who die go to heaven.

    The idea that infants are born bearing the guilt of Adam’s sin is very odd to me. As near as I can tell that thought crept in around the middle of the third century. I think Cyprian was the first - as far as I know – to associate sin with an infant. The idea appears contrary to what the Apostle Paul taught about the imputation of sin. And as far as I can tell it seems to be absent from ecclesiastical writings older than Cyprian’s.

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  12. Brian,
    Consider this, Romans 5:12 states that sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and because of that sin ALL have sin and ALL die. Since we're discussing babies who die prior to being baptized - the subject is death and sin, so why would ANY babies die at all, if they had not inherited Adam's sin?

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  13. Scott,

    Thank you for your reply.

    The Scripture does not say that sin passed upon all men, but rather death is passed upon all men because of sin. That is the context of the Scripture. Paul went on to say that sin is not imputed where there is no law. Back in chapter two he talked about natural law. He said that natural law was governed by consciences. No infant could possibly be guilty of acting against its conscience. And since Paul said that their conscience would either accuse them or excuse them, it should be clear that infants would be excused on the Day of Judgment.

    In his dialog with Trypho the Jew (88), Justin Martyr talked specifically about the sin of Adam, and concluded that Adam’s descendants, the whole human race, are under the “power of death and the guile of the serpent,” not the guilt of Adam’s sin. And where the Apostle Paul said, “All sinned,” Justin interpreted as “personal sin,” not sin acquired from Adam. It is evident to me that Justin knew nothing of baptizing infants for the remission of sins or of the idea that the guilt of Adam’s sin is passed on through procreation.

    I also don’t understand why some interpret Jesus as referring to baptism when Jesus said not to forbid little children to come to Him. Jesus stated that unless we are converted and become like little children we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. This clearly puts little children on the side of heaven and disqualifies them from needing conversion. Just because they possess a body of death, does not mean they possess sin by which they will be judged. We are judged according to our works not the works of another.

    “Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that did not sin after the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the coming one.” (Rom 2:14; Codex Sinaiticus)

    Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion here on your blog!

    Brian

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