What happens to babies who die?

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Question: Greetings Rich!! What is your stand on the eternal condition of babies who die in infancy or are aborted? I know that many evangelicals adhere to the "age of accountability" in which all children who die before they can recognize they are sinners will go to Heaven. However, I find no reference to this theory in Scripture, and I believe that it's one of those beliefs that man has come up with to comfort grieving parents. On the flip side, I do think that it is possible that God has predestined those who die in infancy to salvation. What are your thoughts? Take care, B__________

My Answer: Hi B_________,

To be honest, I remain in the dark concerning the eternal condition of babies who die in infancy. You can follow a logical argument based on anthropology and say that they are all damned because of their sin nature and their inability to receive Christ. Or you could follow a logical argument based on God's justice and state that since God's judgment is always according to works (every passage on judgment teaches this), babies have not had the chance to express the sinfulness or rebellion in a moral way that merits condemnation.

You also have to take into account that there is something unique about believer's babies (see 1 Cor. 7:14 or so).

Finally, you have to take into account that John the Baptist was regenerate before birth (Luke 1:15). As a Calvinist (I appeal to this only because of your leanings in this area -- I am not a Calvinist!), you can easily see that if God is sovereign over regeneration and regeneration precedes faith, then God could easily regenerate a baby and we wouldn't know it for all outward extents and purposes!

Anyway, when it comes to comforting grieving parents (and I've had to do it), I comfort them with the fact that the God of all justice will deal justly with their situation and that the God of all comfort is there to comfort them through their difficulties.

If pressed into the corner, I wouldn't mind suggesting to them that they will see their infant one day. And I would be in good company to do so.

Spurgeon believed that heaven would be filled to the rim with people because of all the infants and children who had died and gone to heaven.

B. B. Warfield believed the same, as have other good theologians.

I don't think this is a matter of capitulating to parent's felt-needs, as much as it is a belief that grace and mercy triumph over justice -- especially in the case of tragic circumstances.

I have two books in my office which I still haven't read, but you're welcome to borrow them if you are still interested in the topic. One is by Sinclair Ferguson. They both deal with this topic at length. Hope I haven't confused the issue even more.

Don't be discouraged if I have however. The more I understand the Bible, the more questions I have, not less!

Thankfully, God calls us to trust, not to figure everything out! Your brother in Christ, Rich

© Richard J. Vincent, January 3, 2000