If a baby dies, does it go to Heaven or Hell?

Catholic apologist, John Martignoni, asks his readers, confronted by folks who believe in “once saved always saved” (OSAS), to ask this question: “If a baby dies, does it go to Heaven or Hell?”

One could say that Martignoni is hypocritical by asking this question. The Catholic position on this issue is that if an infant dies without baptism, they are not assured entry into heaven. So ask a Catholic apologist where an un-baptized baby goes if it should die, and you will get anything but a straight answer. This is because the Catholic Church, in its unquenchable thirst for power over its faithful, cannot allow Catholic families to think that their child could be saved without their help. But on the other hand, they do not want to make God out to be a tyrant, so they allow for the possibility of heavenly mercy for those children who unfortunately pass away without baptism.

Of course all of this is far-fetched and nowhere near biblical. No one would think that the Catholic hierarchy is ignorant of the Bible, yet somehow they seem oblivious to the story of King David and his son who was stricken by God in 2 Samuel 12. King David sinned against God and when he confessed it, Nathan the prophet told him that God has put away his sin and he would not die, but the child who was born to him would be stricken and die. And it so happened that the child became ill and David pleaded with God for the child’s life. David fasted and lay on the ground until the seventh day of the child’s life. And on that day the child died. But as soon as the child died, David ended his fast, cleaned up and ate food. It puzzled his servants that David would end his morning as soon as his son died, but David explained, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

So where did David go when he died? Remember, this child died on the seventh day of his life. That means the child died without circumcision, the sign of the covenant. In Catholic theology baptism replaced circumcision so in essence, David’s child died without baptism. So what did David mean when he said, “I shall go to him”? Did he simply mean that he would one day die too? That would hardly make sense. David abruptly ended his weeping and pleading as soon as the child died. If he thought the child would be denied heaven, wouldn’t he continue his mourning and pleading? Instead he rose up and comforted Bathsheba! David knew that the child would be with God and he knew he would be there too.

Catholic apologists constantly remind us that when we die we will be judged according to our works. True, so I would ask them, which of an infant’s works could deny him the glory heaven? It is interesting that the Catholic Church will bend over backwards to appease Muslims by assuring them that if they follow the teachings of their religion and always seek truth, they will be saved. But an infant who is not baptized has no such hope? Excuse me, but if a Muslim were seeking truth would they not eventually cease to be Muslim? The last time I checked, Christians believed the truth to be that Christ suffered, died, rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. This truth is far from the teachings of the Muslim religion! What about the Catholic Church’s missionary mandate that states her obligation to preach the Gospel to all nations? But instead of preaching the Gospel, Pope Benedict, on his recent trip to Jordon, said this:

“My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by his majesty the king in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam.”

Isn’t he supposed to be a successor of the Apostle Peter? Would Peter cower to the king of Jordan and praise Islam? Or would he proclaim the Gospel? I think we all know the answer to that one.

So why does the Catholic hierarchy give a pass to people of other religions who faithfully follow the teachings of their religion, but have no idea what becomes of a baby that dies without baptism?

Where does this thinking come from? Well, the part about salvation for non-Christians seeking truth comes loosely from Romans 2. There, Paul speaks about Gentiles who lived without the Law having a natural law written on their hearts and their conscience bearing them witness as to right and wrong. So if a Gentile, ignorant of God’s Law, could be justified by obeying his conscience, what does that say about a baby that is not aware of his conscience? If there is no condemnation for a person who, out of ignorance of God’s Law, obeys his conscience, there certainly cannot be condemnation for a child who has no ability to sin against his conscience. The idea that a child must be baptized in order to assure his salvation is absurd.

In closing, here is a relevant quote from the ancient church.

“According to circumstance and disposition and even age of the individual person, it may be better to delay Baptism; and especially so in the case of little children. Why, indeed, is it necessary — if it be not a case of necessity — that the sponsors to be thrust into danger, when they themselves may fail to fulfill their promises by reason of death, or when they may be disappointed by the growth of an evil disposition? Indeed the Lord says, ‘Do not forbid them to come to me’ [Matt 19:14; Luke 18:16].
Let them come, then, while they grow up, while they learn, while they are taught to whom to come; let them become Christians when they will have been able to know Christ! Why does the innocent age hasten to the remission of sins?” (Tertullian, Treatise On Baptism 18,4 – c. AD 200-206)

Good question!


16 Responses to If a baby dies, does it go to Heaven or Hell?

  1. David says:

    Hi Brian,
    I was reading this article again, and I was just thinking, what would be a Biblical answer to the question “Where do infants go when they die?” There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer in this article, but I see an excellent response to the Roman Catholic position of having to be baptized as an infant. Could you clear up the question with the Biblical mindset that we are all born into sin and that everyone needs a savior (including infants).

    Thank you


  2. Hi David,

    I thought since you identified the fact that I really never addressed the question of where an infant goes when it dies, I decided to answer your question in a new post so I could properly do so… I hope!

    Thanks for the great feedback!



  3. […] was reading this article again [If a baby dies, does it go to Heaven or Hell?], and I was just thinking, what would be a Biblical answer to the question “Where do infants […]


  4. Jim says:

    “This is because the Catholic Church, in its unquenchable thirst for power over its faithful,…”

    I really do need to ask you about your personal history as a Catholic if you are going to use emotionally charged rhetoric like this. What happened? Did the priest drop you on your head during your infant Baptism?


  5. kristen says:

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!


  6. Thank you, Kristen. I hope it was helpful in some way.


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