Where do infants go when they die?

September 26, 2009

Q:

Hi Brian,

I 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 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

A:

Hi David!

You are right; the article was focused more on addressing Martignoni’s assertions rather than addressing the actual question. That being the case, I thought I would post my response to your question here so I could properly address it. Thanks for your feedback!

I know there are a lot of varying opinions out there concerning this question. My philosophy is to just stick with what I understand. So I will try to answer your question using biblical examples and logic, and you can decide whether or not it makes sense.

The big question is: do infants inherit Adam’s sin and therefore considered (by God) guilty of sin? We cannot answer for God, who ultimately is the Judge of such things, but I think we can understand what the answer might be from biblical study; and the answer for me comes down to one word: law. Paul said, “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Rom. 5:13) So the question becomes, if sin is not imputed without law, what law, if any, is an infant under?

Adam, as soon as he was formed, was placed in the garden and put under law. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) Adam’s innocence was conditional; so long as he was obedient to the law over him, he remained without sin. But as we know, Adam disobeyed God. His disobedience brought about the promise God made to him, that he would surely die.

Adam and Eve’s nature changed the moment they disobeyed God; at that moment they knew they were naked and experienced shame and regret. And although God promised they would surely die, He also promised that He would save them through their posterity. Therefore, the descendants of Adam are not descendants of innocent Adam, but descendants of fallen Adam.

The curse placed upon Adam is placed upon his descendants, which is all of mankind. It is the curse, not the sin that is passed on throughout our generations. When God’s Law came through Moses sin was once again revealed, because God commanded the children of Israel to obey His commandments. So disobedience to the Law imputes sin upon those who disobey, just like Adam did.

So what about those who were not under the Law of Moses; how is sin imputed to them in light of what Paul said, that sin is not imputed where there is no law? Paul himself answers that question in Romans, chapter 2.

For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” (v 12-16)

Adam and Eve did not need God to tell them they should feel guilty over their sin; it came naturally. As soon as they disobeyed God, Adam and Eve’s conscience bared witness to them of their sin. The same is true of those who are ignorant of the Law of God, or His grace. So the similitude of Adam’s sin is found in disobedience to the law of nature and is witnessed by the conscience.

When we consider what Paul said, “…their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men,” what does it mean for those whose thoughts cannot accuse them? It can only mean that they are excused on the Day of Judgment because they did not disobey the law, which, according to Paul, is the only way sin could be imputed to them. Nevertheless, as Paul also taught in Romans 5, death reigns over those who do not sin in the similitude of Adam because Adam brought death into the world, which was conquered by Christ at His resurrection. Therefore, all who are justified, whether by forgiveness or by innocence, are made alive through Christ’s obedience.

One more thing to consider: Christ possessed the same humanity we do. Although He is God, He became a man, born under the Law and prevailed over the Law, which rather than having the power to condemn Him it declared Him righteous through obedience. Nevertheless, even Jesus, in His humanity, was stricken with Adam’s disease. Likewise, every human being drinks from the dregs of Adam’s curse, and those who are disobedient to the law will suffer condemnation. That condemnation falls upon all people whose conscience has witnessed to them of their sin; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:20)

An infant, though seemingly under natural law, has no knowledge of sin; and where there is no knowledge of sin and no conviction of conscience, there is no condemnation from law. But that is only true because of Christ. I think what we need to understand is that humanity was separated from God through Adam’s sin. Only God could reconcile that separation. And without God’s intervention no one, including infants, could be united with Him. Thanks and reverence be to God that He loved us enough to send His Son to reconcile us back to Himself!

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No Absolution from Sin for Catholics who Read the Bible

September 18, 2009

According to the infallible Council of Trent:

Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise there from more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission, may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Book-dealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them. (Council of Trent, Tridentine Rules: Rule 4)

If you are Catholic and want to read or possess a Bible you have to have written permission from your bishop, if not, you’re sins are not forgiven.

This statement speaks volumes about the leadership of the Catholic Church. According to them, Catholic laity have no brains of their own and are denied the gift of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, one can only grow in faith and knowledge of our Savior through the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. So long as one has their approval, one can possess and read God’s holy word. In absence of the express written permission of one’s bishop, reading the Scriptures is considered a sinful act. Amazing!


Don’t Drink the Water – Unless You Know Where to Drink

September 9, 2009

What would you do if someone asked you to dip your hand into the Mississippi River in New Orleans and take a big drink? Would you do it? Not only would you not drink the water, you would probably think the person who asked you to drink it was crazy or just plain mean. In a spiritual sense, this is exactly what Catholic theologians are asking people to do.

In the Catholic Church, Scripture and Sacred Tradition go hand in hand. The Catholic Church teaches that both Scripture and Tradition are of apostolic origin and, therefore, equal in authority. To make their case, Catholic theologians and apologists will direct folks to a time in church history when there were no written doctrines or accounts of Christ’s life and teachings, only oral testimony, i.e., tradition. The logic derived from this is that since oral tradition was authoritative in the ancient church, and the written apostolic source (the New Testament) cannot possibly contain all that the apostles taught, it stands to reason that oral tradition remain authoritative for Christians.

The problem is they never get specific about the traditions. What exactly did the apostles teach orally that we cannot glean from Scripture? Did they teach that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin her entire life, or that the blessed bread of communion transubstantiates into the glorified body of Christ when blessed by a priest? These and a host of other so-called “Sacred Traditions” of the Catholic Church are the spiritual equivalent of what makes the Mississippi River undrinkable.

Hundreds of years of developing doctrines have flowed into the once pure stream of Christian truth poisoning it and leaving it non potable. But like a river, the pollution of false doctrine only occurs downstream from its source. And having the ability to return to the source and drink the pure doctrine found there, enables us to know what the doctrine should look like. So it is for us to recognize from the word of God, our source of pure doctrine, what is truth and what is not truth, thus permitting us to filter out the impurities of false doctrine in our own time.