What about the Child who Dies?

Robby Bradford31 questions, abortion, age of accountability, baptism, Christianity, eternity, life after death, Old Testament, Q Sunday, Question and Answer, salvation1 Comment

Q #1:  How do you see the eternity of miscarriages, babies, and children who die?

A:  “The age of accountability” is not a phrase that appears in the Bible, but is the product of what the Bible seems to reveal about children, God’s judgment, and eternal destinations after death.  It’s the idea that there is an age, probably in adolescence, where a person can fully ingest and process the gospel, intellectually and spiritually appropriating its benefits to salvation. Believe it or not, there have been periods in the history of the Church’s teaching when Christians believed hell would have many unbaptized babies. 

Sometimes, in order to come to answers that the Bible doesn’t directly address, we need to bridge what we know about God and what we see in the scriptures and make our best estimation of what we believe the truth is.  That’s partly the work of theology.  That’s true about this question dealing with children, babies, mentally handicapped people and others who cannot make a decision for Christ.

Roman Catholics even devised the doctrine of “limbo” as a place where the souls of unbaptized babies went when they died.  I don’t believe in limbo, but based on what we know about God from scripture, we might make the following statement in good conscience.

Because we know that God is not willing that any should perish and because we know that God is both fair and good, we can say with some certainty that God does not send those who cannot understand the gospel or even make conscious decisions about sin to hell.

Instead, we believe that God welcomes all such people into his kingdom and extends eternal life to them.  One of the scriptural bases for this belief is found in 2 Samuel 12:22-23.  It reads, David said, ‘While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.”

Incidentally, this scripture also serves as the foundation as to why most Protestants do not pray for the dead or continuously mourn or celebrate the dead.  

Attached to this question, however, is the idea of “the age of accountability”–that is, the age at which one will be accountable for their own soul.  It seems that it is an idea that fits with what we know of God and what God reveals about salvation and eternal judgment in the scriptures.  

Additionally, because miscarriages represent a human life and the scriptures clearly discuss God’s role in forming the bodies of in vitro babies (Psalm 139:13-16), most Christians believe that miscarriages are the end of a human life with a soul.  There are people who never breathed air in this world who are in heaven!  That’s a thought that blows me away!

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