OK, I’ve got a question about babies. Are they innocent?
Let’s first take a look at a mini-‘Cliff Notes’ version of a popular interpretation of sin:
Adam disobeyed God, committing the first sin (Eve was there, too, but apparently the buck stopped with Adam). The result of his disobedience was that every generation to follow Adam, every person who will ever live, will be born with the blemish of original sin. This original sin amounts to a sentence of eternal damnation. Thankfully, there is a way to remove it.
Some traditions, particularly the Roman Catholic, say that the only way for original sin to be removed is through holy baptism, resulting in the baptizing of infants, to ensure they make it to heaven. Other traditions say that baptism is merely symbolic, and that the only way to salvation is through a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.
The Roman Catholic church has dispensed with the doctrine of limbo, saying that all children are innocent before they reach the age of reason ( seven? eight? twenty eight? ). So the Catholic view here is that babies are not damned but go to heaven.
But what is the typical Evangelical Protestant diagnosis for the child who dies before reaching the age of commitment? Do these babies and young children go to heaven or hell? I discussed this with a fellow the other day and he said that his church’s position is that they are covered by God’s grace. But aren’t we all? Is it Biblical to think that we are all born ‘bad’? And if so, is it Biblical to think that God has special exemptions for children?
I don’t mean to sound silly or trite. I think this speaks to what we believe about sin, how much of our doctrine about sin is biblical and how much of that doctrine we truly accept.
What’s your take on this?