Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When a Baby Dies

A lot of evangelists these days have been witnessing at abortion clinics. I think this is much needed, especially in our culture where it is saturated in autonomy and man-centeredness. The true nature of abortion needs to be confronted with God’s truth! But I think another issue related to abortion that is both controversial and sensitive to all hearts needs to be addressed as abortion.  What is the issue? It is the status of babies when they die. Do "little persons" when they die go to heaven or hell?  Great men have respectfully disagreed on this issue.

In my judgment there are only three options, and two of them, I hope to show, reduce down to one position. The first position is all babies go to hell. It is alarming to our intuitions to think such a thing but often times God’s truth shatters what we think is morally right. This position is straightforwardly argued on the basis of original sin. If babies have both Adam’s imputed guilt, and disposition, then they are justly culpable. 

The second position is all elect babies go to heaven. This position is argued on the basis that God will hold all mankind accountable for Adam’s guilt, disposition, and personal sins. But God has chosen a particular people (including “some” infants) to himself to save by propitiation through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are saved and justified by grace through Christ’s atonement. On this view then God saves people two different ways. He either gives people faith to believe in Christ. Or He considers the elect people incapable to believe, i.e. infants or mentally disabled, as those in whom Christ’s righteousness and atonement is imputed. Thus one group of elect capable of exercising faith in God’s providence is justified by grace through faith in Christ. However, given God’s providence, there is another group of elect incapable of exercising faith in Christ, but Christ died on their behalf, so God declares them justified through Christ’s imputed righteousness and atonement. 

The last and final view is like the first. It states all elect babies will go to heaven, but adds, and all babies that die are elect. This position is identical to the previous position the difference lies in the acknowledgement of the quantity of babies that die are of the elect. The previous view argues some of the babies that die are of the elect whereas the latter view argues all the babies that die are of the elect. The arguments for the former and latter position, oddly enough, apply to both positions. So based on the arguments both the former and latter position collapses into one position. And therefore it becomes utterly arbitrary for a person to argue either some babies that die are elect or all babies that die are elect. Why? The arguments used by both views can forcefully establish either view. Now some unsatisfied with this predicament have taken up a pragmatic argument against the last position. They say that if such a position is true it morally justifies abortion. Since abortion would guarantee a baby into heaven. What is the problem with this argument? First, it is irrelevant to the moral status of abortion. Abortion is murder. And God has revealed murder is morally wrong. So nothing can justify a clear violation of God’s revealed law. But if you disagree, then you must ask your self, does the end always justify the means? If you say yes, then you undoubtedly hold to the most unbiblical, abhorring, monstrous utilitarianism that would even make Peter Singer cringe. A different approach to defend the latter position has also developed.  Let's use Albert Mohler and Daniel Akin’s arguments as an example.  Mohler and Akin write, 

“First, the Bible revealsthat we are “brought forth in iniquity,”(1) and thus bear the stain of originalsin from the moment of our conception. Thus, we face squarely the sin problem.Second, we acknowledge that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation. We do not deserve salvation, and can do nothing to earn our salvation, and thus it is allof grace. Further we understand that our salvation is established by Gods election of sinners to salvation throughChrist. Third, we affirm that Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is the soleand sufficient Savior, and that salvation comes only on the basis of His bloodatonement. Fourth, we affirm that the Bible teaches a dual eternal destiny –the redeemed to Heaven, the unredeemed to Hell.
So far so good! What is said is biblically orthodox.
"What, then is our basis for claiming that all those who diein infancy are among the elect? First, the Bible teaches that we are to bejudged on the basis of our deeds committed “in the body.”(2) That is, we willface the judgment seat of Christ and be judged, not on the basis of original sin, but for our sins committed during our own lifetimes. Each will answer“according to what he has done,”(3) and not for the sin of Adam. The imputationof Adams sin and guilt explains ourinability to respond to God without regeneration, but the Bible does not teachthat we will answer for Adams sin. Wewill answer for our own. But what about infants? Have those who die in infancycommitted such sins in the body? We believe not."
 The argument Mohler and Akin makes, as is articulated, denies infants are accountable for Adam's guilt. They therefore deny original sin. Such a position as so articulated is biblically unacceptable. A few revisions may be made to their argument to be immune to such criticism. First, we must admit God can hold all mankind (including infants and mentally disabled) accountable for Adams guilt. In fact, evidence that He in "some sense" does is by the death of all mankind. Secondly, we hold that God states He will judge all mankind for what they have done in the body. Thirdly, we state God can justly hold infants and the mentally disable accountable for Adams guilt, but, God in His grace and mercy, has revealed He has chosen not to hold infants and mentally handicapped for Adams guilt but instead has chosen to judge mankind by the deeds done in the body. Original sin as articulated is not denied on such a view. God can justly hold infants accountable for Adams guilt if He so chooses. But given God's providence and progressive revelation, it is admitted, He has revealed He will not hold them accountable for Adams guilt but graciously will judge them by the deeds done in the body. Some may still object and say such a view denies original sin in substance. For example, if John inherits a house. Lets say a relative left the house in debt to John. The debt can justly be transferred to John that inherited the house. So it is acknowledged thus far John can and is justly accountable for the debt transferred from relative to inheriting family member. But what if the debt collector or bank officer makes it where debt, though it is transferable, will no longer bind all members of any family responsible for debt attained by one member of any family? Each member would only be required to give an account for his or her own debt. But doesn’t this deny that the debt collector or bank officer will in fact hold the person responsible for the transferred debt? Yes. So how then can it be said it doesn't deny transferred debt accountability? Since it is admitted that such a debt exists and can be justly prosecuted. The main concern is resolved in the authorities provision to not collect the debt (from those who inherent it) but rather holding the respective person or persons who procured the debt as responsible for paying the debt. So it is all of grace, and grace alone.         

My view would simply be that God will hold all mankind accountable for Adam's guilt, disposition, and personal sins; but in His providence, He has satisfied divine justice on behalf of all infants that die through Christ, and therefore, all infants that die will enter heaven. I justify my position threefold. (1) Romans 8 and 9 teach God elects individuals to salvation. (2) All arguments used to justify that God elects some infants that die to salvation can equally justify God's election of all babies that die to salvation. (3) Punishment of infants (that do not have the capacity to consciously be sorrowful, and know why they are being punished) in hell seems to undermine Divine justice. I say this since I see two requirements from scripture of Divine justice. (1) A person's punishment is proportionate to his/her sin. (2) Any person punished is informed why he/she is justly being punished.  

Mohler and Akin continues,

"Jesus instructed hisdisciples that they should “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinderthem; for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”(8) We believe that our Lord graciously and freely received all those who die in infancy – not on thebasis of their innocence or worthiness – but by his grace, made theirs throughthe atonement He purchased on the cross.
When we look into thegrave of one of these little ones, we do not place our hope and trust in thefalse promises of an unbiblical theology, in the instability of sentimentalism,in the cold analysis of human logic, nor in the cowardly refuge of ambiguity.
We place our faith in Christ, and trust Him to be faithful to his Word. We claim the promises of the Scriptures and the assurance of the grace of our Lord. We know that heaven will be filled with those who never grewto maturity on earth, but in heaven will greet us completed in Christ. Let usresolve by grace to meet them there.”

I say Amen!

(1) Psalm 51:5

(2) 2 Corinthians 5:10
(3) Ibid

Albert Mohler and Daniel Akin. The Salvation of the 'Little Ones': Do Infants who Die go to Heaven? 2009. Here


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