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12 March, 2013 By Rev. Ted Pike

In my recent Bible study "Is Original Sin Biblical?" I correctly stated that the historic Roman Catholic view on the fate of unbaptized infants, established by St. Augustine, was that newborn babies inherit the literal guilt of Adam. If they are unbaptized and die, they cannot ever go to heaven. Yet Augustine did not teach they went to hell. He believed they were punished but primarily in the "mildest" way by being forbidden to enter paradise. Thus, the traditional Catholic position, while not infant damnation, was infant punishment by at least exclusion from heaven. In my lesson I mistakenly indicated many Catholics and Lutherans, accepting Augustinian premises, were lead to believe in "infant damnation."

Actually, the strongest form of infant damnation was held by late Reformation Calvinist/Presbyterians. A Catholic listener informs me that modern Catholicism (as evidenced in a recent prayer by the pope) believes such unbaptized infants in "limbo" may well be recipients of God's grace, even experiencing happiness. (This is not certain according to Catholic doctrine, however, since they are still "sinners" guilty of Adam's transgression.)

My opinion is that forever depriving an eternal soul of heaven, even though not in hell, just because it was deprived of life as an infant, is an extreme punishment and acute injustice. Consistent with a truly just and loving God, the actual recompense such innocents deserve is to be given full and immediate compensation for the missed opportunity to know Jesus on earth. As a result, they will have every right to fully know Him in heaven — in the fullness of its blessings. They will see Jesus. This is suggested by analogy. What if the infant heir of a vast fortune were deprived of it by scheming relatives and had to live a lifetime in relative poverty? The very least the courts would decree is that the full inheritance be restored to him.

As a result, if a dead infant has godly parents, they will see and know that child again. This, I believe, is what King David meant when he said of his dead son by Bathsheba, "I shall go to him," in heaven (II Sam. 12:23). Such assured reunion ultimately provides peace in the loss of an unborn baby, infant or child before the age of accountability, baptized or not.

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Ted, today - photo: John Pike, October 2019
Mail: P.O. Box 828, Clackamas, OR 97015
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