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Infant Salvation – The Return

At long last, I feel it is time to come out of blog hibernation. As we end this hiatus, I felt that it would be appropriate to return to a subject which I have held off for several months. We are going to return to the subject of the salvation of infants, or as more commonly framed, “Do babies go to heaven?”

As such, I am going to repost the previous posts in the series. Some will undergo revision as I pull out my research and reevaluate it, as well as I consider any new information garnered. Some may even simply be ignored in favor of a new post. But ultimately, the goal remains the same: to attempt to come to a reasoned, Scriptural position on the subject of infant salvation.

Below is the first, introductory post in the series, reposted almost verbatim. Following will be a list of the original posts in the series. Enjoy them, and please help deepen my study by leaving your comments (positive and negative) either on the originals or on the new posts. Especially, feel free to ask questions where I have not been clear, seem to have overlooked, or may well have just gotten it wrong!

Do Babies Go To Heaven?

This question has become a sticking point between me and my wife. It is a given that we will have children at some future point. I’ve been asked this question by counselees. Many of our friends have infants and small children. We both know people who have lost babies through miscarriage, SIDS, accidents, etc. When I worked as a chaplain at Kosair Children’s Hospital, I personally witnessed several dozen stillbirths, infant and child deaths. My wife adamantly affirms that babies who die go to heaven. At this point in my development, I have to say “I don’t know.” Honesty demands such a response from me.

On the surface, it would seem to be an easy answer. We are judged at death on the basis of our works, and babies quite obviously do not have the capacity for willful sin. Babies also cannot yet distinguish between right and wrong. Based on their works, babies would get into heaven.


There is a singular problem here. Nowhere in Scripture do we see salvation outside of Christ. Even in the Old Testament, salvation rests on the promise of God’s redemption of us and nothing else. Only those who place their faith in Christ can go to the Father. Babies, quite frankly cannot do this. They, like all other unbelieving sinners, lack the ability to believe in Christ.

Furthermore, babies are sinners. David wrote that we were conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5), and as such from the moment we were conceived by our parents we became sinners deserving nothing but eternal condemnation.

In addition, through personal experience I have been convinced of the capacity of an infant to sin. I observed one of my friend’s daughters, when she was a little over year old, repeatedly headbutt another infant. She was told repeatedly to stop, and even swatted a couple of times by her mother. Her response? Laughter. Then she would wait until she thought no one was looking, and repeat the headbutting. It was apparent to me that the little one knew what she did was wrong, and that she enjoyed it. I said to myself at that moment, “without Christ she is going to hell.”

Many of you will say, “oh, that’s just an innocent child playing a game,” but no it wasn’t. The other infant was wailing and crying, and my friend’s daughter was intent on inflicting harm. This was quite simply an instance of willful sin.

Based on the deep-seated, natural corruption of our being from conception, which only reveals itself as a child becomes expressive, babies would go to hell without faith in Christ.

Do you now somewhat understand and appreciate the difficult position in which one is put? I could list many other pros and cons for this belief. Instead, I would like to examine each position, pro and con, over the next few days and attempt to reach some sort of conclusion, even if I end up right back where I started, at “I don’t know.” It may well be that the most mature and Scripturally faithful answer could be just that, “I don’t know.”

So, join me as we look in to the doctrine of infant salvation over the next few days!

For the original posts in this series, click these links:
Do Babies Go to Heaven?
Do Babies Go to Heaven? – Sidebar
Do Babies Go to Heaven? – Pro
Do Babies Go to Heaven? – First Rebuttal, Part 1

Categories: Theology
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