Damned Until Baptism?

This ties in with the previous post. There’s an interesting post at Joe Missionary, with equally interesting comments, about the fate of infants that die prior to baptism. Since, when I just point to interesting stuff, most people don’t seem to bother to click through, I’ll post some excerpts to whet your appetites. I encourage you to head on over and join the conversation. This kind of dialogue is part of the New Evangelization John Paull II has called for.


….I believe that God is fair. Therefore, whatever judgments He makes upon the souls of babies and small children will be fair. I don’t have an answer to this problem, because I don’t believe the Bible gives one. One the one hand, we have these little tiny sinners, objects of wrath. On the other hand, they haven’t a clue how to follow Christ. How do we reconcile this?


Can a baby (or fetus, for that matter) choose to sin? I believe that sin is attributed to us because we choose it and children (up to a certain age) don’t have the capacity to choose (poop, cry, and eat. That’s it.)

And does it matter that some take comfort in knowing their child is in heaven? And what if they’re wrong? I doubt God will send them to eternal damnation and hellfire for it. So in the end this is just an intellectual excercise.

And for the record, my two brothers died in their first week of life and I believe that they are in heaven.


….I don’t think we can make the Bible say something it does not, no matter how it makes us feel, no matter how much we WANT it to be true. I honestly don’t think we can say that the Bible gives us a clear answer on where babies go when they die. And if I lose a child, I don’t think I can change this answer based on the fact that I will want desperately to believe that my child is in heaven. Anyone who experiences this must long for some certainty about their child’s eternal destiny. But we cannot make God in our own image. We cannot tell God what he must do in order to be worthy of our worship or our love.

I have caught myself in the past saying things like "I couldn’t worship a God who …(fill in the blank). Later I came to the realization that I must worship the one true God regardless of how I feel about his actions, decisions, judgements. Even when they negatively affect people I love.


When Psalmists refer to sinning from the moment of conception they are using poetic license. Original sin stains us and makes us less free to say yes to God and no to sin. It does not damn us. The sin that damns us is actual sin, i.e. chosen sin. We willfully choose to disobey God. Not even all actual sin damns. Venial sin does not. Mortal sin does. A baby cannot commit any sin, let alone mortal sin, which requires faculties they lack. Why baptize, then? Because we’ve been commanded to do so and because it is a source of grace. It’s for our own good and to not do it would be disobedience and against our own best interests. Baptism does not save. God’s grace saves. Even the gift of faith is given through God’s abundant grace. God, the Creator, can dispense grace and grant salvation to whomever He pleases, including unbaptized babies.

These are my opinions. If they are in any way contrary to the teachings of the magestirium, I retract them. I’m no theologian, much less an authoritative teacher.


…Funky Dung, nice post, but some incorrect theology there. I refer you to Rom. 5:18:

"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (ESV)"

As R.C. Sproul often states, "We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners." We are conceived in death through Adam, but born to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Concerning the subject at hand (salvation of infants), I think it is necessary we acknowledge what we do know from the Scripture rather than dictating the truth via our emotions.

1. ALL are born in sin (1 Cor. 15:22).

2. Being born with a sinful nature is enough to condemn us to eternal damnation. Why? Westminster Shorter Catechism sums it up nicely:
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

3. Salvation is of God and God alone:
"For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom. 9:15-16)

4. The Lord reserves the right to elect some (if not all) to salvation. This is also true of those who die in the womb. There are examples of this throughout scripture:
– King David (2 Sam. 12:23 seems to suggest that David believed that he would be reunited with his dead child after death; remember this child was a result of his sin with Bathsheeba.)
– John the Baptist (Luke 1:41 seems to show evidence of salvation of infants while in the womb.)