Babies and Mental Problems

Wednesday, July 27                           

The issue of whether or not babies go to heaven has been an issue throughout the centuries.  It obviously involves the sin nature which has been passed down from Adam.  How does God deal with “innocent” babies that also bear the sin nature?  The Church has traditionally dealt with this by the principle of “accountability.”  Until a young child reaches the age of accountability, his eternal destiny is not determined.  Before the reformation, the Roman Catholic Church held this view and “manufactured” a place in heaven called “limbo.”  This was a place where babies were well cared for, yet did not have access to heaven itself nor did they ever come into the presence of God.  The reformers rejected “limbo,” but accepted the concept of accountability.  But here the reformers went in two different directions.  The Covenant position was that anyone prior to the age of accountability could be counted as believers by being born into a family of believers.  The babies would be baptized, which meant they would go to heaven if they died before the age of accountability.  Once arriving at the age of accountability, they could confirm this by the rite of “confirmation” or they could reject it.  The Anabaptists, however, held for a strict observance of “believer’s baptism” and babies would not go to heaven.  These opposing views prompted strife and warfare during the reformation period and are still divisive in Christendom today.   There’s another issue.  Some people other than babies could be put in the same category—those that have serious mental problems extending beyond infancy.   So now we have additional problems.  When does anyone reach the age of accountability?  When does a mental problem qualify for the same exemption?  What will babies do in heaven?  Will they grow into adults?  For that matter, will a teenager be a teenager in heaven?  Will we who are in our dotage be that way in heaven?   I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have  few.  See you tomorrow.

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