Monday, June 18, 2007

Can We Limbo?

I was reading the other week in the paper an article about limbo. This is a theological issue that deals with the eternal state of children, babies and the unborn who die; namely, do they go to Heaven or Hell or somewhere in between? Basically, the article says the the official Roman Catholic position is that there is no official position. It also touched on a more evangelical approach which deals with an age of accountability. This idea says that children under a certain age (when they still do not know right from wrong) should they die automatically go to Heaven.

This is something that is difficult to answer to be sure. However, I would like to take a stab at it. I want to throw out some thoughts that will challenge you and may in fact invoke an array of emotion. So brace yourself. You are in for an bumpy ride emotionally and intellectually.

The main thing I want to do when answering this emotionally charged question is examine what we all already believe about how we Get to Heaven; namely salvation. We are only saved one believing in Jesus the Messiah. Only those who believe are saved. We all know this. We all believe this.

However, how does this apply to the death of young children and the unborn? May I suggest it applies the same to them as it does to everyone else. Here is my reasoning.

I believe Scripture teaches that:
1. Life begins at conception
2. At conception we posses a fallen, depraved nature that is hostile and rebellious towards God
3. Because of 1 & 2 we are guilty of sin and in need of salvation
4. Those who die without believing in Jesus the Messiah are not saved

Conclusion: Young children, babies and the unborn who do not believe in Jesus go to hell

Can I just tell you that the conclusion I draw from the truth about what Scripture teaches about salvation really bothers me. It is very unsettling for I am sure it is for you. Let me be honest with you as to why this is so troubling for me and see if you do not feel the same way.

1. Children, Babies and the unborn are seen as innocent in our eyes
2. Because of 1. God must feel they same way about them as we do
3. Because of 1 & 2 He would extend the grace required to grant these little ones salvation without believing in Jesus.

Weigh the first four statement against the last three. Which ones carry the most Biblical support? Why is it hard to believe 1-4 when it comes to children? I believe it is because we think it is unjust for God to send little ones to hell when they have not had the chance to believe. While I have wrestled with this thought deeply, I have concluded it is not unjust for a holy and merciful God to send sinners to hell no matter what their age.

Still, this is very unsettling isn't it? There still seems like there is something not right about it.
While the justice of God might call us to concede the fate of children who die young, the mercy of God seems left undemonstrated. This is a good question. Where is the mercy of God in such a situation? May I introduce a radical thought? While it is more biblically implicit than explicit I would like to suggest that somehow there is a way the Gospel is preached to them and choice is granted even though they have died.

God has called us to choose. Biblically, I think he has called everyone to choose. How many times has God called us to 'Choose this day whom we will serve', and , 'I set before you blessing and cursing...Choose life that you might live'...etc. If people have never heard the Gospel how can they choose? So I ask this question: "Does death relieve us of our obligation to choose?" Now if you are in the camp that says 'not choosing is a choice' then I refer you to 1-4 and you have your answer regarding the eternal destiny of children. Otherwise, I have to wonder if God does not somehow give children the opportunity to hear the gospel, make a choice and, based on that choice, determine their eternal state. After thinking about it long and hard, this is the only way I see both the Justice and Mercy of God working together in this situation. This is just a thought mind you. I would never say it is biblically certain. Just a finite mind wrestling with a difficult question.

Think it over and work through the emotion of what you think about this issue. Then send me a comment and lets discuss. I am eager to hear your thoughts.

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