I recently was involved in a discussion which analyzed the question, do babies go to heaven when they die? Strangely enough, the Bible is silent on the subject. Nowhere in the sixty-six books is the issue addressed. Yet many evangelical Christians assert the truth of the affirmative answer. When asked, they would most certainly go heaven. On his Grace to You website, John Mac Arthur states the popular belief on the subject:

“However, another point may be helpful in answering this question. While infants and children have neither sensed their personal sin and need for salvation nor placed their faith in Christ, Scripture teaches that condemnation is based on the clear rejection of God’s revelation–whether general or specific–not simple ignorance of it (Luke 10:16; John 12:48; 1 Thess. 4:8).Can we definitely say that the unborn and young children have comprehended the truth displayed by God’s general revelation that renders them “without excuse” (Rom. 1:18-20)? They will be judged according to the light they received. Scripture is clear that children and the unborn have original sin–including both the propensity to sin as well as the inherent guilt of original sin. But could it be that somehow Christ’s atonement did pay for the guilt for these helpless ones throughout all time? Yes, and therefore it is a credible assumption that a child who dies at an age too young to have made a conscious, willful rejection of Jesus Christ will be taken to be with the Lord.”[1]

While I do not deny the ability of Christ’s atonement to deal with the sin of a baby, it is the theology itself I take issue with. The problem comes in the form of the contradiction of scripture. Salvation comes through faith and faith alone. If then salvation can obtained through any other means, it is no longer by faith. The Bible is clear that one receives Salvation upon belief (Rom. 10:9). Upon belief, a Christian is given the Holy Spirit as a seal of their salvation (Eph. 1:13). Life is given only by the Spirit (Jn. 6:63). The bible is just as clear that if you do not have the Holy Spirit you do not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9). Babies simply do not have the psychological capabilities to make such a determination. They, therefore, are not guaranteed salvation.

Does this mean then that babies are condemned? Not at all. The problem is in the bad theology of heaven and hell. Those Christians who subscribe to this philosophy are left with questions that force them to contradict scripture. For example, I can agree that a loving God would not condemn a baby to eternal punishment. Yet given the scripture’s clear teaching on the requirements of salvation, they force God to become arbitrary in order to reconcile a babies naivety. They have forced scripture to fit theology rather than develop theology to fit scripture. This is the very essence of bad theology. I have attempted to show in other posts, that Hell theology is not scriptural.  This bad theology has led to worse theology in order to preserve itself. In other words, when an instance comes along that threatens to undermine the very foundation of theology, rather than change the theology, they create more bad theology to support it.

So what about the babies? If we replace the bad theology of heaven and hell with a theology of kingdom building we arrive at total different answer.  In order to build a kingdom, you need a government. This is filled by the Church (Rev. 20: 4-5). Revelation 20 also indicates that there will be at least two resurrections. This resurrection cannot include Christians for there is a judgment of works involved (v.12). Also the church has already been changed, so therefore it cannot be the resurrection of the church.

Second a kingdom needs citizens or people to rule. This is the second resurrection. This is those who did not accept Christ in this present life. We will rule over them with Christ, teaching. Why teach and rule if God is going to condemn them to eternal punishment anyway? No, the reasonable inference is that God in his mercy will give a personal second chance for unbelievers to accept him. Babies would certainly fall into this category. In fact all who die without being called would be included. This is the infinite mercy and grace of God.[2]

Finally, I must address in brief what I could spend an entire book on, the idea of going to Heaven. This is simply not biblical. First, the dead meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The Holy City of Jerusalem descends to Earth (Rev. 21:1). We do not go to heaven, heaven comes to us. This is explains Paul’s assertion that the whole creation eagerly awaits for the revealing of the Sons of God. If it is to be replaced or destroyed why would it wait eagerly? This analogy makes no sense unless it is to be restored and become the habitation it was meant to be.

In conclusion, what I propose is this: Babies are not condemned to hell; neither are they going to heaven. These assumptions are based off bad, non-scriptural, theology. Instead, babies will be given the chance to live and grow under Christ at his second coming. It is then they will be offered a chance to accept him and join the kingdom as full citizens.

[1] Grace to You Ministries, “Do Babies and Others Incapable of Professing Faith in Christ Automatically Go to Heaven?” http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA101/do-babies-and-others-incapable-of-professing-faith-in-christ-automatically-go-to-heaven (accessed October 3 2015).

[2] This discussion does not deal with believers who fall away. It is only concerned with those who have never truly believed in the first place.