How should we report about Justin Bieber, Kanye West and other cases of well-known personalities who are considering the Christian faith?
Four views within the evangelical world.
What happens to children when they die shortly before or after birth? Do they go to heaven or hell?
There are four main answers within the Evangelical world.
Today I hope to explain very briefly what each group teaches: the pessimistic school, the optimistic school and two intermediate schools.
THE FOUR VIEWS
1.- The Optimistic School
The first perspective is, undoubtedly, the most attractive as it believes that all children head to heaven once they die. This stance is defended by the principle of moral responsibility.
Since newly born babies are not responsible for their actions before God, they cannot be condemned. They are guaranteed eternal life. They are saved.
Nevertheless, kids lose their salvation the day the sin “consciously” for the first time. From that moment onwards, they must believe in the Gospel to enjoy the salvation they previously had in their “unconscious” state.
2.- The Pessimistic School
The least popular view is that of which teaches that all children go to hell when they die. The rationale here is that every single babe is a child of Adam, therefore, he/ she is worthy of eternal condemnation.
According to this standpoint, every member of Adam’s fallen race must perish. Therefore, it does not matter at the end of the day if a child sins “consciously” or “unconsciously”, what counts is the imputation of Adam’s sin unto all of his posterity.
Another argument advanced by the Pessimistic School is that salvation is only by means of the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness which is received via faith. But if babies cannot exercise faith in the Gospel, how can they be saved?
3.- The Sanctification School
The third camp understands that only the babies of believers will receive eternal glory.
They teach that the children of a believing father or a believing mother (or both parents) are mysteriously “sanctified” until they come to the age of reason and moral responsibility. And what happens to the offspring of unbelievers? They receive eternal condemnation as they are not children of the covenant.
As in the case of the Optimistic School, this third group also believes that believers’ children lose their salvation the day they sin “consciously” for the first time.
4.- The Predestination School
The final viewpoint holds to the idea that God has His elect amongst all infants. The Lord has a group chosen by sovereign grace; but these chosen ones do not necessarily have to belong to believing parents.
God, in miraculous fashion, is able to transform the heart of His elect granting them the gift of the Holy Spirit even in their “unconscious” state.
This means that the Lord will take His elect babes with Him to heaven and punish the reprobate for being children of Adam.
So, like the third school, this fourth perspective believes that some kids will go to heaven whilst others will go to hell.
The question regarding the eternal condition of newly born babes is difficult because it is so emotionally charged.
As good Protestants, we must always adhere to Sola Scriptura in our theology; and not to our personal whims or fancies.
The Bible nowhere speaks dogmatically about the eternal state of little ones. Therefore, in this spiny issue, we must respect those who do not think like us. We should not lose friends over secondary doctrines.
What we can know for certain, however, is that the Judge of all the earth will do justice. He will always do what is perfectly right.
And we also know that we, as parents and grandparents, have a great responsibility to preach the Gospel to our kids and our grandkids a.s.a.p. May God help us to do so!