Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question:
“Dear Dave and Tom: I think you guys backed into supporting Calvinism without realizing it. I heard a program of yours in which you said you believed that aborted babies and infants and children who died before reaching the ‘age of accountability’ go to heaven. It seems evident that such children could not be saved by their own volition or trusting in the Lord. Therefore, if they are saved, then it could only be because, as the Calvinists say, God did it in His sovereignty and simply for His own good pleasure, or am I missing something in all this?”
Tom: Dave, I’d like to take this, but I’m going to talk about limbo afterward, so I’m going to let you start.
Dave: Well, it’s not a matter of God deciding that these would go to heaven in contrast to others who are going to hell. It’s not a matter that He predestined these beforehand to go to heaven. The fact is that they did not sin; they died as babies. It wouldn’t be just to condemn to hell—what are they going to suffer for in hell? What deeds have they done that they should be punished for? That’s one facet of this, Tom.
Tom: But it sort of skirts around the volition side of wanting to be with God forever, seeking after Him. They certainly can’t do that, Dave.
Dave: Well, they can learn to do that, Tom. But the fact is what else are you going to do with babies? They haven’t sinned. Now, but you didn’t let me get to the second part.
Tom: Okay—oh, I’m on your side by the way, Dave.
Dave: I’m sure you are, right.
Tom: Okay,I’m just waiting to hear what you’re going to say!
Dave: Secondly—and, Tom, I couldn’t give you a scripture except, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”
Tom: Right, and many other verses that talk about God being a just God.
Dave: Of course, the writer is not asking whether this is biblical or not, which of course it is, because David—you remember when the baby died? He said, “He will not come back to me, I will go to him.” So apparently David believed that the baby was where he expected to go, which would be with the Lord, because David was certainly a believer in the Lord and looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ for his sins.
Tom: Because we’re eliminating, it seems, free will and volition.
Dave: Because a baby doesn’t have free will and volition, and that is one of the arguments against infant baptism. Getting back to Catholicism or the Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church—a baby has not made any choice, and baptism is for believers, okay?
But I believe—I’m sure…I mean, this is theoretical, but there’s no question that it could happen this way: What about a person that God knows if they grew up in that environment, they would never hear the gospel, then is it wrong if He allows them, but He knows that if they did hear the gospel they would believe?
Tom: So that would be the foreknowledge it talks about in Romans.
Dave: Right. Not predestination, but foreknowledge. God knows if that person heard the gospel, they would believe, so then He allows that person to die as a baby, which probably would happen without some help, and God holds back His hand from helping this child to survive under these circumstances where it would die otherwise. Then God could allow those that He knew would accept Christ, growing up in an environment where they wouldn’t hear the gospel. He could allow them to die prematurely so that they wouldn’t have sins for which he would have to punish them.
Tom, it’s a difficult question. But the Bible does teach, I think, quite clearly that a baby that dies before it has committed any sins goes to heaven. Jesus had some strange things to say about it. Of course, He said, “Suffer [or allow] the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
But He also said, “Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Now, I’ve never heard anyone ever exegete that passage. The Bible indicates that—if we went to Hebrews 1, it says: “He maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire, and they are sent forth to minister unto those who shall be heirs of the gospel.”
So it seems that God knows—of course He knows. It doesn’t just seem, He knows—who would believe and who wouldn’t believe, that the angels are watching over those, and it’s in God’s hands. But this is not Calvinism. That’s a big difference between saying, “Well, God predestined these billions of people to hell before He created them. He didn’t give them a chance.” Well, it wouldn’t do any good to give them a chance, because they wouldn’t be able to believe. This is what the Calvinist teaches, and He predestined certain others to heaven—this is not what we’re saying at all.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, the other thing that always hits me is—you know, we’ve mentioned many times on this program that God to be God must be perfect in all His attributes, and one of His attributes is justice. He’s got to be absolutely just. But another attribute is love. Not only is He just and fair, but He paid the full penalty for our sins. His love is incredible. So you apply that to a situation—whether it be unborn children aborted, whether it be young children who die before the age of accountability, and they’re going to be in the presence of a God who is absolutely just and absolutely fair, and whose love is incomprehensible.