Response To R. Albert Mohler: Do Infants Who Die Go To Heaven?
- “We believe that Scripture does indeed teach that all persons who die in infancy are among the elect.”
- “…the Bible teaches that we are to be judged on the basis of our deeds committed ‘in the body’ (2 Corinthians 5:10). That is, we will face the judgment seat of Christ and be judged, not on the basis of original sin, but for our sins committed during our own lifetimes.”
- “…the Bible does not teach that we will answer for Adam’s sin. We will answer for our own. But what about infants? Have those who die in infancy committed such sins in the body? We believe not.”
- “The key issue here is that God specifically exempted from the judgment those who “have no knowledge of good or evil” because of their age. These “little ones” would inherit the Promised Land, and would not be judged on the basis of their fathers’ sins (based upon Deuteronomy 1:39).”
- “We believe that this passage bears directly on the issue of infant salvation, and that the accomplished work of Christ has removed the stain of original sin from those who die in infancy. Knowing neither good nor evil, these young children are incapable of committing sins in the body ’ are not yet moral agents ’ and die secure in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- “Jesus instructed his disciples that they should “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Mark 10:14).” We believe that our Lord graciously and freely received all those who die in infancy ’ not on the basis of their innocence or worthiness ’ but by his grace, made theirs through the atonement He purchased on the cross.”
I was disappointed to read this article as I have found Dr. Mohler’s commentary very Biblical in the past. He first rejects the argument that a reformed individual might utilize: “Some persons may simply suggest that elect infants go to heaven, while the non-elect do not, and must suffer endless punishment. [This answer] is unsatisfactory.”
The problem with Mohler’s argument is that it stems on the foundation that all infants are of the elect due to the assumption that infants commit no sins in the body (fashioned around reasoning that infants cannot discern between good and evil), and they are not held accountable for original sin. This argument, that is the lack of responsibility of original sin, reminds me of the Pelagian denial of original sin. By saying we are not accountable for our representative Adam’s transgression likens the logic that we were never imputed (and then imparted) with his sin in the first place. To imply such a suggestion would mean that we are born depraved, but we do “sin for judgement” until we sin in the body (Pelagian, not in a direct sense, but a hypothetical “blank slate”).
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
And Mohler cannot deny, as a reformed theologian, that the infant is born completely depraved and acts out of his sinful volition (Ecclesiastes 9:3). And everything not out of faith is indeed sin (Romans 14:23). Mohler affirms original sin and it’s bearing on human kind: “…the Bible reveals that we are “brought forth in iniquity,” (Psalm 51:5) and thus bear the stain of original sin from the moment of our conception.”
‘Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.
I believe this verse refers more to the context of allowing the younger generation the opportunity their fathers forfeited (in a finite sense). Mohler’s argument begs the question of the very transgression Adam (and Eve) committed in the Garden: “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Lastly, Mark 10:14 serves more to illustrate the very qualities that Jesus perceives as necessary for salvation, that being “child-like” faith and not that: “our Lord graciously and freely received all those who die in infancy ’ not on the basis of their innocence or worthiness ’ but by his grace, made theirs through the atonement He purchased on the cross.” The following verse in Psalms has weight in this issue (although not dealt with by Mohler or Piper).
The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
This question is a controversial and highly emotional one to wrestle with, although we must remember we cannot attempt to assume a truth from the Bible. The Bible teaches we are born with Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12) and thereby accountable (Galatians 6:7) . Those who receive salvation are those that God the Father chose (Ephesians 1:4), that Jesus Christ died for (John 17:9–10), and the Holy Spirit calls (1 Timothy 6:12) and secures (1 Peter 5:8–10). I don’t know who is a part of the elect (cf. Hyper-Calvinism), nor do I desire to know. Wait, maybe the Open Theists know…