Friday, October 06, 2006

My Limbo Post Part II

My cat jumped on my computer and deleted my post on limbo. It was good and thought out.

So here is the second attempt. From a BBC article:
According to the BBC's Religion and Ethics site [see internet links, right], the church held that before the 13th Century, all unbaptised people, including new born babies who died, would go to hell. This was because original sin - the punishment that God inflicted on humanity because of Adam and Eve's disobedience - had not been cleansed by baptism.

This idea however was criticised by Peter Abelard, a French scholastic philosophiser, who said that babies who had no personal sin didn't even deserve punishment.

It was Abelard who introduced the idea of limbo. The word comes from the Latin "limbus", meaning the edge. This would be a state of existence where unbaptised babies, and those unfortunate enough to have been born before Jesus, would not experience pain but neither would they experience the Beatific Vision of God.

But limbo has long been a problem for the Church. Unease has remained over reconciling a Loving God with one who sent babies to limbo and the Church has faced much criticism.

Here's the crux of the problem about limbo:

1) Limbo is based on extra-biblical speculation.

2) People don't think babies are sinful. People think everyone, not just babies, deserve God's blessings.

The Bible, frankly, doesn't have much to say about the fate of babies. I would assume that's because God is good and just and you are not. Also, you don't need to know.

Here's what we know:

1) People are born sinful. We are not sinners because we sin. Let me repeat. We are not sinners because we sin. Let me repeat, because you need to understand this. We are not sinners because we sin.

We sin because we are sinners. In other words, we are sinners by nature. We are born in a state of enmity to God.

Don't like this? Do you think babies are born innocent. Let me ask a few questions. Do you have to teach a little child to lie? Do you have to teach a child to not listen to a parent? Those things come perfectly naturally.

We are born sinners and hostile to God.

2) David's baby died and was in heaven. Read 2 Samuel 12. David was confident his baby went to heaven.

Theologians differ or are unsure if universal rules can apply to this. Some think it applies to all babies. Some think this applies to babies of believers who are in the Covenant of Grace with God.

At the very least, assuming a baby went to hell wouldn't be something I would do.

God is just and holy. God is graceful and merciful. God knows the end from the beginning.

And let me put something in perspective. Assume that a particular baby did die and did not receive God's mercy. Let's assume that God knew that the baby was going to be the next Hitler. Or let's downgrade that. The baby was never going to believe as an adult and was going to live until he was 87.

What is better? Die in your sin when you are one day old and committed no sins based on knowledge or die 87 years later with tons of rebellion and years of willing sin on your record?

Again, do not assume that a baby doesn't receive mercy. But do realize that if a baby receives mercy it is indeed that. Mercy.

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