I've always wondered this. Before they even have a chance to think for themselves, and they die in sin, does God send them to Hell?

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    Can you scope your question a little? This is from a Catholic perspective, though I realize that not all Christians believe in purgatory or limbo. youtube.com/watch?v=yeBDTkr-dAM
    – Double U
    Aug 19 '13 at 3:37
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    Welcome to the site. When you get a chance, I'd recommend reading the help page and How we are different than other sites? Your questions thus far are a bit hard to give a definitive answers to, as there is a wide range of beliefs within Christianity. Those posts clarify guidelines a bit. This one might be helpful, too. Aug 19 '13 at 3:55
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    Another good question that needs to be narrowed down to a certain denomination, or even what is the biblical basis for an assumed answer.
    – Mike
    Aug 19 '13 at 4:52

If we can determine what sin is, we can determine if God would be able to punish a child for it. Fortunately Jesus will never leave us in the dark. He gives us a definition of what sin is in the book of 1 John 3:4 which states “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 Sin is the transgression or the breaking of God’s law, His Ten Commandments. Because of this we must ask which of the Ten Commandments has a child violated? Has an infant murder, lying, theft, adultery, Sabbath-breaking or blasphemy? Certainly not. Is crying a sin? “Jesus wept”. (John 11:35) Jesus gives us great insight into how God judges sin when He said…

“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:41)

Listen closely, children are born with a sinful nature that is we have this inward pull or desire to sin but we are not born sinners. Sin is the breaking of God’s law. And we have concluded that babies have not broken the Ten Commandments. Even if they did, Jesus told us in John 9:41 that were there is no understanding, there is no sin. Again Jesus said

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” (John 15:22)

Where there can be no knowledge, there can be no sin.

Imagine if one day a group of police officers showed up at your door. They quickly handcuffed you, you were taken to a courtroom and declared guilty of war crimes. “War crimes, I’ve never fought in a war!” you plead. The judge responds and says “your great grandfather committed war crimes in World War 1 and we are punishing you for the crime, I hereby sentence you to death”.

Certainly a human judge would never make such an unfair sentence. How could you be judged for a crime that occurred when you never even were alive? Yet would God throw someone in hell because of the sins of their parents, or grandparents? Or because of the sins of Adam in the garden of Eden? Does the guilt of one generation pass on from generation to generation through a bloodline? The Bible gives us the answer in Ezekiel 18:20 when it says

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.“

Here the Bible says the son shall not bear the guilt of the father. Again the Bible says “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16) You are not punished for the sins of any past generation. “God is a just judge” (Psalm 7:11) and God is much fairer than any human court. It is true, sin does have consequences. If your parents were abusive you may have suffered the consequences, when Adam sinned the earth received the curse of death, but the guilt of one generation does not pass from generation to generation. This would be unfair. Only those who have sinned will be condemned.

The book of Isaiah chapter 65 tells us that yes, infants will be in heaven for it is written

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days”. Isaiah 65:17,19-20

When Exodus 20 talks about visiting the iniquities to the third and fourth generation, it means sinful tendencies are transferred from generation to generation (example, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all struggled with lying, David and Solomon struggled with women, etc). It does not mean people are thrown in hell for the sins of their grandfathers.

  • I think we should read Isaiah 65:20 as "The new babies born in the New Earth will no longer die". And regarding original sins, Psalm 51:5 says "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me".
    – Mawia
    Aug 20 '13 at 10:09
  • Hi Mawia, there are no new babies born in the new earth for it is written "Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." Matthew 22:29-30 A proper translation of Psalm 51:5 says "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me."
    – HelloWorld
    Aug 20 '13 at 16:18
  • @Mawia Some say look David was filled with original sin, however this is a false interpretation for speaking of Jesus it is written "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3) So since Jesus was born of the seed of David and "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3) if David were born with original sin then so was Jesus based on Romans 8:3 & 1:3, thankfully the doctrine of original sin is false.
    – HelloWorld
    Aug 20 '13 at 16:19
  • The resurrection and the new earth might be different. And Jesus was born from a virgin. Jesus did not share any blood from Joseph. Though Jesus still shared the blood of Mary.
    – Mawia
    Aug 20 '13 at 16:27
  • Hi Mawia, yes i agree that there was no blood from Joseph but that does not discount Romans 1 or 8. The Bible says Jesus was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, that is with a sinful nature. A sinful nature means our natures default to desire to sin, but it does not mean that babies are born sinful, the verses in 1 John, Ezekiel, Romans etc are sufficient evidence. Psalm 51 is simply saying David was born with a sinful nature, and Romans 1:3 says Jesus got that same nature as David, yet Jesus was sinless. Newborn babies have never sinned based off of 1 John 3:4, John 9:41. God bless!
    – HelloWorld
    Aug 20 '13 at 16:35

The Catholic Church professes that unbaptized infants go to a part of Hell where there is no fire, known as The Limbo of the Children

Pope Gregory X, Council of Lyons II, 1274: “The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, however, immediately descend to Hell, but to be punished with different punishments. (Denz. 464)

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Letentur coeli,” Sess. 6, July 6, 1439, ex cathedra: “We define also that… the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell, but to undergo punishments of different kinds.” (Denz. 693)

St. Augustine, A.D. 415: “Anyone who would say that infants who pass from this life without participation in the Sacrament [of Baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the Apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3: 2016.)

However the current hierarchy claims that there is no such thing as limbo and it in fact was never defined, "[There are] reasons to hope that there is salvation for these babies", quoting the Rev. Luis Ladaria, a Jesuit who is the commission's secretary-general to The Associated Press.

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    – wax eagle
    Aug 19 '13 at 18:44

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