Many Christians hold the view that unborn and born infants and children who die before the age of reason or eternal responsibility are guaranteed access to heaven. For instance, Dr. William Lane Craig has famously stated the following, When justifying the slaughter of the Canaanites:

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God's grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.

It seems obvious that if a child/infant dies before they are responsible for accepting salvation they should not be condemned to Hell, but that they should be automatically granted salvation also seems equally unjust. I would think that it be more just for God to annihilate the souls of those children.

How, in this view, is God just by automatically saving all infants/children who die before they can be held responsible?

As Matt Gutting pointed out, the question is about how someone holding the view that infants/children who die in infancy are guaranteed salvation can reconcile their view with God's justice.

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    To close voters: The scope is sufficient; it has been set as from the view that infants and young children receive salvation upon death if they are too young to understand salvation.
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 5:29
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    And we forgot to say, "Welcome to Christianity.SE". Good question for a starter.
    – Mawia
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 12:24
  • @fredsbend: The question is asking explicitly for opinions: "Is this view unjust?" It's a truth question. Adding the scope "according to those who believe that infants go to heaven" doesn't help. If anything, it makes the scope so narrow so as not to exist at all!! ("According to those who believe infants go to heaven, is are they, themselves, wrong?")
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 13:28
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    I don't interpret it that way. As I read it, it's essentially asking "Suppose a person holds this belief regarding infants. How do they reconcile that with their view of Divine justice?" That's not necessarily opinion-bound, as long as they can cite doctrine; nor is it a self-eliminating scope. Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 14:50
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    I have edited the title to match the current question, and to no longer ask for opinions.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 17:09

3 Answers 3


Firstly, we need to know that God is just and fair.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you. (2 Thessalonians 1:6, NIV)

But you are stubborn and refuse to turn to God. So you are making things even worse for yourselves on that day when he will show how angry he is and will judge the world with fairness. (Romans 2:5, CEV)

Secondly, we must also believe that just as Heaven is real and eternal, Hell is also real and eternal. Though there are some who believe in Annihilationism, they are minority.

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:46, NIV)

Is the view of guaranteed salvation for infants unjust? Not entirely.

The Catholic Church believes that unbaptized infants go to Heaven.

The Bible never tells us that innocent children will go to Hell or not. But we know for sure that Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to children.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14, NIV)

And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3, NIV)

This seems like a contradiction to the teaching of Saint Paul that all have sinned.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, NIV)

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5, NIV)

However, the Bible tells us that we are going to be judged according to what we have done, not what we haven't commit.

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14, NIV)

God "will repay each person according to what they have done." (Romans 2:6, NIV)

Some adults might say that they have not done any serious crime but in God's standard all sins are big, for Jesus said,

"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)

Therefore, it is fair and just to assert that children who died young before committing any sin will go to Heaven but adults can go to Heaven only by believing in Jesus Christ.

There are many interesting testimonies around the world - people who claimed to have visited Heaven. Out of them, I find these two very interesting as they deal with one of the toughest questions which Christianity cannot answer objectively.

  • In the book Heaven Is for Real, Colton, a pastor's 4 years old son went to Heaven and said that he met a little girl in Heaven who said she was his sister who died in his mother’s “tummy”.
  • In his interview video "An insight into heaven"(please search on YouTube), D. G. S. Dhinakaran, the founder of Jesus Calls Ministries also said that he saw infants in Heaven and they are taken care of until they reach 30 years and they become angels. He said that children who died young are not given the saved status and do not enjoy the privileges like the saved, they are simply given a basic entry to Heaven.
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    A good answer, except that there's no basis for accepting what anyone says about alleged trips to heaven!
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 6:08
  • @curiousdannii The last part is only to spice up the answer. I know that many people do not believe in contemporary experiences.
    – Mawia
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 7:41
  • Good answer so far, but can you address why it is God is still just with the option of annihilation on the table? You answered the question with respect to reasonableness of allowing them into Heaven and unreasonableness of condemning them to Hell, but there was the third option. If you speak to that I will accept your answer. Note: it would be sufficient to argue why we can take the option of annihilation off the table. Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 11:10
  • @user I truly wish that Annihilationism were true. You know why? Because, we would simply disappear forever from this universe, from this very existence, no longer to come back and suffer. That's what Gautama Buddha was trying to achieve. Even right now, I wish that God would just make me vanish and disappear forever from this world of suffering, not knowing neither joy nor pain. I prefer non-existence over existence with all the uncertainties about afterlife. If Annihilationism is true, Jesus didn't have to die at all, God could just make us all vanish.
    – Mawia
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 11:44
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    The link you give regarding the Catholic Church doesn't state that the Church believes unbaptized infants will go to heaven. It appears to state, rather, that the Church reverently hopes that they will (see paragraphs 5 and 6 of the linked document). Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 14:56

All salvation is inherently unjust. No one deserves salvation.

Eph 2:1-9 (NASB)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

We receive forgiveness for our sins through God's mercy and salvation through His grace. Mercy and grace, by definition, are unwarranted and therefore unjust. So the question is not really how can God be unjust by saving babies. The question is really much larger than that. How can God be unjust by saving anyone? How can God accurately be described as being just and merciful at the same time, since mercy is seemingly contradictory to perfect justice.

The missing piece, of course, is Jesus' sacrifice which provided the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10 (NASB)

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Since Jesus propitiated God, and God has transferred the judgement for our sins onto Him, God is then able to exhibit mercy to us. In other words, since God is just, He can only be merciful through the sacrifice of His blameless Son. Jesus' sacrifice provided the mechanism through which God could be merciful without compromising His justice.

So, if God is capable of graciously saving anyone that He so chooses, without violating His own justice, then what argument is there for saying that He cannot choose to save all of the children who die at an early age? That's not to say that any of the above proves that He does do that, but you can't say that by doing so He would violate His own justice .

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    A good point at the top there. We can ask "Why should someone suffer in Hell for 80 years of sinful living?" But we can also ask "Why should someone gain eternal life for 80 years of believing in Jesus?"
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 19:36
  • Thank you for this, it saved me from having to write up an answer. I also hold the belief that God saves who God saves, regardless of age. If you're chosen, you're chosen from the beginning of time.
    – user14657
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 17:35

There are several trusted sources on the Doctrine of Infant Salvation.

This link is very good on the subject. Spurgeon is almost always gold in everything he writes or says. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0411.htm

This link is excellent on the Doctrine of Infant Salvation and is probably the largest study on the subject that I know of. The author B.B. Warfield was one of the early Princeton theologians.

And there is "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" by Boettner. This, I think, is the standard work on Predestination and he treats of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation in that book. The following link should take you to that part. http://www.reformed.org/calvinism/index.html?mainframe=/calvinism/boettner/infants_boettner.html

As to my own understanding that infants dying in infancy are saved, it is based upon the above and certain Scriptures.

"[David] answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' 23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Sam. 12:22-23, NIV). Thus if we assume David to be saved, then he will meet with the infant in Heaven.

"Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."" (Matt. 19:14, NIV). See also Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16. Here we see the compassion of the Lord Jesus upon little children.

Revelation 7:9 also supports this view, "How can there be in heaven a countless number of people from every nation, tribe, people and language (Rev. 7:9)? Surely not every tribe of people around the world has adult believers. Is it not possible, therefore, that a number of tribes will be represented by children who die in infancy?" There being a "multitude that no man can number", seems to be a stretch if we consider the number of adults who profess Christ in any generation. But those dying in infancy since Creation would indeed be a vast multitude.

Jonah 4:10-11 "But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” Now it would seems highly improbable that Nineveh had 120,000 mentally handicapped people running about that could not tell their right hand from their left. Rather it seems more likely that there were 120,000 infants upon whom the Lord would shower His mercy, for infants cannot tell their right hand from their left.

It would seem that if there are more people in Hell than Heaven, then the Devil has won the contest. I do not think he will be able to gloat on the Last Day for a milli-second when the full number of the elect are gathered around the Throne of the Lamb. God will get the glory in the numbers He has saved.

It gives great comfort to parents whose little ones have died. And should indeed be a great spur to those same parents to believe in Christ, so they will see those babes again and not stand condemned by them! The doctrine has implications on some other practical issues like contraception, covenants etc, but that might be a discussion for another time.

Anyway these are just a few thoughts on the topic. Hth.

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