The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What does the fate of children and the mentally ill tell us about salvation?

I asked people on various forums to consider who might be saved from a list of cases. The purpose of the exercise was to see how we Christians understand salvation. What it highlighted was how the fate of children and those mentally handicapped in some way is so dear to us that many cannot in good conscience imagine a God that fails to save them.

While laudable, most acknowledged that there is scant Biblical support for this view which, if we’re willing to accept and resolve the cognitive dissonance, could lead us to abandon our preconceived notions of salvation and consider a different universalist interpretation of the Bible. More on all this here:

My thoughts on the subject of salvation for infants and mentally ill etc…

Either after or towards the end of Sukkot/ tabernacles [ie] millennium reign of Christ,
We have Hoshana Rabbahh [ie] the great white throne of judgment, we’re the graves give up [all] the dead for judgment.

Hoshana Rabbahh is the beginning of the end of the Jewish year. It is the last day of the feast of tabernacles and it is considered that judgment lasted right up till the end of this time, a time God may change his mind concerning his judgments and about what will happen in the coming year. At this time many of those resurrected will have already sealed their fate according to their attitudes and deeds in their past life. During this judgment period, it is believed many who have never heard the gospel about the coming kingdom, infants, the mentally ill etc … will be given Time to show / prove their position before the final judgment,Tradition has said, according to Isaiah 65, this time of proving is a period of a hundred years. I believe, at the end of this judgment,the Wicked and righteous are finally separated. The righteous gathered into the N/J and it’s blessings while the wicked will be outside in torments to varying degrees, were the Refining process will begin in the lake of fire / Gehenna. I am not a believer in infants, the mentally ill etc Having a direct pass into the kingdom blessings. But i do believe God in his mercy, will provide ample opportunity for such ones to show themselves worthy of the coming kingdoms blessings through Christ.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m inclined to agree that an opportunity is given rather than a direct pass.

Hi Mike :slight_smile:

From what I’ve read it seems that at least the first two categories of people would not have posed a problem to the conscience of the earliest Christians – because the earliest Christians did not believe in original sin and inherited guilt. Rather they believed that we are born innocent. However, we are born into a world of death and into solidarity with humanity that is oriented towards death because of the first sin of Adam. And this leads us eventually into sin – but not in the earliest years of infancy

For example Origen viewed children as being born completely innocent, He gave reasons for this. For one thing – he argued - children behave the same way to rich and powerful people as they do to poor and inconsequential people. So they are not affected by pride and power.

But Origen also believed in the innocence of children because he did not read inherited guilt into Paul’s theology. Augustine was the first to really do this and, in doing so created the problem of the unbaptized – the aborted, the stillborn, the ones who die very early before baptism – whom he consigned to eternal torment on the grounds of their possessing inherited guilt that has not been sacramentally cleansed and therefore being creatures of God’s wrath.

Gregory of Nyssa, by way of contrast, in his pastoral letter ‘On Infants’ Early Deaths’, addressed the issue from an Origenian position. The deaths of infants did not present him with any need to think about the prospect and justice of their eternal damnation – because Gregory was a universalist and also had no concept of ‘inherited guilt s’. And in similar vein, the crux of the matter for him was not that unbaptized infants who die prematurely had no opportunity to be saved, but rather that they’d had not opportunity in this life to develop towards their goal/‘telos’ (which is, as with the rest of us, growing from the image of God into the likeness of God). Gregory concluded that God will give them these opportunities in post mortem existence.

Regarding the question of why some infants die young, Gregory speculates rather tortuously that perhaps God foreknows that these children would grow up to live especially wicked lives. But he ends by adding, rather more helpfully:

“But seeing that our reason in this matter has to grope in the dark, clearly no one can complain if its conjecturing leads our mind to a variety of conclusions.

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If this was up for a vote, mine would be for a direct pass. The Man who said “suffer the little children to come unto me … of such is the kingdom of God” would surely award them that same pass into His presence.

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Does a baby have a baby soul in the afterlife? I speculate that in the afterlife we all have mature souls so God would not be talking to a baby in the afterlife when a baby dies.

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It takes a lot of living to mature a soul.

It may make more sense for God to allow some kind of circumstances whereby parents are allowed to raise their prematurely deceased children in the afterlife?

I.E. deceased babies begin as babies in the afterlife, and they may be raised by their parents in a better (or similar/worse) world than the original earth.

Whether the baby has the opportunity to grow up in a better afterlife world than original earth might rest on the judgments due to the child’s parents. 1) General life judgments 2) Judgments regarding the conception of the child.

Regardless of the truthfulness of my [perhaps horrid] speculation, the child and its parents will eventually be brought into reconciliation with God, some form of perfection, and some form of ultimate bliss.

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Further speculation towards the OP:

I’d suggest that the mentally handicapped will have the opportunity to gradually improve their intellectual abilities through some sort of education/health system in the afterlife.

I don’t think God is going to snap his fingers and give Forrest Gump an IQ of 140. He prefers to use people to do his work. Neuroscientists, nutritionists, and educators will have enjoyable years learning how to [enjoyably] expand the postmortem minds of the intellectually disabled.

I’d think that God wants all of His creations to enjoy the pleasures of some level of intellectual sophistication.

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That very much chimes with Gregory of Nyssa’s presuppositions Drew. He was concerned that babies who die before baptism should be given the chance in the world to come to grow up freely into the fullness of Christ - or else their untimely deaths woud be unjust and an evil that can never be remedied.

Iranaeus - if he had addressed this isssue - would almost certainly have empathised with Gregory; for Iranaeus taught that Adam and Eve fell becaue they were immature. Therefore the goal of creation is that creatures should choose God of their own (mature) freewill :slight_smile:

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