The scary consequences of baby universalism…

In my last post I  spoke about certain weird forms of well-meaning but rather merciless Christian inclusivism, which posits that all those ignorant of Christianity will not be sent to hell, but those who know  must become a Christian or go to hell. The unavoidable conclusion of these doctrines is that it would be actually better to not evangelise to people than to evangelise them…

The same problem applies to the in a way very related idea of ‘baby universalism’, (a term coined by Greg Boyd) as Sarah noted in the comments of my last post:

[We] were just talking about the related idea in evangelicalism (and now catholicism apparently) that babies go to heaven automatically. Taking into account the idea of a literal, eternal hell, we decided that from this standpoint, abortion is the most merciful act in the world. Why let a baby live if there’s even a miniscule chance that it will spend eternity being tortured? That theology can’t come to any other logical conclusion which is one reason why I can’t believe in it.

If you’re in a tradition that is scared of hell, this sounds like a very merciful idea: all babies (or all those who did not reach the ‘age of accountability’) will go directly to heaven. And it does actually make more sense to me than the idea that all babies are depraved sinful beings that deserve to go to hell, as some fundamentalist ideas might imply, and one could derive from harsher versions of the dorctrine of original sin. (But I don’t know that much about those things)

The combination of a completely legal framework of salvation, which is furthermore mostly seen as ‘getting out of hell’, and the idea that innocent children are by default saved gives us  an even more scary consequence than the inclusivism of our last post. Not only is it better not to evangelise, but also is the inevitable conclusion that it’s better to abort or kill babies, since that’ll send them directly to heaven without having a chance to sin or loose the faith later in life and so go to hell…

Yes, I’ll repeat this: the most merciful thing you can do is abortion or killing children, it’ll guarantee them for 100% a spot in heaven and keep ’em out of the hot place. What is scary is that people have actually made that conclusion. Greg Boyd, in the essay where he coined the term baby universalism, quotes Paul Copan from his book ‘is God a moral monster’ asking that question, and gives a raather technical deconstruction of the idea:

“Why not kill all infants to make sure they are with God in the hereafter” (194)?  Paul answers his own question by noting that the Israeli soldiers killed infants only because God told them to do so. When anyone commits infanticide without God’s permission, Paul adds, they are sinning, for only God the giver of life has the right to take life (or command others to take life). Paul concedes that a murdered baby automatically receives a “heavenly benefit,” but he insists this is not to the credit of the killer and thus cannot be used to justify their killing. “The killer neither causes these [heavenly] benefits nor is responsible for them” (194).

I can easily see why, within the doctrine of baby universalism, a baby killer should not be considered the cause for the deceased baby’s heavenly benefit or held responsible for the deceased baby’s heavenly benefit. But it seems to me that the baby killer must still be viewed as the occasion and means of the baby’s heavenly benefit. Most importantly, it seems we must accept that the baby killer is the means by which the baby’s heavenly benefit is made secure. The baby killer in effect saved the baby from the possibility of hell! While this still wouldn’t remove the sin of infanticide — for it still violates a command of God — it does renders infanticide reasonable, if not loving and courageous — if one accepts that baby universalism is true.

But there is more: If our clumsy inclusivism of my last post had some scary outworkings, the combination of baby universalism with exclusivism (all non-christians go to hell)  as it exists in some circles is even able to create even more scary consequences: inevitably the only way to not go to hell for someone who gets born and lives in the wrong place and circumstances to ever hear the gospel (which includes catholic and orthodox places for some fundamentalists btw) would be to not get born at all, or to get killed before reaching a certain age of accountability!

(Yes this would for example give a  free ticket for Americans to bomb as much muslims including children and pregnant women, since killing them before reaching the age of accountability would be more merciful than let them become adults.  I sincerely hope that no one will ever uses this reasoning…)

Combining very rigid excluisivist ideas about hell with complete amnesty for certain groups just does not work, sorry. It will always have horrible consequences…

Now, I don’t pretend to know everything about the afterlife, but I do know that Jesus came to save not only individuals from sin, death, destruction, evil and so on, but the whole of Creation. How everything works I do not know, yet I know that God wants none to perish, and I trust that God, who is love, will save as much as possible. Let us just trust in His mercy, and believe that the good news is better than we can imagine. Death and hell are beaten, Christus Victor!

what do you think?


7 responses to “The scary consequences of baby universalism…

  1. I find it very difficult to think these things through.
    What counts for me is that Jesus told us to tell the good news of the Kingdom to all peoples. And the trust that I have that God will make everything really good and just in the end.
    How this will be I don’t know; I don’t know better than to trust God in this.

  2. “How everything works I do not know, yet I know that God wants none to perish, and I trust that God, who is love, will save as much as possible. Let us just trust in His mercy, and believe that the good news is better than we can imagine. Death and hell are beaten, Christus Victor!”

    Agreed! This is all that we can do as the Bible does not give us an answer…we just have to trust King Jesus and lean on his mercy and grace.

  3. “Death and hell are beaten, Christus Victor!”


  4. The Bible may not give us an answer to what *does* happen (agreed!), but it DOES give us an answer to what does NOT happen: Salvation apart from faith does NOT happen, and, moreover, a bad understanding of this point of theology can cripple our attempts to educate people who CAN AND DO MURDER THEIR CHILDREN in the mistaken believe that it will “increase” eternal odds. (It does not.) Universalism is a Doctrine of Demons, and therefore “Baby Universalism” (a type of universalism) is also a false doctrine. Babies who die in infancy are in heaven FOR THE TIME BEING, but may OR MAY NOT end up in heaven, as Free Will FAITH is required. Some think this may occur in the millennium, but in any event, here is a complete treatment of infant soteriology: 1)

    If you want to save lives, read my research – and if you don’t read my research, you don’t want to save lives. #TalkLessDoMore #ProLife My research, above, is FREE, so there is NO excuse!!

    Gordon Wayne Watts

    • I do have first time commenter moderation on, so your comment was waiting approval (as wordpress probably told you in some way after submitting)

      I do not believe universalism is a doctrine of demons, and I disagree on other point but I’ll let this comment here for the link.

  5. Thank you for approving my comment, Bram, even if you disagree. (Likewise, anyone is welcome to comment on my own social media, Facebook Twitter, or elsewhere – agree or disagree — I don’t delete comments for disagreeing).

    I emailed you a (free) copy of my book (which you would otherwise have to purchase online) to your Facebook account, plus a little bit of other cool research. Only the book is copyrighted, and per Kindle rules, is not allowed to be posted online publicly. (But it’s OK for me to give it to you privately.)

    In short, while we don’t know what does happen, I think we can safely exclude any form of universalism as true based, at least, on the doctrines of faith (babies can’t have faith, but even if they did and all were saved, then all adults would be saved: “once saved, always saved, and since all adults aren’t saved, then all babies weren’t saved as babies). Babies are certainly in Heaven — for the time being — but, like you and me — and like the Angels who were in heaven — one-third of whom fell and rebelled – those babies will surely get a Free Will choice some time. Maybe in the millennium as I suppose – maybe in heaven like the angels — but some time: God is fair and gives them the same fair shake. (Even tho I can’t prove my Millennium hypotheses, it does seem possible per Scriptures I’ve found on the subject, as I mentioned earlier.)

    Thanks once again for being a friendly host. We all have Free Will now, — and I pray all of us does his or her best to follow God, while we can. for approving my comment.

  6. Pingback: The problem of those unable to Love, or the question of hell as a reality. | Brambonius' blog in english

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