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In Regards to the Salvation of Children

Do infants and children who die before reaching the age of accountability die and go to Heaven and if so what is the age of accountability? This question has been debated amongst the Universal Church often resulting in violent conflict for centuries. The premise on the surface seems to be based on the issue of baptism but in reality crosses into doctrines, dogmas and traditions of Salvation, the relevance of Sacraments and ordinances and issues of faith being a personal relationship, one of election, or a matter that is given by the Church through the Authority of God, Christ and Holy Spirit. In regards to the matter of sacraments, ordinances, issues of faith and such much has to come down to an issue of Church and State and the role if any The church plays in Salvation, redemption, and if election is predetermined by God or a matter of one’s own will. The sacrament of infant baptism is never explicitly stated in the Bible tracing its roots out of fear of infant condemnation to around the 200 AD in North Africa. However, it developed into an instrument of control by the Catholic Church and Roman Empire under Constantine and remained so until the reformation of the 15th century unifying Church and State and curbing heretics and rebellion (Lutzer 1998).

First, what is the age of accountability or when is one accountable or aware of one’s actions? Piaget’s theory of concrete operational thought states, “Children, of the ages of 6-11, are able to think logically and not bound by the limits of egocentricism. Additionally the ability to infer links and establish relationships also develops during this period.”  Vygotsky bridged the gap between potential, need and knowledge by confirming that social interaction, instruction, and are essential in the proper cognitive development of children through the need for teachers and older peers to avoid confusion who often are mimicked or imitated (Berger 2011) .” This ability for concrete learning is best exercises at age 6 as younger child are often confused by concept that interest older children. In regards to morality, Lawrence Kohlberg theorized that children of the ages of 6-11 are able to understand conventional morality. Conventional morality functions much like operational thought and is relative to logic and observable patterns. Additionally, patterns of morality are imitated and taught like stated in Vygotsky learning theory (Berger 2011). “Under the Old Testament, the Jews recognized that children could not be held personally accountable to the Law of Moses. They set the arbitrary age of twelve as the year when a child assumed adult status in religious matters (Theopedia 2009).” Likewise, Kohlberg’s next stage of Moral Development entails the ability to differentiate moral issue for oneself, the use of abstract ideas, logic and concrete operation and the ability to question, “What is or what should Be” and is not common until adolescence or adulthood (Berger 2011). Scriptural support for the Salvation of children and the innocent is evident in such passages as he one who sins is the one who will die. “The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged (Ez 18:20) NIV.” Additionally, Jesus Speaks of the Salvation of Child in Matthew 18:3 When He states: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” In Matthew 19:14 Jesus proclaims “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” “Finally Paul writes, ‘For apart from the law sin was dead I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died (Romans 7:8-9).’  The only time in a person’s life when he or she is spiritually alive in the absence of law is before he or she is a responsible, accountable adult (Miller 2003).”

 

In God, Christ, & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

References

Berger, Kathleen Strassen. The Developing Person Through the Life Span. Edited by 8th. New York: Worth Publishers, 2011.

Lutzer, Eric. The Doctrines That Divide. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998.

Miller, David. The Age of Accountability. 2003. https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1202 (accessed 02 11, 2016).

Theopedia. 11 24, 2009. http://www.theopedia.com/age-of-accountability (accessed 02 11, 2016).

 

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