by A.E. Knoch

THE UNSCRIPTURAL CHARACTER of most theologies on the subject of human destiny is glaringly exposed by the additions which they deem necessary to God's Word regarding the irresponsible and infants. This is a good test of our belief. If we are in line with the truth there will be no need to have special classes of any kind. God has none. He does not tell us how infants will be judged, simply because all will be treated with absolute justice, and no class can be handled any better than the rest, since none will have the remotest cause to complain. The only classes in the judgment are the dead, great and small. All will be set right.

Should it not help us to see that we are still astray in our hearts as to God's just judgments when we make exceptions unknown to His Word? Should not this conviction be deepened when we see to what endless speculation it will lead us? For, if certain classes are to be favored, or receive special consideration, who is to determine who they are? It is no light matter to define the boundary between an infant and an adult, one who is mentally "responsible" and one who is not. In God's sight there is no such boundary, but unnumbered varieties of His creatures, all of whom need judgment - setting right by adequate means - so as to find their All in Him.

Time was when, tortured by the thought of everlasting torment, and unable to find any revelation concerning infants in the Scriptures. I, and others with me, tried to escape the logical conclusion that they had a part in the unbelievers fate by saying that they are "in God's hands." By this we made it plain that we did not consider that the rest are in God's hands. We really put our vague impression of the Deity in place of His Word. We condemned His judgment as not in accord with His character. We thought of it only as a punishment for evil deeds, not as a correction in accord with all deeds, good or evil.

I confess that I am so fully satisfied with what the Scriptures teaches as to God's judgment of all of His creatures - however severe it may seem - that I do not wish Him to vary His ways with the helpless, the weak or the "irresponsible." The reasoning that would exempt these is not logical, for it has no premise except the false fear that God will not be just, and will "punish" without sufficient discrimination.

If the fate of infants is to be reasoned out, let us at least be logical about it. Some seem to insist that everyone must be treated alike. Then each one must receive the same measure of suffering as all the rest, something like the rich man in the unseen. According to this the infants would have to suffer more than all the rest in the future, as most of them have had comparatively little in the past. This might be enforced by the fact that God gives evil to the sons of mankind to humble them, and infants have missed this discipline. Hence it must be made up. Not only that, but all of us must have afflictions sufficient to measure up to those of the greatest sufferer who has ever lived. Such reasoning is vain. There is no such premise. All are not treated alike. God needs variety to reveal Himself, not only to men, but to the rest of the universe.

The only Scriptural division of those who enter the judgment is the individual, and his deeds. Each one is different. Not only is the infant to be distinguished from the adult, but every adult from every other one. Only so can there be justice. Only so can we escape endless problems. There have been cases where men have never grown up mentally. Are they infants or adults? Others are precocious. Are they a special class? At what age does infancy cease? What about childhood, between infancy and maturity? Do not these questions spring from lack of faith in what God has revealed?

Many look upon the absence of information as to the fate of infants as a serious lack in divine revelation, and they hardly hesitate to formulate their own opinions as to how it must be. In fact few would allow them to come into judgment at all, for their perverted idea of judgment is punishment for evil deeds, instead of righting what is wrong. The deeds of men show wherein they are wrong, hence judgment harmonizes with them, and the great offender receives the most severe correction. Since judgment is in accord with deeds, why be concerned about infants, whose deeds dwindle down to nothing? They have no expectation of severe judgment. But that does not exempt them.

God has a purpose in judgment. He is not concerned to "punish" men blindly, or only for their own sakes. They must be prepared by judgment to be subject to Him, and to find their All in Him. This is not salvation, or conciliation, but the necessary prelude to it. Infants are, in essence, just the same as other mortals. We were all infants once. Were infants to grow up later they would turn out quite like the rest of us. Death does not transform them into "angels." They need to be changed before they can have a part in the bliss of the consummation. There is no possibility of such a change in death. They are not believers. Their case is exactly the same in principle as that of adults. The Scriptures make no exception of them. It is only our hard hearts and our false views of judgment that drive us to seek a distinction.

If our hearts are so much softer than God's in regard to infants, so that we wish to save them from all suffering, the only logical course would be to put them to death. The infants that live many years and taste the bitterness of sin, they are the ones who suffer most. If there is any pain to speak of for an infant in the judgment, it is nothing compared to the evil which God gives to one who lives to an old age, and, though the latter will be held answerable for his deeds and judged accordingly, he is no more "responsible" than the infant. The evil that comes to us is God's gift and will work His will and our welfare, whether we be a babe or bent with hoary years. And this is true in judgment as well, even more apparently and emphatically. If suffering were not expedient, God would never have allowed it. Let us take it from His hand in thankfulness, not only for ourselves, but also for all creation, and not misjudge Him in His wise and loving use of this means of bringing His creatures to Himself.

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