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
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
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.