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I believe infants, and any child yet to reach the age of accountability, goes to Heaven. I dont believe God holds them responsible for their sinfulness, until they are old enough to understand... whatever that age is for each, individual child. It will be different for each child in their development, of course.

I think the passage that strongly suggests this thinking is the passage where King David's baby dies, and he says that the baby cannot come to him, but one day, he would go to be with the baby. This was said by David, and included in the Bible, for a reason...I believe. David was sure he would see his baby in Heaven, one day.


Ron Phillips, Sr.


Excellent point. What I think a lot of people miss about the passage you refer is that if any child was truly born into/from sin, it was this one. Conceived in adultery and his mother's husband murdered to cover up the adultery and conception. David despised the Lord in his sinful actions and gave cause for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. Which God judged David for and as a result of his sin the son born out of adultery was going to die (as well as other judgments). Notice that it was David's sin that resulted in the child's death.

Yet through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are told after the child died that David would go to his son when he died.

Can anyone seriously argue that it was because David knew his son was one of the elect? Obviously not. But if not, then how did David know?


Ron P.


"I dont believe God holds them responsible for their sinfulness, until they are old enough to understand..." - That's also my perception and they are kids. They still don't know what they are doing so they must not to be blamed.

Aaron O'Kelley

Why do infants die at all if they are not guilty of sin? How does the denial of inherited guilt cohere with the understanding of death as a punishment for sin in Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12?

If Harwood believes that infants are not guilty, then in what sense are they redeemed in Christ? Are they redeemed in the same way that creation itself is redeemed in Christ? Creation is redeemed in the sense that it is delivered from the effects of the fall, though creation itself bears no personal guilt for sin (because creation is not a person). But if infants are redeemed in this same sense, have we compromised their personhood by reducing their level of redemption to the same kind of redemption that the trees and the soil and the mountains will experience?

(By the way, I'm not denigrating cosmic redemption; I rejoice in that glorious truth. But I wonder if we can sweep human beings into that category and still regard them as persons if their redemption does not consist in the removal of guilt).

peter lumpkins


Thanks for your penetrating questions.

Dr. Harwood deals at length with your initial query--"Why do infants die at all if they are not guilty of sin?"--since it lies at the heart of Reformed understanding of imputation. The short answer is, while infants experience the consequences of Adam's sin (i.e. death), it does not follow they experience the consequence because they personally committed sin. Harwood writes,

It is true that some people will die in their infancy, but it is an inappropriate leap to state the reason that some infants die is because of their guilt. An infant has no ability to distinguish between good and evil, but this does not remove either the presence of an inherited sinful nature or the fallen condition of the world... . It is sin rather than guilt that is passed from Adam to all of humanity...The presence of sin in a person who is unable to make moral judgments (for example, an infant) makes that person subject to the effects of the presence of sin (in this case, death) but not guilty of sin..." (p.60)

As for Genesis 2, Harwood appears to reject standard Reformed interpretations which find universal guilt implied from universal death. Harwood again,

Although sin results in death, it is not necessary to believe that the sin of Adam resulted in the guilt of all humanity. Rather, the early chapters of Genesis indicate only that the sin of Adam of Eve [sic] resulted in their eventual death" (p.59, italics original)

Harwood goes on to state how Paul's point in Romans 5 only points to the "origin of sin with Adam" not universal guilt in Adam. Indeed Paul makes it clear in Romans 1 God's wrath comes as a result of "our behavior" rather than "our nature."

So far as your question about infants being "redeemed in the same way that creation itself is redeemed in Christ" I cannot say with any confidence if Dr. Harwood addressed it. I can say from my perspective, for what it's worth, I initially fail to see a fatal problem with affirming infants' redemption as a part of "general" redemption, so to speak, if such redemption is based solely upon the work of Christ. Nor would I understand it, if true, as demeaning infants' significance as human beings.

With that, I am...

Aaron O'Kelley

I see the distinction Harwood is making, but I don't see any exegetical arguments for it. The pathway from sin to death runs through guilt, because death is specifically the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23).

Harwood's argument seems to be that death is more a natural consequence of sin than a divinely imposed penalty for sin.

peter lumpkins


Well, I suppose that's because I didn't give you any. But I did indicate in the review Harwood engages mainstream Reformed thinkers over both theological assertions they make (e.g. Grudem) and key biblical texts such as Rom 5, Psalm 51, Gen 2-3, Luke 1:15, etc. In fact, from chapter 4 through 11, the entire section is given to exegesis.

Hence, I suggest if this subject interests you, grab a copy. In my view, it's worth one's time to wrestle through the texts with Harwood. If your level of interest is insufficient to motivate a purchase (or at least a browse-through at the bookstore or google, if available) that's fine too. But know Harwood's book does not suffer from thin exegesis.

With that, I am...

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