Centuries’ Old Doctrine
“Now out of Date”

by Jim Josephsen

Concurring with a document recently released by the Vatican’s International Theological Commission entitled “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized,” Pope Benedict XVI has reversed centuries of traditional Roman Catholic teaching regarding limbo. As acknowledged by the Pope, the Commission said there are good reasons to hope that children who die without being baptized go to heaven.

Catholic teaching regarding the fate of unbaptized babies and children originated from the writings of the 4th Century Catholic bishop/philosopher Augustine, who taught that unbaptized infants go to hell, but they suffer only the mildest condemnation.

This teaching seemed harsh; was revisited countless times and by the 13th Century, the belief in limbus infantium became accepted doctrine. Currently, Catholic dogma teaches that children who die without being baptized are with original sin, thus excluded from heaven and reside in limbo, the place of perfect natural happiness but without being in communion with God.

Regarding limbo, many 21st Century Catholics are finding it increasingly difficult to accept a merciful God who would exclude infants, who have no personal sin, from eternal happiness (i.e. heaven or the beatific vision). Now the Commission explains that the centuries' old Catholic doctrine of limbo seems to reflect an unduly restrictive view of salvation and is subject to theological development. The Vatican’s International Theological Commission acknowledges that neither the subject nor doctrine of limbo is ever addressed in the Scriptures.

The Vatican’s Commission now admits there is greater theological awareness today acknowledging that God is merciful and wants all human beings to be saved. The Commission continues by positioning that grace has priority over sin and the exclusion of innocent babies from heaven does not seem to reflect Christ’s special love for the “little ones.”

The Vatican’s Commission contends that Augustine’s views are now out of date, as they seemed to promote a restrictive conception of the universality of God’s saving will. There are now serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and go to heaven. If there is no limbo, as this new Vatican document suggests, and the teachings of Augustine and the centuries of speculation regarding the fate of dead babies and children are now being seriously challenged, then Catholic theologians are concluding that everyone is born in a state of grace.

Benedict XVI approved the Commission’s report primarily in light of the challenges growing out of the increasing number of abortions and infants born to non-believers who die without being baptized. The Catholic Church now finds reason for hope that there is salvation for these babies. In addition, as the Commission’s document reports, the fate of unbaptized babies has implications for the church’s relations with non-Christian religions.

Continuing, the Vatican report acknowledges that parents should not diminish the need and responsibility to baptize infants, however in the event of lack, God will save these infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely baptize them into the faith and life of the church.

The Commission further noted parents who mourn the death of their child are no longer going to be burdened with the added guilt of not having baptized their child. And finally this new finding, as approved by Benedict XVI has Catholic theologians seeing the implications for non-Christian adults; namely, if infants who die without being baptized can go to heaven, then non-baptized adults could go to heaven if they led a good life.

Most within the Catholic faith acknowledge this forward thinking Pope and his response to the Commission’s finding pertaining to limbo. But how many acknowledge the Church’s ignorance of Scriptures?

All Catholic doctrines pertaining to heaven, hell, death and the afterlife find their origins in ancient Egyptian, Middle-eastern, Greco-Roman pagan religions, and in the Greek philosophical concept of the immortal soul. The concept of an immortal soul cannot be found in, is not taught in, the Bible.

In light of the Word of God, being honest with the Scriptures, one can easily understand that the Bible nowhere teaches that the dead, whether saved (baptized) or sinner (non-baptized), go to heaven upon death. When one dies, one is dead (likened to the state of sleep [John 11:11-14]) and just like the animals, man dies, decomposes and is no more (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21) until the time of the resurrection.

Jesus Christ said no man has ascended up to heaven (John 3:13). In the book of Acts we read, for David has not ascended into the heavens (Acts 2:34) for David is both dead and buried (Acts 2:29). In the book of Psalms we read “The heaven, even the heavens are the LORD’s but the earth has he given to the children of men” (Psalms 115:16). This corresponds to Christ’s teaching that the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5, cf. Psalms 37:11, 22). Nowhere do you read that the meek or the saved inherit heaven or go to heaven.

Whether young or old, baby or adult, when a human being dies, that individual has no more existence, no more awareness, no more knowledge, no more life. “In death there is no remembrance of thee, in the grave who shall give thee thanks” (Psalms 6:5). “The living know they shall die but the dead know not anything … there is no work, no devise, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave where you go” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 and 10). Solomon, in his wisdom understood that one event happens to all, whether a sinner or righteous. All eventually die. One does not go to heaven and the other hell (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:2-3). Job said, “man dies and wastes away … man lies down and rises not: till the heavens be no more they shall not awake nor be raised out of sleep” (Job 14:10 and 12). All die and all await a resurrection, so states your Savior, Jesus Christ. Review John 5:28-29 to understand, as Christ taught, the hour will come in which all in their graves will come up and hear the voice of the son of Man. The dead in Christ rise first (out of the grave), not come down from heaven. It is the Lord Himself, only, who descends from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

John 7:33-34, 8:21-24 and John 13:33 show conclusive proof, from the words of Jesus Christ Himself that no one will go to heaven. Christ told His disciples, those you might think would be first in line for heaven that they cannot go to heaven. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me and as I said unto the Jews so now I say unto you, where I go, there you cannot come.

More can be written showing the clear and unequivocal truth that man’s destiny is not to go to heaven upon death. God has purposed that every human being who ever lived and died, will live again and come up at the time of their resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6).

Now what of unbaptized babies and unbaptized adults? Even if the concept of going to heaven were true, can these (the unbaptized) now find entry into heaven (gain salvation) because the Pope and a Vatican Committee have declared a “new” truth and a change to centuries’ old dogma?

As God’s Word makes clear, baptism is a necessary element, a requirement for salvation. Without baptism, one cannot be saved. Baptism is a necessary act which saves us in a show of a good and proper conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism symbolizes our death. Baptism is preceded by repentance, an acknowledgement of and change from a sinful lifestyle. Our life of sin and disobedience is buried in the symbolic grave of baptism. We are baptized, buried with Christ and we come up (after being submerged in water), out of the waters of baptism as a new creature, a new life, sinless, pure and righteous, washed and obedient to God and His laws, His righteousness. (cf. Romans 6:1-6, Colossians 2:12-13, Acts 22:16). Christ died in place of us, for our sins (Romans 5:8), as the pure sacrifice taking away the penalty due us as a result of our sinful life (1 Peter 1:18-19). Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and with His blood purged our sins. The depth of meaning and purpose of baptism, the reason for salvation, the understanding of repentance and forgiveness (Acts 2:38, Luke 24:47), and the acknowledgement of having a personal Savior are all concepts a baby could never cognitively comprehend. The child, as well as the non-believing adult cannot be saved for they are both unaware of the necessity and importance of baptism. Without a cognitive understanding of baptism and without living a new repentant life, salvation is not possible.

Infants cannot gain salvation by being baptized for they have no understanding of why baptism is necessary. Sprinkling water on a baby’s head does absolutely nothing for that child. If an infant dies, God will resurrect that infant at a time yet ahead, and give the child a chance to grow up and learn of God in order to cognitively and consciously choose to worship and obey God or reject God. Salvation is a choice one must make. Baptism is part of the process.

The new ruling, approved by Benedict XVI, denies a solid, bedrock Christian truth. The scriptures are clear; you must believe, repent and be baptized into Jesus Christ, going into the symbolic (watery grave) of baptism in order to be saved. You must accept the words He taught and obey Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Master. What did Jesus Christ command His disciples to do as part of the spreading of the gospel? “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them …” (Matthew 28:19). Christ also said, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved …” (Mark 16:16).

It is not a matter of theological debate. Rather, it is a clear and indisputable fact – Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and eternal life (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life – no man can come to the Father except by Jesus Christ (John 14:6). As much as that fact flies in the face of every non-Christian religion, it is still true. Salvation comes only by way of repentance and belief (a cognitive, rational choice) in Jesus Christ and baptism into the body of the true and real Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Without baptism, there is no salvation.

Yet, the Catholic Church is promoting a new tenet, one that diminishes and disregards the efficacy of the life and the sacrifice, the saving blood and death of Jesus Christ as understood through the baptism (submersion under water) ceremony. Leading a good life without baptism will not get you saved!

The changing of Catholic dogma; could this be just another move closer toward the ultimate blasphemy?

In the end time, just before the return of Jesus Christ as the conquering King and Mighty God, the Bible reveals there will arise two beasts (commonly called the beast and the false prophet). The first beast will be given his power direct from Satan. The world will worship this beast, this great political leader. This beast was given a mouth to speak great things and blasphemy against God and his name. He will have power and authority over every human being alive. All who are not written in the Lamb’s book of life will worship the beast (Revelation 13:1-8). The world’s populace will not worship Jesus Christ, rather the beast.

The second beast (Revelation 13:11-18) was like a lamb (Christ-like, a redeemer, a religious figure– but not Jesus Christ) and spoke as a dragon (with deception cf. Revelation 12:9). The second beast will deceive the world. The second beast will cause the world to acknowledge and worship the first beast. The second beast will have religious authority over all who dwell on the earth.

Breaking News Stories

Go here for the latest news stories on this subject. –news story added 6 June 2007

Further reading:
See Word from: Papal Power and the End Times
See Word from: Protestant Churches Accept Papal Authority

See Feature Page: "When I Die, What Happens Next?"

See booklet: When the Kingdom of God Comes What Becomes of the Children

See booklet: Is Water Baptism Required?
See booklet: "When I Die, What Happens Next?"
See booklet: "The Millennium - Will It Be Spent In Heaven Or On Earth?"
See booklet: "Heaven On Earth"
See booklet: "The Bible Does Not Promise Heaven"
See booklet: What is Your Destiny?
See booklet: Believe It or Not...The Bible Does Not Promise Heaven
See booklet: The Church and the New World Order

See booklet: "Who, What is the 'Beast' of Revelation?"
See booklet: "Europe and America in Prophecy"
See booklet: United States of Europe, When?
See booklet: The Church and the New World Order

Listen to sound bite or view video bite: Abortion
Listen to sound bite: Going to Heaven

Left: Infant baptism
Middle: View of Catholic Limbo
Right: Pope Benedict with children

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