Damned Until Baptism?

This ties in with the previous post. There’s an interesting post at Joe Missionary, with equally interesting comments, about the fate of infants that die prior to baptism. Since, when I just point to interesting stuff, most people don’t seem to bother to click through, I’ll post some excerpts to whet your appetites. I encourage you to head on over and join the conversation. This kind of dialogue is part of the New Evangelization John Paull II has called for.


….I believe that God is fair. Therefore, whatever judgments He makes upon the souls of babies and small children will be fair. I don’t have an answer to this problem, because I don’t believe the Bible gives one. One the one hand, we have these little tiny sinners, objects of wrath. On the other hand, they haven’t a clue how to follow Christ. How do we reconcile this?


Can a baby (or fetus, for that matter) choose to sin? I believe that sin is attributed to us because we choose it and children (up to a certain age) don’t have the capacity to choose (poop, cry, and eat. That’s it.)

And does it matter that some take comfort in knowing their child is in heaven? And what if they’re wrong? I doubt God will send them to eternal damnation and hellfire for it. So in the end this is just an intellectual excercise.

And for the record, my two brothers died in their first week of life and I believe that they are in heaven.


….I don’t think we can make the Bible say something it does not, no matter how it makes us feel, no matter how much we WANT it to be true. I honestly don’t think we can say that the Bible gives us a clear answer on where babies go when they die. And if I lose a child, I don’t think I can change this answer based on the fact that I will want desperately to believe that my child is in heaven. Anyone who experiences this must long for some certainty about their child’s eternal destiny. But we cannot make God in our own image. We cannot tell God what he must do in order to be worthy of our worship or our love.

I have caught myself in the past saying things like "I couldn’t worship a God who …(fill in the blank). Later I came to the realization that I must worship the one true God regardless of how I feel about his actions, decisions, judgements. Even when they negatively affect people I love.


When Psalmists refer to sinning from the moment of conception they are using poetic license. Original sin stains us and makes us less free to say yes to God and no to sin. It does not damn us. The sin that damns us is actual sin, i.e. chosen sin. We willfully choose to disobey God. Not even all actual sin damns. Venial sin does not. Mortal sin does. A baby cannot commit any sin, let alone mortal sin, which requires faculties they lack. Why baptize, then? Because we’ve been commanded to do so and because it is a source of grace. It’s for our own good and to not do it would be disobedience and against our own best interests. Baptism does not save. God’s grace saves. Even the gift of faith is given through God’s abundant grace. God, the Creator, can dispense grace and grant salvation to whomever He pleases, including unbaptized babies.

These are my opinions. If they are in any way contrary to the teachings of the magestirium, I retract them. I’m no theologian, much less an authoritative teacher.


…Funky Dung, nice post, but some incorrect theology there. I refer you to Rom. 5:18:

"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (ESV)"

As R.C. Sproul often states, "We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners." We are conceived in death through Adam, but born to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Concerning the subject at hand (salvation of infants), I think it is necessary we acknowledge what we do know from the Scripture rather than dictating the truth via our emotions.

1. ALL are born in sin (1 Cor. 15:22).

2. Being born with a sinful nature is enough to condemn us to eternal damnation. Why? Westminster Shorter Catechism sums it up nicely:
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

3. Salvation is of God and God alone:
"For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom. 9:15-16)

4. The Lord reserves the right to elect some (if not all) to salvation. This is also true of those who die in the womb. There are examples of this throughout scripture:
– King David (2 Sam. 12:23 seems to suggest that David believed that he would be reunited with his dead child after death; remember this child was a result of his sin with Bathsheeba.)
– John the Baptist (Luke 1:41 seems to show evidence of salvation of infants while in the womb.)

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

One thought on “Damned Until Baptism?

  1. Pingback: Damned Until Baptism Redux @ Ales Rarus

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