Hell Is for Children


Brad over at The Broken Messenger takes Steve Camp to task for his curious post about children and salvation (or the lack of it.) I have to be honest in that I scratch my head when I read these kinds of conversations. I wonder if we have bound God by the very theological systems we hold so dear.

Hell Is for ChildrenI seem to be reading more than my share of tortured arguments lately. Sadly, this argument reminds me of the title of an old Pat Benatar song. While I will be accused of ascribing to "the sentimental model," I have to ask anyone who has children, "Which of your children are you willing to consign to hell and be satisfied with that result?"

I'm not sure if I'm okay with saying that a three-year old is doomed by his or her lack of understanding the Gospel and that there's nothing that can be done about it should that child die in an accident. It seems that Steve is saying we should be glad in this! I wonder if he extends that same thinking to his own children.

I hear some people saying that a particular child was assigned by God to perdition and is just fulfilling her role as a child of wrath. Still, did Jesus say, "Suffer some of the little children to come unto me?" If we are to receive the Kingdom as a "little child," then is it possible that little children have a covering of grace through Christ's finished work on the cross that in adults has been outlived because we have heard, understood, and now have no excuse? It appears that Steve would answer in the negative to this (and possibly Brad, too, though he disagrees with Camp's ultimate answer), but I'm not so certain.

So, I come to the end of Camp's rationale and am left with with no more answer than when I started. The stillborn child of this couple goes to heaven while this couple's SIDS child goes to hell? Camp would argue this position based on predestination and election, but a case like this makes such certainty seem capricious. God may indeed be no respecter of persons, but something about the conclusions we are coming to on this topic are unsettling to me by nature of their complete helplessness and the shrug we must toss in as a result.

The salvation of my child could not possibly matter to me more, but I don't know when his statements of faith are what someone would call "saving faith" and what others would consider the default childhood interest in things relating to God.

What do you believe the Holy Spirit is saying to us on this topic?

7 thoughts on “Hell Is for Children

  1. Broken Messenger


    Thanks for the comments, perspective and back up here. Just to clarify, no, I do not support Steve’s conclusions and the only thing we remotely agree upon concerns our ability to know the “age of accountability”, but on this, I can only offer a tentative agreement and one that errs on the side of God’s mercy.

    As to this quote: “God may indeed be no respecter of persons, but something about the conclusions we are coming to on this topic are unsettling to me by nature of their complete helplessness and the shrug we must toss in as a result. ”

    I could not agree with more and shout out a very big amen to…thanks again.


  2. burttd

    It is arguments like this that have helped to sour me on abstract discussions of theology.

    I once held strongly to the viewpoint espoused by Steve Camp, even before I was self-consciously “calvinist” – in my college days, I had a horrific fight with my fellow IVCF students over this subject. But it must be acknowledged that there is (despite the number of verses thrown about by both sides) no absolutely clear Scriptural teaching on this matter. The most we can do is extrapolate beyond what the Scripture teaches plainly – and those extrapolations are set in the rails of our prior assumptions. As a Calvinist, I assume sovereignty and depravity trump all other considerations. (It’s also easier for me as I have no children.) Others see God’s mercy as the trump card – based on their understanding of Christ’s way with children, or the fact that they have children themselves. In either case, we ought to show some humility in our speculations, and place our hope for these children in the hands of our God. The God, by the way, who gave His own Son for us – and therefore might have some sympathy for the anguish these parents might feel, and would not have placed them in that situation without some plan for them *and* their children.

  3. I think it’s a mistake, thanks to our human limitations, to even attempt to say who’s going to hell or heaven. Is it our concern at all to predict their eternal destination?

    And tell me, how sure are you that what you say is true?

    I think we limit God with our limited theology. We try to put him in a neat little box, make him nice and predictable, when it’s not so.

    It’s a symptom of our age that the Christian life all about preventing ourselves from going to Hell … when it’s about living life now.

    Well, that’s what I have to say about this matter … but I can tell you very frankly that I can’t worship a God that lives so strictly by rules and have no compassion for babies who die.

  4. Mike


    Are you suggesting that I should get my theology from a distinguished professor of theology rather than from a Christian musician?!?

    Wow, that’s a radical idea!

  5. Geo

    Did Jesus die for all sins?
    Then what about the sin of unbelief?
    Did He die for that sin also?
    If not then He was not the Perfect Sacrifice. And we need to look as the Jews still do for a Messiah.


  6. Some modern Calvinists who believe that all infants are elect are Al Mohler, John Piper and John MacArthur. I could provide links to articles, if needed. Charles Spurgeon believed the same. Thanks.

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