October 06, 2006
by: jovial_cynic

Pope Benedict XVI is doing the limbo! Or changing it, anyway. It's amazing what Popes can do.

For centuries, the Catholic church has taught that babies that die before baptism are stuck in this in-between world known as limbo, until the end of the world, when their fate is truly decided.

There's actually two schools of thought on limbo:

1. Limbo is an actual spiritual place, where unbaptised babies and good people that died before the time of Christ get to hang out in a place of happiness and joy. It's not quite as nice as heaven, but it's no hell. It's just an inbetween place.

2. Limbo simply indicates uncertainty - the catholic church doesn't know where these folks go when they die, so they're just going to remain in the "uncategorized" bin, which we call limbo.

In any event, it might be going away. At least for unbaptised babies. If it does, the Catholic stance will be that unbaptised babies go straight to heaven, which will make it a more competetive religion in poor areas of Africa and Asia, where infant mortality is high. Islam, for instances, teaches that babies go straight to heaven.


The whole problem of limbo, original sin (the catholic justification for baptism), and babies is interesting. The line of reasoning works like this:

1. All human beings are cursed under original sin, which is also known as hereditary sin.
2. Adults are also cursed under personal sin, or sins they've committed.
3. Babies are only cursed under original sin, as they've had no opportunity to commit any acts, good or evil.
4. Baptism cures original sin.
5. Baptised babies, clear of both original and personal sins go straight to heaven if they die.
6. Unbaptised babies that die are still stuck with original sin... and can't go to heaven. They're stuck in limbo.

With the abolition of limbo for children, we have an interesting new problem. If stillborn babies go straight to heaven, what's the Catholic argument against abortion? What's wrong with sending children straight to heaven? Don't people want to be in heaven? Isn't being in heaven significantly better than being on earth? This gives a whole new spin on the term mercy killings...

np category: religion


betmo said:
ah touche. nicely argued.
October 07, 2006

~plaid said:
I have always believed that a baby or child who dies "before the age of accountability" is "saved". I actually believe, even, that an aborted baby or a child who is murdered is also "saved". However, the arguement against doing this comes in when you are looking at the salvation of the person who uses his/her will to determine that it is time for that child to die (either consciously or unconsciously). The will of the child, or more correctly, the agency of the child is taken away when he/she is aborted or murdered. When someone uses their agency in such a way to frustrate the will of God, it is so serious that their soul is at risk. I believe that this is what the Catholic church or really most Christian churches have against abortion or murder. Sure, we want these Children to go to Heaven, but we also want the mother carrying the unborn baby to go to Heaven, as well. God is no respector of persons in this sense and wants all of us to walk on his "golden streets".

As a mother who has lost a child, one who was not baptized, this is a topic very close to my tender heart.

October 07, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
The loss of a unbaptised child is certainly less of an issue (regarding salvation) for one who does not subscribe to the idea that baptism clears out original sin. Most protestant churches do not baptise babies for this reason -- baptism, in the eyes of the protestant, is symbolic only, and has no bearing on salvation.

And then you have Calvinists, who believe that God has already chosen those whom He will save, making the whole discussion of what-saves-whom a meaningless discussion.

Regarding the last paragraph of my post, the saved/unsaved state of the mother who commits abortion is irrelevant. How many mothers would be willing to die to save their children? It seems like it would be just as natural for a mother to be willing to prevent their child from growing up and potentially going to hell by simply aborting them, and be willing to stand judgement before God for the sake of their aborted child... and who could really make a case against them? How is their act of abortion any different than God's act of killing every man, woman, and child in the Flood? Or of the Amalakites, when God instructed Saul to wipe them out?

October 07, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
edit: every man, woman, and child except for Noah and company.
October 07, 2006

~plaid said:
If your theory is that people are willing to kill children to save them, then what stops a mother from killing her children after they are born? As you suggest, doesn't every mother want her child to be saved?

Why would we bother to prosecute anyone who murders a child? Or even prosecute for negligent homicide, etc. for "accidental" death? What about the cases of mothers who have drowned their babies/children "in the name of God"?

I am very doubtful that any woman is going into an abortion clinic with the notion that it is to give the unborn baby salvation (in a Godly sense). I am sure there is some rationalization or justification which may note this concept among the other reasons, but it just doesn't come out as a major motivation for abortion.

The difference between the Floods, etc. and anyone who uses this as a defense for their acts of murder is that God is God. Humans are not God. If it is an act of God, I think God kind of gets a pass considering he's God. But when we act in the name of God without His authority, this is priestcraft, blasphemy, wickedness, evil, etc. Remember that we are not to use the Lord's name in vain, and this means not attaching His name to acts that are not justified by Him.

Interesting how we can make the discussion of infant baptism turn into an abortion debate of sorts. heh.

October 10, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
Different people have a different idea of the "age of accountability," as it's not a biblically defined term. It doesn't exist in scripture as an actual age, and only vaguely as a legitimate concept. That said, abortion and killing a child might be viewed similarly by some folks. Like this lady. Sure -- she was crazy. But who's say that the belief in a diety that you can't see, hear, touch, taste, feel, or smell isn't crazy? It's like seeing pink elephants in a closet, and only you can see them. Maybe they're real to you, but if everybody else can't see them, who's crazy?
October 10, 2006

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