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What is the fate of unbaptized babies?


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#1 David Lindblom

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 09:09 PM

On a blog, one which I have great respect for the contributors, a posting was made on the necessity of baptism w/ the view of Jesus' statement that no one enters the Kingdom of Heaven w/o being born of both water and Spirit. The discussion progressed on the view of the original poster that prominent Fathers held that unbaptized infant do not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Various disagreements on this belief were brought up using examples of the thief on the cross and martyrs...both of which I find to be good arguments. The original poster was making the point that in baptism we are ontologically changed so that we can be saved. W/o this ontological change we cannot be saved. He did say that there was a possibility of some kind of non-suffering existence for the infant but that they would not be in the Kingdom of God. I, personally, find many problems w/ this view but then I found this statement in the Notes section of the Canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council:

[Also it seemed good, that if anyone should say that the saying of the Lord, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” is to be understood as meaning that in the kingdom of heaven there will be a certain middle place, or some place somewhere, in which infants live in happiness who have gone forth from this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, which is eternal life, let him be anathema. For after our Lord has said: “Except a man be born again of water and of the Holy Spirit he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,” what Catholic can doubt that he who has not merited to be coheir with Christ shall become a sharer with the devil: for he who fails of the right hand without doubt shall receive the left hand portion.]

I'm having extreme trouble w/ this. Are these Notes binding in the way the Canon are? Are not even the Canons guides as opposed to absolute rules? I am really wanting to hear some informed thoughts on this please. I can't believe God sends unbaptized infants to hell.

#2 Christina M.

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 10:07 PM

On December 29th (NC) the Church celebrates the slaughtering of the 14,000 infants by Herod. These 14,000 are considered saints of the Church, so obviously they are in Paradise, yet they were never baptized. They are also considered to be the first martyrs for Christ.

Here are some hymns from the Church services which show that these unbaptized infants were saved:

"Upon the young forerunners of His suffering,
Christ bestowed the eternal joy of Paradise."

Apolytikion:
"As acceptable victims and freshly plucked flowers, as divine first-fruits and newborn lambs, you were offered to Christ who was born as a child, Holy Innocents. You mocked Herod's wickedness; now we beseech you: "Unceasingly pray for our souls.""

Vespers Hymn:
"When the Virgin had brought Thee forth, O eternal and changeless Lord, when in Thy great goodness Thou hadst become a babe, to Thee was offered up a choir of holy babes in martyric blood, having pure and stainless souls and made shining in righteousness; whom Thou tookest up to abide in Thine ever-living mansions, where they scorn the malice of ruthless Herod's insanity."



#3 Christina M.

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 10:15 PM

On December 29th (NC) the Church celebrates the slaughtering of the 14,000 infants by Herod. These 14,000 are considered saints of the Church, so obviously they are in Paradise, yet they were never baptized. They are also considered to be the first martyrs for Christ.


Yes, but the Lord had not yet instituted the Mystery of Baptism for the Church at the time of the slaughter of the 14,000. The "rules" might be different for the babies that died before the Mystery of Baptism was given to the Church. Does anyone have an answer to this dilemma?

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 01:45 AM

There are several martyrs who died before they were baptized, and we SAY they were baptized by the blood of their martyrdom. Regardless of what you call it, it wasn't a three-fold immersion in the name of the Trinity. Baptism is not "magic". God is not the prisoner of our rites. God can save anyone He wants, baptized or not.

Does this mean that baptism is somehow not necessary? By no means! We baptize because God told us to, but to claim or even think that God is controlled by us and cannot or will not claim for His own infants who did not have the chance to be baptized is beyond the ability of this bear of admittedly little brain. I certainly believe my sister Hope who died shortly after birth is in God's care and is not bereft of her namesake. Believe whatever you like. We will know for sure on the other side of this veil of tears.

Herman the Pooh

#5 Nina

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 02:43 AM

I do not know what God does with unbaptized babies, however Saint Chrysostomos is very stern with parents of children who die unbaptized because of the parents' negligence... it is scary how many things we are negligent with :*(

#6 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:23 AM

Are abortionists more powerful than God? If their acts condemn the unborn to Hell because the unborn are unbaptized...

#7 David Lindblom

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:35 AM

There are several martyrs who died before they were baptized, and we SAY they were baptized by the blood of their martyrdom. Regardless of what you call it, it wasn't a three-fold immersion in the name of the Trinity. Baptism is not "magic". God is not the prisoner of our rites. God can save anyone He wants, baptized or not.

Does this mean that baptism is somehow not necessary? By no means! We baptize because God told us to, but to claim or even think that God is controlled by us and cannot or will not claim for His own infants who did not have the chance to be baptized is beyond the ability of this bear of admittedly little brain. I certainly believe my sister Hope who died shortly after birth is in God's care and is not bereft of her namesake. Believe whatever you like. We will know for sure on the other side of this veil of tears.

Herman the Pooh


I think you misunderstand, I completely reject this teaching. Any teaching that says unbaptized infants are barred from Heaven,or worse, are damned is horrible and full of holes. I was wanting to know what others thought. Your example of the martyrs is an excellent example. I got an answer that the quote I posted was probably a spurious notation and is not found in most of the copies of that document.

#8 David Lindblom

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:36 AM

Are abortionists more powerful than God? If their acts condemn the unborn to Hell because the unborn are unbaptized...


Another excellent example.

#9 Nina

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:45 AM

Are abortionists more powerful than God? If their acts condemn the unborn to Hell because the unborn are unbaptized...


Ummm I beleive there is a great difference between unborn babies who are aborted in the womb and born babies who die unbaptized (I think this thread speaks about the latter since an unborn baby can not be baptized yet!). Unborn babies who are aborted are martyrs.

#10 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 04:31 AM

Dear David,

You have mentioned:

The original poster was making the point that in baptism we are ontologically changed so that we can be saved. W/o this ontological change we cannot be saved. He did say that there was a possibility of some kind of non-suffering existence for the infant but that they would not be in the Kingdom of God.



In the eyes of the Orthodox Church, children and infants have always been seen as wonderful, joyfully embraced, for such is the kingdom of Gods' heaven.

The Shepherd of Hermas

Hermas 106:3

As many of you therefore as shall continue," saith he, "and shall be as infants not having guile, shall be glorious [even] than all them that have been mentioned before; for all infants are glorious in the sight of God, and stand first in His sight. Blessed then are ye, as many as have put away wickedness from you, and have clothed yourselves in guilelessness: ye shall live unto God cheifest of all."

In context http://www.monachos....hepherd?start=5

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#11 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 04:51 AM

The real question that lies behind the question that has been posed is, Do we trust him with the souls of our unbaptized children? Clearly the lack of baptism does not restrict God from regenerating an infant and making it fit for the Kingdom. But do we trust him to do so? I know what my answer is to this question.

Of interest here is the Catholic document "The Hope of Salvation for Infants."

I am glad to see Orthodox folk reflecting on the salvific necessity of baptism. I sometimes it said on Orthodox forums that infants do not need to be reborn in the Holy Spirit, i.e., they do not need to be ontologically changed. I do not see how this can be right. I found the article on Energetic Procession. It's quite interesting.

#12 Kosta

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 06:10 AM

Hello Dave,
I'M having a hard time finding the notes and canon in question. Can you provide a link?

Anyhow, there seems to be confusion on baptism by blood. A martyrs death is a true baptism everyway equal to a water baptism- clearly spelled out by our Lord (mk 10.38-39).

Scripture is silent on infants that die without baptism. St Gregory of Nyssa did his best to answer this mystery 'on infants early death'
http://www.ccel.org/...205.ix.iii.html

St John Chrysostom makes a point to say that infants have no personal sin, but there are 10 benefits that baptism does bestow on infants. The church fathers were more concerned with making sure infants were baptised rather than explaining what happens to them if they die unbaptized. The church is agnostic on the exact state of these infants. She rejects a belief that places them in hell while stops short of declaring them in the abode of the glorified saints.

Edited by Kosta, 31 March 2011 - 06:46 AM.


#13 Nina

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:31 PM

St Gregory the Dialogist

Peter

I am of the opinion, honored Master, that since the human race is subject to many and incalculable passions, the greatest part of the heavenly Jerusalem must be filled with babies.

p. 93, The Evergetinos I

#14 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:55 PM

Ummm I beleive there is a great difference between unborn babies who are aborted in the womb and born babies who die unbaptized (I think this thread speaks about the latter since an unborn baby can not be baptized yet!). Unborn babies who are aborted are martyrs.


Okay, what about unborn babies who die due to miscarriage or accident?
What about a baby a nanosecond after birth, a minute, a day, a week? Where is the legal cut-off?

#15 Nina

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 04:21 PM

Okay, what about unborn babies who die due to miscarriage or accident?
What about a baby a nanosecond after birth, a minute, a day, a week? Where is the legal cut-off?


There is nothing legal when it comes to Orthodoxy. All judgment belongs to God our Creator. We have a thread about the babies who are miscarried here, (born sleeping and so on) and there is very good explanation about it from Met. Hierotheos. They go to Heaven. For babies who are born and live for a short time we have the emergency baptism. Again you should understand that the responsibility about baptizing and caring for them is ours (adults).

#16 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 05:47 PM

Dear Kosta,

I can't agree with the notion that the Orthodox Church is agnostic on the matter, might not mature be a better way of describing matters?

How does the Orthodox Church pray at the funeral service for an infant?

O Lord Who watches over children in the present life and in the world to come because of their simplicity and innocence of mind, abundantly satisfying them with a place in Abraham's bosom, bringing them to live in radiantly shining places where the spirits of the righteous dwell: receive in peace the soul of Your little servant (Name), for You Yourself have said, "Let the little children come to Me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

The sword of death has come and cut thee off like a young branch, O blessed one that has not been tempted by worldly sweetness. But, lo, Christ openeth the heavenly gates unto Thee, joining Thee unto the elect, as He is deeply compassionate. (Ode 5 of the Canon)

Many times in my life I have heard Orthodox clergyman and laity speaking with families that have lost an infant or child. What I have always
heard are comforting comments. "I'm sure all children go straight to heaven." "Your daughter is in a blessed place." Your family now has a
wonderful intercessor in heaven." etc. Such comments are conveyed with certainty and received as a matter of fact. So the living testimony of the Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit reflects the above prayers.

As you know every Divine Liturgy begins with the Priest proclaiming "Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

A good question I think is, what does St Gregory of Nyssa mean when he says:

However, notwithstanding that, the man who institutes a comparison between the infantine immature life and that of perfect virtue, must himself be pronounced immature for so judging of realities.



Dear Father Alvin,

Papal infallibility, limbo, the teaching magesterium and many other papal errors are things that are utterly foreign to Holy Orthodoxy. It is said that the aim of this site has been to further the approach to and study of Orthodox Christianity through an engagement with it's patristic, monastic, liturgical and ecclesiastical heritage. As such I don't understand why your references are allowed or relevant.

I enjoyed reading the thoughts of the Orthodox Priest, Fr. Steven C. Kostoff as he relected on a recent funeral service for an infant.

"As alluded to above, we use a completely different funeral service for "infants," basically meaning children under the age of seven. This was also the first time I had ever served this particular funeral service in my years as a priest. I was struck by the beauty of the service, the certainty of an infant's entrance into the Kingdom of God, and the complete absence of even the slightest mention in the prayers for the "forgiveness of sins" of the departed infant. There is no sin for which he needs to be forgiven - including so-called "original sin." The service explicitly states that "he has not transgressed Thy divine command" (Ode 6 of the Canon); and that "infants have done no evil" (Ode 9 of the Canon). Since transgressing the divine commandment is inevitable in a fallen world (by the age of seven?), we pray over the departed adult that God will forgive his/her sins. But for an infant, the service repeatedly refers to the departed infant as "undefiled," "uncorrupted," "most-pure," ""truly blessed," and even "holy." This is not sentimentalism meant to make us feel better. It rather reveals a profound theological truth.

A child, according to Orthodox Christian teaching, is not born a "guilty sinner." A child is not baptized in order to wash away the "stain" of "original sin" and the attendant guilt. We believe that a child is born bearing the consequences of "original sin" understood in a different manner by the Orthodox, and thus often referred to as "ancestral sin" by Orthodox theologians in order to distinguish the major differences in meaning. The consequences of ancestral sin are precisely corruption and death. A child is born into a fallen, broken, and corrupted world grievously wounded by sin and death. Nothing sentimental in that assessment of our "human condition!" Disease and physical deformities are a part of this world caused by humankind's initial alienation from God - and providentially allowed by God - and thus a child is never too young to die. Hence, the tragic nature of life, nowhere more clearly revealed than in the death of an innocent infant. An infant is baptized in order to be saved from the consequences of the ancestral sin that lead each and every person to inevitably sin and be subject to corruption and death. Therefore, the child needs to be "born again of water and the Spirit" - the Mystery of Baptism - in order to "put on Christ" and the gift of immortality that is only received through sacramentally partaking of the death and resurrection of Christ.

The entire service was permeated by the sure hope and conviction that little Garrett Matthew has been "translated unto Thee," and that he is now "a partaker of Thy Heavenly good things." (Ode 6 of the Canon). His death is treated realistically, and the pathos of an uncompleted earthly life is clearly acknowledged, but again his death is his entrance to life with God in His eternal Kingdom:

By Thy righteous judgment, Thou hast cut down like a green herb before it has completely sprouted, the infant that Thou hast taken, O Lord. But, as Thou hast led him unto the divine mountain of eternal good things, do Thou plant him there, O Word.

The sword of death has come and cut thee off like a young branch, O blessed one that has not been tempted by worldly sweetness. But, lo, Christ openeth the heavenly gates unto Thee, joining Thee unto the elect, as He is deeply compassionate. (Ode 5 of the Canon)

O Most-perfect Word, Who didst reveal Thyself as perfect Infant: Thou hast taken unto Thyself an infant imperfect in growth. Give him rest with all the Righteous who have been well-pleasing unto Thee, O Only Lover of Mankind. (Ode 3 of the Canon)

In context here:

http://www.orthodoxy...r-An-Infant.php

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#17 Kosta

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 06:23 PM

Dear Matthew,

Prayers for an infant in a funeral is still for a baptised infant. There is a difference between a baptised infant that dies and an unbaptised one. How that difference plays out on the other side of the grave hasnt been revealed. All the Fathers except for Tertullian taught the neccesity of baptism and the benefits an infant recieves from it, but the greek (eastern)fathers do acknowledge that infants are sinless.

Edited by Kosta, 31 March 2011 - 06:42 PM.


#18 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 07:32 PM

Dear Kosta,

I'm sure that during a funeral service for a baptised infant there are Orthodox Christians that pray for many unbaptised infants.

It appears that is allowed then and at other times.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#19 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 08:07 PM

Papal infallibility, limbo, the teaching magesterium and many other papal errors are things that are utterly foreign to Holy Orthodoxy. It is said that the aim of this site has been to further the approach to and study of Orthodox Christianity through an engagement with it's patristic, monastic, liturgical and ecclesiastical heritage. As such I don't understand why your references are allowed or relevant.


Mr. Panchisin, I suggest that you formally communicate your protest of my contributions to the forum moderators. If they should decide that my presence on this forum is inappropriate or disruptive, I will gladly withdraw.

#20 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 08:11 PM

Prayers for an infant in a funeral is still for a baptised infant. There is a difference between a baptised infant that dies and an unbaptised one. How that difference plays out on the other side of the grave hasnt been revealed. All the Fathers except for Tertullian taught the neccesity of baptism and the benefits an infant recieves from it, but the greek (eastern)fathers do acknowledge that infants are sinless.


From The Great Book of Needs, Vol.III, p. 158:

"For an unbaptized infant, however, the Burial Service is not sung (meaning not performed) as he/she is not cleansed of original sin. Concerning the future lot of infants who die unbaptized, St Gregory the Theologian says that they will be neither glorified nor punished by the Righteous Judge, as unsealed (referring to Chrismation) and yet not wicked, but persons who have suffered rather than done wrong. For not everyone who is not bad enough to be punished is good enough to be honored; just as not everyone who is not good enough to be honored is bad enough to be punished."

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