This debate took place on an IRC chatroom with several other people present and chatting. I have edited the logs of this debate thusly:
(1) Names have been changed to protect the innocent and infidel alike.
(2) Any chats not exclusively pertaining to the debate between "Henry" and I were edited out. (If anyone wants a full log, I'll be happy to provide it, but I figured the debate would make more sense this way.)
(3) Kudos to Losing My Religion for the essays that got me thinking about this particular conundrum that comes with Biblical belief.
I know there are a lot of points raised in this debate that weren't covered, but I wanted to stick to certain issues as it's a lot easier to get sidetracked in live debates compared to forum debates, where you can address each issue individually. Maybe one of these days I'll take "Henry" on regarding some of the other issues.
<lalli> Okay. Let's say I'm a new mother, and my infant dies a few weeks after birth due to some infection.
<lalli> Where does my infant's soul go after death? Heaven or Hell?
<lalli> You'll find most Christians on the heaven side, but there will be some on the hell side.
<henry> why would they say hell?
<lalli> Because one must believe in Jesus as the son of God, and accept him as one's personal saviour in order to go to heaven.
<henry> cheers on lalli
<lalli> And no infant has the chance ot do that.
<lalli> They've got enough on their hands just working out what this world is, nevermind learning the gospel message.
<henry> whould you like my opinion on that subject?
<lalli> henry: Let me state an analogous example first.
<lalli> Like the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia.
<lalli> Who died before missionaries made it to their shores and converted them.
<lalli> Where do they go?
<lalli> When they die, I mean.
<lalli> They never heard the gospel message, not even ones who died as adults old enough to understand.
<lalli> And yet Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me".
<lalli> So where do they go? And again, you'll find Christians on both sides of the "they go to heaven" or "they go to hell" argument.
* lalli turns the conversation over to henry.
<henry> with regard to the children.....
<henry> As you clearly said - one must choose to put their faith in Christ. I believe that God is just; therefore a child incapable of making such a decision will not be sent to Hell
<lalli> henry: What about people who lived and died without hearing the gospel?
<henry> I have heard missionaries talk on how, when they have met people of remote tribes, they have stories almost identical to those in the Bible.
<lalli> As for children who die as infants being granted Heaven by a just God, this raises an interesting conundrum. Let's say I have two small children, not yet old enough to understand the gospel much less accept it. As a mother who wants the best for her children, would not the most just and merciful thing to do would be to kill them?
<lalli> Even if I raise them in the faith, there is no guarantee whatsoever that at some point later in life, they will fall away and end up going to Hell.
<lalli> So shouldn't I kill them now, while they're infants, to ensure that they go to Heaven after death?
<henry> lalli - then you immediatly sin yourself as murder is a sin. Only God has the right to give and take life
<lalli> henry: So?
<lalli> The important thing is that I have guaranteed my children a place in Heaven.
<lalli> Were I a parent, I would wilfully commit any sin necessary to do that.
<lalli> An eternity in Hell isn't so bad if you can guarantee your loved ones a place in Heaven.
<henry> lalli - what of your salvation?
<lalli> henry: Assuring myself of my salvation by gambling the salvations of my children is greedy.
<henry> You cannot say that about Hell - you have no idea of the torment it will be. No one does
<lalli> henry: Are you saying that I should risk my children turning away from the faith and dying repentanceless, just to keep myself assured of my future in Heaven?
<henry> lalli - No. The choice is yours to make for yourself. And your children must make the choice for themselves!
<lalli> henry: So I should jeapordise my children's salvations?
<lalli> I know that if I kill them, they get automatic entrance to eternal bliss in Heaven.
<henry> But that is not what God wants - He has a plan for them
<lalli> If I raise them, even in the faith, there is still the chance that they will turn away from God.
<lalli> And end up burning in Hell for eternity.
<henry> but once they are saved - they *cannot* lose their salvation
<lalli> henry: So you are saying that I was never saved in the first place?
<lalli> That what I believed was not true?
<henry> hang on
<henry> lemme clarify
<lalli> My entire family converted to Christianity several decades ago, and I was raised in the faith.
<lalli> I went to a Baptist church every week throughout my childhood and youth.
<lalli> I was raised in the faith.
<henry> that's wonderful news
<lalli> And yet I denounced it a few years ago.
<lalli> If the God of the Bible exists, I'm sorry to say I would have to be a maltheist.
<henry> maltheist? Not heard that term before
<lalli> My parents want the best for me.
<lalli> Should they not have killed me at birth?
<lalli> I would have gone to heaven then. (And for you people who believe that children need to be baptised before they go to heaven, I was also christened at birth so that should do it).
<henry> Baptism does not guarantee a place in Heaven
<lalli> And yet, for all my family and church's efforts to "train him up in the way he should go", I fell away.
<lalli> henry: I was a born again Christian, accepted jesus as my saviour, yadiyadiya.
<lalli> And now I'm not.
<lalli> So if I died now, I'd go to Hell, according to the books.
<lalli> By all accounts, my parents should have killed me as an infant.
<henry> lalli no, you would not go to hell
<henry> if you truly believed
<lalli> henry: So you're in the OSAS camp?
<lalli> henry: Once Saved Always Saved. Not everyone believes as you do, you know.
<henry> I know not everyone agrees with me
<lalli> henry: So you believe that if you raise a child as a Christian, and they later fall away from the faith but were saved once, they still go to Heaven?
<henry> If my child truly believed that Jesus died for his sins - then yes
<lalli> henry: Okay. What about other people's children?
<lalli> Let's say I wander into a Muslim country.
<lalli> The children there are extremely likely to grow up and die Muslims.
<lalli> Should I not kill all the infants I can find?
<henry> No! Murder is a sin!
<lalli> This ensures they have a place in Heaven, whereas if they live and grow up, they will most likely go to Hell.
<henry> and therefore wrong
<lalli> henry: Is not leaving all those infants to grow into people who will die sinners and go to hell also wrong?
<lalli> Murder is wrong. Murder will earn me a place in Hell for sure.
<lalli> Murder is a sin.
<lalli> But murder will ensure all those infants go to heaven.
<lalli> As opposed to growing up and living their lives and dying as Muslims, which ensures they go to Hell.
<henry> You cannot give up your place. The place is for YOU to choose
<lalli> henry: Where I go is irrelevant. Where all those infants go is important.
<henry> Then you assume God does not care about them
<lalli> henry: What I assume is irrelevant. Where they go is important.
<lalli> henry: Of course I would be meddling and sinning by killing them. BUT I ensure they go to Heaven.
<lalli> I ensure they spend their eternity in bliss, with God.
<henry> God cares about YOU too! as well as the children
<lalli> henry: So? The souls of the millions of Muslim children outweigh my own.
<henry> how do you come to that conclusion?
<lalli> If it were my own children, I could say I'll raise them Christian and it's highly likely they'll be saved once, so saved always.
<henry> God cares about YOU too! as well as the children
<lalli> henry: So you are saying I should leave the Muslim children to their own devices?
<lalli> Even if I go to them and teach them the gospel, the statistics are highly against me.
<lalli> If I tell them the gospel, there will undoubtedly be at least a few, if not the majority, who do not accept it.
<henry> I'm saying you should shgre the Gospel message with them - as the command has been given by God
<lalli> henry: And what of those who do not accept?
<lalli> Are they not to be precious to me?
<lalli> Would I want them to burn in torment forever?
<lalli> If I knew that by killing them as infants, they would avoid that torment and go to heavenly bliss, would I not commit that sin?
<henry> If you're that concerned - go and share the gospel message with them. As God hasd commanded
<lalli> henry: Even the best missionary with the best case history cannot send as many souls to heaven as a single fanatic with a bomb in a children's hospital.
<lalli> Why should I not allow, say, atheists to abort their child if they want?
<henry> you seem to ignore the fact that it's a sin and wrong. If you are a follower of Christ you will obey and try not to sin.
<lalli> henry: I am not ignoring that fact.
<lalli> henry: Say you meet a whole horde of Muslim infants.
<henry> no child should be aborted - the child is being given no chance to speak
<lalli> henry: And there are many. Millions of muslim children.
<lalli> You cannot hope to win all their souls.
<lalli> And yes, it would be a sin to blow up that hospital.
<lalli> It would be wrong.
<henry> Then I would do my utmost to save as many as possible
<lalli> But it would grant them all Heaven.
<lalli> henry: And would not your utmost be to kill them?
<henry> no - cos I obey God and try not to sin
<lalli> henry: So you are saying that you love God more than you love those infants.
<lalli> You are saying that you would rather please God by obeying him rather than saving those infants by killing them.
<lalli> henry: If you somehow knew that your own child would never truly accept the Gospel, would you kill him while he's an infant?
<lalli> I know that you can never truly know, which is why I'm stating it as a hypothetical question.
<henry> lalli - no, never.
<lalli> henry: So you would sentence your child to eternal torment in order to obey God?
<henry> I would share the Gospel with my child to the best of my ability, but would obey God first.
<lalli> henry: This is in the hypothetical situation where you somehow found out that your child would never accept the Gospel you share with him.
<lalli> You thus know that if you kill your child, he will go to Heaven, whereas if you let him grow up, he will surely go to Hell.
<henry> lalli - my answer still stands. No I would not kill him
<lalli> henry: Thank you. That will be all.
<henry> I enjoyed the conversation
<lalli> henry: Can I have your permission to reproduce my log of this conversation? Editing out names of course.
<henry> lalli - yes you can
* lalli thanks.
<henry> are you writing a study of some sort?
<lalli> Nah, I'm just an ex-Christian.
<lalli> And as an ex-Christian, I've only just recovered.
<lalli> And I find the above conversation to actually be a perfect example of why I cannot become a Christian again, and still be able to live with myself.