IS THERE AN AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY?

IS THERE AN AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY?

Like many people, Becky and I lost a child in the womb. We also lost two grandkids in the womb in the past year. Like so many others, we have often wondered about the eternal destination of such children, and we have grieved deeply over such losses.

I grew up hearing about an “age of accountability”, meaning that anyone who died before reaching a certain age would automatically go to Heaven. As I’ve read the writings of those who advocate for an “age of accountability”, the set age varies. Some argue for three-years-old, some for seven-years-old, and others for twelve or sixteen-years-old.

There are really two questions that need to be unpacked here: 1) What happens to unborn babies, infants and toddlers who die? 2) What does the Bible say about this topic? The short answer to the first question is that no one knows for sure.

For the answer to question number two, the Bible doesn’t have much to say on the topic—and I’ve read on this topic for over 30 years. I’ve read arguments from my different heroes (John MacArthur, John Piper, R.C. Sproul etc), and searched the Bible for clues. In all honesty, the biblical data is very, very scant indeed. As such, I remain uncertain (biblically) of what happens to unborn babies, infants and toddlers. I hope they go to Heaven, and I’m inclined to lean in that direction. But what I need to be careful about is making definitive declarations about what the Bible actually teaches when it is largely silent on various topics. God must have a reason for not being more explicit on this topic. What else can we conclude?!

These days, I think my favorite Bible verse on this topic is Genesis 18:25: “Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” This is where we have to land when we crave clear-cut answers that may not be so clear-cut in the Bible.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor
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