Infant Baptism

Infant Baptism

A striking feature of critical responses to my article on infant baptism (August AD2000) is the way the critics ignored the Church documents I cited. The best Norm Yodgee comes up with is the bland assertion that I was 'repeating doctrines and catechism extracts in their barest formulations' (November AD2000).

He also thinks (why I don't know) that I was talking about unbaptised adults as well as children!

The key problem people have is that they can't see how God could allow children to miss heaven through no personal fault. We can get light on this by realising that heaven is a free gift which God need never have offered the human race. The denial of that doctrine is commonplace, but it is Catholic doctrine, and its denial was condemned by Pope Pius XII in the encyclical Humani Generis (n. 26). Indeed, God need not have created anything - he chose to do so, but could have chosen not to. That is de fide.

Since heaven is a free gift which God might have chosen not to give the human race, he can impose conditions. He chose to make the automatic transmission of grace conditional on Adam remaining faithful, but Adam sinned.

If this seems wrong to us, we should remember God's reminder that 'as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts' (Isaiah 55:9).

Had the human race not been raised to the supernatural order, with heaven as our destiny, our end would have been to know and love God for all eternity by our natural powers. And it is in this way that limbo is to be understood. The unbaptised child knows and loves God to its full natural capacity, and will enjoy forever a degree of happiness surpassing the joys we experience in the present life.

Think of the most joyful hour you have ever experienced, and imagine it lasting forever. That is but a shadow of the joy experienced by the souls in limbo.

Melbourne, Vic

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