Thoughts on Hell part 5
As I stated before, I didn’t really think I had much else to say about hell…but another random memory hit me today, so I thought I’d share. So here goes….
Many moons ago, in small town on the East Coast, I used to manage a Christian bookstore. It was an independent chain of Christian Bookstores, and once a week, all the different store managers would meet with the owner to review sales, upcoming promotional catalogs, and any other business that needed to be discussed. We were an interesting collection of individuals and we almost never agreed on anything…
I remember getting chewed out, by one of the store managers, for ordering her a “ridiculous” new video series for children. I had sent her store 8 copies…she was furious and let it be known, in front of the other managers, that she was not happy with my purchasing choice. I assured her that these were quality videos and that I thought they had a chance to sell. She was adamant and demanded to know more about the series….”well” I started ” it’s a fun kids series with talking vegetables that tell Bible stories”.
“Talking Vegetables!” she interrupted “Talking Vegetables!!!??” she stated again with an astounded look on her face that seemed to communicate that I was perhaps, the stupidest person that ever roamed the earth. Luckily for me, the videos did sell and sell and sell, and Veggie Tales went on to become the biggest Christian Video Brand in history. But that type of confrontational disagreement was pretty typical of our weekly meetings.
One of the store managers, was a man about 20 years my senior. He looked an awful lot like Archie Bunker (he also acted a lot like him). He was the resident Reformed theologian of the bunch, and he would register his displeasure any time books or products ventured outside of his doctrinal approval. I don’t know how it came up, but one manager meeting, Manager Bunker went on a rant about hell. I really don’t remember much of it, because I pretty much agreed with almost all that he had to say. But he did go farther than I had considered about the topic. He pronounced that even unborn babies that died, would be justly sent to hell and that God had every right to do it. In fact, he said that God’s righteousness demanded that any living being born into sin, that had not repented of their sin, including babies, were justly sent to hell.
I was disturbed by this thought, and I asked him if he really meant it. He did, and to emphasize his point, he stated that he believed babies would be aware of their eternal suffering, just like an unrepentant sinner who was an adult. The conversation quickly turned and we probably got back to the business of deciding how many plastic helicopters with “Jesus Is My Co-Pilot” stickers were needed for each store.
But the thought of God sending unborn or young babies that died to hell, horrified me. I did a little reading of Reformed thinkers and found that many Reformed and Catholic thinkers DID believe in the reality of God sending babies to hell. A few argued for an age of accountability, (usually 12 or 13 years old), before children were qualified for hellfire. But most seemed to agree with Manager Bunker, that God was in the business of sending still born, SIDS babies, and aborted babies straight to hell.
A few years later, my wife and I actually lost a a baby around the third month of the pregnancy. It was awful, my wife and I managed to get through it…but it was a difficult time of loss. At one point, my 5 year old asked me if I thought the baby that died was in heaven. I mumbled that I didn’t know…because I didn’t. I talked to my pastor, who very humbly suggested that he had the faith for that ( that my unborn baby was in heaven)…but the didn’t sound so sure.
Losing a baby has got to be one of the worst things that can happen in this brief life….maybe only the suicides I have experienced have been worse. But to imply that God would send a baby to hell, for the sin of dying to soon to repent, is just barbaric.