3) It says that only believers should be baptised, not infants. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:36,37). There is not one example, in all the Bible, of an infant being baptized.
4) And as for the salvation of infants who die in infancy, the Scriptures say almost nothing about this subject, and therefore we must be very careful to affirm no more than what the Scriptures do say. This is often a very emotional subject for many, and as a result they do not approach it biblically, but only emotionally. This will inevitably lead to error. It is not what we want, but only what the Lord says, that should guide us. The Bible is very clear that infants, like adults, are sinful by nature, for none are excepted from the words of Scripture on this matter (Psa. 51:5; 1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12); and even the fact that infants do die, demonstrates this truth (Rom. 5:12-14; 6:23). The Word of God indicates that at least some infants, dying in infancy, are elect (2 Sam. 12:23; Jn. 3:8); and certainly, with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26; Lk. 1:15; Gen. 18:14a; etc.). And elect infants, dying in infancy, are, in precisely the same manner as elect adults, regenerated and saved by Christ through his Spirit (Jn. 3:3,5,6), who works when, and where, and how he pleases (Jn. 3:8). This much we may affirm, and no more; and when an infant dies, believers must trust in the Lord, the Judge of all the earth, to do right; for He always will (Gen. 18:25).
But this whole matter of dropping the concept of limbo is deeper and darker than one may at first suppose. As always with Rome, there are ulterior motives. Let’s not for a moment assume that limbo has been abolished simply because the pope of Rome felt generous. No, he did so for shrewd political motives. Infant “baptism” had always forced Roman Catholic parents to commit their children to the “Church” as soon as possible; and the teaching of limbo had frightened parents into making certain of this. It helped to keep Papists in their place and enchained to the feet of the pope. But times have moved on, and the teaching of limbo was being viewed with increasing scepticism by the faithful. It was time to drop it. But also, in addition, by dropping it, ironically, a new opening for Roman Catholic “evangelisation” occurred! Limbo had been used to help increase the numbers of Roman Catholics from a very early age; and now the dropping of the teaching would do the same thing! Its abolition was nothing less than a calculated proselytizing gesture, the purpose being to make Roman Catholicism even more palatable in the developing world.
Asia and Africa are two parts of the world where Roman Catholicism is working hard to promote itself. But much of this part of the world is greatly influenced today by Islam, Popery’s great rival for the hearts and souls of millions in the Third World. And Benedict XVI is very aware of the fact that Muslims believe the souls of stillborn infants go straight to heaven. Plus, the infant mortality rate is extremely high in much of Asia and Africa, and the pope well knows that parents who have lost their infant children only want to hear good news about their souls. Islam, then, would be more attractive to them than Popery, if Popery continued to claim that those who die in infancy, unbaptised, go to a place called limbo. Far better, from Rome’s point of view, to alter the doctrine now, so that the message can go out that the vast numbers of babies of Roman Catholic mothers who die in infancy in Third World countries will be saved by God’s mercy, even though not baptised! Here indeed is a huge field of influence and opportunity. Such a doctrine will promote Roman Catholic proselytism, and enable Rome to hold on to the devotees it already has in the Third World, far more than continuing to use the teaching of limbo to encourage “baptism” in First World countries where it was no longer really accepted anyway, and where births are not occurring in such numbers as in the Third World. The Roman pope well knows that Roman Catholicism is growing at a phenomenal rate in much of the Third World, whereas it is being rejected by large numbers in much of the First World. The fields are white to harvest in Africa and Asia, as far as the Vatican is concerned! Everything possible must be done to spur the growth of Romanism in these parts of the world.
It’s all about power, and influence, and defeating the rivals.
But limbo was also taught, within Roman Catholicism, to be “a place of rest where the souls of the just who died before Christ were detained”, as stated in the Penny Catechism, approved by the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales. In other words, it is the place (according to Rome) where believers went who died in the centuries before the coming of Christ into the world. Of course, the Bible teaches no such thing: those Old Testament believers were saved by grace through faith, in precisely the same way as one is saved now; and when they died they went straight to heaven. But Rome teaches otherwise. And in light of these new decisions from Rome, what (supposedly) is the status of those Old Testament believers now? Where are their souls? Are they in limbo, or not?