People recoil at the thought of children languishing in hell. In fact, some atheists like to taunt Christians by dredging up writings by nineteenth-century evangelists who used horrific language to describe the ghastly experiences of children in hell. For example, a British priest nicknamed "the children's apostle" wrote these gruesome words:
A little child is in this red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out! See how it turns and twists itself about in the fire! It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in hell-despair, desperate and horrible.6
"The idea of children in hell-well, it's too much," I said to Moreland. "How can there be a loving God if children are subjected to hell?" I was interested in seeing whether Moreland's response would be consistent with scholar Norman Geisler's earlier assessment of this issue.
"Remember," Moreland cautioned in light of the quote about the child in the oven, "the biblical language about fire and flames is figurative."
"Yes, okay, but still-will there be children in hell?" Moreland, who is the father of two daughters, leaned forward as he spoke. "You must understand that in the afterlife, our personalities reflect an adult situation anyway, so we can say for sure that there will be no children in hell," he began.
"And certainly there will be no one in hell who, if they had a chance to grow up to be adults, would have chosen to go to heaven. No one will go to hell simply because all they needed was a little more time and they died prematurely."
Moreland reached over to a table and retrieved his leather-clad Bible. "Besides, in the Bible children are universally viewed as figures of speech for salvation. In all of the texts where children are used in regard to the afterlife, they're used as pictures of being saved. There's no case where children are ever used as figures of damnation."
He flipped through the Old Testament until he settled on Second Samuel. "Here's a good example," he said. "The child that King David conceived in an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba died, and David says in Second Samuel 12:23: 'I will go to him, but he will not return to me.'
"David was expressing the truth that his child will be in heaven and that he would join him someday. So that is another piece of evidence that children will not be in hell."
Was this article helpful?