The Two Part Limbo

Question: Does the word Limbo existed in the Bible?

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”
-Isaiah 49:15

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not received the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”
-Mark 10:15

Limbo was never mentioned in the Bible nor any instance that supported the idea of the word. It is one of those widely accepted doctrine of Catholicism that as been recognized as truth for almost a millennium although often criticized.

The name Limbo was derived from the Latin word “limbus” which means edge or border. Probably, influenced from the ancient belief that it was situated on the edge or border of hell. According to the doctrine of Limbo, the realm was divided into two parts. One part is for the infants who faced an untimely death before they were baptized. The other one is for the prophets and patriarchs who were deemed righteous but lived before the day of Jesus Christ thus having no knowledge of baptism. However, there is a big difference between the two, for the latter will be redeemed when Christ return, while the infants will only enjoy eternal bliss but denied in heavenly abode.

The word Limbo was first introduced in the 12th century by theologian Peter Abelard (1079-1142) to solved the long standing question of the state of an infant who died before they were baptized. For it has been the doctrine of Catholic church, specifically on the notion of Augustine of Hippo, that anyone who died but was not baptized by the church will end up in hell. Thus, Limbo became the only solution to end up the century-old debate. On the other hand, Peter Abelard, whose earlier works were condemned and burned for his skeptical and rationalistic writings, was nevertheless praised for this contribution to the church. Later in the 13th century, Limbo was then incorporated to the church’s dogma by Pope Innocent III (1160-1216).

Centuries later, in 1992, Pope John Paul II formally dropped the concept of Limbo to the summary of Catholic beliefs or catechism. One major reason for its exclusion, was the concept of supposed denial to little children in heaven. A punishment generally viewed as radical and unjust by most theologians. The International Theological Commission which was ordained to investigate its doctrinal background released its report in 2007, quoting Limbo as “an unduly restrictive view of salvation.”

Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard the man behind the doctrine
of Limbo

Though quite popular to Catholicism through the centuries, yet Limbo was never been regarded as truth nor accepted by Protestants and other fundamentalist Christians because of its non- Biblical implication. Instead, they embraced the Scriptural teaching of Jesus to his disciples when he compared the kingdom of heaven to little children. Emphasizing to accept the kingdom of God just like a little child and unless they do it, they will never enter therein (Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). For even being “born again (John 3:3)” would also mean to be back in one’s innocence, having an attitude of a little child who constantly seek the love and comfort of the Father in heaven.
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