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Dec 14, 2012

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Lydia

I am looking up 'proleptical' :o)

Les Prouty

Peter,

This continues to be a fascinating and I think necessary discussion. One question if you could help clarify what you think Mullins was trying to communicate. He wrote:

"In consequence of the fall of man sin has become hereditary... As a result of this sinful heredity of race, all men actually sin when they acquire capacity for sinning." and then later he wrote:

"Hereditary and actual sin render men not only corrupt but also guilty and condemned until they are justified by faith in Jesus Christ."

I realize the first quote says that this "heredity sin" leads to actual sin when capability is there. All agree with that.

But in the 2nd quote he seems to say that this "heredity sin" render men "corrupt" and "guilty."

Maybe I'm just misunderstanding Mullins here, but he seems to say that all "men" are born guilty via this "heredity" sin.

How do you reconcile these tow parts of the section?

Thanks,

Les

peter lumpkins

Lydia,

Yes. It's a word rarely used everyday. But think of it as a very, very loose synonym for "prophecy" and you'll get the idea. :^)

peter lumpkins

Les,

Thanks. I think it would be seriously misunderstanding Mullins to read him suggesting all men are born "guilty" of hereditary sin, Les. His whole piece would fall apart. What would the purpose be in arguing about infants not committing "actual" sins because they have no "capacity" to do so if they were nonetheless guilty of "hereditary" sin? While it's true they suffer from "hereditary" sin, they bear no guilt as a consequence of it.

In addition, your rendering of Mullins' second statement you cited is not quite what Mullins wrote. Consider:

--Mullins: "Hereditary and actual sin render men not only corrupt but also guilty and condemned until they are justified by faith in Jesus Christ."


--Your rendering: "[Mullins] seems to say that this "heredity sin" render men "corrupt" and "guilty."

See the difference? It's hereditary and actual sin that render men not only corrupt, but also guilty and condemned. "Hereditary sin" is necessary and sufficient to render men "corrupt" but insufficient to also render them guilty and condemned being alone. It requires actual sin to render men guilty and therefore condemned before God.

I have all of Mullins' books including, of course, his systematic theology textbook used at Southern for at least a full generation. In fact, it was my first systematic theology textbook in 1979. To my knowledge, one cannot find a single reference to Mullins speaking from an Augustinian framework and favoring imputed Adamic guilt. From my perspective, Calvinists need to continue appealing to Boyce and Dagg for they will find little friendly fire coming from Mullins. I think Tom Nettles understood that completely and reveals it in his book on Baptist Calvinism I cited in footnote #1.

Les Prouty

Thanks Peter. I wasn't at all meaning to mi-render Mullins. This quote of his,

""Hereditary and actual sin render men not only corrupt but also guilty and condemned until they are justified by faith in Jesus Christ." I was reading this to mean both do render men guilty and condemned. Heredity sin...renders. Actual sin...renders. So I was reading the "and" as encompassing, in this instance, infants and those who later actually sin.

You may be right the way you read Mullins. You're way more familiar with his writings than I. But in my view, this section of his might have been stated more clearly to get what you're getting out of it.

But thanks again. Good discussion.

Les

peter lumpkins

Les,

"I was reading this to mean both do render men guilty and condemned. Heredity sin...renders. Actual sin...renders. So I was reading the "and" as encompassing, in this instance, infants and those who later actually sin."

I'm confused. "Heredity sin...renders" what? Actual sin...renders" what?

So far as Mullins is concerned, both render corruption and guilt-condemnation but do so only if both are present. Mullins is clear in his piece that only actual sin bears guilt and leads to condemnation and only those who've actually sinned are those who've a capacity for sinning. If this is so, it follows hereditary sin involves no guilt and hence leads not to condemnation.

This is precisely the notion Mullins wrote in his systematic theology published eight years later in 1920:

“Men are not condemned therefore for hereditary or original sin. They are condemned only for their own sins. They are called to repentance and faith by the gospel. It is their own act of rejection which is the basis of their condemnation” (p.302)

Les Prouty

Peter,

Sorry not to be clear. I was trying to say that I read that sentence to say that both heredity sin and actual sin, not necessarily together, led to guilt.

Now, with this new quote from Mullins makes his view, and your reading of him, clearer. I disagree with Mullins and you on the issue, but now I see what Mullins believed.

Thanks,

Les

peter lumpkins

Les,

No problem. Nothing wrong with honest disagreement...

Peace.

Adam Harwood

Wow.

In my Nov. 29 essay (mentioned on your site), I describe one SBTS prof’s unwillingness to regard as orthodox the inherited sinful nature view. During the encounter with the prof in the public Q&A, I offered him this “out”: Such a denial may be permissible under the Abstract of Principles, but not the BFM.

Your present essay makes a compelling case that the chief architect of the BFM 1925 interpreted the Abstract’s article on man’s fall in the same way the Traditionalists now interpret the BFM 1963/2000 Article 3.

Among the implications:

1. If authorial intent matters, then Mullins’ writings create serious difficulties for certain brothers who claim the BFM 1925 MUST be understood to affirm inherited guilt.
2. This long-time President of our “Founding” Seminary may have interpreted its “Founding” statement of faith in a “Traditional” way.

Again, wow.

Thanks for your timely research on this important topic, Peter.

In Him,
Adam

Steve Martin

The Bible tells us that we are "conceived in sin".

There's an interesting (recent) video that show twins, in the womb, who are fighting.

And we all know that a baby will rip a bottle out of the hands of another. There it is. Our self-will and desire to get what we want starts from the git-go.,

Thanks.

peter lumpkins

Dr. Harwood,

Thank you. I appreciate your reflections on this piece. And, I think you are correct about Mullins' denial of "imputed guilt" reflected in the AP and the high probability of its later absence in the BFM together create "serious difficulties" for those who want to argue an almost exclusively Calvinistic understanding of our Southern Baptist roots and are determined to re-inject that theological needle into the left hip of Southern Baptists. We've allowed far too many times our more Calvinistic brothers to frame the debate on this issue. It may be time to throw down our trump card--the historical record itself.

Thanks, Dr. H. I trust you've caught up. Last time I heard you were 8 days behinbd your deadlines at TMC :^)

peter lumpkins

Hi Steve,

Well, no, King David confessed he was "conceived in sin" if my memory serves me well, and I've got the drift of the verse you reflected (Ps 51:5). But assuming we can positively make the hermeneutical jump from 1st person singular to third person cosmic plural (all without the least bit of argumentation), what it exactly means to be "conceived in sin" is the question on the floor.

Some think "conceived in sin" means A (imputed sinful guilt). Others counter "conceived in sin" means B (inherited sinful nature). Were I a betting man, I'd bet a day's worth of Starbucks you agree with A.

Whatever the case, I find the video you mentioned intriguing. If you can get a link to it let me know. But as for them literally "fighting" I have to log my skepticism. Which one of the twins told observers they were fighting? How do we not know they were playing instead? Some scientists used to think certain bugs were fighting because at the end of the ruckus, one of the bugs died. Later they discovered they were making out! For reproduction in at least some rare species, it costs big time.

Even so, supposing the twins were actually fighting, this negates neither A nor B and perfectly harmonizes with both.

Have a great Saturday, Steve.

pam knight

Peter, I am beginning to feel a bit guilty of reaping so much benefit from all your hard work and research. I so appreciate your study and sharing on this topic.
In Christ
pam knight

lydia

Steve, Every mom cringes when her baby hands over his sippy cup to another baby to share a drink. What does that mean? :o)

Steve Martin

lydia,

I think it means the mom's are worried that they are going to catch some germs.

Just kidding. No doubt kids are capable of sharing. But they are much more capable of getting what they want, by any means available to them. Kids have to be taught to live in a civilized society and to be good. It does not come naturally. Taking care of the self does come naturally.

The Romans Catholics believe that we have this bent in us, towards the good. I disagree. I believe the natural bent is towards the self (sin), and must be overcome for the sake of society. We do alright, but not as good as God demands. That would be perfection.

Thanks.

lydia

Steve, the point is, did the babies KNOW what they were doing, whether sharing to stealing a bottle, and be accountable for the behavior?

Les Prouty

Lydia,

"did the babies KNOW what they were doing, whether sharing to stealing a bottle, and be accountable for the behavior?"

So in your understanding, Lydia, is knowledge of something being right or wrong the criteria of whether one ia accountable and guilty of committing that wrong?

Thanks Lydia. Les

peter lumpkins

Les,

No, it's not merely raw knowledge. Rather it's capability of knowing and behaving this way or that as Mullins suggested. Now, unless you're prepared to argue that we are right and just to actually assign blame to infants and the mentally challenged for actions we all would consider worthy of blame if we ourselves behaved in such a way, we'll assume you get Lydia's point.

Les Prouty

Thanks Peter. I fully get Lydia's point. I was asking in a broader sense and from a biblical basis. This is especially pertinent since none of knows when an infant or young child has that capability. Is is i year old? Is it 2 1/2 as I have seen children be taught, therefore they understand, a thing is wrong and not to do that thing. Are they accountable then? We just don't know. So I was just wondering in Lydia's view how knowledge plays into it.

In any case, I believe in inherited guilt for babies at conception so I'm just better trying to understand the views of you all who don't.

Blessings,

Les

lydia

Les, your point is why there has been padeobaptism for centuries in both Catholic and Reformed traditions instead of believers baptism. Do you believe that infant baptism covers an infants "guilt" before God?

Les Prouty

Lydia,

Your statement and question is not an answer to my question. But I will answer your question.

"Do you believe that infant baptism covers an infants "guilt" before God?"

No. Baptism water does not remove guilt before God for infants or adults.

Les Prouty

Lydia,

I'm looking again at your question. I see you asked about "covering." What do you mean by "cover?" Are you asking if the baptism provides a sort of temporary cover for infants until they reach some age of discretion or understanding? If that's what you're asking, my answer is still no.

peter lumpkins

Les:

“This is especially pertinent since none of knows when an infant or young child has that capability. Is is i year old? Is it 2 1/2…”

Nor do we know what the Bible precisely means when it says “young men” shall see visions and “old men” shall dream dreams. Is being young 15? 28? Or is “old” 52 or “threescore & 10”?  Even so, Scripture still acknowledges a particular categories exist it delineates as youth and old age. Knowing the precise boundaries of a category does not eliminate the category.

Now, I’ll mention again what you dodged the first go round: unless you're prepared to argue that we are right and just to actually assign blame to infants—let’s say, 1 year and under both inside and outside the womb so that we’re crystal clear (this includes the mentally challenged)--for actions we all would consider worthy of blame if we ourselves behaved in such a way, what is your point?

As for what I believe it’s very simple: infants (including all those who have no capacity for moral discernment) inherit the Adamic sinful nature but do not inherit Adamic sinful guilt. They will only be condemned for their own sins they actually commit but will not stand judged for the sins of Adam.

Now, you suggest you believe in inherited guilt for babies at conception. And, from what I gather above, you also believe both the unborn fetus and the infant newborn remain both guilty and responsible for their sin, and consequently stand condemned before God. So, what then, Les? Clearly, the unborn fetus and infant child are human beings made in God’s image. And, Scripture is clear that humans beings ultimately have one of two destinies—heaven or hell.

Perhaps you’ll follow Augustine to the conclusions his premises demand. Perhaps not.  

Les Prouty

Peter,

"Knowing the precise boundaries of a category does not eliminate the category."

I don't think I wanted or suggested an elimination of the category. Just that the boundaries of the categories are in question and cannot be known precisely.

"unless you're prepared to argue that we are right and just to actually assign blame to infants—let’s say, 1 year and under both inside and outside the womb so that we’re crystal clear (this includes the mentally challenged)--for actions we all would consider worthy of blame if we ourselves behaved in such a way, what is your point?"

Well let's say a 1 year old. Or a 2 year old. Or 3. My point is, and perhaps it's not germain to what you are wanting to discuss, is that some young children may indeed be held accountable for actual sins. I just don't know when. 1? 2? 3? 4? Neither do you of Lydia or anyone else.

I was just responding originally to Lydia:

""did the babies KNOW what they were doing, whether sharing to stealing a bottle, and be accountable for the behavior?"

So in your understanding, Lydia, is knowledge of something being right or wrong the criteria of whether one ia accountable and guilty of committing that wrong?"

She has not responded.

"Now, you suggest you believe in inherited guilt for babies at conception. And, from what I gather above, you also believe both the unborn fetus and the infant newborn remain both guilty and responsible for their sin, and consequently stand condemned before God. So, what then, Les? Clearly, the unborn fetus and infant child are human beings made in God’s image. And, Scripture is clear that humans beings ultimately have one of two destinies—heaven or hell."

My view is that every human is born guilty, inherited sin and guilt from or Adam. Infants (I do not know at what age any infant becomes accountable for his/her own actual sin. God does) dying in infancy and mentally incapably adults dying are regenerated and upon death go to be with Jesus.

Thanks for the exchange.

Les

lydia

"So in your understanding, Lydia, is knowledge of something being right or wrong the criteria of whether one ia accountable and guilty of committing that wrong?"

Well it started with Steve's assertion that i responded to. I thought Peter was right in his response so I did not feel the need to repeat what he said:

"No, it's not merely raw knowledge. Rather it's capability of knowing and behaving this way or that as Mullins suggested. Now, unless you're prepared to argue that we are right and just to actually assign blame to infants and the mentally challenged for actions we all would consider worthy of blame if we ourselves behaved in such a way, we'll assume you get Lydia's point."

I understand that answer might not be acceptable to you. That is ok. My responses are not as learned

I then mentioned padeobaptism and the reasons for it instead of believers baptism. This is not a trite mention. There are people who gave their lives for the truth of believers baptism refusing to have their infants baptized. Why? Just being rebellious against the Catholic church or Reformed state church magistrates? There was a reason infant baptism started.

And just to clarify, I do not believe God considers us guilty of Adams specific sin. We have enough to be guilty of when we can be accountable for them. :o)

God is so merciful and gracious.

Les Prouty

Thanks Lydia. I think we've made ourselves clear. You do just fine in answering, when you answer. :)

But if you don't mind, I'm now confused about the paedobaptism thing. You just now said about it much more than you said earlier. It was a bare mention earlier and seemed to have nothing to do with people dying defending credobaptism.

I know why RCs baptize infants...for the washing away of that Adamic original sin and guilt. Reformed folks do not baptize infants for that reason. Anyway, I think I replied to your paedo question earlier satisfactorily, or did I?

BTW, in my PCA church just this morning we saw two children baptized as believers upon their profession of faith. They are 10 and 13 yrs. old I think. It was a beautiful thing. And yes, God is merciful and gracious!

Les

peter lumpkins

Les,

Sorry it’s long but apparently I have not communicated well thus far. Hence I wanted to be as clear as I could. And, since I had some free time, I decided to go for it:

“Just that the boundaries of the categories are in question and cannot be known precisely.” Which is the very reason, Les, I specifically mentioned infants. Now in my circles, I don’t know anybody who refers to a 3 year old as an infant. Perhaps in your world but not mine. Hence, I screwed it down tighter still—one year old and under, in the womb or out. And, my point was and remains, Les, making the category of infant less precise does nothing to foster clarity on this issue. Instead it deters clarity by fussing over the fuzzy edges of definitions. I’ve had enough conversations on this issue to realize a lot of people want to divert attention to an irrelevant focus and then pronounce it an unknowable pursuit. And, so far as I can tell, it seemed to be heading in that direction (though I humbly confess I could be wrong): “I was asking in a broader sense and from a biblical basis. This is especially pertinent since none of [us] knows when an infant or young child has that capability.” Since you brought up you were asking your question from a biblical standpoint, that’s why I indicated the Bible gives us no more assistance in knowing when the category of “infant” begins and ends than it does when “young men” or “old men” begins and ends. In essence, your point was and remains moot.

“Well let's say a 1 year old. Or a 2 year old. Or 3. My point is, and perhaps it's not germain to what you are wanting to discuss, is that some young children may indeed be held accountable for actual sins. I just don't know when. 1? 2? 3? 4? Neither do you of Lydia or anyone else.” Once again you appear to divert my question, Les. I specifically, explicitly tied it down to “1 year and under both inside and outside the womb so that we’re crystal clear” (adding the mentally challenged to the 1yr & under). What do you do? Immediately raise the bar all the way back up to 4 years of age and pronounce it an unknowable scenario.

Let me try this just one more time—for the purposes of the question at present, infants are human beings made in God’s image who are 1 year old and under both outside and inside the womb. The mentally challenged are, for purposes here, those human beings made in God’s image whose mental development seems very similar in capacity to infants.

Now, unless you want to deny the human category of infants altogether—if so, just say it and we can stop wasting our time trying to understand one another—we have a hook upon which to hang the discussion. Hence, I’ll state my original proposition again: unless you’re prepared to argue that we are right and just to actually assign blame to infants and the mentally challenged (see above for category parameters) for actions we all would consider worthy of blame if we ourselves behaved in such a way, what is your point? 

For illustration, suppose on a Saturday morning, a maintenance man for the local hospital took his 9 month old into work to catch up on some forms he’d been neglecting to fill out. His 9 month old was a fairly good crawler and, unknown to him as he was buried in his paper work, his infant happened to crawl over to a switchboard with several buttons. One button was a huge red button and clearly marked:

WARNING. DO NOT PUSH. ALL ELECTRICAL POWER TO THE 4TH WARD WILL CEASE

And, since the button glowed with such beautiful, bright red finish, it begged to be pushed by the little guy. After all, it looked a lot like the buttons on his playskool boards at home. The infant pushed the button but he didn’t hear the little bell ring. Instead a deafening alarm sounded. Consequently, two patients died and four others had severe medical setbacks.

Now, please don’t get bogged down in questioning details in the scenario like “all hospitals have backup power supplies.” This has absolutely nothing to do with the point and I think most can see that.

Just consider: would you or another reasonably hold the infant of a maintenance man morally culpable for the lives of the two patients? Of course you wouldn’t; nor I; nor any jury in the country. The father might be charged as morally responsible, guilty, and condemnable but not the child. Now, you can continue to suggest “I don’t know, you don’t know, and no one else knows” but such a proposition completely collapses in on itself when you try to tease it out in practical terms.

I’ll never forget F. Schaeffer’s two criteria for a viable worldview written in one of his works (I have all Schaeffer’s works, read them, and digested much of them—at least as much as my small brain will allow!). Schaeffer says:  1) a worldview must be consistent with itself; 2) a worldview must be able to be lived out. It is the second criteria I’m concerned with presently and illustrates my point.

The fact is, Les, you don’t live as if an infant is morally culpable, guilty, and condemned for behavior that, were we to behave likewise, we most certainly would and do consider it just and right to blame.  Had the maintenance man pushed the big red button, he undoubtedly would have been tried for murder since he deliberately acted with full knowledge that not only was the button not the same as a playskool game board labeled “6 mos.- 1” but also knew what could happen if the button was pushed since he could both read and had knowledge of electrical systems being a maintenance professional himself.   

Nor do I live as if infants are morally culpable. Nor do any of us. If an infant baby cries in your church service and becomes seriously disruptive, do you send elders to the baby’s home to exercise church discipline on the baby for disrupting the service like you would undoubtedly do if a member of the men’s Sunday school class began to whine out loud, kick, scream, and wail to the top of his lungs goo goo gah gah all the time the pastor preaches? I doubt you would. But I’d bet a week’s worth of Starbucks you’d have an immediate confrontation with the guy from Sunday School. Why? You obviously know and therefore act upon the knowledge that the infant baby holds no moral culpability at that point but are surely concerned the Sunday School guy needs a darn good reason for acting as he did and thus you respond accordingly. Indeed you demand the Sunday School guy never do such a thing again fully expecting him to comply. Ever demand a 6mo old infant never disrupt a reading and exposition of God’s Holy Word expecting compliance? Never have I either.

“She has not responded” What does Lydia’s response or not have to do with what our exchange? Nothing I’ve suggested needs her response to continue. Nor anything you’ve suggested needs here response. Even so, thankfully, Lydia has now responded.

“My view is that every human is born guilty, inherited sin and guilt from or Adam. Infants (I do not know at what age any infant becomes accountable for his/her own actual sin. God does)” Following Augustine and what many strong Calvinistic believers embrace, you suggest all human beings made in God’s image are imprinted with imputed guilt and therefore condemned because of the federal relationship with Adam. In short, we sinned in Adam (Rm. 5:12). And, for the record,  since in your view all infants are imprinted innately with Adamic guilt, it makes no sense to your view (and therefore irrelevant) to qualify by suggesting you don’t know at what age a person becomes accountable for his or her actual sin. Actual sin might and does compound the infant’s guilt but the infant—whether actual sin is present or not—remains guilty under God for original sin and therefore worthy of all that God’s condemnation of sin brings—

“Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal” (WCF, Ch VI, para. VI, all embolden added).

So, I think I get your view. And, I also think I get why, from your perspective, it’s a moot point in identifying some type of age discernment on what constitutes a person made in God’s image becoming morally culpable for actual sin: because in your view, actual sin remains irrelevant as to whether an infant—born or unborn—is morally culpable before God. The infant is morally culpable for original sin—Adamic guilt imputed to him/her at the moment of conception due to the Fall--and therefore under God’s condemnation whether or not the infant lives to an age of moral discernment for actual sin (what that age is remains as unknowable as it is irrelevant from your perspective).

So, yes, you follow the premise of Augustine and many classic Calvinists (arguably most, in fact)—all babies are guilty and stand condemned before God for original sin as they were represented in Adam. However, while you follow Augustine’s premise of original guilt and condemnation, like some Calvinists now (this is a more recent change of mind) you seem to hesitate in following Augustine’s necessary conclusion stemming from his theological premises—babies dying in babyhood therefore burn in hell apart from spiritual regeneration. For Augustine, spiritual regeneration was intrinsically connected with water baptism—or, perhaps from a baptistic standpoint, water ‘cleansing’ or ‘purifying’.

Now, it’s true you suggest you believe ”infants dying in infancy and mentally incapably adults dying are regenerated and upon death go to be with Jesus.” This sounds Augustinian but it’s not quite there. While Augustine did believe babies could be regenerated he also believed regeneration’s non-negotiable signature was visible baptism. If babies were not baptized, babies were not regenerate. And, if babies were not regenerate, babies were not fitted for heaven. And, if babies were not fitted for heaven, babies would burn in hell.

On the other hand, while Calvinists such as yourself do not insist upon baptism as a non-negotiable mark of spiritual regeneration as did Augustine, you nonetheless make much out of regeneration preceding faith and repentance with faith and repentance being undeniable fruit of regeneration. For your tradition, fruit remains absolutely necessary to demonstrate regeneration. That’s the whole premise of church discipline, church courts, and pronouncing unrepentant believers as if they were unrepentant unbelievers, etc. But what you’ve just done seems completely at odds with the notion of works necessarily following regeneration. By pronouncing infants dying in infancy and mentally challenged adults who die as “regenerated” and upon death, “go to be with Jesus” you imply contra Scripture regeneration stands alone and needs no subsequent works. Incidentally, I’ll not quibble over the age of the “infants” as you continued to do when I brought up infants. Frankly, as I indicated, the boundaries of infancy have nothing to do with whether the category of infancy exists. Hence, the boundaries of infancy are irrelevant so far as the Bible is concerned.

On the other hand, the nature and understanding of regeneration is most certainly neither irrelevant nor absent of biblical concerns. We do have a fairly established corpus of biblical revelation pertaining to regeneration. So, please consider: upon what biblical basis do you suggest infants dying in infancy and mentally incapably adults dying are regenerated and upon death go to be with Jesus? Where is there a single verse which suggests such a notion? Especially such a notion pronounced upon such a gargantuan substantial demographic in the history of the human race? The untold trillions who, since the origin of the human progeny, have either died in the mother’s womb, at birth, or at 1 year not to mention the millions of mentally challenged people since the dawn of time—the number, if possible to know, would undoubtedly stagger us.

But know the number God surely does. So, where in Scripture is there the slightest scriptural notion infants dying in infancy are born again upon their death?

Moreover, the question begs asking—which infants dying in infancy? The elect infants or all infants? For Augustine, Calvin, and most all the Reformers (excluding Hubmaier and Zwingli)--not to mention almost all mentionable Reformed theologians in history—they followed Augustine on this: only elect infants would be saved.  Others would burn in hell. Why? There simply was no merit for them in the death of Jesus. Jesus only died for those whom God chose before the foundation of the world. And, since reprobate babies are guilty of original sin--in the clear words of your confession, “Every sin, both original and actual… doth… bring guilt upon the sinner [and] so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal”—they stand naked and fully condemned before God. In short, God’s glory is eternally on display in meting out eternal justice on reprobate babies who are and will be condemned to eternal torment in the fires of hell.

The latter part of the Calvinistic insistence upon imputed sinful guilt remains, for me, an Achilles Heel to their view of original sin. It takes off and flies high in the sky but it unfortunately has no where to land. One takes Augustine’s premises but denies Augustine’s necessary conclusions. Given the Augustinian understanding of predestination and election, coupled with imputed Adamic guilt, and it becomes unavoidable in concluding with Augustine, Calvin and the vast majority of Reformed believers through the years: some babies—unelect babies--burn in hell.

Now, you may deny you believe this, Les. I hope you do. Or, you may remain silent and carefully avoid talking about it altogether. And, you can also throw out a deterrence like “we don’t know how old a person has to be before he/she can discern right and wrong” and hope the one with whom you converse will drop the issue. I accept that.

But, what is undeniable is the logic of your position. If you hold the proposition that God, out of the good pleasure of His will, elects some to salvation, the election of which is not based upon anything at all within the elected person himself or herself—whether faith, family, fortune, or moral fortitude; and presumably neither age nor the unfortunate circumstances of dying young or being born mentally challenged would disqualify from the comprehensive anything at all—and, God, out of the good pleasure of His will, passes over the rest leaving them in both original and actual sin, and consequently guilty and condemned for it; and since Jesus died only to pay for both the actual and original sin of the elect alone, not either the actual or original sin of those over whom the Father predeterminately passed over and did not eternally choose, you’re stuck with the conclusion which follows necessarily from your premise whether you recognize it or not, ignore it or not, or believe it or not.

Namely,
elect infants dying in infancy are born again upon death and go to be with Jesus, all for the glory of God's eternal loving mercy. Reprobate infants dying in infancy are eternally tormented in hell because they are guilty of original sin, all for the glory of God's eternal justice

The elect get mercy, the non-elect get justice. No one gets injustice.

Now, if I’ve misstated something, I’ll be glad to stand corrected. 

Les Prouty

Peter, thanks. I hope to reply later today. Busy day and just had a family member back into the garage door. Now working on that. Thanks for the dialogue. Later.

Les

peter lumpkins

Oops! Sorry your week getting off to not a good start, brother. Later...

Les Prouty

Peter, Whew! Over 2600 words? I shall not be as long. I'm not smart enough to write that much though as I quote you it will surely run the count up.

“Now in my circles, I don’t know anybody who refers to a 3 year old as an infant. Perhaps in your world but not mine.”

Actually I still refer to my twin 3 year old grandsons often as “babies.” That's close to infant, right?

Hence, I screwed it down tighter still—one year old and under, in the womb or out. And, my point was and remains, Les, making the category of infant less precise does nothing to foster clarity on this issue.”

Agree.

“Instead it deters clarity by fussing over the fuzzy edges of definitions. I’ve had enough conversations on this issue to realize a lot of people want to divert attention to an irrelevant focus and then pronounce it an unknowable pursuit.”

I have no desire to divert. My point in throwing in other ages is to demonstrate the arbitrariness of the 1 year old. I think Adam Harwood picked that age for his discussion. But for the eternal destiny of young children discussion we could talk about several ages for sure.

“Since you brought up you were asking your question from a biblical standpoint, that’s why I indicated the Bible gives us no more assistance in knowing when the category of “infant” begins and ends than it does when “young men” or “old men” begins and ends. In essence, your point was and remains moot.”

Perhaps. Womb, 1, 2? Yes, we don't know. But I think I'll get to below what you are after.

“Once again you appear to divert my question, Les. I specifically, explicitly tied it down to “1 year and under both inside and outside the womb so that we’re crystal clear” (adding the mentally challenged to the 1yr & under). What do you do? Immediately raise the bar all the way back up to 4 years of age and pronounce it an unknowable scenario.”

Sorry for the diversion. These are all unknowable, the age of discretion or age of accountability, etc. But below...

“Let me try this just one more time—for the purposes of the question at present, infants are human beings made in God’s image who are 1 year old and under both outside and inside the womb. The mentally challenged are, for purposes here, those human beings made in God’s image whose mental development seems very similar in capacity to infants.
“Now, unless you want to deny the human category of infants altogether...”

I do not so deny.

“Hence, I’ll state my original proposition again: unless you’re prepared to argue that we are right and just to actually assign blame to infants and the mentally challenged (see above for category parameters) for actions we all would consider worthy of blame if we ourselves behaved in such a way, what is your point? “

I do not want to assign such to infants as per the category parameters above.

“Just consider: would you or another reasonably hold the infant of a maintenance man morally culpable for the lives of the two patients?”

I would not hold that infant culpable for the lives of the two patients.

“The fact is, Les, you don’t live as if an infant is morally culpable, guilty, and condemned for behavior that, were we to behave likewise, we most certainly would and do consider it just and right to blame.”

Agree.

““She has not responded” What does Lydia’s response or not have to do with what our exchange? Nothing I’ve suggested needs her response to continue. Nor anything you’ve suggested needs here response. Even so, thankfully, Lydia has now responded.”

Well thanks. But she made a statement and I asked for a clarification from her. She had not at that point. That's her choice. I'm happy to correspond on this with you, but that's not how I got started in this. So yes she has replied, basically saying she agrees with you. Cool.

“And, for the record,  since in your view all infants are imprinted innately with Adamic guilt, it makes no sense to your view (and therefore irrelevant) to qualify by suggesting you don’t know at what age a person becomes accountable for his or her actual sin. Actual sin might and does compound the infant’s guilt but the infant—whether actual sin is present or not—remains guilty under God for original sin and therefore worthy of all that God’s condemnation of sin brings—“

Totally agree. Adamic imputed guilt is much enough to damn. As in all humans. My entire reason for re-entering the discussion in the first place was my question to Lydia:
Lydia: “"did the babies KNOW what they were doing, whether sharing to stealing a bottle, and be accountable for the behavior?"
Me: So in your understanding, Lydia, is knowledge of something being right or wrong the criteria of whether one ia accountable and guilty of committing that wrong?”

Therefore, when a person may be thought to be accountable, as in the reason I asked Lydia this question, makes perfect sense in that context to Lydia. Then off to the races we went.

“So, I think I get your view. And, I also think I get why, from your perspective, it’s a moot point in identifying some type of age discernment on what constitutes a person made in God’s image becoming morally culpable for actualsin: because in your view, actual sin remains irrelevant as to whether an infant—born or unborn—is morally culpable before God.”

Agree.

 “The infant is morally culpable for original sin—Adamic guilt imputed to him/her at the moment of conception due to the Fall--and therefore under God’s condemnation whether or not the infant lives to an age of moral discernment for actual sin (what that age is remains as unknowable as it is irrelevant from your perspective).”

Correct.

“So, yes, you follow the premise of Augustine and many classic Calvinists (arguably most, in fact)—all babies are guilty and stand condemned before God for original sin as they were represented in Adam.”
“However, while you follow Augustine’s premise of original guilt and condemnation, like some Calvinists now (this is a more recent change of mind) you seem to hesitate in following Augustine’s necessary conclusion stemming from his theological premises—babies dying in babyhood therefore burn in hell apart from spiritual regeneration. For Augustine, spiritual regeneration was intrinsically connected with water baptism—or, perhaps from a baptistic standpoint, water ‘cleansing’ or ‘purifying’.”

Precisely I do not follow Augustine to every jot and tittle of his theology. I follow no man's every doctrinal position in its entirety. I hope you do not as well.

“Now, it’s true you suggest you believe ”infants dying in infancy and mentally incapably adults dying are regenerated and upon death go to be with Jesus.” This sounds Augustinian but it’s not quite there.”

My goal is not to follow Augustine all the way to all of his conclusions and positions.

“While Augustine did believe babies could be regenerated he also believed regeneration’s non-negotiable signature was visible baptism. If babies were not baptized, babies were not regenerate. And, if babies were not regenerate, babies were not fitted for heaven. And, if babies were not fitted for heaven, babies would burn in hell.”

And Augustine and I depart on this point.

“On the other hand, while Calvinists such as yourself do not insist upon baptism as a non-negotiable mark of spiritual regeneration as did Augustine, you nonetheless make much out of regeneration preceding faith and repentance with faith and repentance being undeniable fruit of regeneration.”

Indeed. Agree.

“For your tradition, fruit remains absolutely necessary to demonstrate regeneration.”

In most cases, yes. In the case of infants and the seriously mentally ill, no. I know this I'm saying will spur on a discussion of the necessity of repentance and faith. So be it. Know that for a monergist such as I, regenerating a baby apart from personal repentance and an expression of faith is no problem at all. But I'll leave it at that.

“That’s the whole premise of church discipline, church courts, and pronouncing unrepentant believers as if they were unrepentant unbelievers, etc. But what you’ve just done seems completely at odds with the notion of works necessarily following regeneration. By pronouncing infants dying in infancy and mentally challenged adults who die as “regenerated” and upon death, “go to be with Jesus” you imply contra Scripture regeneration stands alone and needs no subsequent works.”

See just above. BTW, are you prepared to say that, for instance, a man who has been preached to on occasions but who has rejected the gospel over and over, but now lies in some sort of coma in a hospital and never awakes...are you prepared to declare with certainty that the man cannot be regenerated by God lying there, never opening his mouth in repentance and some expression of faith? Is that what you would tell his family if they ask you, “Pastor, I know daddy heard about Jesus many times. Do you think Jesus can save him if he never wakes up?”

“On the other hand, the nature and understanding of regeneration is most certainly neither irrelevant nor absent of biblical concerns. We do have a fairly established corpus of biblical revelation pertaining to regeneration. So, please consider: upon what biblical basis do you suggest infants dying in infancy and mentally incapably adults dying are regenerated and upon death go to be with Jesus? Where is there a single verse which suggests such a notion?”

Peter, do you really want a verse explicitly demonstrating such? There isn't one. But we can go back and forth on that merry go round. This whole discussion of the state of infants dying in infancy must be acknowledged to be taking place with very little explicit scripture to go on. Can you show a single verse that such ones do not go to be with Jesus? Do YOU believe they will go to be with Jesus? And on explicit verses, can you show one verse proving immersion? :)

“Especially such a notion pronounced upon such a gargantuan substantial demographic in the history of the human race? The untold trillions who, since the origin of the human progeny, have either died in the mother’s womb, at birth, or at 1 year not to mention the millions of mentally challenged people since the dawn of time—the number, if possible to know, would undoubtedly stagger us.”

Do you believe all those babies who have been aborted throughout even say the last 40 years are NOT in heaven? If you agree they are, how? Were they righteous in the womb? Sinless? Innocent? If so, on what basis did they need Jesus? This is a chief problem with Adam H's whole theology on this subject.

“So, where in Scripture is there the slightest scriptural notion infants dying in infancy are born again upon their death?”

Do you Peter believe infants dying in infancy are born again upon their death? My view, as I said above, is not based on any one passage. You surely know the relevant passages and arguments for this view so I'll not take more space.

“Moreover, the question begs asking—which infants dying in infancy?”

All!

“The latter part of the Calvinistic insistence upon imputed sinful guilt remains, *for me*, an Achilles Heel to their view of original sin. It takes off and flies high in the sky but it unfortunately has no where to land.”

And *for me*, it lands beautifully.

“One takes Augustine’s premises but denies Augustine’s necessary conclusions.”

Already said I fully adopt no man's doctrine, as I'm sure you as well do not.

“Now, you may deny you believe this, Les.”

I believe all infants dying in infancy go to be with Jesus.

“Or, you may remain silent and carefully avoid talking about it altogether.”

Not at all.

“And, you can also throw out a deterrence like “we don’t know how old a person has to be before he/she can discern right and wrong” and hope the one with whom you converse will drop the issue. I accept that.”

As in the words of Big Jake, “Not hardly.”

“But, what is undeniable is the logic of your position. If you hold the proposition that God, out of the good pleasure of His will, elects some to salvation, the election of which is not based upon anything at all within the elected person himself or herself—whether faith, family, fortune, or moral fortitude; and presumably neither age nor the unfortunate circumstances of dying young or being born mentally challenged would disqualify from the comprehensiveanything at all—and, God, out of the good pleasure of His will, passes over the rest leaving them in both original and actual sin, and consequently guilty and condemned for it; and since Jesus died only to pay for both the actual and original sin of the elect alone, not either the actual or original sin of those over whom the Father predeterminately passed over and did not eternally choose, you’re stuck with the conclusion which follows necessarily from your premise whether you recognize it or not, ignore it or not, or believe it or not.”

Let me be clear. I believe that ALL infants dying in infancy (and the severly mentally deficient) are elect.

You: "elect infants dying in infancy are born again upon death and go to be with Jesus, all for the glory of God's eternal loving mercy. Reprobate infants dying in infancy are eternally tormented in hell because they are guilty of original sin, all for the glory of God's eternal justice"

“The elect get mercy, the non-elect get justice. No one gets injustice.”

Let me be clear. I believe that ALL infants dying in infancy (and the severly mentally deficient) are elect.

To get a better understanding of this view, which is a majority in Reformed circles, I suggest The Theology of Infant Salvation by Robert A. Webb.

And the garage door is expensive. Merry Christmas to me.

Les Prouty

Peter, I'm trying to post a reply. It looks like it makes it then I don't see it. Is there a word limit?

peter lumpkins

Les,

So far as I know there is no word limit. Sometimes the spam bucket kicks comments out for some quirky reason--a word it didn't like or too many links. I'll take a look and see if it's there.

peter lumpkins

Yep, both are there. I assume the content is the same??

peter lumpkins

Les

As for your first line, "Over 2600 words? I shall not be as long"--you came in over 2300 so I wouldn't toot my horn so loudly were I you :^)

I'll take a look first thing in AM. I'm beat tonight...

Les Prouty

It was meant to be only once. I didn't think it took. Have a great night.

peter lumpkins

Les,

First, Les, to continue raising the point, in one way or another, that somehow it’s illegitimate to speak of a category we may normally call “infancy” is both frustrating and absurd. You may not have a “desire to divert” but you are diverting nonetheless. Nor is it “arbitrary” to speak of infants as being children under 1 year either inside or outside the womb for heaven’s sake. The Concise Oxford Dictionary has, as its first usage, “a very young child or baby.” Dictionary.com suggests, as its first entry, “a child during the earliest period of its life, especially before he or she can walk; baby” (italics mine), which fairly matches the parameters I mentioned. The World Dictionary has “a child at the earliest stage of its life; baby.” According to American Heritage’s Medical Dictionary, an infant is a “child in the earliest period of life, especially before he or she can walk.”

While there are some other usages which stretch infant well beyond what we normally think (e.g. the legal usage can go as high as 18 here and 21 abroad),  one thing remains linguistically certain: to speak of an infant as a baby (newborn or unborn) before he or she can walk (approximately 1 year) is far from arbitrary but constitutes the primary usage we employ.

But even for all this, you have little to respond: “I think Adam Harwood picked that age for his discussion. But for the eternal destiny of young children discussion we could talk about several ages for sure.” Well, it doesn’t matter about Harwood’s starting point. And, I’m sure there are “several ages” we could consider. However, if you want to continue this particular discussion, we’ll limit, for purposes of discussion, infant to approximately 1 year and below. If you want to discuss about other ages, you could always start a new thread and maybe title it—“Why it’s arbitrary to speak of infants as babies up to a year old.”.

But since you finally got around to affirming you do not want to assign blame to infants, nor hold the particular infant in my illustration morally culpable for the lives of the two patients, nor deny that you live as if infants are morally culpable for their behavior, the question begs to be answered—why?

Consider: you state flat out “These are all unknowable, the age of discretion or age of accountability, etc” If the “age of discretion” or the “age of accountability”  is “all unknowable” then why would you find an infant less blameworthy as a man your age or mine? By stating you would not find the infant morally culpable, are you not assuming there exists some quality which produces moral culpability in a grown man that remains absent in the infant? If not, then upon what basis do you judge the infant not morally culpable? If you do assume a quality exists in the full grown man absent in the infant, then your agnostic pronouncement about the “age of discretion” and/or the “age of accountability” being “all unknowable” simply does not follow. In fact, we’re right back to square one, the very peg upon which I hung my first hat: while we may not be able to precisely define the developmental parameters on human moral culpability, there nonetheless exists something we might call X—an “age of accountability” or human developmental era--when moral culpability remains absent. Hence, the confessional usage of the phrase “capable of moral action” (used in all versions of the BF&M) reflects the maturing person as passing a threshold where he or she must account for his or her “actual” sin.

Second, I’m very glad to know I get much of your position. With all the “correct” “agree” “totally agree,” etc. I’m beginning to wonder the point of this exchange. If I may, Les, why not just state, “I agree with much of what you wrote”?  It’s frustrating on the receiving end to continually wade through one entire paragraph after another I wrote which you copy/pasted back into the thread only to have at the end “agree” “correct” etc. It also clogs the thread. Sometimes it may be necessary to quote entire blocks. But I find it completely unnecessary if, at the end, “agree” or “correct” constitutes the entire commentary.

Third, you agree that, from your perspective, “Adamic imputed guilt is much enough to damn” for every human being for not only both unborn and born but presumably those who are mentally challenged.

Fourth, while I suggested you followed Augustine’s position on imputed Adamic guilt, I did not imply you followed Augustine on every “jot and tittle” of his theology. Nor do I think you do. And, I am glad to agree with you in following no man's every doctrinal position in its entirety. Granted. But you completely ignored the point I made about following Augustine on a specific theological point. Consider my words (and here’s when a direct quote seems necessary):

“…while you follow Augustine’s premise of original guilt and condemnation  you seem to hesitate in following Augustine’s necessary conclusion stemming from his theological premises

You later reiterate “My goal is not to follow Augustine all the way to all of his conclusions and positions.” First, note I qualified specifically where you followed Augustine—far from “jot and tittle”. I even stated later about one of your statements “sounding” like Augustine but it wasn’t. Rather, I asserted you followed Augustine’s premise on original guilt and condemnation.

Second, you miss the point entirely concerning following a premise to conclusion. Though I mentioned it was both Augustine’s “premise” and “conclusion,” by that I did not mean it was particularly or personally Augustine’s alone. I thought I made this clear by explicitly stating the necessary conclusion stems from his theological premises. In other words, if Augustine’s premises are correct, his conclusions necessarily follow. And, while you state your goal is not to follow Augustine “all the way to all of his conclusions and positions,” that negation in no way changes the logic of the matter: if you accept Augustine’s premise on imputed sinful guilt and condemnation, you’re obligated to accept the conclusion that babies are under condemnable guilt before God.

Hence, while you may not visibly state the conclusion as did Augustine (i.e.babies must be born again—for him, baptized--or they’ll burn in hell because of original sin), you nonetheless are stuck with Augustine’s conclusion since you accept Augustine’s premise (because you do not accept Augustine’s premises on what constitutes valid baptism and/or regeneration counts exactly zero toward whether or not you are logically obligated to accept Augustine’s conclusion for the conclusion necessarily stems from the premise—if all are guilty and therefore condemned under God, and infants are within all, then infants will burn in hell being condemned; unless infants are rescued, of course).

Third, I mentioned Augustine’s belief in baptismal regeneration and that if babies were not baptized, babies were not regenerate and thus would burn in hell. You simply responded “And Augustine and I depart on this point." On what point would that be, Les? Do you depart from Augustine on baptismal regeneration or babies being born again or fitted for heaven or what? Presumably you mean when you say “And Augustine and I depart on this point” you’re referring to baptism.

Fourth, you query of me “are you prepared to say that… a man who has been preached to on occasions but who has rejected the gospel over and over, but now lies in some sort of coma in a hospital and never awakes...are you prepared to declare with certainty that the man cannot be regenerated by God…” Well, it depends on what you mean by “coma”. If all you mean by “coma” is the inability to open one’s mouth in “repentance and some expression of faith” because of an accident or other, why would I suggest a person could not be born again? You’re actually asking me if people who experience aphasia or perhaps was even born with neither the ability of speech or hearing can be born again? I don’t know what to say.

Or the other hand, if you’re suggesting a person who is comatose—as in the common vernacular--is “brain dead”—and asking if they can be born again, I’d have to say it would be questionable. Arguably, this scenario fits into the same category of questions as to whether God gives “second” chances in the afterlife. But for the life of me, Les, I haven’t a clue how this is relevant to what we’re discussing.

Fifth, I challenged you to produce a single verse to base your conclusion that infants dying in infancy and mentally incapably adults are regenerated and upon death go to be with Jesus. Your response?  You’re dazzled that I would even ask and then promptly inform us “There isn't one”! Uh?  You mean to tell me you believe babies are born again when they die but cannot muster a single verse to suggest such? And, to think, Les: you had the audacity to suggest that since the Bible gave no definition on a supposed “age of accountability” it remains “all unknowable.”

In addition, you respond with a question to me: “Can you show a single verse that such ones do not go to be with Jesus?” Oh my. So, we go from your assertion that infants are born again upon death and go to heaven to my now having to prove they don’t?  Talk about classic textbook logical errors. Consider:

John: “There’s gold in north Georgia!”

Jane: “Really. Prove it.”

John: “Prove there’s not.”


Of course, no matter what Jane does, she cannot prove the negative. If she says, “I’ve searched every cave and cannot find any gold.” John can respond, “but are you sure you searched all the caves not on today’s maps? She goes back and searches all the caves on all the earlier maps only to have John say to her, “but are you sure all the caves are actually marked on all the maps ever produced?” or “Perhaps you didn’t dig deep enough in any of the caves” ad infinitum ad nauseum.

Hence, for you to suggest to me prove babies are not born again at birth and go to be with Jesus is absurd. You could just as well and with as much force suggest “prove to me that unicorns don’t exist.”

Sixth, you ask another question: “Do YOU believe they will go to be with Jesus?” Of course I do. Babies (including the mentally challenged) have not yet acquired a moral capacity to discern evil and good. And, since God only judges them for actual sin not original sin, they are graciously safe in the Master’s arms. You further ask if  I believe “all those babies who have been aborted throughout even say the last 40 years are in heaven or or not. I’ve made this clear that they are based upon biblical revelation that explicitly says we’re judged for those things we actually do, not for some supposed “original” guilt which has been “imputed” to us.

You inquire further, “Were they righteous in the womb? Sinless? Innocent? If so, on what basis did they need Jesus? This is a chief problem with Adam H's whole theology on this subject.” Well, no that isn’t the “chief problem” with Harwood’s position. He never once says infants are either sinless or do not need Jesus as I recall. If he did, produce it. And, I’ll get him to address it.

Rather Harwood suggests we (including all infants) are conceived in sin, are subject to sin as it is inherited through a sinful nature but Adam’s guilt is not imputed to us. Now, either quote Harwood correctly or drop the point, Les.By the way, you have absolutely no basis upon which to criticize Harwood’s position which is built upon the exposition of Scripture when you cannot produce a single verse to substantiate you own view about babies being born again upon death (for the record there are some theologians who take this view but rather than do the tough work of understanding how they come to their conclusion, you simply become absurd and say “prove babies aren’t born again upon death!).

You ask: “Do you Peter believe infants dying in infancy are born again upon their death?” Uh? No I’ve not said such nor implied such. Nor did you say above your view “is not based on any one passage.” You specifically said, ““There isn't one”!  And, you then ask me to produce the verses that says babies are not born again upon death. What a Georgia hoot.

Seventh, you suggest all infants dying in infancy are born again. And you do so because you believe them to be “elect”: “Let me be clear. I believe that ALL infants dying in infancy (and the severly [sic] mentally deficient) are elect.”

So let me get this straight:

--all human beings are guilty of Adam’s sin and infants are human beings,so infants are guilty of Adam’s sin

--all human beings guilty of Adam’s sin are condemned for Adam’s sin, and since infants are human beings, infants are condemned for Adam’s sin

--all God’s elect have Adam’s sin and actual sin paid for in Jesus’ death. And, since Jesus paid for the elect’s sin, all the elect are saved while all the non-elect are condemned for original sin and actual sin

--all infants dying in infancy and all mentally challenged persons regardless of age are God’s elect, so infants dying in infancy and all mentally challenged persons are saved since Jesus dies for all God’s elect.

I think I got that. And, I think I’ll write an entire post on it, Les.

 

P.S.

The Theology of Infant Salvation by Robert A. Webb (Ronald Nash followed Webb’s argument in his little book) may be the “majority in Reformed circles” now, but it has not been in history. I said somewhere in the exchange this is only a recent shift in Reformed circles. Even more significant, Webb does not represent Reformed confessional history I’m afraid. Reformed people do not follow people remember? Reformed people are confessional fellowships. Hence, since confessions trump any single author no matter how strongly Reformed he may be, to get a "better understanding" of the view you're explaining, a much better resource would be Reformed confessions, particularly The Westminster Confession…

Les Prouty

Peter, thanks for the lengthy response. I hope to get back to this tonight. But there is much to which I must respond. I'm pretty busy getting ready for my next tri to Haiti and other pressing matters. But I will be back at some point.

Thanks for the exchange.

Les

Adam Harwood

Peter,

I appreciate your call for Les to provide a quote. He won't find one. What they claim is an implication of my proposal (the death of Jesus is unnecessary) which I anticipate and refute in the last chapter of my book. (See extended quote from my book below.)

Your extended reply to Les brilliantly presses our Calvinistic brothers to acknowledge their embrace of Augustine's presupposition (infant guilt) but their rejection of both an implication (some infant in hell) and solution (baptismal regeneration).

As Monergists, consistent Calvinists claim God can regenerate people apart from their knowledge (infants and even the man in a coma mentioned above). Anecdotal evidence based on my lifetime in Southern Baptist churches from Hawaii to Rhode Island as a military brat: Most Southern Baptists do not embrace that view. Why? Most Southern Baptists are not Monergists.

The differences between most Calvinists and non-Calvinists on infant salvation is this:

- They say we deny the need for the death of Jesus to atone for sin. We deny the claim and say sin-stained infants are welcomed by God into heaven by the work of Christ on the Cross. I claim a biblical basis for my view.

- They say infants are guilty, thus require the application of the atoning work of Christ. This regeneration must occur apart from an explicit confession of faith in Christ. My reply: Inherited guilt is unfounded in the Bible and the salvation of GUILTY infants apart from a personal confession of faith is explicitly denied by the BFM, which states: "There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."

***Harwood’s response to the claim that a denial of Inherited Guilt results in a denial of the need for the Atoning Work of Christ:***

There is only one way to heaven, through Christ. No one gets to heaven without the Cross. GUILTY people are forgiven of their sin by repenting of sin and believing in Jesus. If infants are not guilty of Adam’s first sin, then on what basis are they guilty? Physical death and condemnation from living in a fallen world is NOT personal GUILT from which one is accountable to God. If infants are NOT YET guilty, then they are not obligated to repent and believe. But the Bible never calls infants sinless.

This may not provide a clean, crisp answer but we must tread carefully in order to say as much as the Bible says and no more. From page 154 of The Spiritual Condition of Infants: "For those readers who have been reading through this book waiting for a declarative statement on the spiritual condition of infants, here it is: Infants are sin-stained, not guilty. Infants are not sinless because they inherit a sinful nature. But infants are not guilty because God judges our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, not our nature. If I were pressed to speculate how God might deal with people who die in their infancy, I would offer this suggestion: All people who die in their infancy will be included in God’s restoration of his fallen creation through Christ’s work at the cross. Perhaps this is the time Jesus mentioned as 'the renewal of all things' (Matt 19:28). Paul said that creation would be set free from its bondage to decay (Rom 8:19–23). Although infants are not guilty of sin, they have been stained by it. Even though they have not knowingly acted in ways that would incur God’s judgment, they may be in need of God’s redemptive and renewing work. And it is Jesus who promises, 'Behold, I make all things new' (Rev 21:5)."

Blessings, brothers.

Adam

Randall Cofield

From Dr. Harwood's post:

Inherited guilt is unfounded in the Bible and the salvation of GUILTY infants apart from a personal confession of faith is explicitly denied by the BFM, which states: "There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."

From the Word of God:

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

It is no more difficult for God to create faith in an infant (pre or post birth) than it is for Him to create it in a fully cognizant adult.

As Monergists, consistent Calvinists claim God can regenerate people apart from their knowledge (infants and even the man in a coma mentioned above). Anecdotal evidence based on my lifetime in Southern Baptist churches from Hawaii to Rhode Island as a military brat: Most Southern Baptists do not embrace that view. Why? Most Southern Baptists are not Monergists.

The first sentence of that paragraph is incorrect.

The last sentence of that paragraph is precisely what has necessitated this entire kerfuffle.

Traditionalists believe God can't save us all by Himself...we have to "help" him...

And infants can't do that.

Jonah 2:8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!
peter lumpkins

Dr. Harwood,

Thanks for clearing it up precisely what you book states. I hope some of our commenters will be more careful in citing references they cannot substantiate...

peter lumpkins

All,

For those interested in what Calvin embraced concerning whether all infants dying in infancy would be saved because all are "elect" consider the batch of quotes below. How Les' assertion pertaining to a relatively unknown theologian (Robert Webb) qualifying as representing what the Reformed circle embraces jives with John Calvin himself seems strained:

John Calvin on Infant Salvation

  • And the Apostle most distinctly testifies, that “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” (Rom. 5:12); that is, are involved in original sin, and polluted by its stain. Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother’s womb, suffer not for another’s, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt. (Institutes, Book 2, Ch 1 Sec. 8--Bev)
  • “But how, they ask, are infants regenerated, when not possessing a knowledge of either good or evil? We answer, that the work of God, though beyond the reach of our capacity, is not therefore null. Moreover, infants who are to be saved (and that some are saved at this age is certain) must, without question, be previously regenerated by the Lord. For if they bring innate corruption with them from their mother’s womb, they must be purified before they can be admitted into the kingdom of God, into which shall not enter anything that defileth (Rev. 21:27). If they are born sinners, as David and Paul affirm, they must either remain unaccepted and hated by God, or be justified.(Inst. Book 4,Ch 16 Sec. 17--Bev)
  • And, indeed, Christ was sanctified from earliest infancy, that he might sanctify his elect in himself at any age, without distinction…This, at least, we set down as incontrovertible, that none of the elect is called away from the present life without being previously sanctified and regenerated by the Spirit of God (Inst. Book 4, Ch 16 Sec. 18--Bev)
  • “As far as relates to young children, they seem to perish not by their own, but for another’s fault; but the solution is twofold; for although sin does not appear in them, yet it is latent, since they carry about with them corruption shut up in their soul, so that they are worthy of condemnation before God (Ezek. Comm. 18:4)
  • “We ought, therefore, to hold it as a settled point, that all who are destitute of the grace of God are involved in the sentence of eternal death. Hence it follows, that the children of the reprobate, whom the curse of God pursues, are liable to the same sentence. Isaiah, therefore, does not speak of innocent children, but of flagitious and unprincipled children who perhaps even exceeded their parents in wickedness; in consequence of which they were justly associated with their parents, and subjected to the same punishment, seeing that they have followed the same manner of life…it was with their parents that the rejection began, on account of which they also have been forsaken and rejected by God. Their own guilt is not set aside as if they had been innocent; but, having been involved in the same sins as to reprobation, they are also liable to the same punishments and miseries (Isa. Comm 14:21)
  • “I again ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy unless that it so seemed meet to God? Here the most loquacious tongues must be dumb. The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknow what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. Should any one here inveigh against the prescience of God, he does it rashly and unadvisedly. For why, pray, should it be made a charge against the heavenly Judge, that he was not ignorant of what was to happen? Thus, if there is any just or plausible complaint, it must be directed against predestination” (Inst. Book 3, Ch 23 Sec 7)   

    Of the particular passage above, 19th C. Reformed theologian Dr. H. J. Van Dyke  says:



  • "Now let us be candid with ourselves, and even with our opponents. Historic Calvinism does include what Calvin himself calls the horribile decretum, that by the election and predestination of God many nations, with their infant children, are irretrievably doomed to eternal death” (Variations within Calvinism, pp.39-40)



  • “If those on whom the Lord has bestowed his election, after receiving the sign of regeneration, depart this life before they become adults, he, by the incomprehensible energy of his Spirit, renews them in the way which he alone sees to be expedient” (Inst. Book 4, Sec. 16, 21)

    NOTE: my deepest apologies on the reference citations above in case some interested reader did not find the some of the citations properly sourced. Apparently, when I assembled them (about 2 years ago), I used different translations of Calvin. To my knowledge, any citation I cited which didn't match is now correct.

peter lumpkins

All,

Note carefully Reformed theologian B.B. Warfield concluded on all the Reformed theologians gathered at the Synod of Dort. Warfield sums up their view:

“No synod probably ever met which labored under greater temptation to declare that some infants, dying in infancy, are reprobate, than the Synod of Dort. Possibly nearly every member of it held as his private opinion that there are such infants…” (Works, Vol 9, p.284).

Another summation on the Synod of Dort comes from Dr. Phillip Schaff who writes:

"In the Synod of Dort (1619) the Calvinists, including the delegates of the Church of England, asserted in various shapes infant reprobation and infant damnation against the Arminians, who at first admitted a sort of negative hell for some infants (the poena damni, as distinct from the poena sensus), but afterwards positively maintained the salvation of all infants dying in infancy" (bold mine, Creed Revision in the Presbyterian Churches, p. 19; quoted in Elect Infants, John Vant Stephens, p.61).

And, to round it off, Warfield again speaks of the Westminster Divines who produced the Westminster Confession of Faith:

“What has been said of the Synod of Dort may be repeated of the Westminster Assembly. The Westminster divines were generally at one in the matter of infant salvation with the doctors of Dort, but, like them, they refrained from any deliverance as to its negative side” (bold mine, Works, p.284).

peter lumpkins

One more round of Reformed theologians and scholars who did not view all infants dying in infancy as “elect”, quotes which hardly makes Les’ citation of Robert Webb as the possible goto man for understanding how the Reformed community views infants dying in infancy—at least how the Reformed community has historically viewed infants dying in infancy up until only recently—. Far from believing all infants dying in infancy were elect, they almost in one accord stated only "elect" babies go to heaven. All reprobate babies burn in hell. I hope the composition of quotes helpful:  

  • William Twisse, the Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly: “If many thousands,even all the infants of Turks and Sarazens dying in original sinne, are tormented by him in hell fire, is he to be accounted the father of cruelties for this?…dares he censure God, as a Father of cruelties for executing eternall death upon them that are guilty of it?" And, again: “Many infants depart from this life in original sin, and consequently are condemned to eternal death on account of original sin alone; therefore from the sole transgression of Adam condemnation to eternal death has followed upon many infants" (all bold mine here and following)
  • Anthony Burgess, influential member of the Westminster Assembly:  “We must necessarily make a distinction between such as are born under the Covenant, and such whose parents and their seed are strangers from it, and therefore with the Remonstrants to conclude, That all Infants, though born of Pagans, are surely saved, is to put no difference between being in the Covenant of Grace, and to be without, which yet the Scripture doth…”
  • Richard Baxter, author of The Reformed Pastor: “…all the infants of true believers who have right to the covenant and baptism in foro eoeli, as well as in foro ecchsiae,have also thereby right to the pardon of original sin, and to adoption, and to heaven, which right is by baptism sealed and delivered to them”
  • Jonathan Edwards, Revivalist, Philosopher, and Contemporary icon of Neo-Calvinism: “We may well argue from these things, that infants are not looked upon by God as sinless, but that they are by nature children of wrath, seeing this terrible evil comes so heavily on mankind in infancy. But besides these things, which are observable concerning the mortality of infants in general, there are some particular cases of the death of infants, which the Scripture sets before us, that are attended with circumstances, in a particular manner giving evidences of the sinfulness of such, and their just exposedness to divine wrath…" And, after giving a series of illustrations of God’s destruction of Old Testament cities like Sodom and peoples like the Midianites, Edwards concludes: “And here it. must be remembered, that these very destructions of that city and land are spoken of in those places forementioned, as clear evidences of God's wrath, to all nations which shall behold them. And if so, they were evidences of God's wrath towards infants; who, equally with the rest, were the subjects of the destruction” (Doctrine of Original Sin Defended)

peter lumpkins

Les,

By the way. I could not resist. I had to check this. Your last comment to me was 2,346 words. Of those 2,346 words, a mere 879 were your words. A full 63% of your comment was copying large chunks of my comment to you back to me. Please consider this. I don't mind dialog but this is more like monologue. Sorry.

Have a good evening...

lydia

My goodness, Peter. I just real all those quotes from Calvin to Baxter to Edwards (whom I hear quoted a lot these days in YRR circles).

It is a short walk from viewing tiny babies as evil and deserving of God's wrath to burning a dissenter at the stake. Or drowning a believer for refusing to baptize their evil, guilty infant.

So, how does one know if a baby is elect? And this is one of the areas my reading around Reformed teaching I saw the idea was if their parents were elect (who knows for sure if being a Christian was madatory in those days?) and the baby was baptized into the Covenant family or whatever they called it.

So, this begs the question. What if William Twisse came upon a newborn Turk abandoned baby. If he took it and baptized it immediately, would it then be considered elect? :o)

Louis

Peter and Les,

I will be much shorter.

We need to remember that the AP was written by Basil Manly, Jr., not Mullins. So, when interpreting its meaning, looking to Manly, Jr., Boyce, Broadus and Williams is proper.

As to why Mullins would use the same language, but might mean something different AND fail to say what he meant - well, we are just dealing with Mullins.

Mullins and the committee certainly could have used the language of other great Baptist confessions and not the AP when drafting the BFM 1925, but the AP seems to have played a great part, at least in the section being discussed.

Now, on to the infant and disabled discussion.

It seems to me that there is way too much assumed and inferred about the eternal condition of infants and the mentally disabled.

Why can we just not say that we don't know?

What's up with all the speculation and creation of promises that are really not explicit?

Les Prouty

Peter, two more tomes. Wow! Brother I cannot know for the life of me know where you get the time. It's 10:15pm in central America. I've just gotten home from a long day about a half hour ago, and with my low level reading comprehension I probably won't even get through reading your posts till midnight.

Maybe, I can reply sometime this week to all this, but I do have a job to do and never intended to get into this much of a back and forth with you or anyone else. When I do reply, I promise it will be much shorter. Just too tired tonight.

Blessings to you brother.

Les

Les Prouty

Peter, just read your quotes on Calvin. I have to take all your posts in small bites. On Calvin, I'm confused. What are you trying to prove by all these Calvin quotes? That he affirmed that all infants dying in infancy are regenerated and go to be with the Lord? Or, that Calvin believed that only the elect infants go to be with the Lord and that not all infants are elect?

I mean, Calvin said (paraphrased) said, "“I everywhere teach that no one can be justly condemned and perish except on account of actual sin; and to say that the countless mortals taken from life while yet infants are cast down from their mother’s arms into eternal death is a blasphemy to be universally detested.”

Here is Calvin's fuller actual statement from the "Secret Providence of God in Reply to the Calumnies of Castalio Torn,"

"As to your objection that no one can be justly condemned except on account of actual sin and after actual sin there, is no dispute between you and me concerning the former; since everywhere I teach that no one will perish unless by the just judgment of God. I may not disguise, however, that there is a hidden venom under your words; for if the comparison which you propose be admitted, God will be unjust who involves the whole race of Abraham in the guilt of original sin. You deny that it is right for God to condemn any mortal except of actual sin. Countless mortals are taken from life while yet infants. Now put forth your virulence against God who hurls innocent new born babes, torn from their mothers breasts, into eternal death. Whosoever will not detest this blasphemy, wherever it is publicly exposed, may revile me as much as he pleases. For I dare not ask to be exempt and free from the insults of those who do not spare God."

You had said above, "it becomes unavoidable in concluding with Augustine, Calvin and the vast majority of Reformed believers through the years: some babies—unelect babies--burn in hell."

Augustine? Yes. Calvin? Not hardly.

Maybe I can get to a little more tomorrow.

peter lumpkins

Les,

Please do me a favor: read carefully before you respond. I clearly addressed those quotes to the entire thread readership indicative of the very first one

All,

For those interested in what Calvin embraced concerning whether all infants dying in infancy would be saved...

Hence I neither addressed you personally nor expressed expectations you'd read them in "small bites" nor necessarily even read them at all much less respond, Les. Nor was it such an amazing feat to post those quotations on this thread since presumably, according to you, I have so much time on my hands. I wrote on this a couple years back and it was a simple matter of c/p. It took approximately 5 minutes or so. Their relevancy from my view was perfect toward what we'd been discussing.

I hope that helps...

peter lumpkins

Louis,

Thanks. And I will be much shorter as well.

First, I find it both humorous and strange that you would counsel us here to look to Manly, Boyce, Broadus, et al when interpreting the AP when you no more than a half hour earlier lectured us all about the dangerous “legislative history” which allows the “subjective thoughts of one or two legislators” to taint the meaning of the text. You put it like this: “It's usually best to stick with that words that were written rather than subjective thoughts of one or two legislators." You now find it convenient to counsel us all to look to a host of “subjective” witnesses rather than the text itself. How fun ;^)

Yes, you are correct. Mullins didn’t write the AP. But he did write what he thought the AP said. Further, that ax slings both ways, Louis; if you want to know what the 1925 BF&M means, do not appeal to Boyce, Dagg, Manly, Williams or other mid-19th c SBTS professor. Instead, look to Mullins, Dargan, Conner, Cody, Scarborough none of whom embraced imputed guilt.

Now as for President Mullins’ right to interpret the AP the way he understands it, we can do no better than quote the current president of Southern

“In response to a question about professors who might not conform to his interpretation of the Abstract of Principles, the seminary's confessional document, Mohler said: "I want to interpret it (the abstract) just as it was intended by its authors, the committee that pulled it together. When it comes right down to it, it is the president's responsibility to interpret the document and do so as forthrightly as possible, as honestly as possible, as fairly as possible and take whatever actions and recommendations that are appropriate given that document, its history and its function as a contractual document of this institution” BP 4/12/93

Dr. Mohler obviously thinks the bottom line is, the AP’s interpretation belongs to the president. If you allow Mohler his liberty and responsibility to honestly interpret the AP the way he sees it, what is your problem with Mullins honestly interpreting it the way he sees it?

As for whether the question on infant salvation is significant or not…knowable or not…I defer. I’ve addressed this in the thread.

Les Prouty

Peter,

First, "Hence I neither addressed you personally nor expressed expectations you'd read them in "small bites" nor necessarily even read them at all much less respond, Les."

Ok. I read it carefully. I didn't think you addressed me personally any more than you, I'm sure, didn't think I was addressing you personally when I asked my question of Lydia way back up thread. Yet you responded to me by name for my question to Lydia.

My "small bites" comment was simply a recognition of the amount you wrote. Sort of in jest, as was the "where do you get the time" comment. I hope you were not offended at those words. I'm sorry if you were. They were meant in good fun.

But I'm slow. Were the Calvin quotes meant to show him as bolstering your argument or mine or neither.

Have a blessed day.

Les

Louis

Peter:

Excellent point. I am not trying to sound inconsistent, but it can look that way.

I am all for sticking with the words. I believe that the better interpretation from a word standpoint is imputed guilt. Then we look to Manly, Jr. et al and that is consistent with what they wrote.

I will happily concede that Mullins probably did not believe the same thing as those guys, but why did he use the same language? It really baffles the mind.

I just think that we are again dealing with Mullins, and that is what you get when you deal with him in places. I have heard the story that when Clarence Darrow's legal team was searching for a fundamentalist expert witness who also believed in theistic evolution to testify in the Scopes trial, that they contacted or sent emissaries to contact Mullins. Mullins was supposedly offended because he could not see how they would think he would believe in theistic evolution. If this story is true, it's not just religious people who got confused about Mullins did or did not believe.

And I have no beef against Mullins. He stands as a giant in SBC history. Just not it's future. I feel the same about Hobbs.

And as I just said in my other response, I am not trying to be as difficult as it appears you think I am. I will try to be more friendly in my writing so that comes across.

These are good discussions, and I appreciate them.

peter lumpkins

Les,

I haven't a clue why you're confused. The quotes are fairly straight forward. Calvin embraced universal sinful guilt which led to universal human condemnation by a just and holy God--the identical proposition you've argued for...the identical proposition your faith tradition embraces in Westminster.

The confusion comes not from what I wanted to "prove" but what you're now suggesting: Augustine believed some babies burn in hell but Calvin did not. Contra every single citation I offered above, you imply Calvin denied what much of the Reformed community affirmed throughout history. Added to this, you incredibly paraphrase Calvin thusly:

"I everywhere teach that no one can be justly condemned and perish except on account of actual sin..."

Sweet heavens! You've made me and Dr. Harwood into raving Calvinists for that is precisely one of the primary planks upon which we stand! You also contradict yourself. Earlier you explicitly denied the distinction between actual and original sin makes the slightest difference of whether a child is morally culpable before God..

Consider: when I summarized your perspective above about it being "a moot point" to identify an age discernment on what constitutes a person becoming morally culpable for actual sin since, for you, "actual sin remains irrelevant as to whether an infant—born or unborn—is morally culpable before God,” you replied straightforwardly "Agree...Correct." Even so, you now pass Calvin off as suggesting "original sin" doesn't matter before God. Only a person with "actual sin" can be "justly condemned" by God.

No, Les, I'm afraid it's not the quotes I assembled on Calvin that's profoundly confusing.

peter lumpkins

Louis,

Thanks. I think we all sometimes write in a way which sounds much more contentious to readers than we honestly intended. I know my own failures at that juncture would be hard to estimate. Forgive me for coming across as either short or 'testy'. I appreciate your participation, brother.

Louis

Thanks, Peter. But please hear that I was not fussing at you at all. I was fussing at me. Your words are not necessary. It was the way that I wrote that caused you to think I was giving more push back than I really intended.

I hope to see you at the convention this year. I am sure that we have a lot of common perspectives.

Les Prouty

Peter,

Quickly. Calvin didn't follow Augustine to the point of agreeing that babies burn in hell. Yes I deny that Calvin believed what Augustine believed re babies burning in hell. My apologies on the paraphrase...not that I cited it, but that I was not clear. It is not my paraphrase. It comes from Charles W. Shields, “The Doctrine of Calvin Concerning Infant Salvation,” Presbyterian
and Reformed Review 1 (1890): 643, cited in Strong, Systematic Theology, 663. Calvin’s exact wording appears on p. 641 of Shields’s article, which I reproduced and to which you did not respond.

"You also contradict yourself." By quoting what Calvin said? No.

"Even so, you now pass Calvin off as suggesting "original sin" doesn't matter before God. Only a person with "actual sin" can be "justly condemned" by God." No again. I have not suggested Calvin taught that original sin matters not before God.

Have to run.

peter lumpkins

Les,

Just because you offer a single citation from a secondary source which seems to question Calvin’s stated and implied position of the fate of non-elect infants cannot be used as counter-conclusive evidence that Calvin did not follow Augustine on the fate of non-elect infants. Even supposing Shields is correct so far as Calvin’s words in the "Secret Providence of God in Reply to the Calumnies of Castalio Torn," a work I can find nowhere yet (I’m still looking for the actual work itself not Shields’ quotation of it nor Strong’s quotation of Shields), this counts exactly zero in explaining Calvin’s words in the Institutes and commentaries. Hence, I had no real reason to respond.

Even more, the supposed paraphrase coming from Shields hardly corresponds to either the literal wording in the quote he used or with a straightforward reading of Calvin in his more popular works. Nor does it correspond to Calvin’s understanding of predestination, reprobation, and regeneration. Nor does it correspond to Calvinist scholars’ rendition of Calvin’s works, the only exception of which you propose is Shields. In short to suggest Calvin everywhere taught that no one can be justly condemned and perish except on account of actual sin seems absurd. I assure you, I will go further with this when time permits…

peter lumpkins

Les,

Thanks for the Strong citation. I knew Strong affirmed all infants were born again upon “seeing Christ” for the first time but I didn’t know Strong denied Calvin embraced infant judgment—“Yet John Calvin did not believe in the damnation of infants, as he has been charged with believing.” Thanks for the heads up. Now, consider:

Strong offers on the same page, same paragraph, four pieces of evidence to conclude what he says Calvin did not believe—infant damnation. As time permits, I’m going to do a bit of research on all 4. For now, consider one of two quotes he offers from Calvin himself to substantiate his claim:

“In his Institutes, book 4, chap. 16, p. 335, he [Calvin] speaks of the exemption of infants from the grace of salvation “as an idea not free from execrable blasphemy.” (Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, 663).

From the way I read Strong, he seems to suggest these words are indicative of Calvin’s denial of infant damnation. Fair enough.

Now compare the reference Strong cites with Calvin’s words. Here is the quote from which Strong draws:

6. Scripture gives us a still clearer knowledge of the truth. For it is most evident that the covenant, which the Lord once made with Abraham, is not less applicable to Christians now than it was anciently to the Jewish people, and therefore that word has no less reference to Christians than to Jews. Unless, indeed, we imagine that Christ, by his advent, diminished, or curtailed the grace of the Father—an idea not free from execrable blasphemy. Wherefore, both the children of the Jews, because, when made heirs of that covenant, they were separated from the heathen, were called a holy seed, and for the same reason the children of Christians, or those who have only one believing parent, are called holy, and, by the testimony of the apostle, differ from the impure seed of idolaters. Then, since the Lord, immediately after the covenant was made with Abraham, ordered it to be sealed in infants by an outward sacrament, how can it be said that Christians are not to attest it in the present day, and seal it in their children?…(John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Institutes IV, xvi, 6, all embolden added)

Yes, Calvin was denying infant damnation but not denying just any infant damnation. Calvin is arguing for infant baptism as the new covenantal seal for the people of God in the same way circumcision was for the old covenantal people of God. And, just as the covenantal seal of circumcision separated the holy seed from heathen, so infant baptism would mark “children of Christians” from the “impure seed of idolaters.” It is this context Calvin argues that the covenant God made with Abraham is no less reference to Christians than to Jews—which included children--unless, indeed, we imagine that Christ’s coming either “diminished or curtailed” the grace of the Father (i.e. would exclude children)—an idea not free from execrable blasphemy. The execrable blasphemous idea is that children of Christians would be excluded.

To suggest Calvin here argues for anything other than the salvation of the elect infants simply cannot be sustained by either the language Calvin used or the context in which he used it.

I’ve never read much of Strong. But given what can only be called a contorted interpretation of Calvin’s words here, you can bet I'll always check Strong’s footnotes.

peter lumpkins

Quote from John Owen cited by Strong to demonstrate Owen didn’t believe in Infant reprobation:

Yea, and two ways there are where-by God saveth such infants, snatching them like brands out of the fire.

(1.) By interesting them in the covenant* if their immediate or remote, parents have been believers. He is a God of them, and of their seed; extending his mercy unto a thousand generations of them that fear him.

(2.) By his grace of election, which is most free and not tied to any conditions, by which I make no doubt, but God taketh many unto him in Christ, whose parents never knew, or had been despisers of the gospel. And this is the doctrine of our church, agreeable to the scipture, affirming the desert of original sin, to be God's wrath and damnation, to both which how opposite is the Arminian doctrine may thus appear. (Display of Arminianism, 179-180)


Not one single syllable suggests all infants dying in infancy are saved. Nothing. In fact Owen’s whole argument in the section is against Episcopius who had stated, "That God rejected none, for original sin only" to which Owen lamented:

“if you tell them that the question is not de facto, what God doth; but de jure, what such sin deserves, they tell us plainly “That God will not destinate any infants to eternal punishment for original sin, without their own proper actual sins, neither can he do so, by right, or injustice.”

Owen is arguing, therefore, what sin deserves—all sin, including original sin--and he concludes it deserves hell. Hence, the only way to escape hell is via the covenant (means) or via election (i.e. special election without means). But Owens is arguing only for the salvation of the elect--with means normally and without means specially, not that all infants dying in infancy are elect. 

Once again, the citation fails to produce the purpose for which it was cited.

Les Prouty

Peter,

I have a couple of minutes now and need to respond. I've been thinking over this thread the last day and a half while doing other things. It just cannot seem to leave me alone.

I think I am through with the back and forth on this one. I truly have neither the time nor desire to continue to go back and forth chasing down citations and reply. At most, all I have time for lately is short comments and/or questions (e.g. my original question to Lydia). And I'm sure you're pretty busy as well, though you're a fairly prolific blogger and make time for that. I'm not and I don't build in much time for it.

I've stated my views on infants and am comfortable with them, though I hold them not as strongly as other theological views I have. You may agree with my conclusions and differ on how I get there. Or you may differ on both. In either case, noted theologians both agree with me and disagree with me. That's usually the case.

And to the extent that I may not have satisfied you with my comments and/or have not been clear or I've been inconsistent, well it's not the first time for any of those. And I'm very confident it won't be that last.

I have been more and less active in reading and commenting over the last few years. Blogging and commenting seem to sometimes bring out the worst in my digital attitude. I can too easily devolve into snarkiness, arrogance and generally an ungracious spirit. I'm sure I've done that here more times than I want to admit. I hope on this thread I've conducted myself in a gracious manner (though my "Not Hardly" reference above a few times wasn't gracious).

Last, I have to believe you are a gracious and kind person in person. You're a pastor, of course a husband and father and a grandfather (I think). I'm confident all those people in your life love you. But in your comment stream, and this is only one man's view, you sometimes come across as combative and even unkind. I doubt you intend to do so. But for me, it's just not the kind of interaction that is enjoyable. But again, that's just me and how I perceive it. I'm not accusing you of being unkind. I'm just saying that the way you sometimes word things seem that way to me. Probably my own issue. Perhaps if in God's providence we ever sat down for SBUX we would enjoy each other's company.

All that said, I think I've gone far enough on this thread. I've got my next trip to Haiti coming up soon, a large family in town and looking forward to spending time with them (rather than a lot of time doing research and being online) and other responsibilities.

Have a blessed Christmas with your family and know that though we've never met in person, I count you as a brother in Jesus and pray the very best for you.

Les

lydia

"But in your comment stream, and this is only one man's view, you sometimes come across as combative and even unkind. I doubt you intend to do so. But for me, it's just not the kind of interaction that is enjoyable. But again, that's just me and how I perceive it. I'm not accusing you of being unkind. I'm just saying that the way you sometimes word things seem that way to me."

One of the things I enjoy here is that Peter does his homework. This does not go over well with many in the Reformed movement so when they want to use their typical one liners that work in their like thinking bubble world,they don't like it.

Peter and I have other things we disagree on. :o)

What is taught or declared as historical Christianity needs to be analyzed and discussed. This is not exactly a great position for the Reformed world. Because it not only involves what was written but what was practiced. I prefer to see history as history and not a treatise on truth.

Too many have been in lockstep listening to their favorite guru. I really appreciate the work he does here as I appreciate the work Dr. Harwood does over at Today. It really seems to me that many in the SBC YRR world take offense at the examination of REformed teaching and resort to ad hominem instead of real engagement.

peter lumpkins

Les,

Thanks. I'm quite sure I do not deserve the forgiveness our Lord gives to me nor have I ever believed myself a cut above another. Hence, as for being "combative and even unkind" I allow others to judge. Why you think you had to make this your last word rather than just leaving it alone without getting ad hominemly personal suggests, at least to me, you're probably dragging as baggage far too many emotions to the table of intellectual exchange, baggage which, for the most part, is best kept to oneself.

Even so, whether or not the above rings true counts exactly zero toward measuring whether or not one's reading of sources rings true to what is being claimed. Recall you are the one who posited contestable claims on this thread, claims which I thought deserved to be contestably challenged. And challenge I did and challenge I will even though some may feel it either or both combative and unkind.

There unhappily exists in many sectors of the Reformed community today--including some even in my fellowship of the SBC--men who do well with positing "truth" only in contexts sheltered from questions popping up here and there from the common peasants. However, when flung into the town square where liberty exists for even the peasant to speak his or her mind all the while questioning the mind of others, there the anointed dispensers of "truth"--in this case--the "Reformed" truth--shrivel ever so slowly away. Whereas before with striking confidence he commanded the masses because he controlled the masses, now he loses the masses because of the liberty of the masses. Verily, verily, the truth has set them free.

Now, toe-to-toe, taken alone, he may be able to over-match wits and intellectually pulverize each peasant one-by-one. Ah, but taken together, their collective liberty overwhelms him, smothers him, and in the end, chokes the tyrannical life from him. Such is the power of free church believers contra the controlling tendencies of Genevan Calvinism.

Thus, we may be considered either or both combative and unkind. But hear, oh please hear... it is because the Truth has set us free.

Merry Christmas to you and yours...

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