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Aug 23, 2013

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Adam G. in NC

I was wondering if I can get a specific text in scripture that directly confirms or denies the election of infants?

peter lumpkins

No, you won't find one, Adam. But neither do you need one, for the real issue is not whether infants are elect or non-elect, a decidedly Calvinistic framing of the question (which is why I framed it thus to Dever and Ascol) but whether infants who die in infancy are safely in heaven.

Adam G. in NC

OK. Is there a specific text in scripture that directly confirms or denies the idea that infants who die in infancy are safely in heaven?

peter lumpkins

No, Adam there's not. Neither is there any specific text which directly addresses 29 year old females. You're still missing the question on the floor.

scott shaffer
peter lumpkins

Scott

Thanks for the link. I haven't seen this video before. Even so, Dever never answers the question but rather skirts it, even dismissing it, as wrong-headed because he can't cite a particular "proof-text" from Scripture that points to an answer. Similarly to Adam above, he apparently thinks that if the Bible doesn't explicitly deal with a particular issue, we have no business formulating biblical answers. One wonders how Dever's approach speaks at all to any number of moral issues concerning which the Bible offers no explicit proof-text to cite.

scott shaffer

You may be correct, but I think you may be hasty in that conclusion. I'm certain that Dever affirms what the Westminster Confession and others call "by good and necessary consequence" in addressing moral issue when there is no explicit biblical proof-text. This is apparent in his many writings, and I think his answer is an application of this. In other words, there is no explicit proof test, but we know from scripture that God is just, loving, and wise; therefore, we can draw certain conclusions about the destiny of those who are not capable of faith. Now, I would have preferred he be clearer or bolder in his answer, but this was a short video and I have no idea how it was edited.

Max

Doesn't this argument really boil down to the fate of infants before the "age of accountability"? To the Southern Baptist non-Calvinist, such infants/children are incapable of moral choice and are therefore not subject to God's condemnation. To the Southern Baptist Calvinist, there essentially is no age of accountability before God ... you are either elected (saved) or not elected (damned) at any age. What love is this?!

Adam G. in NC

If there is not anthing specific in the Bible about this? How then should we come to a conclusion? What foundation should I have this belief be built upon? I'm serious. If I have an opinion, folks are gonna want to know how I got there.

peter lumpkins

All,

Thanks for the engagement. I'll be back shortly (when Hun calls, I have to respond!!)

Christiane

there IS an answer:

the only answer that matters, and that it is found in EVERYTHING you know in sacred Scripture about Lord Christ . . . His Words, His teachings, the way He was with people when He was among us, the Words He spoke about children, especially, and their belonging to the Kingdom

if people have a question about God's loving-kindness to little ones, and a question about the quality of His abundant Mercy, then they need to go in prayer to Our Lord

they will find their answer in Him, as only He has the words of eternal life

Tim G

All,
In the Dever dodges the answer and and takes a "pan out" approach in dealing with parents. The "pan" with the added emphasis from Dever about "justice" reveal that he does not really think that all infants who die, go to heaven. he is subtle about it, but his real answer is visible.

Why?

You would see the death of the New Calvinism movement if this principle were truly revealed - and they know that!

Louis

If I were an alien from another planet I would conclude from reading this post that we are all straining at gnats.

Here are the points of agreement among Southern Baptists.

God has provided a way of salvation through Christ's death on the cross to all who believe and trust in him.

Some people, due to age or incompetency, cannot believe.

Nowhere does the Bible promise heaven to all children who die before they are competent or to all mentally incompetent people. Even Peter agrees with this in his responses to Adam. (Though he mixes it up with something about 29 year old women.)

All of us believe that God is just.

All of us perceive that it would be unjust of God to condemn people who never had a chance (note, we don't believe that about people who have never heard, so that needs to be taken up in a separate post.)

All of us acknowledge that the Bible leaves out a lot of details about heaven, our resurrected bodies, etc.

All of us also acknowledge that the Bible leaves out a lot of details about how God specifically will transact with deceased infants, the incompetent etc.

Given all these things, is it necessary to strain this any further?

Personally, I don't promise any family members at funerals that their loved ones are in heaven because I don't know. I believe it is appropriate to read the texts about the promises contained in the Bible about heaven. If I were dealing with the parents of a deceased child or incompetent person, I would add the verses that indicate God's just treatment of them. And there I would stop.

God is the ultimate judge, not I.

I believe it will be good for Southern Baptists to be a bit less certain about declaring that any particular persons are in heaven, beyond the Bible's promises.

That would be attractive to people - read the Bible's promises and rely on God's mercy, rather than sound like a used car salesman or huckster making guaranties to people about things that we can't possibly know.

As for not answering emails, I think that given how much these guys have apparently already spoken to this issue, I would not answer his email either. I think I would have my secretary's secretary send him the link to the Youtube clip and be done with it.

peter lumpkins

Scott,

I have no problem with utilizing a reasonable hermeneutic embracing a "by good and necessary consequence" in addressing moral issues when there is no explicit biblical proof-text. Granted. But this isn't at all what Dever did. If we can, as you say, draw certain conclusions about the destiny of those who are not capable of faith, then why didn't Dever do so rather than skirt the issue?

Ron F. Hale

Peter,

The Westminister Confessions (1646) seems to indicate that only "elect" infants who die will go to heaven. It says in Article X:

III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God.

With many contempory Southern Baptists drinking from reformed wells ... it is not a huge step for them to believe that only elect infants and/or babies of Believers (only) go to heaven when they die in infancy.

I share the same concern as Dr. Harris and wished the statement read: "We as Southern Baptists believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven through the grace of God and the atonement of Christ."

It could be a great motion ...


peter lumpkins

Louis

If we are, as you conclude, “straining at gnats” discussing the destiny of a large segment of the human race, what please tell us, would constitute a subject which would not qualify as swatting gnats? Your judgment is frankly absurd.

You also assert “Nowhere does the Bible promise heaven to all children who die before they are competent or to all mentally incompetent people. Even Peter agrees with this in his responses to Adam.” And your point is, Louis?

Truth is, you’re making the very same point our “founding fathers” made in their debates about slavery, arguing since God nowhere explicitly condemns slavery, therefore, while slave-owners must be just and godly toward their slaves, slave-owners need not give up their slaves. Talking about a warped hermeneutic.

Morally demanding an explicit Bible verse to justify one’s action or belief constitutes perhaps some of the worse rabid Fundamentalism within our tradition. Do you really want to play that hand, Louis?

Nor is the main issue about what we agree about any more relevant here than what we agree about with Presbyterians. We agree with much of Presbyterianism when one looks at broad theological categories. More telling is, we agree with much within the broad theological contours of Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, we have profound differences in some significant areas. Hence, to simplistically suggest we concentrate on agreement while counting significant disagreement as swatting gnats counts exactly zero toward dealing with this issue.

Nor do I particularly think it’s helpful to caricature the theological position of those—including Danny Akin and Al Mohler, by the way--who believe there is more than sufficient biblical evidence to confidently state and teach that all infants dying in infancy are safe in the grace of God. If you either don’t believe that or find the evidence lacking, fine. But to liken us to a huckstering used car salesmen is analogically true in what way exactly, Louis? I’d like to know so I can go back and apologize to grieving parents with whom I’ve had to deal who lost a baby. I’m offended and a little bit perturbed you’d so glibly comment this way concerning this particular issue.

Well, I’m very confident babies do not burn in hell, brother. Now make your case I’m a theological huckster. I’m all ears. 

Nor do you seem to perceive that infant damnation is a theological albatross hanging around strict Calvinism’s neck, a burden from which it will not easily be freed. Two particular doctrines in Calvinism seem to necessarily imply infant damnation—absolute predestination and inherited Adamic sinful guilt—two doctrines this blog has repeatedly challenged; two doctrines which have repeatedly been controversial amongst Southern Baptists the entirety of their existence.. And, the silence to which some Calvinists now want to appeal remains nothing more than blowing theological smoke in our face.

Finally, your attempt at either humor or facetiousness at the end of your comment concerning Harris’ email remains non-sensical to me. These men are leaders among Southern Baptists. They have the spotlight. And, leaders who refuse to answer honest questions from editors of our denominational papers makes good sense in whose world, Louis? Please inform us. Page called us to “speak to not at” each other. He called for honesty and transparency. How is it either honest or transparent to ignore an honest question from a long-time editor of one of Southern Baptists’ oldest papers? 

Lydia

Besides the infant salvation issue, am I the only one who views this statement more Ex Cathedra than Baptist?

Edward Chapman

Has anyone ever considered Deuteronomy 1:39.

I know that what is taught in your religious philosophy is the doctrine of original sin.

I, myself, do not see original sin in the Bible, and yes, I am very well aware of the so-called proof texts that claim to confirm it.

Therefore, I do not for one minute believe that any infant is born spiritually dead to begin with, therefore, they are not lost to begin with.

Knowledge of good and evil is a prerequisite to spiritual death. It is at that point that one becomes lost.

The story of the Promise to Abraham is key to the Promised Land, a spiritual story about heaven. Deuteronomy 1:39 is also in the same realm of spiritual interpretation.

Who gets to go to the promised land?

1. Those who have faith
a. Caleb
b. Joshua

And

2. Those who have no knowledge of Good and Evil.

Ed Chapman

Headzupfm

22 David said, “While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ 23 But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.

David's baby, even though he was conceived in iniquity, still went to Heaven.

Ben Simpson

Dr Dever could not have been clearer in his answer in that video: he does not know about the eternal destiny of those who never become morally competent because in his opinion, the Bible doesn't tell us. Therefore, it is dishonest for anybody to say that he believes some children will "burn in Hell." It's also ungracious to conclude that he answers the question in this way to hide his true beliefs that some children will "burn in Hell." Let his answer be his answer. You may disagree with his answer, as I do, but you may not believe his "real" answer is anymore or any less without evidence than how he has answered.

Craig Daliessio

This is why Reformed Theology, and those who adhere to it, make me grind my teeth. Under all the theological arguments, behind every vociferous regurgitation of Calvin's Institutes and Luther's 95 Thesis and MacArthur's Study Bible, and Schaeffer's brilliance on social issues, there lies the undertone of supreme arrogance at the fact that "We're in and they aren't" It's like driving through Belle Meade here in Nashville...the very monied old section of town where only people with last names of Gore, and Wills, and Warner and those whose money dates back to the first white faces in Tennessee. It goes beyond snobbery. There is an element of lip-licking joy in many Reformers that has me alternating between fierce anger and unsettling queasiness. Holding on to this issue of "Election" even to the level of infancy is simply idolatry. They have elevated election above God Himself in many cases.
I hope I get a seat near the Reformers on Judgement Day, when they have their own personal version of Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation" and I can high-five all those who are welcomed into Heaven whom the electors would have given the thumbs down.

Max

Ron Hale writes "The Westminister Confessions (1646) seems to indicate that only "elect" infants who die will go to heaven."

As the reformed movement continues to flood SBC ranks, I'm still trying to figure out some of the intricacies in reformed belief and practice. Do folks of this theological persuasion believe that all children born into families of reformed church members (i.e., the elect) are themselves elect and thus heaven-bound should they die in infancy?

Does anyone know if Acts 29-affiliated SBC churches adhere to the Westminister Confessions? What is the Acts 29 position on the eternal destiny of infants?

Joe

It seems to me that Dever and Ascol actually believe on the term "Sola Scriptura". Just sayen

peter lumpkins

Ben,

Who are you addressing? It's certainly nothing I've written that I can see.

And, yes, Dever was clear but clear in the sense of stating his opinion the Bible offers no explicit references regarding infants dying in infancy. This proves what, Ben? The Bible gives no explicit reference to a covenant of works God made with Adam and yet how many of you guys insist He did so in the Garden, presumably including Dever? This is sheer double-talk.

Moreover, Dever says we need to focus on Christ and what Christ did for us on the cross. But for Dever, what Christ did on the cross was definitively for the elect not the non-elect. How circular could a person become? The love to which Dever points is an electing love, a love which apparently in Dever's mind is not applicable to a significant category of the human race.

Nor do many Calvinists like Dever and yourself apparently see God's absolute election applicable toward a large segment of human beings--infants dying in infancy. The Bible is "silent" we're told. Yes, and Boyce and Dagg argued similarly that the Bible was silent when condemning slavery as well.

Nor do you make clear sense when you suggest on the one hand that Dever "does not know about the eternal destiny of those who never become morally competent" and conclude on the other that it's "dishonest" to say that he believes some children will "burn in Hell." First, my queries to Dever were about whether he was one who held reservations as to all children being elect. Second, if Dever does hold to an agnostic position on infant salvation as you imply, then it follows it's certainly possible for him that some babies burn in hell. How then could it be "dishonest" to conclude Dever holds open the possibility some babies burn in hell?

Finally, Ben, if babies are human beings, and all human beings finally end up in heaven or hell, it follows that all babies finally end up in heaven or hell. This is a fairly easy question to unravel.

The fact is, you and others make it sound as if we're overly speculative in our dealing with the issue. The hoot is, Calvinism has the monopoly on the theological market for being overly speculative, beginning of course with God's decrees for which there is not a single Scripture verse to which one may appeal for their existence. But whole systems of theological dogma--infra, supra, subla--are based upon an ordering of decrees, decrees for which not a scintilla of Bible verses explicitly suggest.

Even so, Dever (and you) now want to say, "Oh, no. We need to be careful about what we conclude about infant salvation because there are no explicit verses to cite. We just don't know what happens to babies when they die. The Bible doesn't tell us."

Sorry. Just makes little sense to me.

Ed Chapman

I know that I may get hammered at this, but I feel the need to show this:

What is sin?

1 John 3:4
...sin is the transgression of the law.

What is the law?

Romans 3:20
...for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

That is a key word that can be taken all the way back to the Tree of KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil.

The Law of Moses (Exodus 20-Deuteronomy) is OUR MEANS of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve got that knowledge supernaturally. We get it by the law [of Moses].

Romans 5:13
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Not imputed. Before the law, sin was not imputed. Now, I know that this is something that most will disagree with. But let's take it back to Romans 4.

Abraham is the topic of Romans 4, and certainly this is before the law.

Romans 4:8
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Why will the Lord not impute sin?

Romans 4:15
Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Now, let's see how the Apostle Paul applied this concept to himself in Romans 7

Romans 7:8
For without the law sin was dead.

Sin is only alive if the law is alive.

Next Paul discusses spiritual life, and spiritual death:

Romans 7:9
For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

Why did he die? Because he got KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil.

Romans 7:7
I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

And this ties into Deuteronomy 1:39

Deuteronomy 1:39
Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

This is discussing the Promised Land; who shall possess it, and why? Children who have no KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil.

This was the same with Adam and Eve. As long as they didn't have that knowledge, they were cool. But once they got that knowledge, they died.

Now, tie this in with Born Again.

Born again is a spiritual rebirth, or, a spiritual resurrection from the dead.

Spiritually alive before knowledge (Communion with God), spiritual death at knowledge (Separation from God).

Born Again restores what was lost, bringing that relationship back.

This is the spiritual life cycle that I see from the Bible.

Ed Chapman

Max

Craig Daliessio - Your words speak volumes. Come Judgement Day, the first will be last and the last will be first. It's a crying shame that we've now dragged our babies into this theological rift among Southern Baptists.

JND

"averting a split in the Convention"

Isn't it a little late for that?

Craig Daliessio

Max...I agree. Reformed Theology smacks of idolatry and it's wrong.
JND...YES! The Convention is already split. And there are only two reasons why the YRR want to stay and infiltrate rather than break off and start their own convention
1: Money If they leave, they leave behind those amazing assets like Lifeway and those Seminaries. Of course if they REALLY believed in predestination they'd believe that God would simply provide some new (and scripturally accurate) schools and a nice bookstore chain)
2: Arrogance. Instead of simply breaking off because they believe the split is a major ethics issue, they stay and beat the living crap out of everyone who disagrees with them. There is always...ALWAYS the smug reference to "Sola Scriptura" implying, of course, that THEIR position is "only the word" while non-reformers are "preaching a different Gospel.
This is a matter of pride...and power, in my opinion

Joe

Peter, are you aware of what a logical fallacy is? And are you aware of the term "Straw man Argument"?

peter lumpkins

Joe,

Let me be clear: my time is very limited, especially this time of year. Hence, either say what you've got to say or else don't say at all. I'm uninterested in playing games even if I had time to do so.

Steve Burns

Anectdotally, David asserts that he will go to be with his infant son who died. We know that David is in heaven. We must assume David believed his son would be there also.

Ed Chapman

I am not a fan of the ESV, as it is the works of Wescott & Hort, however, I also feel the need to quote the following:

Job 3:11-19

English Standard Version (ESV)

11 “Why did I not die at birth,
come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet;
I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,
14 with kings and counselors of the earth
who rebuilt ruins for themselves,
15 or with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,
as infants who never see the light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners are at ease together;
they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
19 The small and the great are there,
and the slave is free from his master.


The body (verse 13-15).

Job 34:15
all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.

The spirit is a different story (verse 16-19).

I am perplexed at those who claim that the Bible is silent on this issue. This is what happens when theology is based on what dead people concludes. Are we not living that we cannot decide for ourselves what the scripture states? If the modern day preachers would quite writing books for money, and quit giving speeches for money, then maybe the living can dig into scripture instead of books, or what dead people thought.

I am not a Baptist, but it just sickens me that Calvinism is infiltrating places that it doesn't belong. This makes me cringe. We know that we are in the latter days now. It is my solemn prayer that Calvinism is given the boot at some point.

Ed Chapman

peter lumpkins

Hi Ed

I haven't read all your comments. But I did note the last line in a prayer's form at the end of your last one, the line suggesting it your "solemn prayer" Calvinism be given "the boot." If your prayer be answered pertaining to Baptist life, then you've just prayed for the demise of Baptist life. Historically, we've not been anti-Calvinism or anti-Calvinist. In fact, as I've often showed, Calvinism has an undeniable rich history within the mainstream Baptist movement as does non-Calvinism. Hence our free church ecclesiology just won't hold up under a boot-out approach.

What I and Southern Baptists like me continue to challenge is the Calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention. That does not mean I do not challenge individual doctrines of Calvinism. I do. But I do so as a non-Calvinist who disagrees with some of the points of their theology not because I desire to "boot" Calvinism or Calvinists out of convention life. I concede this distinction perhaps has not always been as clear as it needs to be but I nonetheless continue to embrace it on this site.

Ed Chapman

Hi Peter,

You had said:
"I haven't read all your comments."

The reason that I posted comments is for you to read all of my comments.

If any of the Torah was flawed by a scribe, it was thrown in the trash.

You had said:
"Calvinism has an undeniable rich history within the mainstream Baptist movement as does non-Calvinism. Hence our free church ecclesiology just won't hold up under a boot-out approach. "

My response to that is that you have a choice (Free Will) to either believe in the doctrines of Calvinism as a whole, or throw it all out as a whole. There is no middle ground. There is no compromise.

I have no problem with Baptists, by the way. What I have a problem with is that Calvinism belief system is OVERTAKING the Baptists, and before you know it, Baptists will all be Calvinists in the end. There is a spiritual battle going on, not just a few minor disagreements. The only rich history that I see is domination.

I am of Paul, I am of Appolos division.

Most Respectfully,

Ed Chapman

Louis

Ben Simpson:

That is exactly what I was saying.

We don't know what we don't know.

And it is unfair to speak for others or to try and put words in their mouths.

It is also a waste of time to pursue this line of inquiry, in my opinion.

Matt Parkins

It's a bit of a difficulty isn't it?

What kind of kangeroo court would find an infant guilty of anything such that they rightly deserve an eternity burning in hell ?

Conversely, if infants automatically go to heaven if they die, then - since 90% of infants that make it to adulthood will die unsaved - surely there is a moral responsibility upon the parents to kill their child before the child becomes morally culpable.

Oh dear, what a pickle you non-universalists are in!

peter lumpkins

Sweet heavens you've got us all where you want us for sure! Now why didn't we ever think of that? The God Who insists "thou shalt not murder" is willing to overlook such horrible moral atrocities as murder IF we murder them in order to send them to heaven--"thou shalt NOW murder." What impeccable reasoning you've uncovered, Matt.

Why, come to think of it, every time a person comes forward in an evangelistic invitation, making their public profession of faith in Christ, preachers should not present the new believers to the congregation but instead shove a .357 magnum in their face and pull the trigger. That way, they'd all be guaranteed a place in heaven. Incidentally, this should satisfy our Free Will brothers and sisters who think that persistence in sin forfeits a person's salvation.

Yep, you've really put the challenge out to all we poor non-universalists alright, Matt! My faith is in jeopardy. Devastated! I may even have to become a universalist because of your impeccable logic.

Louis

Peter:

Thanks for letting me know that I had not responded on your other post.

Will try to be brief.

Slavery and infant/incompetent salvation are two very distinct issues and the opinions or judgments to which we might come on these issues are based on different information.

What's there not to know about slavery? It's awful. I do not fall in the Doug Wilson camp of trying to rehabilitate it or come up with a narrative so that it is somehow accetable and doesn't make the Bible or Christian look silly.

What's there not to know about heaven, judgment and all of that? Plenty. We are told much. But much is withheld from us. I do know "demand" a Bible verse on each and every topic that exists before I have an opinion. But when it comes to human development, morality, judgment which belongs to God alone and heaven, a place we have not seen and can't really adequately imagine, those are areas, to me, which require some information before making declarative statements. We have some - on many topics. And we are lacking on others. Paul even chastises (the Corinthians?) for asking about what our resurrected bodies will be like.

Context is so important. There is much we can say to loved ones at a funeral. I could not bring myself, however, to utter the phrase - "_______ (insert name) is in heaven." Only God should say that. I can repeat Jesus' words, and I think that they should be comfort enough. Going beyond that, even for purposes of comforting people, seems to me to not be a thing humans should do. For me, that would apply to the funerals of my loved ones, and my own.

You are right that I do not perceive this matter as something that hangs like an Albatross around the necks of certain people. I suppose the witness of history is sufficient to demonstrate that even people who do not know what happens to infants when they die, but nevertherless believe that God is gracious and merciful, and share what they do know with those who have lost a child are able to give great comfort to grieving loved ones. Was Jonathan Edwards less able to comfort the grieving than say, Charles Finney (and I really do not know, but am using them for examples)? I have no idea, but I suspect that they were able to effectively use their pastoral gifts to comfort.

My comment at the end was in jest and serious at the same time.

I mean no disrespect to Mr. Harris, but it seems to me that the BFM and the Statement on Calvinism are sufficient. I also saw references to other statements made by Dever or Mohler or whomever. If I were they, I would refer Mr. Harris to those comments.

We are entitled to know that our denominational employees and trustees believe in line with the BFM. Here we also have the Calvinism statement. And we have whatever else they have said.

That brings me to my last point which I believe is a significant one. It has to do with the way this issue has been framed. There is a constant, harping, kind of drumb beat question - "Do you believe that babies are burning in hell?"

Let me suggest that in the very way that question is worded, and the number of times that phrase is used, may reveal something about this debate.

I have not heard anyone propose that theologically, except those who want to pin in on others with whom they disagree. Therein lies the problem.

Take Dever, for example. He specifically claims not to know what God does with all infants. So he has not said that "Babies are burning in hell." So the question is further refined, ah ha - "You are entertaining the notion that babies are burning in hell." When Dever has said no such thing.

Even a casual observer, I believe, would step back at that rhetoric and see that it is essentially unproductive.

That is what I have been talking about.

lydia

"We don't know what we don't know.

And it is unfair to speak for others or to try and put words in their mouths.

It is also a waste of time to pursue this line of inquiry, in my opinion."

Louis, this is just sad. You appeal to mystery? Or, is it uncomfortable? The question comes down to the very Character of God. If one buys into Imputed guilt for Adams sin, they have a problem. Babies are vipers in diapers.
The very nature of God is at question here concerning the most innocent of his creations. That is pretty important and worth pursuing.

peter lumpkins

Hi Ed,

If your purpose in posting here is that I'll read "all of [your] comments" Ed, then may I be perfectly candid: I have no intention of reading all of your comments or anybody's else's for that matter. It's not that I'm uninterested but I have no time for such. I do read--and thoroughly read--those comments to which I engage in any substantial way.

You assert, "you have a choice (Free Will) to either believe in the doctrines of Calvinism as a whole, or throw it all out as a whole. There is no middle ground. There is no compromise." Well, you're dead wrong, Ed. Calvinism is a continuum theological trajectory not an E/O proposition. You have neither history, nor theology, nor philosophy to bail you out of a nonsensical simplistic assertion. And, I'll say again what you dismissed--Baptist Free Church ecclesiology does not lend itself to "booting out" Calvinism. Now until you can historically or theologically dispute this fairly well settled theological paradigm within Baptistic thinking, let it go.

And, I'm perfectly aware that some Calvinists claim the coherence of Calvinism such that if one point is rejected so is all else. However, they are a) minority; b) almost always referencing the soteriological "5 points of Calvinism" not Calvinism per se. For not even the strictest Baptist Calvinist adheres to all of Calvin's theology. But given your careless theological E/O description, you'd have whom we normally call Calvinists not Calvinists at all because they don't hold to all of what can be called historic Calvinism.

lydia

"mean no disrespect to Mr. Harris, but it seems to me that the BFM and the Statement on Calvinism are sufficient"

Not sure about the BFM anymore, Louis. Seems at the time many were not aware that some were using different definitions of the same words many. Calvinists even define original sin differently. Grace is defined as limited for the chosen. The list goes on. Not sure this was really in the forefront in the days of the BFM as it is today. I am sure I am in the minority on this one.

I do not affirm the Unity statement at all. I think it is ridiculous in the manner it was handled and who was on the committee. So I am not sure what you are saying should be "sufficient" for all? I view the Unity statement as Ex Cathedra and not Baptistic at all.

Ed Chapman

Peter,

I don't get you mind set, but it's your free will to do whatever you want. If you want division, you got it, even if the Bible forbids division.

If you want to post moderated comments without reading them, you got it.

If you want to rely on dead people's essay's instead of scripture, stating that the Bible is silent on this issue, as it is for 29 year old females, you got it, even if I and others quote scripture debunking that idea.

If you want to claim sola scriptora while relying on dead people's opinions, you got it.

If you want to mingle belief systems, you got it. Free will.

This is one reason that God forbid Jews from mingling with the Gentiles. Mixing belief systems is never a good idea.

But, to each his own.

Ed Chapman

peter lumpkins

Why thank you, Ed. And know you have my express permission to believe as you wish.

With that, I am...
Peter

Ed Chapman

Peter,

I think it funny that you would say thank you to my sarcasm, but you are serious, even in your sarcasm back to me. Why anyone would take the word of dead people's essay's and opinions over scripture is beyond me.

How can you say that this issue is biblically silent when it isn't?

By your voluntary not reading my post, shows that you are more concerned with opinion than scripture.

Oh, you don't have time for scripture. You are too busy.

Got it!

Ed

peter lumpkins

Louis,

“Slavery and infant/incompetent salvation are two very distinct issues and the opinions or judgments to which we might come on these issues are based on different information.” Well, thanks for letting me in on the fact that slavery and infant salvation are two very different issues! 

More seriously, you entirely missed the point of the analogy, Louis. The analogy was not between the issues per se but the hermeneutical procedure by which they interpreted the issue. Like I said, Dagg, Boyce and others appealed to the silence of Scripture on freeing slaves and the moral regulation in Scripture for holding slaves. In other words, since Scripture doesn’t offer explicit injunctions against slavery neither should we conclude slave-owning is morally forbidden. The analogy I drew is, that’s very similar to those like you and others who say we shouldn’t make judgments on infants in eternity since there’s no explicit biblical verses which instruct us to do so. If you can’t see the analogy, I suggest you check your vision prescription. :^)

As for your statement about Wilson, you’re going to have to tease that out before I can comment on it.

You also say “when it comes to human development, morality, judgment which belongs to God alone and heaven, a place we have not seen and can't really adequately imagine, those are areas, to me, which require some information before making declarative statements.” I haven’t a clue how this affects the question of whether or not infants are safe in God’s grace or whether only elect infants are safe. You mentioned you’ve never really engaged this issue before, Louis. Well, it kinda sounds like it I’m afraid my brother. The questions just don't seem to connect

Furthermore you assert: "Context is so important. There is much we can say to loved ones at a funeral. I could not bring myself, however, to utter the phrase - "_______ (insert name) is in heaven." Only God should say that... Going beyond that, even for purposes of comforting people, seems to me to not be a thing humans should do. For me, that would apply to the funerals of my loved ones, and my own.”

In response, of course, only God makes the ultimate judgment. Bur can’t we say we believe A to be in heaven based upon A’s personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ and A’s life A lived as a faithful member of Christ’s body on earth? Heavens man, are you suggesting we never propose a person who dies is, in fact, in heaven? Now surely we may be wrong. A could have been the biggest hypocrite in town. But so far as we know, based upon A’s testimony and A’s life, A was a believer and all believers go to heaven. That's precisely what we're saying about infants who die in infancy.

Go back and read again what I wrote about Albatrosses for surely you misunderstood. I was referring to a theological conundrum not a pragmatic one.

Know also Harris didn’t mention Dever. He mentioned no names and attached positions to no one in particular. That was me not Harris.

Again you state, “We are entitled to know that our denominational employees and trustees believe in line with the BFM.” In response, we’re entitled to much more, Louis and you know that. I would want to know what denominational leaders believed about pornography if I suspected some believed porn was an acceptable means of adult entertainment. The BF&M has become a mantra to cite similar to “The temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord” (Jer. 7:4).

Finally, whether or not you accept the phrase “babies burning in hell” has not a scintilla of influence in whether or not I’m going to use the phrase. It means the same whether one says “infant damnation”—a more historic framework for the contrary notion of elect infants only being saved by God’s grace—or “babies burning in hell” or “infants eternally judged for inherited sinful guilt.” My guess is, you don’t like the phrase because it’s the phrase that pushes hardest the emotional buttons. Fine. I’m nonetheless going to  continue to use it.

Nor have either Harris or I been unfair to Dever. You wrongly assume demanding clarification is absolutely assigning position. And, I’d like to see other options than the two the Bible gives for the destiny of infants dying in infancy, Louis: Heaven or Hell.  Care to give that a shot? 

peter lumpkins

Ed,

Not interested. Have a good day though...

Ed Chapman

Peter,

I know you aren't interested in scripture. No need to tell me that. Philosophy is your interest.

Ed

Louis

Peter:

Heaven or Hell, yes. But it what context?

And are we so sure about the procedure that takes place before that?

We don't know about the state of the resurrection.

To begin with I can't even find support that there are babies in heaven? That is the first question I would like to know the answer to.

If I live to be 100 in a nursing home with no teeth and dementia, what age will I be in heaven?

If a person dies in the womb or in infancy what will they be in heaven?

If under your rhetoircal scenario, "Babies are burning in hell" are there "Babies being rocked in heaven?" Eternal babies.

I love babies and little kids, by the way, so that's where I will be.

I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said that a person who lives their life apart from God and who consciously rejects the Gospel is likely to do so at the judgment. They will acknowledge the Lord but will take no joy in him. Much like the demons. The Bible says that some will cry for mercy. But their rejection of God in this life is not due to lack of knowledge, so when they stand before God, they will really understand, and want to change their minds. We always assume that everyone af the end will cry out to be saved, as if they love God. They may cry out, but not in love. Again, these are things that I suspect.

A related thought along these lines is a question like, "Could Hitler be in heaven while the 13 year old Jewish girl in the concentration camp be in hell? How monstrous!"

I don't know where Hitler is, and I really don't care to discuss it, outside of this analogy. God's mercy and forgiveness are great enough to forgive, but the likelihood of Hitler asking for that before the bullet penetrated is skull is extremely remote.

I am sure that some theologian somewhere has already suggested this, but seems likely that when God raises up those who died in infancy or never had a competent moment on this earth, that they will be granted mental and spiritual capacity at that moment? Unless they are etermal babies for us to play with in heaven.

In such a scenario, is it completely out of line to think that some may reject God and others may accept God?

The Calvinist would say that God did not regenerate those who did not choose God, and the Arminian would say those who made the wrong choice made a bad choice. Either way, we would have the same situation we have here on earth, except with a much higher state of knowledge.

So under such a scenario both infants and the incompetent are dealt with in a way that would seem to satisfy God's justice and mercy whether one is a Calvinist or non-Calvinist.

Would I teach this? No?

Do I know what is going to happen? No.

Would I "entertain this notion" (I think that's Harris' language), no.

Can I unequivocally rule it out? No.

So, you see, with so much unknown, there are so many possibilties about end results.

I don't know any of this. I will leave it to God.

And that's where I end up.

I just cannot come down solid on any position.

I am sorry to disappoint.

Hey, isn't this why Cahtolics came up with pergatory? Maybe we ought to rethink that.

peter lumpkins

Louis,

What does "context" have to do with whether or not they are in heaven, Louis? For Pete's sake (no pun intended), you start asking a barrage of questions about which you apparently think answers may not be easily forthcoming assuming, I can only suppose, that all those questions make it more easily acceptable to not know what happens to babies when they die. Yet in the very first line of your extended battery of irrelevant questions you gave the decisive either/or answer--either babies are in heaven or they are in hell. Talk about confusion!

Louis, frankly I've never had a discussion with you before where you offered such a blast of empty rhetorical wind as you are with this particular issue. Not to mention your ineffective sarcasm of "eternal babies" being "rocked in heaven." Few serious theologians have ever argued such a weird assertion I assure. Nor am I entertained by it just to be frank.

Let's begin with your very first assertion you claim you know to be true. Namely, infants who die in infancy are either a) in heaven; or b) in hell. That's what you indicated you knew to be so.

OK, but a mere three lines later you defiantly claimed, "I can't even find support that there are babies in heaven"! Well, if you can't find support for babies in heaven, then why would you confidently assert in your very first line that they were in heaven or hell?

Let's begin there, Louis.

Ed Chapman

So why don't you quit playing this cat and mouse game?

Why don't you just give us YOUR PROOF that babies are in heaven.

You are sarcastic and mean to just about anyone who responds here.

What is it that you are looking for here? Just some means to take out your frustration out on people?

Ed

peter lumpkins

Ed,

Sticks and stones...well you know the rest. Have a good evening!

Ron F. Hale

The Canons of Dordt on Divine Election and Reprobation record the following in Articles 10 and 17:

Article 10: Election Based on God's Good Pleasure:

But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad..., she (Rebecca) was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Rom. 9:11-13). Also, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers:

Since we must make judgments about God's will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

(Article 10) seems to rest firmly in God’s divine election and that some will be chosen (by electing love) and some will be passed over (condemned to hell); those whom God hates.

(Article 17) points out that infants of the Elect (Believers) are children of the covenant and by virtue of the gracious covenant if these children die in infancy – their parents ought not doubt the election and salvation of their children. Their death is seen as “those whom God calls out of this life.”

With all this said, I like what Dr. Steve Lemke once said in an article entitled: Age of Accountability – he said, “Baptists have always believed that since infants are not yet capable of actual sin, they go to heaven.”
This short statement wraps it up for me. Blessings!


peter lumpkins

Ron,

Thanks for the contribution. Yes, the WC teaches infant damnation through good and necessary inference as you point out. That's why turmoil embroiled the Presbyterians for several years circa the turn the 19th century. Some Presbyterians who've commented on this site appear to deny the WC teaches it but Presbyterians themselves conceded this!

Bigfatdrummer

Ed, you said above: "If you want division, you got it, even if the Bible forbids division." Well since you want to cherry pick verses to try and make a stand on something let me try it. Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. What is a sword used for? Jesus was the first one that was a divider. Why? Simple He stood for truth. Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven? If so, then you have caused division amongst those that believe all roads lead to Heaven. Do you believe that Jesus is God's Son? If so, again you have divided yourself. Your rhetoric is atrocious. You can look for proof verses all that you want and believe that they are saying what you think they are--but in the end it is simply your opinion. Truth isn't based on a single verse but rather on the whole context of all of the scriptures together. Have a blessed day brother.

Lydia

Ron,

You are making me long for the days we were not a creedal people and thought such things vain.

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