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Sep 09, 2013

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Nate

Peter,

Thanks for the postings on this very perplexing topic. I have enjoyed seeing different theologians/pastors grapple with this. One thing seems to be coming to light. Those who speak as pastors seemingly lean toward embracing the grace and mercy of God for infants (that they are "saved"), while those who are writing theological textbooks or treatises' lean toward statement's like Watts (Scripture is unclear and therefore they don't give opinion).

As a pastor it is ernormously difficult to preach a funeral over an infant or to counsel a couple that has had a still-born or misscarriage (or in my own wife's case, a tubal-pregnancy that ruptured and almost killed her as well). I rejoice in the fact that Christ has overcome the curse and provides salvation for those who believe. I also am persuaded that Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. So I personally end up (though I can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt) that His death, burial and resurrection provides salvation for these little ones.

Interestingly, I haven't seen a post in this series yet on the age of culpability, which is a much more difficult concept to get one's mind around. Are you planning on adding any posts regarding that? It would seem that this topic parlays with the whole concept of baptizing very young children, (I'm speaking from a Baptist perspective, not infant baptism perspective) and therefore would be wide-open to opinions concerning isolating a specific age.

Max

Nate - re: "the age of culpability",

Steve Lemke provides some good insight: http://rebekah1.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/age-of-accountability/

John MacArthur has a similar view:
http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A264

As both Lemke and MacArthur point out, we don’t know the “age” at which a particular child is morally competent. Thus, it would behoove us to evangelize all children within our reach. To preach the good news of hope and eternal life for all since the Father is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Scott Shaver

Nate:

What I hear you saying is that as a pastor you would come down on the side of assuring the parents of dead infants of that child's salvation (even though you personally can find no evidence of that assurance derived from scripture).

Don't believe as a pastor I would be attempting to convince anybody of anything I wasn't sure of, convinced of, or convicted about myself. That makes you disingenuous.

Additionally, I personally see no reason why Pete or anybody else on this site should engage you further on the subject of infants and their spiritual culpability seeing that your mind is already made up.

If the example, attitude and teaching of Christ himself with regard to children (As suggested previously by Paul Owen)was not enough to adjust your interpretive method then I doubt seriously if any further discussion will make a dent.

Nate

Scott,

You need to go back and read what I wrote. I never said that I personally would tell parents of their child's salvation if I didn't believe that myself. Did I imply that my own child was damned, or that I would speak comfort to parents of things I didn't believe? Read a little more closely brother.

My remarks along the lines of Pastors vs. Theologians was in response to the series of Peter's posts and thoughts about the various examples regarding this series. What I have gleaned is that the pastors Peter cited tend toward the belief of infant salvation, while the theologians (and their works) tended to be less sure and wrote from a perspective of "we can't know for sure."

However, what I said about my personal belief was, "I rejoice in the fact that Christ has overcome the curse and provides salvation for those who believe. I also am persuaded that Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. So I personally end up (though I can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt) that His death, burial and resurrection provides salvation for these little ones."

If you are inferring that I am wishy-washy in my own personal conviction because I said that I can't textually prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, feel free to jump in and enlighten me with the "verse(s)" that explicitly state all infants who die are saved. Again, my statement was that it is my personal belief that Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection "does" provide salvation for these little ones, even while Scripture doesn't explicitly state it.

For the record, the difficulty of preaching a funeral of a infant or young child's death (or even the counseling of parents who have had still-born or misscarriages) is beyond compare. While we have hope in our Lord and Savior and parents understand this, you cannot imagine Scott the difficulty in this. Since my own loss I have learned to be far more dependant on the Lord and His Word than in any words that I can extend.

Paul Owen

Those articles cited by Lemke and MacArthur (ironically) are both quite helpful. It makes a lot of sense to see age twelve as the normal cut-off point, upon which the person would now become eligible for baptism (Baptists), or confirmation (Episcopalians and Lutherans) or admission to the Lord's Supper (Presbyterians).

Scott Shaver

Nate:

Not to belittle the sense of your own experience, my wife and I experienced a couple of miscarriages in our earlier wedded life (between 1st and 2nd daughter), I may be calloused but the miscarriages were not that difficult to deal with.

Would have been far worse (emotionally)to have lost an infant that actually survived gestation and succumbed after birth. And yes, during 20 years as a pastor I counseled hundreds of people through death ... infants, teenagers, adults, elderly.

Through all of my experiences I can say unequivocably that the greatest amount of assurance available to grieving family members was that available for small or infant children (both from scriptural inference as well as the teaching and example of Christ).

You ask for a scripture that clearly states the intent of God with regard to the unborn and I keep referring you to those passages where Jesus uses them as examples of the Kingdom,forbidding them not,etc.

It seems to me you value a verse that satisfies your intellect more than you value the God who demonstrated by word, deed, and example the very answer to your question.

So yeah, I have to say you come off to me as a little "wishy-washy".

Max

Scott writes "It seems to me you value a verse that satisfies your intellect more than you value the God who demonstrated by word, deed, and example the very answer to your question."

Folks, cut this quote one out and stick it on your refrigerator! In a nut shell, Scott has framed the SBC debate. In this war of words, "knowing" always trumps knowledge. What you have deposited in your "knower" through your relationship with Christ is never at the mercy of another man's argument! Revelation puts intellect in its place - the revealed character of God through Christ supersedes interpretation and opinion planted in one's mind through the teachings and traditions of men. "Who do men say that I am?" ... "Flesh and blood have not revealed that to you."

Scott Shaver

Exactly Max: Thank you!

They can kill the body and cloud the mind but they can't take away those things not revealed by flesh and blood.

Nate

Scott,

You continue to assume far too much about both my motives and my heart. Since you can't believe my repeated statements of "personal belief that infants are saved" then you are just appearing to be argumentative about my desire to validate everything from Scripture.

However, regardless of what my heart might tell me, I am forced to go to the Word of God as my ultimate heart examiner. Because the heart is wicked and I need to have a solid foundation. Certainly the Holy Spirit can provide understanding in areas that are gray, but without the Word of God to verify what we think might be "the Spirit" we are lost in a wasteland of our own "supposed knowing". And reality is that Scripture is limited on this issue of infant salvation. And actually Scott, you never referred me to any verses in your initial reply to my post, you just attacked me without even trying to read my post thorougly.

If the Word is not your anchor and foundation you are left the whims of opinion of men or yourself.

How can a young man keep his way pure, by living according to the Word. Your Word I have hidden in my Heart that I might not sin against you - Ps 119:10ff

So, I bathe myself in the Word so that God might demonstrate and declare who He is to me...

Sorry, I don't trust my "feelings" or my "heart" on matters of faith, I trust the Word.

Scott Shaver

Then you also have a real problem, Nate, with the idea of Jesus Christ being the criterion of interpretation for "The Word", "Your Word", "Scripture" ... whatever you want to call it.

Seems like all your "bathing" in the word has left you with some unanswered questions that the person of Jesus Christ might be able to help you with.

Scott Shaver

And Nate:

It's not that I don't believe your repeated statements about accepting the salvation of infants through grace, it's just that you always qualify your professed belief with a disclaimer about the silence of scripture.

Sounds more like, "I want to believe it, but scripture prohibits me." Logos constricted by the record of His own self-disclosure kind of thing.

Is what you describe as your personal belief about infants a reasonably confident and comfortable assumption or is it a conviction?

Lydia

Nate, Since your heart is so wicked, how do you know it is not Satan twisting scripture for you?

This is why wooden interpretations can become a problem. If you are saved and have been for a while, your heart should not be deceitful. But thanks for warning us.

Nate

Scott,

It would depend on what you actually mean by Jesus being the criterion for interpretation. If you are saying that you can only interpret Scripture by Jesus personally speaking to you, then yes I would have a problem with that. I don't believe that is what you are saying, but again, you are trying to bait me into false admissions. I don't have a problem with Jesus as the "Word" nor do I have a problem with the Holy Spirit helping us to rightly interpret Scripture, or that all Scripture speaks of Jesus. Again, for whatever reason Scott you seem to have a lower regard for Scripture as the sole authority for a believer's life. Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. For everybody I know that is the Scripture, not a personal appearing of Jesus to them.

Lydia: I will not presume, like Scott has with me, that you are belittling me by what you said. I do understand that a solely wooden interpretation (without prayer and asking the Spirit to lead and guide) would be dangerous. But I also don't believe that you are saying a believer never needs to worry about the deceitfulness of their heart and sin. We are new creations in Christ, but until we die or Christ comes again, we have to battle the old man (which is our wicked heart). And the way we battle the Enemy who attempts to twist Scripture is to let more Scripture interpret Scripture. This is why we should be very careful about camping on one particular verse for an answer to questions that are not sorted out completely in Scripture. For example: the baptism of the dead in 1 Cor 15 and building an entire doctrinal position on one obscure verse.

Scott Shaver

Nate, you can congratulate yourself on your fidelity to "The Word" if it makes you feel correct, upright, orthodox or academically astute.

From my perspective: As long as you belittle consideration of the person, work, and example of Christ (not some vision or apparition as suggested) in your interpretive approach, then the crowning glory of your effort is bibliolatry. Pure and simple.

The only thing you have left by which to make the "faith" decisions of which you speak is the guidance of your dead and living Calvinist idols.

Even they appear to be leaving you a little thirsty at this point.

And that should be a wrap on this particular conversation.

Nate

"The only thing you have left by which to make the "faith" decisions of which you speak is the guidance of your dead and living Calvinist idols."

It's interesting Scott that you have consistently added to the conversation and refuse to interact with my original post and my convictions. It's also not surprising that you change the argument when confronted with my refusal to bite on your innuendos. Where in any of my posts did I ever reference "[my] dead and living Calvinist idols"? In fact, when have I ever made a reference to Calvinism or to dead theologians of any stripe? And to even imply that I have belittled the person, work, and example of Christ is in one sense ludicrous, and in another laughable.

I agree we should "wrap" up this conversation because you have refused, since your first post, to actually engage in legitimate dialogue, instead preferring to issue straw-men diatribes seeking to attack me personally without any regard to the subject matter at hand.

Lydia

"But I also don't believe that you are saying a believer never needs to worry about the deceitfulness of their heart and sin. We are new creations in Christ, but until we die or Christ comes again, we have to battle the old man (which is our wicked heart). And the way we battle the Enemy who attempts to twist Scripture is to let more Scripture interpret Scripture. This is why we should be very careful about camping on one particular verse for an answer to questions that are not sorted out completely in Scripture. For example: the baptism of the dead in 1 Cor 15 and building an entire doctrinal position on one obscure verse."

Nate, The early Christians had the OT. That is all they had. Whatever did they do? Well, they had the Promised One. Ironically, it was the "religious leaders" of that time that had twisted THAT scripture that Jesus called out.

We are only seeing a repeat of that. Without the Holy Spirit we only have a "form" of godliness. Very Plantonic, in fact. Form over substance.

I have listened to Calvinist preach quite a bit over the last 10 years and what is missing? Personal relationship with Christ (it is hard to know their distant god who damns people before they are born) and the Holy Spirit. It is a dead "religion", my friend. And it can only survive by twisting scripture woodenly and you believing it.

BTW Nate, Jesus Christ DEFEATED the enemy. Instead of bragging about how sinful you are, stop it.

Scott Shaver

Glad to see you're finally running out of gas on this one Nate.

Also, please check definition of word "diatribe".

Why does everyone who disagrees with these young Calvinists (sorry Nate ... "Determininsts")have to be accused of hateful and forceful attacks, harangues, tirades etc.

When they dish it out it becomes "Speaking the Truth in Love"?

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