« On Calvinism and Infant Salvation: A Brief Proposal by Peter Lumpkins | Main | Reading Minds the Future of Fighting Crime? by Peter Lumpkins »

2010.08.04

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Pastor Troy in Florida

And the cult known as "Reformed" continues to grow.

Scary stuff, indeed.

peter lumpkins

Chris,

I had a nice response all written out and had a power-outage and, well, needless to say, the reboot killed my comment. In short, I think few strict Calvinists--at least those who surf the net--are aware of the weight this issue bares to their "system." If they follow the Reformed logic of Original Sin, they will conclude with Augustine-Calvin, Dort, Westminster, et al. If they follow their own terms placed on Election & Predestination, it leads to at least some reprobate infants. If they carry their presumption that God is deterministically Sovereign, it leads to infant reprobation. If they follow the "glory of God" in the "damnation of sinners" of Edwards, it leads to reprobate infants. If they follow the presumption God owes no salvation to anyone of us, as they often state, it leads to reprobate infants. If they follow the standard meaning of "individual" election contra "cooperate" election of Arminianism, it leads to reprobate infants.

Personally, I think the Calvinist is caught in one heck of a dilemma, especially those who market their view as "logically consistent."

Is it any wonder they now appeal to the "silence" of Scripture on the issue?

With that, I am...
Peter

Darby Livingston

"The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. They have venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear, so that it does not hear the voice of charmers or of the cunning enchanter."

"You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,
and that from before birth you were called a rebel."

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."

I have no idea where those speculative reformed types get any notion of infant guilt.

Dwain

I really have to agree with you Darby, that the biblical evidence is scarce. I do not understand how someone can say an entire theological system is wrong when the biblical data is just not there. It seems that God has simply chosen not to reveal this to us.

Dwain

I am not trying to be rude, but it really seems to me that your arguments are not from Scripture but rather an appeal to emotion. Every Christian would be wise to look at this issue and understand that God has not revealed to us what He has decided to do.

I also have read some other issues that you have dealt with and I believe the Calvinism-Armenian arguing to not be a good thing for the Southern Baptist Convention. At the beginning of the SBC and throughout their history Calvinists and Armenians alike have been in the SBC working together.

I attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which as you know is the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention. I own a copy of James P. Boyce's systematic theology and he was definitely a Calvinist, and he was also the first president of that school. My point is Calvinism has strong roots in the SBC that have always been there. Armenians and Calvinists have worked side by side over the years to accomplish many good things. This is an issue that can be debated, but not so childishly as to cause people to dislike or ridicule the people on the other side. Such as the cartoon that was posted. The cartoon simply was not truthful, and I do not know what else to say about it.

My point is debating these topics are good, but do it in such a way that is in search for the truth. Not the way that it has been being handled.

Mary

This has been a really good discussion. My husband and I are enjoying discussing the various points made on both sides of this debate. We hope that despite Dwain declaring "every Christian would be wise to look at this issue and understand that God has not revealed to us what He has decided to do. ". Is that really all there is to this discussion at our seminaries? I also wonder how many "Doctors" on this thread own copies of Boyce's sytematic theology older than Dwain?

Craig Daliessio

What troubles me in all of this is that a God who reveals His nature throughout 7500 years (give or take) of interaction with Humanity is not the God who Reformers worship. He can't be. NOTHING in His character betrays a God who relishes in sending anyone to hell. And I would think being sovereign would somehow involve being secure enough to not NEED to exercise the ability to send anyone to hell even though He could. That's where Reformers really miss their point. Just because He can...does He HAVE to? Of course not. He is no less sovereign and no less God to offer mercy to all and leave the choice to them.
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked...but Reformed practitioners seemed to believe "Well...He takes a little".
I maintain that those who go to hell will walk in under their own power and by their own decision...with a brokenhearted God weeping in their rearview mirror. I also maintain that there is more than a touch of arrogance in holding a view that God loves me more than "whosoever" and that I am a member of a club He created, the dues were the butchering of His own Son, and membership is based on His capriciousness. Nothing in Scripture presents that God.

peter lumpkins

Darby,

A couple of things.  First, I’m not sure for whom you intended  your comment.  Hence, the little barb about those “speculative reformed types” who are presumably being hammered makes little sense to me. Dr. Yarnell did raise the issue that Augustine speculated on the issue stemming from Original Sin.

Second, I find your string of texts frustrating, Darby.  There is nothing more unhelpful at times than c/p several Bible verses in lieu of answer.  One of the frustrating things is, you offered absolutely no help for us to see precisely how you believed the verses addressed the issue.  You didn’t even give a reference for them. And, I’m not even certain why you chose them.  If I didn’t know better, it appears as though you scanned a concordance and picked some verses you thought “fit” what we’ve been discussing (more on this below).

Now as for the texts themselves, since I do not know your intention with them, but only can guess, I’m supposing you meant these three verses as indicative of the Reformed view of Original Sin.  If I may....

A) You cited Psalm 58, one of several in a cluster of what scholars call “Imprecatory Psalms”, an inspired poem that mainstream commentaries almost universally dub as highly exaggerative in nature. What it has to do with Original Sin is not clear.  David laments the wickedness of judges and kings (Saul? Absalom?), calling down the curses of God upon them for their incorrigible wickedness.  So, are you prepared to call down a curse from heaven on 2 month old babies for their incorrigible wickedness, Darby?  That’s precisely what David does as a consequence of his perception into the wicked rulers’ hearts. 

The door into which you first stuck your key presumably was “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (v.3, KJV). Perhaps this verse was chosen because our Stephen also cited it above. Yet as with Stephen’s citation, this verse does not demonstrate the Reformed view of Original Sin. Old Testament scholar H.D.M. Spence writes:

“This is the language of hyperbole, and is certainly not the profession of the doctrine of original sin. What the psalmist means is that those who ultimately become heinous sinners, for the most part show, even from their early childhood, a strong tendency towards evil. He implies that with others the case is different. Though there may be in them a corruption of nature (Ps. 51:6), yet, on the whole, they have good dispositions, and present a contrast to the ungodly ones whom he is describing” (all bold mine).

In fact, John Calvin himself did not employ this verse to demonstrate his Augustinian views on Original Sin.  He concludes in in commentary on Psalm 58: “

“The stain of original sin cleaves to the whole humanity without exception; but experience proves that some are characterised by modesty and decency of outward deportment; that others are wicked, yet, at the same time, within bounds of moderation; while a third class are so depraved in disposition as to be intolerable members of society. Now, it is this excessive wickedness — too marked to escape detestation even amidst the general corruption of mankind — which David ascribes to his enemies. He stigmatises them as monsters of iniquity” (bold mine)

Hence, these verses do nothing to prop up the Reformed view of Original Sin. However, given the interpretation of both Spence and Calvin, Psalm 58 can surely lend itself well to the interpretation of possessing a sinful nature contra embracing the stronger view of Original Sin per the Reformed, a view not even Calvin embraced from this passage.

B).You cited Isaiah 48 which reads, “Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb” (v.8, KJV). 

I can only suppose you chose this verse because, at first glance, it looks like it’s speaking about individuals being sinners from their mother’s womb. This is what really makes me suspicious, Darby, that you simply ran a quick concordance check and pitched out some nice-sounding verses. You certainly didn’t do any contextual work at all.  Indeed had you checked, you would have easily discovered that Isaiah’s prophetic utterance is not about individuals being a "transgressor from the womb” but of the nation of Israel itself

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown interpret the “womb” as “from the beginning of Israel’s national existence” and cite Is 44:2 as more evidence of the same. More significantly,  we again cite John Calvin, one whom we could expect if Original Sin is present in the Augustinian sense, he would be the first to perceive it. 

Of this passage Calvin writes:

Therefore have I called thee a rebel from the womb. After having torn off the mask from this nation,…he gives them a new name, and calls them “rebels.” By the “womb” I understand to be meant, not their first origin when they began to be reckoned a nation, but the time when they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt; for that deliverance might be regarded as a sort of nativity of the Church. (Exodus 12:51.) But the people…did not cease to act treacherously towards him, and transgressed more and more, so that he justly calls them “rebels and transgressors.”

Once again, nothing to assist the Reformed view of Original Sin and an embarrassing text to employ in my view.

C) Darby cites Psalm 51: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (v.5, KJV). Of the three texts cited, this text *is* important and has been used to defend the doctrine of Original Sin in the Augustinian-Calvinistic sense (Reformed view). Calvin is as clear on employing this text to demonstrate Original Sin as he was in dismissing the other two. He writes:

“The expression intimates that we are cherished in sin from the first moment that we are in the womb…. And let us not imagine that he [David] speaks of the corruption of his nature, merely as hypocrites will occasionally do, to excuse their faults… [but]  refers to original sin with the view of aggravating his guilt, acknowledging that he had not contracted this or that sin for the first time lately, but had been born into the world with the seed of every iniquity. The passage affords a striking testimony in proof of original sin entailed by Adam upon the whole human family” (all bold mine).

Now, while we must concede this verse does have strong rootedness in Reformed theology for defending the doctrine of Original Sin—Calvin himself obviously employed it—it remains entirely unclear precisely how this verse demonstrates the view. Nothing in the Psalm mentions either the Adamic nature or Adam’s progeny. Indeed the verse fits perfectly the classic distinction Baptists have made between inherited sinful nature and inherited sinful guilt.  Hence, while the passage may lend itself to the Reformed view, it does not necessarily do so.

With that, I am…

Peter 

peter lumpkins

Dwain,

Thanks for your reply.

A) I do not think you are rude at all.  I do think you are vague on the one hand and confusing on the other. You’ll see why I say this as we progress

B) You think my arguments are not from Scripture but emotion. Yes and no.  You are correct my argument in the OPs have not been a Scriptural presentation; you are incorrect I have presented an appeal to emotion.  Instead I offered a brief historical survey of Reformed theology’s view on Infant Reprobation.  And, I’ll give you a shiney new nickel, Dwain, for every appeal to emotion you can find in these two presentations.  Deal?

C) You suggest it wise for all believers to look at this issue and understand that God has not revealed to us what He has decided to do. Decided to do about what? Whether He punishes the non-elect?  Whether some persons are elect and some are non-elect?  One of the fundamental issues is, Infant Reprobation strikes at the heart of strict, Dortian Calvinism, or we might suggest, “The Reformed View.”  In addition, as I showed from history, beginning with Calvin, moving to Dort, moving to Westminster, the doctors of the Reformed view were obviously certain they knew what God *had* revealed to do, a convenient fact to overlook 

D)  Whether or not you think it is good for the SBC to engage this debate is irrelevant to the point of this discussion. And, you are correct that Calvinists and non-Calvinists have been in the SBC from the beginning, and, for the most part, worked well together. But 1982 is a key date, Dwain.  That’s the year Founders Ministries cast a vision to “Reform” the SBC one church at a time.  Hence, if there is a problem between Calvinists and non-Calvinists, I suggest you start exploring Founders’ vision.

E)  You possess every right to think my parody childish. I have no problems with that.  But to suggest it “untruthful” as a parody needs to be demonstrated.  For example, these two posts are evidence the focus in the parody on Reformed theology’s doctrine that infants burn in hell was rooted in reality albeit the outcries to the contrary. My ultimate advice is, don’t watch the videos on this site if you do not appreciate their value.  Fair enough?

And, finally, may I suggest, Dwain, if you do not like the way issues are handled on this site, create one that you do like and explore the topic the way you feel it needs to be explored.   As for me, I intend to press on…

Thanks again.

With that, I am…

Peter

Darby Livingston

Peter,

Thanks for the reply. I was responding to Dr. Yarnell in both my comments. I thought I replied under his comment, but apparently didn't or it didn't work. Sorry for the confusion. Dr. Yarnell used David's child as the "authoritative" verse to usher in universal infant salvation. I think that's a stretch. So my point with the verses I quoted was to show that anyone can find a verse or two to prove a point. Dr. Yarnell wrote as though the reformed fathers had absolutely no biblical reason for questioning the innocence of infants - that it was pure speculation. While one may disagree with how the verses should be interpreted, I can't fathom how anyone can't think someone else may get a different idea from them. Again, I think the entire issue of infant salvation/ reprobation is somewhat speculative due to the lack of biblical evidence on either side. Good series of posts Peter - for obvious pastoral reasons.

Dwain

Yes Mary, seminaries teach us through Church History that people who go further than what the Scriptures teach fall into heresy. So, I believe it to be very wise to stop where Scripture stops.

God did not kill the children in His judgment of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness, but at the same time we see that people are sinful from birth with an inherited sin nature. So, what does Scripture say happens to babies when they die? It doesn't.

Many people probably have it and it seems Peter understood the point. Namely that Calvinists and Armenian people in the Southern Baptist Church have gotten along very well for many years. This has become a hot button issue in the SBC and from different things that I have read many people think that this issue could tear the SBC apart. So, my point is we really should attempt to continue to work together and not to tear each other apart.

Don Johnson

Darby,

Given the texts that you offered, are you implying that all infants go to Hell?

Darby Livingston

Ahhh... no. You may have to backtrack to the ongoing discussion over the last two posts to get the context.

Mary

So Dwain on a topic which has been debated since the time of Augustine the seminaries are teaching "let's not talk about it anymore. " As has been pointed out here if "reformed" theology has any biblcal basis than taking reformed theolgy to it logical conclusion would equal some babies go to he'll. Which makes it completely understandable why Calvinist don't want to discuss the issue. it kinda throws a wrench in the whole system.

Bless your heart Dwain, Southern doesn't seemed to have helped you with the correct spelling of Armeeeeenian. Whatever you do Dwain do NOT mention the Armenian genocide to a Turk. :)

peter lumpkins

Darby,

Thanks. I think it is helpful to raise the questions pertaining to this issue, and, for the reasons you mentioned--"pastoral."

I would add, Darby, and, in one sense, as vindication of Dr. Yarnell's strong assertions, the point you raise about the issue being "somewhat speculative due to the lack of biblical evidence on either side." Dr. Yarnell mentioned to Stephen the interpretative nature of the issue by suggesting "that [while] Scripture does not speak directly to infant salvation" it nonetheless gives us some very strong indicators where God's heart is on the issue (arguing from a biblical sense of a just Creator and loving Redeemer).

Furthermore, I think it is you rather than Dr. Yarnell who's perhaps stretching things a bit. I got no sense at all that Dr. Yarnell's position rose or fell on the passage you suggested (David's child). Rather he was answering a criticism which had been raised against its use. I may be mistaken, but I think Dr. Yarnell was much more interested in Romans 5, where, he argued, Augustine pulled an exegetical rabbit out of a hat. Yet when he inquired concerning the passage, it's tuck tails and run for cover time.

Finally, those who raise the "it's speculation" voice loudest is, of course, the "Reformed." And, why? I think it's because they are trapped by their own logic.

Indeed every single doctrine or Reformed theological "cliche" the YRR insist upon that which makes them "Reformed" points definitively to Infant Reprobation:

--unconditional election
--individual election not corporate election
--God loves Jacob and hates Esau
--God saves one and passes by another
--total inability
--God's justice
--limited atonement
--utter sovereignty
--God has mercy on whom He will have mercy

While Dr. Yarnell conceded the understanding he has on the umbrella revelational truths of just Creator and loving Redeemer drive toward the undeniable conclusion that all infants dying in infancy are under the gracious loving watch-care of the Almighty,
Calvinists want to have their cake and eat it too. When the very system the Reformed view embraces, as they interpret what could be called their own umbrella revelational truths, pushes toward the undeniable conclusion of Infant Reprobation, they blink... They stop...They stutter...They go silent. Not Calvin. Not Dort. Not Westminster. Not Richard Baxter. Not John Owen. Not Jonathan Edwards. No, the YRR; they say, "Pure speculation. Next..." as if such is an answer to the very difficult question.

But even worse, they sneak the Arminian answer in through the backdoor proclaiming "all infants are saved" while still curiously mumbling under their breathe, "Scripture is silent. Pure speculation."

In the end, while Infant Reprobation does pose some questions for historical non-Calvinism, it is fairly certain to say, the severity of the issue is not even in the same class as for high Calvinism. Nor is it too much to say, it may actually be an Achilles heel for high Calvinists who deny it necessarily implies Infant Reprobation.

With that, I am...
Peter

Dwain

I do not see how you can say that Armenians have a better handle on this issue than do Calvinists. As I have already stated this is not comprehensively covered in Scripture. We cannot know for sure what happens to infants when they die.

I can look at the way that God handled the children in the "Wilderness Wanderings" and conclude that possibly God will do the same, but is that a definitive answer to the question?

I also see that people are born with sin and born sinful. Yet that does not definitively answer how God will handle this situation?

And how can you believe that this issue is more of a thorn in the side of Calvinists than of Armenians? I understand that you are saying historically Armenians have viewed this issue differently than Calvinists, but what is their defense? I am simply saying that it does not seem that God has revealed this to us. I do not believe that this as an issue that either side has a good handle on.

I have heard many, many Armenians say that there is an "age of accountability", yet this is not in Scripture. Am I to believe that comes from the "Wilderness Wanderings", we could conjecture this, but still not say anything definitively. Am I to believe that this is part of Jewish customs and culture, as I have heard before? I don't really think so, because that is not in God's revealed truth.

I am simply saying that I cannot see this as a problem for one side and not the other. I understand that Calvinists today seem to be shifting their opinions to the other side, but is that really a bad thing?

And I do not know a Baptist that is really a historic Armenian. Today's Armenian is much different than the Remonstrants. In a lot of ways they look more like Wesley than the Remonstrants, other than the second blessing and sinless perfection.

peter lumpkins

Dwain,

If you cannot see the necessarily implications of the doctrinal assertions Calvinists employ, I have nothing else to say about that. And, playing ignorant is not an answer.

Nor is ignoring the greatest minds within Reformed theology who definitively suggested Scripture is not at all silent on the issue.

I mentioned above, unless you are going to argue infants are not persons, if you're Reformed, it seems one must either assert God passes by reprobate infants or has no purpose for them whatsoever. To embrace the latter is unthinkable.

And, I'll be glad to offer an alternative view to the Reformed position, Dwain. But I will not until you concede that classic, Reformed theology openly embraced Infant Reprobation and did so because it was not only a logical inference of their theological presumptions, but because they believed their understanding of Scripture demonstrated it.

With that, I am...
Peter



peter lumpkins

BTW, Dwain

Baptists do *not* claim to be 'Armenian' {sic]. Reformation theologies having an impact upon Baptists surely include Arminian influences, but Baptists per se--specifically SBs--do not now, nor ever, so far as I know, claim exclusive 'Armenian' [sic] roots.

With that, I am...
Peter

Dwain

I do not understand, as I have said repeatedly, how the two stand on different ground. I am simply looking at the passages of Scripture that deal with this topic and there is no clear Scripture informing us of what God does with infants. I do not believe this throws a wrench in any theological system, because God simply has not told us in Scripture what happens to infants.

I do not believe this to be playing ignorant, and I do not believe this to be avoiding the topic. I believe that it is smart to stop where Scripture stops and not to conjecture beyond that point. I see going further to be placing yourself into a situation that you cannot defend.

So, what I am saying is if you or anyone else can tell me what happens to infants when they die it is likely a conjecture that would be very difficult to defend with a Bible.

Dwain

Yes, I agree, but it would seem from your writing above that you were defending your position by going back to Armenian roots.

I must have misunderstood what you were saying, but that is what I thought was going on.

Dwain

What I have been saying is that the Bible does not inform us of what happens when infants die. So, to argue from this point will not get anyone anywhere.

If you have an answer from Scripture I would like to see it. I have read on this topic from different points of view and have found nothing that is satisfactory. Mainly because I do not believe that Scripture gives a definitive answer on this topic.

peter lumpkins

Dwain,

It's sheer poppycock to assert the Scripture is silent on what happens to infants at death. For heaven's sake, man, a baby is not a dog or a goat. You're being quite absurd. Until you have evidence to demonstrate that somehow young persons are not human persons, you're stuck with infant persons going to either heaven or hell.

With that, I am...
Peter

Dwain

Peter,
I have yet to see you tell me where infants go using the Bible.

I agree they will go to either heaven or hell. I have not said otherwise. I have just stated that we have not been given an answer from Scripture.

It is also poppycock to say that something is in Scripture and refuse to show where it is, I am saying Scripture does not definitively answer the question, "What happens to infants when they die?" And you are saying that this is the question that breaks down Calvinism.

So, show it to me in Scripture or we are both just wasting our time.

peter lumpkins

Dwain,

Can you show me in Scripture where a 14 year old boy goes when he dies? A ten year old? How about a 64 year old man? Please be precise or stop wasting our time.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Now, I hope you see, Dwain, the utter ridiculousness of asking the Scripture to speak in those terms.

And, no I did not state "it breaks down Calvinism." What I did state is Infant Reprobation is an insurmountable difficulty or "Archilles heel" which betrays a flawed logic and interpretative deduction, which remains, in my view, a reason they subtly move away from it. It nonetheless is embedded in the system.

With that, I am...
Peter

Don Johnson

Dwain,

I do believe the Bible informs us of what happens to infants when they die.

However, before we look into what the Bible does say on the matter, let me first ask you a question.

Why do you or anyone else that who wishes to answer believe in the Trinity? After all the Bible is silent on the word "Trinity." I'm not looking for a long list of verses. I just want a basic reason in a sentence or two, as to why you believe it. I'm not being cute, I'm trying to help.

peter lumpkins

Don,

I think your question is a good one and reveals the fog Dwain was unintentionally producing. He seems unaware his demand for answer to his question was not because the Bible gives no answer to the issue at all, but rather because the way he framed the question, it was not possible to answer it.

To suggest the Bible doesn't definitively answer the question, "What happens to infants when they die?" means nothing more or less than saying, the Bible doesn't definitively answer the question, "What happens to teens when they die?" One could place any number of substitutions in the question and the proposition would remain the same. Hence, it offers no substance to the questions being raised.

And, I think your point about the Triune nature of God is very similar in structure. Thanks for the contribution, Don.

With that, I am...
Peter

michael

Peter,

What I find rather amusing in all this is the infant.

There simply is no infant alive today on earth or having passed, by whatever means who has the slightest ability to rationalize any of this?

This is God's business and He is the one who determines who lives with Him personally and who does not!

For those of us wishing we were infants again I offer this consolation:

Ecc 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Michael

peter lumpkins

Michael,

Well, I fail to see the humor you do in this thread. Nor does it matter to the significance of the topic if infants alive or infants passed have a clue what's going on. The fetus is unaware of the debate on the sanctity of human life; nonetheless such lack of knowledge on his or her part lessens in the least one's resolve to engage our culture of death. If anything, it increases resolve. The same could be said for mentally challenged persons as well as any number of other examples.

As for your summary that "This is God's business and He is the one who determines who lives with Him personally and who does not!", it remains moot, Michael. One could just as well make the same statement about discussing election and/or predestination in general with absolutely no allusions to infants dying in infancy.

With that, I am...
Peter

Dwain

This is a very easy one to answer and is nothing like what we have been speaking of.

In Scripture we see that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. We see that all three do things only God can do, all three are eternal, and all three are mentioned as God. This and the fact that the Lord your God is one. The word "Trinity" is not found in Scripture, but neither is the word "rapture". That doesn't mean that it is not taught in Scripture. These concepts are explicitly taught.

So, I do not see how the two are the same.

I for one have many questions on the topic of infants.

I look at the children of Israel in the desert wanderings and see that God allowed the children to live.

I look at 2 Corinthians 5:10 and see that we are judged according to our deeds.

But I also look and see that we are all tainted with the sin of Adam from birth, and I see that everyone who does not believe is condemned already. So, when I say that I do not believe that God has not revealed this to us I really believe that.

Dwain

sorry for the typo at the end. It should read "So, when I say that I do not believe that God has revealed this to us I really believe that.

Dwain

I have elsewhere spoken of the Scriptures at hand, you have possibly forgotten so I will re write what I have said elsewhere.

When God judged the children of Israel and sentenced them to wander int he desert He did not sentence the children to death.

Paul tells us that we will be judged according to our deeds.

Taken alone both of these tell us that infants would be safe in the day of judgment, but we also see that mankind is born tainted with Adam's sin. We also see that we are under a sentence of condemnation before we believe (John 3:18). All things being considered I have to say "I don't know what God does in this situation."

So, with all things taken into account I say that we cannot say that Scripture speaks precisely to this point.

As I have already asked for a couple of times, could you show me in Scripture what it says about this?

If you cannot I do not see how you can say that Calvinism suffers more than Arminianism on this topic.

Ian D. Elsasser

Dwain said:

“I am not trying to be rude, but it really seems to me that your arguments are not from Scripture but rather an appeal to emotion. Every Christian would be wise to look at this issue and understand that God has not revealed to us what He has decided to do.”

And:

“I attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which as you know is the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Dwain:

As a student at SBTS, you may want to read an article written by Al Mohler, the current President of your school, and Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, titled “The Salvation of the 'Little Ones': Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?” in which they conclude, contrary to you, that the Bible does speak to the matter and an affirmative answer is warranted apart from emotionalism: “We believe that Scripture does indeed teach that all persons who die in infancy are among the elect. This must not be based only in our hope that it is true, but in a careful reading of the Bible.”

Before proceeding with the Biblical evidence for this position they affirm:

First, the Bible reveals that we are “brought forth in iniquity,” and thus bear the stain of original sin from the moment of our conception. Thus, we face squarely the sin problem. Second, we acknowledge that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation. We do not deserve salvation, and can do nothing to earn our salvation, and thus it is all of grace. Further we understand that our salvation is established by God's election of sinners to salvation through Christ. Third, we affirm that Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is the sole and sufficient Savior, and that salvation comes only on the basis of His blood atonement. Fourth, we affirm that the Bible teaches a dual eternal destiny – the redeemed to Heaven, the unredeemed to Hell.

On another matter, you have consistently spoken about “Armenians” when the correct name is Arminians and the position Arminianism. An Armenian is a native of the country of Armenia.

Don Johnson

Dwain,

It was supposed to be easy to answer, and it is similar to what we're discussing.

I agree there is no verse in the Bible which states that infants go to heaven. However, nor is there a verse which states there is a Trinity.

When one honestly compares Scripture with Scripture, the belief in the Trinity is the only logical conclusion. Likewise, when one does the same with infants, I believe he will conclude that all who die as infants will go to heaven.

Remember just as with the Trinity, one text will not prove the point. I'll present one point at a time. Then you or anyone else can reply. Fair enough.

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers,and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Rev. 21:8

All the above terms are sins that someone does. Which seem to earn them their own part of Hell.

My question, do any infants commit any of the sins mention above? If you answer yes, please give an example.

My answer is no, infants are not capable of any those sins. If in fact the answer is no, does that not seem to indicate they are not part of the group in Hell?

Ian D. Elsasser

Don:

Along with Revelation 21.8 you could add Revelation 20.12-13 in which the "according to their deeds" is twice mentioned as the basis for the judgment of "the dead" at the end of the age:

"And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds."

Don Johnson

Ian,

Do you have the web site address for the article by Mohler and Akin? The link does not seem to work.

Good point, "according to their deeds."

Dwain,

What "deeds" do infants do that brings judgment?

Ian D. Elsasser

The link to the Mohler and Akin article, "The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?" (Thursday, July 16, 2009):

http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/07/16/the-salvation-of-the-little-ones-do-infants-who-die-go-to-heaven/

Don Johnson

Ian,

Thanks

peter lumpkins

Dwain,

Last comment for now. I'm headed to Tennessee this A.M. This post argued contra a harmony of Calvinist dissenters that a particular theological position was embedded in historic Reformed theology, namely both Scripture and sound theology demonstrate that some infants dying in infancy are elect and some are reprobate. I asked you to concede such, and offered to go further teasing out the idea. Thus far, you have ignored it.

I will say again, and this is important to me whether or not to you: concede that Reformed theology has overwhelmingly accepted and embraced Infant Reprobation. Then, we'll move the discussion further.

In the meantime, I suggest to take Ian's advice and read Mohler's essay. It is probably the best today's Calvinists can offer. Also, Philosopher and Reformed theologian Ronald Nash wrote a little book before he died entitled "When Babies Die" that's helpful. Neither offers Scripture the 5th amendment on the issue and both happily teach babies are under the blood of the Lord Jesus (albeit Nash gets a little weird).

That's all I have to say unless you want to concede the above.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

All

I'm away all day. Comments are in moderation. Sorry

With that, I am...
Peter

Mlynn

Peter,

This is a good discussion and VERY important. I was glad to see scripture from Deuteronomy and Jeremiah used to show God's view of infants. There are two important scriptures that were not quoted. The first is Matthew 19:13- 15: 13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

In Luke 18, we have these verses: 15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Notice that Luke calls these children infants. These children were too young to have exercised personal faith, yet Jesus used them to illustrate those who make up "the kingdom of heaven", as John MacArthur's study bible explains. Mark 10:16 carries it one step further: "He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them."

This explains why God called the children in Jeremiah, etc. "innocents". YES, they have had the sin of Adam imputed to them. BUT, because of their inability to reason or know good from evil; the inability to choose to sin -- God gives them special mercy if they die. I think that there is enough scriptural evidence to show this.

I'll post more in another post.

Mlynn

From my encounters with the reformed over the years, I have learned many things. And, I have done some studies on my own to look at some of their beliefs. Infant Salvation and Baptism is one of them. These two issues go hand in hand for the reformed. This is one major part from the RCC belief system that they kept.

1. They use the scriptures from Acts to prove their point insofar as a household is concerned -- an elect household. There was one reformed individual I met a few years ago, and I asked him how long had he been saved. His response was: "I have always known Jesus." A red flag immediately went up in my mind. I asked him what he meant by that. He told me he had always known Jesus because he was born into a covenant household. I was quite concerned, because it appeared he was placing his faith on the fact that he was born into an elect family rather than on Jesus and His finished work on the cross and His resurrection. So, I started sharing the gospel with him, but was stopped by an admin in the reformed room.

I did a word study on household a few years ago, and found it to be intriguing. I found that the reformed cannot prove that the statement, "and your household will be saved" means that everyone in the family is automatically saved. I found scripture in Titus 1 that I a SURE they don't like to see:

"10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." "

Does this in Titus mean that infants will be subverted -- infants can understand the teachings, etc.? LOL (sorry, but it IS a silly presumption).

Scripture tells us this: Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. An infant cannot begin to hear and understand the Word of God. PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!!

2) I brought this up to go one step further -- infant baptism. In the reformed churches, Baptism is one of the two "sacraments" -- NOT ordinances. A sacrament is far different from an ordinance in that a sacrament is a means of grace. This comes directly from the RCC.

Reformed churches speak out of both sides of their mouths in terms of baptism. This is especially true with infant baptism. They DO practice baptismal regeneration -- they even go so far as to say that baptism is the new circumcision. The Lutheran church does not try to hide the fact that they believe in baptismal regeneration. Yet, other reformed churches try to adamantly deny that this is the case. YET, they hold on to baptism as being a sacrament -- a means of grace.

This is the primary issue that led to the death of our Baptist forefathers at the hands of both the RCC AND the reformed. From what little I have learned, the favorite method used by the reformed to kill our Baptist forefathers was by "dunking" them in water.

This whole issue is VERY contentious. But, a very important one for us as Baptists to understand.

A.M. Mallett

That might have come as a surprise to Adam as he was covering himself with leaves.

peter lumpkins

All,

Back in town. Thanks for all the participation.

With that, I am...
Peter

Job

Peter:

Well, you object to being called "free will" and "Arminian" for your own purposes. I object to calling you "Biblicist" for my own purposes. Now I am willing to respect your desire not to call you "free will" or "Arminian" but your willingness to reciprocate by not forcing me to refer to you as "Biblicist" (which thereby forces me to take the position that my own beliefs aren't Biblical, or are less Biblical than yours) is in doubt. Now I read Elmer Towns' claim that Arminianism and Calvinism are "man-made systems" but that his own beliefs are "Biblicist" because they best conform to the evidence of scripture in his "Theology For Today" textbook that Liberty University students are required to use. Towns' evidence that his system is more Biblical than Calvinism? Since he conveniently neglected to make a BIBLICAL case for it (beyond such tricks attempting to redefine words like "predestination" and "election" from what they have always meant in the English language and what the original Greek words that they were translated from have always meant, and also his absolute refusal to interact with a HOST of key Bible passages that articulate an opposing view and did so IN AN ALLEGED THEOLOGY TEXTBOOK) well I guess I would have had to take his word for it, right?

So, if "Biblicists" cannot make their case using THE BIBLE then why do they deserve that moniker? It is a fair question that hasn't been answered. And if you refuse to give me an alternative to "Arminian", "free will Christian" or "Biblicist", then what you do is leave me no choice but to choose between two terms that I view to be incorrect (you are neither Arminian or Biblicist) and a third choice that, while offensive, is at least not incorrect to the best of my knowledge (free will Christian). So, I will continue to refer to you and to those who adhere to your doctrinal system as such until someone who adheres to your doctrinal system supplies me with a more correct, less offensive and therefore better alternative that I can use when I participate in soteriological debates such as these. It is not ideal, I agree, but as you can see my hands are tied. Please feel free to accept my invitation to untie my hands at any time.

peter

Job,

You obviously confuse me with someone who actually cares what you call him or her, Job. Did you not read my comment? I may correct someone who appears to care, and offer them my reasoning. But as I stated above, no desire exists in correcting one who does not care personally what someone else insists on calling or *not* calling me.

Now if you attempt to make an argument for a group of others, I may also challenge that (e.g. your above "free will Baptists" which is very confusing because of an actual denomination of "Free Will Baptists").

Even so, now that you've said your piece, please don't bring this entirely insignificant thing back on this thread, Job.

With that, I am...
Peter

Job

A clarification: when I wrote "So, if "Biblicists" cannot make their case using THE BIBLE", I did not mean that I view "Biblicism" as being "unbiblical", some illegitimate doctrinal system wholly unsupported by an honest, contextual reading of scripture therefore some sort of heresy. Therefore, I do not follow the example of the late Jerry Falwell, who oft stated that he considered my own Calvinistic beliefs to be heresy.

Instead, I mean that the so-called Biblicists cannot make the case that their doctrinal system is MORE BIBLICAL than is Calvinism. And again, if you want proof of this, check out Elmer Towns' failed attempt to do so in "Theology For Today." Towns did succeed in making the case that his views were more Biblical than classic Arminianism (i.e. the Remonstrants) and Wesleyanism. But I already knew that the predominant doctrinal views of most SBC pastors and churches were more Biblical than those. What Towns failed to do is make the case that his views were more Biblical than those of, say, Al Mohler. And if Towns was unable to make that case in a text that except for his advocacy of premillennial dispensationalism and so-called Biblicism (and a brief but gratuitous shot at black preachers towards the beginning that was particularly unjustifiable coming from a fellow whose background is two denominations long associated with slavery and segregation) was outstanding and excellent in nearly every way, I do not know that it is capable of being made.

Job

The issue is not that you care what I call you. The issue is that I care what I call you for my own purposes. So, this is something that I ask you to do for me for my own benefit. It is not intended or meant to benefit you or suit your purposes in any way. Instead, it is a favor that I ask for you to graciously provide for me. If you are unwilling or unable to perform this small favor for me despite your being perfectly and completely able to, then it says more about the person denying the request than it does about the person making it.

Proverbs 3:27 reads "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." Picked that one up from "3-2-1 Penguins". If it is good enough for the elementary school students that the Phil Vischer commercial enterprise was attempting to reach, then it is good enough for you. If your position is that it is not a good thing that I ask of you, or that I am not worthy of receiving a good thing from your hand, then make it.

Now feel free to reject this request, delete my comment, and ban me from this site. But if you do, then know that it is only a commentary on the condition of your own temperament. And please recall that it is you who hold the office of pastor-teacher, not I. So while I may have issues with my own temperament, I am rather justifiably holding you to the higher standard that the Bible requires of you.

Job

Correction. That should have read "If you are unwilling to perform this small favor for me despite your being perfectly and completely able to, then it says more about the person denying the request than it does about the person making it."

Steve Lemke

Debbie,
It looks to me like you are putting your theological concept of God above the God revealed in Scripture. Yes, of course, God is Sovereign. We all believe that (including Peter). Yes, God can do anything He wants. He is God. Now, the question becomes, What HAS He done? For starters, He sacrificed His only begotten Son so that sinners who have openly rebelled against His will might be saved. That should tell us something about His character and His heart . . .

The comments to this entry are closed.