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I've seen TULIP card-carrying hard-core Calvinists waffle when it comes to divine determinism in regard to infant damnation. Interesting to see that the Presbyterians of old wrestled with this problem as they approached "Calvin Day" (good Lord - talking about idolatry!).

My favorite line from the article: "He thought the church had reached the point where it did not care particularly what John Calvin believed upon the subject." Oh God ... let it be in Southern Baptist ranks!

Scott Shaver

Calvinism and culture seem to be killing what's left of the SBC quicker than "moderates" ever could have.


Well, I guess I can escape most of the debate here because I am not a so-called Five Point Calvinist. But as I have said before, I do not know what exaclty God does with all infants or incompetents.

But leaving that aside, I was asking a friend who was explaining when humans are capable of moral choices and are therefore responsible for their "sin."

He said it occurs as soon as the child can understand right from wrong, and chooses wrong.

I have reared two children. I would say that might occur as early as 2 or 3.

I would be interested in the opinions of others on here who may have studied this more closely than I.

Please don't refer me to a long paper, unless it's at the end of a summarized opinion.

I sincerely look forward to thoughts on this.

peter lumpkins


I find it interesting you sincerely want to know an answer to your question since you unequivocally assert it’s a “waste of time to pursue this line of inquiry.” But instead of dealing with whether God saves all infants dying in infancy, you’d rather entertain a question as to who fits into the category of infancy. This is standard dodge-ball many of you guys play. Let’s question the boundaries of category. After all, since the boundaries are fuzzy, this bleed out the need to answer whether or not category A even exists. 

OK, Louis, here’s your answer: it doesn’t affect the answer to infants dying in  infancy a single iota whether you count infants as 10 years old or 10 days old, the question remains the same: what happens to infants dying in infancy? You want to assign that question to the ash heap of irrelevance on the on hand and on the other raise the philosophical question as to exactly what constitutes infancy in the first place. This is pure nonsense and you ought to know better than to try some of that hullabaloo here.

Oh, and next time you visit the hospital and ask for the floor where infants are, note if they give you a strange response as if to ask, “What in the world are you talking about? Infants? Do you mean 2 years old, 5 years old, ten years old?  What is infancy anyway?” This shows the complete dis-ingenuousness of floating that boat in this particular exchange. Got to laugh at some of the responses even in an excruciating issue like this.

By the way, I asked you a series of question pertaining to your comment on the other thread that you either ignored or missed.  




"Presbyterianism without infant damnation would be like the dog on the train that couldn't be identified because it had lost its tag." (Mark Twain)

It's getting tougher and tougher to identify the SBC dog these days.



Who are "you guys?"

How did I get to be one of them?

I have friends who are both Reformed and not-Reformed.

I am not a so-called 5 point Calvinist. My Reformed friends tell me I am not Reformed.



I did not say, and did not mean to imply, that the question of what happens to infants who die is a waste of time. (And if I did say that, it's not what I meant.)

What I believe is a waste of time is debating in a less than friendly context the moral and ideological/theoloigcal differences between Southern Baptists who affirm the BFM and the Statement on Calvinism on what they believe about infant and incompetents salvation. I believe that trying to drill down on that issue, in light of the written and oral statements, and contructing other people's opinions or who they would express them is not healthy or productive.

Also, I am not a theologian. I have not been to seminary. I am interested in what you trained guys believe about the age of when a human becomes morally capable. I would not know who the leading proponents are of what theories.

I, also, have never debated this issue at any length in my life, though I have wondered and discussed it over the years with friends.

But your response to my question makes me think that I have stepped on one of the land mines that must come up in this discussion.

You or anyone else can answer or not answer.

It seems, however, a natural follow up to questions about infant salvation or compentency.

One might also ask what level of mental competency is required. Has that been discussed by theologians? I assume it has.

My nephew, who is a junior in college, is a vocal performance major. He is picking up another major in Philosophy. He is coming to enjoy Philosophy because he says in that field disagreement is expected, and that the discussions about the disagreements are often very civil.

I'll try to get to your questions on the other post.


Max, great quote!

Not sure where to put this but wanted to share it if anyone interested. It is an ebook about Calvin called Right to Heresy written by Stephen Zwieg. He is from around the 1920's and also wrote a very well researched book on Mary Queen of Scots I read years ago. Right to Heresy is out of copyright.



Again, I have to ask. Why aren't SBC Calvinists who won't commit to infant salvation-- not baptizing infants? What is the rationale?

I just went and read the WCF on Baptism and it is obvious they believe that baptism would be the only recourse except to just declare they could be burning in hell. At least Baptism gives people some hope even though the baby cannot repent and believe because they are "vipers in diapers" as a funny woman put it concerning the thinking of this doctrine.

Louis, The more I study Calvinism the more I do not think it can stand without all the petals. What would be the point of the I without the U? :o) And what would be the point of the I without the T? And so on. Sorry, digression.


Scott Shaver:

How is culture killing what is left of the SBC?

peter lumpkins


Nor was I meaning "you guys" in a strict sense of being Calvinistic. Instead I was referencing this approach of exchange whereby if it can be shown that categories are not clearly marked--even on the fringes of the category--then, the focus shifts away from one question to another. In this case, you shifted the question from the destiny of A to who belonged in A or perhaps even if A existed at all. The former question you count as unworthy of pursuit while sincerely waiting on a response to the latter. Inevitably, this shift takes place when Infant Salvation is engaged. You shifted it, Louis. Hence, "you guys." Hope this helped.

peter lumpkins


The way you left the assertion dangling certainly came across to me as suggesting this pursuit a time-waster. However, if that’s not what you intended, so be it. My deepest apologies.

As for “less than friendly” atmosphere, that’s your opinion, Louis. I’ve said nothing here about which I am either ashamed or can accept as “unfriendly. If you’ve got something particular in mind, please say so without making cryptic remarks.

Nor am I against asking questions. Are you, Louis? And if people refuse to answer simple questions toward their positions, then do not blame others for drawing what they believe are necessary inferences from either their silence or their recorded words. Yes, it most certainly IS fair to draw legitimate conclusions about propositions of others. To argue against such is absurd. No literary criticism could ever take place if it were not a legitimate literary enterprise to infer from known premises.

And, I’ve gone around and around here about age with guys who think they can lessen the tension to their position by talking about the fuzziness of infancy. I’ll be glad to point you to the threads if you like. Suffice it to say, I don’t care if it’s ten years or ten days, the category of infancy exists; the state of amoral culpability exists. Who disputes this? Do you? If you don’t, then we can proceed from there. If you don’t believe there is such a state as human amoral existence, then I’ll be glad to exchange on that with you. But if you do believe in a status in which human beings are incapable of moral culpability (i.e. before a particular time of moral development [age] or a considerable lack of moral development [mental incapacitation], then the only question to pursue is, “Where do these human beings spend eternity?” That is a very serious question and one the Bible, through good and necessary inference does deal in sufficient manner. Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree on this as Gerald Harris’ essay showed (Akin and Mohler on one side Hankins and Allen on the other).

As for my response revealing a “landmine” I’m not sure how to respond. I always push back when folk challenge a position this site might embrace. You should have known that before you logged on. I’m very sorry if you feel bushwhacked or land-mined, if you will. It wasn’t intended, brother.

Finally, the question you asked about the level of mental competency has been discussed. But again, even if theologians are divided over the exact level one must reach before being considered as “pass/fail” or some legitimate but human induced measure affects the question about whether or not God saves all those who are genuinely mentally incompetent or morally underdeveloped (whether by age or other). In short, the category exists even if we do not agree on who belongs in the category. That's entirely another question.



Thanks. I think that our dialogues always get better the longer they go.

Please don't put me on a team! I like people, but not teams, unless it's Christians with a big "C."

My question was really one that popped into my head. I have not read the threads that you mentioned. Apparently, what is an "infant" is a landmine in Calvinist vs. Traditionalist debates. I did not know that.

Interestingly, someone referred me to a piece that Steve Lemke wrote saying that moral culpability starts around adolesence, which I had never heard before.

The term "complete dis-ingenuousness" is not a term used in friendly discussions.



Very interesting comments.

The problems with many theological systems is that they are great - as systems. But they are always lacking because they are but a refelction or restatement or sythesis of what one believes the Bible teaches.


Louis writes "He is coming to enjoy Philosophy because he says in that field disagreement is expected, and that the discussions about the disagreements are often very civil."

Louis - I believe that much of the theological debate in SBC ranks has been birthed in vain philosophy based on the teachings and traditions of men (Jesus warned us not to do that). The reformed position on infant salvation/damnation is held together through centuries of finely-crafted points of debate - an SBC rift that won't be settled this side of heaven. Paul cautioned us: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ" (Col 2:8).

Philosophical debates are best left in academic hallways of the sort your nephew is experiencing. As for your desire that the SBC dialogue on these issues be conducted in "civil disagreement", many who comment on this blog are trying to do just that while also contending for the belief and practice of the majority of Southern Baptists. We are trying with everything within us to contend without being contentious ... but this baby thing has us stirred up again! We simply are not happy about the largely unchallenged Calvinization of our denomination.

Lydia is right. It's impossible to accept the "U" in TULIP without the "L" - to construct your particular flower without all 5 petals - while calling yourself reformed. You would never be in full bloom as a Calvinist. It will drive you crazy.

Scott Shaver


My opinion is that culture is the primary force shaping the life of most newer SBC churches today. And in many of these churches, hypercalvinism is the opiate that helps them forget that fact.


Having read Peter's article and the comments that followed I find the lack of Biblical support for your positions to be cause for alarm. If we believe that salvation comes by grace through faith; Eph 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-7, I Peter 1:5, I would offer this question: by whose faith does the infant enter into the heavenly arms of our LOED and Savior? David believed that he would one day see the child that his sin produced and that God took. Lots of doctrinal posturing here instead of going to the Word to develop your position.

peter lumpkins

Hi Greg,

And just what makes you think I meant to actually post a full biblical rationale for all infants dying in infancy being eternally saved contra some infants being damned? You're fundamentally confusing historical analysis, including criticism of faulty hernmeutics with a systematic attempt to assemble a biblical case for universal infant salvation.

I suggest you wait until I or others offer such a case before you judge our positions inadequate. By the way, every single argument I've read from credible theologians I recall deal at length with the "faith" question you raise. So it's not a new question at all I assure...

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