It appears some modern day Calvinists express a similar agnosticism toward infants dying in infancy as did Pelagius. When pushed by Augustine, Pelagius said, “Where they are not, I know; where they are, I know not” (//link). While Augustine's nemesis was certain infants were not in hell, he offered no firm answer as to where they were.
On the other hand, while some Calvinists do not want to say some infants dying in infancy go to hell, neither will they affirm whether some or all infants go to heaven. They claim ignorance. "Since the Bible is not explicit about where infants go when they die," they tell us, "they think it more biblically safe to not speculate at all."
You mean like when Calvinists never speculate about the ordo salutis? Or the order of the divine decrees: infralapsarianism verses supralapsarianism verses sublalapsarianism? Or meticulous sovereignty? Or the eternal covenant of redemption between the Father and Son and Holy Spirit? Or the so-called covenant of works between Adam and God in Genesis 1-2? Or monergistic regeneration preceding faith and repentance?
Though none of the firm theological conclusions listed above which some Calvinists inevitably peddle has a single explicit biblical text upon which to build their doctrinal position, these Calvinists nonetheless endlessly speculate as to their decided conclusion. For that one reason alone, the appeal to being more "biblically safe" as to speculating about the eternal destiny of a significant portion of the human race rings entirely hollow.
Here's what I think.
While some Calvinists may very well be sincere in suggesting biblical silence, others are either:
a) pleading pious ignorance as a way to avoid the logic of their extreme views of imputed guilt learned from Saint Augustine through the popular lens of scholastic Calvinism. While these Calvinists really don't believe God burns babies in hell, they fully see the dilemma Augustine's view creates. In short, while Augustine had the courage to state and defend the necessary inferences from his premises--i.e, all non-elect, non-baptized babies are condemned for imputed Adamic guilt--they do not. Hence, they plead pious ignorance;1
b) stalling for time to allow the urgency of the question to die down a bit because these particular Calvinists very well may entertain the idea that God burns babies in hell. They're so wedded to Reformed thinkers like Jonathan Edwards who said "it is most just, exceeding just, that God should take the soul of a new-born infant and cast it into eternal torments," they simply cannot dismiss his musings. Even so, they are no more equipped with courage of their convictions than the others above. Hence, they stall for time either by ignoring the question put to them until the urgency of the question disappears, or they too plead pious ignorance.
For whatever reason some modern day Southern Baptist Calvinists cite for not addressing the question concerning infants dying in infancy, they nonetheless remain fully aware that if they or others express a positive notion that the God of the Bible revealed in His highest revelation in the Person of Jesus Christ burned babies in hell as a way to most glorify Himself, they'd be done among Southern Baptists (not to mention other evangelical and even mainstream denominations). They are perfectly aware of the odious consequences such detestable affirmations spawn. Thus, they're just as cowardly as others in stating what they really believe concerning infant salvation.
I end with the words of a 19th century Baptist who was also a strong Calvinist--R.B.C. Howell. Professor Tom Nettles penned an exceptional biographical page on Howell at Founders Ministries. Howell was firmly rooted within Baptist life presiding as second president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1851 through 1858. Nettles quotes from Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopaedia which described Howell as "one of the ablest and most learned men in the South." And, unlike some modern day Baptist Calvinists, Howell followed the courage of his convictions to the end.
Note the uncompromised criticism Howell offered toward those who believed any infant dying in infancy would face God's wrath:
"We repudiate the doctrine of infant baptism, and of infant damnation. We denounce all their accompaniments, and consequences. If God is just and good, if reason deserves respect, if the Gospel is true, if the merits of Christ are efficacious, if the Holy Spirit is not bound by the control of men, and tied down to forms and ordinances, then all children dying in infancy, irrespective of any relation with the church, and without regard to baptism or any other ordinance, are saved with an everlasting salvation, by the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, whose merits and righteousness, to fit them for the glorious change, are personally and effectually applied by the Holy Ghost"2
1besides inferring from imputed sinful guilt good and necessary implications concerning the fate of infants dying in infancy, another Calvinistic premise which causes inevitable conflict for infants dying in infancy is eternal predestination for individuals. Calvinists persistently hold to predestination for individual persons not corporate election which many routinely label "Arminian" election. However, if all infants dying in infancy are elect as some Calvinists maintain, then they must explain why election, which was heretofore individual election, has now become corporate election for infants. These are just two of the theological conundrums plaguing the Calvinist who maintains all infants dying in infancy are elect. All conundrums notwithstanding I gladly stand with all Calvinists who firmly confess all infants dying in infancy are elect.
2Robert Boyte C. Howell, The Evils of Infant Baptism, 1852, pp. 201-202