A.A. Hodge, Infants that pass, Imputed/Inherent sin...over my head

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Matthew1344, Aug 22, 2016.

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  1. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Anyone have a clue what A.A. Hodge is talking about in "Outlines of Theology pg 357-358"?

    Im asking because my understanding of infants that die is all the elect ones go to heaven, and all might not be elect. If they are elect, Jesus died for them on the cross and the Holy Spirit gives them the gifts (regeneration, faith, repentance, etc) of that before they die.

    A lot of my friends believe that all infants that die, go to be with God, but i don't understand it. So, I'm thinking maybe this is the thing i don't understand that they do.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. thanks to anyone who even gave this a read to attempt to help me. And thanks to anyone who feels brave enough to write.
  2. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    While I do need to read the quote you posted a few times in order to reply well, I will say that most people believe this (it seems to me, at least) because they have a deficient or nonexistent view of Original Sin. Nobody could possibly imagine that an infant child would be guilty of anything sinful because, in their minds, the only punishable sins are the so called "actual" sins—sins committed by the person themselves. Of course, this leads to the curious invention of the "age of accountability" and the doctrine here which you say a lot of your friends believe.

    It is fine to believe that all infants who die go to be with the Lord, but only when it is believed on the basis of their election in God's sovereign purposes. Charles Hodge not only believed that all infants were elect, but asserted that this is the Protestant belief:

  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The WCF makes a very careful statement about the destiny of "elect infants dying in infancy." They are saved. It makes no commitment as to how many infants dying in infancy are elect. Therefore, you can find different Presbyterian opinions including the view that dying-in-infancy might be an indication of election, and that this generous regard is extended to the human race as a whole.

    My own opinion is that this supposed world-wide generosity is too sentimental; at the very least it makes no observable distinction between what a Christian (especially, but not limited to, those who adhere to covenant theology) has the right to hope for his child in respect to the promise of God to believers; and what those "without hope" have any right to conclude.

    That some Christians hold hope in their stead (for the unbelievers) toward their children, based on a believer's understanding of the love of God, is reconcilable with our theology. But, some of us have to allow that there probably are infants-dying-in-infancy which are not members of God's elect. Consequently they go to hell with the rest of the reprobate.

    I think A.A.Hodge maintained (along with CH) the election of ALL infants-dying-in-infancy or not (his comment in bold does seem to indicate he did); but in any case, it is only belief in the doctrines of election and free justification for sinners that safely grounds any form of infant-redemption. Certainly, we have to deny what so many maintain: that is a suspension or modification of the doctrine of Original Sin, in order to allow for the salvation of infants and young children--which adjustment is the origin of the "age of accountability" view.

    AAH contends with the latter notion along with Romish doctrine in teaching and defending Reformed theology. The bold part of the larger quote (above) says:
    1) individual infants suffer because of the guilt of inherent sin
    2) individual adults suffer and are damned because of the guilt of inherent sin.
    3) neither suffering or damnation are because of the imputation of Adam's guilt (at least, not solely)
    The main point is to acknowledge that man is corrupt from the womb, and not innocent.

    In the subsequent paragraphs, he considers separately the question of the guilt of Adam's first sin as it has been imputed to the whole human race. As declared guilty (judicially), mankind is liable to penalty. The only thing necessary for this judgment is recognition of any "adequate reason" for his responsibility. Rather than an individual responsibility, this imputed guilt is assigned to the class, and only to particular parties subsidiary to his identification in that class.

    The punishment for this guilt AAH describes as spiritual abandonment/desertion (not quite damnation). And being in this condition, inherent depravity leading to damnation takes over necessarily--unless that man is the theanthropos or God-man, in which that tendency under a spiritually deserted condition was resistible.

    There's some fine parsing there (which is the nature of scholastic theology, fine as far as it is needed). I'm not sure it is so wrong to state baldly that men go to hell in the first place because (on account of) being condemned in Adam, for the imputation of the guilt of his first sin. It certainly gets the ball rolling.

    Hopefully, this makes the passage clearer. I'm not sure I'll have any time to follow up myself this week. So someone else may have to chime in.
  4. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you very much! You guys have already helped a ton
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