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Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by panta dokimazete, Jun 30, 2008.
Saw this and thought it worth posting:
Here are a few observations by Curt Daniel on the subject:
The only ones of the six points that I feel explicitly support that very young babies are with, or are going to be with, God are #2 and #4. #1 shows God's love toward infants, but in the same way His love is demonstrated to the elect & non-elect. I wish he was more clear about how old he was talking about, because some of my paedo- brethren might disagree with #3, and understandably so. Young children are capable of trusting faith in Jesus Christ just as they are capable of sin (i.e. Mohler's point #6). #5 is just some rather abstract inductive reasoning. I'm not saying I disagree with it; I just think it's a little much to say that we know from Rev 7:9 that this is true.
JD, I don't think he said that "all babies are elect". If he did, then I don't see it. I think he was mainly talking about children who die in infancy.
I hate to go against such august persons as listed in point 5, but I have to stick to point 1. I just don't see it clearly taught. I get nervous about trying to read scripture as imputing blanket innocentness based upon age.
That's why I think the confessions were wise to state it as they did: "elect infants. . . ."
All babies that die are among the elect? So, if Adolf Hitler had died as an infant, he would have been among the elect? His life proves that he was not elected, which means he wasn't elected as an infant, either.
All babies are born sinners (Psalm 51:5). All babies, as they grow, need the gospel.
I would suggest that this is the proper meaning of the confessional statement concerning "elect infants" as determined by the usus loquendi of the 17th century, and that Dr. Daniel's fifth option is in fact a 19th century sentimentalist view imposed on the Confession.
ahh the flaw in your argument presupposes hitler was a reprobate. Now having great great grandparents killed in the death camps makes me inclined to say so but ultimately if he repented at the end I see no reason why he couldn't be saved and that perhaps the reports of suicide were faked. Its a statistical possibility. Second Hitler did not die as an infant. God sovereignly made sure to keep him alive. With infants God decrees they die before any external sin can be commited with a mental compacity of accountability. Not the same thing. And I would be of the persuasion that all human hearts have the same potential for evil as one another it is just by sovereign and common grace that someone is "better" than another. I believe the only acceptable posistions are that "all infants are elect" or "some are, some arn't and we don't know which but we can trust God". Any others "smack of sacramentalism" (thanks Dr. Piper for that awesome phrase), lacks compassion or justice or a denial of the sufficiency of scripture.
I understand what you are saying, but I think Mohler is getting more at the fact that babies that are chosen by God to die young are elect. I'm not trying to one-line the wisdom of God on this one, but I think that that could summarize his main point.
I don't think Mohler proved his case, if that's what he's trying to say (babies chosen to die young are elect). Frankly, I think that people who want all babies dying in infancy to be elect are responding sentimentally or emotionally. But the Bible unequivocally says that all human beings are sinners from conception. So, the best we can say is that some infants dying in infancy are elect, but not all.
Ah, but Hitler was reprobate, as demonstrated by his evil life as lived right up until his suicide. Yes, if he had repented, he could have been saved, thereby demonstrating that he had been a member of the elect after all, but such is not the case. It's just not a biblical fact that all babies are elect, dying in infancy or not.
I'm not referring to whether he proved his case; I just mean that I think that was the case he was making.
Okay, this is my first post on this board so I thought I'd make it count: are we under the impression here that suicide is an unpardonable sin? Is that the interpretation which we want to ascribe to John when he talks about the "sin that leads to death", or is it elsewhere that this comes from?
Anyways, nice to meet you guys and I look forward to talking with you more.
Lorraine Boettner's Reformed Doctrine of Predestination has a pretty good treatment below on the subject of infant salvation. I do think there is some sentimentalism involved above. Nevertheless, where God is silent in His Word, we are not at liberty to decree the election or reprobation of any man, woman, or child. It is always prudent to leave certainty to such things to God. I do find it a bit ironic that many Baptists teach the election of infants on the one hand while rigorously asserting that their own children are children of the devil until they profess on the other. I guess when the "theoretical" actual becomes real and you're looking at actual infants then sentimentalism over-rides the "children of the devil" argumentation for the Sacrament. I would hate to think of a Pastor actually counselling a grieving Baptist couple that their child is probably lost because, like all the other non-professing children in the congregation, they were children of the devil.
I also believe that the Scriptures give those in the Covenant of Grace a confidence on the salvation of their children that is not explicitly spelled out for those outside the visible Covenant. In other words, we have passages of Saints expressing confidence of the salvation of their infants as well as God's special Providence toward the children of believers so that the Canons of Dordt are correct in giving pastoral counsel that believing parents ought not to doubt the election of their children. We ought not assume it's just some cosmic roll of the dice but that the Covenant of Grace means more than just me and God and that grace has been extended to my family. Thus, I draw confidence from a view of the CoG that sees my baptized children as citizens of the Kingdom of God with no reason to doubt their rebellion nor to doubt that the grace signified by their baptism belongs to them.
Were I to be asked, however, to counsel a man or a woman who has not faith in the living God, I would not be able to speak confidently to give them counsel either way for the Scriptures give no reason, from the things revealed, to give those outside the CoG counsel in that regard. I would grieve with them certainly. I would not be dogmatic as to the certain reprobation of their children and I would, of course, point them to the Cross of Christ.
Lorraine Boettner: "Where the Scriptures are silent, the Confession, too, preserves silence."
Here he speaks soundly; but then he proceeds to allow for speculation beyond Scripture where the speculation cannot be proven false:
"Certainly there is nothing in the Calvinistic system which would prevent us from believing this; and until it is proven that God could not predestinate to eternal life all those whom He is pleased to call in infancy we may be permitted to hold this view."
Which is our rule of faith and life? what the Scriptures teach, or what the Scriptures leave open for us to believe? I maintain that the reformed faith insists on the former.
I didn't intend to attach my view to his. I simply found the treatment interesting. If you see my own remarks above the quote, my view doesn't try to speculate in the same way.
I'm thankful you posted Boettner's statement because it clearly acknowledges both what the historic position is and why it was maintained, and then adds to it by a methodology which is conspicuously different.
A minister we know believes that Romans 5:13 applies to infants. I am not sure that this fits into the point Romans 5:13 is making. Also I don't see Scripture supporting this when David says 'I was shapen in iniquity'.
The hardest thing for me to swallow when someone claims that all infants who die are elect is the Psalm where a blessing is supposed to be on the one who dashes the little ones of the ungodly against the stones. That's a hard part of Scripture for me to swallow anyway, but it's the word of God so I accept that my feelings are out of line. However I cannot imagine a blessing coming to any who does this to their helpless brother or sister in Christ.
I do think we have good enough reason with David's statements when his baby died and other teaching in Scripture cited already to have every hope that children of believers who die in infancy are with the Lord.
While I agree that not all babies are elect, I don't think your illustration of Hitler helps the case. If Hitler had died when an infant, then he would not have been Hitler, but a dying infant - a different person. Had he died, he very well may have been elect. As the person he was, of course, he was not, and we can safely assume he was reprobate.
To look at the life of a clearly reprobate person, and then claim that because they obviously are not elect all infants who die cannot be elect is illogical.
Mr Curt Daniels is quoted as saying:
Mr Daniels is not accurate in his assessment "Almost all Reformed theologians take this as a pronouncement that all dying infants are elect."
GI Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes, p 92:
In the Old Testament the imprecations of God's elect people against the heathen often call for their children's destruction as well as their parents', yet for the covenant people God has promised to be God to us and our children. Based on this I think that #4 is correct: Christian parents of deceased infants can have hope that God was the God of their children who were never able to grow up and reject that promise, and for the rest we don't know, but I'll add that the pattern of scripture doesn't give reason to think they are elect. David could say what he said about his son because of God's promise to him and his children, and isn't, in my opinion, an example that can be used to generalize for the whole world.
I'm not sure he's wrong, or on what basis you say that. The fact (if true) that almost all Reformed theologians take that as such a pronouncement doesn't mean that they're correct in doing so. He's simply stating something about the large majority of theologians who claim the label of 'Reformed'. I don't know enough to criticize his claim. The vast majority of Presbyterians in the US are PCUSA, but I wouldn't any position that the PCUSA upholds as thereby having any weight when deciding what Presbyterian doctrine is.
So if all children that die are elect then I have no choice but to murder my own children before they grow up. Would it not be better to cut their life short here on earth so they do not spend an eternity in hell? That is the real question.
Elect infants go to heaven non elect infants do not.
If one truly believes that all babies are elect then you either:
1. Believe it is possible to lose your salvation
2. Believe that absolutely all peoples are always elect/saved
If babies are elect some where along the lines you would have to lose your salvation because as we know not all people are going to heaven. If you believe that you certainly cannot lose your salvation then by default all peoples would be saved/elect because they were deemed elect at birth.
This viewpoint seems problematic.
Some vessels are made for honor and some for dishonor. Just as Jacob he loved and Esau he hated. As they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad.
I guess the way i see it is we are either elect or we arent. If persay I was not elect there is no real difference if i died at 1, 5 or 50. Nothing changes the fact that i wasnt elect. There are both elect members and non elect members of the human race at all ages and this would include infants (i am led to believe)
No one said that God elects all babies. The question is whether God also elects those infants which he predestines to die in infancy. Think of two classes: 1) all those infants which do not die in infancy and 2) all those infants which die in infancy.
The Confession is wise, and there's no need to go beyond it. And if you do, you get into all sorts of strangeness, such as defining the moment an embryo is animated, and the cut off date of what an infant is, and if it's related to understanding, and if retarded people at 30 qualify as an infant, and if a 4 year old after an accident with brain trouble can be qualified as an infant and if all the billions who have aborted either on purpose or naturally are elect and it goes on and on.
The big problem is whether or not the actual punishment of Hell is eternal, and if there is a degree of punishment. If you, say, believe that at the very moment of conception a person has a soul, and if you believe that soul is either going to Heaven for eternity or Hell for eternity then you are forced to make some awkward pronouncements.
If on the the other hand you decide not to dictate to God when a soul is given to an embryo, and while you believe that the elect achieve communion with the Christ for all eternity but that the duration and degree of punishment of others is God's business, it's much easier to just say what the Confession says.
Just to address the bolded area for now...
The thread title was Al Mohler: All babies are elect. So to me that implies that God has elected them so.
In all honesty i was posting based on the thread title and didnt read all of the posts therein. I skimmed. Allow me to reread the original quote more indepth.
Oh, I see. Well that is JD's misrepresentation of what Al Mohler's article said. If you look at the actual title of the article, you'll see what I'm saying.
I wouldn't call it a misrepresentation but simply a poor choice of titles. It should be entitled Al Mohler: All that die in Infancy are Elect
Sorry, I didn't mean misrepresentation in a bad way.
Actually i am not sure i am clear on what you are saying. Could you go over that with me because i am not sure i see it?
Although Mohler doesnt flat out say it. I cant seem to see anything else. He seems to imply that all babies that die as such are saved and goes on to give an explanation as to why with his 6 points.