Al Mohler: All Babies dying in infancy go to heaven

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panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Saw this and thought it worth posting:

WHY WE BELIEVE CHILDREN WHO DIE GO TO HEAVEN

By R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin

Few things in life are more tragic and heartbreaking than the death of a baby or small child. For parents, the grief can be overwhelming. For the minister, to stand over a small, white casket and provide comfort and support seems to ask for more than he can deliver.

Many console themselves with the thought that at least the child is now in a better place. Some believe small children who die become angels. They are certain these precious little ones are in heaven with God.

However, it is important for us both to ask and answer some important questions if we can. Do those who die in infancy go to heaven? How do we know? What evidence is there to support such a conclusion? Sentimentalism and emotional hopes and wants are not sufficient for those who live under the authority of the Word of God. We must, if possible, find out what God has said.

It is interesting to discover that the Church has not been of one mind on this issue. In fact, the early and medieval Church was anything but united. Some Church Fathers remained silent on the issue. Ambrose said unbaptized infants were not admitted to heaven, but have immunity from the pains of hell. Augustine basically affirmed the damnation of all unbaptized infants, but taught they would receive the mildest punishment of all. Gregory of Nyssa offered that infants who die immediately mature and are given the opportunity to trust Christ. Calvin affirmed the certain election of some infants to salvation and was open to the possibility that all infants who die are saved. He said, “Christ receives not only those who, moved by holy desire and faith, freely approach unto Him, but those who are not yet of age to know how much they need His grace.” Zwingli, B.B. Warfield and Charles Hodge all taught that God saves all who die in infancy. This perspective has basically become the dominant view of the Church in the 20th century.

Yet, a popular evangelical theologian chided Billy Graham when at the Oklahoma City memorial service he said, “Someday there will be a glorious reunion with those who have died and gone to heaven before us, and that includes all those innocent children that are lost. They’re not lost from God because any child that young is automatically in heaven and in God’s arms.” The theologian scolded Dr. Graham for offering what he called “. . . a new gospel: justification by youth alone.”

It is our conviction that there are good reasons biblically and theologically for believing that God saves all who die who do not reach a stage of moral understanding and accountability. It is readily admitted that Scripture does not speak to this issue directly, yet there is evidence that can be gleaned that would lead us to affirm on biblical grounds that God receives into heaven all who have died in infancy. Some evidence is stronger than others, but cumulatively they marshall strong support for infant salvation. We will note six of them.

First, the grace, goodness and mercy of God would support the position that God saves all infants who die. This is the strongest argument and perhaps the decisive one. God is love (1 John 4:8) and desires that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). God is love and His concern for children is evident in Matthew 18:14 where Jesus says, “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” People go to hell because they choose in willful rebellion and unbelief to reject God and His grace. Children are incapable of this kind of conscious rejection of God. Where such rebellion and willful disobedience is absent, God is gracious to receive.

Second, when the baby boy who was born to David and Bathsheba died (2 Samuel 12:15-18), David did two significant things: 1) He confessed his confidence that he would see the child again and, 2) he comforted his wife Bathsheba (vs. 23-24). David could have done those two things only if he was confident that his little son was with God. Any other explanation does not do justice to the text.

Third, in James 4:17, the Bible says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” The Bible is clear that we are all born with a sin nature as a result of being in Adam (Roman 5:12). This is what is called the doctrine of original sin. However, the Scriptures make a distinction between original sin and actual sins. While all are guilty of original sin, moral responsibility and understanding is necessary for our being accountable for actual sins (Deuteronomy 1:30; Isaiah 7:16). It is to the one who knows to do right and does not do it that sin is reckoned. Infants are incapable of such decisions.

Fourth, Jesus affirmed that the kingdom of God belonged to little children (Luke 18:15-17). In the passage he is stating that saving faith is a childlike faith, but He also seems to be affirming the reality of children populating heaven.

Fifth, Scripture affirms that the number of saved souls is very great (Revelation 7:9). Since most of the world has been and is still non-Christian, might it be the untold multitude who have died prematurely or in infancy comprise a majority of those in heaven? Such a possibility ought not to be dismissed too quickly. In this context Charles Spurgeon said, “I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them.”

Sixth, some in Scripture are said to be chosen or sanctified from the womb (1 Samuel 1:8-2:21; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:15). This certainly affirms the salvation of some infants and repudiates the view that only baptized babies are assured of heaven. Neither Samuel, Jeremiah or John the Baptist was baptized.

After surveying these arguments, it is important for us to remember that anyone who is saved is saved because of the grace of God, the saving work of Jesus Christ and the undeserved and unmerited regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Like all who have ever lived, except for Jesus, infants need to be saved. Only Jesus can take away their sin, and if they are saved it is because of His sovereign grace and abounding mercy. Abraham said, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). We can confidently say, “Yes, He will.” When it comes to those incapable of volitional, willful acts of sin, we can rest assured God will, indeed, do right. Precious little ones are the objects of His saving mercy and grace.

CONCLUSION

On September 29, 1861, the great Baptist pastor, Charles Spurgeon, preached a message entitled “Infant Salvation.” In that message he chastened some critics who had “. . . wickedly, lyingly, and slanderously said of Calvinists that we believe that some little children perish.” Similar rumblings have been heard in some Baptist circles of late. Spurgeon affirmed that God saved little ones without limitation and without exception. He, then, as was his manner, turned to conclude the message with an evangelistic appeal to parents who might be lost. Listen to his plea:

Many of you are parents who have children in heaven. Is it not a desirable thing that you should go there too? And yet, have I not in these galleries and in this area some, perhaps many, who have no hope hereafter? . . . . Mother, unconverted mother, from the battlements of heaven your child beckons you to Paradise. Father, ungodly, impenitent father, the little eyes that once looked joyously on you, look down upon you now and the lips which had scarcely learned to call you “Father” ere they were sealed by the silence of death, may be heard as with a still, small voice, saying to you this morning, “Father, must we be forever divided by the great gulf which no man can pass?” If you wilt, think of these matters, perhaps the heart will begin to move, and the eyes may begin to flow and then may the Holy Spirit put before thine eyes the cross of the Savior . . . if thou wilt turn thine eye to Him, thou shalt live . . .
Little ones are precious in God’s sight. If they die, they go to heaven. Parents, who have trusted Jesus, who have lost a little one, if they have trusted Jesus, can be confident of a wonderful reunion someday. Are you hopeful of seeing again that little treasure God entrusted to you for such a short time? Jesus has made a way. Come to Him now and someday you will see them again.
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Here are a few observations by Curt Daniel on the subject:

D. Theoretically, there are several options open to the question:
(1) We don’t know. Some writers say that Scripture does not reveal the answer.
(2) All dying infants are lost. I know of no theologian, Calvinist or otherwise, who asserts
this.
(3) Baptized infants are saved, but unbaptized dying infants are lost and reprobate. As
we shall see, there are several theologians who have made this claim. But extremely few
Calvinists, if any, have aligned themselves with this view.
(4) Some are definitely saved (such as baptized infants), but we do not know about the
rest. This has been the position of some Calvinists, such as FrancisTurretin, Herman
Hoeksema, and several of the older Reformed theologians.
(5) All dying infants are saved and elect, whether baptized or not. This is by far the
prevailing view among Calvinists, such as Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, C.H. Spurgeon,
A.M. Toplady, Ulrich Zwingli (probably the first to say so in no uncertain terms), Lewis
Sperry Chafer, W.G.T. Shedd, Loraine Boettner, etc.

E. The classic statement in Reformed confessions is that of the Westminster Confession (X: 3):
“Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth. So are also other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” Some non-Calvinist critics read this and feel that it insinuates that there are some non-elect infants, but the Confession does not say that. Almost all Reformed theologians take this as a pronouncement that all dying infants are elect. At the least, it is only an assertion that some are elect but we do not know about the rest (a few theologians take it this way). In 1903, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. approved a Declaratory Statement giving the official interpretation of this article: “It is not to be regarded as teaching that any who die in infancy are lost. We believe that all dying in infancy are included in the election of grace, and are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases.”
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
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.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Here are a few observations by Curt Daniel on the subject:
(1) We don’t know. Some writers say that Scripture does not reveal the answer.

. . . .

(5) All dying infants are saved and elect, whether baptized or not. This is by far the
prevailing view among Calvinists, such as Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, C.H. Spurgeon, A.M. Toplady, Ulrich Zwingli (probably the first to say so in no uncertain terms), Lewis Sperry Chafer, W.G.T. Shedd, Loraine Boettner, etc.
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. . . ."
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
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.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
(4) Some are definitely saved (such as baptized infants), but we do not know about the rest. This has been the position of some Calvinists, such as FrancisTurretin, Herman Hoeksema, and several of the older Reformed theologians.
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.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
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.
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.
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
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 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.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
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 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.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
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.
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.
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
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.
I'm not referring to whether he proved his case; I just mean that I think that was the case he was making.
 

tburus

Puritan Board Freshman
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.
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.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
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.

11. INFANT SALVATION
Most Calvinistic theologians have held that those who die in infancy are saved. The Scriptures seem to teach plainly enough that the children of believers are saved; but they are silent or practically so in regard to those of the heathens. The Westminster Confession does not pass judgment on the children of heathens who die before coming to years of accountability. Where the Scriptures are silent, the Confession, too, preserves silence. Our outstanding theologians, however, mindful of the fact that God's "tender mercies are over all His works," and depending on His mercy widened as broadly as possible, have entertained a charitable hope that since these infants have never committed any actual sin themselves, their inherited sin would be pardoned and they would be saved on wholly evangelical principles.

Such, for instance, was the position held by Charles Hodge, W. G. T. Shedd, and B. B. Warfield. Concerning those who die in infancy, Dr. Warfield says: "Their destiny is determined irrespective of their choice, by an unconditional decree of God, suspended for its execution on no act of their own; and their salvation is wrought by an unconditional application of the grace of Christ to their souls, through the immediate and irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit prior to and apart from any action of their own proper wills . . . And if death in infancy does depend on God's providence, it is assuredly God in His providence who selects this vast multitude to be made participants of His unconditional salvation . . . This is but to say that they are unconditionally predestinated to salvation from the foundation of the world. If only a single infant dying in irresponsible infancy be saved, the whole Arminian principle is traversed. If all infants dying such are saved, not only the majority of the saved, but doubtless the majority of the human race hitherto, have entered into life by a non-Arminian pathway."72

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.

Calvinists, of course, hold that the doctrine of original sin applies to infants as well as to adults. Like all other sons of Adam, infants are truly culpable because of race sin and might be justly punished for it. Their "salvation" is real. It is possible only through the grace of Christ and is as truly unmerited as is that of adults. Instead of minimizing the demerit and punishment due to them for original sin, Calvinism magnifies the mercy of God in their salvation. Their salvation means something, for it is the deliverance of guilty souls from eternal woe. And it is costly, for it was paid for by the suffering of Christ on the cross. Those who take the other view of original sin, namely, that it is not properly sin and does not deserve eternal punishment, make the evil from which infants are "saved" to be very small and consequently the love and gratitude which they owe to God to be small also.

The doctrine of infant salvation finds a logical place in the Calvinistic system; for the redemption of the soul is thus infallibly determined irrespective of any faith , repentance or good works, whether actual or foreseen. It does not, however, find a logical place in Arminianism or any other system. Furthermore, it would seem that a system such as Arminianism, which suspends salvation on a personal act of rational choice, would logically demand that those dying in infancy must either be given another period of probation after death, in order that their destiny may be fixed, or that they must be annihilated.

In regard to this question Dr. S. G. Craig has written: "We take it that no doctrine of infant salvation is Christian that does not assume that infants are lost members of a lost race for whom there is no salvation apart from Christ. It must be obvious to all, therefore, that the doctrine that all dying in infancy are saved will not fit into the Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic system of thought with their teaching of baptismal regeneration; as clearly most of those who have died in infancy have not been baptized. It is obvious also that the Lutheran system of thought provides no place for the notion that all dying in infancy are saved because of the necessity it attaches to the means of grace, especially the Word and the Sacraments. If grace is only in the means of grace—in the case of infants in baptism—it seems clear that most of those who have died in infancy have not been the recipients of grace. Equally clear is it that the Arminian has no right to believe in the salvation of all dying in infancy; in fact, it is not so clear that he has any right to believe in the salvation of any dying in infancy. For according to the Arminians, even the evangelical Arminians, God in His grace has merely provided men with an opportunity for salvation. It does not appear, however, that a mere opportunity for salvation can be of any avail for those dying in infancy."73

Though rejecting the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, and turning the baptism of the non-elect into an empty form, Calvinism, on the other hand, extends saving grace far beyond the boundaries of the visible Church. If it is true that all of those who die in infancy, in heathen as well as in Christian lands, are saved, then more than half of the human race even up to the present time has been among the elect. Furthermore, it may be said that since Calvinists bold that saving faith in Christ is the only requirement for salvation on the part of adults, they never make membership in the external Church to be either a requirement or a guarantee of salvation. They believe that many adults who have no connection with the external Church are nevertheless saved. Every consistent Christian will, of course, submit himself for baptism in accordance with the plain Scripture command and will become a member of the external Church; yet many others, either because of weakness of faith or because they lack the opportunity, do not carry out that command.

It has often been charged that the Westminster Confession in stating that "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ" (Chap. X. Sec. 3), implies that there are non-elect infants, who, dying in infancy, are lost, and that the Presbyterian Church has taught that some dying in infancy are lost. Concerning this Dr. Craig says: "The history of the phrase 'Elect infants dying in infancy' makes clear that the contrast implied was not between 'elect infants dying in infancy' and 'non-elect infants dying in infancy,' but rather between 'elect infants dying in infancy' and 'elect infants living to grow up.' " However, in order to guard against misunderstanding, furthered by unfriendly controversialists, the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. adopted in 1903 a Declaratory Statement which reads as follows: "With reference to Chapter X, Section 3, of the Confession of Faith, that it is not to be regarded as teaching that any who die in infancy are lost. We believe that all dying in infancy are included in the election of grace, and are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases."

Concerning this Declaratory Statement Dr. Craig says: "It is obvious that the Declaratory Statement goes beyond the teaching of Chapter X, Section 3 of the Confession of Faith inasmuch as it states positively that all who die in infancy are saved. Some hold that the Declaratory Statement goes beyond the Scripture in teaching that all those dying in infancy are saved; but, be that as it may, it makes it impossible for any person to even plausibly maintain that Presbyterians teach that there are non-elect infants who die in infancy. No doubt there have been individual Presbyterians who held that some of those who die in infancy have been lost; but such was never the official teaching of the Presbyterian Church and as matters now stand such a position is contradicted by the Church's creed."74

It is sometimes charged that Calvin taught the actual damnation of some of those who die in infancy. A careful examination of his writings, however, does not bear out that charge. He explicitly taught that some of the elect die in infancy and that they are saved as infants. He also taught that there were reprobate infants; for he held that reprobation as well as election was eternal, and that the non-elect come into this life reprobate. But nowhere did he teach that the reprobate die and are lost as infants. He of course rejected the Pelagian view which denied original sin and grounded the salvation of those who die in infancy on their supposed innocence and sinlessness. Calvin's views in this respect have been quite thoroughly investigated by Dr. R. A. Webb and his findings are summarized in the following paragraph: "Calvin teaches that all the reprobate 'procure'—(that is his own word)—'procure' their own destruction; and they procure their destruction by their own personal and conscious acts of 'impiety,' 'wickedness,' and 'rebellion.' Now reprobate infants, though guilty of original sin and under condemnation, cannot, while they are infants, thus 'procure' their own destruction by their personal acts of impiety, wickedness, and rebellion. They must, therefore, live to the years of moral responsibility in order to perpetrate the acts of impiety, wickedness and rebellion, which Calvin defines as the mode through which they procure their destruction. While, therefore, Calvin teaches that there are reprobate infants, and that these will be finally lost, he nowhere teaches that they will be lost as infants, and while they are infants; but, on the contrary, he declares that all the reprobate 'procure' their own destruction by personal acts of impiety, wickedness and rebellion. Consequently, his own reasoning compels him to hold (to be consistent with himself), that no reprobate child can die in infancy; but all such must live to the age of moral accountability, and translate original sin into actual sin."75

In none of Calvin's writings does he say, either directly or by good and necessary inference, that any dying in infancy are lost. Most of the passages which are brought forth by opponents to prove this point are merely assertions of his well known doctrine of original sin, in which he taught the universal guilt and depravity of the entire race. Most of these are from highly controversial sections where he is discussing other doctrines and where he speaks unguardedly; but when taken in their context the meaning is not often in doubt. Calvin simply says of all infants what David specifically said of himself: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me," Psalm 51:5; or what Paul said, "In Adam all die," 1 Corinthians 15:22; or again, that all are "by nature, the children of wrath," Ephesians 2:3.

We believe that we have now shown that the doctrine of election is in every point Scriptural and a plain dictate of common sense. Those who oppose this doctrine do so because they neither understand nor consider the majesty and holiness of God, nor the corruption and guilt of their own nature. They forget that they stand before their Maker not as those who may justly claim His mercy, but as condemned criminals who deserve only punishment. Furthermore, they want to be independent to work out their own scheme of salvation rather than to accept God's plan which is by grace. This doctrine of election will not harmonize with any covenant of works, nor with a mongrel covenant of works and grace; but it is the only possible outcome of a covenant of pure grace.

72 Two Studies in the History of Doctrine, p. 230.
73 Christianity Today, Jan. 1931, p. 14.
74 Christianity Today, Jan. 1931. p. 14.
75 Calvin Memorial Addresses, p. 112.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
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.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
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.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
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 mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
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.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
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.
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.
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.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Mr Curt Daniels is quoted as saying:

E. The classic statement in Reformed confessions is that of the Westminster Confession (X: 3):
“Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth. So are also other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” Some non-Calvinist critics read this and feel that it insinuates that there are some non-elect infants, but the Confession does not say that. Almost all Reformed theologians take this as a pronouncement that all dying infants are elect.
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:

We can assert that there are elect infants who die in infancy. We can also assert that believers have special warrant to hope that their infants who die in infancy are such (Luke 18:15,16 cf...). Beyond this we may not go. We may legitimately hope, but we may not demand.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
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.

:2cents:
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Mr Curt Daniels is quoted as saying:

E. The classic statement in Reformed confessions is that of the Westminster Confession (X: 3):
“Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth. So are also other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” Some non-Calvinist critics read this and feel that it insinuates that there are some non-elect infants, but the Confession does not say that. Almost all Reformed theologians take this as a pronouncement that all dying infants are elect.
Mr Daniels is not accurate in his assessment "Almost all Reformed theologians take this as a pronouncement that all dying infants are elect."
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.
 

DavidinKnoxville

Puritan Board Freshman
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.
 

Quickened

Puritan Board Senior
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)
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
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.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
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.
 

Quickened

Puritan Board Senior
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.
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.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
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.
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.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
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
 

Quickened

Puritan Board Senior
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.
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.
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.
 
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