Al Mohler: All Babies dying in infancy go to heaven

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by panta dokimazete, Jun 30, 2008.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I pointed that out already. JD's title implies that Al Mohler believes all infants are elect. This is not true. This would mean that everybody is elect because, at some point, everyone is an infant. What Al Mohler argued for was that all who die in infacy are elect.
  2. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    No problema. I just wanted to make sure J.D. didn't take it that way.
  3. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Right. To say "All infants who die in infancy were elect" is not the same thing as to say "all babies are elect."
  4. tburus

    tburus Puritan Board Freshman

    What about parents who have an infant die before they are saved? Are you saying that if you had received your temporal salvation then any child born of yours who dies after that will be elect, or would you argue that if you are elect then any of your offspring who die in infancy will have been elect also, regradless of if you had come upon your temporal salvation yet? The second option is the only one I could see as feasible, though honestly I can't manage to pull myself from the conviction that God has elected all infants that he has preordained to die in infancy. I really can't help but see this belief that only the dead children of the elect were elect as being some sort of akward offshoot of paedobaptism, which is another view that I just don't think the Scriptural evidence is all there for. But that's just my opinion.
  5. Quickened

    Quickened Puritan Board Senior

    Thank you both for clarification! That's where i originally got tripped up. I think my mind got temporary stuck in my train of thought for a minute.
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I changed the title of JD's post because it misrepresents the position of Mohler and Akin.
  7. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Sweet vindication!! :banana:

    (no offense, JD! I still didn't mean it in a bad way)
  8. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    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 addition to Mr Williamson who has written one of the most widely used study guides on the Westminster Confession of Faith,

    Dr. Twiss, prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly, in his 'Vindicae' I., 48:--

    You may recall Dr Twiss, in addition to being one of the leaders of the Westminster Divines, also helped draft the Confession's summary of doctrine on this point.

    Keep in mind, the above evidence goes only to Mr Curt Daniels assertion:
    "Almost all Reformed theologians take this as a pronouncement that all dying infants are elect."
  9. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    If all infants dying in infancy are elect, which did God decree first, election or dying in infancy?
  10. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Your evidence, though, is only a couple Reformed theologians of the past.

    Do you know on what basis Mr. Daniels is making his claim? Note that he didn't say something ridiculous like "Most members of the Westminster Assembly believe..." but "Most Reformed theologians".

    You should recognize that most reformed theologians are not at Westminster West and RTS Jackson. The majority of reformed theologians probably do NOT hold the confessional view. I really think this is all that Daniels is saying, and that you're inferring an incorrect meaning from his words. (this is all :offtopic:, though, so I stop.
  11. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    I didn't mean to start a firestorm over the accuracy of Dr. Daniel's statement, merely to indicate what one Reformed theologian with a pretty fair knowledge of historical theology thinks is the "lay of the land." His PhD at Edinburgh was on Gill's Calvinism (purportedly running something like 900 pages), so I presume he has a fair knowledge of the theologians of that period. However, note the names he actually identifies as falling into that camp:

    Spurgeon was a preacher (not a professional theologian per se) and Chafer was a pretty low "low Calvinist" (if one at all). Still, the point is that there is a strong tradition within Reformed circles of believing -- sentimentally or biblically or whatever -- something akin to what Mohler said.

    That was my only point.
  12. DavidinKnoxville

    DavidinKnoxville Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh... so we should abort our babies to make sure they go to heaven? You still have the same problem.
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner


    PB Evil Scientist...Boo

    Perhaps we can clarify for those following this thread.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith X 3. says...

    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.”

    Mr Daniels says in comment on WCF X 3:

    Mr Daniels is explaining the Confession on this point says there are no non-elect (unsaved) infants and, besides "almost every Reformed theologian" believes that.

    Mr Daniels is mistaken.

    I pointed out:

    1) The Westminster Confession of Faith X 3. does not say all dying infants are
    elect. It specifically does not say how many or how few are elect because the Westminster Divines were divided on this point.

    2) Dr Twiss, a leading Westminster Divine, did not believe what Mr Daniels asserts (about what Dr Twiss helped write).

    3) Not only does the Westminster Confession text not say what Mr Daniels asserts, not only does Dr Twiss who helped write it not believe what Mr Daniels asserts, but a significant body of Reformed opinion, reflected by the popularly used Westminster Confession Study Guide by Mr Williamson does not believe what Mr Daniels asserts either.

    The Westminster Divines, very wisely, did not say that all dying infants are elect. They mainly agreed that while there is some basis to believe this, Scripture is not clear on this point so they worded the WCF in this way to reflect that.

    Reformed Denominations and their theologians are divided on this to this day- but it has never been the case that "almost all Reformed theologians" believe all dying infants are elect and it is not what the Westminster Confession teaches, either.
  14. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Hi David in Knoxville, I was wondering if you could clarify how Dennis would have this problem when he isn't advocating the position himself, simply pointing out some of the people in the reformed tradition who have? (Or is your usage of 'you' more generic?)
  15. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    I guess you misunderstood me from the beginning.

    I am not arguing that the Confession teaches anything but what you have said it teaches - namely that ELECT infants are saved.

    I'm not arguing that Daniels understands the Confession properly.

    All I am saying is that his claim cannot be tested by pointing to two
    examples - and I'm cynic enough to believe that most reformed theologians are off-kilter, and do not believe the confession as it is written, but have inserted exactly what he says.

    That's all... nothing more. We have no disagreement (except you might be less cynical than I about the bulk of "reformed theolgians").
  16. DavidinKnoxville

    DavidinKnoxville Puritan Board Freshman

    The you was more generic. Sorry for the confusion.
  17. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I'm easily confused :). Thank you.
  18. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Wow - I post a thread, show up late and I am besmirched! :D

    Thanks for changing the thread title, I posted it in haste to git'r done, not really thinking through the heading, my bad.
  19. staythecourse

    staythecourse Puritan Board Junior

    Dr. Mohler made a mistake. We can't know what happens to children. The Bible is not clear and only inferences can be made on the issue. We have to stay mute where the Scripture is mute. The confessions do a good job in handling the Word here.
    Compared to Mr. Spurgeon's Revised 1689 Confession

    I cannot say God saves all children based on what I have read in Scripture, especially the children of the non-elect. God can dispose of creatures in His creation as He desires at whatever age.
  20. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Are you saying that a person can be elect at one stage of life (infancy) and then non-elect - lose his election - at a later stage?

    I don't think you can give me a biblical example of this. Hitler's life clearly demonstrates that he was not elect - and that includes his infancy, too. He was not a "different person" when he was a baby as opposed to an adult. As an infant, he just had not yet lived long enough to demonstrate the true depths of his wickedness. A person's election or non-election is decided long before he was even conceived - even before God created anything. And God does not change His mind in the middle of someone's life.

    If Hitler had died as an infant, he would have gone to Hell, as he was non-elect. Again, if a person dies in a non-elect state at 80, he would have died in a non-elect state at 8 days, too. Conversely, an elect person dying at 80 and going to Heaven would have gone to Heaven had he died at 8 days, too.

    All babies are sinners; some babies are elect.[/quote]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2008
  21. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    You should know me better than that! Of course I would NEVER say such a thing!

    You're not telling me anything I don't know and haven't repeatedly affirmed here on the PB.

    Agreed - all babies are sinners and some are elect.

    My only point was this - if Hitler had died in infancy, he would not have been Hitler, and we could not know
    whether that person would have been elect. We do know that Hitler was not elect, based on his life.
    If he had died as an infant, we would not have had this data - and do you not think it possible that if God's
    will had been to take baby Adolph from his parents - with this enormous change in providential history,
    it might have been that God would have been taking him as an elect infant?

    My point is that we simply do not know - and cannot judge anything about infants based on the fact that
    Hitler was not an elect man, and speculating about his elect status had he died in infancy. It's just improper,
    logically speaking.

    If your example of an 80 year old man dying in Christ, and speculating about whether he'd have
    gone to Heaven if he had died at 8 days - again, we don't know. We DO know that the 80 year old
    faithful Christian who died was elect - and that he was elect when he was 8 days, 8 months, and 8 years
    old - the whole of his life. BUT we cannot say that if it had been God's will to take him when he was an
    infant what to say.

    Perhaps I'm making an arcane point - and an irrelevancy... but the point stands. While it is certainly true
    that elect infants who die go to Heaven, we needn't try to judge that statement based on illogical constructions
    like the situation you described.
  22. Quickened

    Quickened Puritan Board Senior

    I wanted to compare my hard copies. It turns out that i dont own the WCF. Unless my lady has the copy. Suppose i will have to make a purchase!

    If what you posted is accurate (not doubting you) then i think the WCF is worded better then the 1689. This would be the first time i made that admission! :D
  23. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    And I thought this was a Reformed board!
  24. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    This is illogical for believers, since murder is prohibited.

    The doctrine of election of babies dying in infancy is more for the comfort of believers and the conviction of the called, though I suppose it could comfort baby killers, too, in their twisted souls.
  25. Walkthecalling

    Walkthecalling Puritan Board Freshman

    Good thread so far. I have read a bunch on this subject because I lost an infant in February. Yes, my compassionate side screams it must be innocent and accepted into the glory of heaven. My theology must run it's course as well. I have read Mac Arthur's "Safe in the Arms of God," about lost infants. It had some good points. The way in which David reacted to losing an infant compared with how he lost Absalom, seems to point to a difference. I also think it is easy to try and refer to infants in the same election process as an adult. We can only guess and apply what we know. But in the same way we can't capture fully the Trinity, the full glory of Heaven, and the amazing cooperation of election and free will, we can possibly not fully understand the difference in election for infants. Scripture doesn't speak directly to it in a light where we can speak with authority on the subject. There are parts of processes where the Bible is silent. Can we justify anything but opinion on this subject? You start into a form of theological philosophy with gymnastics to reach the point. I think you cross a large gap of the free-will side when you say an infant has original sin, but not the opportunity to chose grace. If we are not held accountable for a decision to willfully chose against Christ, then we are crossing into hyper-Calvinism where my decision means nothing. Scripture proclaims both God's sovereign election and the judgment of our choices. To eliminate one is unbiblical, and therefore that conclusion would be an infant can't make that decision. You must apply your process for this debate to the whole world not an infant. If you say an infant who dies before a decision is made (for or against Christ) can be condemned to death, then in effect all of our decisions are pre-decided and missions are pointless. If you say all infants go to heaven then you must realize that you are creating a doctrine not supported fully by scripture, that says certain people are not under the same banner depending on their ability to make/choose/be called by Christ. In this discussion I must lean to the immutable attributes of God's justice. An adult (not going to argue for a certain age/mental ability) is condemned by God for his decision to not accept Christ, which they weren't effectually called, and this is completely just. An infant (once again no age/ability) is unable to make any decisions, and even though all who are called are chosen, they are still held accountable to their choice. While we can't understand fully this paradox, I would believe a just God must hold all to the same standard, that His call is effectual, but our will is damnable. Someone incapable of making a decision (both because of being dead in sin, and without the mental cognizance to understand) would be hard to justly condemn.
    I appreciate the great replies thus far. Look forward to the kind handling of my statements!
  26. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    May you know the comfort of the Lord in the loss of your child. Belated as they may be, my prayers go with you.
  27. bravebee

    bravebee Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree that the best position is that we just don't know. The scripture is silent on the issue. Some may be elect. All may be elect. None may be elect. Any of these are possible, but to claim any of them as absolute goes beyond our only rule of faith and practice. God does the electing and has not seen fit to reveal his will in this area to us. Almost all arguments for the election of infants is owing to sentimentalism, not good theology (regardless of how docrinally sound the person making the argument happens to be).

    Two side points here:

    1. I have never bought the argument that David's baby was necessarily elect. When he said, "I will go to the child," he could very well have meant he would also die, thus joining the child in the grave, not in heaven.

    2. As for application: How then, since we don't know, do we comfort those who lose an infant to death? My only answer is that the eternity of the infant rests in the hands of our Sovereign God. We must trust Him to do all things to His greatest glory, and we must love His glory more than we love and miss the deceased baby.
  28. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    you can't say hitler was reprobate one hundred percent sure.
  29. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Is Spurgeon the one responsible for some copies of the 1689 having "infants" instead of "elect infants?"
  30. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    What he compared there are two different versions of the 1689, not the WCF. The only difference between the original 1689 and the WCF here is that the WCF has "all other elect persons" in the second sentence instead of "all elect persons."
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