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Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by panta dokimazete, Jun 30, 2008.
Amen. May the Lord give you his comfort in the midst of it.
Just wanted to add my prayers to this as well. Thank you for your post, Mr. Bishop.
Thank you for the correction brother!
No, because we DO have the data on Adolf which shows him being non-elect. So, if God had taken him as an infant, he would have died as a non-elect person.
But I may be missing your point.
And I apologize if I seem to have accused you of holding points you don't actually hold; that was not my intent - and I know you don't hold to them. We may be talking past each other on some of these things.
Perhaps not literally 100%. But, at the end of his life, Hitler shot his dogs. Then he and Eva Braun took poison. Then, Hitler shot Eva, then shot himself. I don't detect a whole lot of biblical repenting going on right about then. In fact, he committed several sins just by having all this take place.
And, since there's no second chance after death, I'm pretty sure Hitler is not in Heaven.
(1) God chose the elect before creation; (2) Hitler's life demonstrates that he was not elect - from conception until his death. What's not Reformed about this?
You said something about "in the middle of his life" so I got to thinking about Paul and Hitler in the middle of their lives. Hitler was a decorated war hero, having won the iron cross. His main sin at that time was an affair with the daughter of his half sister, which has a less severe Biblical penalty than Paul's most serious sin, which was murdering Christians.
He poisoned one dog to test a way to kill his wife, who was not Eva Braun, but a legally married Eva Hitler, who was certain to have been raped and murdered by the Red Army. Eva took the same poison she saw demonstrated on the dog of her own free will and wasn't shot by anyone. 3 thousand German women committed suicide the week Berlin fell because of mass rapes, and everyone knew what was in store.
Not to justify things, and I agree he showed no signs of repentance, but I think you will admit you could have worded your post much better.
When I was in the Arminian/Keswick church, I often heard that people went to hell for rejecting Christ. However, biblically I find that people go to hell for sin. If you think that God can only justly punish those who make a decision to reject Christ, you must also bow to the inclusivism that says those who never hear the gospel are saved, or at least may be saved or given a second chance, or whatever.
Now, if you are making a difference between the original sin of an infant and the actual sin of a cognizant person, there may be something to that.
What Calvinists have thought on Infant election
First of all, before taking a side, I will mention that I have read Lorraine Boettner's book, as well as listened to Dr. Curt Daniel's tapes on the issue.
I also know that virtually all modern Reformed theologians believe that all dying infants are saved, including R. C. Sproul, probably John Piper, all Arminians (by the way), Al Mohler as mentioned, B.B. Warfield, Hodge, and many others.
The question is: What has been the major concensus on infant salvation among Reformed theologians? There are five perspectives:
1) Most if not all Reformed theologians have agreed that the infants of believers dying in infancy are saved because they are part of the covenant.
2) Most of the puritan theologians, including John Owen and especially the New England puritans have taught that all the children of unbelievers dying in infancy are damned.
3) Many theologians have agreed with point 1, but have decided to remain agnostic regarding to point 2.
4) Few theologians have remained agnostic concerning both point 1 and 2.
5) Very few if not none of the theologians have taught that all dying infants are damned, whether they be children of believers or unbelievers, but there are less educated calvinists who have held this position.
Personally, I take position 3, that all dying infants of believers are saved, but as for unbelievers, we don't know.
I think you missed the obvious option which the formers of the 2 confessions (Westminster and 1689) clearly say: We don't know but the elect babies are saved. This leaves room for the salvation for the offspring of both the regenerate and unregenerate. Scripture does not shut the door on the salvation of the babies of the elect but gives no indication either way on the eternal fate of the babies of the unregenerate. The latter category is not very hopeful based on God's command to destroy the offspring of the enemies of God when Israel went to war.
An issue that comes to mind with this is the arbitrary nature of the classification of "infant." Does that mean pre-born to shortly after birth? to one year? two years? until rational faculties are "developed"? age seven? Is it different from one "infant" to another?
On one level, we all image we know how old an "infant" is, on another, we imagine different things about exactly how old an "infant" can be. How is it consistent that God will automatically regenerate until age 2 but not age 2, 1 day?
I read somewhere Dr MacArthur takes this to mean up to age 20, in some cases.
Yes, I could be wrong on the details. I was writing from memory of something I'd read a long time ago. If your information is better, I accept it. I think my main point still stands, though.
The only person I know who teaches this is Harold Camping, Calvinist-turned-heretic. His reasoning being that salvation comes through faith alone, and infants can't believe or understand the gospel, therefore can't be saved.
I think Turretin and Hoeksema are on the money with this one.
But God ordained that Hitler would not die in his infancy. You could speculate about whether Hitler would have been elect if someone had killed him in his infancy, but God specifically ordained that this would not happen -- it isn't the case that we can "trick" God into having elected someone by ending that person's life. It seems illogical to me to speculate about whether someone would have been elect if events entirely contrary to God's will had occurred. Such events could not have occurred, so we can't draw valid conclusions from what would have happened if they had occurred.
On a different point, to those who believe in the election of all dying infants, do you think that this is because they haven't actually sinned yet? Some of the prior posts seem to indicate this with the distinction between original and actual sin. If so, does the child still need the work of Christ to be saved? It seems clear to me that if the child is saved, it is through Christ. The Scriptures do not seem to allow for a class of persons who do not need salvation, or who can attain salvation through their own lack of "actual" sin rather than through Christ. And, though less obvious, it also seems to me that even an infant who isn't intellectually aware of sin still rebels against God with all her being -- if she is not regenerate.
No one, infant or adult, can be saved outside of Christ. The papist would claim, "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" as the method whereby children who die in infancy would go to heaven. That is one of the reasons why they rush to baptize infants in the Roman manner. But while we would reject Cyprian's dictum from a Roman perspective, we would say that outside of Christ there is no salvation. How the redemptive work of Christ is imputed to infants apart from faith is a matter no one can truly answer.
I absolutely agree, which is why it seems inconsistent to me, when discussing the salvation of dying infants, to say that they are all saved because they cannot be aware of sin. This suggests that these infants are righteous, and the Bible is clear that they are not -- apart from Christ. If we are to come to the conclusion that infants are saved, it can't be because they are not sinners.
It's important to remember that election occurs not only before a person is born, not only before a person is conceived, but even before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). So, when that infant is born within the stream of history, his or her election is already set, has already been decided by God. If the infant is elect, then, if it dies in infancy, it goes to be with God. If the dying infant is not elect, then it goes to Hell. And this is just as true with infants born into Christian homes (on the "God has no grandchildren" principle) as it is with those born into pagan homes.
So, Hitler's life demonstrates that he was not elect; which means that he was not elect as an infant, either. The fact that he hadn't sinned yet as an infant means nothing - his non-election had already been decided by God in eternity past. If Adolf Hitler had died as an infant, he would have gone to Hell.
Again, assuming that Eternal Life in Christ has some sort of dialectic equivalent in Eternal Life in Hell forces all sorts of extra Biblical theology to make it seem more palatable. If some fetuses aborted a few weeks after conception are going to live forever being tortured then you pretty much have to posit that they all have Eternal Life in Christ. The next step it to invent some artificial Age of Accountability, then you quibble within that sub group to account for retarded persons, and it doesn't stop.
Besides, you don't know what went inside Hitler's heart in the last hours, and it's not your business to judge. That sort of thing is God's business.
But no one is arguing that all infants are elect, only those who God ordains will die as infants. I totally agree with the first paragraph, but my point is simply that Hitler could not have died as an infant, because God did not ordain that he would. God had already decided in eternity past that Hitler would not die as an infant. Your hypo assumes that Hitler was not elect (and I agree) but that he could just as easily have died as an infant as not. But that isn't true -- both his non-election and non-death were foreordained. I don't necessarily agree with the view that all dying infants are elect, but it isn't inconsistent on the basis of the Hitler hypo -- the hypo is contrary to reality. It's kind of like speculating about what would have happened if Pilate had decided to spare Jesus' life -- that isn't what God ordained, so it could not have happened that way, even if such an event would not have violated the laws of physics.
Richard, we don't even know this. How can we say with certainty that God, in His infinite mercy, has not elected all children who die in infancy? I think we err when we take the doctrine of election and try to cross every "T" and dot every "I". None of us know what has entered into the mind of God on this matter. We hope that he is merciful towards infants who die. In the absence of any definitive command we have no choice but to rest in His mercy.
We do NOT know that God has or has not elected every infant who dies. Hence the confessional authors rightly left us with what Scripture does tell us - that all elect infants who die, die in the Lord. That is, in my estimation, a much easier thing to rest in than some hope (that is not as well founded) that a given infant who dies must have been elect because God is gracious. God's ways are not our ways, and despite the fact that we'd want every infant who dies to go to Heaven, it ain't necessarily so - for God is just as well as merciful, and if He chose to send any given infant, upon dying, to Hell, then that would be right.
Todd, I do not dispute the confessions. The LBCF says that elect infants dying in infancy are saved and I believe that. My reply to Richard was about all infants. Do all infants that die in infancy go to heaven? The confessions say, "No". Perhaps God has elected all infants that die in infancy. We'll never know on this side of eternity. But if only elect infants are saved who die in infancy, how can we comfort greiving parents with certainty? Is there any ironclad guarantee that believing families who experience this tragedy have regenerate infants? I want to believe that. Trust me. I do.
I think we can bank on God's ultimate mercy and Christ's death is certainly sufficient to cover the inherited sin.
Does Christ's character in any way point to less than a merciful attitude toward infants?
Christ's character and the Fathers character are one. They are one God "Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'?
So if God was merciless to non-elect infants or infants of the non-elect in the OT He, to be consistent, he, who never changes, would be so in the New.
Well, the confessions don't actually say that NOT all infants that die in infancy go to heaven. All they do is give what Scripture affirms - that all elect infants dying in infancy go to heaven. The authors of the confessions sought to give voice only to what Scripture actually does teach - see Waldron's commentary for his discussion.
To give grieving parents more than Scripture says isn't comfort - it's a false comfort at best. Do we have good reason to expect that their child is in heaven? I think so. Do we know that God is just and will do according to what is right? This we DO know, and CAN affirm without any hesitancy, because the Word tells us as much. I do not believe the Word tells us that every infant dying in infancy goes to heaven - and as such, I can't advocate telling grieving parents this.
But if Christ's character revealed a special mercy toward children/infants, that would help interpret the Father's disposition of children/infants in the OT. Is it merciless to have children/infants temporally slaughtered if their ultimate destination is eternal communion?
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
No. Is there any Scriptural evidence of slaughter of the elect in the OT (either infant or adult) to gain them entrance into the presence of God. I can't think of any off the top unless King Saul counts. There was the prophet that got lied to by the other prophet and got et by a lion, but that was discipline by God....
Todd, going on the assumption that words mean things...
If the framers of the confession meant all infants dying in infancy they would have said so. Unless they are implying that all infants dying in infancy are elect. Somehow I doubt that is what they meant.
We're in agreement. That is what I was trying to articulate. It's about this time that certain people would accuse us of a heinous view of God's grace. "God would send a baby to hell because he/she is not elect?"
...and that is only after reading half of the first page of the thread....