Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by panta dokimazete, Jun 30, 2008.
There is if children/infants are elect based on the character of God revealed in Christ.
Bill, I think you've answered your own question. The Confession says, rightly, that all elect infants dying in infancy go to Heaven. So, since not all infants are elect, that inevitably means that there are some infants, dying in infancy, that do not go to Heaven.
A person (not you, I know) who would try to get around this by saying that all infants are elect would be saying that all people everywhere are elect, and we know, both from Scripture and from experience, that that's not true. If everyone is elect, then election means nothing.
Back to Hitler; let me simplify: all non-elect adults were once non-elect infants. So, if Hitler had died as an infant, he would have gone to Hell.
It finally occurred to me that what we've really been talking about all this time is the doctrine of double predestination: God elects some; by not electing others, He consigns them to where they were going anyway due to their sin.
Suggesting that "all who die in infancy" are elect is not the same as saying "all infants" are elect. That's why trying to relate this issue to one who does not die in infancy (a la Hitler) is hypothetical nonsense.
God says that He is the God of believers' children. If our children die in infancy, shouldn't we therefore have no doubt that our children are with their God?
Where does it say that the children of believers are saved? The confessions use the term "elect infants" which presupposes there are infants who are not elect. And if children of believers are saved, how did they become saved? Is it normative for God to save in the womb without faith? And yes, I reject as normative saving faith by infants, pre-natal or post-natal. John the Baptist was not a normative situation.
You are incorrect when you say "the confessions." Not all of the Reformed confessions speak of deceased children of believers in that way. The Three Forms, if I remember correctly, do indeed teach that parents have every reason to believe that God has saved their deceased children.
The two most widely subscribed to confessions on the board (1689 LBCF and the WCF) are word-for-word identical on this matter.
Not to sound redundant, but if there are elect infants it stands to reason that there are non-elect infants. Are infants of believers somehow treated differently than children of unbelievers? If so, what does that say about the nature of grace?
Right. I don't understand how this particular stream of debate has gone on for so long.
Let me state, up front, that I don't agree that you can establish Biblical warrant for the notion that all people who die in infancy are elect.
That said, let me try to explain this to those that keep getting tripped up by this (again, I don't buy the argument but here is the argument):
1. All People = People who die as infants + People who don't die as infants
2. God has elected all people who die as infants.
3. People who die as infants are different people than the people who don't die as infants.
4. God knows, from all eternity, who will die as an infant (and has elected all of these) and who will not die as an infant (and has elected some of these).
5. Hitler did not die as an infant - he was not elect as an infant because he was a person who did not die in infancy.
Thus, if you buy that all people that die in infancy are elect this does not mean that everybody is elect until they grow older and then you're unsure.
As I stated before, I find this view sentimental but, if it could be established that all people who die in infancy are elect is true then there is nothing unsound in the logic that follows.
I understand that the WCF and LBCF agree here. It should be no surprise to anyone, considering that the LBCF is based on the WCF. We do, however, recognize the 3 Forms on this board as well, don't we? I don't see how any appeals to the most widely subscribed confessions on this board can validly disprove my argument from historical Reformed belief. Article 17 of the Canons of Dordt clearly states...
I presume that we accept the Canons of Dordt as a legitimate confession on this board, and I therefore maintain my right to believe and argue the position here, and not to be thought silly for it. To answer your question, of course God treats the infants of believers differently than the infants of unbelievers. According to Paul, they're holy. Debate the meaning of that all you want, but there's something different about them.
David, believe what you want. No one is squelching your right to believe. I have yet to see a compelling biblical argument that infants of believing families that die in infancy go to be with the Lord.
A simple form:
Elect infants, dying in infancy, are saved.
Since universalism is unbiblical and untrue, there are some infants who are not elect.
Non-elect infants, dying in infancy, are not saved.
I don't think it can be boiled down any simpler than that.
My only point in using the Hitler analogy, by the way, was to try to demonstrate that a person's election or non-election is already set by the time they are born (since God has already determined who is elect before He created anything) and doesn't change. Thus, Hitler, dying unsaved at 56, was non-elect, and, being non-elect, would have gone to Hell had he died as an infant, also.
It's the consistency of a person's election or non-election throughout their earthly life (based on God's eternal decision) that I was trying to highlight.
Going back to the OP, I think we've all pretty much decided that Mohler is wrong on this subject, haven't we?
Maybe we can say,
Elect infants, dying in infancy, are saved. God knows, but we do not know, how many nor how few that is.
And approach this biblically with hope that is warranted and care that is needed:
To me, this says all that can really be said. Thanks
I don't believe a consistent credo-baptist can affirm the "elect infants" part without keeping the door open for all infants dying in infancy being elect.
I also believe Christ's character reveals God's disposition toward infants.
Are you calling me inconsistent??
Actually, you are right! I remain that way in several areas.
I can't convince myself, however, that Scripture "teaches" all who die in infancy are saved. Let's say I am hopefully agnostic.
How would I console the unbelieving parent of one who dies in infancy? With the gospel: "If you place your hope in God through faith in Christ, you may be assured that He doth all things well. In the last day, you will not be disappointed, but rather completely satisfied with everything He has done or will do." . . . or something to that effect.
This has been a good thread. I respect all of the opinions I've read. It just comes down to the fact that scripture doesn't matter of fact say it. What all have done here is take the issue of the elect/non elect of an infant and tried to translate those ramifications to adults. Since scripture doesn't clearly say the answer, thus the lack of scripture for arguments, we are only left arguing about opinion. God could look at all infants who die in a different light than adults. He knew before He ever made them they would die in infancy. Could He not judge them differently than someone He knew would die at 30? This would not be against any of His attributes. Yes elect/non-elect is a decision He makes before the womb, but for everyone? The best thing about this question is we will never know until we are in glory and once there we will be all-knowing and will understand either way. But Gomarus, nailed it, we can only have hope through Jesus Christ that the Lord's ways are above ours and His every sovereign decision is so incredibly perfect that we can't fathom it. Praise the Lord for His grace.
Well, believers may hope, but I'm not sure about that "special warrant."
First of all, David, I'm so sorry. My husband and I have four children in Heaven, and I know how tough it is. You'll always miss your child. God is good though! Always good and I'll be praying that you feel His tender care throughout this season of sadness.
(BTW, I always have chosen to say that I have "four children in Heaven" because it *is* a less obnoxious way of saying "four children of mine are dead." Or whatever. But I also say it as a reminder to me of my hope in Christ.)
I read this thread with great interest. Because we have lost so many children (three to miscarriage and one to full term stillbirth), I have had the blessing of bearing my burden with many other Christian sisters in similar grief. One believing friend, who buried her son shortly after he was born, was recently told by a very confident Christian brother that her baby was clearly in Hell. My friend was floored. And devastated.
So she asked me for references, for theological arguments, etc. Interestingly enough, the confident man who started this whirlwind, after seeing her reaction and then reading Piper's article on the subject, was convinced that he was initially wrong.
I think you all have aptly teased out the points of clash, and that's been very helpful.
One more question -- Harold Camping. Do you have any reference/citation where he teaches that all dead babies go to Hell? I'm finding this idea popping up more and more. . . . John MacArthur/Phil Johnson reference it as well, but they don't give names.
Me again. I've got another question related to this. . . .
I'm reading _Huck's Raft_ by Steve Mintz where he surveys the history of the child in America. He begins his study with the Puritans in the New World and states quite plainly that they believed all babies who die go to Hell.
They did? It's not in the Confessions. Anne Bradstreet didn't believe that. Is that anywhere? I'm wondering if Mintz is misunderstanding.