Arminians & Infant Salvation

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Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I want to give thanks to our Lord because last Thursday my sister had her baby! I am an uncle and as this is the first grandchild/nephew/niece, you can imagine my family is very excited. While holding my dear nephew the other day I was praying for him and one thing that I could not help but think about is that this beautiful little boy possessed a sinful nature. Of course, being a day-old baby, I can’t really think of many sins he could have personally committed; nonetheless, the sin nature was that inherited from Adam.

First, would we agree that even a new-born baby has a wicked heart set against God? If this is true, then what happens of babies who die in infancy? I am sure this has been covered before and I feel comfortable with the answer that I would give someone, but what I am really curious about is how would an Arminian answer this question? If Arminians believe it is up to man to “choose” Christ then how could an infant choose Christ and therefore be saved? As silly as it may seem, I feel this problem of infant salvation poses a serious problem to the Arminian position of salvation. Do you agree? How might an Arminian tackle this issue?
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Arminians that I know of believe that God saves all who aren't capable of making the conscious choice. So the baby, even if they do believe (and many don't) that the baby is sinful through inheritance, is automatically saved by grace despite not having made any decision. It's not at all a problem for them in their belief system.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
Arminians that I know of believe that God saves all who aren't capable of making the conscious choice. So the baby, even if they do believe (and many don't) that the baby is sinful through inheritance, is automatically saved by grace despite not having made any decision. It's not at all a problem for them in their belief system.

Is that the same position that John Piper advocates in this article:

What happens to infants who die? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
ppens_to_infants_who_die/

And is this position inherently Arminian?
 

Michael Doyle

Puritan Board Junior
Arminians that I know of believe that God saves all who aren't capable of making the conscious choice. So the baby, even if they do believe (and many don't) that the baby is sinful through inheritance, is automatically saved by grace despite not having made any decision. It's not at all a problem for them in their belief system.

A/K/A The age of accountability I believe it is. A very inconsistent position indeed.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Arminians that I know of believe that God saves all who aren't capable of making the conscious choice. So the baby, even if they do believe (and many don't) that the baby is sinful through inheritance, is automatically saved by grace despite not having made any decision. It's not at all a problem for them in their belief system.
:ditto:

This is consistent with what I've heard as well.

As to the opening question, infants have Adam's sinful nature (indeed, I would argue from Psalm 51 that this goes to the moment of conception) and need for the blood of Christ to save them. I think our denomination's confession (we're both OPC) is a good summation:

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 also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. WCF 10.3
Just as we don't know what adults are elect, so too do we not know which infants are elect, and that I think is a consistent position that is as far as Scripture goes.

In line with Paul's statements regarding children of one Christian parent in a mixed household being "sanctified", I do believe birth to Christian parents is a significant factor in this equation.

Even the sin nature alone is enough to merit condemnation; yet merely because we as adults cannot see faith in those incapable of human expression (such as infants or the severely mentally impaired), there's no reason to believe God can't regenerate such a person and give him/her saving faith.

Despite being extraordinary circumstances, I think the intrauterine calling of Jeremiah and John the Baptist leaping for joy upon coming into the presence of Jesus at the minimum indicate that God can and has worked with even unborn children.
 
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Romans 8 Verse 28

Puritan Board Freshman
I want to give thanks to our Lord because last Thursday my sister had her baby! I am an uncle and as this is the first grandchild/nephew/niece, you can imagine my family is very excited.

That's great news, praise God and congrats. This reminds me of when my darlin niece Halee was born. :)

First, would we agree that even a new-born baby has a wicked heart set against God? If this is true, then what happens of babies who die in infancy?

Yes, we'd agree that they do. Regarding babies who die in infancy, my position on this subject is in agreement with Dort, WCF, etc. Further, my position can be summed up as in line with Southern Reformed Presbyterian John Girardeau's, he states as follows:

"It will be asked, What is the bearing of the Calvinistic doctrine, touching the decree of election and reprobation, upon the case of infants dying in infancy? I reluctantly answer the question, because it has so often been made a theme for furious declamation rather than for sober inquiry. To those who are willing to argue and not to denounce, we are ready to give an answer. There have been very few Calvinists who have taken the ground that any infants dying in infancy are excluded from salvation, so few as to exercise no influence upon the Calvinistic system. The great majority are divided into two classes: those who affirm the salvation of all infants dying in infancy - and at the present day this is probably the more numerous class; and those who affirm the certain salvation of all infants dying in infancy, who are children of believing parents, and content themselves with maintaining, in reference to other infants dying in infancy, the strong probability of their salvation. The former class, consequently, affirm the election to salvation of all infants dying in infancy, the reprobation of none; the latter class affirm the certain election of all infants dying in infancy, who are children of believing parents, and maintain the probable election of others dying in infancy. No class affirm the certain or probable reprobation of any infants dying in infancy. The question, therefore, of the justice of their reprobation is groundless, since neither the certainty nor the probability of their reprobation is asserted by any class of Calvinists.

But does not the Westminster Confession say that only elect infants are saved? No, it does not. The qualifying term only is not used. These are the words: "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit who worketh when and where and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word." The framers of the Confession evidently meant to imply that, as no human beings can be saved except in consequence of election, no infants, dying in infancy, can be saved, except in consequence of election. If all infants dying in infancy be saved, then they are all elect... But the question whether all infants, dying in infancy, are elect, and therefore are saved, is one which the Confession did not undertake to decide. As it is not a matter concerning which the Scriptures speak definitely, it was wisely left where they put it.

If the ground be taken that justice requires the salvation of all infants dying in infancy, Calvinists unanimously deny. For the salvation of no sinner can be required by justice, and infants are sinners. If it be maintained, that all infants, dying in infancy, are saved through the mercy of God, applying to them the justifying blood of Christ and communicating the regenerating grace of the Spirit, speaking for myself, I do not deny. I think it probable and hope it may be so. But I am not prepared to go further, and dogmatically affirm what the Scriptures do not clearly reveal. The Word of God, and not human sentiment, is our rule of faith. When that speaks, let us speak; when it is silent, let us hold our peace."
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Arminians that I know of believe that God saves all who aren't capable of making the conscious choice. So the baby, even if they do believe (and many don't) that the baby is sinful through inheritance, is automatically saved by grace despite not having made any decision. It's not at all a problem for them in their belief system.

Is that the same position that John Piper advocates in this article:

What happens to infants who die? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
ppens_to_infants_who_die/

And is this position inherently Arminian?

i dont know that I would agree with Piper's position if his belief is all infants who die are automatically saved simply because they were infants. In his article he references preaching a funeral for an infant who has sadly passed. I think in this context, the teaching that all infants who die are automatically saved, would be what ministers want to preach. I can't imagine how difficult it would be for a parent to have to deal with the loss of a newborn child. However, I just dont think this teaching is scriptural.

-----Added 8/24/2009 at 04:49:51 EST-----

As for mine own beliefs, I would ascribe to WCF also.
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 also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. WCF 10.3

Because I am a Calvinist, I have no problem with the doctrine of election and therefore the above answer is sufficient for me. What I was curious to explore was how an Arminian might take issue with this answer. Thank you toddpedlar for laying forth that Arminian argument. My point is that we can all see that whole "age of accountability" argument is pretty weak. What would an Arminian say/do when faced with scriptures such as Psalm 51:5 showing sinfulness from conception? doesn't this destroy the age of accountablity argument?
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Because I am a Calvinist, I have no problem with the doctrine of election and therefore the above answer is sufficient for me. What I was curious to explore was how an Arminian might take issue with this answer. Thank you toddpedlar for laying forth that Arminian argument. My point is that we can all see that whole "age of accountability" argument is pretty weak. What would an Arminian say/do when faced with scriptures such as Psalm 51:5 showing sinfulness from conception? doesn't this destroy the age of accountablity argument?

Like I said I don't think they'd quibble with this (at least those Arminians that accept original sin - some don't, and they're VERY interesting to talk with). They'd argue that because the infant is incapable of expressing faith in Christ, he or she is graciously covered by Christ's blood without that expression... until they reach the "age of accountability", whatever that is, at which time they become responsible enough to be "held accountable".
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
If Arminians believe it is up to man to “choose” Christ then how could an infant choose Christ and therefore be saved? As silly as it may seem, I feel this problem of infant salvation poses a serious problem to the Arminian position of salvation. Do you agree? How might an Arminian tackle this issue?

It is not silly to ask this question of Arminians at all. It is essentially one of the conclusions of B.B Warfield in his essay on infant salvation (see here). Basically, if Arminians believe in salvation based upon foreseen faith in an individual, and infants are incapable of exercising faith, then the result is obvious. It becomes a real Achilles heel for Arminians.

One outgrowth of this is the idea of an "age of accountability." But this brings forth even more problems. Human beings are born "innocent," then fall from innocency into sin at some magical age, then can exercise faith and be redeemed? Bizarre, if you think about it.
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
Many, as I used to years ago, picture everyone going to Heaven or Hell "as is" meaning if you argue that an infant or baby could go to Hell they picture this small little baby burning in Hell and as such must argue against it. I seriously think that's the issue with many in regard to panning out their belief of this issue.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Many, as I used to years ago, picture everyone going to Heaven or Hell "as is" meaning if you argue that an infant or baby could go to Hell they picture this small little baby burning in Hell and as such must argue against it. I seriously think that's the issue with many in regard to panning out their belief of this issue.

Absolutely... and it's because, primarily, of a very poor doctrine of sin, and an unwillingness to actually believe what Scripture teaches about Adam's Fall and its repercussions. They don't believe that the stain of original sin actually means anything of eternal significance. (and hence their ideas of covenant, if they have any at all, are completely skewed)
 

jason d

Puritan Board Freshman
when 2 of my children died last year alot of Arminians told me:

"Well God would have known if they would have choosen Him or not later in life, so based on His foreknowledge God would send them to either Heaven or Hell."

Some Arminians just said God is unclear on this issue so they didn't know. Sadly, not many Reformed folk I knew provided any help either and gave a similar answer that there was not a chapter or verse on this so they couldn't say.

I used to believe that but I now hold that God does save all who die in infancy based on a overview on the Scriptures and how God deals with infants who die, even to infants of pagan nations. (I came to this conclusion long before my children died or I even knew we were pregnant, so my conclusion was not based on emotion)

I blogged on this last year, and provided sermons and books and articles you can read on this position here: Good Times Delgado Style: Is my baby in Heaven?
 
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toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Jason -

I'm sorry for your loss, though I cannot personally relate. We have friends who have lost two children in utero, and we have grieved with them, but that is as close to home as this kind of thing has come to us.

I do think you have good reason, as Christians, to expect that your children are even now with Jesus. The promise of the covenant would indicate that we should be confident in this. However, I do not see any justification whatsoever to expect that ALL infants dying in infancy are saved. There is no covenant promise to pagan parents, and their infants are just as tainted with Adam's sin as ours are - they are just as worthy of eternal destruction... and are uncovered by the covenant promises. Can they be elect? SURE - it's possible. I just don't see any Scriptural reason at all to assume that they are.

The WCF authors were VERY specific to argue in chapter 10 only for "elect infants" that die in infancy... and the 1689 LBCF has the same position as expressed in their chapter 10. Hence, the confessional position is clear and leaves unspoken what Scripture leaves unspoken on this point.

This, though is probably a bit off topic. (and I know this topic has been discussed many times on the PB before)
 

jason d

Puritan Board Freshman
Todd,

I understand the arguments for the "covenant children" view, and I agree with the confessions, but I don't think JUST covenant infants are saved because I see God dealing with them much differently in the entirety of the Scriptures (even with pagan infants). I agree they are all worthy of damnation, but what do you make of the Scriptures that show God dealing differently with pagan infants as well?
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Jason, I am so very sorry for your loss. When I started this thread I didn't mean for it to go into a discussion/debate on infants and salvation, but instead how Arminians might answer this question. I must confess that thanks to yourself and others I have now been confronted with some ideas/beliefs that I had previously not considered/studied. My own belief on infant salvation would be similar to the one Todd put forth - infant election, but I defniitely would like to better understand the reasoning behind your (and any others) belief that all infants who pass are saved.
I read your blog, but I was unable to find the scripture which actually supported the teaching on there. I do realize that you recommeded some excellent resources by Pastor MacArthur, however as someone who cannot read the book or listen to the sermons right now, would you be able to elaborate on what Pastor MacArthur teaches? Thank you.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Todd,

I understand the arguments for the "covenant children" view, and I agree with the confessions, but I don't think JUST covenant infants are saved because I see God dealing with them much differently in the entirety of the Scriptures (even with pagan infants). I agree they are all worthy of damnation, but what do you make of the Scriptures that show God dealing differently with pagan infants as well?

I'd appreciate it if you'd show me some of those Scriptures that show God dealing differently with pagan infants.

Also, I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're trying to make, so I'd ask you also to specify to whom you're comparing God's dealing with pagan infants... differently than pagan children and adults, differently than Jewish/Christian children and adults, or what?
 

Blue Tick

Puritan Board Graduate
To answer the OP simply: Most Ariminians (Broad Evangelicals) believe in The age of Accountability the problem with this view is what is that age?
Therefore, all infants who die are saved because they have not reached the age of accountability.

Here's one text that they use to support infant salvation for all:

2 Samuel 12:15-23
And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
To answer the OP simply: Most Ariminians (Broad Evangelicals) believe in The age of Accountability the problem with this view is what is that age?
Therefore, all infants who die are saved because they have not reached the age of accountability.

Here's one text that they use to support infant salvation for all:

2 Samuel 12:15-23
And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Certainly this may be used... and it's wrongly used, as it doesn't address the question of "all infants without distinction".
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I've always read 2 Samuel 12:23 as simply meaning that David was affirming that he would die like his son and that his son would not come to life. Some well meaning folks might be reading too much into the phrase "go to him." As Todd points out, it might give some solace to covenant children, but it says nothing about a mythical age of accountability (I know you are not advocating this, John).
 

jason d

Puritan Board Freshman
...I defniitely would like to better understand the reasoning behind your (and any others) belief that all infants who pass are saved.
...would you be able to elaborate on what Pastor MacArthur teaches? Thank you.

I'd appreciate it if you'd show me some of those Scriptures that show God dealing differently with pagan infants.

Also, I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're trying to make, so I'd ask you also to specify to whom you're comparing God's dealing with pagan infants... differently than pagan children and adults, differently than Jewish/Christian children and adults, or what?

Todd I am just talking about how he deals differently with pagan infants. Here are SOME of the main arguments (I compiled them from alot of my old notes, hope they make sense in the order I put them in, and not all are specific to pagan infants).

The short/main argument is that we are damned by works but saved by grace, and infants do have their own bad works though they are totally depraved and inherit the sin of Adam.

“Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,
as infants who never see the light?
There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.”

- Job 3:16-17

“If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life's good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he... yet it [the stillborn] finds rest rather than he.”
- Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

Certainly Job & Solomon aren’t saying it is better to be an infant and go to Hell rather than go through the troubles of this life. Noone finds rest in Hell.

Scripture always connects eternal condemnation to the sinner's deeds/works...always, not to original sin.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
- Revelation 20:11-12

God says those who don’t know their right hand from their left (infants would qualify…no?) deserve compassion. Look what God says of the pagans:

“And should not I pity [have compassion on] Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left...”
- Johan 4:11

In Deuteronomy 1:39 God talks about your little ones who have “no knowledge of good or evil”.

The children of the rebellious Isrealites got the land because they really don't know good or evil the way you do, you won't get that land and they will. In a sense, God blessed their innocence.

Likewise, Isaiah 7:15-16 it talks about "Before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good…"

That does seem to argue for an age of accountability (as much as I don't like that term, I prefer level of accountability)
So they are WITH excuse unlike the pagans in Romans 1 that are without excuse. To further prove this:

“Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents”
- Jeremiah 19:4

“Innocents” there referring to the next verse which is talking about “burn[ing] their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal”

These babies are viewed by God as innocent, even though they are not “covenant children”.

So you can see in the Old Testament there are passages, that do indicate this matter of innocence to be a reality (no, I am not denying Total Depravity).

In Ezekiel 16:21 God refers to the children being burnt as sacrifices as His own.

“So you see in the Old Testament there are texts that indicate to us the innocent condition. That is not that they are not depraved, not that they are not possessors of a sin nature and bear the culpability of Adam's sin. But that there is no willful unbelief, rebellion and sinful behavior which can be held against them because they do not convincingly grasp those issues. They are innocent.
More than that, the verses that I've just read you indicate that they are in a special way God's, even the children of pagan idolaters being offered on sacrificial altars are My children. And they are so much God's that should they be miscarried, they go to a place where they're with others at rest and free from wickedness.”
- John MacArthur

Then of course there is the infamous story of David sinning and losing his child.

"While the child was still alive I fasted and wept for I said, Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me that the child may live." That's normal, isn't it, to pray for the life of the child? I wanted the life of that child, I cherished the life of that child, I wanted that little one, I wanted the life of that little one. Even though born of sin I wanted to love that child and to raise that child and enjoy that child and so I prayed. And I said...Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me that the child may live...I don't know.

He's very much like us, isn't he? Just prayed that God would be gracious but he didn't know what God would choose to do. But, verse 23, "Now that he has died, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? No. But...here it is...I shall go to him." Isn't that a great statement? It's a parting but it's only temporary, I'll go to him, but he will not return to me.

Nothing to pray for, guys. Nothing to fast about, guys. He can't come back but I'm going to him. His sorrow was instantaneously replaced by hope when that child died.”
- John MacArthur

True it doesn't argue for salvation of all infants but I am Baptist :) so I have a different view of the covenant.

Later David mourns over his adult son who lived a life of sin when he died. We are damned by works but saved by grace.

In 1 Kings 14 we see King Jeroboam being very wicked and God says to Jeroboam, "Your dynasty is cursed."

“Pick it up at verse 10, God says, "You've made your...verse 9...you know, you've done more evil than everybody before you, you've gone and made for yourself other gods, molten images to provoke me to anger. You've cast Me behind your back. So behold, verse 10, I'm bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam. I'll cut off from Jeroboam every male person. They're all going to die, bond and free, in Israel. I'll make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone." Pretty severe language. The dynasty of Jeroboam is to be eliminated. Anyone who belongs to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. The great desecration in society was not to have a proper burial. Anybody in the house of Jeroboam who dies, any male, and they're all going to die, leave in the streets for the dogs to eat. Only in modern times have dogs been domesticated, they were always curs, they were always scavengers, sort of wild, eating whatever they could in the streets. "He who dies in the field, the birds of the heaven will eat." Let the vultures tear their bodies up. Don't bury anybody from the house of Jeroboam. Let it be known that God has placed a curse upon them in that fashion.

"Now you arise...verse 12...go to your house. When your feet enter the city the child will die." There's a little child in his family. "And all Israel shall mourn for him...look at this...and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam's family shall come to the grave...listen to this next statement...because in him something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam." This is a little child in the language, in the original language. Every male in your family is going to be desecrated, eaten by dogs or vultures. But that little child is to have a decent respectful burial. Why? Because in him there is something good toward the Lord God of Israel. And what is that good? It's not...it's not righteous merit, but it is this, he was the only one who had not knowingly, willfully rebelled against God. Wonderful text, isn't it? God says you treat that little life right...something good in that life. Not enough to earn salvation, but there's no willful rebellion against Me. Another indication of God's special favor, care toward the little ones.”
- John MacArthur

Romans 1:20 where Paul is dealing with persons who have not heard the gospel and have no access to it, but who do have access to the revelation of God's glory in nature:

Romans 1:20 "Since the creation of the world God's invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

In other words: if a person did not have access to the revelation of God's glory - did not have the natural capacity to see it and understand it, then Paul implies they would have an excuse at the judgment.

The point for us is that even though we human beings are under the penalty of everlasting judgment and death because of the fall of our race into sin and the sinful nature that we all have, nevertheless God only executes this judgment on those who have the natural capacity to see his glory and understand his will, and refuse to embrace it as their treasure.
Infants, I believe, do not yet have that capacity; and therefore, in God's inscrutable way, he brings them under the forgiving blood of his Son.
– John Piper

Here are some more quotes showing other Reformed folk who believed this:

"Among the gross falsehoods that have been uttered against the Calvinist proper is the wicked calumny that we hold the damnation of little infants. A baser lie was never uttered. There may have existed somewhere in some corner of the earth a miscreant...a criminal...who would dare to say that there were infants in hell but I have never met with him nor have I met with a man who ever saw such a person. We say with regard to infant, Scripture saith but little and therefore where Scripture is confessedly scant it is for no man to determine dogmatically but I think I speak for the entire body, or certainly with exceedingly few exceptions and those are known to me when I say we hold that all infants who die are elect of God and are therefore saved. And we look to this as being the means by which Christ shall see of the travail of his soul to a great degree and we do sometimes hope that thus the multitude of the saved shall be made to exceed the multitude of the lost. Whatever views our friends may hold upon the point, they are not necessarily connected with Calvinistic doctrine. I believe that the Lord Jesus who said of such is the Kingdom of Heaven doth daily and constantly receive into His loving arms those tender ones who are only shown and then snatched away to heaven,"
- Charles Spurgeon

"The destiny of infants who die 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, predestined to salvation from the foundation of the world. If only a single infant dying in irresponsible infancy be saved, the whole Armenian principle is traversed. If 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-Armenian pathway."
- B.B. Warfield

"If a dead infant were sent to hell on no other account than that of original sin, there would be a good reason to the divine mind for the judgment because sin is a reality. But the child's mind would be a perfect blank as to the reason of its suffering. Under such circumstances it would know suffering but it would have no understanding of the reason for its suffering. It could not tell itself why it was so awfully smitten and consequently the whole meaning and significance of its sufferings being to it a conscious enigma, the very essence of the penalty would be absent and justice would be disappointed, cheated of its validation,"
- R.A. Webb

Hope that helps you see my view and the view of other Reformed men.

soli Deo gloria!

jason d.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Jason -

You're certainly convinced in your own mind that you are correct, and that is fine - I'm not going to pick apart all your references, though it has to be said that most if not all of them are misapplied, and do not speak to your claim at all. (e.g. Ezekiel 16:21 isn't dealing with pagan children, Romans 1:20 isnt' dealing with the question in any way, and the Jeremiah 19 verses don't imply innocence with respect to sin in any way at all) As for the fact of my disagreement with a few whom you have chosen to quote (Spurgeon, Piper, MacArthur), so be it. I'm not swayed by the fact that these big name men disagree. Just let it be known that I am not saying that ALL children of pagans go to hell... just that those who are not elect do. Your claim is tantamount to a statement that all infants of any person should be regarded as elect if they die in infancy.

That's where we'll simply have to disagree. I'm taking the silence of Scripture on the subject as the WCF and LBCF authors did, namely to leave the question at what we know - that all elect are saved. I do not believe Scripture gives us reason to hold the universal view that you do - I think ultimately that is a view that is borne on a prior conviction rather than what Scripture actually teaches. That's no insult to you, that's just a statement that I don't believe the Scriptures you cite make the case that you're trying to make.
 

busdriver72

Puritan Board Freshman
I always viewed Romans 5 as talking about the human sinful nature.
Babies are born with that nature......the potential to sin, but not exactly as being active "sinners" themselves, having committed no literal sins.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
Is the conquest of Canaan of any relevance here? I always thought it was typological of the final judgment, and that is why God ordered that even the infants were to be slaughtered. Is that not a valid view?
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I always viewed Romans 5 as talking about the human sinful nature.
Babies are born with that nature......the potential to sin, but not exactly as being active "sinners" themselves, having committed no literal sins.

Actually, this is one of the sticking points between Calvinism and Arminianism -- the extent to which Adam's sin affects all human beings. Arminians (or semi-Pelagians to be more precise) typically deny the imputation of Adam's guilt. I believe I am correct in saying that they would affirm that we are born "sinners" in the sense we have a polluted nature, but they would deny that we are born bearing the guilt of Adam's sin as well. :2cents:
 

busdriver72

Puritan Board Freshman
Actually, this is one of the sticking points between Calvinism and Arminianism -- the extent to which Adam's sin affects all human beings. Arminians (or semi-Pelagians to be more precise) typically deny the imputation of Adam's guilt. I believe I am correct in saying that they would affirm that we are born "sinners" in the sense we have a polluted nature, but they would deny that we are born bearing the guilt of Adam's sin as well.

Okay, I see. Interesting.
Maybe I'm all wet, but if you use equality in interpretation...applying the same principle for both condemnation and salvation...if the guilty nature is not in view, but rather through the first Adam all are guilty (even infants with no real unbelief), then wouldn't the opposite equal apply...through the "2nd Adam" all are saved (with no real belief.)?
If you remove personal involvement from one (sin), why not the other (faith)?
Now, of course, I don't believe that view at all, and I don't believe that's what he meant, but someone could try to spin it that way.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Rather, all who are in the First Adam are justly condemned, while all who are in the Second Adam are graciously saved.
 
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toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Actually, this is one of the sticking points between Calvinism and Arminianism -- the extent to which Adam's sin affects all human beings. Arminians (or semi-Pelagians to be more precise) typically deny the imputation of Adam's guilt. I believe I am correct in saying that they would affirm that we are born "sinners" in the sense we have a polluted nature, but they would deny that we are born bearing the guilt of Adam's sin as well.

Okay, I see. Interesting.
Maybe I'm all wet, but if you use equality in interpretation...applying the same principle for both condemnation and salvation...if the guilty nature is not in view, but rather through the first Adam all are guilty (even infants with no real unbelief), then wouldn't the opposite equal apply...through the "2nd Adam" all are saved (with no real belief.)?
If you remove personal involvement from one (sin), why not the other (faith)?
Now, of course, I don't believe that view at all, and I don't believe that's what he meant, but someone could try to spin it that way.

To answer somewhat differently and a little more prolix than Tim did just now, the issue is not personal involvement. You and I and every other human being ARE personally involved in Adam's sin. Our personal involvement is a covenantal involvement. We ALL sinned in him, as the text in Romans 5 says. We sinned in him because we are covered by him covenantally. We also personally are held in God's eyes to be righteous as Christ is righteous IF we are in Christ, as our covenant head. What is Christ's, righteousness and holiness, is accounted to us. Our personal involvement there, too, is a covenantal involvement. Those who are covenantally united to Christ are saved, and judged righteous just as those who are covenantally united to Adam are under the curse and judged unrighteous.

As I've said to many when discussing covenant ideas, if "not being involved directly in Adam's unrighteousness" means you don't like the judgment against you (but want to be held accountable for your own sin) then, that's fine - you'd better be equally unhappy with having the judgment of Christ's righteousness applied to your account, and should be asking that God judge you based on your own righteousness. Nobody ever takes me up on that offer, though.
 

Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
I haven't read the posts above because this has been previously discussed ad nauseum. However, the question in relation to Arminian doctrine has been admirably addressed in John L. Girardeau, Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism, Sprinkle, 1984, p. 196-207. As I recall, Girardeau shows how Arminian answers tend to butcher the doctrines of original sin, the atonement, imputation, and/or justification.
 
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