Infant salvation and the native in the jungle

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Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Cg. 10.3 of the Confession recognizes that in some mysterious way infants and those "incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word" can be saved:
3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,a who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.b So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.c

a. Luke 18:15-16 and John 3:3, 5 and Acts 2:38-39 and Rom 8:9 and 1 John 5:12 compared together. • b. John 3:8. • c. Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:12.
I am discussing with an Arminian whether adults who have never heard of Christ can be saved. I am saying no and he is saying yes. He is using the example of the potential salvation of infants, which I admit to the degree above (his scope would be much larger). Anyway, he is arguing that is infants can be saved in a mysterious manner, then so can adults who have never been outwardly called by the gospel. It is hard to understand how the proof texts for footnote c relate to the concept of being incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. Anyone have any support for this proposition?

His basic idea is that some people have an implicit faith in Christ but it has not been clarified because they have not yet received the ministry of the Word. He is using the example of infant salavtion to support this possibility (salvation without the ministry of the Word).

Thoughts?

Also, what does it mean to be incapable of being outwardly called? Of course, it would include infants, the mentally infirm and the like. But is the language is broad enough to include ordinary adults who are not in a position to have heard the gospel (dark jungles, whatever)? I think the answer is no, but the language is a bit vague.
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
Were all the infants at the time of the flood saved? How about the infants at Sodom and Gomorrah? The bible is silent on it in my opinion.
 

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Were all the infants at the time of the flood saved? How about the infants at Sodom and Gomorrah? The bible is silent on it in my opinion.
no infants at Sodom and Gomorrah were saved, and no children of the reprobate during the flood were ever saved. God's judgment is beautiful and fearsome. God is not a teddy bear or jello pudding.

Ungodly Man: What about the kids. Surely the kids.

God: Damn the kids, damn their parents. Only my people will I save.
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
Were all the infants at the time of the flood saved? How about the infants at Sodom and Gomorrah? The bible is silent on it in my opinion.
no infants at Sodom and Gomorrah were saved, and no children of the reprobate during the flood were ever saved. God's judgment is beautiful and fearsome. God is not a teddy bear or jello pudding.

Ungodly Man: What about the kids. Surely the kids.

God: Damn the kids, damn their parents. Only my people will I save.

Good point brother. It is the tendancy of the fallen nature to try and think of God being like themselves. They thing that they are "fair" and that God to be just would have to be like them.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
only saved if they are God's elect.

Right - but his point is that there can be elect adults who have never heard the gospel. B/C they are incapable of hearing it (circumsatnces prevent it), they are saved in the same way as elect infants.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
I do believe that adult elect can be saved without the gospel in exactly the same way as elect infants dying in infancy.

In fact, I believe that there is nothing special or mysterious about the way elect infants are saved – they are saved in exactly the same way as all of us are.

Before being born again, a natural man cannot even see the kingdom of God, nor receive spiritual things. Even elect adults living in America under the preaching of the gospel are regenerated wholly by the Holy Spirit and the power of God. The gospel is not involved in this process because it would be meaningless to the unregenerate man anyway. The fact that infants are not capable of being preached to does not hinder this power at all. And I think it is this same power that regenerates all Christians whatever their circumstances.

So infants are saved – in the sense of regeneration – exactly the same as all other elect.

Can an adult elect person be saved in the same manner? I do not see why not. Does it actually happen? This raises another question, quite separate in my opinion, regarding if God ordained that all his elect without exception will hear and believe the gospel. However, it should be remembered that anyone who believes infants, toddlers or mentally retarded people can make it to heaven has already accepted that there are some elect whom God has ordained will not believe the gospel in the way an normal christian would.
 

Southern Presbyterian

Puritan Board Doctor
Romans 10:9-17

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

ESV

This is the "ordinary" means of salvation. That is, the "normal" way God has ordained for men to receive the gift of Holy Spirit regeneration. Any other way would be "extra-ordinary" means, which we would only know about for certain if God tells us about it - like He did for David and John the Baptist.

And correct me if I am wrong, but confessionally speaking, aren't elect infants generally understood to be the children of covenant families? Therefore a child born to a heathen family in a heathen land do not have an ordinary expectation or even possibility of salvation.
 

Scot

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm of the opinion that God will make sure that the elect hear the word before they die. Whether in the womb or otherwise they need to be under the hearing. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. They need spiritual ears to hear. Regardless if they're an infant, retarded, etc. I still believe that if they're elect God will use his word to save them. I don't see any other way laid out in scripture.
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is the tendancy of the fallen nature to try and think of God being like themselves. They thing that they are "fair" and that God to be just would have to be like them.

One is treading on dangerous ground here and well outside of Christ. For this cuts both ways and unto ALL OUR idolatries for Islam would show you a fierce and “sovereign” God bent on a fierce righteousness. In fact MANY pagan cultures have “fierce” gods. And all idolatry comes from contaminating and seeking the hidden majesty of God as the very first sin and fall of man shows EXPLICITLY. For they and we as Adam’s seed sought God in His hidden majesty not being satisfied with all the other trees. “What is God hiding that I need to know”, we said. The first sin which begat ALL sin was not the so called “negative sins” on the “negative sin list” most of us keep in our hip pocket. It was idolatry, in fact trying to be more pious than God and seeking above God which is to know God in His majesty which is in turn to control Him, which is in turn to be like god. As Satan’s fall says, “I will ascend above the Most High…” That was the prime sin. It in fact is the whole later point in the first chapter of Romans by Paul.

Is “damn the infants” THE God or one honing one’s self a god, prying into the majesty of God which is really one themselves trying to be as god? Satan deceives mostly by the Word himself, and so does his children follow after him. He literally is the slanderer of what, the Word, and singularly the incarnate Word. The Pharisees honed quite a deluded self righteously derived god for themselves out of Scriptures, whereby they murdered with their hands, tongues and hearts and not by another religious book or philosophy - rather by, “searching the Scriptures (diligently by the way and “bible only” too and “a high view of Scripture” too) and thinking that by them they had life, when it is these that continually bear witness of Christ the Lord”. Searching the Scriptures they missed God right in front of them completely and in fact crucified God revealed, the incarnate Word to which the Word spoke.

How do we answer such questions about infants and others which Scripture is not explicit? We do not dare go off into high flying giddy spirited gnostic searches for God in hidden majesty, that’s fallen religion. We answer them by looking at the revealed God, Jesus Christ, “No one has seen the Father”, but, “If you have SEEN Me you have SEEN the Father, the Father and I are one.” And we rest BY FAITH and FAITH alone there. Speculation is PURE idolatry. No true knowledge of God can be had outside of Christ and all will surely lead to idolatry (John Calvin paraphrased), Luther was even sharper on this. If you HAVE the revealed God, Christ crucified, you have the hidden God. Loose the revealed God and you too loose the hidden God and ALL is idolatry even if you stick to the bible.

That’s not a low view of Scripture but the highest view there is, Christ the incarnate Word is the Scriptures.

God is definitely not a teddy bear or jello, blaspheme by the way, as the Crucifixion of His own Son openly displays, nor is He a god like Moloch, as the Crucifixion of His own Son openly displays.

Only God’s, THE GOD, people will trust in Christ alone for God says, “This is My Son…listen to Him”…the ELECT hear HIS voice, “My sheep HEAR MY voice and another’s they will not follow…”

Blessings,

LH
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
How do we answer such questions about infants and others which Scripture is not explicit? We do not dare go off into high flying giddy spirited gnostic searches for God in hidden majesty, that’s fallen religion. We answer them by looking at the revealed God, Jesus Christ, “No one has seen the Father”, but, “If you have SEEN Me you have SEEN the Father, the Father and I are one.” And we rest BY FAITH and FAITH alone there. Speculation is PURE idolatry. No true knowledge of God can be had outside of Christ and all will surely lead to idolatry (John Calvin paraphrased), Luther was even sharper on this. If you HAVE the revealed God, Christ crucified, you have the hidden God. Loose the revealed God and you too loose the hidden God and ALL is idolatry even if you stick to the bible.

Well stated! The exclusivity of the Christian faith rests upon the exclusive mediation of Jesus as God-man.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
elect infants dying in infancy/mentally defective

If an adult has a mental handicap and God for His Holy purposes has chosen to save a person in that Condition, He certainly would not in any way be hindered.
However the normally ordained way was through the word of God preached and taught,and then received by The Holy Spirit that indwells the believer enabling that word to be welcomed. Without the Holy Spirit a natural man is not able to welcome this word savingly.
 

44jason

Puritan Board Freshman
Could the distinction be whether one is physically able to communicate?
In other words, is it possible for an infant in the womb or very young infant to be regenerated by God's sovereignty and we not know it if they die before communicating the faith that they had been gifted with in regeneration? And is it possible for the same to happen to someone who physically is handicapped from being able to communicate that faith? But a man in the deep jungle is not limited by any such physical limitations; therefore, if he does not communicate that faith it is because he does not have it. ????

Does that make sense?
 

turmeric

Megerator
I've heard of God sovereignly leading natives to missionaries, or telling them that people were coming to bring them the truth. I'm sure if He regenerates a native in the jungle, He will unite that person to the Church in short order.
 

sotzo

Puritan Board Sophomore
This all seems to be peering into the secret counsel of God, as Larry has pointed out....a ridiculous/futile exercise.

On the other hand, anyone that has lost a child will be wrenched to the core in wanting to know God's ways on this matter....exceedingly, infinitely tough stuff here.
 

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
This all seems to be peering into the secret counsel of God, as Larry has pointed out....a ridiculous/futile exercise.

On the other hand, anyone that has lost a child will be wrenched to the core in wanting to know God's ways on this matter....exceedingly, infinitely tough stuff here.
I think the Bible is clear about the death of infants. The Bible makes it clear that God is the one that has mercy on whomever he pleases and there is nothing in the thing that is the recipient of the mercy that makes the thing deserving of the mercy. Since this is so, "AGE, gender, race etc" are all irrelevant to God's decree of mercy. God's decree is based on Himself and His Holy Counsel nothing else. The Bible is absolutely clear on this point, and the fact that we have God showing us examples where adults as well as infants perished (The flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Egypt's first born, judgment on the Canaanites and the Amalekites, culminating in the siege of Jerusalem in A.D 70 whereby a whole city perished inclusive of their children )our sappy emotional platitudes should have long acquiesced this this reality.

Now how do we counsel a person who is obviously unsaved, who has then lost a child? The Bible is clear on this, "Mourn with them that mourn, and rejoice with them that rejoice".

One of my distant cousins was a Jehovah's Witness. I met him the first time, when my other uncle invited us over to his house to watch boxing. Less than 2 months later my distant cousin died (heart attack, and you wouldn't know it because he was in shape and barely 27 yrs old). Do I go to his parents and tell them that he is in hell? No. I mourn with them, I comfort them, help them monetarily if there is a need for it etc. I leave it up to the course of life whereby if the hear the Gospel expounded, and if they are saved, they will naturally deduced the reality of their dead child. While this was for an adult child, the principle is the same for a young infant. The "youngness of the infant", does not in any forces God to give mercy. God's mercy is purely voluntary, it is never coerced. If if was we would be God, and not God Himself.
 

sotzo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Keon:

Now how do we counsel a person who is obviously unsaved

But "obviously unsaved" and "God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy" is the difficulty that the Bible does not answer. While I understand there are cases that may seem obvious (as the one you've stated in your family), the fact is we do not know with whom to mourn and with whom to rejoice because we do not know what God has willed for the salvation of any particular person...do we??

Do we rejoice with the family whose father has died and who professed Christ, yet lived with apparently unrepentant sin? What about the inner-city family whose child has died..this family has not been in worship for a year due to the mother having to work Sundays to provide for a fatherless family?...she has professed Christ, but none of those around her would know because she doesn't talk about it routinely.

In short, I don't see how the passage on rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn applies in the sense you've applied it...I understand that passage to mean we need to enter into the lives of people to meet them where they are, without respect to their regenerate status.
 

turmeric

Megerator
I think Keon and Joel agree on our practical dealings with people, to be sympathetic and let God sort 'em out. I doubt if either of you would feel duty-bound to discuss the eternal state of the deceased with their relatives. That's not the Gospel anyway, it's an educated guess on our parts, at best.
 

sotzo

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think Keon and Joel agree on our practical dealings with people, to be sympathetic and let God sort 'em out. I doubt if either of you would feel duty-bound to discuss the eternal state of the deceased with their relatives. That's not the Gospel anyway, it's an educated guess on our parts, at best.

Yes...agreed...:handshake:
 

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Keon:

Now how do we counsel a person who is obviously unsaved

But "obviously unsaved" and "God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy" is the difficulty that the Bible does not answer. While I understand there are cases that may seem obvious (as the one you've stated in your family), the fact is we do not know with whom to mourn and with whom to rejoice because we do not know what God has willed for the salvation of any particular person...do we??

Do we rejoice with the family whose father has died and who professed Christ, yet lived with apparently unrepentant sin? What about the inner-city family whose child has died..this family has not been in worship for a year due to the mother having to work Sundays to provide for a fatherless family?...she has professed Christ, but none of those around her would know because she doesn't talk about it routinely.

In short, I don't see how the passage on rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn applies in the sense you've applied it...I understand that passage to mean we need to enter into the lives of people to meet them where they are, without respect to their regenerate status.
I don't want to sound arrogant, but whenever someone dies, regardless of their status and the status of their family, I mourn with them. I pray with them for strength for them to go through the period of sorrow, but I do not dabble frivolously by speaking about where their loved one is or probably is. I keep far from that. Matters of eternal destiny is left best for the person to confront and deduce when they are evaluating their own salvation.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Could some one point me to the Presbyterian confession that teaches this?

One could argue it using Canons I, xvii:

Article 17 - Children of Believers Who Die in Infancy​
We must judge concerning the will of God from His Word, which declares that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they are included with their parents. Therefore, God-fearing parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in their infancy (Genesis 17:7; Acts2:39; 1 Corinthians7:14).

A. A. Hodge writes in his commentary upon the WCF "It is not positively revealed that all infants are elect, but we are left, for many reasons, to indulge a highly probable hope that such is the fact." http://www.rtrc.net/documents/wcf/hodge/wcfaah10.htm
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
One could argue it using Canons I, xvii:

Article 17 - Children of Believers Who Die in Infancy​
We must judge concerning the will of God from His Word, which declares that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they are included with their parents. Therefore, God-fearing parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in their infancy (Genesis 17:7; Acts2:39; 1 Corinthians7:14).

Thank you.
 

sotzo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Keon:

Now how do we counsel a person who is obviously unsaved

But "obviously unsaved" and "God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy" is the difficulty that the Bible does not answer. While I understand there are cases that may seem obvious (as the one you've stated in your family), the fact is we do not know with whom to mourn and with whom to rejoice because we do not know what God has willed for the salvation of any particular person...do we??

Do we rejoice with the family whose father has died and who professed Christ, yet lived with apparently unrepentant sin? What about the inner-city family whose child has died..this family has not been in worship for a year due to the mother having to work Sundays to provide for a fatherless family?...she has professed Christ, but none of those around her would know because she doesn't talk about it routinely.

In short, I don't see how the passage on rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn applies in the sense you've applied it...I understand that passage to mean we need to enter into the lives of people to meet them where they are, without respect to their regenerate status.
I don't want to sound arrogant, but whenever someone dies, regardless of their status and the status of their family, I mourn with them. I pray with them for strength for them to go through the period of sorrow, but I do not dabble frivolously by speaking about where their loved one is or probably is. I keep far from that. Matters of eternal destiny is left best for the person to confront and deduce when they are evaluating their own salvation.

I think we are in firm agreement.
 
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