Infants of believers dying in infancy

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rpavich

Puritan Board Freshman
I too struggle with this idea.

I'm stuck on; if the way to eternal life is laid out:

All men are in total depravity
God must change the heart
The new heart puts faith in Christ

Then infants or those without capacity are excluded.

And i know that this is a hot button issue, but if we give infants a pass, and those without ability, then we have to give any other situation a pass...those who never heard, those who are misinformed, those who this and those who that.

I think it opens the door to problems...why stop at those two situations? how about someone who is a staunch RC who "never really "got" the gospel"...how about a pass there too?

I realize that the God of the earth will do right...but I don't know what that right is...

I'm stuck....
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
I would say that John 1:12-13 is ample evidence to show the will of God in the salvation of anyone. Thus we can rest on the knowledge that God saves by His own will.

I think we would all agree that it is normative for cognitive belief. But aside from this, since it is God whose will cannot be thwarted by any circumstance, why can we not deduce that in His mysterious and unseen way, He enables the unborn or the dumb to understand His will for salvation. If we are not born with belief in Him, and He must enable us to believe in Him, then why can He not enable that belief even in those we would say could not believe?

If it were simply cognitive reasoning along with the power of the Holy Spirit, then God can only save those who understand and articulate that understanding. But then we are pointed back to how the Holy Spirit gives us understanding in the first place. How does the Holy Spirit change the heart of anyone? Is there chapter and verse for that? The truth is, if I cannot understand how the Holy Spirit changes the heart in a normative circumstance, then how could I understand a change of heart in the extraordinary?

Additionally, do we know how the soul is created? Does the Bible tell us how? If we cannot know how the soul of man is put in to him, then how do we know how the soul is saved? We know the means, and the actions, but we are not given to know how it is all accomplished in the innermost parts.

I think this falls under the category of those things which are too wonderful for us to know.

We should also realize that although God condescended to reveal Himself, He did not fully reveal Himself. There are things not written in the book, and things that we couldn't understand even if they were.

In Christ,

KC
 

rpavich

Puritan Board Freshman
I would say that John 1:12-13 is ample evidence to show the will of God in the salvation of anyone. Thus we can rest on the knowledge that God saves by His own will.KC

Aside from the fact that these verse don't seem to be addressing the scope of salvation...

I think we would all agree that it is normative for cognitive belief. But aside from this, since it is God whose will cannot be thwarted by any circumstance, why can we not deduce that in His mysterious and unseen way, He enables the unborn or the dumb to understand His will for salvation. If we are not born with belief in Him, and He must enable us to believe in Him, then why can He not enable that belief even in those we would say could not believe? KC

I understand what you're saying, and I do agree; God is the one who must give repentance and belief, but since ANYTHING is possible then this argument works for ANYTHING...including the dumb Arminian arguments about how "maybe God sees what we will do and then gives us this free will and then reacts to it...anything's possible right?"

If it were simply cognitive reasoning along with the power of the Holy Spirit, then God can only save those who understand and articulate that understanding. But then we are pointed back to how the Holy Spirit gives us understanding in the first place. How does the Holy Spirit change the heart of anyone? Is there chapter and verse for that?

The truth is, if I cannot understand how the Holy Spirit changes the heart in a normative circumstance, then how could I understand a change of heart in the extraordinary?KC

Well, that ASSUMES that he does. Why would we assume that babies who die early, and those without capability are saved?
that category is no different than any other category; God owes me nothing, my sisters nothing and my brother; who died in infancy nothing as well.


I"m not badgering you...just thinking out loud....
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Robert...

I would say that John 1:12-13 is ample evidence to show the will of God in the salvation of anyone. Thus we can rest on the knowledge that God saves by His own will.KC

Aside from the fact that these verse don't seem to be addressing the scope of salvation...

Though the scope of salvation is not laid out here, salvation definitely is. My point was, salvation is of the Lord who, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, or against them at His pleasure.

I think we would all agree that it is normative for cognitive belief. But aside from this, since it is God whose will cannot be thwarted by any circumstance, why can we not deduce that in His mysterious and unseen way, He enables the unborn or the dumb to understand His will for salvation. If we are not born with belief in Him, and He must enable us to believe in Him, then why can He not enable that belief even in those we would say could not believe? KC

I understand what you're saying, and I do agree; God is the one who must give repentance and belief, but since ANYTHING is possible then this argument works for ANYTHING...including the dumb Arminian arguments about how "maybe God sees what we will do and then gives us this free will and then reacts to it...anything's possible right?"

The argument only works so far as other places in Scripture that speak more clearly. We know that God did not look down the portals of time to see what will be done because of Romans 9:11-13. And I know you believe that all things are possible with God... :)

If it were simply cognitive reasoning along with the power of the Holy Spirit, then God can only save those who understand and articulate that understanding. But then we are pointed back to how the Holy Spirit gives us understanding in the first place. How does the Holy Spirit change the heart of anyone? Is there chapter and verse for that?

The truth is, if I cannot understand how the Holy Spirit changes the heart in a normative circumstance, then how could I understand a change of heart in the extraordinary?KC

Well, that ASSUMES that he does. Why would we assume that babies who die early, and those without capability are saved?
that category is no different than any other category; God owes me nothing, my sisters nothing and my brother; who died in infancy nothing as well.


I"m not badgering you...just thinking out loud....

I'm not feeling badgered...

It is not so much assume as it is to hope. We hope in the Lord for our own salvation. Why would we not hope in the Lord for our unborn children? My wife was pregnant with twins and one aborted, the other is my second son. If I hope salvation for him, why would I not hope salvation for my other child?

All God's ways are just. If it is His perfect will to send my other child to destruction, He is just. But God wants us to hope. So I hope that one day I will be able to hug my other son or daughter for the first time.

In Christ,

KC
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Did David speak in faith concerning his infant? I think an "assumption" based on his recorded faith is consistent with the other facts of salvation, and it was recorded for our benefit. We actually have greater witness to the reality based on the subsequent record of his faith.

Does a baby love his mommy? But he can't articulate his clinging devotion... hmmm, must not love her. No, but he does see her, and has the germinating seed of natural affection. So too, the baby can be given a spiritual apprehension of his Maker and Savior, and love him.

A stillborn child, "born" into God's dwelling (if he's an elect one), will only grow in grace and knowledge of his Lord and Savior--in heaven. He or she will never know actual sins, only the removal of his taint of Original Sin--federal guilt and a corrupt nature.

Salvation is never apart from cognition. But why can't that cognition develop from a one-day-old in heaven? Salvation ISN'T logical cognition of Christ, but a personal cognition of him. The former is a production of the latter. Jesus spoke of the "born again" person (infant-speech) "seeing" the kingdom of heaven, Jn.3:3. This whole manner of speaking intimates an order of knowledge that proceeds to depths of knowledge.
 

ChariotsofFire

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have also struggled with this issue. How can an infant come to faith, if the means provided by Scripture is by grace through faith. How can an infant exercise faith? Young infants or children in the womb can not repent and believe because their minds are not capable of doing so. So it seems logical at first look, to say that these children who die in infancy were never apart of God's almighty plan of salvation.

But, if we look to the Scriptures, we do see that God does have a love for his people, and his love is covenantal:

Psalm 103:17
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children

1 Corinthians 7:14
14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

The question that I first think of after reading these passages is this: Would God condemn covenant children to hell? We know that covenant children who reject their parent's faith are condemned to hell. We know that not all Israel is Israel. As far as infants go, we know that they are conceived and born into sin, but in God's providence infants who die in infancy do not have not the opportunity to confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. Does this mean that these covenant children are like the unbelieving pagan Native Americans (before the Europeans came) who never heard the gospel and lived in sin? I don't think so. Because God does call children of believers holy, I believe this means that God does elect infants who do not have the opportunity to confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. The means God uses is different, and not ordinary, but is still under the blood of Christ by means of the Covenant.
 

ChristianHedonist

Puritan Board Freshman
I too struggle with this idea.

I'm stuck on; if the way to eternal life is laid out:

All men are in total depravity
God must change the heart
The new heart puts faith in Christ

Then infants or those without capacity are excluded.

And i know that this is a hot button issue, but if we give infants a pass, and those without ability, then we have to give any other situation a pass...those who never heard, those who are misinformed, those who this and those who that.

I think it opens the door to problems...why stop at those two situations? how about someone who is a staunch RC who "never really "got" the gospel"...how about a pass there too?

I realize that the God of the earth will do right...but I don't know what that right is...

I'm stuck....

Why are those without mental capacity, or without the ability to express their mental capacity, excluded? As you rightly said, God must change someone's heart for them to be saved, and the natural response to a changed heart is faith in the heart. Faith is not the the result of a changed brain, nor does it reside in the brain. Those with mental capacity, or the ability to express mental capacity, will profess the faith that is in their heart, because of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. However, physical inability to express faith with the mind does not exclude the potential for faith in the heart, which is the result of regeneration.

-----Added 8/19/2009 at 02:05:53 EST-----

How can an infant exercise faith?

Faith is not exercise physically by the brain, but spiritually by the heart. The faith is naturally understood and professed by the cognitive mind, but it doesn't stem from the cognitive mind.
 

ChariotsofFire

Puritan Board Sophomore
I believe my point as been proven more than a few times in this thread. The salvation of elect infants dying in infancy is based on our overall understanding of God, because the teaching is not clearly defined in scripture. The attempts in this thread to establish a direct scriptural link can, at best, only infer. I happen to believe that elect infants, as well as those who are elect but cannot believe the gospel through ordinary means, are saved by the same Lord and Christ that has saved us. I still do not have a clear picture of how that works, and nothing in this thread has helped in that regard. Because I am not convinced, and to cut short needless back and forth, I am going to pull out of this thread.

I appreciated you creating this thread, as it did help me think through the issue in more depth.
 
B

ByGraceSaved

Guest
I don't think we should presume that an infant cannot hear and believe in the gospel. After all God is sovereign; He can do anything. (see Exodus 4:11) Examples such as Psalm 22:9-10 and Psalm 71:5-6 indicate that such faith is possible for one who is yet not born or of an age that is capable of making an profession of faith.


if that is so then what do you do with 2 Samuel 12:22-24 ?


David was called, by God, a "man after My own heart" and we know that David, even here (see psalm 51) had every expectation to believe he himslef would be in heaven with God at his own death.
David believed without seeing the coming of the Lord.
he believe the promise of the messiah and believed in the salvation of the one to come.


So please consider this passage and other .. Job says it would have been better for him to die at birth.. he expected that he would have been in heav en as well.

The Bible doesn't refute that.

True, God is just.
True also God has set these things in His revealed word to us.
Bottom line: We trust Him based on his character and deeds.
 

rpavich

Puritan Board Freshman
Freshman,

Quote:
So please consider this passage and other .. Job says it would have been better for him to die at birth.. he expected that he would have been in heav en as well.

Isn't Job just saying that he's in so much pain that he wishes he'd have died at birth? Isn't it a stretch to say that he meant "he'd be in Heaven"?

my take on it.
 

Laudante

Puritan Board Freshman
Bill, you said:

Sarah,

Earlier in this thread I posted that the event in Luke 2 was not normative. We read of a divinely ordered circumstance that does not translate into widespread practice; the same way that Lazarus being raised from the dead does not translate into a common practice.

It may not be normative, but it shows that it is not impossible for God to cause regeneration from the womb. Maybe he usually doesn´t do it, but He can.

Beisdes, we have the example of our very Lord Jesus Christ. He was more than "regerate" since his conception, because he was even without original sin, nor any other sort of corruption. And still we are told in Isaiah 7:15 that he, like any other human, had no discernment of good and evil, or faith, when he was a baby.

"He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good."

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52)

So it is possible to be regenerated and still be unable to have faith, in special cases. I´m not quite sure if the argument should intend, as some had, to demonstrate that infants are capable of faith, but rather that they can be completely regenerate and still without faith, for their special condition. Of course that this regeneration means that if they arrive at the age of discernment (and who knows exactly when this age is), they would have real saving faith.

Both the Westminster and the LB confessions say:

"Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word."

So no one is saying that they are "innocent" and are not born in sin, nor that they don´t need Christ and the regeneration of the Spirit to be saved, but only that the Spitit can regenerate them even if they are unable to exercise actual faith.

Shedd makes an excelent point for this in the chapter Hell of his Dogmatic Theology. I´ll try to post some quotes later.

And regarding the argument from Job, I think it´s a good one. The point is that he sincerely believed that he would have been better had he died in infancy. From here it is easy to understand that he is implicitly believing that all or some dead infants go to heaven (or at least to some better place than earth), because if his understanding was that children go to hell, he certainly would not have wished to die in childhood, no matter how many hardships he was enduring in the moment he spoke. Now, Job could be expressing his own opinion, and not God´s, that´s true, but at least this passage shows that Shedd was right when he wrote that "this has always been the hope of the church".
 
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