Justification by faith alone in Christ alone and babies

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by johnny_redeemed, Sep 22, 2004.

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  1. johnny_redeemed

    johnny_redeemed Puritan Board Freshman

    Since we believe that the only way to be saved is by having faith in Christ, can babies get in to heave since it seems they cannot have faith in Christ?

    Also if you could provide some verse that show you must have faith in Christ, not just in a general deity, to be saved.

    If you disagree with the first clause of my question please explain why.
  2. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    As far as specifically having faith in Christ, see Acts 20:21, 24:24, Romans 3:22, Galatians 2:16, 2:20, 3:22, Philippians 3:9, Colossians 1:4, 2:5, 2 Timothy 3:15 and James 2:1.

    As to your first question, I had the same question regarding a section of the WCF awhile back. You can read that discussion here.
  3. johnny_redeemed

    johnny_redeemed Puritan Board Freshman

    2 Tim 3:15
    and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    what if some said that the phrase "which is in Christ Jesus" is reffering to salvation and not faith?

    p.s Chris, what does your name mean?? if anything?
  4. daveb

    daveb Puritan Board Sophomore

    [quote:828795a975="johnny_redeemed"]2 Tim 3:15
    and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    what if some said that the phrase "which is in Christ Jesus" is reffering to salvation and not faith?

    Grammatically the "which" is refering to faith not salvation. This makes sense also because faith is acting as means here.
  5. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Since I don't know Greek, I can only compare English versions at the present time. That being said, I got the verse from the ESV, which translates it as, "and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." And even if it turns out that that is an improper translation of the text, other passages I listed above certainly confirm the necessary salvific faith as being specifically in Christ.

    Johnny, awhile back I had posted a thread about my username, so for convenience's sake I'll just quote myself here (without accusing myself of self-plagiarism):

    [quote:b0c9c0457d="Me Died Blue"]"Me Died Blue" is the debut album of my all-time favorite singer-songwriter, Steven Delopoulos. He's the former leader of alternative Christian group Burlap to Cashmere ("Basic Instructions," "Anybody Out There?" "Treasures In Heaven"). He went solo awhile back, and he has a website at http://www.stevendelopoulos.com. You can also get information about him at http://www.burlaptocashmere.com. His style has a lot of influence from artists like Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Harry Chapin, Bruce Springsteen and the like.

    But his lyrics are also very poetic, and in fact the phrase "me died blue" from the title track is referring to "redemption from past mistakes," as Steven himself puts it in the song's online commentary. So I've come to think of me being "died blue" as a metaphor for my being made righteous in Christ. Put that together with the musical excellence of Steven's album, and you've got the reason I made it my username.[/quote:b0c9c0457d]

    For the record, it's my AIM username as well.
  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    There is such a thing as 'active' and 'passive' faith. Elect infants dying in infancy must be justified; hence, they must have faith. How can this be as we all know faith comes by hearing the word of God-right? An infant cannot comprehend the word-right? The regenerate infant, has what is called 'passive faith'; he must if he is regenerate and dies in infancy. God see's fit, otherwise, the prerequisite for how faith (generally) comes to men, must apply.
  7. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Johnny: The best example is John the Baptist. He was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb (an unsaved person would not have the Spirit dwelling in him). Further, while in the womb, John encountered Christ (also in the womb) and leaped with joy - an evidence of faith and not the product of the natural man. Anyway, I think it was pretty clear that he was justified. Calvin uses John as an example in Institutes.
  8. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I'm actually not sure if John the Baptist is such a great example. All we're really told is that he was regenerated; and justification doesn't occur until after regeneration. And even though saving faith often comes almost immediately after regeneration, people can still be regenerate without yet having saving faith. So the Spirit not only [i:6463c03333]can[/i:6463c03333] dwell in us before we're saved, but actually [i:6463c03333]has to[/i:6463c03333] in order to enable us to exercise saving faith in the first place. Thus, John the Baptist might have been saved in the womb - but then again, he may not have been.

    The principle Scott (Bushey) mentioned about active and passive faith is what I think really applies to this issue, and it is precisely why WCF.X.III can say that "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." People who are actually [i:6463c03333]incapable[/i:6463c03333] of being outwardly called by the Word and putting active faith in Christ--infants, mentally retarded--can nonetheless be granted passive faith upon regeneration.
  9. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Active or passive?
  10. AdamM

    AdamM Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we also need to make a distinction between the ordinary means God uses to bring about faith (the preaching of the Word) and extraordinary means (example - Paul on horseback getting direct revelation). We can't build our systems around the extraordinary examples we find in scripture, but instead look to the clear passages as our guide. In the case of elect infants the scriptures really don't tell us much other then there are elect infants that must have some kind of saving faith. I wouldn't get hung up on it, dwelling on the mysteries of God that He has chosen not to reveal is not helpful. Instead concentrate on the ordinary means "Faith comes by hearing" and leave the hidden things to God.
  11. johnny_redeemed

    johnny_redeemed Puritan Board Freshman

    Scott Bushey,
    Could you show from Scripture this concept of active or passive faith.
  12. JWJ

    JWJ Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a topic that has interested me for a while. While I appreciate the distinction often given between a passive and active faith, I am still not sure this is necessary. The question I have is why do some of you think infants in the womb, or a 2 month old baby, or even a retarded person cannot "œhear" the word? Does "œhearing" really depend on developed motor skills or some ability to express outwardly that they "œunderstand." Pardon my Clarkian mindset, but I think we often are too "œempirical" in our theology.

  13. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    What are some examples of people being regenerate for a significant period of time prior to coming to faith?

    Also, while the Spirit must work in a person's life before coming to faith, it is not necessary that He indwell that person. Indwelling does not completely overlap the idea that the Spirit convinces and persuades men of the truth of the gospel. Indeed, the coming of the Spirit for indwelling is typically, though not always, associated with baptism, beginning with the baptism of Christ.
  14. Goosha

    Goosha Puritan Board Freshman


    I was reading this thread and really liked the distinctions you've made; I think it helps clarify the issues. I like this discussion alot.
  15. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    I would be curious to see more about what passive faith is bibilically. Can an adult have passive faith?
  16. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    "Passive" is not a good word here. It is confusing.

    However, there are are two extremes being propagated on this issue: (1) in defect, by the Anabaptists, who deny all faith to infants and under this pretext exclude them from baptism; (2) in excess, by the Lutherans, who, to oppose themselves to the Anabaptists, have fallen into the other extreme, maintaining that infants are regenerated in baptism and actually furnished with faith, as appears from the Mompeldardensi Colloquy (Acta Colloquy Mantis Belligartensis [1588], p. 459). "The round asser­tion of our divines is that actual faith is ascribed to infants with the most just right" (Brochmann, "De Fide Justificante," 2, Q. 10 in Universae theologicae systema [1638], 2:429).

    Regeneration is NOT faith and faith is NOT regeneration. Regeneration precedes faith (which is the basic reformed position.) Regeneration and faith may happen at the same time, but may not. Regeneration and faith, again, are NOT the same thing. They are separate both in the order of decrees and in the order of salvation. Otherwise, God would be believing for us because when He regenerates us that would be the same as having faith - and that is a contradiction and a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

    Infants cannot have active faith. Turretin says, "The orthodox occupy the middle ground between the two extremes. They deny actual faith to infants against the Lutherans and maintain that a seminal or radical and habitual faith is to be ascribed to them against the Anabaptists. Here it is to be remarked before all things: (1) that we do not speak of the infants of any parents whomsoever (even of infidels and heathen), but only of believers, or Chris­tians and the covenanted. (2) Nor do we speak of every single infant as if such faith is given to all without any exception; for although Christian charity commands us to cherish a good hope concerning their salvation, still we cannot certainly deter­mine that every single one belongs to the election of God, but leave it to the secret counsel and supreme liberty of God. Since indeed the predestination of God makes a difference between children (Rom. 9:11) and the promise of the covenant was ratified (v. 8) not in the children of the flesh, but in the children of the promise, we therefore treat here indefinitely of infants of every order and condition (who pertain to the election of God, whom it is not for human judg­ment to distinguish)."

    John 3:3 says that FIRST one must be born again (or regenerated) and THEN he can "see" or "perceive" the truth. Unless one is first born again, he can never believe that the truth is both true and GOOD.

    So we have 10 guys listening to a sermon who are all unsaved. Let's say they are all regenerated. But, when do they cognitively and actually believe the propoistion of the Bible? Guy #1 is VERY smart, and endowed with "brains" in the academic use of the term. He has faith, linking the biblical propositions together out of a regenerate heart, understands the message and then beleives it is GOOD, in 5 seconds. Guy #2 takes 1 minute. Guy 3 takes 5 minutes, and so on. The point is that there is time between such. Christ says FIRST one is BORN AGAIN, and SECOND he then perceives. This cannot be simulateousnes unless,a gain, you want to fall into a contradiction and blur the two - which the SCRIPTURES NEVER DO.

    Now we have JOhn the Baptist.

    Luke 1:15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.

    From the womb he is filled with the Spirit - or as Jesus says - born again.

    Does John have actual faith? or better stated - does he believe the proposition os fthe BIble? If you say "yes" then you are out to lunch. The tehological term for beleiving that is "hogwash." :)

    Does JOhn have ANY type of faith? Of course he does - seed faith. The acron holds in it ALL the properties of the oak tree - but it is not an oak tree just yet. Certain things must take place for the oak tree to grow up - just like certain biblical proposition must be made known to John before HE can believe. He has the soil to grow, the seed is planted, but now he needs it to mature.

    Turretin gives three reasons biblically, why infatns do not have actual faith:

    The reasons are first because they have not an actual knowledge of anything. Hence they are said not to know good or evil, nor can they discern between their right and left hand (Deut. 1:39; Is. 7:16; Jon. 4:11). Nor ought the objection to be raised (a) "Still the knowledge of many things is born with us." It is one thing to have the principles and seeds of knowledge in the common notions implanted in us (which we grant); another to have actual knowledge (which we deny), (b) "Faith does not depend upon the use of reason; nay, it ought to bring reason into obedience to it" (2 Cor. 10:5). It is one thing for faith to depend on the use of reason as a principle; another for faith to suppose reason as its subject. The former we deny with Paul, who on this account wishes the reason to be captivated into the obedience of faith. The latter we hold with him, who wishes our spiritual worship to be reasonable (iogikon, Rom. 12:1). Therefore where the use of reason is not, there neither the use or exercise of faith can be.

    Second, infants are not capable of acts of faith, or of knowledge because intellect does not exist without ac­tion; nor are they capable of assent, which ought to be carried to the object known; nor of trust, which is con­cerned with the special application of the promise of grace. Therefore neither are they capable of faith, which consists of these three acts. Nay, it is most absurd (asystaton) that there should be a movement of the in­tellect or of the will without knowledge (which is always supposed for them).

    Third, they are not capable of hearing and meditating on the word from which faith is conceived: "for faith cometh by hearing" (Rom. 10:17). Nor must it be said with Brochmann that God appointed baptism as a laver of water for the regeneration of infants in the word, as for adults he destined the hearing of the word. Although baptism is the external sign of regenerating grace (at whose presence God can give it to infants by the Spirit without the hearing of the word), still it cannot be said that actual faith is given to them (which cannot be such except insofar as it actually exerts itself about the hearing of the word).

    It is one thing to obtain the fruit of baptism by an active sealing on God's part; another to be sensible of its fruit by a passive sealing on man's part. The former is well ascribed to infants, but not the latter.

    The examples of Jeremiah and John the Baptist indeed teach that infants are capable of the Holy Spirit and that he is also given at this age, but it cannot be inferred that they actually believed. Jeremiah is indeed said to have been sanctified from the womb as a prophet of God, and John is said to have leaped in his mother's womb at the presence of Christ, but neither is said to have actually believed. Besides, even if any such thing were ascribed to them, the consequence would not hold good; for this would be singular and extraordinary from which a universal rule ought not to be drawn.

    Second proposition: "Although infants do not have actual faith, the seed or root of faith cannot be denied to them, which is ingenerated in them from early age and in its own time goes forth in act (human instruc­tion being applied from without and a greater efficacy of the Holy Spirit within)." This second proposition is opposed to the Anabaptists, who deny to infants all faith, not only as to act, but also as to habit and form. Although habitual faith (as the word "habit" is properly and strictly used to signify a more perfect and consummated state) is not well ascribed to them, still it is rightly predicated of them broadly as denoting potential or seminal faith. Now by "seed of faith," we mean the Holy Spirit, the effecter of faith and regeneration (as he is called, 1 Jn. 3:9), as to the principles of regeneration and holy inclinations which he already works in infants according to their measure in a wonderful and to us unspeakable way. Afterwards in more mature age, these proceed into act (human instruction being employed and the grace of the same Spirit promoting his own work by which that seed is accustomed to be excited and drawn forth into act).

    The reasons are: (1) the promise of the covenant pertains no less to infants than to adults, since God promises that he will be "the God of Abraham and of his seed" (Gen. 17:7) and the promise is said to have been made "with the fathers and their children" (Acts 2:39). Therefore also the blessings of the covenant (such as "remission of sins" and "sanctification") ought to pertain to them (according to Jer. 31 and 32) and are communicated to them by God according to their state. In this sense (as some think), the children of believers are called "holy" by Paul (1 Cor. 7:14). This may with more propriety be referred to the external and federal holiness which belongs to them, according to which (because they are born of covenanted and Christian parents""at least of one) they are also considered to be begotten in "holiness" (i.e., in Christianity, and not in heathenism, which was a state of uncleanness [akatharsias] and impurity).

    I hope this helps......
  17. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Waiting on your response to Matt's post......
  18. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

  19. soladogg5

    soladogg5 Inactive User

    reply to Scott Bushey

    I whole heartedly agree with your point about passive or active faith. My pastor and I have had multiple discussions about it. I would think that the very fact that an infant dies signifies their election. It is also important to make the statement that infants are not innocent, they are redeemed.

    One more idea to consider, with no one else did Christ say that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt. 19: 14 NASB)
  20. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

  21. soladogg5

    soladogg5 Inactive User

    sig requirements

    did that fix it?
  22. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Well done Molly!
  23. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Welcome, Molly!
  24. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Welcome Molly! I have enjoyed the critique of Wild At Heart by a pastor (I believe) at your church.
  25. soladogg5

    soladogg5 Inactive User

    Fredrick - Wild at Heart Critique

    I'm very glad that you have enjoyed the critique on the church's website. However, I should tell you that my pastor did not write it. Rut Etheridge knows my pastor from a common workplace that they shared. Rut wrote the article, and then had my pastor read it. In turn, my pastor put it on our church's website because he enjoyed it and thought it was an important topic.
    I'm glad you have enjoyed it though. If you would like to talk to the author, I can get you his email if you email me and ask for it. [email protected] He is in seminary in PA right now...reformed Presbyterian. I'm sure he would welcome your comments.
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