Saturday, June 10, 2006

Infants Dying - A few Thoughts


And My Position

I. What must one beleive concerning the whereabouts of the souls of all the millions of infants?

This is one of the most distrubing Christian questions that I face. As I read I find several different teachings.

A. Limbus Infatium - This is the Roman Catholic instruction that all unbaptised children are "lost". Not that they enter hell but that they enter a place on the border of hell and suffer the lack of beautific vision. This teaching is in error for at least two reasons, a. baptism does not save anyone and b. the bible does not teach this anywhere.

B. The Innocence Of All Infants - This teaching instructs that all are innocent apart from actual transgression. Since the little child is incapable of an actual transgression they are therefore innocent and therefore saved if they die in infancy. This instruction is in error a. the Bible does not teach the innicence of infants and b. since the scriptures teach that infants are guilty in Adam and c. salvation must be granted to them on the basis and application of Christ meritorious work.

Scripture evidence of guilt in Adam:

Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Rom 5:12 -13 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Rom 5:18-19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Therefore if they are going to be saved salvation will have to be granted to them on the basis of and application of Christ meritorious work.

C. Statements from Reformed Theologians - Hodge, Spurgeon, Warfield, Boettner, etc.

1. All dying in infancy will be saved.

Many reformed theologians have held that all infants that die in infancy are eternally with the Lord. Below are quotes from several well known regormed theologians:

a. Charles Hodge

"All who die in infancy are saved. This is inferred from what the Bible teaches of the analogy between Adam and Christ. "As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rom. v. 18, 19.) We have no right to put any limit on these general terms, except what the Bible itself places upon them. The Scriptures nowhere exclude any class of infants, baptized or unbaptized, born in Christian or in heathen lands, of believing or unbelieving parents, from the benefits of the redemption of Christ. All the descendants of Adam, except Christ, are under condemnation; all the descendants of Adam, except those of whom it is expressly revealed that they cannot inherit the kingdom of God, are saved. This appears to be the clear meaning of the Apostle, and therefore he does not hesitate to say that where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded, that the benefits of redemption far exceed the evils of the fall; that the number of the saved far exceeds the number of the lost."


b. B. B. Warfield

"Their destiny 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 predestinated to salvation from the foundation of the world"

c. L. Boettner

"Calvinists, of course, hold that the doctrine of original sin applies to infants as well as to adults. Like all other sons of Adam, infants are truly culpable because of race sin and might be justly punished for it. Their "salvation" is real. It is possible only through the grace of Christ and is as truly unmerited as is that of adults. Instead of minimizing the demerit and punishment due to them for original sin, Calvinism magnifies the mercy of God in their salvation. Their salvation means something, for it is the deliverance of guilty souls from eternal woe. And it is costly, for it was paid for by the suffering of Christ on the cross. Those who take the other view of original sin, namely, that it is not properly sin and does not deserve eternal punishment, make the evil from which infants are "saved" to be very small, and consequently the love and gratitude which they owe to God to be small also.

The doctrine of infant salvation finds a logical place in the Calvinistic system; for the redemption of the soul is thus infallibly determined irrespective of any faith, repentance, or good works, whether actual or foreseen. It does not, however, find a logical place in Arminianism or any other system. Furthermore, it would seem that a system such as Arminianism, which suspends salvation on a personal act of rational choice, would logically demand that those dying in infancy must either be given another period of probation after death, in order that their destiny may be fixed, or that they must be annihilated.

d. Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"It has been wickedly, lyingly, and slanderously said of Calvinists, that we believe that some little children perish. Those who make the accusation know that their charge is false. I cannot even dare to hope, though I would wish to do so, that they ignorantly misrepresent us. They wickedly repeat what has been denied a thousand times, what they know is not true.... I know of no exception, but we all hope and believe that all persons dying in infancy are elect. Dr. Gill, who has been looked upon in late times as being a very standard of Calvinism, not to say of ultra-Calvinism, himself never hints for a moment the supposition that any infant has perished, but affirms of it that it is a dark and mysterious subject, but that it is his belief, and he thinks he has Scripture to warrant it, that they who have fallen asleep in infancy have not perished, but have been numbered with the chosen of God, and so have entered into eternal rest. We have never taught the contrary, and when the charge is brought, I repudiate it and say, 'You may have said so, we never did, and you know we never did. If you dare to repeat the slander again, let the lie stand in scarlet on your very cheek if you be capable of a blush.' We have never dreamed of such a thing. With very few and rare exceptions, so rare that I never heard of them except from the lips of slanderers, we have never imagined that infants dying as infants have perished, but we have believed that they enter into the paradise of God."

e. John Newton

"Nor can I doubt, in my private judgment, that [infants] are included in the election of grace. Perhaps those who die in infancy, are the exceeding great multitude of all people, nations, and languages mentioned, Revelations, vii.9, in distinction from the visible body of professing believers, who were marked in the foreheads, and openly known to be the Lord's" (The Works of John Newton, vol.VI, p.182)

f. Alvah Hovey

An American Baptist wrote: "Though the sacred writers say nothing in respect to the future condition of those who die in infancy, one can scarcely err in deriving from this silence a favorable conclusion. That no prophet or apostle, that no devout father or mother, should have expressed any solicitude as to those who die before they are able to discern good from evil is surprising, unless such solicitude was prevented by the Spirit of God. There are no instances of prayer for children taken away in infancy. The Savior nowhere teaches that they are in danger of being lost. We therefore heartily and confidently believe that they are redeemed by the blood of Christ and sanctified by His Spirit, so that when they enter the unseen world they will be found with the saints" (Biblical Eschatology, pp.170f).

g. John Calvin

"I do not doubt that the infants whom the Lord gathers together from this life are regenerated by a secret operation of the Holy Ghost." And "he speaks of the exemption of infants from the grace of salvation 'as an idea not free from execrable blasphemy'" (cited by Augustus Strong in Systematic Theology). He furthermore declared that "to say that the countless mortals taken from life while yet infants are precipitated from their mothers' arms into eternal death is a blasphemy to be universally detested" (quoted in Presbyterian and Reformed Review, Oct. 1890: pp.634-51).

2. Some Reformed theologians state only those of beleiving parents can be assured of salvation.

a. H. Bavinck

"The children of the covenant, baptized or unbaptized, when they die enter heaven; with the respect to the destiny of the others so little has been revealed to us that the best thing we can do is refrain from any positive judgment."

b. L. Berkof

"There is no scriptural evidence on which we can base the hope that ...Gentile children that have not yet come to the years of discretion will be saved."


D. The Teaching From Scripture We Must Accept:

1. Those that die in infancy, if saved, receive salvation on the merits of Christ's work of redemption on the cross and not on their innocence.

2. The fact that the heart of God is concerned not only with the children of believers but unbeleivers even with those who " cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? Jon. 4:11 ... is taught in the scriptures.

3. God's Tender mrcies are all over His house.

Psa 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
1Jo 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

4. Infants have not sinned in any way similiar to the adults who have rejected the preaching the proclaimation of the gospel. Nor have they sinned in the "voice of conscience".

5. The scriptures no where teach that all the unbelievers children who die are unsaved.

6. God has given to beleivers and their children the promise:

Gen 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
Act 2:38-39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

1Co 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Therefore the declaration of the Canons of Dort Part 1 Article 17 is correct:

Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39; I Cor. 7:14).

E. Conclusion:


I therefore conclude that Biblically I cannot give any real evidence of what happens in the soul and life of an infant dying whose parents are unbeleiving parents. I do however hold to and believe that they are in heaven with the Lord.

Now this is a personal view and not a biblical one. I could quote from Spurgeon and Calvin and Boettner and Hovey above and state this is Biblical. I cannot do that since I perceive much in the statements to be personal thoughts and not solid Biblical conclusions.

So I hold a position I cannot support biblically. This is unlike the doctrine of the Church, Christ's second coming, the doctrine of baptism, the meditorial work of Christ, nor the blood atonement.

Can you fault me for that? Yes. In closing let me say that this is my humble position. I do stand with many above on this. Don't be to harsh! Okay?
For more information see http://pilgrimchristian.blogspot.com/ for the Christian community to read and learn in a pleasant and instructive format concerning Infants in the Celestial City. It issimple .... do a search of the title!

In His Grace and Glory,
Steve

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