Christian Index editor, Harris, querries Calvinism Committee

August 23, 2013

Read Peter Lumpkins’ commentary and Dr. Gerald Harris’ article here. http://bit.ly/1ayLqqk

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dr. james willingham

Spurgeon’s sermon on Infant Salvation, text: II Kgs.4:27, vol.7, MTP, gives every reason for believing in the salvation of infants who die before they come to the age of reason. The only one I know of personally to deny infant salvation was Augustine. This was according to one biographer, but the reason was due to their not being baptized. The doctrine of regeneration preceding conversion, set forth by John Gill, John Gano, James Petigru Boyce, and E.C. Dargan (and I think, but am not sure, B.H. Carroll)) basically provides the justification for holding that an infant dying before the age of reason is regenerated by the Spirit along. Conversion, of course, occurs by the word.

rhutchin

The Calvinism Advisory Team says, “most Southern Baptists believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven through the grace of God and the atonement of Christ.”

The key phrase is “…through the grace of God…” That means that it is God who chooses to save babies, not because Southern Baptists require it, but by grace “…according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will:”

The Bible does not contain a clear unambiguous statement that God saves all babies. Certainly, no provision was made to physically save the Amalekite babies, those in the flood, or in Sodom and the cities of the plain. We are not told that God dealt with their sins. Regardless, if the babies were saved, it was God’s choice to do so as it is God’s choice to save anyone else. God only has one plan of salvation and not one for babies and one for adults. Calvinists ask, with Abraham, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” and answer with Job, “surely God will not do wickedly.”

Some Calvinists believe that God only saves those babies whose parents have prayed that God save them and that, therefore, only believers can have any confidence that God has saved their babies. Regardless, it is God’s choice and God has the power to save all babies, and all adults, if He so chooses. Believers have complete confidence that God has saved their babies who have died.

    Norm Miller

    Grace is key for all of us, not just deceased infants. Eph. 2.8.
    The issue is not grace. The issue is the word “most” in the statement you cited: “most Southern Baptists believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven through the grace of God and the atonement of Christ.”
    Most does not mean *all.* This is the point in this case, not the word grace. — Norm

      Max

      Exactly Norm – “most” should be the word that jumps off the page – by God’s grace we need to get this right! Another example of some SBC brethren struggling with that little (but important) word “all”. Using the word “most” allows too much theological wiggle room for me, since the “some” are rapidly increasing in SBC ranks.

        Norm Miller

        Yes, Max. If I am a Calvinism Committee member, and I do not believe that *all* deceased infants are/will be saved, then I have no crisis of conscience signing a document that says “most” instead of “all.” That is precisely the point.

      rhutchin

      Whether “most” or “all,” the difference lies with God. As the Scriptures do not explicitly deal with the salvation of babies, there is room for wiggling. As God has not explicitly said what He will do, the most that we can hypothesize is “most” simply because the Scriptures speak for God and not man. Where there are implications of the salvation of babies in the Scriptures, it is in the context of believers. God had ample opportunity to say something about the salvation of babies of unbelievers in His dealings with Noah, Sodom, and the Amalekites, but He choose not to do so. It is difficult to be definitive about the implications of God’s silence.

      Whether one can offer comfort to the unsaved on the loss of a baby is an unresolved question in my mind.

        Norm Miller

        “Most” or “all” w/regard to deceased infants is not in view of Max and myself.
        “Most” or “all” applies to how many Southern Baptists believe whether God saves deceased infants.
        I now see that what I wrote above lacked clarity, so let me revisit what I meant to communicate.
        The latter “most instead of all” applies not to deceased infants, but to Southern Baptists.
        May I re-state this to accurately reflect my intent?
        If I am a Calvinism Committee member, and I do not believe that all deceased infants are/will be saved, then I have no crisis of conscience signing a document that says “most” Southern Baptists believe differently than me.
        Please pardon my previous lack of clarity. I hope the sentence immediately above clarifies my position.

        peter lumpkins

        rhutchin

        The Scripture most certainly does deal with the salvation of babies in the very same way it deals with the salvation of 29 year old females, 68 year old men, and 19 year old teens. Unless babies are not human beings, of course. Your statement implies Scripture offers nothing substantially to say about the ultimate destiny of a large portion of the human race–infants. How incredible to presume God’s redemption for the world only concerns a specific portion of the human race–namely adults. Absurd…

        With that, I am…
        Peter

dr. james willingham

This is the third time (two today), I have tried to make a comment. In addition to Spurgeon sermon on Infant salvation, we have John Gill’s comment on that passage indicating that the Shunammite woman did well to say, “it is well,” when her child was dead, expecting the child would be in Heaven, which Gill commends. Those who reject infant salvation ought to know that Spurgeon and Gill would disagree with them. (I had provided the quotes from Gill’s commentary on II Kgs.4:26), along with comments on Jonah’s unconditional message of judgment to the city of Nineveh. How would you like to have a preacher that did not want to see you saved, a prophet, no less, who would not even mention that God might spare the city, if you repent. Jonah believed God would, but he did not want God to do any such thing. The sentence for such a prophecy not being fulfilled was death by stoning. All of which proves, to my way of thinking, that God works by therapeutic paradoxes. I also commented that the number of saved, the elect, the redeemed is way beyond what we can imagine. But I must quit as I am exhausted. My first effort was my best. It seems, however, that Satan did not want it seen, and the Lord, for whatever reason, was willing to let it be so. I trust it was in the cause of a greater good as is all of such things, including my being deprived of both parents as a child along with the many other tragedies of my life.

    Norm Miller

    Dr. Jim:
    FYI, none of your comments has been held in moderation or deleted. — Norm

      dr. james willingham

      Dear Norm: I know/ Sigh. I have trouble with my computer doing strange things. Sometimes, it tells me the time for the web page has expired. In fact, for the first time it gave me a little clock in the upper right hand corner for the expiration of a second web page today, but has not done it since.. At other times, the cancellation comes only when I have completed some remarkable (in my opinion which doesn’t mean much) comment. This computer can even anticipate my corrections. Sometimes, I think it is the NSA folks. I have known about the power of quantum computers for 23 years or so. They first got them at Los Alamos, so I understand. Them things could do 19,000,000 bits of information per every person on earth per second. And now they are way beyond that, so I understand. While my reading is not as vast now, I use to read everything I could get my hands on (I am a speed reader, if the subject is not too technical). For years I read anywhere from 5-10 books a week…O well, why continue. And regardless of what they say, the Beast of Brussels was a reality, though I am not sure it was in Brussels. One fellow back in the 80s in the military, went into a bank, where a friend worked, out on the west coast, to see about a loan. The friend told him he could find out virtually anything he wanted to know about him, including a paper he had written in high school. And to prove it, he brought up a copy of the paper on the bank computer he was using. Just imagine what they will do with right spin and left spin of electrons in atoms for the digitals and how quick they will be as well as how much knowledge they can handle!

Lydia

What confuses me is why those on the committee who would have a problem with infant salvation do not baptize infants? That was the way out for their predecessors, the Reformers.

    dr. james willingham

    Dear Lydia: The Baptists from their public beginnings, whether General or Particular, never held with the baptism of infants; only of those able to make profession of faith based on conscience. The predecessors of these groups, Anabaptists, Lollards, Waldensians, etc.,with some exceptions, did not practice infant baptism either. There were churches in England with baptismal pools that were obviously made for immersion. Even Roman Catholics were still practicing immersion as is evidence by the baptistery in Florence on the doors of which one of the early Renaissance artists displayed some of his artistic ability. But the differences over infant baptism were insurmountable for some who were noted in the inquisition records for not baptizing their children (actually infants).

      Lydia

      I do understand the history. Dr W. What I DONT understand is why not infant baptism if one does not believe in infant salvation but believes in the imputed guilt of Adam and original sin as in babies are born sinful and guilty. What is their rationale? That we cannot know if God is merciful to the most helpless and innocent of His Creation? I think the very Character of God comes into question here.

      I

        dr. james willingham

        Dear Lydia: Augustine believed according to one biographer I have read that infants were in Hell, because they had not been baptized. Since baptism is supposed to be the act of a person who has rationally trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, taking Him at His word, it follows that only those who can make such decisions should be baptized. An infant cannot, and, since the Bible presents by implication in a number of instances that infants dying in infancy are saved, it follows that baptism of infants is not required.

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