Baptists, Infants and Hell

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elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
I have never stated that it is a sin to doubt a person's salvation and neither does Dordt. You miss the point completely in your haste. You really could learn some lessons from Elihu.

Rich, then why did you post the following? You stated "sinful speculation" thrice.

What you think and what is actually the case are two different things. It is not an inconsistent reading unless you believe that we ought to doubt the election of those in the Church whose status we have no reason to question. It is a guard against sinful speculation.

My main point is demonstrating a consistency here: we're not commanded to speculate on the things hidden. Who is/isn't elect belongs to God and Him alone. Nevertheless, we are commanded, in some ways to expect the best of all we are in Covenant with. To do otherwise would be to constantly look with suspicion upon everyone: old, young, wise, and simple. When a member of the Church dies and has done nothing to leave us to believe they are deniers of the faith ought we be somber and questioning: did this man truly believe? Was he truly elect? We simply do not live this way although we could if we were given to a sinful speculation all the time.

It is sinful to speculate where God has not spoken and to doubt a dead infant's election and salvation is pure speculation.

It seems pretty clear that you're saying that this speculation on salvation is sinful. And I still haven't seen a bible verse to back up this claim. You said "we are commanded, in some ways to expect the best of all we are in Covenant with." Where is this command?

You even seem to misread the sermon as well. You're a young man Don. You really need to place yourself in the position of the learner because you're proving to be quite unteachable even in trying to understand a position that you might disagree with. You're so hasty, however, you don't take the time to learn the position before you offer strawman critiques of it.

Alright Rich, I'll let you teach. What does the sermon mean when it says that the promise of eternal life through Christ belongs to the children of godly parents?

"Children of godly parents are in the covenant and the covenant promise of eternal life in and through Christ belongs to them. They are considered to be part of the kingdom of God. They are counted as holy – separate and set apart as part of the church. With all of this in mind, Article 17 says 'godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.'"
 
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elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
It is sinful to speculate where God has not spoken and to doubt a dead infant's election and salvation is pure speculation.

Surely you cannot mean this at face value. You've speculated that English is not my first language, and God has not spoken regarding this. Surely that is not sin? Perhaps you would like to clarify this.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Don,

This is key to remember (even Deiter alluded to this):

[bible]Deuteronomy 29:29[/bible]

Whether we're Baptists or Presbyterians this is true. It can be sinful to speculate on what God has not revealed to us.

Chapter III, Section 8 of the WCF and Chapter III, Section 7 of the LBCF state the exact same thing:
8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending to the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
I believe there is a tendency to do precisely the opposite and use the doctrine of salvation and election with very little care. You keep missing the careful nuance here.

This is important for you to remember (or understand for the first time): God has NOT revealed to us who is actually elect and actually saved. Fix that first as a point of reference and let that sink in.

We act toward others in our Church on the basis of what He has revealed.

You don't baptize men and women on the basis of election or knowledge of their salvation, you baptize men and women on the basis of their profession. You don't discipline men and women on the basis that you know they are reprobate or not saved, you discipline on the basis of their fruit. There could be a correspondence but you simply do not know.

I kept giving you as an example of your own Pastor, a man in good standing in your Church. It is speculation for you to doubt Gene's election and salvation. The Scriptures do not permit you to do so. Why? BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT GOD. Beyond that, he's not in gross sin at all (which is why I used him as a specific example and not some hypothetical "backslider").

Now, what you keep hearing is this: "I'm never allowed to be concerned about the fruit or profession of my brother or sister no matter the circumstance." You can't seem to grasp that "not speculating" is not the same as a command to "not discern" - they're two different categories with one belonging to hidden decree and the other to things revealed. This is why I'm telling you that your understanding lacks nuance. You're making unwarranted leaps from one category to another.

Consider what I'm saying again:

1. In one case, if a person in your Church has never done anything to lead you to believe they are denying the faith and are in good standing with the Church, then who are you to cast a wary eye toward any brother and question the heart that you cannot see? You are not leaving the hidden things to God. If that brother or sister dies in good standing, you ought not doubt their election or salvation and express such speculation. Why? You're not leaving the hidden things to God. Probabilities and guesses are quite immaterial. You don't have any business speculating on the eternal decree of God by doubting the election and salvation of somebody who died in your Church.

2. Not that this is germane to the situation at hand but let me deal with the brother who is under Church discipline and dies. You might be concerned for such a person. You may even have reason to doubt the profession of that brother based on circumstances. Do you have a right, however, to speculate on the election and salvation of one under discipline? No, you do not. The hidden things still belong to God.

3. You also seem to assume that the command not to doubt the election and salvation of another (because we're not God) equates to no responsibility or concern for them. Wrong. I don't know how many times I've upbraided Calvinists here for saying that people in Arminian churches are not Christians. Why? For the same reason I'm warning you - the secret thing belong to God. Now, do I think that I can rest easy based on what I know they're learning? Absolutely not but one only assumes that follows if they miss the nuance. I labor among brethren in my current Church who might be unregenerate but I don't play duck, duck, goose and say in my heart: "that man is not regenerate." Rather, I teach them and enjoin them according to the Word and let the Holy Spirit work through the Word. Once they're in the Church, and in good standing, it's not my right to treat them any differently.

Looking at this from another direction, we ought never dogmatically conclude that a person is elect and saved. You believe that being warned not to doubt a person's election and salvation is equivalent to being dogmatically told: all children are elect and saved. This understanding is simply incorrect and you need to reflect more on the difference in the statements here. There is a judgment of charity going on in this teaching that you don't seem to appreciate. You want to turn this into a logic gate and it's more complex than your representation.

Thus, what this really boils down to, as I said from the beginning, is that you don't believe that infant children are in Covenant with God on the basis of their solidarity with their parents. Because you reject that premise (which is obvious since you're a Baptist) you don't seem to understand that the teaching in dispute logically follows once one accepts the premises of their membership. Why? Because it's true for all who are in good standing in the Church. The Scriptures declare they are holy by birth to Christian parents and they haven't done a thing to be excommunicated. The same would be the case for any severely retarded person who grew up in the Church that lived, grew up in the Church, and died without capacity to ever express audible faith. To doubt their election and salvation is to speculate on things not revealed and Dordt is simply echoing the sentiment, throughout Scripture, that we believe on the basis of the things revealed.

That's what faith is all about.
 

BlackCalvinist

Puritan Board Senior
Now I can imagine this sounds horrifyingly to a Padeobapitist. I don't really understand why because they would have no problems believing that an unbelieving family's child is going to Hell. Thus really, the only response I can imagine a Padeo giving to this post is either an emotional one (mainly at the horror that someone would suggest their dead child, or potentially dead child could be in Hell) or one that tries to prove the Padeo position, neither of which I am really interested in. Thus, if you're a Padeo, please only respond within the Baptist hermeneutic.

Actually, it doesn't sound horrifying at all.

All elect infants go to heaven, all non-elect infants do not.

How does the baptist account for the infants of the Egyptians who died in Exodus, or the various nations that God had Israel to wipe out - women, men, cattle AND children ?
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Rich continues to insist that speculating regarding someone's election or salvation is sinful because it is not revealed to us, citing Deuteronomy 29:29.

Frankly, I don't see anything in that verse that talks about any sort of speculating being sin, only that only God has full knowledge of the secret counsels, and we don't.

Further, Boettner, Charles Hodge, W. G. T. Shedd, and B. B. Warfield have all written that infants who die in infancy who are children of believers DO go to heaven. If Rich is consistent, he would say that they are making sinful speculation, as well as the two expositors (Rev. Adrian Dieleman, Rev. C Bouwman) that I've found on Article 17:

http://www.trinitycrc.org/CanonSermons/HeadIArticles17.html
http://www.spindleworks.com/library/bouwman/canon/ch1art16-18.htm

It's ironic that Rich would say that, by speculating that those infants are saved, that Dieleman and Bouwman are violating the very article that they are expositing!

I'm surprised that the ministers in the United Reformed Church have been silent on this issue, given their emphasis on confessionalism and that the Canons of Dort are part of their confessions. Maybe someone from that perspective can give some input?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich continues to insist that speculating regarding someone's election or salvation is sinful because it is not revealed to us, citing Deuteronomy 29:29.

Frankly, I don't see anything in that verse that talks about any sort of speculating being sin, only that only God has full knowledge of the secret counsels, and we don't.

Further, Boettner, Charles Hodge, W. G. T. Shedd, and B. B. Warfield have all written that infants who die in infancy who are children of believers DO go to heaven. If Rich is consistent, he would say that they are making sinful speculation, as well as the two expositors (Rev. Adrian Dieleman, Rev. C Bouwman) that I've found on Article 17:

http://www.trinitycrc.org/CanonSermons/HeadIArticles17.html
http://www.spindleworks.com/library/bouwman/canon/ch1art16-18.htm

It's ironic that Rich would say that, by speculating that those infants are saved, that Dieleman and Bouwman are violating the very article that they are expositing!

I'm surprised that the ministers in the United Reformed Church have been silent on this issue, given their emphasis on confessionalism and that the Canons of Dort are part of their confessions. Maybe someone from that perspective can give some input?
I'm right here Don. Wisdom shouts from the streets. If you prefer to remain simple-minded on the subject then I can do no more on this subject for you. If a URC minister chimes in, you'll find another excuse to avoid the obvious conclusions.

Please do bookmark this thread so you can look back in 10 years and remind yourself how brash you were at a young age.
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Speculating on election nakedly, by looking into the things that ‘are’ or within ourselves as if to see the eternal or read the eternal tea leaves by the things of creation, works, events, occurrences, experiences…etc…IS sin because it is outside of Christ. If you speculate upon election otherwise than viewing Christ’s cross and all that is contained there, which includes baptism, then you are outside of Christ entirely and spiritually speculating as a fallen man following the wisdom of the world. That is to say trying vainly and deceptively to view God nakedly and careening one’s spiritual neck as it where to look into the secret things of God. To look into His secrets as He has not revealed them is not only sin but the very crux of original sin. It is trying to be God to get the knowledge of God himself. It is the very principle of building a Tower of Babel. God is only revealed savingly at the Cross. Election is known ONLY to us here and now personally at the Cross of Christ for me/you, there and there alone do we only dare to look. For only despair or deception awaits otherwise. There and there alone my soul is fixed. There and there alone I know my election. Everywhere else is darkness.

John Calvin wisely counsels, “But if we are elected in him, we cannot find the certainty of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the Father, if we look at him apart from the Son. Christ, then, is the mirror in which we ought, and in which, without deception, we may contemplate our election. For since it is into his body that the Father has decreed to ingraft those whom from eternity he wished to be his, that he may regard as sons all whom he acknowledges to be his members, if we are in communion with Christ, we have proof sufficiently clear and strong that we are written in the Book of Life.”

Speculating on election is how fallen man and fallen religion seeks God. That is that God can be known through all things and events. Man’s sin is so perverse that the God he seeks EVEN by some knowledge of the majestic attributes of God will always end up as an idol…even worse the devil himself, but man will think him to be God. However, the one HAD by the cross knows that God can be known only through the Cross of Christ and the witness to that of the Word. The Christian NEVER in this life leaves the Cross. And that is EXACTLY faith, to be had by the Cross and its Word of forgiveness for you…that is to be had and owned by the Cross of Christ, that IS faith. As Luther said, ‘faith is to see that which is not seeable but only promised and (simultaneously) to NOT see that which is seen.’ All fallen religion encourages inward focus which is the essence of sin. As opposed to the cross which turns us away from ourselves (repentance), forsaking our own good works and spiritual experiences and clinging to Christ’s blood and righteousness found at the Cross alone. And the later is THROUGHOUT the ENTIRE Christian life, not just at some moment of conversion then on to ‘bigger and better’ spiritual things.

How do Christian parents draw comfort from the loss of their dear infant children? Worthless speculation outside of Christ about election? Hardly, that is demonic. The EXACT same place YOU better be drawing forth ANY comfort the Cross alone for IN the Cross God has revealed Himself where we may know Him rightly and savingly, and not ignorantly speculate upon Him, even characterize Him like Baal and at length be worshipping the devil calling him God in our blindness. For Jesus said when asked to see the Father, “Phillip have you been with Me so long. He who has seen Me HAS seen the Father.” In fact at the beginning of that Gospel John tells us in clear and explicit words that the Son ALONE has beheld the Father and NO other. Which goes back to Calvin’s point about vainly speculating over election.

Blessings,

L
 
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