Credo-Baptism and Infant Death

Discussion in 'Credo-Baptism Answers' started by Douglas P., Mar 18, 2011.

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  1. jason d

    jason d Puritan Board Freshman

  2. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is what I have been saying. Also I would add that we do not have knowledge (for it is a mystery) of when (at what point cognitively or temporally) that cognitive grace for a child ends and therefore is the reason why we must at an early age proactively teach children the gospel and the rest of the Christian faith. Let me makes this clear, there is no approximate age that I could give for a child and for his or her development, for only God would have the right to judge that accordingly for that child. And we can trust God to judge fairly.

    In regards to the ban of Jericho, I still do not know what exactly you are asking; if you are asking why Rahab survived, or something else. I am assuming your basing the ban (חֵ֫רֶם) off of initially Deut. 7:25-6. I typically do not translate it as ban, but instead for it to be accursed or to be devoted towards destruction ( as seen with the ESV for Deut.). Now the reason why I think Rehab and her father’s family survived is simple. It is because she assisted in hiding the spies from the king of Jericho and the spies made an oath of protection for herself, family, and property. She recognized by faith that the land was given to the children of Israel based on accounts that she heard of the people (thus a cognitive knowledge) and she exercised that faith by her protecting them. It was due to her kindness towards them that she was spared as a believer through the giving of an oath and through the hanging of the cord as setting her apart from everyone else; indicating that she would not be completely seen as one of Jericho. If anyone in her family stepped out of her house then their blood would be on their own hands because they did not trust the promise of safety with all the war that was raging around them. And what we see is that her and her family obeyed what was required of her by faith and thus survived the due punishment. If her father or brothers left to fight then they would no longer participating in the faith of Rehab and thus would deserve their death. It should also be pointed out that if her family was around when the spies were present that they did not reveal the spies presence and thus participated in their safety. Now just like Rehab and her family survived, Achan and his family were killed. Why? Rehab was given the promise of salvation in the coming destruction (just as we are also give the promise of salvation in Christ at the coming destruction of this age); Achan was given the covenantal curse for breaking the Law of God (referring back to Deut. 7) by allowing what should have been destroyed to survive by his greed (thus also breaking the Decalogue). There are two aspects of the curse, the first is the allowing of what should have been destroyed was not; which would not be allowed if the conquest is to be seen to represent the final conquest of Christ in his second coming against sinful rebels. The second is the knowing participation of Achan’s family in the hiding of the booty in the ground of the tent by his wife and children. It would be hard to believe that this hiding was done in secret without their knowledge. The knowable participation of the sin by his family is just grounds for their sharing of their destruction. The judgment against him through the law would represent the destruction (through fire) of sin, it’s legacy, and that which is tainted by sin. For if the legacy was allowed to survive then it may bring the people back into bondage and destroy them (looking back at Haman as a prefect example of a legacy that then came back at Israel’s failure to destroy the Jews).

    Now what does this have to do with infant salvation through a lack of cognitive knowledge of him? I do not know unless you give me a particular question in your line of thinking. For the destruction of Jericho was a representation of the complete purging of sin from the land in judgment, for their wicked acts that they conducted against almighty God. The destruction of children in this case is the destruction of that legacy of sin, so that they will not rise up again some day to rebel out of vengeance at another time to destroy God’s holy people. Therefore Israel killing of the children of the nations they were destroying is not the same as these nations sacrificing children through fire, which was one of the reasons the Lord gives for their judgment.
  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    David, are you suggesting that imputed sin alone is not sufficient to condemn and that God overlooks imputed sin only in the life of an infant dying in infancy?
  4. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    How many times do I need to say this, original sin is enough to condemn anyone, even infants. Besides I think infants, when they die, can also be charged with actual sin on the basis of Matt. 22. Now in the case of infants I do think God provides a special grace to infants, because of their helpless state and a special love that I think he has for them. And due to this love, God credits these infants with the righteousness of Christ. This is not an overlooking of imputed sin on infants.

    Furthermore I would like to add that God having the right to do something and him actually doing it are two different things. God has the right to condemn all of us in his justice, because of Adam. But because of Christ, an elect number of people were saved by his grace so that justice of God can also be satisfied through the sacrifice of Christ.
  5. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Which is it David: is it a mystery or are you certain of a developmental threshold? Are you basing your certainty on philosophical reasoning on what you believe God would be required to do given a requirement for cognition or do you have Scripture that links lack of cognitive ability to God's application of Christ's righteousness? If left to mystery, why may not any parent reason that their child has not crossed this threshold at some cognitive level of accountability?
    You had utilized, in a previous argument, that the Lord's condemnation against passing a children through the fire is to be used (by GNC) that God spares infants from the punishments of Hell. I'm asking you why, in the case of Jericho this is not, likewise, a typological case to the contrary? You are the one attempting to draw parallels from condemnations against certain practices as typological realities and I'm trying to determine why you are being so selective in your typology.
  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    While I have the utmost respect for my Presbyterian and Reformed paedobaptist brethren, I'm as convinced now as I was 3 years ago when I switched to the credo view that the Reformed paedobaptist argument here is the result of spurious reasoning.

    Unless the Reformed paedobaptist is prepared to assert some kind of baptismal regeneration (or presumptive election/regeneration of "covenant children," whether baptized or not) they are in the same boat as the credo on the question of infant death.
  7. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    So what is that "boat" with respect to the question of infant death given your reasoning from the LBCF?
  8. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    Mystery and development do not need to be at odds. I do not think God is required to do anything. The only things God cannot do is what is contrary to his own nature, including the breaking of any covenantal promises. The point of this thread was to deal with infant death and not with children’s salvation at large in relation to their developmental process. I am not a Gnostic and therefore I cannot say I have hidden knowledge in regards to the mind of God in relation to salvation and judgment towards children at large. I can only speculate and have faith that God will judge all fairly in accordance to his own nature, for his glory, and for our good. I see development as being a means so that the free offer of the gospel can be understood, so that the child will be saved by the same normal means as you and I in receiving the gospel in faith.

    My main grounding for my position is based on two things: First, the free offer of the Gospel. Secondly, human suppression of the truth of God in creation and in special revelation. In the fall, Adam was not only changed from a state of righteousness to that of a sinner (and thus compounds the judgment against him with additional sin), but also there is a marring of the cognitive ability by original sin. Which is then why we must renew are minds with the word of God and his Holy Spirit. However this noetic effect of the fall is not the ground in which people refuse to submit to the gospel, but is instead a heart rebellion against the gospel that they hear. The only way in which people receive Christ is through the changing of the heart by the Spirit of God. Now faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God (Romans 10, and yes I know of the variant here which has Christ instead of God). The reasoning why the cognitive aspect is important, for it was not completely destroyed by the fall, is so that one can understand the words faith so that they may respond to it based on the quickening power of the Spirit. The issue with infants is that they cannot understand the message of salvation, which puts them in slightly a different position with a nonbeliever. They not only cannot understand special revelation like you or I, but they do not have the ability to make a judgment pro or con against it; therefore you would not see an infant say that the cross is foolishness. The child would not have that category yet in their development, because they lack the tools to even make such a judgment. Therefore they cannot by their own ability knowable reject God and the Gospel, even though they still sin actively in Adam. Nor do infants reject God on the basis of creation. They do not know what a star is, they have no understanding of a tree when they are born, in fact infants when they are born are quite limited in what they know and what they initially experience. Therefore they are not in the same state as those talked about in Romans 1, who refuse to acknowledge God (v.28) and must be seen in light of a nuanced category because they do have an excuse ( in contrary to v. 20-1). Noticed I said nuanced, because I still technically classify them as an enemy of God, but only because of Adam. Just like we all at one point were enemies of God (Romans 5:8-10). Now I am actually reminded of Deut. 1:35-9, whereby God says to the older knowingly rebellious generation that they will not see “the good land,” but he describes their children as little ones who “have no knowledge of good and evil” and that they will process the land forever. So the rebels can never enter in, but their little ones who have no knowledge of good and evil can enter. A promised land that represents the entered Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 4:8-9). Also notice that these little ones are not judged accordingly to the sins of their parents in Deut. 1, based on the fact that they can enter into the promise land. Now God is rich in mercy and full of compassion as seen for the allowance of children to come unto him for blessing (relating Ps. 145:8, Joel 2:13, Eph. 2:4 and Ps. 78:38, 116.5 to Mark 10). In fact Jesus wished to blessed them, and so he did, and I would instill again that we do not know the condition of the souls of the parents that offered up their children for blessing; for not much has changed under the sun for we find today parents who desire for their children to be blessed and yet have no desire in themselves to repent and believe. For if it is the nature of God to show such compassion towards little ones, infants, then would it not be reasonable for God based upon his own nature and the weak and helpless nature of a child, who has no or little understanding of the world (let alone God), to receive grace from God. And prior to the death of the infant be united to Christ by the Spirit in his great mercy towards such a helpless creature. For an infant is not like Adam in regards with the ability of understanding or communicating (before or after the fall), and does not rebel in the child’s heart towards the gospel like the neighbor by the street or the coworker who can understand the facts of the gospel, but still desires to rebel. The conditions of the infant and the conditions of older children and adults in relation to response to the gospel is not the same nor can it be the same with a miracle of knowledge and development.
    God justifies and regenerates us by his Spirit by his own will despite that we were once his enemy. And infants, even though they are technically are the enemies of God, I think God is understanding to their nature and just like he is understanding to ours in relating the gospel and truth of himself to us by analogy.

    I have indicated this before that God being the fair judge will do what is right within his own judgment and parents should take comfort in the fair judge of God. Realistically that is the only comfort a parent could receive. Even though if a parent does not try to teach their child the gospel, then I do not think they should be comforted because they failed in their parental responsibility to teach the child the ways of the faith

    In regards to the destruction of Jericho, children were not killed by a religious fire, but instead by the sword, like the rest of the men, the women, and the animals present (which by the way I do not think anyone here would say animals go to heaven or hell). God spared infants from flames of death, but not from the purging of the land; because if they survived then later they may become an enemy of the people of God. And likewise today, God does not spare children from the fate of physical death in Adam and can suffer the consequences of their parents’ sin. The purging of the land by the sword and the child religious sacrifice are distinctly different, for the child sacrifices was one of the reasons for the destruction of Jericho as I have said already above ( like with comparing Gen.15:16 to Deut 18:10 as seen in post 19), instead of a contrary analogy. Besides God alone has right over life and death and has given in his law why a child should die, and it is not so that it can be offered to demons (including Satan), who punishment will one day be the Lake of Fire.

    I think that should be everything. I have Greek text I need to translate, so until next time, see you all later.
  9. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I think the LBCF and WCF statements on the issue are identical, although I've seen some LBCF copies have just "Infants" instead of "Elect Infants." I can't remember what the origin of that variant was.

    I definitely don't have anything new to add on the subject and can't improve on the statements of Spurgeon, Mohler, Warfield, etc.
  10. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    The orginial said, "elect infants." Spurgeon subtracted "elect" when he revamped the confession.
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I had thought Spurgeon's edition did that, but I wasn't sure whether or not it originated with him. Are you familiar with any other editing he may have done?
  12. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    David, I'm just seeking to understand the scriptural warrant for this view. How would you build your exegetical defense?
  13. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    What does it mean to "speculate and have faith" concerning something God has not revealed in His Word? If this is "hidden knowledge", as you admit then what is the relation of speculation here and Deut 29:29?

    First, what Scriptural data do you have that infants do not suppress natural revelation? Secondly, why can't a person apply the same reasoning above toward those who have no cognitive "opportunity" to respond to the Gospel? In other words, if God's mercy extends toward those who have no ability to respond to the free offer of the Gospel then, by extension, that includes all those who have never heard the Gospel regardless of cognitive capacity does it not?
    I'm seriously bewildered by this. You have speculated:
    In other words, if I have you correct:
    1. God punished the Canaanites for passing their children through the fire.
    2. There is fire in hell.
    3. Therefore, God does not put children in Hell.

    Do I have that correct?

    If so, why is this not correct:
    1. God's wrath was poured out on all Jericho to include children.
    2. Hell is God's wrath.
    3. Therefore, children are in Hell.

    I'm not trying to put words into your mouth but do I have your reasoning above correct that, because there was no fire at Jericho but only judgment that it is not appropriate to draw your allegorical conclusion that you first made? If so, upon what basis is that GNC from the Scriptures?
  14. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    I would interject into this conversation the analogy baptism and circumcision with specific reference to the OP. What of the female children of OT saints who could not receive the sign of the covenant? OR ANY woman for that matter? Were they not apart of the "Covenant Community?" Should their salvation be in doubt because the sign of the covenant wasn't applied to them? Of course not. As the Appendix to the 1689 states,

  15. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    Agreed. :)
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