Do infants commit actual sins?

Status
Not open for further replies.

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
I was reading Augustine's Anti-Pelagian Writings and in Book 1 of "Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants" he argues that infants don't commit actual sins. It is actually a big part of his argument for original sin. He argues that infants are guilty of original sin and for this reason are baptized. In order to make his argument, he has to remove the possibility that infants are baptized for the actual sins they commit.

What should we think about infants? Do they commit actual sins? When WLC 194 says "we and all others are guilty of original and actual sin" does it include infants?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
An old TE friend of mine and I spoke about the three words transgressions, sin, and iniquity just the other day. They each mean something different in the Hebrew language he said. Sin was a missing the mark like when one shoots an arrow and doesn't hit the bullseye. That was what he relayed to me.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
At least not before they are born.

Romans: "11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), "
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
I don't think one can make much of a case for actual sin being committed by infants. Sin can be committed only by a rational creature, and children come into rationality only gradually. The baptism of infants, though they lack actual sin, was a major argument of Augustine's for original sin.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
At least not before they are born.

Romans: "11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), "

Could the good or evil be in reference to works outside the womb that could be seen as procuring any interest in salvation or lack thereof? This verse doesn't seem to say anything about their spiritual condition inside the womb. But Romans 5:12 does,

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

ALL have sinned (in Adam).

Does this verse mean that original is sin? In other words, is proclivity to sin seen as actual sin in God's eyes? If so, then it would seem wrong to separate original sin and "actual" sins; for original sin would then be actual sin. For infants there is no difference between sins original and actual. Do all children need Christ equally?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Psalm 58.3: The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Isaiah 48.8: Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
WSC Q 14 What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Sin is more than just transgression. Even if it could be said that infants, not being rational, cannot transgress the law, it cannot be denied that they lack conformity unto the law.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
My son certainly commits sin. I see him lash out in anger when he doesn't get his way. I've seen him test his mother and I when we tell him no. I've seen him do the same thing that just caused him to get a swat, even when he knows he isn't supposed to do it. I don't know how we are defining infant here, but he's actively rebelled in things (doing things he knows he shouldn't) since he was as young as 7 months old and maybe even younger.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.[92]

I don't think sin is based on our evaluation of (outward) cognitive ability, it is based on the transgression itself.
Accordingly, do infants disobey the law outwardly or inwardly, ever?
Isn't the description of the stage in life, "the terrible twos," the very epitome of self centered (rather than love God or neighbor), action?

And isn't sin by both ignorance or intent to rebel?
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
I fear what would happen to my wife and I if our six week old son had the strength and agility of an eighteenth year old man. Sounds like a sci-fi flick. Man, that would be terrible.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.(Rom 5:14,ESV)

Augustine's argument may relate to Romans 5:14. The argument was, or is, that even (very young?) infants died between the time of Adam and Moses. Since they had no actual transgression, why did they die? Because they had sinned and fallen in Adam.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
I agree with Pastor Ken, it's really the wrong question and a moot point. The question should be, is the fallenness of man demonstrated in the behavior of an infant? The answer is yes and we easily see our anger, discontent, lust and selfishness in their seed forms. At the same time the other question we must ask is, is our need for a savior demonstrated in the behavior of an infant? Again the answer is a resounding YES.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
A few things:

The "terrible twos" isn't infancy. The word "infant" comes from the Latin infans, which is literally in + fans, (not + speaking). So, my comments are being restricted to a narrow window that generally disappears within the first 2 years of life.

Sin is connected to rationality because sin must be against law, either natural or positive. Natural law is directed to reason. That is why wolves and parakeets don't sin, though they might do things that negatively affect others. Following instinct, automatic reflexes, and natural responses is not culpable.

Looking at infant behaviors, such as crying, as sinful is importing adult standards of behavior back into children. Many of these behaviors are inborn reflexes, merely stimulus-response mechanisms. For example, many child development psychologists see the earliest "fussy" behavior as a way that infants develop attachment and build trust. For example: http://www.childcarequarterly.com/pdf/fall10_babies.pdf

Also, discipline at very early ages can be tricky, since babies aren't actually born with cause-and-effect reasoning skills. They literally may not make the connection between "no" and a negative evaluation of their actions. I'm not saying this for 4-year-olds, but quite probably for 12-month-olds, and it's even possible that some of the "terrible twos" may be linked to this phenomenon.

To sum up:

1) In the Pelagian controversy, despite all the disagreements, all sides agreed that infants do not commit actual sins.
2) The Old Testament sacrificial system points to a distinction between an always-present sinful propensity and discrete transgressions.
3) The NT commands to confess sin do the same.
4) Psalm 58:3 seems to support the distinction, since the example of "going astray from the womb" (original sin) is "speaking lies" (actual sin of a post-infant person).
5) Infant behavior must be interpreted within an age-appropriate biological and psychological framework, not by drawing analogies to adult behavior.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I agree with Pastor Ken, it's really the wrong question and a moot point. The question should be, is the fallenness of man demonstrated in the behavior of an infant? The answer is yes and we easily see our anger, discontent, lust and selfishness in their seed forms. At the same time the other question we must ask is, is our need for a savior demonstrated in the behavior of an infant? Again the answer is a resounding YES.

That is absolutely the point. We tend to excuse infants, in part because they are not physically capable of doing what an adult can. That is how we look at sin (in terms of externals), when God looks to the heart. They are sinners in need of a Savior, just like any of us.

One of the greatest parts of child rearing, which The Missus and I have had to learn, is that when Gracie sins (e.g., disobeying us), that is a moment not to ignore or excuse the sin, but to teach her that it is sin, why it is wrong, how it offends God, etc. She is barely 3, but she gets it. She comes to us and says that she is sorry (limited vocabulary, but we'll get there), and we tell her how we forgive her and that God will forgive her when she asks Him. It is a wonderful opportunity to teach her about God's grace and our need of it. At night, we teach her to pray by first telling God what she is thankful for, and then what she is sorry for. None of those things would really happen if we bought into the modern non-biblical notion that children are "innocent" and not really "vipers in diapers."
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a doctrinal issue which has caused me much prayer, thought, and concern. My son was born prematurely in an emergency c-section. He weighed 2lbs, 13oz. when born. I almost lost him and my wife at birth. Her liver completely shut down and she was in seizure. I was on my knees in prayer asking God to spare both of them. In His wisdom he saw fit to spare both of them. I was a youth pastor at the time and this raised the question in my mind, "what if my son had perished?" would I, as David said, have seen my son again in heaven? How do I answer a youth who asks me where do babies go? I spoke to my pastor concerning this and he related to me that he believed that children, up until the age of accountability, go to heaven. So that begged the question, "what is the age of accountability?" Biblical study revealed that there really is no definitive age nor is the term or concept even taught in scripture. It is rather a loophole man has created to back up the nice thought that children are innocent until they understand the concept of sin and can understand the gospel plan of salvation. This creates more problems doctrinally than it solves. If we take the literal interpretation of Ps. 58:3 and truly believe that God is a just God and cannot look upon sin, nor will there be any sinners in heaven, then we must conclude that all children must go to hell as they have not accepted Christ as Savior by faith which is the only way for sinful man to enter God's presence. This did not seem consistent with Christ's teaching's nor with the character of God.

I began to play with all kinds of theories. I stepped down as Youth pastor to study this and spend critical time with my family. Please understand I still prayerfully seek wisdom in this matter and my views are still subject to His leading. Please do not brand me as a heretic and burn me at the stake as I seek truth to affirm my beliefs. My first countered theory was, if both parents are Christians, then the child is conceived in a forgiven state and remains so until they reach an age of personal understanding. This has some support from a historical view in western Christianity but it did not seem to answer all questions. What if a person is born with diminished capacity? Do they never reach an age of understanding? What if one parent is unsaved or reprobate, etc. More complexities arise. What is f person of diminished capacity kills someone? Will they still be in heaven?

Since this had some historical precedent within the Anglican and Roman Catholic belief system I began to trace it back. Wouldn't you know, I arrived at the conclusion that before the highly esteemed Augustine, this was not much of an issue. Prior to affirming the "Doctrine" of "Original Sin" the actions of children were considered to be incumbent upon the parent. If a child misbehaved, the parent was held responsible for the child's actions. Children were considered innocent and physical death and hard labor were the only consequences passed upon them. When the western Church embraced Augustine's view of Original sin, it also embraced the idea that all children were damned from conception. As such, the Church embraced infant baptism as a way to nullify the effects of sin on infants born to Christian parents. Unfortunately, this did not prevent the children from committing terrible acts of sin such as tantrums and crying, keeping parent awake when told to be quiet and go to sleep, etc. (there was certainly a lot of debate about this at the time and many other nuances and flavors to original sin and concupiscence but this is just a summary view of the net result)

Within the Roman Catholic Church Augustine's views on Original Sin were very attractive. If sin was seminal (passed to woman through the man's sperm from the time of Adam) then this meant that all we had to do was say that Mary had lived a sinless life and had conceived through divine insemination (Joseph had not yet known her) and then Christ could be born without sin. All others were born sinful from the time of conception and dependent upon the Roman Catholic Church for baptism, confession and absolution to achieve salvation. This upped the Church leaders power, control and coffers. Pelagius disputed this idea as did all of Eastern Christianity. They were labeled Haretics and to this day, "Original Sin" is one of the primary schisms between Eastern and Western Orthodoxy. The early Protestant Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) were all descendants of the western belief system so Original sin was carried into mainstream Protestant belief systems. Infant baptism was common until the Anabaptist's arrived on the scene. The Anabaptist's were the liberals of the day. They espoused a new form of Protestantism which had little need for an organized church and its leadership and power structure. They also rejected infant baptism. They began "re-baptizing". They believed that only a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ had the power of salvation. Infant Baptism had no salvific value. Instead, they adopted an "age of accountability" to say that all children went to heaven until old enough to hear and understand the gospel and make a choice.

This was heretical to both Catholic and Protestant churches of the day. They began to persecute the Ana baptists and there were many martyrs. Ana baptists seemed to throw out all the long established traditions of the established Church. They even began to believe in things like healing and miracles. (a return to the first Church as found in Acts)

The theological reasons for separation from the formalized Anglican and Roman Catholic religions was summarized in the Schleitheim Confession in 1529 by Micheal Sattler.

It is shortly hereafter that the Protestant church began to really assess its views on some of these issues. The Puritan movement, like the Anabaptist movement, began to separate from the established Church. They espoused a life of faith and piety apart from the dictates of the established Anglican and Catholic church. Edwards, Whitefield and Wesley stirred the pot.

So how does this play out? Well, you have to decide for yourself. To what extent did Adam's sin effect mankind and how. Was sin actually carnal knowledge as espoused by some? Is it possible for sin to technically and physically become a component of the sperm and genetically pass from generation to generation through the act of sexual intercourse? Are we truly damned from before birth. If not, to what extent did a sin nature effect mankind? Is there a difference between concupiscence and sin? These are matters you will have to settle for yourself as I have tried to do.

I looked to God, prayers and pre-church beliefs for understanding. The Jewish culture, looked not on sin as a default state of man but rather on forgiveness. The Jewish culture was based on sacrifice, faith and effort to live righteously rather than focusing on sin.

God, in his Sovereignty knows what choices each individual will make. As such, he knew that some would be evil even from the womb, but he also knew that some would have the faith of Abraham and Noah. In this light, Ps. 58-3 and Is. 48-8 are not in contradiction with Romans 11.

Was the inheritance of Adams sin merely physical death or also spiritual death. If it was spiritual death then there is no fellowship of God with man until God actively seeks out each man he wishes to fellowship with just as he sought out Adam in the Garden.
This is one view and if it is to be believed then the Calvinistic view is of merit. It is correct in terms of Western belief systems

If the inheritance of Adams sin was merely physical death then the Armenian viewpoint is likely one of merit. In this view Adams fall brought physical death and with it an understanding of what sin is and it's effect on man. Man has a free will to choose between following God and walking in faith with God, or turning his back on God and embracing sin. Just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. God in no way turned his back on them but rather loved them in spite of their actions and forgave and clothed them through the shedding of blood.

If you ask a person of Orthodox tradition they would say no. But it is important to teach our children the difference between right and wrong from the very earliest possible age.

There is also an extensive study of imputation of sin.

I think you will have to decide for yourself which view and interpretation is right according to prayer and how God leads you to interpret scriptures. Don't rely on traditional views or denominations. Study long and hard. Allow men to challenge your faith and exhort you to learning but never rely on a man's view or interpretation no mater how well written, spoken or educated it may appear. False doctrine is everywhere. Most of all don't try to square it with any previous assumptions. I am still studying to show myself approved and have some questions on this matter as do you. I have a few ideas and thoughts but none yet ready to say I have mastered it.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
It is correct in terms of Western belief systems


Was the inheritance of Adams sin merely physical death or also spiritual death. If it was spiritual death then there is no fellowship of God with man until God actively seeks out each man he wishes to fellowship with just as he sought out Adam in the Garden.
This is one view and if it is to be believed then the Calvinistic view is of merit. It is correct in terms of Western belief systems

If the inheritance of Adams sin was merely physical death then the Armenian viewpoint is likely one of merit. In this view Adams fall brought physical death and with it an understanding of what sin is and it's effect on man. Man has a free will to choose between following God and walking in faith with God, or turning his back on God and embracing sin. Just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. God in no way turned his back on them but rather loved them in spite of their actions and forgave and clothed them through the shedding of blood.

We might say, correct in terms of BIBLICAL belief systems. It is the confessional view, which defines this board, not merely one view among many, nor merely regional.
It is, as Spurgeon said, "Calvinism IS the gospel."
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Mr. Carlberg, welcome to Puritanboard. Please fix your signature according to the board rules. You can find out how by clicking on 'Signature Requirements' below my own signature.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
...Sin is connected to rationality because sin must be against law, either natural or positive. Natural law is directed to reason. That is why wolves and parakeets don't sin, though they might do things that negatively affect others. Following instinct, automatic reflexes, and natural responses is not culpable.

Looking at infant behaviors, such as crying, as sinful is importing adult standards of behavior back into children. Many of these behaviors are inborn reflexes, merely stimulus-response mechanisms. For example, many child development psychologists see the earliest "fussy" behavior as a way that infants develop attachment and build trust. For example: http://www.childcarequarterly.com/pdf/fall10_babies.pdf

Also, discipline at very early ages can be tricky, since babies aren't actually born with cause-and-effect reasoning skills. They literally may not make the connection between "no" and a negative evaluation of their actions. I'm not saying this for 4-year-olds, but quite probably for 12-month-olds, and it's even possible that some of the "terrible twos" may be linked to this phenomenon...

Have you been around many children?

I can guarantee you that my 2 month old makes conscious decisions that exhibit reasoning skills. He has reasoned that a cry will receive a response and that if he wants to have the original purpose for the cry rectified, to continue crying until his need is met. He also has recently starting responding to other stimulation by smiling and "cooing" when he decides, reasons if you will, that the stimulation warrants it. Language skills are not a necessarily implement of reason. An "infant" certainly has "cause and affect" reasoning skills.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Bob, welcome to PB!

Just a minor correction so far. You said, "the Church embraced infant baptism as a way to nullify the effects of sin on infants born to Christian parents". I would disagree with this (perhaps it is a trace of your baptistic heritage still remaining?). The Christian church embraced infant baptism because of the continuity of the covenant of grace in the OT and NT. It had been commanded Abraham to bring his male children into the covenant – and the covenant community – when they were 8 days of age; the early Jewish NT church carried this command over into the Messianic age, albeit the administration of the covenant and its tokens were changed: females were directly admitted into the covenant, Gentiles were included, and the token was a bloodless one – baptism by water.
 
Last edited:

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
We might say, correct in terms of BIBLICAL belief systems. It is the confessional view, which defines this board, not merely one view among many, nor merely regional.
It is, as Spurgeon said, "Calvinism IS the gospel."

Spurgeon = Gospel? Hmmm... sounds like heresy to me. Last I checked the books and writings of Spurgeon were not Canonical. If you want to critique me that is fine but please base it on the inspired writings, not the writings of fallible men or confessionals. If we give the same credence to men and confessionals as we do to scripture, we will all be back under the Pope or at best, Lutherans. This is not to say they have no place in the discussion however I take offense at placing Spurgeon on the same plane as the Gospel.

If you espouse the views of Calvin then you must take a position with him that:
1. Infants are guilty of Original Sin.
2. At least some infants God was willing to damn to Hell (Flood, Destruction of Sodom, Destruction of Ninevah etc.)
3. The only Hope for infants is that God elects them to salvation as they are neither capable of understanding or performing good or evil.
4. Any Infants which God does not Elect unto salvation are damned to hell for his purpose and glory.

Please consult Synod of Dort Article 17. which establishes a view somewhat contrary to that of Calvin.

I qoute, Dr. Schaff in reference to the Prebyterian Creed Revision,--"The chapters that relate to predestination and the loss of non-elect infants are specially under fire now, but I am in favor of dropping the reference to the pope as 'Antichrist,' and the two hundred millions of communicants in the Roman Catholic Church as 'idolators.' Such a judgment is untrue, unjust, uncharitable and unsuitable in any Confession of Faith. But that is not the special point to which attention is called. Let us keep to the text. Take the subject of 'elect' and 'non-elect' infants. You cannot escape the logical conclusion that if there are 'elect' infants, there must be 'non-elect' infants, that may be lost. Now, it is the general belief of the Presbyterian Church to-day that all infants dying in infancy are saved, while in the seventeenth century all Calvinist divines believed that some of them were lost forever. But the opponents of revision do not teach or preach this doctrine now; why, then, have it in the Confession?"
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
" It is rather a loophole man has created to back up the nice thought that children are innocent until they understand the concept of sin and can understand the gospel plan of salvation. "

I am not quite sure it is a man created loophole. I reference that children of Israel, "sentenced" to wandering 40 years of wandering before they entered the promised land. God punished that generation only (excepting Joshua and Caleb specifically) for their unbelief. The next generation, some of whom were as old as 20, were not held accountable.

I think that is significant.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Mr. Carlberg,

Before posting again, please fix your signature as I said above.

Also, I see that you subscribe to the 2nd Helvetic, but do you agree with the following statement of both the WCF and the LBC?

Chapter 10:III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all [other] elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
"Have you been around many children? "

Rev. Glaser, I think it is a matter of development. It is not as though one day they don't understand cause and effect, the next they do.

It is a learning process. From my observation it takes a good deal of time. Parents can help greatly with it.

I do believe my children, from conception, are sinners, due to original sin. I am not convinced they are actively and personally sinning from that point on. Obviously it starts at some point.

To cry if hungry is not sinful, if that is all you know how to do. They don't know how to look at a clock, wait for a meal time, wash hands and sit down. They learn that their cries are often answered with food. This is not sin in my opinion. Nor is it a sin, I think to fuss if in gas or other sort of pain, or if frightened, or if cold, etc. They can't talk yet. What else are they to do? It is instinctive and right, I argue, for them to cry out when in any sort of need.

I know I often cry out when in need. I don't make a squalling fuss, because I have learned language. But I still cry out.

Considering the cries of a baby as sin, at least normatively, is bad thinking in my opinion.
 

Branson

Puritan Board Freshman
"Have you been around many children? "

Rev. Glaser, I think it is a matter of development. It is not as though one day they don't understand cause and effect, the next they do.

It is a learning process. From my observation it takes a good deal of time. Parents can help greatly with it.

I do believe my children, from conception, are sinners, due to original sin. I am not convinced they are actively and personally sinning from that point on. Obviously it starts at some point.

To cry if hungry is not sinful, if that is all you know how to do. They don't know how to look at a clock, wait for a meal time, wash hands and sit down. They learn that their cries are often answered with food. This is not sin in my opinion. Nor is it a sin, I think to fuss if in gas or other sort of pain, or if frightened, or if cold, etc. They can't talk yet. What else are they to do? It is instinctive and right, I argue, for them to cry out when in any sort of need.

I know I often cry out when in need. I don't make a squalling fuss, because I have learned language. But I still cry out.

Considering the cries of a baby as sin, at least normatively, is bad thinking in my opinion.

You took the words right out of my mouth! Except you did a better job than I would have done!
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
For some reason I am not able to attach my signature, I am still working on it. Please forgive me.

I attempted to relay in my first post that I was relating an account of my own progression of thoughts on this matter of which I am not yet resolved. My point being that anyone who seeks knowledge should prayerfully seek it of God. I am not espousing any particular viewpoint as correct on this particular matter as I believe at this time the reconciliation of infants and children or any other person of diminished capacity to God is a mystery of Grace. All I can say is that I have thrown out the concept of "age of accountability" (A baptist originated tenant) and salvation by infant baptism (A Roman Catholic originated tenant) as extra biblical.

If there is anything man can do to bring an infant into salvation or "covenant" relationship (circumcision, baptism, payments to church, Christian names etc.) then it would seem to be a salvation by works would it not? I would reject infant baptism as anything other than a dedication of the parents to bringing their child up in a Christian manner.

I certainly concur with 10: III that any salvation of these individuals would mean that they are Gods elect, however, I see no means by which man can confirm this election until he meets them in glory. It is therefore at best speculation without evidence that God Elects infants to salvation.

I made it clear in my biography that this was an area in which I claimed exemption to 2nd Helvetic.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
Ben, your example of an infant crying or cooing for food does not demonstrate awareness of cause-and-effect or of intentionality. It could merely be instinctive stimulus-response. In fact, behavioral psychologists believe that's exactly what it is. The baby is not reasoning backward from "I want food" to "I should cry for it," even on a non-verbal level. It feels the physical sensation of hunger (or whatever) and that triggers a response. For example, you hit your thumb with a hammer and say, "Ow!" (or worse). That's stimulus-response.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
We might say, correct in terms of BIBLICAL belief systems. It is the confessional view, which defines this board, not merely one view among many, nor merely regional.
It is, as Spurgeon said, "Calvinism IS the gospel."

Spurgeon = Gospel? Hmmm... sounds like heresy to me. Last I checked the books and writings of Spurgeon were not Canonical. If you want to critique me that is fine but please base it on the inspired writings, not the writings of fallible men or confessionals. If we give the same credence to men and confessionals as we do to scripture, we will all be back under the Pope or at best, Lutherans. This is not to say they have no place in the discussion however I take offense at placing Spurgeon on the same plane as the Gospel.

Mr. Carlberg, although Scott can speak for himself, you have misread him here. He did not say that "Spurgeon=gospel" but using the phrase "Calvinism=gospel" referenced Spurgeon's statement that Calvinism is another name for the Gospel. We generally try to avoid accusations of heresy that depend upon obvious misinterpretations.

Those who have decided to become members of the board have by that act agreed that the teachings of the word of God are faithfully summarized and stated by the Reformed confessions. Thus one of our rules states:

9. Remember that this is a Reformed Discussion Group.

The Puritanboard uses volunteer moderators as leadership to facilitate general order and guide the Reformed discussions that they may be exhortative as well as educational to the Reformed Christian. Many of the moderators and affiliates on Puritanboard are actively involved in Pastoring churches; the others being involved in various ministerial capacities at their respective local churches. The board and owners feel that order originates with God. Moderators follow Reformed principles and convictions, and we have openly allowed using the Reformed Confessions as a starting principle by which any moderator or member must abide. The order that the moderators help facilitate is to be aligned with their statements of faith (comprised in the Westminster Confession of Faith, The Canons of Dordt, The Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, and Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689).
(Emphasis added, typographic error corrected)

Therefore, while it is never out of place to ask to be instructed from the Scriptures on points that are unclear to you, it is not acceptable to set up an opposition between the word of God and the Reformed confessions, as though the confessions were not presenting the teachings of Scripture. If someone is convinced that such an opposition exists, the Internet is a large enough place that they can maintain that view without feeling it necessary to do so here. While we have a wide variety of members with a range of beliefs, advocacy for contra-confessional positions is not permitted.

If you espouse the views of Calvin then you must take a position with him that:
1. Infants are guilty of Original Sin.
2. At least some infants God was willing to damn to Hell (Flood, Destruction of Sodom, Destruction of Ninevah etc.)
3. The only Hope for infants is that God elects them to salvation as they are neither capable of understanding or performing good or evil.
4. Any Infants which God does not Elect unto salvation are damned to hell for his purpose and glory.

Please consult Synod of Dort Article 17. which establishes a view somewhat contrary to that of Calvin.

I qoute, Dr. Schaff in reference to the Prebyterian Creed Revision,--"The chapters that relate to predestination and the loss of non-elect infants are specially under fire now, but I am in favor of dropping the reference to the pope as 'Antichrist,' and the two hundred millions of communicants in the Roman Catholic Church as 'idolators.' Such a judgment is untrue, unjust, uncharitable and unsuitable in any Confession of Faith. But that is not the special point to which attention is called. Let us keep to the text. Take the subject of 'elect' and 'non-elect' infants. You cannot escape the logical conclusion that if there are 'elect' infants, there must be 'non-elect' infants, that may be lost. Now, it is the general belief of the Presbyterian Church to-day that all infants dying in infancy are saved, while in the seventeenth century all Calvinist divines believed that some of them were lost forever. But the opponents of revision do not teach or preach this doctrine now; why, then, have it in the Confession?"

There is no opposition: in your summation of Calvin, there is no word directed to believing parents who have lost a child in infancy. And Article 17 of the first head of the Canons of the Synod of Dort expressly states that such parents should not doubt of the election of their infant child who has died - they hold out no hope for salvation of that child apart from election either. Holding that only elect infants dying in infancy are saved by itself says nothing about the identity of those elect children, nor of the extent of election among those dying in infancy. From past threads on this topic, I feel fairly certain that Dr. Schaff does not speak for all adherents of the Presbyterian Church who are also members of this Board.

As for your signature, if you have found the "Settings" link at the top of the page, and then the "Edit signature" on the left of that screen, and have filled out and saved your signature, it may be that you need to log out and log back in for it to show up.

Welcome to the Board! I hope you will find that it is possible and enjoyable to learn and profit within the confessional parameters that have been established.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top