Do infants commit actual sins?

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Bob, you said this, "I would reject infant baptism as anything other than a dedication of the parents to bringing their child up in a Christian manner."

I think it can be proven to be much more than this. It is the same obedience to the same command given by God to Abraham, and which token of the covenant – circumcision in his day, baptism in ours signified the inclusion of that child into the covenant, and thus into the covenant community (see Genesis 17:9-14). This did not necessarily mean salvation, but rather the child being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, which means of grace would be ineffectual in an unelect child, as was demonstrably the case with some then, as well as now.

Baptism of an infant is but an obedient response to a command of God. Do you deny we may consider the command to Abraham as applicable to us? Why then does Paul say, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29)? We are Abraham's seed and it is applicable to us.
 
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Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
Rev. Glaser, I understood your response to be to CharlieJ, to be arguing that infants understand cause and effect, and thus sin by continuing crying behaviors. I apologize if I misinterpreted your argument.
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Bob, you said this, "I would reject infant baptism as anything other than a dedication of the parents to bringing their child up in a Christian manner."

I think it can be proven to be much more than this. It is the same obedience to the same command given by God to Abraham, and which token of the covenant – circumcision in his day, baptism in ours signified the inclusion of that child into the covenant, and thus into the covenant community (see Genesis 17:9-14). This did not necessarily mean salvation, but rather the child being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, which means of grace would be ineffectual in an unelect child, as was demonstrably the case with some then, as well as now.

Baptism of an infant is but an obedient response to a command of God. Do you deny we may consider the command to Abraham as applicable to us? Why then does Paul say, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29)? We are Abraham's seed and it is applicable to us.

Steve,

I appreciate your reply and your manner. This is good stuff. This is exactly what I am trying to understand in Reformed theology. As best I can tell historically, Baptism was practiced post confessional and with understanding individuals. It was both symbolic and regenerative, not in the sense that it forgave sins, but rather that it was the beginning of new life in Christ. This was certainly the case with the Ethiopian eunuch, who first confessed Christ, and then was baptized of water. There is no record of him being previously baptized.

Certainly we see the Holy Spirit descend upon Christ at Baptism. Christ was not subject to Original Sin so this was certainly not done to cleanse him of Original Sin? John the baptist was certainly baptizing adults who repented of sin, confessing their faith in the work of the coming Messiah. Perhaps he also baptized the children of these believers but this is not clear.

What is clear historically is that infant baptism certainly pre-dates the Christian church and was practiced by the Babylonians as a washing of sins and the only means by which one could approach god attaining salvation by works. It was symbolic of the cleansing of Noahs flood purging the earth and new life emerging. (Ironically this is the very argument made by Calvin wherein he supposes that some infants perished in the flood thereby some must have sinned) This infant baptism had to be performed by a Babylonian Priest and was done by means of sprinkling and a blessing while drawing the letter "T" on the forehead.

The earliest Church records I have found specifically regarding infant baptism is in regards to Tertullian around 110 AD. Tertullian espouses baptism as a means of forgiveness of sins committed before confession to salvation and as such actually makes the argument that baptism should be delayed, believing that if it was done too soon, a weak or young Christian might fall into sin and lose his salvation. This is certainly not a Reformed view. It in many ways is in my opinion heretical.

Origen claims that the doctrine of infant baptism was passed to down by the apostles. He is the first true advocate of infant baptism. However, Origen was deeply influenced by pagan and Hellenistic thought and integrated many of them into his system of beliefs which he regarded necessary for the expansion of the christian faith. He would later be denounced by the Church and held such views as free will of man to choose good, attainment of salvation through piety etc. which would hardly be deemed Calvinistic in thought. His mingling of Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Hellenistic and Gnostic views and beliefs had a long lasting effect upon the Christian churches development of an established system of theology, much of it extra-biblical.

John Chrysostom arrived on the scene by 387 AD and his following declaration clearly shows how far astray the formal church had strayed by then: "No one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious? These [priests] truly are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of that blessed Head" (The Priesthood 3:5-6).

This statement is a clear indication that the church leaders were using the sacrament of Baptism as a means of extortion for power. This thought pattern urged parents to submit their children to the priest for baptism as soon as possible some as early as 3 days old. Cyprian is one who argued for this sense of urgency and he certainly shared in the quest for church power. One need only read his responses to Fidus to see he encourages early baptism but curiously deems infants free of any sin of their own. This decree becomes the very basis for Augustine's formalization of "Original Sin".

I say this all Steve, to say I do not see a continuum between the token of establishing a covenant relationship based on the previous token of circumcision and executed on the 3rd day, and the practice of infant baptism. I am interested in information which better establishes this link both from a biblical perspective and historically. Cyprian clearly exhorts baptism as early as possible to allay the fears of parents about the spiritual destiny of their children amidst an environment of persecution and martyrdom.

Do you believe that baptism is necessary to salvation? Do you believe that the remission of sin comes from baptism by water, or by the shedding of Christ's blood? What do you believe the purpose of infant baptism is?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Bob,
Maybe I missed something but you didn't seem to reply to Steve's line of thought. In order to have a conversation that is beneficial for both sides it works better if you don't rabbit trail away from the line of thinking that may help you understand a person better and what they are trying to help you with. He was specifically answering one of your conclusions and trying to help you flush it out. I think it would be beneficial if you asked questions more along his line of thought. He is trying to help you understand the Reformed position that you seem to be trying to understand. Sure the Church may have been trying to develop and understand the doctrine of Baptism from an early age. Doctrinal precision and understanding has developed through the Church as it had to deal with variant understandings and heresies. The Counsels are proof of this. The doctrine of the Trinity is proof of this. If you would and could, I think it would be better if you asked questions more along the line of Steve's thoughts before you start off with various references to data that really doesn't address Steve's specific train of thought. Am I making sense?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello again, Bob! I appreciate the immense research you have done in this undertaking of yours. Nonetheless, when you say, “The earliest Church records I have found . . .” and then proceed to Tertullian, you have skipped the record of Acts. The first NT church was Jewish, and headquartered in Jerusalem.

You end your post with, “I say this all Steve, to say I do not see a continuum between the token of establishing a covenant relationship based on the previous token of circumcision and executed on the 3rd day, and the practice of infant baptism. I am interested in information which better establishes this link both from a biblical perspective and historically.”

Slight correction: the token of the covenant was to be given on the 8[SUP]th[/SUP] day (Gen 17:12).

The earliest church records we have are in Acts. Yet you skip ahead to Tertullian (160-225) and Cyprian (200-258). The church existed even in the Old Testament times, being the faithful remnant in that period. Bob, do you acknowledge the covenant of grace as overarching both the old and the new dispensations, that is, the Abrahamic Covenant is the root of the New Covenant, and the NC is the fulfilment of the Abrahamic? For the promise given to Abraham of a seed that should bless all the earth was realized in the Seed, Jesus Christ, and then in us who are united to the Seed as His own body.

The overarching nature of the CoG is on this wise: it runs plainly though both the Old and the New, that God's people are one, His covenant with them is one, faith in the Redeemer coming / and then come is one, His salvation is one, His promise is one, albeit constantly being unfolded / expanded throughout redemptive history. The Old and New Testaments (Covenants) are also one unity, although reflecting different administrations. We do not posit a disunity between the Old and New Testament Scripture.

We seem to forget or ignore the mindset of the Jew listening to Peter's sermon, which mindset is full of the overarching superstructure of God's dealing with His people for millennia. Given the "historical-grammatical" approach to exegesis, should not how Peter was understood by his listeners be taken into account?

The church of the New Covenant was established on the day of Pentecost through the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and company, and then extended to another three thousand as the Lord gathered them in through the proclamation of Christ in Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:14-41). What happened on this day is of great importance. Rather than bulk up this post (and the thread) let me just give you some links to previous posts.

The nature of the crowds in Jerusalem that day

More on who were in the crowds that day:

Deut 16:10 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God.... 11: And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place where the LORD thy God hath chosen you to place his name there.​

This feast was to be a festive one, and although it was mandated all the males were to be there, the entire family, including servants, were invited in this time of rejoicing in the city of Jerusalem, and at the temple in particular. There were women and children in the milling crowds. And listening to Peter.

Some historical theology of the issue

Some historical theology of the issue #2

Three thousand in one day? *

This is also some pertinent historical-theological information (as you are new here to PB, filling you in on some past discussions): http://www.puritanboard.com/f57/john-1-12-13-baptism-revisited-38633/

Here are some materials which, in my view, have the clearest understanding of Reformed infant baptism. They are all from the Protestant Reformed Church, which has a coherent view of infant baptism. First, the pamphlet, The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers - David J. Engelsma

Then there is the book by Herman Hanko, We And Our Children: The Reformed Doctrine of Infant Baptism

And lastly, Herman Hoeksema's: Believers And Their Seed (online version also available).

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* Christian Baptism, F.G. Hibbard

I hope this is helpful, Bob. I realize this is a lot, but then you are a reader and researcher, so it shouldn’t faze you.

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P.S. While church history is important, all our doctrine is derived from the Scripture. Even in the first two or three hundred years the churches and church "fathers" deviated from Biblical doctrine in a number of areas. One major accomplishment of the Reformation is the going back to Scripture to see what God Himself taught us. The views of "fathers" and divines must be subjected to the light of the word of God. Some may even have held the right doctrines for the wrong reasons, and it is on us to prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good.
 
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Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Randy,

I understand what you are saying and thought that was what I was doing but apparently I am not. Thank you for your patience. I am relatively new to the Reformed view of Baptism. The second link provided by Chuck was very helpful in helping me understand the basic views of "Covenant Baptism" It was not my intent to dispute the issue of covenant Baptism but rather to understand the pretext from whence it came in relation to the original posters question of "do infants commit actual sin". Calvin says we are all totally depraved from conception. There is apparently some sort of exemption however from the imputation of this sin if 1.their parents are believers 2. they receive Baptism 3. they are elect. I intended to try and understand this seeming contradiction of how God could accept one who did not 1. confess him, 2. repent of sin (either mortal or venial) assuming Original Sin is correct.

I can see an indirect link between Circumcision and Baptism as both signs of a covenant relationship but there is a lot of water to bridge in between for me. There seems to be too much pagan influence in this practice for me to accept it based on Calvin's word. He is basically relying on Origen (who also formalized the doctrine of the Trinity), Cyprian, Terullian and Iraneaus (all at some point denounced as heretical and all influenced by pagan thought)

It would be akin to me accepting the act of Confession as a Sacrament based on the connection between I John 1:9, James 5:16 and Levitical laws. Confession was certainly supported by the Councils and refined through the ages and is still to this day viewed as one of the 7 sacraments Christ gave to the Church (according to Roman Catholicism).

Should we uphold the idea of purgatory as well? It could certainly be extracted and supported from several canonical passages and several church fathers if one chooses to interpret scripture in a manner suggestive of it.

Why do we need to encumber ourselves with this baggage brought on by a church of years gone by?

If I understand correctly, The reformed view of Covenant Baptism is that it is a sign of the New Covenant with Christ replacing the old sign of Circumcision under the Abrahamic Covenant. It is the believers way of keeping his side of the promise. A form of circumcision setting believers apart from the world and evil.

That works fine for me, but begs several questions. What if a child perishes in the womb or before baptism can be administered. What if one parent is non elect or reprobate? Does covenant Baptism trump Original Sin if the child perishes before confession of Christ? I don't mean to be petty here but I believe that if something is truth, it is consistent in every detail.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
It is interesting to note that David's son with Bathsheba died on the seventh day, one day short of his circumcision, and yet David declares that he "shall go to him" implying that he will see him again in heaven. Regardless of one's view on baptism, I think it is clear that it has no effect on whether a child or anyone else will go to heaven. I am quite certain that hell is filled with people who at one time or another and by one method or another, were baptized.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Of course, any person's mark with (or lack of) the covenant sign, under any administration--OT or NT--doesn't impinge on the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit to regenerate.



On the pretty-far-removed subject of David's and Bathsheba's first son, the exact age of the child is indeterminate. Indeed, I think it unlikely that the child was born ill, or that the judgment of God fell immediately on the day of his birth. It would be a much more undeniable/unquestioned judgment that befell David if the child gave evidence of strength for a week or more. He is born in 2Sam.11:27, and presumably he was circumcised the eighth day in accordance with the Law of Moses, unless (and here it is speculative) Nathan's confrontation (ch.12:1ff) took place on the child's birthday--David would then have received both messages (birth and rebuke) the same day. It is not impossible, but neither is it necessary to the narrative flow. The child's illness lasted seven days whereupon he died; the sickness could have begun on the day David was confronted; but again, it may have begun on the following day or days. The text is simply not concerned to convey that detail. We may infer that it happened soon enough to confirm the connection between the threat and the execution.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Bob, I see I didn’t answer a question you had asked previously: No, I do not believe baptism is necessary to salvation. The thief on the cross went to be with the Lord without it. I can envision a bus of converts going to their baptism when the bus crashes and all die – and go to be with their Savior.

The question of infants, or babes in the womb, is also answerable. I don’t want to get into infants committing actual sins, as that has been dealt with above, though it is clear they inherit / partake of Adam’s sin by imputation. But babes in the womb? Consider this below, from another post on baptism:

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Let me ask a few rhetorical questions first: Can an infant “receive Him”, even though they have not the capacity to “believe”?

Does an infant receive his or her mother? That is, receive her heart into his own?

Is regeneration always limited to adults, resulting in a profession of faith?

So much of this discussion hinges on what did the covenant God made with Abraham consist of? I think I have shown in some of the above posts that it entailed an unconditional promise to “...be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen 17:7). In Genesis 12:1 ff. and 15:1 ff. the LORD makes gracious promises to Abraham and his seed, and in verse 6 we read, “And he believed in the LORD, and he counted it to him for righteousness.” After that He delineated the terms of the covenant:

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.

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. (Genesis 17:7–14)​

For failure to put the token of the covenant on a male child, that one is out of the sphere of the covenant, cut off from the people. But Scripture makes it clear that failure to have the inward thing signified by the token likewise removed one from the covenant. This I have shown with a number of Scriptures in post #1.

The LORD shows through Moses it was a spiritual promise given Abraham concerning his children:

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deut 30:6)​

A crucial matter is when this heart circumcision of the children was effected, and what it consisted of. We know of John the Baptist that he was sanctified / set apart in his mother’s womb, regenerated – while yet unborn – by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15). Calvin says of this,

Let us not attempt, then, to impose a law upon God to keep him from sanctifying whom he pleases, just as he sanctified this child, inasmuch as his power is not lessened. (Institutes, Book IV, chapter XVI, Sect. 17; Battles Edition)​

Slightly earlier Calvin says,

But how ([the Anabaptists] ask) are infants, unendowed with knowledge of good or evil, regenerated? We reply that God’s work, though beyond our understanding, is still not annulled. Now it is perfectly clear that those infants who are to be saved (as some are surely saved from that early age) are previously regenerated by the Lord. For if they bear with them an inborn corruption from their mother’s womb, they must be cleansed of it before they can be admitted into God’s kingdom, for nothing polluted or defiled may enter there (Rev. 21:27). If they are born sinners, as both David and Paul affirm (Eph. 2:3; Ps. 51:5), either they remain unpleasing and hateful to God, or they must be justified. And what further do we seek, when the Judge himself plainly declares that entry into heavenly life opens only to men who are born anew (John 3:3)? (Ibid.)​

Thus John the Baptist (as noted above) and Jeremiah are exemplars of the Lord working in this manner with children. Did He not say to young Jeremiah,

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jer 1:5)​

Talking of Christ, Calvin says,

Truly Christ was sanctified from earliest infancy in order that he might sanctify in himself his elect from every age without distinction. For, to wipe out the guilt of the disobedience which had been committed in our flesh, he took that very flesh that in it, for our sake, and in our stead, he might achieve perfect obedience. Thus, he was conceived of the Holy Spirit in order that, in the flesh taken, fully imbued with the holiness of the Spirit, he might impart that holiness to us. If we have in Christ the most perfect example of all the graces which God bestows upon his children, in this respect also he will be for us proof that the age of infancy is not utterly averse to sanctification. (Ibid., Sect. 18)​


In sum:

1. John 1:12 and 13 say nothing of children, but speak of adults who receive Christ by faith even as Abraham did (“[they] believed in the LORD, and he counted it to [them] for righteousness” – see Genesis 15:6) , and thus being counted as Abraham’s seed (Gal 3:29), the promise concerning Abraham’s children was theirs. In other words, those in John 1:12 and 13 who received Christ, even them that believed on his name received this promise, which was equally applicable in new covenant Israel:

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deut 30:6)​

This is not “baptismal regeneration” in the children’s cases, as the regeneration occurred prior to baptism, and similarly in the old dispensation with circumcision – though sometimes it occurred later in life, either in childhood or adulthood. Neither does the promise – in its essential form in the Deuteronomy 30:6 quote above – warrant the assurance that all the children of believers are elect, which we have ample evidence concerning in the Scriptures. Yet we raise them as if they were, for such is our loving duty.

2. Examples: Was not Jacob separated unto God from the womb? (Gen 25:23) Was not Samson “a Nazarite unto God from the womb”? (Judges 13:5) Was not Samuel devoted to the LORD from the womb? (1 Sam 1:11, 19) Was not David (as well as his greater Son)? Psalm 22:9, 10; 139:13–16 .

[end excerpt]
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I apologize if I am making this too long and drawn out! You asked, Bob, “What if a child perishes in the womb or before baptism can be administered. What if one parent is non elect or reprobate? Does covenant Baptism trump Original Sin if the child perishes before confession of Christ? I don't mean to be petty here but I believe that if something is truth, it is consistent in every detail.”

God knows when His elect die: Psalms 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. This is so whether it be in the womb or in old age. His elect cannot perish, for they are His. I think we can agree that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

I would not say “covenant Baptism trumps Original Sin if the child perishes before confession of Christ” (for that is looking only at an outward sign and not the thing signified), but rather the Lord’s election of a soul indeed trumps original sin, for “he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world”, when our names were “written in the Lamb’s book of life” before ever we were born, or the world was (Eph 1:4; Rev 13:8; 21:27).

When we look into these things, it is by the very nature of them we cannot know the status of a child yet unborn, or even newly born. But we know this, that we have great hope that children of believers (or even one believer) dying so are elect. We cannot affirm or deny with regard to the children of unbelievers. In this we say that what the Lord does is in accord with His love and holiness, and we trust Him.

I hope this is helpful to you.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
Do infants desire their mother's milk more than God? (idolatry) Do they know to ascribe glory to God for the comforts they enjoy? (unthankful) Do they appear to enjoy the baubles of this world more than knowledge of God? (idolatry) Do they care more about their personal needs than honoring father or mother? (5th commandment broken) If they had the strength of an adult, would they kill their parents? (murder) If they had enough skill and strength, would they covet and steal what they want regardless of who owns what? (stealing, coveting) Do their needs take precedence over whatever else may be going on around them? (selfish)

If an unregenerate person's inability to glorify God and enjoy him does not excuse one from being a sinner who sins, then neither should an infant's inability to glorify God and enjoy him excuse one from being a sinner who sins. Besides, if a person is born with a sin nature, then an infant cannot help but behave from that root.

Perhaps the more precise question to ask is one regarding original sin. And I believe Romans 5:12 is sufficient enough to prove all people are born with original sin. Do infants and unborn children die? Then listen to Romans 5:12. Death spread to these because they sinned. Do infants and unborn children commit actual sins? Well, if they die, they do.

Yes.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
B.B. Warfield has an excellent summary of the history of the doctrine of infant salvation, the consequences of what we believe about the issue, and how this subject matter actually confirms the Reformed view of salvation (against the Roman Catholic and Arminian views), in The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation. I can't find a version online, however.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
There is apparently some sort of exemption however from the imputation of this sin if 1.their parents are believers 2. they receive Baptism 3. they are elect.

Sin is imputed to all without exception, as long as you are a descendant of Adam. There is no exemption from those of believing parents much like the Jews were not exempt due to their natural descent from Abraham. Nor is baptism effectual in the remission of sins. Only the blood of Christ accomplishes this.

The assumption is that the infant born to one or two believing parents will be brought up in the instruction of the Lord and be in the visible church from the womb. They are, then, "Christians." And why not give the sign to Christians? Your concept of repenting and confessing does not apply to those who are instructed from birth to believe upon the Lord Jesus. What would they repent from? Who would they confess other than the anointed one they've been taught?

It would be akin to me accepting the act of Confession as a Sacrament based on the connection between I John 1:9, James 5:16 and Levitical laws. Confession was certainly supported by the Councils and refined through the ages and is still to this day viewed as one of the 7 sacraments Christ gave to the Church (according to Roman Catholicism).

There are two sacraments in the new testament: baptism and the Lord's supper.
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Steve,

Thank you for the information and the kind way in which you present it. You have the gift of edification. I will read and research each source diligently and prayerfully in my quest for truth.

Thank you for correcting my mistake regarding the 3rd day vs. the 8th day. When I was writing my thoughts were on Cyprian. Cyprian in his letter to Fidus regarding infant baptism, seems to discount the concept of Baptism as a covenant sign of circumcision as non-essential in the following manner:

"For in respect of the observance of the eighth day in the Jewish circumcision of the flesh, a sacrament was given beforehand in shadow and in usage; but when Christ came, it was fulfilled in truth. For because the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, was to be that on which the Lord should rise again, and should quicken us, and give us circumcision of the spirit, the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord's day, went before in the figure; which figure ceased when by and by the truth came, and spiritual circumcision was given to us.

5. For which reason we think that no one is to be hindered from obtaining grace by that law which was already ordained, and that spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision, but that absolutely every man is to be admitted to the grace of Christ, since Peter also in the Acts of the Apostles speaks, and says, "The Lord has said to me that I should call no man common or unclean." Acts 10:28 But if anything could hinder men from obtaining grace, their more heinous sins might rather hinder those who are mature and grown up and older. But again, if even to the greatest sinners, and to those who had sinned much against God, when they subsequently believed, remission of sins is granted— and nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace— how much rather ought we to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins— that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another.

6. And therefore, dearest brother, this was our opinion in council, that by us no one ought to he hindered from baptism and from the grace of God, who is merciful and kind and loving to all. Which, since it is to he observed and maintained in respect of all, we think is to be even more observed in respect of infants and newly-born persons, who on this very account deserve more from our help and from the divine mercy, that immediately, on the very beginning of their birth, lamenting and weeping, they do nothing else but entreat. We bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.


As previously mentioned I give little doctrinal credence to Cyprian but it seems he does not give any precedent credit to the circumcision argument presented by Fidus. Both however seem to espouse some salvific quality or grace, to the physical acts of the baptism of infants disagreeing only as to the timing and the symbolic values.

I recognize the early Church of Acts and as you mention the remnant and in my opinion John and those whom he baptized, however, to this point, canonical reference to baptism seems to always follow a sequence, 1. Hearing of the Word 2. Believing 3. Baptism 4. Telling others.

You well point out that this chain of events may be cut short as was the case with the thief on the cross however it does not change order.

I am trying to keep an open mind (as much as possible having been marinated in 30 years of baptist doctrine) on this issue and seek truth. I want to know why I believe what I believe doctrinally and have it based on scriptural truth. I am loath to adopt as doctrine something which is based on scriptural suppositions such as demographics of a crowd, interpretations of parables, or prophetic parallels. They are rife with mans agendas.

I have come to the conclusion there is no better evidence of man's depravity than Church history. It reflects how man has used religion and twisted and altered truth to fit his agenda of pride, power, political gain and selfishness. From this false doctrine arises.

Those who embrace Roman Catholicism and the Jewish faith would say without a doubt that their beliefs are scriptural as well bet yet we believe they err. And so it is from this viewpoint that I proceed, re-inventing the wheel as some might say and testing everything. As such, I hope my stubbornness can be understood and endured.
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
sevenzedek,

Romans 5:12 is an interesting verse to bring out but I'm not convinced that it means only those who commit actual sins die. The whole context of Romans 5 is that it's because of Adam's 1 sin that all men are condemned already and therefore die because of that condemnation (v. 15-19). All have indeed sinned in Adam and can therefore be justly condemned at any point in their lives. The Council of Orange condemned Pelagius for denying original sin and they refer to Romans 5:12 as referring to original sin (Canon 2).

I also think it's important not to get hyper-spiritual in this discussion. Many of the things you listed are referring to self-preservation which is lawful. If an infant did not cry out to let its parents know when it needs fed or a diaper changed or is in pain, etc. then maybe you could make the case that they were violating the 6th commandment by omission (since the 6th commandment requires self-preservation) but even that would be a stretch. Also, asking the question "Do they know to ascribe glory to God for the comforts they enjoy? (unthankful)" is begging the question. What does it mean to glorify God? It means to do whatever you are doing without committing a sin or having a sinful motive. We can't say that you did not give glory to God therefore you are sinning. It's not that we have to explicitly acknowledge that every tiny, minute act we do is to God's glory (ie. God I give you glory while brushing my teeth, God I give you glory while taking this shower, etc.). So you would have to first assume they are sinning to assume they are not glorifying God while acting in self-preservation.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Of course, any person's mark with (or lack of) the covenant sign, under any administration--OT or NT--doesn't impinge on the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit to regenerate.



On the pretty-far-removed subject of David's and Bathsheba's first son, the exact age of the child is indeterminate. Indeed, I think it unlikely that the child was born ill, or that the judgment of God fell immediately on the day of his birth. It would be a much more undeniable/unquestioned judgment that befell David if the child gave evidence of strength for a week or more. He is born in 2Sam.11:27, and presumably he was circumcised the eighth day in accordance with the Law of Moses, unless (and here it is speculative) Nathan's confrontation (ch.12:1ff) took place on the child's birthday--David would then have received both messages (birth and rebuke) the same day. It is not impossible, but neither is it necessary to the narrative flow. The child's illness lasted seven days whereupon he died; the sickness could have begun on the day David was confronted; but again, it may have begun on the following day or days. The text is simply not concerned to convey that detail. We may infer that it happened soon enough to confirm the connection between the threat and the execution.

Rev. Buchanan

Of course I agree with your first point, and in fact that was the larger point I was attempting to make. I would, however, disagree with your assessment that the child did not die on the seventh day of its life. I believe that the infant was struck from the moment it was born and died on the seventh day, one day before he would have been circumcised, as a judgment from God. Matthew Henry would concur, "The death of the child: It died on the seventh day (v.18), when it was seven days old, and therefore not circumcised, which David might perhaps interpret as a further token of God's displeasure, that it died before it was brought under the seal of the covenant; yet he does not therefore doubt of its being happy for the benefits of the covenant do not depend upon its seals."
 

KaphLamedh

Puritan Board Freshman
It is interesting to note that David's son with Bathsheba died on the seventh day, one day short of his circumcision, and yet David declares that he "shall go to him" implying that he will see him again in heaven. Regardless of one's view on baptism, I think it is clear that it has no effect on whether a child or anyone else will go to heaven. I am quite certain that hell is filled with people who at one time or another and by one method or another, were baptized.

good point
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Bill,
Thank you for that. I don't often find myself in disagreement with MH; I think he's pretty sound. And I can't fault him (or you) for the conclusion--it is textually based.

I simply think there's a better reason for noting that the child died on the seventh day, v18. I think it has to do with the fact that David's instant behavior was to attend worship, v20. In my opinion, the child died on the Sabbath; but rather than excusing himself from worship by the need to mourn, David leads the people in worship as befitted his mediatorial office.

Also, in my opinion, the 9th Psalm (v1, "To the chief musician, upon the death of the son, a Psalm of David...") is occasioned by the incident. And for any who reject such an interpretation on this account: that the Psalm isn't a lament, but rather more of a praise; may I gently suggest that you attempt to read it as coming from a man who is determined to give God glory, and to serve the saints, despite his personal grief, and the knowledge that his sin brought about this Justice. After all, I don't think the title (which I take literally) fits any better circumstance in David's life than the loss of his unnamed son. I think it aligns in this way with other pious attitudes in Scripture, such as Job's: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."

Blessings,
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Bill,
Thank you for that. I don't often find myself in disagreement with MH; I think he's pretty sound. And I can't fault him (or you) for the conclusion--it is textually based.

I simply think there's a better reason for noting that the child died on the seventh day, v18. I think it has to do with the fact that David's instant behavior was to attend worship, v20. In my opinion, the child died on the Sabbath; but rather than excusing himself from worship by the need to mourn, David leads the people in worship as befitted his mediatorial office.

Also, in my opinion, the 9th Psalm (v1, "To the chief musician, upon the death of the son, a Psalm of David...") is occasioned by the incident. And for any who reject such an interpretation on this account: that the Psalm isn't a lament, but rather more of a praise; may I gently suggest that you attempt to read it as coming from a man who is determined to give God glory, and to serve the saints, despite his personal grief, and the knowledge that his sin brought about this Justice. After all, I don't think the title (which I take literally) fits any better circumstance in David's life than the loss of his unnamed son. I think it aligns in this way with other pious attitudes in Scripture, such as Job's: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."

Blessings,

Well certainly Matthew Henry is not infallible, and both of us could be wrong. I guess there is just a certain poetry to the idea that God would take his son just before he would have been admitted into the covenant community, as if God was saying that the illegitimacy of this child goes even beyond his conception, and yet even in this harsh judgment of God, David still remains confident that the judgments of the Lord are altogether just and that the Lord will not hold his offense against the child. Thank you for pointing out Psalm 9, that certainly does add light to this passage.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
…Many of the things you listed are referring to self-preservation which is lawful. If an infant did not cry out to let its parents know when it needs fed or a diaper changed or is in pain, etc. then maybe you could make the case that they were violating the 6th commandment by omission (since the 6th commandment requires self-preservation) but even that would be a stretch…

Good point.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
Is it possible to have a sin nature and not act out that sin nature apart from being regenerated?

Can an infant have a sin nature and behave perfectly at the same time? If so, then it must be possible for you and I to do the same.

Can an evil root produce good fruit? If so, then Christian virtue is possible apart from regeneration.

Can evil produce good? If so, then evil must not be evil.
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it possible to have a sin nature and not act out that sin nature apart from being regenerated?

Can an infant have a sin nature and behave perfectly at the same time? If so, then it must be possible for you and I to do the same.

Can an evil root produce good fruit? If so, then Christian virtue is possible apart from regeneration.

Can evil produce good? If so, then evil must not be evil.

I agree with your implied answers here and would certainly answer no to the first question. However, I think there is another aspect that needs to be considered. Infants are obviously in a state where they cannot discern good from evil. They have no use of their rational but are driven by instinct. I think this is comparable to animals. Animals have no rational and therefore are not capable of sinning. While each individual infant may develop use of their rational at a unique time, still there is a stage where they act solely on instinct.

This is not to say that infants have absolutely no apriori knowledge. They aren't born with a blank slate because then they wouldn't have the ability to learn. The question really is could an infant sin in its thoughts? Sin can be threefold (word, thought, deed). Certainly they can't sin in word and deed. I just wonder, without the use of rational, how could they sin in thought?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
However, I think there is another aspect that needs to be considered. Infants are obviously in a state where they cannot discern good from evil. They have no use of their rational but are driven by instinct. I think this is comparable to animals. Animals have no rational and therefore are not capable of sinning. While each individual infant may develop use of their rational at a unique time, still there is a stage where they act solely on instinct.

How do we know they cannot discern right from wrong?
How is it that a parent sees his child is retracting wrong behavior after being confronted with it (throwing their rattle)?

I don't think you mean to say that babies have a nature in any way like that of animals. Unregenerate perhaps, but what biblical basis is there for saying babies are driven for instinct, like animals? (this is purely human imagination contrary to the Word).
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
The law of God is written upon their hearts. What arrogance to compare the beggarly understanding of the most cerebrally astute adult human with that of an infant and ascribe any more superiority to it than the difference between a gnat and a flea. Look at a grain of salt - 60 million molecules all held together by the inscrutable wisdom and power of God - then consider the whole universe that surrounds us, and try to make hay out of the minuscule differences between a zygote and a hoary-headed elder. Man, we sure try our best to differentiate our feeble selves in one way or another! But our omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God is sovereign over even the zygote, and those that are His - are His!
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
This is certainly a very interesting discussion. When it comes to the issue of instinct I would have to disagree with the argument that the instinct of a child is comparable to that of an animal. I do not think there is a particular point in time in a child's life where it all of a sudden becomes 'aware' of right and wrong, or is able to think (no longer act from instinct). Humans are both emotional and rational creatures, and I do not see any evidence to suggest that children do not think or use their minds.

I think it is fairly clear that children are born with a sinful nature. I mean, if this was not the case, then as a parent I would not to have mold, guide, or discipline my child. Yet the fact remains that if I do nothing as a parent, the child will grow up selfish and self-centered. Parents must teach and instill moral values into their children. You do not have to teach children to be selfish or self-centered.

As far as the manifestation of sin (what many consider to be actual sinning), I can say from experience that my daughter was around 1 year old when she first hit my wife and I in anger and in frustration. Of course, we put a stop to that through discipline, but that is just one example where a child does act in a sinful manner, which is a result of its sinful nature. It is true that newborn babes lack the motor skills to do much of anything (physically), but just because a sinful action cannot be explicitly seen does not mean that the newborn has not already sinned in its heart (and the Lord judges the heart).
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
…This is not to say that infants have absolutely no apriori knowledge. They aren't born with a blank slate because then they wouldn't have the ability to learn. The question really is could an infant sin in its thoughts? Sin can be threefold (word, thought, deed). Certainly they can't sin in word and deed. I just wonder, without the use of rational, how could they sin in thought?

Then it must be possible to have a sin nature and not act according to it. The Armenians must be onto something.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
…This is not to say that infants have absolutely no apriori knowledge. They aren't born with a blank slate because then they wouldn't have the ability to learn. The question really is could an infant sin in its thoughts? Sin can be threefold (word, thought, deed). Certainly they can't sin in word and deed. I just wonder, without the use of rational, how could they sin in thought?

Then it must be possible to have a sin nature and not act according to it. The Armenians must be onto something.

I'm sorry. What I said sounds confrontational and belittling. What I should have said is simply that what you say seems to open the door wide for the Armenian of prevenient grace.
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it possible to have a sin nature and not act out that sin nature apart from being regenerated?

Can an infant have a sin nature and behave perfectly at the same time? If so, then it must be possible for you and I to do the same.

Can an evil root produce good fruit? If so, then Christian virtue is possible apart from regeneration.

Can evil produce good? If so, then evil must not be evil.


I have been doing some (alot) of reading the past couple days on this topic. I believe the truth is hidden by the influence of Greek philosophy upon the Western culture which we now live in. Greek philosophy defines the essence of man as the ability to reason. They felt this is what set man apart from other living beings. Since infants and the mentally incapacitated are incapable of reason, it is difficult for us to understand the concept of sin which according to Greek thought, requires the ability to reason. However, if we for a moment can shed the veil of Greek philosophy and look at it from a viewpoint of Hebrew thought we can gain great insight as to the issue of sin. I am not a Hebrew scholar so I have to rely on sources here but it seems to be universally accepted that Genesis 6:5 uses the words yetzer ha’ra (evil inclination, not demonic in nature or sinful but rather a drive for self preservation, security, personal gain) and yetzer ha’tov (good inclination, desire to please God, altruistic endeavors towards others, selflessness ). In Hebrew thought, Man was created with two distinct inclinations. It is his inclinations that drive him. They both can be channeled for good and moral cause if kept in check and balance. For instance man may use his drive for security, to provide for his family, this is a balanced endeavor using both inclinations and is proper. It is when he allows his passions to become imbalanced and his Yetzer ha'ra over powers his Yetzer ha'tov that he falls prey to immorality. Immorality or sin is the failure to obey the law. Adam did this in the garden The result of this was separation from God and physical death. Sin avoidance does not require reason, it requires self control. The reasoning man will rationalize sin and fall into it, but the self controlled man will avoid sin by doing good. This is the premise of Hebrew living, if we are doing good, following our good inclination, we cannot also be doing evil and following our evil inclination.

The early Jewish church understood this concept well, but the Greeks had trouble with this concept. Paul specifically speaks of this in Romans 7. He attempts to explain how there is a constant battle or struggle within man between evil and good. This can end up very hard to follow if one does not understand the Hebrew concept of two inclinations coexisting within man. He further explains that Adam's sin brought sin into the world, tilting the playing field if you would, and effecting all his descendants. This did not change the way they were created in the image of God) but it did effect the physical and social environment that they would live in.

Pertaining to children it was believed that they were born innocent but had only the yetzer ha'ra at birth. This is what David speaks of in the Psalms. He had an evil inclination (inclination towards selfishness and self preservation) even from the time of conception and was born into a sinful world from his earliest moments. This can be seen in a fetus and is commonly referred to as instinct. At this point it is not sinful, as the child has no awareness of the law or a sense of morality. It is merely self preservation. It was believed in Jewish tradition that the yetzer ha'tov did not develop until age 13. This is when a child could understand the law and had a sense of morality, the ability to determine right from wrong, balance his two internal drives and make a choice in whether to serve God or to serve his own selfish desires (fleshly lusts).

If one looks hard he can see through this where the concept of a sinful nature (later evolving into Original Sin and then Total Depravity) and the concept of an age of accountability both draw their origins.

In order to accept this explanation of a child's innocence, it requires some modification of Reformed Calvinistic thought though not a complete abandonment, namely that sin is not genetic or inherited, rather babies are born innocent of breaking the law but with an evil inclination towards self preservation which if left unchecked after they have developed a sense of morality or conscience, damns them eternally. The only salvation is repentance and faith in sacrifice. The new covenant sacrifice being Christ's death on the cross.

By this line of thought, it is theoretically "possible to have a sin nature and not act out that sin apart from being regenerated" although it is very unlikely. This goes a little deeper into understanding the true nature of Christ as the God man. How he could be "tempted even as we are" without sinning.

An infant can have a "sin nature" and behave "perfectly" as we would expect an infant to behave. Would you not cry out if someone poked you? Failure to do so would make you imperfect. As adults however we have a moral conscience.

Evil cannot produce good if it is demonic in nature, however, evil can be used to drive man's passion for good. (This is why we go to war to defend the defenseless, why we would sacrifice our lives to protect our families and our country from evil etc.) Without the presence of evil there would be no distinction of good.

I am in no way espousing humanism here or the concept that man is basically good or can obtain salvation or anything else on his own apart from God. It is by the grace of god that we even are kept breathing. There is a great distinction to be made. I know many will disagree with this but as best as I can tell it is scriptural and is contextual although not necessarily in line with any Reformed confession, nor the confession of any other established faith to my knowledge. I am still reading more about it and may reverse course should new light be shed.
 
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