WCF X.III and Salvation of those who have not heard.

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Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
WCF X.III - Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

So, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a Reformed minister. He was saying that they above passage meant that those who are in a place where they have never heard of the Gospel can be saved according to the WCF? He used the example of the Pygmy in the cave that I am sure that you all know so well. I am not sure if that is proper understanding of the passage.

After some more conversation, he said that the Confession more than likely was referring to infants or the mentally handicapped Pygmies in caves.
His argument was this: "If in Revelation it says that God is going to save some form every tribe, tongue and nation, then this is how He will do it...He will save infants and mentally challenged people in areas where the Gospel has not been preached."
Is that a proper understanding of what the Westminster Divines were espousing?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
WCF X.III - Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

So, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a Reformed minister. He was saying that they above passage meant that those who are in a place where they have never heard of the Gospel can be saved according to the WCF? He used the example of the Pygmy in the cave that I am sure that you all know so well. I am not sure if that is proper understanding of the passage.

After some more conversation, he said that the Confession more than likely was referring to infants or the mentally handicapped Pygmies in caves.
His argument was this: "If in Revelation it says that God is going to save some form every tribe, tongue and nation, then this is how He will do it...He will save infants and mentally challenged people in areas where the Gospel has not been preached."
Is that a proper understanding of what the Westminster Divines were espousing?

The 'mentally challenged' is a fair reading, but the 'pygmys in caves' is a real stretch. I think I'd have had a bit of trouble not laughing.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
A question of mine about this (I hope it is clarifying to the thread and not a rabbit trail) is whether we are perhaps to understand 'incapacity' not with regard to the absence of the ministry of the Word but with regard to the person themselves?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Grillsy
the Pygmy in the cave

If he's a Pygmy in a cave, is he less likely to hear the Gospel than a Zulu on the Veldt?
Or a keelie on the mean streets of Glasgow? Well, in the latter case, he would have heard of Jesus Christ, though how much is a moot point.

The Westminster Divines were talking about babies and the mentally challenged who are elect. Missionaries don't find tribes already worshipping Christ when they arrive there.

But see this book. Sometimes the tribes can be prepared by special revelation handed down from the time of Noah. I don't agree with all of Richardson's assumptions/conclusions e.g. that Melchisedek necessarily received special revelation from God; Melchisedek could have received teaching passed down from the time of Noah.

Eternity in Their Hearts: Amazon.co.uk: Don Richardson: Books

This book is also interesting, if a little head-scratching, on special revelation from Noah being passed on to the Chinese.

The Discovery of Genesis: Amazon.co.uk: C. H. Kang, Ethel Nelson: Books

We also know of the usually somewhat garbled tales of the Flood that are found in ethnic groups around the world.

This would raise the question of how much knowledge of the Gospel is ordinarily necessary for salvation ? - maybe a topic for another thread.
 

MMasztal

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think your pastor in in error. The WCF states "Elect infants", not infants in general.

All humans, saved or not, are born with a sinful nature and still sin on a daily basis, thus are subject to God's condemnation.

The "every tribe.." comment merely points out that salvation is now not restricted to Israel. This point is discussed several times in the Epistles.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
I think your pastor in in error. The WCF states "Elect infants", not infants in general.

All humans, saved or not, are born with a sinful nature and still sin on a daily basis, thus are subject to God's condemnation.

The "every tribe.." comment merely points out that salvation is now not restricted to Israel. This point is discussed several times in the Epistles.

I will will add that is not my pastor that I am talking about. I wouldn't want anyone to get confused especially considering that my church name is in the signature.

After discussing this issue more this friend (who is a Reformed pastor) was saying that he what meant specifically, I tried bringing the point out some in the OP, was that since there will be some saved from every tribe, tongue and nation...then some infants and mentally challenged individuals will be saved from countries that have never had the Gospel brought to them. I am still not sure if I think that this is what the Confession is saying.
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
A question of mine about this (I hope it is clarifying to the thread and not a rabbit trail) is whether we are perhaps to understand 'incapacity' not with regard to the absence of the ministry of the Word but with regard to the person themselves?

That's sort of what I was thinking. There is a difference between an infant who may be elect but never attained to an age where they could verbalise a profession of faith, and an adult pygmy who never heard of God and has therefore been worshipping false gods all his life.
 
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