Skip to comments.The Arminian/Wesleyan Dogma of Infant Damnation vs. the Calvinist Doctrine of Infant Salvation
Posted on 09/15/2010 11:28:22 AM PDT by Christian_Capitalist
Having noticed one objection to the doctrine of predestination, we proceed to a second, viz. "It leads to the idea of infant damnation;" "brings with it the repulsive and shocking opinion of the eternal punishment of infants;" "causes not only children not a span long, but the parents also, to pass through the fires of hell."
The above are samples of the manner in which this charge is reiterated by every controversial Arminian author that has come under our notice. The reader will be surprised to learn that the "shocking and re-pulsive doctrine" here objected to, is taught by Arminians, but not by Calvinists, and in the Methodist, but not in the Presbyterian Church.
In "the Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church," the prayer before administering the ordinance of infant baptism, closes as follows, viz. "Regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of thy congregation; sanctify this water for this holy sacrament, and grant that this child now to be baptized may receive the fulness of thy grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
" May ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children." We have already seen, that according to Arminians, converted persons, and they only, are "chosen to salvation." And that they are not "chosen" till after their conversion. The prayer then "that the child to be baptized may receive the fulness of grace and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children," supposes that by baptism it is brought into that number, or in other words, is regenerated. That this is its meaning, appears from the fact that such was the sentiment of Mr. Wesley, who composed the prayer.
In his sermon on "The Marks of the New Birth," addressing his hearers, he asks, "Who denies that ye were then (in baptism,) made children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven."
In his sermon on "The New Birth," he says, "It is certain our Church supposes that all who are baptized in their infancy, are at the same time born again."
In his "Treatise on Baptism," (which is now one of the "Doctrinal Tracts" of the Methodist Episcopal Church,) speaking of "the benefits we receive by baptism," he says, "The first of these is the washing away the guilt of original sin, by the application of the merits of Christ's death," &c. 2. " By baptism we enter into covenant with God," &c. 3. " By baptism we are admitted into the Church, and consequently made members of Christ, its head," &c. 4. "By baptism, we who were ' by nature children of wrath,' are made the children of God. And this regeneration, which our Church, in so many places ascribes to baptism, is more than barely being admitted into the Church, though commonly connected therewith; being grafted into the body of Christ's Church, we are made the children of God by adoption and grace. This is grounded on the plain words of our Lord, 'Except a man be born again, of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' John iii. 5. By water then, as a means, the water of baptism, we are regenerated, or born again; whence it is called also by the apostle, 'the washing of regeneration.' Our Church, therefore, ascribes no greater virtue to baptism than Christ himself has done; nor does she ascribe it to the outward washing, but to the inward grace, which added thereto makes it a sacrament. Herein a principle of grace is infused, which will not be wholly taken away, unless we quench the Holy Spirit of God by long continued wickedness."
Again, he says, " In the ordinary way, there is no other means of entering into the Church or into heaven" (than by baptism.) "In all ages, the outward baptism is a means of the inward; as outward circumcision was of the circumcision of the heart."
The meaning of the prayer quoted, is thus placed beyond a doubt; and the doctrine of the Methodist Episcopal Church on this subject, according to their own standards, is, that those who are baptized in infancy are regenerated, elected to salvation, and dying in infancy are saved. Of course then, those who are not baptized, are not regenerated, or elected to salvation, and dying in infancy are lost; and so say the Doctrinal Tracts, page 251, " If infants are guilty of original sin, then they are proper subjects of baptism; seeing, in the ordinary way, they cannot be saved, unless this be washed away by baptism."
Although the concept of "the age of accountability" had its beginnings early in the history of the Christian church, the Scriptures do not use this terminology. Neither does the Bible contain substantial allusions to the eternal state of babies or young children who die before they are old enough to make a conscious decision for or against Christ.
People have always been concerned about the salvation of children who die before they are old enough to clearly understand the gospel. Unfortunately, the conclusion reached by many in the early church was that infants who die without the sacrament of baptism are destined for hell or limbo. This belief was based upon a mistaken view of baptism.
This view persisted into the Reformation. Catholics, Lutherans, and others continued to believe that infants who weren't baptized would be condemned to hell. This is a tragic distortion of biblical teaching. It is a credit to the clear thinking of John Calvin that he found such a doctrine reprehensible:
"I everywhere teach that no one can be justly condemned and perish except on account of actual sin; and to say that the countless mortals taken from life while yet infants are precipitated from their mothers' arms into eternal death is a blasphemy to be universally detested."(Institutes, Book 4, p.335).
Although infants are not capable of conscious sin in the same way as someone older ( Isaiah 7:15-16; Matthew 18:3-4 ), they have inherited natures that are contaminated by sin and in need of transformation and salvation ( Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3 ). Yet, because of their dependency, trust, and innocence, Jesus not only offers young children as models for the manner in which adult sinners need to be converted, He views them in a unique way:
"Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."( Matthew 18:14 ).
Further, the Scriptures clearly indicate that God does not punish children for the offenses of their fathers ( Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:20 ).
Therefore, we believe that those who die as infants or young children are given the gift of salvation. They aren't given this gift because they are without sin; they, too, have inherited Adam's curse. They are given salvation based solely on God's grace, through the sacrificial atonement of Christ on their behalf.
What happens to infants and children who die before they are old enough to respond to the gospel?
heh. I was trying to be a little more subtle in post #8.
Ooookay.... So, um...
The bottom line is that some infants are saved and some are not
What's your Scripture for this contention? Thanks.
I should say--I disagree with that statement.
How about infants and those too mentally incompetent to know right from wrong going to Purgatory when they die?
.... the nature of faith, in that case, would be much different from what is usually presented in these sorts of forums and, indeed, by St. Paul.
..and yet you characterize one as "righteous" and the other as "wicked."
What astounds me is the willingness of some to place their entire belief system and self identity on something John Calvin said.
Look at the Scriptures--not at Calvin. Call yourself a Christian--not a calvinist. If it's not in scripture, don't make such a big deal of it.
No, what's laughable is trying to shoe-horn the notion of Legal Accountability in the Courts, into the doctrine of Original Sin.
Sorry, but whether the Courts set the Age of Majority for Legal Purposes at 12, 16, 18, or 21 really has nothing to do with whether or not All Men have inherited Original Sin (we all have).
Im actually one of those free-willers, however I dont agree with the doctrine of Infant Damnation... for the reasons listed in my previous post.
Well, it's not surprising that you would reject this particular aspect of Wesley's free-will teachings. Free-Willer Theology certainly gets more repugnant to the Christian, the better one understands its inherently-Satanic nature.
Besides, if free-will does NOT exist then of what value is love?.... Put in simplest terms, the very act of [voluntary] worship which you yourself employ in giving thanks to God is an affirmation of free-will because it would be a useless & valueless act if you did not have [at least some manner of] control over it [by exercising] your own will.
Your referencing the Regenerate nature of the Christian, whose Free Will now enjoys the indwelling of the Holy Spirit rectifying his sinful desires.
Not so the Free Will of the Unregenerate.
See, Calvinists do not deny the existence of Free Will. Rather, Calvinists state that since the Fall, Unregenerate Men (which is all of us, prior to God's regeneration of our dead spirits) freely choose to Reject God, because that is what Unregenerate, Spiritually-dead Men want to do.
What would be heretical would be the suggestion that any Unregenerate Man would ever freely choose to Follow God while yet in their Spiritually-Dead condition; because the Bible clearly states that while a man is yet Spiritually-Dead his desires are Totally Depraved:
And so, while yet in his Spiritually-Dead state, the Unregenerate Man will always freely choose to Reject God. This is the express teaching of the Bible:
To suggest, therefore, that Men will freely choose to Follow God while yet in their Unregenerate State, is to preach the lie of Satan: that Fallen Men are not really Spiritually Dead, and will still sometimes freely choose to perform God-Pleasing actions. "Ye shall not surely die".
Thus, we as Calvinists understand that Men only freely choose to Follow God, after they have been Quickened unto Spiritual Life by the Efficacious Grace of God.
Calvinists do not deny Free Will.
Rather, we simply affirm that Fallen Man REALLY IS Spiritually Dead. And that while a Fallen Man remains Unregenerate, he will always freely choose to Reject God, because that is what he Naturally wants to do.
Thus, only those whom God chooses to Regenerate unto Spiritual Life, do thence freely choose to Follow Him.
One more point of pure logic: If all infants are saved, then the most sure guarantee of sending souls to heaven is to murder your children as soon as they are born, an absurdity. And how can the act of thus saving souls be counted a sin? If all infants are saved, when do they become “unsaved” and have to be saved again before they die? Another absurdity. So Calvin bites the dust.
The Arminian position is adequately dispatched by all those saved before Christ lived who heard directly from God.
The only folks who object to John Calvin's doctrine of Predestination, are those who object to the Bible's doctrine of Predestination. Because John Calvin simply taught the Bible's doctrine of Predestination.
Saying "Look at the Scriptures--not at Calvin. Call yourself a Christian--not a calvinist" is like saying, "Look at the Scriptures--not at Athanasius. Call yourself a Christian--not an Athanasian".
Um, sorry, but Athanasius DID correctly exposit the Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity. And so I am pleased to call myself an Athanasian, Trinitarian Christian.
And in like manner, John Calvin DID correctly exposit the Biblical Doctrine of Predestination. And so I am pleased to call myself an Calvinist, Predestinarian Christian
The absolute free-will folks have to ignore other verses.
Deal with it.
On the contrary. Assuming that God has, from before Creation, Elected unto Salvation all those whom He foreknows that He will permit to die in infancy -- then you haven't changed your murdered child's spiritual destination at all, one way or the other. You've just murdered your own child, bringing a grievous Sin upon your own soul. Didn't affect the kid's eternal destination at all -- God already decided that before YOU were ever born, let alone the kid.
But if God decided that that event should take place, there is no sin being committed. The parent just fulfilled God's will.
Well, so long as you agree that all Fallen Men, without God's prior and purely-monergistic Regeneration of their Dead and God-hating Spirits, will Absolutely, always and only, Freely Choose to REJECT God -- then you correctly understand the Bible's doctrine of Absolute Free Will.
Which is the same as the Calvinist Doctrine of Free Will, since John Calvin's doctrine of Predestination and Free Will was simply that of the Bible.
Ridiculous. If God wills to permit someone to Sin, that does not mean that person is not Sinning.
God willed to permit David to sin with Bathsheba. God could have arranged events so that David would have inadvertantly fallen down a flight of stairs and been laid up in bed that day, instead of spying around for pretty ladies. But instead, He willed to permit David to commit that Sin.
David was still Sinning.
No SANE person of any persuasion considers infant damnation even the remotest possibility.
Unfortunatly, neither the Arminians nor the Calvinists have cornered the market on sanity. Each side has its share of nitwits.
Sorry, but that is precisely the Biblical Doctrine of Free Will. Plenty of Scripture cited above. See #27.
Did David have a choice? Could he have NOT sinned at that time? Remember—he was a man after God’s own heart.
Right -- but in the case of the Free-Willers, it is their greatest and chiefest theologians who preach Infant Damnation; whereas amongst the Calvinists, it is our great theologians who preach against this execrable Free-Willer blasphemy.
Could he have NOT sinned at that time? Rememberhe was a man after Gods own heart.
He had the ability to Not Sin. He chose to Sin.
God foreknew that David would sin, so there was certainly 0% statistical chance that David would not (God cannot be wrong in His foreknowledge, of course); but David did have the choice.