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?
..and yet Jesus taught the opposite of that.
So—if David had the choice, don’t our hypothetical parents who murder their children also have that choice?
Nope, He didn't. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." (John 6:65)
Yup. Titus also says that grace which brings salvation has appeared to all men.
The Father has enabled all men to come to Him. It's now our free will to make that choice. It's His omniscience that knows what that choice will be.
Psalm 58 simply afforms that all men are conceived in a state of wickedness. It does not say that all men remain there. Some are Saved.
This "Some" may include all those whom God permits to die in infancy -- at least, the greatest Calvinist theologians have preached that God has Elected to Save all those whom He has permitted to die in infancy, whereas the greatest Arminian/Free-Will theologians have preached that God has ordained to Damn To Hell ALL Infants who die unbaptized.
I meant to respond to this one also. Sorry.
Yes, He did. "This is my son, who was dead, and is now alive. And the son made his own decision to go to the Father. The Father didn't send anyone after him.
I was going to say the same thing. Predestination is subject to infinite regression.
"Appearance" does not equal Regeneration. Titus merely declares that Grace has appeared to all men, not that it has been quickened into all men. In fact, the New Testament specifically states that God does not quicken or regenerate all men, but only His Elect whom He has Chosen based upon no will of their own. The Reprobate have seen the coming of Christ and His grace, its appearance; but, being yet Unregenerate, they always freely choose to Reject Christ, just as the Scriptures declare.
Since "Appearance" in no way equals or even implies Regeneration, you therefore have no case whatsoever. Game, Set, Match, and thanks for playing.
Ahh, OK. I thought we were actually have a theological discussion, and not a game of "gotcha."
OK. I don't play games.
Psalm 58 says no such thing.
You may try to reach that conclusion from other scripture but 58 says “the wicked”.
If all were wicked, then what would be the point of specifying “the wicked”?
Just 'cause you assume the inward ministrations of the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with the son's return to his father, does not men that He didn't.
Sorry, you can't just assume away the Holy Spirit to assume your own conclusion. Yet again, you're claiming that Fallen Men will freely choose to perform God-Pleasing choices while still yet Unregenerate, and of course Romans 8:7-8 clearly defines such Humanistic-Free-Will teaching as Satanic.
And, of course: we see the inherent Satanism of Free-Will Arminianism in such execrable Blasphemies as the Free-Will Doctrine of Universal Infant Damnation for infants who die unbaptized. Just one more Satanic belief in a whole Satanic belief-system.
We all start life in a state of wickedness.
Those to whom God unilaterally and monergistically applies Christ's atonement, do not remain wicked in His sight.
Sure, and murdering their child would be Sin.
They can't do it without God Willing to permit it to happen (he could have them struck by lightning instead, if He so Willed), but it's still Sin if they do.
This is really basic, grade-school-level theology. It's disappointing to think that the Satanic doctrines of Arminianism have so infected Protestantism, as to have so eroded the level of even basic theological understanding in the Protestant Church.
Yes, I agree. I don't know if we agree 100%, but in regard to God operating gracefully upon the souls of infant children still yet unborn, I think that all your examples are well-chosen.
We agree only if we can say both original propositions are wrong.
Mmm. Well, I disagree with that; I continue to hold with John Calvin's exposition of Scripture on the matter.
But, like I said -- on the particular matter of God operating gracefully upon the souls of infant children still yet unborn, I do think that your examples are well-chosen. So I'll just agree with you on that much.