Do some Southern Baptist Calvinists believe those who die in infancy go to hell?

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Well, I'm not a Southern Baptist, but I would certainly fit the category of those who remain uncertain about this topic. I don't think the scriptures are clear on this - in either direction. When I have to answer this question, I simply resort to the sovereignty and goodness of God. God will always do what is right, and, someday when I am in heaven, I will be in full agreement with whatever He decided to do.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Well, I'm not a Southern Baptist, but I would certainly fit the category of those who remain uncertain about this topic. I don't think the scriptures are clear on this - in either direction. When I have to answer this question, I simply resort to the sovereignty and goodness of God. God will always do what is right, and, someday when I am in heaven, I will be in full agreement with whatever He decided to do.

So ... "When did you quit beating your wife?"

The old "loaded question" .. you do not affirm that children who die in infancy go to heaven so you must believe they go to hell.

I'm with you Chip ... the Scriptures are largely silent on this question - except "Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23)

Pastor Doug H's picture

My wife and I lost our first child (God has since blessed us with 4 children)...we have come to the settled position that the matter is in God's hands.  We do believe that man is born with a sin nature, and though 2 Samuel 12:23 can bring some comfort the NT seems to be silent, as such we have never been comfortable placing our faith in the baptist doctrine of "age of accountability". 

 

As one wise pastor told me: "God's grace is sufficient". 

JohnBrian's picture

a Calvinist (SBC or not) who affirms that babies who die in infancy go to hell (I am both and I don't).

Some Calvinists (SBC or not) affirm that ALL babies who die in infancy go to heaven. 

Others (Chip, Jim, Pastor Doug, me, and many more) affirm that the Bible is not altogether clear on the issue.

I would expect that most of us would HOPE that babies who die in infancy go to heaven, BUT we are not interested in insisting that God is required to bring babies who die in infancy to heaven.

For some (such as this guy, who spends much of his time and energy beating SBC Calvinists about the head) our affirmation that the Bible is not clear on the issue is not an acceptable answer.

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

has always been that sin is 'not imputed where there is no law'. But that's as far as I can go with it, and I'm leaving the rest up to the Lord. 

Stuff about Jesus having a rocking chair to hold miscarried babies make me very uncomfortable. I know that this trope is brought out to bring comfort to parents who've lost a child, but I think Scripture should be enough for us- it is what God chose to provide us, and it should be sufficient. 

SBashoor's picture

One Calvinistic theological angle I've encountered argues that Christ's substitutionary work has the universal benefit of removing Adamic guilt from all persons (2 Cor 5:19). While all are still born with a sin nature, they are not born guilty, judicially speaking. Whenever persons become accountable for their sins, they are in need of being reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20-21).   Granted, this passage doesn't address our topic specifically, but I find it to have theological potential. Of course, it raises problems and questions, too.

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

josh p's picture

I believe the Bible does not say one way or the other. I have found that those who hold to Seminal headship also tend to affirm infant salvation which seems strange. It would seem that seminal over against federal headship would place the guilt of the infant to even a greater ( or maybe I should say more direct) degree.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jim wrote:

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Well, I'm not a Southern Baptist, but I would certainly fit the category of those who remain uncertain about this topic. I don't think the scriptures are clear on this - in either direction. When I have to answer this question, I simply resort to the sovereignty and goodness of God. God will always do what is right, and, someday when I am in heaven, I will be in full agreement with whatever He decided to do.

So ... "When did you quit beating your wife?"

The old "loaded question" .. you do not affirm that children who die in infancy go to heaven so you must believe they go to hell.

I'm with you Chip ... the Scriptures are largely silent on this question - except "Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23)

You're right Jim. I should have added that I lean toward infants going to heaven, in part because of the verse you cite.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Charlie's picture

More popular among Presbyterians, but found also in Wayne Grudem, is the position that the children of Christians are secured by the covenant, whereas the fate of the children of non-Christians is just unknown. Admittedly this is based on a cumulative case rather than a particular clear passage. Many 19th century Calvinists, such as Charles Hodge, rejected the covenantal idea and believed in universal infant salvation.

I would like to lean toward universal infant salvation, but the issue of abortion also weighs on my mind. Universal infant salvation could become almost a perverse incentive toward abortion. I mean, if you were a young mother in a difficult situation and had the choice of sending your baby 100% for sure straight to heaven or having it grow up in a very difficult life in adoption or foster care ....

I have come to have a bit more respect for the Limbo compromise. Not that I think it's actually correct, but it was the result of thinking through some difficult situations, and it was always held as an opinion, not a doctrine.

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Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

JohnBrian's picture

Charlie wrote:
I would like to lean toward universal infant salvation, but the issue of abortion also weighs on my mind. Universal infant salvation could become almost a perverse incentive toward abortion.

It was the abortion issue that served as the challenge for me to examine the scripture a little closer concerning the issue!

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Lee's picture

We can dance around this all we want, but it is, ultimately, a simple life or death question when it all boils down.  Is an infant or pre-born spiritually dead at conception (as Adam became immediately upon eating the fruit), or are they "alive...once" until "sin revive[s]" and then they've "died"?  If the answer is yes to being spiritually dead, then these kidlings are in hell; if no, then not. 

Scripture makes it very clear that there is only one method for the justification necessary for spiritual life--faith (Rom. 3)--because there is only one God. If these children are justified it is through faith.

 

Lee

DavidO's picture

The words of the 2nd London Baptist Confession (see below) spurred some thoughts when I was thinking through this some months ago.

Monergists affirm the total inability of man in a spiritual sense, which, in my/their opinion, is a greater obstacle than any cognitive disability (which of course, is at the root of the eternal destiny concern faced by parents who lose children in infancy).  That spiritual inability is, according to monergists, no great barrier for the elect in whom regeneration gives rise to faith. 

The interesting notion suggested by LBCII is that cognitive inability as well may be supernaturally overcome for "elect infants" who might hear the gospel perhaps as early as they have ears in the womb.  And actually, my articulation of it in the previous sentence is a bit more conservative than the passage in the confession which seems to suggest that some may be regenerated without the word.

Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

 

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

David,

I think this reference would apply to mentally disabled people "who are outwardly incapable of being called by the ministry of the Word" as well as infants, which should properly be part of the discussion.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

DavidO's picture

Yes, that was my inference on reading it; however, Houghton's introduction in A Faith to Confess states:

(4) In the interests of clarity the word 'elect' has been inserted at the opening of paragraph 3 in Chapter 10.

This is based on three considerations:
(a) Throughout the Confession it is axiomatic that none but 'elect' persons are saved or can be saved.
(b) Except for the word 'elect', paragraph 3 Chapter 10 is taken from the Westminster Confession of 1648, and obviously the addition of the word 'elect' makes no change whatsoever to the meaning of the paragraph.
(c) The use of the expression 'all elect persons' later in the paragraph simply carries further the meaning of the expression 'elect infants'.

(bolding mine)

Which doesn't seem to me to bear up to a plain reading.

Also, (4) seems to indicate that earlier versions of the confession state simply "Infants dying in infancy".

Dave Gilbert's picture

Is there anyone saved today who didn't need to " believe on Christ and be baptized for the remission of sins"? As Roman's 10 clearly outlines, "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." I satisfied my own curiosity about this subject some time ago by reading Romans 1-3...I admit to being terrified when I put the pieces together. While it's true that Scripture doesn't directly answer this question, many people like to use the passage in 2 Samuel to show that babies who die in infancy before being able to believe on Christ somehow go to Heaven. I'm not privy to what insight David had into this situation, or if it even applied outside his own immediate loss.

 

I'll put it this way: We believe in God who is holy and just; With that in mind, and a host of Scriptures describing man's "default" condition, I think the question can be answered...and nobody will like the answer.

 

However, in the interests of not "going beyond what is written", since the Bible does not definitively answer the question straight forwardly, then I will leave the ultimate judgment to the Lord...and fear Him greatly.

 

Dave.