First published at SI May 1, 2006.
Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
Come in today; come in to stay.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
Harry Clarke, Welsh song leader for Evangelist Billy Sunday, wrote these words in 1924. Who hasn’t heard these words sung at the end of an evangelistic challenge? I’m still amazed that many Christians still sing the lyrics after they already know the Lord.
The language of “asking Jesus into one’s heart” is part of a soul winner’s basic vocabulary, at least in my experience. It is firmly entrenched, it seems, especially in children’s ministries today. Consider this recommended prayer for children given by one church:
Dear God, Thank you for making a way for us to turn from the wrong things that we have done. I know I have done wrong things, but right now I want to look upon Jesus so that you will forgive me for the things I have done. Please let Jesus come into my heart, to live forever there. I want to live forever with God. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen
Now, to be fair, this prayer does deal with forgiveness of sin. It acknowledges the love of God. But what it fails to do is to lead a child to verbalize trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Isn’t that what the Gospel is all about?
Does God allow doctrinal problems in the church so that Christians will study God’s Word carefully and defend it more accurately against unbiblical ideas? Maybe so. There does seem to be some evidence of this in church history. But whether this is true or not, it does seem that several serious doctrinal deviations have arisen in our generation—one after another—even within what has been considered generally conservative Christianity. From the fifties on, evangelicals debated among themselves the doctrine of the inerrancy of the original writings of Scripture. In response to those evangelicals who were arguing that Scripture was not inerrant in the scientific and historical sections of Scripture, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy was formed in 1977. These biblical scholars planned a ten-year strategy of education, study, and publication. Over the course of ten years, they and others published several important and helpful books, along with the notable Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. The battle is not over, but much has been accomplished through careful biblical responses to those compromising the doctrine of Scripture.
Then around the turn of the century, a new approach to the doctrine of God was submitted by those known as Open Theists. Open Theists argue that God does not have detailed control of the universe and that He does not know for sure the future acts of free moral agents. In the words of Al Mohler writing in the end of the twentieth century: “My argument is that the integrity of evangelicalism as a theological movement, indeed the very coherence of evangelical theology is threatened by the rise of the various new ‘theisms’ of the evangelical revisionists.”1 The ideas of Open Theism have been answered by those in support of the classic doctrine of God,2 and the debate has seemingly quieted just in time for another major doctrinal deviation to be proposed.
Now we are hearing that the penal substitutionary view of the atonement should be replaced by some other theory. Seemingly the left side of the Emerging Church has been in the forefront of this grave development, though there is no unified agreement in what the correct theory is. In fact, some, in typically postmodern style, seem to be arguing that there really is no one model of the atonement that gets to the essence of Christ’s death on the cross. The value of the atonement might depend on each individual’s understanding.3
In this paper an attempt will be made to show what the Bible teaches about the destiny of those who die in infancy. In order to accomplish this purpose, the major views on this subject will be presented followed by an examination of the biblical material.
Infants who die in infancy unbaptized do not go to heaven: In Roman Catholic theology there is no official dogma on the destiny of dead unbaptized infants. Nevertheless, the weight of tradition teaches that they go to a place called limbo, which is neither heaven nor hell, a place of natural happiness but without full communion with God. Cf. Limbo: Unsettled Quesion by George J. Dyer (NY: Sheed & Ward, 1964) or Encyclopedia of Theology, edited by Karl Rahner (NY: The Seabury Press, 1975), pp. 850-851.
Wright, Christopher J. H. Salvation Belongs to Our God: Celebrating the Bible’s Central Story. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2007. Paperback, 202 pp. $16.00
(Review copies courtesy of IVP Academic.)
Purchase: IVP Academic | Amazon | WTS | CBD
Series: Christian Doctrine in Global Perspective series, edited by David Smith and John Stott.
ISBNs: 0830833064 / 9780830833061
Features: Questions for Reflection or Discussion (at the end of each chapter), Endnotes, and Scripture Index
Jeffery, Steve, Michael Ovey & Andrew Sach. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution. Forward by John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. Trade Paperback, 373 pages. $25.00.
(Review copies courtesy of Crossway Books.)
Purchase: Crossway | WTS | CBD | Amazon
ISBNs: 1433501082 / 9781433501081
Special Features: Bibliography (pp. 337-351), Index of Names, and Index of Biblical References
Table of Contents
Excerpts (includes ten pages of Endorsements, Forward by John Piper, Acknowledgments, and Chapter 1: Introduction)
Subjects: Theology, Soteriology, Atonement