Archive for April 27th, 2018

(Note: This is a guest post written by Michael Coughlin who tweets here and blogs here.  I am currently away and thank Michael for this guest post.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond.)

Yesterday, we reviewed four of the six reasonable categories one can fall in concerning their belief about the election of infacts. Many folks have argued whether babies go to Heaven for centuries. For the sake of ease of writing, I will use the term “infants” to describe those “who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” (1689 LBCF 10.3)1

Here are the positions one can take.

  1. We know that ALL infants go to Hell when they die.
  2. We know that some infants go to Hell when they die, but some may go to Heaven.
  3. We don’t know where infants go when they die, and we can’t even guess. The Bible doesn’t say so we should be silent.
  4. We don’t know whether all infants go to Hell or Heaven, but we accept both are possible.
  5. We know that some infants go to Heaven when they die, but some may go to Hell.
  6. We know that ALL infants go to Heaven when they die.

Let’s look at the two remaining options in bold.

We don’t know whether all infants go to Hell or Heaven, but we accept both are possible.

This position seems to accept the idea that the Bible is not crystal clear on the topic. At least in the sense that there is no verse that says “All infants are elect of God,” while still being honest about the evidence given by those who think there are implications in Scripture about the election of infants. There are doctrinal truths which are clear and undeniable, lest you put yourself outside orthodox Christianity. In the case of infact election, it seems there is room to say, “Wow, I can see both sides of that argument,” and still be a faithful Christian. For example, this post from Founders Ministries gives a very good outline of the doctrine.

I will add this: if you fall into the belief that “we don’t know for sure, but it’s possible infants are elect” you have a choice when someone you know faces a miscarriage, a child’s death or the death of their loved one who never had the brain capacity above a toddler. Your options are

offer them a hope that their child was saved by the blood of the lamb and the mercy of God
throw your hands up and say I don’t know
or to try to convince them their loved one is now in hell. That is, their loved one they knew couldn’t understand the gospel, nor their own sin.
Which one of those options seems most comforting? Which one seems to glorify God in His goodness and mercy? Which one follows the pattern of God taking evil and using it for good? Look, if you fall in this “any infant has a chance at Heaven category,” then that means every infant has that hope. Why would you live any other way? We trust that the Lord will do right, and we can thus hope that we will see loved ones in Heaven who were not able to be outwardly called. So encourage one another this way.

My point is not that this makes universal infant salvation doctrinally true. What I am saying is that if you believe any infant may go to Heaven, you have no reason to not hope that for each infant. This is no different from looking at all non believers around you as people who could possibly be adopted into the family of God, even though you are sure many will not be. Real love offers hurting people rational hope. Assuming you think some infants go to Heaven, rational hope is to tell any grieving parent to hope to see their child again, and to trust the judge of all the earth shall do right.

We know that ALL infants go to Heaven when they die.

Here is the category of believers that is often under attack. Yet I showed earlier that if you believe ANY infant goes to Heaven when he or she dies, then you might as well behave as if they all do. For what reason would you ever have in this world to say to a hurting mother, “sorry, not your kid.” People in this group are accused of simply being emotional about it, but why is it considered so illogical to think that our God has a special love for children? Did he not have compassion for the children in Nineveh? (Jonah 4). Were not children a special part of Christ’s ministry prior to his death, burial and resurrection?

Opponents of this view rightly point out that this is not crystal clear in Scripture. I think that is a good argument. If, indeed, all infants go to Heaven, then it seems God may have hidden that from us, maybe in order to prevent us from concocting atrocities, in the name of sending souls to glory.

Another counter argument to this viewpoint is the one that says, “if all babies go to Heaven, then abortion is a good thing.” Let it not be so that anyone says this from regenerate mind. If it is so that God saves an aborted baby, that doesn’t make that abortion murder any more morally good than the crucifixion of Christ can be considered good or moral because it was used to save our souls! The fact that God does something wonderful with a wicked act neither validates that act nor does it make the agents of the act morally good!

I have seen someone say, if that is true, then people will kill their small children rather than risk them growing up and rejecting Christ. Again, if an evildoer would do this, (which they do), then you are blaming God for their evil. What you are saying is infant election cannot be universally true because it gives people authorization to do evil that good may come. God forbid! Knowing or believing God will do something good is never justification for evil. But secondly, if you believe in God’s sovereignty, then you know your child is either elect or not, and that that decision was made before your child was conceived. You can no more ensure your child’s election by murdering them than you can by reading the Bible to them daily. So it isn’t logical to say a reasonable parent would do that, and we are not responsible for how unreasoning beasts (Jude 1:10) manage God’s good truths. If infant election is true, the death of your infant does not secure their salvation, it is just an indicator of God’s grace, like a profession of faith in an older person.

What I find insulting is how opponents of this view characterize it as simply an emotional plea, when so many arguments from Scripture and logic have been put forth. Again, it may be emotional for many, but that doesn’t invalidate the argument. God created us to be emotional creatures. A people whose emotions are governed by the mind of Christ, taking every thought captive. Good doctrine can and should elicit emotions. Do not discount a brother’s argument about doctrine because he not only believes but feels strongly about it. Neither should sincere belief in a doctrine add weight to it from a debate perspective, of course!

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe there needs to be much charity on all sides of this debate, and folks need to seriously consider what are good and bad arguments concerning each of the positions above. I think Christians can glorify God through our love for one another as we hash out hard things together from His Word, and infant election is an historical doctrine which has provided hope to many hurting Christians without practically harming evangelism or causing Christians to suddenly abort babies for the sake of their salvation.

1 http://www.arbca.com/1689-chapter10

Here are some arguments people have made. In some cases the argument may not be compelling, but the Scriptures cited are worth considering.



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