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Will Infants Who Die Go to Heaven? An Overview of the Claims, Options, Possible Solutions, Implications, and Concluding Biblically & Theologically Coherent.

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Presentation on theme: "Will Infants Who Die Go to Heaven? An Overview of the Claims, Options, Possible Solutions, Implications, and Concluding Biblically & Theologically Coherent."— Presentation transcript:

1 Will Infants Who Die Go to Heaven? An Overview of the Claims, Options, Possible Solutions, Implications, and Concluding Biblically & Theologically Coherent Support for the Doctrine of Infant Salvation. Material adapted from Robert P. Lightner’s, The Death Christ Died (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998); Norman L. Geisler’s Baker’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999) Earl Radmacher’s Salvation (Nashville: Word, 2000); W.H. Griffith Thomas, Principles of Theology (London: Church Book Room, 1951).

2 Infant Salvation: I. Is infant salvation justified from Scripture? II.10 Views on Infant Salvation. III.Possible Solutions and Implications. IV.Conclusion. V.Appendix: “Heathen Salvation”

3 I. Is Infant Salvation Justified from Scripture? Since there is no absolutely clear exegetical proof that firmly presents “infant salvation,” is there warranted theological proof from Scripture that correlates with biblical, systematic theology, or is our justification, as well-intentioned as it may be: Since there is no absolutely clear exegetical proof that firmly presents “infant salvation,” is there warranted theological proof from Scripture that correlates with biblical, systematic theology, or is our justification, as well-intentioned as it may be: Psychological (e.g., comforting, feelings)? Psychological (e.g., comforting, feelings)? Religious (e.g., tradition, erroneous interpretation, pastor/priest, statements that minister, etc)? Religious (e.g., tradition, erroneous interpretation, pastor/priest, statements that minister, etc)? Sociological (subculture, parents, or friends)? Sociological (subculture, parents, or friends)?

4 A. Consider the following quotes: “Undoubtedly, many infants get there [heaven] by death. The high infant mortality in many countries of the world now and in past centuries suggests that numerous young children are in heaven. Jesus’ statement, however, should not be understood as meaning that all children, regardless of their age, are members of God’s kingdom. Other children, who live several years beyond infancy and then receive Christ as their Savior (receiving the kingdom as a child; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17), go to heaven when they die. Having been regenerated by their faith in Christ, they obviously belong to the kingdom of God (John 3:3). They are among those ‘little ones who believe in me,’ as Jesus said (Matt. 18:6).” ~ Dr. Earl Radmacher, Salvation, 229. ~ Dr. Earl Radmacher, Salvation, 229.

5 John Newton, the hymn writer of Amazing Grace, wrote that the number of infants in heaven : “so greatly exceeds the aggregate of adult believers that, comparatively speaking, the kingdom may be said to consists of little children. The apostle speaks of them as not having, ‘sinned after the similitude of ‘Adam’s transgression’ [Rom. 5:14], that is, with the consent of their understanding and will. And when he says, ‘We must all appear before the “judgment seat of Christ,” he adds, ‘that every man may give an account of what he has done in the ‘body, whether it be good or bad [2 Cor. 5:10].’ But children who die in their infancy have not done anything in the body, either good or bad.

6 It is true they are by nature evil, and must if saved, be the subjects of a supernatural change. And though we cannot conceive how this change is to be wrought, yet I suppose few are so rash as to imagine it impossible that any infants can be saved. The same power that produces change in some, can produce it in all; and therefore I am willing to believe, till the Scripture forbids me, that infants, of all nations and kindreds, without exception, who die before they are capable of sinning after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who have done nothing in the body of which they can give an account, are included in the election of grace.” The Works of John Newton, 3 rd., 6 vols, 4:552-3.

7 Charles Spurgeon once wrote: “I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them!” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon at His Best, 95.

8 Dr. Norman Geisler writes: “Many critics have impugned the justice of God because of the status of the unborn. Belief is considered necessary condition for salvation (John 3:18-19; Acts 16:31), and yet innocent young children have not yet reached the age at which they can believe. But it seems eminently unjust to condemn innocent infants who have not yet committed a sin nor are even old enough to believe and be saved. Christians have struggled with the issue of the eternal status of infants. Yet nowhere does the Bible directly treat the issue. Hence, we are left to arguments based on general principle and inference from Scripture.” Baker’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 360..

9 Dr. Robert P. Lightner writes: “Not once in all the references to infants is there os much as a hint that they will ever be damned to eternal perdition after death. In many contexts where the words are used we would not expect a statement about their eternal destiny. Yet there are instances, such as when God ordered the destruction of all the Amalekites, including infants (1 Sam. 15:3), when it would have been appropriate to speak of their damnation. But not once, even when reference is made to the death of children, is there so much as a hint that any would suffer eternal separation from God (see for example Ex. 12:29-30 and Matt. 2:16).” Sin, Savior, and Salvation, 184..

10 “The idea of meeting his child in the unconscious grave could not have rationally comforted him; nor could the thought of meeting him in hell have cheered his spirit; but the thought of meeting him in heaven had in itself the power of turning his weeping into joy.” ~ R. A. Webb, The Theology of Infant Salvation,

11 R.C. Sproul, who criticized Billy Graham for saying in the memorial service of the more than one hundred people, including a number of young children, who died in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, that the innocent children who died in the bombing are in God’s arms in heaven, by writing that all of those who died without receiving Christ as Savior, whether adults or children: R.C. Sproul, who criticized Billy Graham for saying in the memorial service of the more than one hundred people, including a number of young children, who died in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, that the innocent children who died in the bombing are in God’s arms in heaven, by writing that all of those who died without receiving Christ as Savior, whether adults or children: “are experiencing…anguish and torment in hell.” However, he did admit, though, that “we cannot say for sure what happens to young children who die.” ~ R.C. Sproul, Jr., “Comfort Ye My People,” World, May 6, 1995, 26.

12 Pelagius, who reacted against Augustine’s view that since children are born within the fall, infants inherit real depravity, so that the wrath of God abides on unbaptized babies, stated: “Where they are not, I know; where they are, I know not” ~ John Sanders, No Other Name, 292. Pelagius later embraced “limbo” position.

13 B. Consider the following passages: When the newborn baby of David and Bathsheba became ill, David prayed and fasted for his healing, lying in anguish on the ground in each night. But a week after the baby became sick, he died (2 Sam. 12:15-18). Then David told his servants, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me (12:23).” When the newborn baby of David and Bathsheba became ill, David prayed and fasted for his healing, lying in anguish on the ground in each night. But a week after the baby became sick, he died (2 Sam. 12:15-18). Then David told his servants, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me (12:23).” Was David referring only to his own death? Was David referring only to his own death? Was David referring to being in conscious fellowship with his son after death? Was David referring to being in conscious fellowship with his son after death? Is there any comfort in David’s saying he would die too? Is there any comfort in David’s saying he would die too?

14 B. Consider the following passages: “The kingdom of heaven [or ‘of God’] belongs to such as these (Matt. 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16).” The context indicates that adults who are like children in acknowledging their lowly and helpless condition will enter God’s kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven [or ‘of God’] belongs to such as these (Matt. 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16).” The context indicates that adults who are like children in acknowledging their lowly and helpless condition will enter God’s kingdom. Does this Greek word, “toiaute” (“of such as these”) indicate that children too are in God’s kingdom? Does this Greek word, “toiaute” (“of such as these”) indicate that children too are in God’s kingdom? How does this compare to Luke 18:15-17? As Luke wrote, does this passage include infants? How does this compare to Luke 18:15-17? As Luke wrote, does this passage include infants?

15 B. Consider the following passages: “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matt. 18:14). “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matt. 18:14). If contextually Christ sets before the disciples as patterns for imitation, will these children perish? If contextually Christ sets before the disciples as patterns for imitation, will these children perish? What does the word “lost” or “perish” mean and how does this word relate to the context? What does the word “lost” or “perish” mean and how does this word relate to the context?

16 II. By what means will deceased infants go to heaven? 10 Views of Infant Salvation:

17 10 Views of Infant Salvation are:  Universalism  Born without Sin  Second Chance View  All Infants are Elect View  Infants of Saved Parents are the Elect View  Infant Regeneration View  Redemptive Work of Christ View  Infant Water Baptism View  Catholic Limbo View  Foreknowledge View

18 # 1: Universalism All children who die as infants are taken to heaven because of the doctrine of universalism. That is, since everyone will ultimately be saved and no one will be in hell, infants will naturally be in heaven, even though they had no opportunity to believe. Critique: direct opposition to Scripture that affirms the eternal damnation of the unsaved (e.g., Matt. 25:46; John 3:16, 18; 3:36; Rev. 20:15). And yet this is not to deny the heavenly home of dead infants. It simply means that universalism is not the basis of their salvation. Critique: direct opposition to Scripture that affirms the eternal damnation of the unsaved (e.g., Matt. 25:46; John 3:16, 18; 3:36; Rev. 20:15). And yet this is not to deny the heavenly home of dead infants. It simply means that universalism is not the basis of their salvation.

19 # 2: Born Without Sin There is a heavenly destiny for infants because they are born without sin. As Clifford Ingle, a Southern Baptist seminary professor writes. a child “does not inherit lostness [from Adam]; he chooses it.” All persons, Ingle writes: “are born with a tendency toward sin; all are destined to sin. However, this individual is not responsible for the sins of the [human] race or his inherited nature. He becomes an actual sinner in the eyes of God when, as a morally responsible person, he chooses sin and rebels against God. Thus there is a time between birth and moral accountability when the child is not guilty for sin.” “are born with a tendency toward sin; all are destined to sin. However, this individual is not responsible for the sins of the [human] race or his inherited nature. He becomes an actual sinner in the eyes of God when, as a morally responsible person, he chooses sin and rebels against God. Thus there is a time between birth and moral accountability when the child is not guilty for sin.” ~ “Moving in the Right Direction,” in Children and Conversion, ed. Clifford Ingle (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1970),

20 # 2: Born Without Sin John Inchley believes that children are not “in a state of being lost from God,” and that until they deliberately refuse Christ, they belong to him. ~ John Inchly, Kids and the Kingdom (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1976), 14, 33. Marlin Jeshke writes, “to place the human race into only two classes, the saved and lost. We are required to recognize also a third class, the innocent….” ~ Believers Baptism for Children of the Church (Scottsdale, Penn.: Herald Press, 1983), 104.

21 # 2: Born Without Sin Critique: This view that children are born innocent and without an inherited sin nature is in direct conflict with Scripture For both adults and infants, and all who can’t believer, are still under the curse of Adam’s sin: 1.“In Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:22). 2.“God told Noah after the flood that he would bring about another flood of that magnitude “event though every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood” (Gen. 8:21). 3.Solomon wrote, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child” (Prov. 22:15). 4.David said he was born “sinful at birth” (Ps. 51:5), and that “even birth the wicked go astray” (Ps. 58:3). 5.Paul affirmed, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10). 6.All are “under sin” (3:9) and under God’s wrath (John 3:36) and that includes children.

22 # 2: Born Without Sin Everyone is born with a sin nature, from Adam, because all humanity in Adam sinned as clearly stated in Romans 5:12. Adam sin plunged the entire human race into a stance of guilt before God, because all sinned “in Adam” (whether federal or seminal). Therefore, people sin because they are sinners; it is not that they become sinners by sinning.

23 # 2: Born Without Sin Therefore, in light of passages like Rom. 3:23 and Rom. 5:12: 1.all infants come with a sin nature, they are all lost and condemned. 2.To say infants are neutral or innocent with respect to sin, and that they are not sinners until they knowingly commit acts of sin, overlooks the universal passages regarding the intrinsic sinfulness of humanity in both O.T. and N.T. “A theology of childhood salvation must be some reason with the point that all people, including children are sinful and in need of redemption.” ~ Perry G. Downs, “Child Evangelization,” Journal of Christian Education 3 (1983): 10.

24 # 3: Second Chance View When infants die they immediately mature and are then provided an opportunity to receive the gift of salvation in Christ: 1. First proposed by Gregory of Nyssa, 4 th Century, builds this view on the conviction that faith is necessary for salvation. It has also found support among those in the Catholic Church. See George J. Dyer, “The Unbaptized Infant in Eternity,” Chicago Studies 2 (1963): 147; John Sanders, No Other Name (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), Somewhat related, Oliver Buswell suggests that immediately before death the intelligence of the infant is enlarged so that the child can accept Christ as Savior [A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, 2 vols (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963), 2: 162].

25 # 3: Second Chance View When infants die they immediately mature and are then provided an opportunity to receive the gift of salvation in Christ: Critique: 1.No biblical support. 2.If infants immediately before or after death are given the opportunity to be saved, this implies that some will go to heaven and others will not. 3. If this enablement to believe occurs after death, then where is the child while he is confronted with the claims of Christ? 4.This view wrongly suggests a neutral state after death, before one’s final destiny in heaven or hell.

26 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View All infants who die will be in heaven because they are elected by God. 1.Ulrich Zwingli asserted that all children of believing parents are among the elect, and therefore, will be saved, and that probably dying infants of non-Christian parents are also among the elect. 2.Charles Hodge based the belief that “all who die in Infancy are saved” on Romans 5:18-19:

27 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View B. B. Warfield: 1.He defends this view by pointing out that for infants God’s electing grace supersedes their inborn sin nature because God has chosen them. See “The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation,” in Studies in Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1932), Westminster Confession says, “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit” [Chap. 10, sec. 3]. This statement does not explicitly affirm that all dying infants are elect since the words “elect infants” leave the question open. However, many Presbyterians affirm that all infants who die are in fact included among the elect. See Thomas Smyth, “Opinions on Infant Salvation,” in Children in ` Heaven, 34; Roger Nicole, cited by Ronald H. Nash, in What about Those Who Have Never Heard? Ed. John Sanders (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1995),

28 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Romans 5:18-19: “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Hodge also cites Rom. 5:20, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

29 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Critique: 1.How does election reconcile original sin, freedom from guilt, or personal rebellion? The election view does not really solve the problems of sin, freedom from guilt, and rebellion against God. a.Infants come into this world with results of Adam’s sin in them. b.Infants are involved in the inherent sin of the race whether in terms of federal or seminal.

30 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Critique: 1.Debasing Effects of Sin (Rom. 1:21-32). 2.Judicial Effects of Sin (Rom. 5:12-21). 3.Corrupting Effects of Sin (Rom. 3:10-18; Eph. 2:1-3). 4.Deceiving Effects of Sin (Jer. 17:9). 5.Debilitating Effects of Sin (Jer. 17:9). 6.Blinding Effects of Sin (2 Cor. 4:4).

31 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Critique: 3. This view minimizes the necessity of faith because: a. Claims that Christ’s salvation is not potential but actual for infants. b. Sin of infants are imputed to Christ. As Lewis S. Chafer observes, “The word whosoever is used at least 110 times in the New Testament, and always with the unrestricted meaning” [Systematic Theology, 2:78].

32 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Critique: 4.The best foundation for reconciling total depravity, the necessity of faith for salvation, an election is to believe in the unlimited of Christ rather than the election view for infants: A. It accounts for total depravity and election. B. It allows the necessity of faith to be exempted on the basis of unlimited atonement but not for those who are consciously aware of their sin and need to receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior. C. It accounts for passages that explicitly declare unlimited atonement:

33 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Case for Unlimited Atonement is both negatively and positively affirmed in Scripture: Negatively, nowhere in Scripture does it ever say that Christ did not die for all people: Positively we passages that imply if not declare the extent of the atonement such as: John 1:29: “…Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of the world.” John 3:16: “For God so loved the world….” John 3:17: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

34 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View John 4:42: “…This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world: 2 Cor. 5:19: “…To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself….” 1 John 4:14: “….the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” John 3:16: “…That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 1 Tim. 2:6: “ Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

35 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Acts 2:21: “…Whososever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 10:43: “…Through his name whosoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins.” Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Revelation 22:17: “…And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Romans 5:6: “...Christ died for the ungodly.”

36 # 4: All Infants are the Elect View Critique: As W.H. Griffith Thomas, co-founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, writes: “So that we can say of infants, ‘By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men to justification by Him.’ We must not forget that infants come into a world of grace as well of sin, and the two parallel lines can never be overlooked. While there is, of course, no definite declaration in regard to the salvation of infants dying in infancy, all that we can infer from Scripture supports the view that they are saved on the ground of the Atonement of Christ, and this because although they were born in sin they were not actual transgressors of the Divine Law” [Principles of Theology, 506].

37 # 5: Infants of Saved Parents are the Elect. Related to the last view is that the infants of saved (or elect) parents are saved. parents are saved. Canon of Dort: godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleased God to call out of this life in their infancy” (art. 17). Observations: 1.There is no biblical support. 2.Does not account for sin or guilt problem. 3.Offers no hope for parents who are unsaved. 4.Does not harmonize with passages that teach unlimited atonement. 4.Does not reconcile with passages such as 2 Peter 3:9 cf. 1 Tim. 2:4. If God really desires all to be saved, and it is possible to save some infants from their personal faith, then why does he not elect all of them to salvation? 5.Problem of God’s unmerciful and/or unjust in not choosing to save all.

38 # 5: Infants of Saved Parents are the Elect. Observations: 1.There is no clear biblical support. 2.Does not account for sin or guilt problem. 3.Offers no hope for parents who are unsaved. 4.Does not harmonize with passages that teach unlimited atonement. 4.Does not reconcile with passages such as 2 Peter 3:9 cf. 1Tim. 2:4. If God really desires all to be saved, and it is possible to save some infants from their personal faith, then why does he not elect all of them to salvation? 5.Problem of God’s unmerciful and/or unjust in not choosing to save all when He is able to do so. In other words, while there is nothing in fallen humans that merit salvation, there is something in an all- loving God that prompts Him to save all, namely, His infinite love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Tim. 2:4).

39 # 5: Infants saved by the “Baptism of Desire” View Infants can be saved by the “baptism of desire,” that is, if they desired baptism but were unable to obtain it before they died, they would go to heaven. 1.This view held in 9 th Century by Hincmar of Rheims. See Warfield, Studies in Theology, Martin Luther applied the idea of baptism of desire to Christi parents, saving that their desire for their children’s baptism, even if not carried out, guarantees their offspring’s salvation.

40 # 5: Infants saved by the “Baptism of Desire” View Critique: 1.It is not biblical. 2.How can an infant desire baptism? 3.How does a parent’s mere desire substitute for a child’s salvation? 4.This view does not address the question of infants of unsaved parents, who may not desire salvation for their young or may know nothing of salvation and baptism. This implies that salvation for those infants are not available and that they are lost forever.

41 # 6: Infant Regeneration View All infants who die will be regenerated because they have not willfully rejected Jesus Christ: 1.Only those who consciously reject Christ are condemned to hell. 2.Infants cannot knowingly turn from Christ. 3.Therefore, all dying infants will be in heaven, event though they are born sinners and do not exercise faith. See Neal Punt, What’s Good about the Good News? (Chicago: Northland, 1988), chap. 11.

42 # 6: Infant Regeneration View All infants who die will be regenerated because they have not willfully rejected Jesus Christ: Critique: 1.It makes eternal damnation dependent on a willful refusal to believe in Jesus Christ. a.If that is the basis of divine judgment in hell, how can those who never heard of Christ be condemned. 2.The basis of condemnation is not rejection of Christ, but one’s inherited sin nature. “In Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22; cf. Rom. 5:12). 3.Paul reasoned in Rom. 1 that all are under guilt of sin and the wrath of God because of their sin. Therefore, only God’s grace can atone for the sin of infants.

43 # 6: Infant Regeneration View As Dr. Robert Lightner states: “Total depravity means that man possesses nothing nor can he do anything to merit favor before God. Scripture is abundantly clear on this point. According to the Word of God, this condition affects not only every man but also every part of every man (Rom. 1-3). All unsaved men are viewed by God as ‘lost’ (Luke 19:10), ‘condemned’(John 3:18), under the ‘wrath of God’ (John 3:36), ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1-2) and as possessing a heart that is ‘desperately wicked’ (Jer. 17:9)” [The Death Christ Died: A Biblical Case for Unlimited Atonement (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998), Paul reasoned in Rom. 1 that all are under guilt of sin and the wrath of God because of their sin. Therefore, only God’s grace can atone for the sin of infants.

44 # 7: Redemptive Work of Christ View: All infants enjoy heavenly bliss because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross: 1.Like everyone, infants need salvation and salvation is only through Christ. 2.Therefore, even though infants [others who can’t believe, ie., severely mentally handicapped] cannot exercise faith in Him, He can remove their depravity. “The great atoning sacrifice of Calvary included unconscious childhood as well as conscious manhood and womanhood in the wondrous efficacy and blessing;” “…all children are included in the great atoning Sacrifice, and really belong to the Lord Jesus Christ until they deliberately and consciously refuse to Have Him as their personal Savior and King.” ~ W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Catholic Faith: A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Church of England, rev. ed. (London: Church Book Room Press, 1952), 110; 263.

45 # 7: Redemptive Work of Christ View: All infants enjoy heavenly bliss because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross: “If they be saved, it must be entirely by the sovereign mercy and positive operation of God….All redeemed sinners owe their salvation to sovereign grace…but the salvation of infants is with peculiar circumstances of [God’s] favour.” ~ David McConoughy, “Are Infants Saved?” in Children in Heaven, 60. Spurgeon writes that infants enter heaven, “as a matter of free grace with no reference to anything that have done” [Come Ye Children (reprint, Warrenton, MO.: Children Evangelization Fellowship, n.d.), 39. See also P erry G. Downs, Child Evangelization,” Journal of Christian Education 3 (1983): 10; Lightner, Heaven for Those Who Can’t Believe, 14-15; Herbert Lockyer, All the Children of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 97.

46 # 7: Redemptive Work of Christ View: All infants enjoy heavenly bliss because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross: 3. The basis for judgment for the unsaved is that they did not receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Thus, all unregenerate will be judged according to their works at the “great white throne” judgment (Rev. 20:11). However, those who died without ever being able to believe will not be there. They have no works: they have not done either good or evil. 3. The basis for judgment for the unsaved is that they did not receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Thus, all unregenerate will be judged according to their works at the “great white throne” judgment (Rev. 20:11). However, those who died without ever being able to believe will not be there. They have no works: they have not done either good or evil. “As Dr. Lightner states: Since those who died before they could believe have no works, we may be sure that they will no works, we may sure that they will not appear before the Great White Throne. And since all the unsaved will appear there, we may also be sure that those who cannot believe are not unsaved. If they are not among the unregenerate and will not appear before God at this time, we conclude happily that they are among the redeemed.”

47 # 7: Redemptive Work of Christ View: All infants enjoy heavenly bliss because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross: Critique: 1.It is inconsistent to claim that God salvation is by faith alone yet claim that there is an exception for infants who cannot exercise faith (See Sanders, No Other Name, 304). a. Responses: “Even though infants cannot hear the Word, and, therefore, cannot exercise faith (Rom. 10:17), God need not be limited, as Calvin noted, because He works in ways we cannot always perceive, and He can still bestow His grace” [Radmacher, Salvation, 235]. See also Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. John T. McNeill, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), ; b. In the case of infants and those who can’t believe, God by His mercy applies the benefits of salvation in view of unlimited atonement (John 3:16-17, 10:15; 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 5:25; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 2:2, 4:14). c. It harmonizes with the infant election view if this is a valid view. d. It coheres with biblical passages we have considered already.

48 # 7: Redemptive Work of Christ View: Critique: 2.This view will open up “Pandora’s Box” and exceptions could be provided to other situations as well…those who never heard the gospel of Jesus, trans-dispensationalism (though faith is always the means of salvation, the content of salvation in any of God’s economies or dispensations is sufficient for salvation [See Tony Evans, Total Salvation, appendix article for support of this view]), and some form of qualified universalism. Response: a. This is not necessary because we aren’t saying anything more than what Scripture presents. We must accept the mysterious relationship between passages that imply infant salvation and salvation by faith alone. If someone goes beyond Scripture, such as trans-dispensationalism or qualified universalism, they are outside of biblical, theological coherence and must whole heartily be rejected.

49 # 7: Redemptive Work of Christ View: Critique: 3.This view is based upon unlimited view of the atonement which is debatable among Christians. Response: a. There is a stronger cumulative biblical and theological case for unlimited atonement that is reasonable to believe over and against limited atonement. b. Just because something is debatable, does not make it biblically or theologically unjustifiable.

50 # 8: Infant Water Baptism View: Infants qualify for entrance to heaven by virtue of their having been water baptism. 1.Roman Catholicism asserts that infant baptism removes the stain of original sin. “Baptism…signifies that by the power of the Holy Ghost all stain and defilement of sin is inwardly washed away, and that the soul is enriched and adorned with the admirable gift of heavenly justification….” ~ Catechism of the Council of Trent, 144, cited by J.C. Macaulay, The Bible and the Roman Church (Chicago: Moody, 1949), 81. Also see Gunter Koch, “Baptism,” in Handbook of Catholic Theology, ed. Wolfgang Beinert and Francis Schusler Florenza (New York: Crossroad, 1995), 43.

51 # 8: Infant Water Baptism View: Infants qualify for entrance to heaven by virtue of their having been water baptism. 1.Roman Catholicism asserts that infant baptism removes the stain of original sin. “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word” [Catechism of the Catholic Church (New Hope, N.Y.: St. Martin de Porress Community, 1994), Since the sacrament of infant baptism is necessary for salvation, infants must be baptized in order for them to qualify for heaven.

52 # 8: Infant Water Baptism View: Infants qualify for entrance to heaven by virtue of their having been water baptism. Critique: 1.It is unsupported and contradictory to clear exegesis of Scripture. 2.It is contrary to the biblical doctrines of soteriology. 3.By implication of this view, unbaptized infants do not enter heaven.

53 # 8: Infant Water Baptism View: Infants qualify for entrance to heaven by virtue of their having been water baptism. Critique: 1.It is unsupported and contradictory to clear exegesis of Scripture. 2.It is contrary to the biblical doctrines of Soteriology. 3.By implication of this view, unbaptized infants do not enter heaven.

54 # 8: Infant Water Baptism View: Consider these quotes: “The wrath of God abides on them,” they “remain in darkness,” and they are eternally doomed, though their punishment is less severe than that of others. St. Augustine, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins and on the Baptism of Infants 1.21, 28, 33-35,in Philip Schaff, ed. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908), 5:22-23, 25, According to the Roman Catholic Catechism of the Council of Trent, “Infants, unless regenerated unto God through the grace of [water] baptism, whether their parents be Christian or infidel, are born to eternal misery and perdition” [Sanders, No Other Name, 292].

55 # 8: Infant Water Baptism View: Notwithstanding: Notwithstanding, a number of church leaders believed that unbaptized infants do go to heaven including Victor, John Wycliffe, the Lollards, and John Calvin. For example, Calvin wrote, “infants are not excluded from the kingdom of heaven, who happen to die before they had the privilege of baptism” [Institutes, ].

56 # 9: Catholic Limbus Infantum View: To soften the Augustinian position, the Roman Catholic Church developed the idea of Limbo (limbus Infantum), a neutral place for infants who die unbaptized. In this place between heaven and hell, children experience neither bliss nor torment. See Joseph Finkenzeller, “Limbo,” in Handbook of Catholic Theology, ; Zachary Hayes, “Limbo,” in The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1994), 511; P.J. Hill, “Limbo,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 18 vols (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1967), 8: , 765.

57 # 9: Catholic Limbus Infantum View: Observations: 1.It is not admitted or denied as official dogma by Catholic Church. 2.If Water Baptism is essential for salvation, many infants will not be in heaven. 3.The Roman Catholic position limits salvation as being obtainable not by faith but by a sacrament or a work. 4.Condemning many infants to limbo obliterates the view that Christ’s atonement work removes, by His grace, the guilt of original sin for all infants and others who cannot believe. 3.It is entirely extra-biblical which entirely justifies the dismissal of this view.

58 # 10: The Foreknowledge View: God, as an omniscient Being, foreknew which infants would have believed if they had lived long enough. Thus, God saved those infants. Thus, the rest are lost, since they would not have believed if they had lived long enough to do. Observations: 1.Ascribes the omniscience view of God (Rom. 8:29; Psalm 139:1-6). 2.Avoids criticism of God being unmerciful or unjust. 3.Accounts for the need for faith as a condition for salvation (John 3:16-19). In other words, it avoids the criticism that God saves some apart from their willingness to receive salvation. 4.Emphasizes the omni-benevolence of God’s love.

59 # 10: The Foreknowledge View: Critique: 1.It lacks biblical support. 2.God’s foreknowledge is based on human free will rather than in Himself as the Sovereign God. In other words, God saves these infants because of foreseen faith. However, this is contrary to the unmerited grace of God who acts solely “out of the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:5) and not on anything we do (Eph. 2:8-9). In fact, God chose the elect before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; cf. Rom. 8:29; 9:16; Phil. 1:29). 3.One can reject foreknowledge as based on anyone’s free choice, but simply, as the Scripture’s say, in accord with it (cf. 1 Peter 1:2). In other words, they are simply coeternal acts of God with no dependence of God on anything we do.

60 III.Possible Solutions & Implications: 1. All views have difficulties. 2. If faith is not absolutely essential, then a distinction needs to made between innocence and conscious rejection by adults. If so, it is more reasonable to speak of all infants being saved. 3. If faith is an absolute essential for salvation, and numerous passages affirm that it is, there is no heaven for those who can’t believe.

61 III.Possible Solutions & Implications: 4.If # 3 is correct, then all must believe to enter. In this case, belief that infants will mature in heaven and be given a chance to believe may be more plausible. But this is not biblical. 5.If God does not offer a real opportunity to believe, then the views that affirm only baptized or elect infants go to heaven may seem more reasonable to believe. However, the sin problem still remains. 6. But if the Bible says that God genuinely offers salvation to all then it would follow logically that those would believe, if they die before they can, will be given a chance after they die with the reason being that God’s love and/or justice would seem to demand that this be so. But this is not biblical either.

62 III. Possible Solutions & Implications: 7. If innate radical depravity is inherited from the womb, then it would seem that only baptized infants or elect infants might go to be with God. However, if one’s personal decision in rejecting God’s message is needed before one goes to hell, then they lose plausibility.

63 IV. CONCLUSION: Therefore, of the options we have explored, the case for the redemptive work of Christ view best biblically, theologically coheres and accounts for the following passages: 1.Inherent sin and guilt; 2.unlimited atonement of Christ; 3.divine election; 4.Love and justice of God; 5. Infant salvation.

64 Appendix 1: Heathen Salvation: By implication this study helps in our understanding of “heathen salvation”: 1.God is just, benevolent, and loving: 2. Since one cannot be saved without the Gospel, and many heathen lands have not had the gospel, it is reasonable to infer that God’s elect will be taken from every tribe, kindred, and tongue in view of the infants who die. 3.Since it is estimated that in heathen countries one-half of the babies born die before the age of accountability, then it follows that there will be innumerable heathen [infants] in heaven, i.e., all the infants who die before they could hear & understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


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