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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Chapter 3 - Uncertain Data


 
The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Chapter 3 - Uncertain Data


We now come to chapter 3 concerning "uncertain data". Webb lists a series of quotes from theologians whom he believes have miss-quoted scripture. He agrees with many of their theologies, but believes the scriptures they are quoting have nothing to do with the subject of infant salvation.
  1. The first quote is from Dr Strong. "God so loved the world". Strong says "World" includes infants. He concludes that infants are saved because of this. The problem he runs into is the scripture goes on to say that" ...those who believe shall be saved" Infants can not believe so this can not be speaking of them.
  2. The second quote is from Romans and Corinthians. He does not give a specific theologian's name for this one, but says it is often quoted as a proof-text. "For in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" The reasoning is that all people became sinners because of Adam and babies are included in that group. So all will be made alive in Christ - babies are included in Christ so they will be saved. The problem with this interpretation is it proves too much. If the same group that was in Adam is in Christ then not only are all infants saved but all adults are too. We know from scripture that the latter is not true. Some adults will be damned.
  3. He next quotes Strong again. He quotes 2 Cor 3:18 - "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." Strong believes that babies will be regenerated/saved because they see the Lord the moment after death. This scripture is really speaking of the experience we have while still on this earth. The closer we get to God the more we are changed. Just like Moses who saw God from behind and his face shown. In fact the scripture quotes that very instance in this same passage.
  4. Next he quotes Dr. Stuart Robinson who quotes Rev 23:12 (this must be a misprint, there is no 23rd chapter of Rev. It is actually 20:12). - "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Robinson believes there are 3 books. One containing the judgement of sinners, one containing the judgement of the saved and a third on for infants - which would be blank - because they committed no works, good of bad. I agree that this is a stretch. It would be nice but is all speculation with no solid proof. 
  5. The last argument concerns covenant children. Abraham's promise was to him and his children. Salvation is spoken of being to you and your children. The problem with this argument is it would only refer to infants of Christian parents. What of the infants not part of a Christian family? How would they enter Heaven?
He ends the chapter showing any theology of infant salvation must agree that all infants will be saved and agree with the rest of scripture concerning salvation. It must agree with the following:
  1. All infants dying in infancy are by nature guilty and depraved
  2. All infants dying in infancy, if saved at all, are saved by the atonement of Christ, and in no other way
  3. All infants dying in infancy, if saved at all, must be regenerated and sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
  4. All infants dying in infancy, if saved at all, must be saved by the application of redemption to them prior to death
He believes any theology that disagrees with these propositions are doomed to fail.



Next Blog: Chapter 4: The Sinlessness of Infants




Check back next time when we study a new chapter

God Bless,
Pudgyboy

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Chapter 2 - Scripture Data

 
The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Chapter 2 - Scripture Data


We now come to chapter 2 concerning scriptural data. In some ways this will be some of the weaker arguments, not by any fault of Dr. Webb. Scripture doesn't specifically say all infants are saved. But we can infer from scripture that infants are.


He shows in this chapter that even though the scriptures do not directly say infants are saved, there are instances where the Spirit of God has come upon children or God has blessed them. His argument is, if God blesses an infant would he not even more desire to save them if the die in that state.


Chapter Outline
  1. Saved Infants
  2. Scripture Statements
1. Saved Infants

Under the first heading, Web lists a group of 18 children that were touched by God in some way. These include:
  1. Abel and Seth
  2. Isaac
  3. Jacob
  4. Moses
  5. Samson
  6. Samuel
  7. David
  8. David's Child
  9. Josiah
  10. Jeroboam's Child
  11. Child of Widow of Zarephath
  12. Child of the Sunemite
  13. Isaiah
  14. Jeremiah
  15. John the Baptist
  16. Paul
  17. Timothy
  18. Jesus
I will not go through each person, because some seem to have very little relevance. Just because a child has favor with God in some area, does not constitute salvation. Through common grace, God pours out rain on the just and the unjust. 

Some of these people do lend credence to the argument. The better ones are:
  • Samuel - he ministered before the Lord even as a young child
  • David's Child - When the child dies, David says he will be with him in the future. This shows, at least in this case, the infant is going to heaven and David will see it there. Webb makes a very long argument for this interpretation and it is a very good one.
  • John the Baptist - He was filled with the spirit in his mothers womb. It is hard to deny when reading this scripture that God can not save a child in the womb.
He then comes to a conclusion concerning all of these infants who were touched by God:
  1. Infants can be regenerated and sanctified without doing damage to the nature of the child or the Gospel itself
  2. Not all children are saved in infancy. (He is not saying that some infants go to hell. He is saying some grow up and never get saved and go to hell as adults. He believes that a child who grows up and does not serve the Lord were never saved at all. If a child dies as an infant, God saves them and sends them to heaven.)
  3. Because all infants who die in the scriptures went to heaven, he infers that all infants throughout history who die, went to heaven.
  4. The scripture never shows an infant dying and going to hell, so we have no warrant to believe differently.
2. Scripture Statements. 

Moving from specific children, he then moves to scriptures more general statements about children.
  1. "Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child." Ex xii. 22,24 - God gives legal protection to children and widows. Webb still does not believe this is a good argument for our subject.
  2. Job finds ransom and returns to the days of his youth Job xxxiii. 25 - same as the first instance. This is not much of an argument for our subject.
  3. Jesus heals the lunatic child Luke ix. 42 - ditto
  4. Jesus says you must be like a little child to enter the Kingdom Mat. xviii 1,6 - this is more like it. There is a little more in this scripture to sink you teeth into. Jesus is saying children have at least some attribute that makes them more like the Kingdom of God.
  5. Speaking of children, Jesus said "such is the Kingdom of God" - same as the last point, it seems Jesus is saying, in some way, children are part of the Kingdom.
  6. His 6th argument is great. All the passages about final judgment (2 Cor v. 10, Matt. vii. 23, Rev. xvii. 12) speak of people being judged by the evil works they perform. Because a baby dying in infancy never actually sinned, they will not be judged. The best quote I could find so far is the following: "Original sin renders all the race - adults and infants - damnable; but the judgment scene shows us that damnability is converted into damnation only upon the ground of actual, personal, and conscious sins - a kind of sin which no infant dying in infancy could commit".
Basically scripture never speaks of an infant going to hell. It does say that all adults in hell were sent there for the sins they have committed. Infants can not commit actual sins, so they will not be sent to hell.



Next Blog: Chapter 3: Uncertain Data




Check back next time when we study a new chapter

God Bless,
Pudgyboy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Chapter 1 - The General Belief

 
The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Chapter 1 - The General Belief

For those of you who are just joining us, we are going through Webb's book on infant salvation chapter by chapter. I believe this book will be of great benefit to those who want to know what happens to infants after death. Whether you are a parent who has lost a child or know someone who has, it can bring great hope and comfort to know, if you are in Christ, you will see your son or daughter again.


Chapter Outline
  1. Definition
  2. Communis Consensus Hominum
  3. Communis Consensus Eccleslae
  4. Communis Consensus Sanctorum
  5. Communis Consensus Theologii
In Chapter one, Webb starts with an introduction to the subject. In it he describes the three parts of a child, what he calls Body, soul, and life.
  • Body = organs and powers
  • Soul = thinking, feeling, and willing
  • Life = Biology? (He gets a little nebulous here)
He shows here how all three aspects of a normal child's existence mature together. As a child grows physically, he also grows in his thinking and mental ability.

1. Definition. 
  • Child = Person who has not developed physically or mentally
  • Adult = Person who has matured enough to use and understand himself
  • Dwarf = Person who is underdeveloped physically, but is mature mentally
  • Idiot = Person whose mental ability has been arrested and remain with the intellect of a child
  • Lunatic = Person who has matured mentally and physically, but who has lost these facilities
Note - I believe in today's society we have become a more sensitive to the language we use. This book was originally published in 1907. Today we would replace many of these words with the much better sounding equivalents. Words like "Dwarf" and "Idiot" are much more offensive today than they were 100 years ago. Little people and mentally handicap or even mentally challenged are more appropriate words today. I am sure that if R.A.Webb wrote this book today, he would have used totally different terminology. I am far from believing in the Politically Correct movement, but I do believe we need to speak the Truth but speak it in Love. If I have all knowledge and have not love, I am nothing. There is no reason to purposely offend people, especially those who already have a life filled with trials and tribulation.


Back to the definitions. 

He is basically showing that moral and mental abilities go hand in hand. Infants and those who are mentally handicap have limited abilities in reasoning. To commit a moral evil you have to consciously know what you are doing is evil. Because an infant does not have the ability to understand right and wrong, they are not morally culpable for those actions. If a 4 year old kills his father, he would not receive the death penalty because the authorities know the child had no idea of the magnitude of what he has done.


Heathen adults are not moral infants. They are mature enough to know what sin is.

The rest of the chapter uses Latin headings to show that almost all people and groups agree that infants go to heaven


2. Communis Consensus Hominum (General agreement among men)
People form all faiths believe infants will go to heaven or at least not be punished. Even natural reason can not come up with any cause for an infant to be punished.

3. Communis Consensus Eccleslae (General agreement among the church)
All churches and denomination generally agree an dying infant will go to heaven 

4. Communis Consensus Sanctorum (General agreement among pious individuals)
None of the biblical saints ever gave an inkling that they believed an infant would be punished in the afterlife.

5. Communis Consensus Theologii (General agreement among different theologies)
  1. Pelagian / Rationalistic = people are born sinless and do not need a savior
  2. Semipelagian / Arminian = Christ's atonement is universal and removes original sin when you are born
  3. Ecclesiastical / Roman = infants saved through baptism
  4. Pantheistic / Mystical = Christ is within all children
  5. Reformed / Calvinist = Infants are saved through imputation of Christ's righteousness and regeneration of the spirit
Each theology believes infants will go to heaven, they just come to that conclusion from different directions, But there is only one that can be correct and biblical. He believes, and I agree, that Calvinism is the only theological system that can answer the question from a truly biblical point of view.


Next Blog: Chapter 2: Scripture Data




Check back next time when we study a new chapter

God Bless,
Pudgyboy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Preface

 
The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb - Preface

Webb starts his book out showing exactly what he wants to accomplish and where he stands. He believes Calvinism is the only theological system that has the biblical answers concerning the dying infant. 
He has written the book to show
  1. Calvinism does not avoid the issue of dying infants
  2. Instead of damning infants, Calvinism is the only system that has a biblical basis for the salvation of infants
Will he be able to answer some of the hard questions like:
Are infants considered sinless?
If they are born in sin, how can they be saved without faith?

What about those that are mentally incompetent to make moral decisions?
What about questions beyond infancy? What about those that have never heard the gospel?


I am looking forward to delving into some of these and more. Check back to see.

Next Blog: Chapter 1 - The General Belief





God Bless,
Pudgyboy


The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb

 

The Theology of Infant Salvation by R. A. Webb

I have desired to read this book for a long time. I listened to a series of lectures years ago by James D. Gables from Mt Olive Tape Library. A blurb was written in the tape listings showing the lectures were based on a book by R.A. Webb.

The tape library has now moved on in technology and changed to mp3 format. Most of the titles can be downloaded on Sermon Audio.  The library was pretty neat. It was and still is a gold mine of reformed teaching. The 75 lectures from Curt Daniel on the History and Theology of Calvinism are worth their weight in gold.

The library would send you 10 to 12 tapes to borrow for only the cost of shipping media mail and any donation. It was and is such a great ministry. I listened to hundreds of hours of great biblical teaching.


Now back to the book. 

A while back, my wife gave me a gift card for Amazon. This was the book I purchased. So far it is great.

What happens to babies when they die? Most would agree that they go to heaven, but that is not real question. The real question is "Which theology gives the best representation of the biblical view?"

Do babies go to heaven because they are sinless or do they go to heaven in spite of being born in sin? As I read through this book I will sort out some of these answers as I hope to blog on each chapter.

Next Blog: Preface
 



God Bless,
Pudgyboy


New Reformed Books Blog

I just started my new blog. I look forward to talking about God, the Bible and books, especially reformed books. Please check back later to see the newest review or comments