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,

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