Making Planned Parenthood Proud

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Baptist, Calvinism, Reformed Doctrine, Theology

In a recent blog article my good friend Peter Lumpkins debated infant salvation and the historic view that leads to the doctrine of infant baptism.  The basic understanding of this doctrine is that the elect infants/children that die go to heaven but an infant/child not part of the elect goes to hell.  Thus, the need for infant baptism because that infant in the home of the covenant parents was brought into the covenant through the salvific act of infant baptism.  John Calvin himself argued for infant reprobation, as did the statements of both Dort and Westminster.  Some “Reformed” theologians actually teach infants/children that are not in the homes of Christian parents are not part of the elect.  For instance, popular Reformed theologian, R.C. Sproul, Jr.  questions the salvation of all infants dying in infancy, taking evangelist Billy Graham to task for assuming without warrant the safeness or salvation of all infants.  He writes:

“Mr. Graham reflected the general consensus not just of the world but of the evangelical church, when, in his laudable desire to comfort, he appeared to affirm a new gospel: justification by youth alone. Though Scripture is clear that in sin we are conceived, though it affirms that outside of faith in Christ alone there is no salvation, we comfort ourselves in the face of grim images of the dead children carried from the rubble with the biblically unwarranted assurance that if one only dies young enough, one will be saved.”

Or, what would one make of these words by, what some have coined, “Hyper-Calvinist” James White concerning the understanding that infants who die before the Age of Accountability go to Heaven:

“The fact that the Westminster Confession speaks of God’s mercy on elect infants does not seem to impact … thinking, since, it seems fairly clear to me, anyway, his belief in original sin and the unity of mankind with Adam in his transgression is significantly less than…robust, shall we say? In any case, evidently, reasoned discussion on whether abortion is the best heaven-filling device ever devised by man or whether we should give the disposition of this issue into the hands of the judge of all the earth, trusting Him to do right, is not even allowed in …  world. If you dare think past his simplistic solution, you are a baby-hating Calvinist. Very sad indeed.”

While James White was referencing Dr. Ergun Caner’s satire of White’s book in the above statement, one could place any name in the ellipses that disagrees that infants who die go to hell.  It seems that White takes the view that only the “elect” infants that die spend eternity in Heaven.  That leaves those infants that die which are not part of the Reformed definition of the infant elect.  According to White the children that are not part of the elect are “the vessels of dishonor, vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.” Thus, it seems if one disagrees with that analysis then, according to White, one has found abortion as the best heaven filling device ever invented.  Therefore, as the below quote proves, Dr. Mohler would be seen by James White as encouraging abortion in order to fill Heaven.

Some “Reformed” within our convention have posited the position that Zwingli held, basically that all infants/children who die before a time of understanding, some call it “age of accountability”, are the elect.  Therefore, as the below quote proves, Dr. Mohler would be seen by James White as encouraging abortion in order to fill Heaven.

Consider Dr. Al Mohler’s conclusion:

“We believe that Scripture does indeed teach that all persons who die in infancy are among the elect. This must not be based only in our hope that it is true, but in a careful reading of the Bible”

Mohler goes on to deny embracing the eternal election of all infants dying in infancy affects in no significant way the Reformed understanding of predestination.  However, while we agree with the ultimate conclusion to which Dr. Mohler came (i.e, all infants dying in infancy are under the gracious care of God), we are not as optimistic as is he that the idea “all infants dying in infancy are elect” does no harm to the Reformed view of election.  In fact, while this is a pastoral way of dealing with the issue of election concerning infants/children, it seems illogical and appears to break down the entire Reformed position.  Why would I say this?

Well, the Reformed doctrine of election holds tenaciously to God’s sovereignty and human inability to determine the elect.  Almost all within the Reformed community hold that one cannot know who the elect are.  Some hold to this position to the extent that they will say to share the Gospel with just anyone would be “casting pearl before the swine.”  Of course the later is Hyper-Calvinism run amok but there are those that teach such.  The basic Reformed doctrine would say; “If man can determine the elect then God is no longer sovereign.” Therefore, if we are able to identify a group of people and determine they are the elect based on their being in that group of people then we are tacitly teaching universalism.  Why? God has identified in His foreknowledge a group of people that He elected in eternity past not based on his sovereignty but based on the dates people die.  How absurd is it to say the God of life bases His sovereign election upon the death of a human being?

Of course according to one Reformed thinker, those that believe all infants go to heaven when they die are no more than offering an evangelistic proponent to abortion.  As James White says:

“In any case, evidently, reasoned discussion on whether abortion is the best heaven-filling device ever devised by man or whether we should give the disposition of this issue into the hands of the judge of all the earth, trusting Him to do right…”

He seems to argue that the goals of Planned Parenthood are a viable remedy to evangelism for those who believe that infants/children go to heaven when they die.  What do I mean?  Well, it seems his argument would be, if all infants/children that die are the elect then we should not oppose abortion.  As a matter of fact we should encourage abortion.  Why?  Many parents that choose abortion do not know Christ and their children, according to some in the Reformed community, would not be part of the elect.  However, if Zwingli’s teaching that all infants/children before the age of understanding  are the elect, we should applaud Planned Parenthood on the grounds that the little ones going through the horrible medical procedure we call abortion will spend eternity in heaven.  We should not oppose late term abortions because those babies are part of the elect and thus make it to heaven and the mother has done a great service for that child.  But, let’s take this further.  Could it not be argued, if all infant/children are the elect, that the best way to ensure that Muslim children make it to heaven is to kill them while they are babies?  If that child grows up to the age of accountability then that child will have a more difficult time of getting into heaven.

I know that this is the absurd and some may even accuse me of pushing the extreme while other may even charge me with making a straw man.  However, this is not a straw man because it reveals the logical conclusion of the doctrine of Election when it is removed from the historic Reformed view.  While some Reformed brothers may take this to task and charge me with not understanding Reformed doctrine, that is okay.  However, my good friend Peter Lumpkins has certainly presented the historic position of Reformed doctrine concerning babies that die and going to hell.  If one believes in the Reformed Doctrine of original sin, which as Calvin defines it;

“For if they (infants) bring innate corruption with them from their mother’s womb, they must be purified before they can be admitted into the kingdom of God, into which shall not enter anything that defileth (Rev. 21:27). If they are born sinners, as David and Paul affirm, they must either remain unaccepted and hated by God, or be justified.” (Inst. Book 4, Sec. 17 emphasis mine)

We have to ask the difference in the Zwinglian position versus the position of Baptists  known as the Age of Accountability?  Simple, the Age of Accountability is based on the understanding that

“In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race…” (Baptist Faith and Message 2000 Article 3)

We all understand this and can agree.  However, Baptists go further concerning the position of sin.

“Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” (Baptist Faith and Message 2000 Article 3)

Here we see Southern Baptist take the position of humans having the ability to choose.  While, because the nature is inclined to sin and the environment was affected by the fall, the choice humans make are sinful.  One commenter in our post by Dr. Lemke said;

“Just last night I slipped into my 5-month-old baby’s room while he slept and just watched him, and marveled at how perfect he was. However he is not perfect. He is in fact a slave to sin. A sin nature resides in his heart at this very moment, and he has likely committed some sin in his body that I am unaware of.”

We would not agree with that statement because we would argue a 5 month-old baby does not have the capacity to make choices of sinful actions that are in rebellion against God.  As Dr. Lemke eloquently argued, while we certainly are under the condemnation of the inherited sin, we also are under inherited guilt.  That 5 month-old baby will choose to rebel against God when he/she is able to make to make a choice.  However, until that time the infant/child is under the special grace of God.  As David said in 2 Samuel 12:23, his child died and was in heaven.  One commenter has stated that was not David’s intention in that statement.  He reasons that David was referencing the Old Testament understanding of the grave.  However, there are serious concerns in that reasoning.   Joshua in Joshua 2:1 distinguishes Heaven is the place where God resides. David identified Heaven as the place where God resides in Psalm 11:4.  In Psalm 57:3 David clearly identified that God was in Heaven and it was from there that God would send His mercy.  For one to say;

“Even if we accept the point that David’s baby was saved (or will be saved on the day of resurrection), we still cannot draw a universal conclusion about all babies from it.”

This seems at best naive and at worst denying the prophetic words of David the Prophet.  If Scripture is God’s inerrant word we interpret the Old Testament  through the lens of the New Testament.  Jesus, in the New Testament, spoke about the angels in Heaven that beheld the face of the Father.  This Scripture reveals that God certainly is intimately interested in what takes place in the life of these little ones.  Let me be clear; I am not advocating salvation by angels.  I am saying that if God has angels assigned to monitor the events in the lives of these little ones He certainly has provided a special Grace for them in the event of their untimely death.

Let’s face it, the Reformed view that some infant/children are the elect and some are not remains the more logical view within the system of Reformed Theology than the view that we can determine there is a group that are the elect.  When one presents a group of humans as being the elect, the entire Doctrine of God’s sovereignty has been relegated to a man-made system.

Comments
  1. christianclarityreview says:

    The reality of new birth in Jesus Christ is what separates who will be in the lake of fire or heaven. You, as most others, tacitly buy into the notion ( at least per what you have written..) that identical creatures will be in the heaven and the lake of fire and only have different titles; those in heaven are the ‘elect’ and those same type/species/class of creatures but different individuals in the lake of fire will be ‘the reprobate’. Based on that assumption, you argue about who unborn babies ‘can be’.

    The reality is that the elect can be known when God in you shows you ( “the elect lady” , “knowing your election”, etc. in Scripture ) and that we are born again as a sign of our actual election by the act of hearing the Word of God. In Scripture, some have been called “from the womb’: the Word of God can go anywhere at any time, even through flesh and bone and newly birth the elect baby in the womb. Jeremiah, David, Samson, Paul, John the Baptist etc, were called ‘from the womb’. That puts the nails in planned parenthood’s coffin: abortionists would kill brothers and sisters in Christ outright in the womb.

    You’ve got a scenario where a large group called the elect ‘might’ be getting killed, ..but gosh, its hard to tell unless one supposedly chooses a ‘a position’. But in order to play that game, you have to play the ‘identical creatures in two different places’ game first which is false.

    Abortionist kill the elect when they kill a new creature in Jesus Christ in the womb as equally as the Roman Catholics burned the elect at the stake whenever they could and sexually molested the elect whenever they could. End of discussion.

    Psalm 58:3 The wicked go astray from the womb; they err as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

    Not every elect person is born again IN the womb, but the elect who are born again in the womb:

    Galatians 1:15,16 But when God, who set me apart even from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me, that I may announce him as glad tidings among the nations, immediately I took not counsel with flesh and blood,

    timothy

    In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

  2. Tim Rogers says:

    Timothy,

    I am honestly trying to figure out how you have interacted with the article. It seems that you are taking the position that everyone who dies in the “wormb” are of the elect.

    Also, I honestly cannot understand this statement:

    Not every elect person is born again IN the womb, but the elect who are born again in the womb:

    As for God’s setting people apart in the womb to hear his Gospel, I do not know of anyone that would deny that truth. Thus, why would you bring it up? I do not see where the article articulates anything as to what you are trying to paint.

    Blessings,
    Tim

  3. [...] time off, I have posted on a theological issue pertaining to infant death and election.  You can click here to view the article. // Categories : [...]

  4. Benji Ramsaur says:

    Tim,

    You said “However, until that time the infant/child is under the special grace of God.”

    Perhaps I am missing something, but isn’t your position in the same boat as the position you are arguing against?

    If one says that abortion is best for all children based on their supposed election getting them into heaven, then why wouldn’t abortion also be best for all children based on the supposed “special grace of God” getting them into heaven?

  5. Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case that all children who die go to Heaven. Claiming otherwise does more service to the enemy than the Savior since it demonstrates a willingness to impose on Scripture what is not there. One may well believe God will save all infants who die, but one cannot claim a clear biblical case. It does not exist. The Reformers did well to take a more tentative view, though in some aspects they were not as tentative as they should have been.

  6. Tim G says:

    “not all babies who die got heaven..”???? If ome reads the full context of the Bible one would never ever write much less believe this!

  7. Tim G says:

    Should be “go to…”. Oooops!

  8. Tim Rogers says:

    Brother Benji,

    Perhaps I am missing something, but isn’t your position in the same boat as the position you are arguing against?

    You are correct that I am in the same boat as the position that infants/children that die before the age of accountability go to Heaven. But you are incorrect to state that it is my position that I am arguing against. Why? I am not one that believes in the Reformed doctrine of election as expressed in the Westminster Confession. My position is those who accept and promote the Reformed position as posited in the Council of Dort are inconsistent and illogical to now argue that infants/children that die before the age of accountability are all part of the elect. If I understand the Doctrine of God’s Sovereignty correctly, and I believe I do concerning this position, one cannot know who the elect are but God.

    Brother Chris,

    So, are you saying that Dr. Mohle’s argument is based on emotions rather than Scripture to state that all infants/children who die are the elect?

    Blessings,
    Tim

  9. Tim,

    Very good. Yet I suspect you won’t get many takers from Strict Calvinists on this piece. They ran for the hills from my piece on infant reprobation. Not a single JW supporter showed up for supper. Why? I think partly it’s because Infant Damnation in the dirty little secret of historic Reformed thought, the red-headed step child of their theology.

    Hear Chris’s tone-downed, cautious description of the “Reformers’” position: “The Reformers did well to take a more tentative view, though in some aspects they were not as tentative as they should have been“. Give it up for a double-whammy West Georgia hoot! Tenative? ROFL!!!!!

    Also, you pegged it on Chris’ opening statement as well: “Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case that all children who die go to Heaven.” Let’s look at it this way:

    –[Mohler's] Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case….
    –[Boyce's] Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case….
    –[Warfield's] Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case….
    –[Akin's] Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case….
    –[Manly's] Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case….
    –[Spurgeon's] Emotionalism aside, one simply cannot make a solid biblical case….

    Heck, it looks like the only UNemotional position among Baptist Calvinists is Chris’ position.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

  10. Tim Rogers says:

    Brother Peter,

    It appears that you have spoken correctly about the “red-headed step child” of classic Reformed theology. It certainly does seem that Brother Chris has taken to task Dr.s Mohler, Akin, Boyce, etc., etc.

    To all other readers,

    Have a meeting to attend in another city. Will engage later for those who comment.

    Blessings,
    Tim

  11. Debbie Kaufman says:

    Peter: You are a piece of work. You delete comments that try to engage you in this, shut the door on them and then claim no one came to your party. How sweet for you. This is the dirt you guys dish out and why no one will come to the party. It’s not a discussion, it’s an attempt to smear what you don’t understand.

  12. Benji Ramsaur says:

    Tim,

    You said “But you are incorrect to state that it is my position that I am arguing against.”

    That’s not what I am saying. I am saying that it looks like your position and the position that you are arguing against [two positions that are not identical] are in the “same boat”.

    I am open to the idea that I might be missing something.

    If you are basically saying “according to the Reformed view, abortion would ensure that aborted babies go to heaven”, then why couldn’t someone respond by saying “according to Tim’s view [which believes that all children who die go to heaven], abortion would ensure that aborted babies go to heaven”.

    I understand that the “basis” for the two positions I would assume are different. However, any basis for saying that all children who die go to heaven puts them in the same boat concerning the abortion argument that you are trying to make IMO.

  13. Tim Rogers says:

    Brother Benji,

    You said “But you are incorrect to state that it is my position that I am arguing against.”

    That’s not what I am saying. I am saying that it looks like your position and the position that you are arguing against [two positions that are not identical] are in the “same boat”.

    I am open to the idea that I might be missing something

    I have no problem saying that infants/children who die before reaching the age of accountability spend eternity with Jesus. The argument concerning Planned Parenthood is James White’s. Thus, it is he that argues for evangelism through death if one were to take my, and Dr. Mohler’s and others positions concerning all infants/children who die are the elect. My argument has nothing to do with baby killing being an evangelistic tool. My argument has everything to do with the illogical position of one who adheres to the Reformed Doctrine of Election, but then state all infants/children who die are the elect.

    I pray that clears it up.

    Blessings,
    Tim

  14. AndrewD says:

    Peter,
    You keep on ROFL’ing. It is the same old smarmy presentation you put forth on a regular basis. And your only response to correction is to counter-attack through lies.

    That is the reason why no one comes to your supper. Your pretentious little screeds are recognized as inedible.

    Andrew

  15. Tim,

    I am surprised just now to be finding this post. I was expecting you to notify me when you were planning on posting it.

    Anyway, in defense of what I argued earlier about David’s child, I don’t think you have responded directly to my argument. I don’t see how the affirmation on David’s part that God is in heaven changes anything. Nor do I believe we can impose a full-blown New Testament teaching about the afterlife onto David’s statement. I am not saying that David contradicts what would later become NT teaching, only that we must understand David’s statement in the light of the revelation that had been available to him at the time.

    In the Old Testament, Sheol is simply the realm of the dead. The OT does not clearly distinguish between different places that the righteous and the wicked go after death. They all enter into the state of death, and thus they all go to Sheol. That does not necessarily mean that there is no distinction of what the righteous dead experience and what the wicked dead experience, but the fact remains that whatever they experience, they do so in the state of death (Sheol). The distinction between the righteous and the wicked in the afterlife is hinted in a few places in terms of future deliverance from Sheol for the righteous.

    So when David says he will go to his child, there is no compelling reason to say more than that David expected that one day, he too would enter the realm of death.

    I am not saying that I know for sure that all those who die in infancy are lost. I don’t know that. Nor do I know that they are all saved. I just don’t know, and I trust that God is just in all things.

    But while I disagree with Dr. Mohler on this, I don’t think you have quite nailed him either. Calvinists argue that we cannot know God’s secret decree of election only in the sense that we cannot know before it has become manifest in history who are the elect. In other words, biblical Calvinists will affirm, with Scripture, that the category of people who believe in Jesus are the elect. Wherever you find a believer, you find one who is elect of God (and given that this is biblical language, not simply Calvinistic language, I would think that any biblical Christian would affirm it). The fact that we cannot know who is elect before they come to faith (because of God’s hidden decree) is no reason to affirm that we cannot know that someone is elect AFTER he has believed.

    It would seem that a similar logic would apply for those like Dr. Mohler who believe all those who die in infancy are saved. If death in infancy is one sign that a person is among the elect, then there is no reason why we would not be able to identify it as such after the fact. If Dr. Mohler’s view is correct, then we could not identify a baby as elect on the day he is born, but we could be able to do so if he dies in infancy. While I don’t agree with that view, I do not believe it is internally inconsistent as you have argued.

    The hiddenness of election in Calvinist thought pertains to those who are unregenerate. One of the reasons (but not the only one) we preach the gospel to all is because God has not told us who is and who is not elect. But that does not mean we can never empirically affirm that God has elected someone after we see the evidence of election in that person’s life. After all, Peter tells us to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). God’s electing decree does not remain hidden forever.