Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Calvin - Infants - Original Sin

The Reformed Puritan recently wrote a post (link) which indicatesd that he was taking the position that God "condemns and punishes actual sin, not our original sin state." It seemed to me that this suggested that the guilt of original sin alone is insufficient to damn his children. Such a position would clearly be incorrect, contrary to Scripture, contrary to Reformed doctrine, and would seem to be an incorrect reading to suggest that this position was held by Calvin. If, however, Calvin held this view, then Calvin was wrong.

Nevertheless, I think that the Reformed Puritan's view that God "condemns and punishes actual sin, not our original sin state," while it may be correct (it is not our state of depravity that is the basis for guilt, but the actual sin of Adam our Federal head), is potentially misleading, because of the implicit follow-on that God therefore does not punish children, because they do not have "actual sin." But (as can be seen from the comments below) I had initially missed the Reformed Puritan's point, and perhaps I am now 0-2.

The Reformed Puritan's quotation from Calvin was (UPDATE: The Reformed Puritan has removed this quotation, because it could not be independently verified.):

“I everywhere teach that no one can be justly condemned and perish except on account of actual sin; and to say that the countless mortals taken from life while yet infants are precipitated from their mothers’ arms into eternal death is a blasphemy to be universally detested.” ~ John Calvin, Institutes, Book 4, p.335
I could not confirm that this quotation was an accurate quotation, possibly because I have a different publication of the Institutes.

However, I note that Calvin, in "Calvin on Secret Providence," wrote:

As to your objection, that no one is justly condemned, unless on account of crime, and after crime, I have no quarrel with you on the former point, since I everywhere teach that no one perishes, except by the just judgment of God. At the same time I may not dissemble that a secret venom lurks in your language; for if the similitude you propose is admitted, God will be unjust for involving the whole family of Abraham, in the guilt of original sin. You deny that it is lawful for God to condemn any man, except on account of actual sin. Innumerable infants are, to this day, hurried out of life. Discharge now your virulence against God, for precipitating into eternal death innocent babes torn from their mother's breasts. Whoever detests not this blasphemy, when it is openly detected, may curse me to his heart's content. For I have no right to demand exemption from the railings of those who spare not the Almighty himself.

~ pp. 102-103, Lille's translation (1840)

The passage above is so directly contrary to the presentation in the Reformed Puritan that I cannot help but think that Calvin has been misquoted, and/or mistranslated.

Furthermore, it is plainly the teaching of Scripture that all are subject to the guilt of Adam's first sin, and that consequently even children who do not have personal sin, nonetheless are justly subject both to physical death and to eternal condemnation, unless God (in his mercy) spares them.

God makes no promise to show mercy on all infants who die before committing voluntary sin. God would be fully just to condemn all such to hell. After all, God is fully just to permit their death. If God does not show entire mercy on such infants, even in their death, God shows a degree of mercy in that He does not permit them to compound their guilt through voluntary sin of their own.

The Reformed Puritan states: "I heartily affirm the doctrine of Original Sin. We are radically corrupt, totally depraved and completely helpless towards our salvation without the monergestic work of God regenerating our souls. " But the doctrine of Original Sin encompasses:

The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin. (WSC, I forget which question number, emphasis added, wording may be slightly off)

Consequently, I'm not sure that endorsing only the corruption of His nature is completely endorsing the Reformed (and Scriptural) doctrine on the subject. But perhaps the Reformed Puritan was not trying to be exhaustive, and mentioned part for the whole, metonymously.

May we all praise our Merciful and Longsuffering God!


UPDATE: The Reformed Puritan, place of the original quotation above, which has now been removed, has quoted this:

His (Servetus’) third point is, That all who believe not in the Son remain in death, the wrath of God abideth on them (John 3:36); and, therefore, infants who are unable to believe lie under condemnation. I (Calvin) answer, that Christ does not there speak of the general guilt in which all the posterity of Adam are involved, but only threatens the despisers of the gospel, who proudly and contumaciously spurn the grace which is offered to them. But this has nothing to do with infants. At the same time, I meet him with the opposite argument. Every one whom Christ blesses is exempted from the curse of Adam, and the wrath of God. Therefore, seeing it is certain that infants are blessed by him, it follows that they are freed from death.

~ Calvin, Institutes, Bk 4

While I appreciate that the new quotation appears to be fully accurate, I don't think it establishes the point that the Reformed Puritan is trying to make. I don't think it says that infants are punished only for personal and not imputed sin.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment over on my blog. I've responded on there to your post, but would like to correct something you say here as well. You write,

"The Reformed Puritan recently wrote a post (link) suggesting that the guilt of original sin alone is insufficient to damn his children."

~ I pray I never say or even suggest that the guilt of Original Sin isn't sufficient to damn anyone (including my own children).
It clearly is, as I think I point out several times in my post and or comments.

Thank you again for contributing to the discussion.

David McCrory
The Reformed Puritan

Turretinfan said...

Please accept my apologies for mischaracterizing you. I'll try to re-read your post and re-write my post appopriately.


GeneMBridges said...

Usually, the "doomed from the womb" issue arises from Arminian objections anyway.

As I recall, Calvin affirmed infant reprobation. After all, "before the foundation of the world" we were all elected or reprobated. No matter how you construe the decree (double or single) we all have to agree on that much.

What Calvin did not affirm was that infants who die go to hell, which , according to Warfield is one of several views within the Reformed tradition. However, in Calvini's view, those infants who are reprobated "from the womb" proceed into an act sin in their lifetime (the way an elect infant possibly born regenerate from the womb would proceed into actual faith very early on in their lives), so that they are not thus dying solely on the basis of Adam's sin, but on the manifestation of that sin, proving that their reprobation was just. Remember, he lived in an era of extremely high infant mortality. His concern is probably driven, at least in part, by his pastoral concern for his flock, to give them some assurances about their children's eternal state.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Mr. Bridges,

You state: "What Calvin did not affirm was that infants who die go to hell, which , according to Warfield is one of several views within the Reformed tradition."

Warfield is right that the election of all infants who die in infancy is one of the views within the Reformed Tradition. It was, for example, the position that A.W. Pink took.

However, as can be seen from the quotation I provided in the main post above (not the first quotation, which I suspect is a misquotation but the latter quotation) from Calvin pretty clearly suggests that Calvin believes that many infants go from their mother's arms to hell, and that it is "virulence" to suggest that God would do so unjustly.

I've seen people quote only a portion of the block I provided, and try to conclude that Calvin was suggesting that suggesting the damnation of infants was blasphemy. The context of Calvin's comment clearly contradicts any such notion.

Nevertheless, if it turns out that I have simply overlooked a portion of Calvin's Institutes where the alleged quotation is to be found, I will have to seriously rethink my position.


Anonymous said...

Turretin Fan,

Have you considered the views of Spurgeon, C. Hodge, Warfield and RL Dabney who all affirm the election of all infants?

I have looked for historic reformed views which deny "all infant" election has haven't found much. Do you know of any?

David McCrory
The Reformed Puritan

Turretinfan said...

In contrast, and in addition to the quotation provided above, recall this (which certainly is from Calvin's Institutes):

"Hence Augustine, though he often terms it another’s sin (that he may more clearly show how it comes to us by descent), at the same time asserts that it is each individual’s own sin.14 [143] And the Apostle most distinctly testifies, that “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” (Rom. 5:12); that is, are involved in original sin, and polluted by its stain.
Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from theirmother’s womb, suffer not for another’s, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt. "

And again, in another place, "For if they pretend that infants do not perish when they are accounted the sons of Adam, the error is more than sufficiently confuted by the testimony of Scripture (1 Cor. 15:22). For seeing it declares that in Adam all die, it follows, that no hope of life remains unless in Christ."

And yet, Calvin acknowledges that SOME infants are saved:

"Moreover, infants who are to be saved (and that some are saved at this age is certain) must, without question, be previously regenerated by the Lord. For if they 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)."


Turretinfan said...

Dear David,

Yes, in addition to Pink, there were others who believed in the universal election of all infants dying in infancy.

As pointed out in my original post above, Calvin believes that at least some go from Mother's breast to eternal death.

Upon further review, my confidence is building that the alleged quotation provided in your post is of dubious authenticity. I have found nothing remotely close to it Calvin's Institutes.

It appears to be a faulty gloss on the actual quotation of Calvin that I provided above. Perhaps it is a footnote inserted by a soft-hearted editor who shared Pink's view.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your investigating the issue. If I cannot find sufficent evidence to support it, I'll have to revise my posting.

So my question has been, isn't there a general consensus amoung Reformed thinkers that all infants are elect, and that only a minority believe otherwise?

David McCrory

Turretinfan said...

I think the majority position is: we don't know, one minority position is that all who die as infants are saved, and another minority position is that all covenant infants that die as infants are saved. I would think the former minority surpasses the other.

The Westminster divines appear to have been in the majority position, and in consequences thereof stated that "elect infants" dying in infancy are saved, rather than simply saying that "infants dying in infancy are saved," or the more clunky "infants dying in infancy are saved because God has elected to save all infants who die in infancy."

God has not told us that all those dying in infancy are elect. It is quite soft-hearted to hold such a position, but such a position is not exegetical, and should not be dogmatic.


TheoJunkie said...


I don't see that this has anything to do with whether all or some infants go to heaven or hell. As you noted in your post, no one is saved but by grace-- and God may shed his grace on none, any, or all according to his good pleasure. Therefore, whether infants are guilty of Adam's sin (which I disagree with), or guilty of having a sinful nature (which I disagree with), or guilty of their own personally committed sin (which is my position)... they are all guilty and all deserve hell.. and yet still-- like any adult-- may be saved.

My understanding of Original Sin (regardless of what the WCF or WSC says) is this:

That because of Adam's transgression, our natures are cursed to be depraved according to the depravity that Adam revealed when he first sinned. This depravity causes us to sin voluntarily at the first opportunity... that is, no human will fail to sin immediately, and all humans will succeed in sinning immediately... and therefore, all humans from the moment of their existence have committed actual sin, sin that is their own act.

Paul (who of course wrote Rom 5) also states:

Rom 2:6He will render to each one according to his works: ... 8but for those who are self-seeking (or "contentious") and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
12For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Rom 3:
11no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
17and the way of peace they have not known."
18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,


Romans 14:23
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Additionally, the writer of Hebrews says:

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please him,

My conclusion is this:

1) ANYTHING anyone does-- whether it be to murder, or watch TV, or give all your financial worth to charity, or suckle milk from one's mother, or lie in a crib and coo... or even lie in a fallopian tube and divide from one cell into two... is SIN, if it is done in the absence of faith.

2) God indeed does condemn each individual for the sins commited personally by that same individual.

3) All human beings have personally committed at least one sin from the moment they exist.

I believe that infants who are saved, are saved by grace... through faith in Jesus Christ. If we believe that infants may be brought to "think" well enough to have faith by the grace of God, then we must also believe that they by their original nature may also "think" enough to voluntarily sin in some fashion or another and thereby disqualify themselves from eternal life based on their own merits.

I believe that Federal Headship pertains to the curse of depravity that all humans "enjoy" as a result of their being stemming from Adam. I don't believe that Federal Headship mandates that we have adopted/transferred guilt of the specific act of eating the fruit in the garden.

It seems to me that if we have to resort to saying that infants are only guilty of Adam's specific sin act (on the reasoning that they cannot think for themselves enough to voluntarily commit their own sin)... then so also we must abandon the scripture that states that none are saved except through faith (for if they cannot sin on their own, then they cannot be brought to belief either).

Neither in faith nor in sin, are we talking about "brain powe" or "mental capacity to understand"... both in sin and in faith, we are talking about acts that are committed at a much deeper level. Faith is so simple that a babe can be saved through it... and sin is so simple that a babe can commit it.

(BTW... I'm enjoying the freedom of being able to discourse candidly without the need to guard my words lest a freewiller use disagreement to justify his position that RT is wrong. I trust you take nothing personally unless it is personal!)

Turretinfan said...

Dear TJ,

Last things first: you are most welcome to speak your mind. I censor quite infrequently, and I don't take disagreement personally (as best I can).

As I understand it, your argument flows:

a) Some infants are saved.
b) The only kind of salvation is by grace through faith.
c) Some infants have faith.

d) If one can have faith, one has the capacity for sin.
e) Prior to regeneration, one will act on one's capacity to sin.
f) Consequently, unregenerate infants have actual sin.

The logic is fairly sound.

My main point of disagreement is over (d). It may be that God gives very young infants precocious ability with respect to faith when He plans to gather them to Himself by the mechanism of an untimely birth.

Surely it is, however, the case that very young infants are actual sinners. They come forth from the womb speaking lies, as it is written.

On the other hand, the guilt of Adam's sin is certainly imputed to children. Paul's comparison with respect to the imputation of Christ's righteousness is to the imputation of Adam's guilt.

And God himself declares that he is "visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children." It would not be just for God to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty, so the children must (as a matter of justice) be liable for their fathers' sins under a theory of imputation.

That might leave us with a sense of hopelessness. We have not only Adam to our father, but also 50+ generations of fathers after Adam, none of whom were perfect.

Nevertheless, if we repent and trust in God, those sins and our own personal "actual" sins will not be held against us. We may not use the excuse, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge."

I'm curious: do you deny that guilt is imputed to Adam's children for the sin of eating the forbidden fruit?


Anonymous said...

Dear brothers,

might I add one thought for your careful review?

As I have read hereon Turretinfan I am indeed become a FAN OF TURRETIN!

Let us not forget the stumbling block story as Jesus told!

My own observation tells you why!

Once long ago I was "sent" on a mission for my Church, new born bible believing hippies full of contempt for this certain government, the United States of America during the late sixties and early seventies.


Newly blest with GUILT AND SHAME because as the Apostle tells it, HOW WOULD I KNOW I COVET UNLESS THE LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS CAME ALIVE IN ME?; loose paraphrase! :)

I was assigned the duty of driving one of several tractors. My job was to keep the apple pickers picking apples without much pause.

I delivered empty bins to the orchards and brought full ones to the barns for loading on the trucks to haul to the canaries in Yakima Washington, several miles away.

We were a large bunch about 200 plus or minus a few souls. We had a sizable crowd of infants and toddlers.

Every noon time the whistle blew the pickers stopped pickin' them apples. Me, well, while I dodged apple pickers walking quickly to eat their noon day lunch, I had to bring in the fulls and bring out the empties. I always got to eat my noon day lunch a half past or so. Day after day through this picking season I would get my noon day chores done and hurry my tractor to the kitchen area to eat. Every day the infants and toddlers would be there just outside the eating hall playing in the sand box and on the swing sets and with many of the toys put there for them to play with during the lunch time.

After about 2 and a half months of day after day driving up to that spot where I parked my tractor, I, for a reason I now understand, stopped and quickly said to the playing children, do not touch the tractor. I went inside and went about eating my lunch. the 1 p.m. whistle blew and I got up and out the door I went to find every one of those little rascals where? Yes, all over that tractor.

Not another word was said, but every day after just as I passed those sinners by, I, heading into the lunch hall saw them all heading to the tractor!

I became by "my law" their stumbling stone and rock of offense!

Lord, forgive me this wrong. These boys and girls, not one time before every thought about going to that tractor, not one time, until I said, don't do that!


Stumbling blocks we are. We would be well faired to be instruments of His Great Comforts instead!

Now these little ones, just crawlers and unsteady walkers would only benefit from us older ones by how we raise them up looking for the same opportunity for them as for us:::>

2Co 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Co 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
2Co 1:4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2Co 1:5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2Co 1:6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
2Co 1:7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

One thing I am sure of now and it is found in the Words of the Prophet that there will be found pure speech:::>

Zep 3:5 The LORD within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame.
Zep 3:6 "I have cut off nations; their battlements are in ruins; I have laid waste their streets so that no one walks in them; their cities have been made desolate, without a man, without an inhabitant.
Zep 3:7 I said, 'Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then your dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you.' But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt.
Zep 3:8 "Therefore wait for me," declares the LORD, "for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.
Zep 3:9 "For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.

lordodamanor said...

Quite an interesting conversation. The quotes from Romans and Hebrews fairly well sums up the case.

The interesting thing about receiving faith is that it is a passive participation on the part of the one who is born of the will of God.

Being born in the flesh is a passive participation also. One might say that the child does not give birth to himself, but that is not quite the case. Though it is a monergistic work, the process is not without the participation of the one being birth. The same can be said of conception. The conceptus is because it has been conceived. Without its being there is no conception. There is in this an implicit, passive participation. Faith follows like this. Without the reception of it it does not exist in the receiver and for it to exist in the receiver there is a passive reception that is active in the receiver. To have it is by its nature to express it. It is expressed not by the actions that are external to it, but it is as Isaiah says, "My Word that goes forth from my mouth will go and do that thing which I sent it to do and it will not return to me void." It is what is does, and does what it is. It may be by confession, mental assent, and so forth. But, the fruition of faith is to return to its source, no matter what course or encounters it may have along the way.

Hope this is not confusing so far.

The imputation of the sin of Adam is actual sin for the same reason. The passive agent is active in the participation of the thing imputed. It is not then another action that brings it into existence. This would be like a child being conceived and then conceiving himself. No, in the first act, the act of conception, the thing conceived is at once participatory in the act.

The possession of sin, or if you want, the nature of sin, is itself sinning. In the imputation of Adam's sin there is in the imputation at once the passive and the participitory. It is simply a matter of what is is. At conception that nature imputed is possessed. As in the fall, it was the possession of the knowledge of good and evil (in man not God) that made him, in the act of receiving that knowledge, the transgressor. Before the fall, man was not by nature sinful so the action could not have proceeded from sin. The action proceeded from good. It was in the possession, not the action of taking, when the possessor became the trangressor. There too we see that it is not the eating that is the cause of death, but in the curse that God has place upon it. In becoming the transgressor, Eve was in sin at the point of the imputation, not before, logically. On her part the sin which condemns is the possession of the sinful nature (knowledge of sin), which was imputed to her by God, after she ate. But, in this she is, because it is her nature, a passive participant in it.

Hope I have not muddied the waters. The interesting thing is that we cannot separated the nature from the action. Jesus said as much, "If a man looks...he has already." Whether infants are elect or not is mystery. I side with those who say they are. On the other hand, what God will do with those who are his servants, we would do well to take his advice to Peter, "What is it to you...you follow me!"

Anonymous said...

Infamts, unless incredibly precocious, cannot exercise faith. Faith comes by hearing (i.e., understanding). So if infants are saved, they are the exception to the rule. They must be regenerated by God . Just as the mentally dificient may be saved, but they are another exception.

Anonymous said...

I would certainly agree with you that we just don't know how God handles the destiny of infants who die early in life. But, I think its abundantly clear, as you have already pointed out, that infants are not born into this world innocent. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:3 that that we are all "children of wrath by nature." I think its significant and can't be ignored that we are 'naturally' objects of God's wrath - which would necessitate that even infants who die must be 'elect' and covered by the blood of Christ. Does God elect all or just some? I wish I knew.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Machaira,

Thanks for your comments! Perhaps God has, in His wisdom, hidden this matter from us so that we will not be distracted from our positive duties under the sixth commandment.


Turretinfan said...

Dear Godith,

Yes, and there is much mystery involved in what infants do and do not understand.

If there is a way of salvation apart from faith in Christ, it is not revealed in Scripture, and I am hesitant to speculate that such another way may exist.

In any event, however, their need for regeneration begins at the moment their physical life begins.


Turretinfan said...

Lord O'Manor,

Yes, we cannot consume ourselves with wondering whether and why God has chosen to save (or pass over) some.

We need to be about our Father's business, including following Christ.

Nevertheless, it is a topic that frequently arises in a pastoral context, even in this age when infant mortality is relatively low.

The loss of a child can be a very hard providence for a father or a mother to submit to. Some take solace in a view that the child is in heaven.


Turretinfan said...


Thanks for your comments, and I appreciate the vote, though my goal is not to garner fans of Turretin, but rather to direct people to the truth of God's word.

As one recent adversary wrote, I am just an "anonymous" blogger.

If these posts are edifying, praise God! That is my hope and prayer, and reason for posting.


TheoJunkie said...


First, a slight correction on your understanding of my position:


As I understand it, your argument flows:

a) Some infants are saved.
[correction: Infants (any or all) may be saved, and pray they are, but equally possible is that none are saved. I don't take a dogmatic stand, for I cannot. I hope they all are, and tend to think they are (praise God for his mercy if they are), but if none are, praise God in his justice if they aren't.]
b) The only kind of salvation is by grace through faith.
c) Some infants have faith.
[correction: some infants may have faith-- if any infant is saved, it is by grace through faith.]

Now a question:

You: the guilt of Adam's sin is certainly imputed to children. Paul's comparison with respect to the imputation of Christ's righteousness is to the imputation of Adam's guilt.

Do you base this entirely on Romans 5?

You asked: I'm curious: do you deny that guilt is imputed to Adam's children for the sin of eating the forbidden fruit?

Not dogmatically... but I don't accept it dogmatically either. I simply do not see in scripture that GUILT is imputed from Adam to us. As noted, it is clear that we (by his headship) suffer depravity that is conveyed (rightly so) to us. I also see in scripture that God condemns based on "our works" (versus the works of any other. I don't find in Romans 5 that GUILT is imputed, but rather that we personally commit sin because DEPRAVITY is conveyed (not imputed, but transferred literally).

I certainly see where people find the logic of the parallel with the picture of imputed guilt from Adam and imputed righteousness from Christ. However, it seems that there is a difference (it is not a scriptural parallel). We are "counted" righteous with the alien righteousness that is Christ's alone-- we are not actually righteous, but it is ONLY the righteousness of Christ that is "reckoned to us". However, in the case of Adam, we are not "counted" guilty but "actually are" guilty. This is not an imputation... the sin we have is not because we are "covered by Adam's sin"-- God does not look at me and "see Adam in me"... instead, he looks at me and sees ME, when considering my sin. In contrast (and this is where the proposed parallel breaks down), in Christ, God sees me as righteous because he sees CHRIST in me...

In the case of righteousness, Christ covers me... but in the case of sin, I have no covering (including that of Adam).

Hopefully this makes sense. I will explain further/rephrase if desired.

Turretinfan said...

Dear TJ,

Thanks for the clarification. Sorry for my micharacterization of your position.

As for your question: not entirely on that basis, though I think that is a strong basis.

I also base it on the first commandment, the execution of Achan's family, the sentence on Ham's son Canaan for Ham's mockery Noah, and the judgment on the descendents of those nations that refused passage to the Israelites (among other passages).


Anonymous said...

If you check the WCF (knowing it's not Scripture, but result of many men's study of Scripture) you'll find that the authors make provision for extraordinary circumstances. See Chap. X:3 Clark's commentary on it says, "Presbyterians had never held that all who die in infancy are lost. What the Confession is interested in, is whether any dying in infancy can be saved. If salvation unexceptionally depended on hearing, understanding, and accepting the Gospel, no child who died in infancy could be saved. Nor could any imbecile. Section iii declares that infant salvation is possible." [What Presbyterians Believe, p. 117]

Turretinfan said...

Dear Godith,

Thanks for the confessional (and Clarkian) confirmation.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for updating my update. Right before this all broke out I was going to move my blog to a new site,


I have now done so. I'm keeping Reformed Puritan up, but I will continue blogging at Soli Deo Gloria, and have added your site as a link there.

Keep up the good work.

David McCrory
Soli Deo Gloria

Turretinfan said...

Dear David,

You're welcome, and thanks for adding me.

May God's blessing rest on you,


Anonymous said...


by permission only, I wanted to touch on one little "gnat" and try to swallow the proverbial camel, if I can?

This address is for “lordodamanor”, one of the commenter’s hereon and one little word he brings to the debate on elect infants.

Here it is lordodamanor in your comments above:::>

""Faith follows like this"".

This phrase comes in the middle of your paragraph:::>

""Being born in the flesh is a passive participation also. One might say that the child does not give birth to himself, but that is not quite the case. Though it is a monergistic work, the process is not without the participation of the one being birth. The same can be said of conception. The conceptus is because it has been conceived. Without its being there is no conception. There is in this an implicit, passive participation. Faith follows like this....""

This morning in my daily time with the Lord, that one sentence in that paragraph kept crowding in on my time with the Lord! “grrrrr” I thought.

Then as I listened to the Lord about this sentence, I came to these verses of Scripture:::>

Rom 5:15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
Rom 5:17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

Of course Turrentin has added this “stream of thought” herein and brought the debate over from David McCrory’s blog and so to Turrentin I commend this now: “thanks Turrentin for your gracious hosting of this stream of thought!”

A couple of Greek words stand out as I ponder your one little sentence as it relates to elect infants and this stream of thought you produced and was allowed hereon. It could be analogized as a pebble in my mental shoe on my “right foot” while I am walking around in this stream of thought. It’s bugging me! So here’s my “left foot” then.


You see that ENGLISH word at verse 16 and verse 18.

But they are not the same GREEK WORD.

Here is the GREEK WORD used at verse 16:::>

From G1344; an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: - judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness.

Here is the Greek word used at verse 18:::>

From G1344; acquittal (for Christ’s sake): - justification.

Quite a bit of difference I suppose?

How does your sentence then square with the debate or not? Let the readers be the Judge.

I would add this to it; that for an infant to “exist” is FAITH. FAITH IS NOT SOMETHING WE FOLLOW. FAITH IS THE ETERNAL NATURE OF GOD. His omniscience is ETERNAL and so as A.W. Tozer said:::>GOD CANNOT LEARN, if He could learn, He then would not be OMNISCIENT. FAITH IS ALWAYS ACTIVE, not passive.

FAITH is it then. I believe if you would look at that sentence from “God’s point of view” you would say it something like this:::>

FAITH IS NOT TO BE FOLLOWED because FAITH IS ACTIVE. FAITH LIKE GOD IS TO BE KNOWN! Faith then is a GIFT THE ACTIVE GOD GIVES HIS CREATED CREATURE. Yes, for the creature to be joined to the GIFT, he must receive the GIFT. The creature is passive but the GIFT IS NOT. As an aside, Lucifer, a creature, abused his gift of FAITH and now is diabolically opposed to and actively works against the GIFT OF FAITH actively working in you.

An infant, …[to make it to the stage of God’s present creation, “IN THE BEGINNING” Genesis 1:1, to be a “formed substance”, from whoever’s womb, Eve, Jew, Gentile, Scythian, barbarian, bond or free]…, is a candidate for FAITH. Without FAITH, there is no ETERNAL LIFE. Without the GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE, there is no FAITH. Judgment is upon the CREATURE in this CREATION not after it. The debate about original sin and our own activity is of no value when one looks at the outcome of the dead infant. The judgment has come the moment the live infant died. You might say we were all “born” still births, or dead.

Another way of saying what I am saying is, if you were created by the ETERNAL GOD, you are a candidate for eternity, His eternal judgment! WHERE YOU END UP IN ETERNITY IS QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT THAN WHO YOU ARE IN THIS TEMPORAL REALM. We all came from EVE. That is OUR FAITH. There are only debates until that revelation hits us right between the eyes. After the revelation the problems begin, “us”; like the problems the Apostle faced in his day….>

1Co 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1Co 1:11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
1Co 1:12 What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ."

And I might just add, just by reading this post proves you are no infant! 

And further it proves this one debate isn’t getting us very close to the end of the debate! 

Turretinfan said...


I appreciate that it took you some time to draft that, and so I published your comment.

Your post raises a lot of other issues ...

For one thing, I'd encourage you to try to find and use a more literal translation of the Bible. The KJV is (IMHO) the best that's available. Nevertheless, there are many others that are also good, such as the NKJV, the ESV, and the ASV. I'm not particularly fond of the NASB or the RSV, but a lot of folks like them as well.

When you use a loose translation, it is though you are starting from someone's commentary on the text, as opposed to starting from the text itself.

Secondly, I don't think there's a big difference between the two Greek words. I would view the -oma as being the act that accomplishes the -osis.

In other words, in 16, the -oma produces a state of -osis with respect to the many offenses, just as the krima (decision) produces a state of katakrima (adverse decision) for all mankind.

Then in 18, only the katakrima and -osis are mentioned.

The chain is:

Offense -> judgement -> condemnation

Righteousness -> -oma -> -osis

There is a slight difference, but not a big difference.

With regard to the remainder of your post, I have to say that I think you have some rather unusual ideas of what faith is.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen. Faith is trust in God.

There are other ways to use the word, and more comprehensive definitions (Turretin provided a 9-part definition). But Faith is not "THE ETERNAL NATURE OF GOD," but perhaps you will feel I'm taking you out of context.

In any event, the order of temporal salvation is, in the ordinary course of events:

After Conception
1. Regeneration (without which the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be seen)
2. Faith in God.
3. Justification on the merit of Christ.
4. Gradual Imperfect Sanctification
5. Glorification of the spirit upon death.
6. Glorification of the entire man upon the Resurrection.


Turretinfan said...

To my Arminian readers, I want quickly to point out that I have quoted Calvin above, because the debate is (at least partly) over what Calvin said.

I'm not suggesting anyone should believe what Calvin said because Calvin said it. I don't believe what I believe for that reason, and - while Calvin was blessed with a great deal of insight - Calvin was fallible and made mistakes.


Anonymous said...


thank you for your gracious reply.

First off I cut and paste the original from the Strong's.

Secondly, I thought my quotes were directly ESV? I might in haste to paste cut from another translation???

And thirdly, I have been told I am unusal.

My thoughts, ponderings and meditation have been continually on the Lord and His Word since 1975. The Grace of God in Truth has set me apart since then and provided my livelihood ever since then so I willfully spend at times several hours a day just in silence before the Lord listening to Him. One time I went over 90 hours in prayer and those that were with me said at times the Glory of the Lord was so great upon me even my clothes were sheet white and bright! And there has been at times opened up to me spiritual thoughts on these three aspects of Them, "Faith", "Hope" and "Love" I have been beside myself, you might say looney.

That is not to say that I do not daily seek forgiveness since I do, seeing I am the first to tell anyone who will listen that I am most grateful to My Lord for His GRACE, MERCY and PEACE that He constantly pours into my spirit daily.

Just the other day these words of Scripture came "alive" in me and it was as if I had never read them before, albeit I have read the entire Bible in many translations over and over and over again besides being under direct instruction from some very good Bible Scholars:::>

1Ti 1:12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
1Ti 1:13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
1Ti 1:14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

There are some things that are in CHRIST JESUS that are in all of us when Christ comes to dwell inside our "TENT", Christ in you the Hope of Glory!

I have on more than one occasion had this occur between Jesus and me since I have been in ministry now going on 33 years. Some of the places in the world I have been led to to minister have not been pleasant to say the least. I have faced armed robbers, and some fairly nasty dangers. I have been present on at least eleven battle fields and seen things unspeakable hereon. One time a Muslim man looked right at me and said these words:::> "I could have you shot right now". I was in Nigeria meeting with the brother of a at the time, current President!

Here's the Words about the Apostle I refer too having myself experienced:::>

Act 14:3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Even still I am humbled that you would even take the time to respond to my words with such a critical eye.

I do believe I do have a sense of FAITH. I do understand that I am the one being molded by FAITH. I believe somehow the Church Teachers in the last hundred or so years have lost the FIRE OF THE WORD so that that Paul speaks to Timothy about has dimmed and we do not see the manifestation of the Lord Himself like we read about there in Acts 14.

I am all ears and open to receive reproofs of instruction.

Again, my point to that last post was to the term FOLLOW FAITH which for me now I just cannot get my mind around that concept or idea.

But if you can get your head around what the brother wrote about that I isolated this morning, by all means, teach me so that I can too?

As to the one English word JUSTIFICATION at Romans 5 and those two Greek words:::>

Here is the GREEK WORD used at verse 16:::>

From G1344; an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: - judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness.

Here is the Greek word used at verse 18:::>

From G1344; acquittal (for Christ’s sake): - justification.

I honestly can say with some sincerity that I am not as bold as you. I see much in the difference and depth of meaning because of them.

My understanding goes along these lines and feel free to be most critical as I have gained some confidence just in the little reading I have done of you to sense a deep understanding of some things I just don't have a sense of. I know in part as you and I see dimly, you?

The first word is significant in that CHRIST DID AN EQUITABLE DEED!

The second word is significant in that because of the FIRST WORD, His Father, My Father can now acquit me of my wrong doing!!!

When I ponder what was quickened to me years ago when I first was looking at those two words this passage from Colossians came so alive to me that I melted before the altar of the Lord where I had come boldly before in prayer to My God so filled with Joy for what God was doing to me, little ole' me:::>

Col 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
Col 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
Col 1:22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
Col 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

As you know, we have been called to be defenders of the FAITH once delivered to the Saints:::>

Jud 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jud 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

By the way, since you made mention of it, all quotations of Scripture are the ESV translation!

Might I continue then and sink my teeth into it and post from the Peshitta some verses from Romans that I just marvel at soliciting your thoughts and understanding?

I was in Fort Worth, Texas last June visiting one of my spiritual mentors. I was talking to him about my desire to study Aramaic. He quickly got up and opened up a book case and pulled from its shelf a Peshitta translation of the Bible. Since then I have down loaded onto my Computer this translation.

Here are the verses from the Peshitta translation which I shamefully have to admit square with who I am, a very wretched man!

Romans 5 at verse 5...>
5 And hope causes no one to be ashamed; because the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.
6 ¶ But Christ at this time, because of our weaknesses, died for the sake of the wicked.
7 Hardly would any man die for the sake of the wicked; but for the sake of the good, one might be willing to die.
8 God has here manifested his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be delivered from wrath through him.
10 For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also glory in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation.

and Romans 5 at verse 16....>

16 And the effect of the gift of God was greater than the effect of the offence of Adam; for while the judgment from one man’s offence resulted in condemnation of many, the gift of God in forgiveness of sins resulted in righteousness to many more.
17 For if by one man’s offence, death reigned, how much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
18 In like manner as by one man’s offence, condemnation came upon all men, even so by the righteousness of one man will the victory to life be to all men.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man shall many be made righteous.
20 The introduction of the law caused sin to increase, and when sin had increased, grace became abundant.
21 Just as sin had reigned through death, so grace shall reign through righteousness to eternal life by our Lord Jesus Christ.

I just have to say, that's me pure and simple, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

The Aramaic and the Hebrew in their original written form are very close and one little jot or tittle give mean as well as other meanings in the structure of the words from the original manuscripts utilized to make these English versions, ESV and the Peshitta.

Well, I hope this was helpful. I do not want to come off as being defensive or in anyway justifying myself.

If I have seems so, please admit it and I heartily will seek to apologize that there can be true reconciliation between us?

The Father, Our God can now make peace with us directly and personally because of the Blood of His Very Own Only Begotten Son, shouldn't we also as His Children have the same with each other?

I also hasten to mention John:::>

2Jo 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
2Jo 1:10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
2Jo 1:11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

I rest and await your kind reply.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Netamllc,

I agree that the definitions you provided were from Strong's. That doesn't change my explanation stated above.

I was suprised by the apparent laxity of the translation you used, but (as far as I can tell) you are correct that it was from the ESV, which is not terribly loose overall. Please accept my apologies for hinting otherwise.

I will let Lord O'Manor speak for himself, but I think by "Faith follows like this" he simply meant to introduce a discussion of faith ... from it's starting point, to its fulness in the life of a Christian. I'm not sure if that's helpful to you or not.

I also enjoy reviewing various versions, including the Peshitto. When I review those versions, I don't arrive at a different, but the same conclusion I mention above.

Of course, dear Natamllc, I welcome peace ... please do not take my criticism as suggesting otherwise.

We may disagree on many things, but we can do so in a peaceable way.


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes Fan of turretin

His post did gender discussion hereon about FAITH!

Please, if he reads, let him reply!

Your words of his:::>{{""I will let Lord O'Manor speak for himself, but I think by "Faith follows like this" he simply meant to introduce a discussion of faith ... from it's starting point, to its fulness in the life of a Christian. I'm not sure if that's helpful to you or not.""}}

Yes, yes, very helpful indeed!

Anonymous said...

Fan of Turretin

Might I inquiry, are you sitting in some town in Switzerland?

Are you four or five points complete with Calvin?

From Eureka, Ca.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Michael,

Theologically, I suppose you could say I'm sitting in Switzerland, or Edinburough, or Westminster. The Westminster Standards (by which I mean the Confession of Faith, and Larger and Shorter Catechisms - and not necessarily some of the other documents the assembly produced) provide an accurate summary of much of what I believe the Bible clearly teaches.

Calvin, of course, never had a chance to hear of the five points. Nevertheless, if they are properly understood, I believe that the five points are Scriptural. There's certainly much more to Reformed doctrine than those five, but they provide a useful set of distinctives.


Anonymous said...

Well then it would be fair to say of the Fan of Turretin,

I'm Biblical too!

Glad to meet you and I am so amazed at those so different that have such a soul as mine!

Act 4:32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
Act 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Reginald,

I hope the following humor column will not offend you, but help you see that we (in the Reformed camp) see the differences as rather significant.


Beware of Humor - it is not a real story - the real story is much more disturbing, but not germane to this discussion.

Muslim and Christian?

Catholicism is certainly closer to the Reformed faith than either Episcopalianism or Islam, there is a wide gap.