Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Quick Response to TJP's "Infant Damnation" Series

T.J. Pennock has provided a series of posts aimed at (apparently) suggesting that Calvinists either:
1) all believe in "infant damnation"; or
2) tend to believe in such a doctrine.

A. W. Pink (a Reformed writer who clearly did not hold such a view) has already addressed this particular emotional criticism of Calvinism. Given the number of Reformed authors from which TJP quotes, one has to wonder whether TJP is aware of Pink's work.

But let's assume that TJP was right.

1. No one, not even a baby, deserves heaven.
2. Because of Original Sin, all deserve hell.
3. If God has mercy on even one baby, that is his perogative.
4. Scripture reveals no other way to heaven than by faith in Christ.
5. Scripture reveals that the ordinary way to faith is by hearing the preaching of the word.
6. That way seems largely unavailable to infants, but John the Baptist seems to supernaturally have had faith in his mother's womb.
7. If God chooses to save infants some other way, he has not explained that in Scripture.
8. God would be just to send every person, infant or not, to hell.
9. If God sends all or every infant who dies in infancy to hell, God is just.
10. If God sends even one infant who dise in infancy to heaven, God is gracious and merciful to that infant.
11. God decides whether an infant dies in infancy or not.
12. God decides whether such an infant goes to heaven.
13. God is the God who wrote (at least once himself personally in stone):
Exodus 20:5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Exodus 34:7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Numbers 14:18The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Deuteronomy 5:9Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

And of course:
Psalm 137:9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Children are not "innocent." Their judgment - if they are judged - is just. If they escape judgment, it is only because God mercifully covers their guilt with Christ's righteousness.

That shocks TJP, or he thinks it will shock his readers.

But tell me what is more shocking:
1) That God justly punishes a person for inherited guilt; or
2) That God permits a truly innocent child to die a horrible and painful death.

If children are truly innocent, number 2 is true; if the law of Moses is true and just, then number 1 is true.

You decide whether to buy the emotional argument of TJP, or the exegetical argument of Reformed theology.

-Turretinfan

9 comments:

GeneMBridges said...

There are five views on this topic within the Reformed Tradition. B.B. Warfield named them. For a man who visits the library so very often, Mr. Pennock can't seem to represent the theology of those about whom he writes. Rather, he picks out who HE considers representative and then runs with it. It would seem to me that the way to pick representatives would be to start with a representative survey by Warfield and then talk about that.

natamllc said...

Infant damnation, hmmmm?

Here is something that came to me some months back and after it I will state my belief on infants and damnation:

Grace, as defined is What God Gives us that we don’t deserve.
Mercy, as defined is What God does not give us that we do deserve.
Peace is the outcome of both Grace and Mercy from God in our daily lives.

What about Jesus, what did He get and did not get??

Jesus did not deserve what He got from God and was given, so hence, He was shown no Grace.
Jesus did not deserve what He got from God and was not given, so hence, He was shown no Mercy.
Therefore Jesus was deprived of Peace from God.

Seeing the Grace is God's gift to us undeserving and Mercy is what God restrains doing to us that we do deserve and Peace is the outcome of both GIFTS from God, an infant is in my opinion the FIRST TO SUFFER PEACE WITH JESUS FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY, should they die! Albeit, one must die to receive God's Grace, Mercy and Peace!

Turretinfan said...

Natamllc,

Thanks for your comments!

-Turretinfan

Lucian said...

the emotional argument of TJP

I'm a level-headed person, so this overtly romantical rhetoric of brain-over-heart (or viceversa) doesn't particularilly appeal to me.
And his argument is based on conscience, which is God's voice in each and any one of us; including unenlightened pagans. (St. Paul, Romans). If You toy around with conscience, you sink even below their ranks. -- just my $.02, for what it's worth ...

Turretinfan said...

The point, Lucian, about the argument being emotional is that the argument makes a fallacious tug on the emotions in order to bypass reason.

-Turretinfan

GeneMBridges said...

I'm a level-headed person, so this overtly romantical rhetoric of brain-over-heart (or viceversa) doesn't particularilly appeal to me.
And his argument is based on conscience, which is God's voice in each and any one of us; including unenlightened pagans. (St. Paul, Romans). If You toy around with conscience, you sink even below their ranks. -- just my $.02, for what it's worth ...


It's nice to see that Lucian puts natural theology over revealed theology.

It's also nice to see that he ignores the rest of Romans 2, for in the text to which he refers, mankind is said to have the law of conscience and is as yet condemned. That law is perverted by sin; it is of no use as an epistemic standard by which to judge the truth of revealed theology.

Isn't it fun to watch how quickly even the Orthodox will abandon the doctrine of original sin when pressed?

Turretinfan said...

Dear Gene,

You may recall that according to Basil the Great, many doctrines are hidden in the liturgy of the church.

Apparently the doctrine of "original sin" was hidden too well.

One wonders why - if there is no original sin - Orthodox folks believe in "baptism for the remission of sins" and yet practice infant baptism.

Of course, I jest about it being hidden to well. It simply has been forgotten, although there is a liturgical reminder that should spark the Orthodox awareness.

It's an interesting example of tradition in the form of maintaining one's doctrines via liturgy doesn't work very well.

-Turretinfan

GeneMBridges said...

LOL! That was great!

Turretinfan said...

Lucian,

A comment was posted to this thread, using your screenname (but not logged in as your blogger identity) that include remarks like: "infatuated deformities" and "f[r]iend" (brackets in the comment as provided).

Apparently some imposter is trying to discredit you by posting comments in your name. I just thought you would like to be aware.

If whoever posted it happens to read this, please desist. Doctrinal tensions are hot enough without irrational insults being hurled, especially by imposters.

-Turretinfan