Monday, April 21, 2008

Innocent from Man's Perspective or God's?

A poster at Steve Gregg's forum, using the handle "Suzana" made an interesting argument in favor of the supposed innocence of young children. I've presented here basic argument below, followed by my response.

Suzana's basic argument is based on Psalm 106:37-38

Psalm 106:37-38
37Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, 38And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

Then, her implicit argument was that because it says "innocent blood" it means that the children had no guilt of sin.

My response to is as follows:

With respect, I think you're overreaching to view "innocent" there to refer to absolute innocence. It seems easier to understand that passage as referring to innocence in the eyes of man's law. Compare, for example, Deuteronomy 19:10, in which the person who kills his neighbor without malice is considered "innocent," even though surely you would agree that a person who is old enough to be out chopping wood has committed at least one sin in his life in view of "all have sinned ...."

If then it is simply a statement that the children did not commit any capital crimes, then there is no reason to infer absolute sinlessness to such people.

It's actually a frequent idiom in Hebrew to say "shed innocent blood" as a way of saying "murder." (see, for example, 2 Kings 21:16, Proverbs 6:17, Isaiah 59:7, Jeremiah 22:3 & 17, and Joel 3:19).

Let us not hesitate to stand up against the shedding of innocent blood at the hands of women and their doctors, who sacrifice their children not on the altar of Molech but to the altar of convenience.

-TurretinFan

11 comments:

luvvom said...

So what was her reaction? Apparently, she doesn't believe in total depravity?

BTW, do you believe all babies go to heaven or even some?

Turretinfan said...

As best I understand, her reaction was to abandon that particular verse and to turn to other verses.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

As far as babies go, I teach what the confession teaches, namely that elect infants go to heaven.

Whether God has elected all, some, or no infants (who die in infancy) is something he has not revealed in Scripture.

God would be perfectly just to elect none, but - for those who are covenantal - God's promise to be a God to us and to our children can give believers hope that perhaps God has miraculously saved their infants who die in infancy.

-Turretinfan

Ken Abbott said...

I grant you the evidence is indirect, but I believe Scripture does affirm the election of one who died in infancy--David's first son by Bathsheba. David himself seems quite convinced he will see the child again.

Very nice blog, by the way. I visit frequently but I think I've commented just once before. Keep up the good work.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Ken,

Thanks for your comment. I've gone back and forth about how properly to understand both David's comments about his lost son and whether they should be viewed as adopted by Scripture or merely reported by Scripture.

On the other hand, his lost son clearly proves a rather different point, and one that hope to address soon.

Nevertheless, when dealing with a grieving father, I do not hesitate to point to David as an example of what seems to me to be a godly putting aside of grief.

-Turretinfan

luvvom said...

This is truly a difficult subject to debate. I care nothing of injuring grieving parents...I don't feel it furthers the kingdom. However, if one believes that there is such a thing as elect infants who never hear the Gospel and never confess with their mouths, then one is not protected from those who claim a person in the jungle who is of the elect and who never hears the Gospel and never confesses with their mouth can indeed go to heaven. God's truths must have the ability to be applied consistently to each group of people or else we have two ways of salvation. I don't think we can use "election" as a basket that we can throw anything we want into it. There is a salvific process in Scripture to which we must adhered. None of it can be thrown out. So we can believe that God has the power to regenerate the infant, but we've thrown out the part of hearing the Gospel and confession. Those are essential to the salvific process...ones we cannot throw out for certain groups of people. Even the thief on the cross heard the Gospel and confessed Christ.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Luvvom,

It is important to distinguish between accepting God's providence for our dead children, and creating a doctrine from our own imagination.

And you are right, that a doctrine of automatic salvation of babies can quickly snowball into plainly erroneous doctrines, such as doctrines of the salvation of unevangelized savages.

-TurretinFan

luvvom said...

"It is important to distinguish between accepting God's providence for our dead children,"

David stating he would see his dead child one day is not enough Scripture on which to base a doctrine. How do we not know that David said this of his own accord? How do we know that it came from the Holy Spirit through David? Without other corroborating Scripture, we can't know. Therefore, I think it is wrong to make a doctrine of this significance based on one Scripture. I do hope I'm wrong, but I would need more than just David's quote in Scripture to convince me.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Luvvom,

"David stating he would see his dead child one day is not enough Scripture on which to base a doctrine."

I'm not even sure he said he would see his dead child again - just that he would go to him, which could be equally interpreted as that David too would die.

"How do we not know that David said this of his own accord?"

That is one of my points ... Scripture is inspired, but this is inspired reporting, not necessarily inspired narration.

[More in which I think luvvom basically agreed with what I was saying.]

"Therefore, I think it is wrong to make a doctrine of this significance based on one Scripture. I do hope I'm wrong, but I would need more than just David's quote in Scripture to convince me."

I agree that it is at best a very tenuous thread upon which to try to hang any doctrine of infant salvation.

-TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

hello,
curious to what you think about this debate that happened this saturday regarding "original sin".

it was verses the pelagian view of original sin:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/RefiningFireRadio/2008/12/20/Original-Sin-Debate

Turretinfan said...

I think the debate probably should have been longer to be useful. Also, it was a bit disappointing to see the Peligian debater bringing in new arguments (like the historical argument) in the concluding speech. I think the Calvinist speaker made some good points, but the format made it difficult to provide detailed explanations in response to the arguments.

-TurretinFan