Thursday, June 14, 2012

More thoughts on The Infant Hermeneutic

Some time ago I wrote an article entitled The Infant Hermeneutic.  It was a look at the error involved in those who rely too heavily on how little ones might be saved in order to build their soteriological system.   Just yesterday I received a phone call from my aunt who experienced first-hand how much reliance extremists place upon infant salvation to promote their unbiblical heresy.  She has been blessed in the past couple of years to come to see the error of time salvation and the empty Christian experience it entails.   At a funeral she confronted a well-known and what I would consider a learned elder in much of the Bible.  In her conversation she asked him some of the most fundamental questions concerning the relationship that exists between the children of God and Jesus Christ their Savior.  I have been blessed to teach her in the past that conditional time salvation attacks the very heart of religion, challenging the certainty of God's people knowing God and believing in His Son in both mind and heart.
The response to her elementary question “Will one go to heaven who does not know God?” was…
If they are an elect child of God then they will.”
As justification for his fatalistic application of election, he offered the case of infants as his “proof” that such must be the case.  His reasoning is that since dying elect infants can’t know God, then the same must be allowed as possible for the rest of God’s family.  If one is honest with the scriptures, however, he knows that this is an unwarranted deduction.  There are very explicit texts in the Bible which teach that God’s elect will know the one true God and His Son, and that those who do not are damned.
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:14)

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” (Col. 3:10)
"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:8)

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

It is ironic as well that the same ones who do this often rely upon the New Covenant as stated in Heb. 8 to make the point that all of the elect will know God, having been taught directly by Him!

“And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (v. 11)

Let me borrow fellow contributor Stephen’s thought here.

“Consistency thou art a jewel!”

If pressed, however, on making such a terrible conclusion that the elect will not necessarily know God, extremists will resort to the usual way of escape by asserting that there are “two kinds” of knowing God.  God’s elect will have a subconscious knowledge of God, but not a conscious one.  They will know Him but not know that they do!

What a load of nonsense!

Why is it that the majority of the Christian community who correctly assert that the sheep will KNOW their Shepherd have explicit texts in the Bible stating that they shall do so, when those who oppose are reduced to rationalizing about what is more or less a mystery?  The Bible says very little about the salvation of infants.  To walk through a door which God has only cracked open and proceed to build one’s doctrine thereupon is a dangerous way to interpret the scriptures.  We agree with the words of Dr. Sam Waldron on this point:

“…to draw from speculation about the regeneration of infants a deduction which flies in the face of Scripture is thoroughly unjustifiable procedure” (A MODERN EXPOSITION OF THE 1689 BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH)

Furthermore, we disagree with the very premise itself which says that infants shall not know the Lord, believing that God is able in His Sovereignty to reveal himself in the manner which is pleasing to Him.

For those who adhere to the London Confession, they know as well that this “hermeneutic” turns chapter 10 on its head!  The Old Baptists of the past did not employ such a rule in bible interpretation.  They allowed the plain statements of scripture to determine their beliefs and regulate their Christian conduct.  We should do the same in our day.  As both individual Christians and a church body, we should adhere to and follow what the Bible explicitly teaches in regards to cognitive agents.


Michael D. Green, Jr. said...


The Bible teaches that His sheep shall hear His voice...

Jhn 10:27-28 KJV - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

The question (that I have previously raised) is what degree if belief is necessary for one to be considered part of the elect. Do the baptists exhibit enough? Catholics? Mormons? Muslims? Jews? Please help me understand.

Your statement towards the end of this post is spot on, IMO....

Furthermore, we disagree with the very premise itself which says that infants shall not know the Lord, believing that God is able in His Sovereignty to reveal himself in the manner which is pleasing to Him.

Are you willing to extend this same principle to others beside infants or do others have to hear/believe/embrace the gospel to know the Lord? I guess this ties in with my initial question.


Bro. Michael

Kevin Fralick said...

My good friend Michael,

First of all, one does not have to be able to answer such detailed questions to accept bible propositions. If Paul writes that we are children of God “by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:26), it is not a prerequisite to know the exact degree to which they must believe before I accept what he writes as fact. The fact that he speaks of faith as yoked with salvation is enough in and of itself to assure me that some measure of faith is necessary for salvation. Your line of reasoning leads me to conclude that if Paul were alive today, you would demand of him that he either be more specific or commence to elaborate when he writes. If Paul writes that the reconciled family of God are those who are blessed to “continue in the faith” (Col. 1:23) would you engage him with your philosophizing by asking him such things as “What particular faith Paul?” or “How much are we to continue?”, and then deny it based on your failure to get an answer to such details????”. Or would you simply accept as true what he writes, knowing that the text teaches there must be some measure of continuance into some kind of faith?

The Bible also says, for example, that Christ became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Heb. 5:9). Should we believe what he says, or must I first find the answer to the questions of how often we must obey, or to what degree we must obey? And should I deny it if I'm unable to ever find the answer?

One should never let what he knows be disturbed by what he doesn’t know. If you, I, or anyone else, were unable to give an answer as to how much faith one must have to be saved, that is no cause to deny the fact that we are saved by grace THRU faith. I will answer your question, however, by saying that unless one believes in Christ in both his mind and heart, he proves himself to not be of the elect, and is lost.

But let me turn your philosophizing back upon you.

What degree of faith is necessary to get a time salvation?

Is time salvation available for the Catholics, the Mormons, etc., or is it something available only to those in your order?

Can a person get a time salvation if the gospel is preached by anyone, or must it be a Primitive Baptist elder?

What about those who never hear the gospel? Why has God not guaranteed a time salvation to them?

Why do you scrutinize and deny my position with your philosophizing, but accept your time salvation heresy without doing the same? The fact that you and others do not do this implies that your beloved time salvation is OF MAN, and therefore an Arminian system. If it were OF GOD, then you would be striving with just as much vigor to ensure its stability as you do with respect to eternal salvation!

In regards to my statements about infants….

No, I do not extend that principle. Why ask a question to which you already know the answer? Is not this the very thing I am arguing against in my article? You may read the tenth chapter of the London Confession to see what I believe the Bible to teach. I will say, though, that when I wrote that God is able to reveal himself to infants in a way pleasing to him, this is not a surrendering on my part that God cannot make use of biblical truth in their salvation as well, if he should choose to do so. It just so happens that the one I quoted, Sam Waldron, also pens it correctly:

“If it is possible for God to change the heart of infants, why is it not possible for God to give them the ability to embrace his Word in faith?”

Last, I find it very interesting that you begin your comment with a text which destroys your position. Christ says His sheep follow him upon being regenerated. Do you believe this?

Or is “following Christ” part of discipleship as opposed to sonship? But if the former, is Jesus saying that those who become sons do in fact become disciples?



Michael D. Green, Jr. said...


I have no difficulty with accepting scripture. John 20 speaks of the irresistable grace of God and preservation of His elect. This leaves no question in my mind....

My 'philosophizing' is born out of the notion that some additional means is added into the mix of eternal salvation.

I am short on time, but will try to write some more at a later date.


Bro. Michael