Friday, June 27, 2008

SPEAKING OF CALVINISM...

HERE is an excellent article for you to read and to consider. It is about as coherent an article that I have ever read on this subject. BUT, and you know what that means, was to much ground yielded in order to make sense of a subject that so little is directly known about?

Consider this quote: "First, the grace, goodness and mercy of God would support the position that God saves all infants who die. This is the strongest argument and perhaps the decisive one. God is love (1 John 4:8) and desires that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)."

Now I certainly do not have a problem with that reasoning but is that sound reasoning according to the Calvinistic understanding of Scripture? Many arguments center around the "all" of I Timothy and it seems here that the authors do not have a problem with the fact that God would be desirous that all would be saved. I see an inconsistency here. Does all really mean all? Does all really mean just the elect? OR Does all really mean the elect plus any un-elect infants who die in infancy? I have not written the authors directly and highly doubt that they have any clue who I am or even have the time to interact here on this blog, but the questions I raise I believe are relevant. For if it is conceded by Calvinism that God truly desires that all men(and by that all I certainly mean ALL) be saved, then much of the bickering that exists between Calvinists and Non-Calvinists is a whole lot of smoke and mirrors.

There may be more options but I came up with three.

1. ALL means all of the elect AND non-elect infants.(Non-elect infants go to heaven)
2. All means only, all of the elect.(Non-elect infants go to hell)
3. All means all.(God does not get everything He desires but He does do everything He decrees).

Wow, that last parenthesis ought to raise a few eyebrows.

Great article and I hope bringing attention to it helps you in your own studies.

And that is what I think...

8 comments:

Byroniac said...

Luke, great article. Thanks for linking to it (I believe both men are worthy of great respect, and if I'm not mistaken, Mohler is the only five-point Calvinist out of the two). I'm not perfect or infallible in my understanding of Calvinism, but I'll write my take on this.

Yes, I think you are right to raise this understanding as a potential inconsistency. This is why you have John Piper and others who raise the two wills of God: decretive, which is absolute and predestined; and preceptive, which deals with the moral law and God's righteous expectation of obedience. This allows for God to decree and predestinate all events, both good and evil, while still desiring good and blessing on those who obey. To be honest, I don't fully understand all of it, but it makes sense to me (so far).

Most of the fellow Calvinists I have talked to would hold as I also do to election being part of God's absolute, decretive will, subjecting all events to His predestination. That is, the exact number and identity of the elect has been predestined by God and is known infallibly to Him, and these alone are the ones for whom Heaven is prepared. This could easily include babies who die in infancy. It's not a large leap in logic for the Calvinist to assert that only the elect die in infancy, but not all elect do obviously, and the non-elect is given time and space by God to live out his inherited sinfulness from Adam in rebellion against God, loving the things of darkness instead of the light given by Christ. If I understand Spurgeon correctly, his beliefs leaned this way (certainly according to the article, and what I have personally read before, Spurgeon believed that all infants who died in infancy went to heaven).

I have mixed feelings about this. I do not necessarily believe that every infant who dies goes to heaven, because I see no guarantee in Scripture that all infants who die in infancy always go to heaven, David's unnamed son with Bathsheba not withstanding. The Scripture verse of Psalm 137:9 immediately springs to mind, and being Holy Scripture, cannot be in error, though it certainly wouldn't be easy to preach. However, in my heart, I strongly hope that Spurgeon, Akin, and Mohler are right.

Luke said...

Byron,

Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you found the link helpful.

Two passages that might shed some light into this subject are:
Isaiah 7:15-16 and Deuteronomy 1:39.

Thanks for your explanation though I am unmoved in regards to the idea that I believe there is still inconsistency in their theology where they have addressed this issue. Even if I were to grant your understanding of the two wills as put forth by Piper, I am unsure how that would help the cause. To me, it is a great leap within election to state that all babies who die in infancy go to heaven. That would necessarily mean that ALL babies go through a state where they are "ELECT". But then, through personal sin, they would become non-elect and I just do not see that as holding up under the scrutiny of consistent Calvinistic theology.

Hope ya'll have a great day in the Lord tomorrow. May He continue to send workers into the harvest.

Byroniac said...

Luke, you might find these articles interesting. They won't convert you, probably, but they're good for reference. Hope you will enjoy them.

Exegetical Study of 1 Timothy 2:4

Order of God's Decrees

Byroniac said...

Luke, to further explain. God's election happened in eternity past, and determined the identity of the elect who will be redeemed to salvation in heaven. It is no stretch of this logic (held by 5-point Calvinists) to say that God has also determined the life circumstances of the individual elect, including the idea that God has determined that only elect will die in infancy, that not all elect will, and that no non-elect person ever will. Remember, election has occurred before any of the individuals were even born or before the events of their lives were predetermined. It does not necessarily follow that a "phase of election" is required in order to justify babies going to heaven who die in infancy, especially as God has foreseen all events and in the Calvinistic system, has predestined all events. As far as I'm aware, this does not even require the two wills of God theory in order to exist, as it depends upon God's raw power of election and predestination. However, the two wills of God might be used to justify such.

Luke said...

Byron,

You are correct, the I Timothy exegesis did not convert me. However, your offering is precisely WHY I questioned Mohlers apparent use of ALL not in a restrictive sense at all. That is where I see the inconsistency, at least according to the exegesis to which you refer. I even quoted that particular paragraph and that is what I am focusing on. Perhaps I'll try to email Dr. Mohler and ask him of this.

Dave Miller said...

I found that article interesting. They were right to say that the Bible doesn't speak to this directly. But there is something in us that wonders about the fairness of infants dying and spending eternity in hell.

Grosey's Messages said...

Yes Luke that is a good article, and yes I agree there is an inconsistency there with the usage of 1 Tim 2:4
I would guess that the "all" in verse 4 is the same "all men" in verse 1 and verse 2...
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

.. and refers mroe to all types of people...
Steve

Mark Heath said...

Obviously God doesn't get everything he desires, even according to the Wesleyan thinker. Especially according to the Wesleyan thinker with a 'looser' idea of free will. Why would it be terrible to say that God does not get everything He desires? We sin, and God doesn't desire that.