G.I. Williamson on WCF Ch. 10:3

Regarding Chapter 10 section 3 of the WCF, G.I. Williamson (in his “Westminster Confession of Faith for study classes”) says the following:

“This section of the Confession teaches (1) that there are some human beings “who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word,” (2) that such may be elected, and (3) that in such cases the Spirit works when, where and how he pleases. Except in such cases as these, regeneration takes place in connection with the use of means of grace which God himself has appointed. But there are some who are incapable of understanding the Spirit’s word, not merely for reasons of spiritual inability but also from natural incapacity. That is, because of dying in infancy or being mentally deficient, they would not be able to understand the gospel even though regenerated. It must be admitted, of course, that the data of Scripture concerning the salvation of such is meager in comparison with that provided for many other subjects. Christ said that little children and even tiny infants are, as such, members of the kingdom (Luke 18:15,16 and parallel passages). And David seems to express the view that infants dying in infancy may be saved (II Sam. 12:23). But beyond these few statements, and good and necessary inferences which may be drawn from Scripture, there is strict limitation placed upon what we may legitimately say in this matter. It is important to note, therefore, that the original formulation of the Westminster Confession does carefully observe this limitation. It only says “elect infants, dying in infancy,” without attempting to speculate as to how many or few there may be of such persons. And the same is true of “all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.”

G.I. said:

“That is, because of dying in infancy or being mentally deficient, they would not be able to understand the gospel even though regenerated.”

Despite being regenerated by God the two aforementioned types of persons cannot understand the gospel, says Williamson. Exceptions to the Romans 1:16-17 rule? Yes. Williamson is making exceptions to the Romans 1:16-17 rule because he falsely thinks that infants and “mentally deficient” persons would be unable to understand and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where does this unbiblical assumption come from? Behaviorism? Unbelieving secular psychology? I’m not exactly clear on where his assumption comes from, but obviously not from Scripture.

Here is Marc Carpenter commenting on infant salvation and how it relates to passages like Romans 1:16-17 and Romans 10:3:

Hi, all. Here are some thoughts on infant salvation:

First, all true Christians believe Romans 10:3 — all who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are unregenerate. No exceptions.

Thus, a true Christian can really only have one of two views on this subject, and they both relate to Romans 10:3.

The two views are these:

(1) Infants do not have the capacity to understand. Thus, since Romans 10:3 says that those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are lost, then all infants are unregenerate.

(2) Infants do have the capacity to understand. Thus, according to Romans 10:3, the infants who believe the gospel wherein the righteousness of God is revealed are regenerate, and the infants who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are unregenerate.

I hold to #2. I believe that infants do have the capacity to understand. We have an example in the Bible of a person who had a less-developed brain than most people who are mentally retarded — John the Baptist. John leaped because he understood.

For an infant to be saved, he would have to be under the sound of the TRUE gospel, of course. So when we’re talking about the children of heathen and any others who have never heard the gospel, it is impossible for them to be saved.

More links regarding this topic:

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/efl47.htm

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/romans30.htm

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