The following is a “guest post.” Marc made some comments on what Vincent Cheung had to say in an article on this topic. In his comments regarding Cheung’s views on Infant Salvation his points of emphasis were underlined — in this post I will put Marc’s original emphases in bold. Marc’s comments were also “Cc’d” to Cheung.
(adapted from email correspondence)
There is biblical evidence that some infants are saved. For example, David said that he would go to his dead son, but his son would not return to him. John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit in the womb. However, there is no biblical basis to believe that all who die as infants will go to heaven. It is indeed possible, since it seems the Bible has no example of any infant going to hell. But it is a mere possibility that all are saved.
Any infant that is saved must be saved on the basis of God’s election and Christ’s atonement. The Bible denies that there is any other basis for salvation. This means that God could create some who would die as infants, but who would be saved, and Christ died for these when he was crucified. The fact that they are too young to be conscious of sin may mean that no conscious faith is required of them. Their minds have not reached the stage where deliberate belief in doctrine and repentance from wickedness are meaningful.
And where did you get that information, Mr. Cheung? What do you know of the cognitive development of infants? Pop-psychology, perhaps? You sound so definitive and authoritative; yet what’s the difference between your definitive- and authoritative-sounding assertions and actual fact? Perhaps this is the case in other areas as well in which you claim to know a lot but are just as ignorant as the rest.
However, this does not mean that all who could not exercise conscious faith are saved.
It may make Christians uncomfortable to say that some may not need to exercise conscious faith,
Uncomfortable? How about saying that the notion will not be received by some because it is anti-biblical?
but we assume that David’s son and John the Baptist had not exercised faith when they were saved.
You assume that. Christians don’t assume that. Your assumption is based on what? Could it be – gulp – the empirical claims of pop-psychology? What happened to your epistemology, Mr. Cheung? Where’s the immediate giving of knowledge? Why can’t an infant receive adequate knowledge from God in order to exercise faith and repentance?
There is a coherent way to explain this that does not compromise the gospel. Recall that even when we speak of salvation by faith, we are not really referring to faith as such, but Jesus Christ. Faith itself does not save – only Christ does. If anyone is saved, he is saved by Jesus Christ.
He is saved by Jesus Christ through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way.
Thus by affirming that infants could be saved apart from faith but not apart from Christ, the gospel is not compromised.
Your gospel is not compromised, but the gospel is compromised.
Christ saves adults in conjunction with conscious faith, and Christ saves some infants – at least two! – apart from conscious faith.
All based on your false assumptions.
I am saved not because of faith, but because of Christ. My faith is a manifestation of salvation, of election and regeneration. It is not a cause of salvation, but rather an effect of salvation.
It is an immediate and inevitable manifestation and effect of salvation. No exceptions.
We would expect a person who receives salvation as an infant but who does not die to manifest this faith when he grows up and becomes aware of right and wrong, sin and repentance, and so on. And this is what happened in John the Baptist.
Really? Not even aware of right and wrong? An amoral human being?
Perhaps the same applies to those who are mentally retarded, although there seems to be no biblical evidence to say that some mentally retarded people are saved, since there seems to be no equivalent examples in Scripture. Their salvation is only a possibility. It is also possible that all mentally retarded people are damned. If this is the case, it would be misleading to complain that they are punished for being mentally retarded; rather, on the basis of the doctrine of reprobation, they would be created as damned individuals in the first place. The point is that there is no theological problem either way.
This does not apply to mentally aware infants, teenagers, and adults who have never heard the gospel – they will all surely go to hell. (I include infants because, although we refer to infants who could be saved apart from faith, many of them become aware enough at an early age, perhaps by the time they are two, three, or four years old). The Bible is clear on this. There are those who try to say that some normal adults may be saved by Christ apart from faith. This is heresy. Those who affirm this should be excommunicated. We must deal with them in the harshest manner we can muster, because the entire gospel and the work of preaching are compromised.
Oh, man, what hypocrisy. Deal with these compromisers of the gospel “in the harshest manner we can muster,” but what of those who say that it is possible that some infants who are not “mentally aware” and who have never heard of the gospel are saved apart from faith?
The popular position that all infants are saved is wishful thinking, and continues as a groundless religious tradition. Those who affirm the doctrine of election have never been able to establish that all those who die as infants are elect. Their arguments are forced and fallacious. And those reject the doctrine of election lacks even this to fabricate a doctrine of infant salvation. Thus the invention deceives the masses and offers them hope based on mere fantasy. The way to comfort bereaved parents is not to lie to them, but to instruct them to trust in God. Whatever God decides must be right and good. It may be difficult due to their grief and weakness at the time, but if the parents cannot finally accept this, that God is always right, then they are headed for hell themselves and need to become Christians.
If a person cannot accept that salvation is always through faith and that salvation always brings forth the fruit of faith (like the Bible clearly says), then he is unregenerate and needs to be called to repentance.
As for why the Bible does not tell us exactly who are saved, and who can be saved apart from faith, if any, it seems that its interest is in addressing those who need to have conscious faith to be saved. In other words, all those who could understand the gospel, must believe the gospel to be saved. This includes all intelligent infants, teenagers, and adults in all parts of the earth, whether or not they have access to the gospel.
This includes everyone without exception.
If someone dies without hearing the gospel, it just means that God has decreed his damnation beforehand. Although he will still burn in hell, the punishments that he receives will probably be less extreme than one who hears and rejects the gospel, since the Bible teaches that those who know more but disobey will suffer more. The fate of those who cannot understand the gospel – fetuses, very young infants, the mentally retarded, and so on – rests in God’s hands, and he does not see fit to tell us what he does with them. Rather, we must mind our own business, examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith, and trust God with the rest.
So why don’t you mind your own business and stop asserting that fetuses, very young infants, and the mentally retarded cannot understand the gospel? The more you open your mouth about this subject, the more of a fool you are shown to be.
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter