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Summary: The Biblical basis for the belief that all infants who die are saved is the atonement of Christ which releases all from the penalty of original sin so that none parish for Adam's sin, but only for their own personal transgressions.

While visiting in the hospital I met a woman who was

anxious to talk about the salvation of infants who die

without baptism. She had good reason to be searching for

information to give her hope. 18 years ago she lost a baby

girl who had not been baptized. Her pastor came to call on

her, and she asked him about the state of her child. He told

her the child was lost because she had failed to have it

baptized. This pastor no doubt really believed it, but he was

a victim of a perverted interpretation of Calvinism which

Calvin himself repudiated. He was a Presbyterian but

apparently was uninformed, for Presbyterians have a system

that offers the greatest hope. His neglect of his theology led

to this woman, and who knows how many others, to live in

agony of soul and guilt for years. For 15 years this woman

grieved because she failed to get water put on her babies

head.

Friends finally persuaded her to go hear a Baptist

evangelist who spoke on this issue. He assured her that her

baby was saved. She was happy when I was able to give her

some Biblical illustrations of salvation without baptism such

as David's baby by Bathsheba who died on the 7th day.

David accepted it and said in II Sam. 12:23, "I will go to him,

but he will not return to me." The attitude of David

indicates his hope of seeing that child again. Another

illustration is the thief on the cross who was saved without

baptism.

But what has this got to do with Jonah? This last verse in

Jonah has played an important role in the history of the

doctrine of infant salvation. It is the only passage we have

where God reveals His attitude of love toward heathen

children. These who could not tell their right from their left

hand were innocent helpless children, but who would grow

up to be bloody warriors. Yet God had compassion on them.

Many have taken this to prove that God loves all who will die

in infancy, and will save all such, even of the heathen. The

big question has been how He will do it.

Calvin and Servetus agreed that all infants would be

saved just like those of Nineveh. Servetus said it was because

God was just and would not damn an innocent baby. Calvin

said this was heresy for it denied original sin. He said they

can only be saved by God's grace. Servetus was prosecuted

before the assembly where he was condemned as a heretic

and burned at the stake. In theology it is not enough to be

right, you must be right in the way you arrive at your

conclusion, or you are still wrong. It cost Servetus his life

because he arrived by the wrong road. I agree with Calvin

that grace alone is the basis for infant salvation, but it is a

poor exhibition of grace on the part of men to kill their

opponents who disagree on how to get to the same

conclusion.

On no issue has man proven his folly more than on this

issue of infant salvation. On numerous occasions men have

implied that it is up to them and not God to decide the

matter. Some have decided to damn them, and others have

decided to save them. At one council, after long debate, they

voted that all who die in infancy will be saved. One man on

the council, who saw the folly of voting on this as business,

brought his point home by standing and moving that this be

made retroactive to take in all those who died before the vote

was cast. The intricate arguments of theologians on this matter are

not without great value, however, for they can lay a solid

foundation for our belief. In the hour of crisis one cannot

quote Calvin or anyone else's theology, but can only assure

the grieving of God's love and mercy. But unless that

consolation has a sure foundation in Scripture and theology,

it is nothing more than deception, and so it is worth the time

to go deeper into this matter to prepare ourselves as

messengers of comfort. We want to look at this matter from

three points of view.

The historical; the Biblical, and the practical. The historical

is first, not because it is more important, but because we

want to see the problem before we look at the answer.

I. HISTORICAL.

The earliest reference to infant salvation goes back to the

second century where the attitude is optimistic. Aristides

speaking of death and the Christian reaction says of the

child, "If it chance to die in infancy they praise God mightily,

as for one who has passed through the world without sins."

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