Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Salvation of Babies and Pelagianism

John Bugay had a quote from Bavink (3:26) that I thought was interesting for another discussion I was having about infant salvation. Bavink's analysis concerning the subtly crept in philosophy of Pelagianism within Protestant circles is important for people who argue that infants are not one with their parents in salvation but are still saved anyway. In orthodox Christianity, if the sin of Adam damns all of Adam's children, then all children are damned unless faith can be exercised. Hence, since children are one with their believing parents, faith has been exercised, and the children of believers are therefore saved. But in modern evangelicalism (based upon Enlightment views of individuality), each person is distinct from his children, and therefore, the child who is not capable of exercising faith must be damned. The heretical adoption of Pelagianism is necessary for modern evangelicals in order to maintain a doctrine that does not damn all infants, regardless of whether their parents are believers, to hell. If the devil doesn't get you to adopt heresy outright, he'll swing back around and get you to adopt it via assumption.

[In philosophy and other religions], outside of special revelation sin is either treated deistically in terms of human will alone or derived pantheistically from the very necessary nature of things.

Both views also found their way into Christianity. The British monk Pelagius rejected all notions of original sin and considered every person as having Adam's full moral choice of will. The fall did not happen at the beginning but is repeated in every human sin. Though the church rejected Pelagianism in its extreme form, Roman Catholicism maintained the notion of a less than completely fallen will, limiting the fall to the loss of the donum superadditum, which can only be restored by sacramental grace.

When the Reformation rejected Roman Catholic dualism, streams within Protestantism, notable rationalist groups such as the Socinians as well as the Remonstrants robbed Christianity of its absolute character by dispensing with the need for grace in some measure. The image of God is regarded as the fully free will, which, like that of the pre-fall Adam, remains intact. While we are born with an inclination to sin, this inclination is not itself culpable; atonement is needed only for actual sin. Suffering is not necessarily linked to sin; it is simply part of our human condition.

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