Paul's Passing Thoughts

Al Mohler’s Struggle with Babyology

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 14, 2013

971705_10201209119611012_401841662_n“Of course, Mohler would not get away with teaching what Calvin believed on this in Southern Baptist circles so he came up with this formula of original sin versus sin of the body…. Isn’t it funny how babies put the all-majestic Al Mohler between a rock and a hard place?”

The fact that Al Mohler is president of the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention is testimony to the theological illiteracy of American Christians. His blog post entitled, The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven? is one testimony among many. If error was a hornet, reading this post by Mohler would be like whacking a big hornet’s nest. But there is a reason for that: his very doctrinal foundations are flawed.

Mohler begins the article by summarizing the “errors” of others on the issue of infant salvation:

Universalism is an unbiblical heresy. The Bible clearly teaches that we are born in sin and that God will not tolerate sinners. God has made one absolute and definitive provision for our salvation through the substitutionary atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ our Lord. Salvation comes to those who believe on His name and confess him as Savior. The Bible teaches a dual destiny for the human race. The redeemed – those who are in Christ – will be raised to eternal life with the Father in Heaven. Those who have not believed in Christ and confessed Him as Lord will suffer eternal punishment in the fires of Hell. Universalism is a dangerous and unbiblical teaching. It offers a false promise and denies the Gospel.

He will then later state that infants are an exception. His main point is that salvation only comes by a confession of faith in Christ. Apparently, unless you’re a baby.

Mohler continues to build on his confusion:

The Bible reveals that we are born marked by original sin, and thus we cannot claim that infants are born in a state of innocence. Any biblical answer to the question of infant salvation must start from the understanding that infants are born with a sin nature.

So, everyone is born with an original, and we assume, condemning sin, and a confession of faith in Christ is the only solution. Grammatically, if he is going to argue that babies have a way out of this dilemma, these sentences shouldn’t be structured as concepts that have no exception. That’s my point. This guy is a highly paid communicator which is confusing reality in and of itself.

Mohler continues:

Throughout the centuries, the church has offered several different answers to this question. In the early church, Ambrose believed that baptized infants went to heaven, while unbaptized infants did not, though they received immunity from the pains of hell. His first error was believing in infant baptism, and thus in baptismal regeneration. Baptism does not save, and it is reserved for believers – not for infants. His second error was his indulgence in speculation. Scripture does not teach such a half-way position which denies infants admission to heaven, but saves them from the peril of hell. Augustine, the great theologian of the fourth century, basically agreed with Ambrose, and shared his understanding of infant baptism.

Mohler’s confusion has confusion within confusion in this paragraph. He accuses Ambrose of “speculation” and believing in baptismal regeneration, then points out that Augustine agreed with Ambrose, then calls Augustine a “great theologian”! Moreover, Mohler is a staunch Calvinist, and John Calvin held to the identical view of Ambrose and Augustine (CI 2.1.8, 4.16.1, 4.16.17). Good grief!

Mohler then gets into the meaty confusion of his argument:

Those who divide infants into the elect and non-elect seek to affirm the clear and undeniable doctrine of divine election. The Bible teaches that God elects persons to salvation from eternity, and that our salvation is all of grace. At first glance, this position appears impregnable in relation to the issue of infant salvation – a simple statement of the obvious. A second glance, however, reveals a significant evasion. What if all who die in infancy are among the elect? Do we have a biblical basis for believing that all persons who die in infancy are among the elect?

We believe that Scripture does indeed teach that all persons who die in infancy are among the elect.

So, let me get this straight: God elects babies based on looking into the future and seeing that they are going to die, and electing them accordingly, even though they are among those born with original sin. But yet, Calvinists plainly reject the notion that God elects based on foreknowledge. So apparently, God preordains the death of babies as part of His plan for election. This makes the death of babies a good thing, which is exactly the position Mohler will argue later on. However, no New Calvinist is able to fall short of making a complete train wreck out of  everything. In order to clarify the fact that Mohler and Calvinists are as totally confused as they seem to be, he reiterates the theological position:

This must not be based only in our hope that it is true, but in a careful reading of the Bible. We start with the biblical affirmations we have noted already. First, the Bible reveals that we are “brought forth in iniquity,”(1) and thus bear the stain of original sin from the moment of our conception. Thus, we face squarely the sin problem. Second, we acknowledge that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation. We do not deserve salvation, and can do nothing to earn our salvation, and thus it is all of grace. Further we understand that our salvation is established by God’s election of sinners to salvation through Christ. Third, we affirm that Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is the sole and sufficient Savior, and that salvation comes only on the basis of His blood atonement. Fourth, we affirm that the Bible teaches a dual eternal destiny – the redeemed to Heaven, the unredeemed to Hell.

Finally, Mohler gets to the position he takes on this issue:

What, then is our basis for claiming that all those who die in infancy are among the elect? First, the Bible teaches that we are to be judged on the basis of our deeds committed “in the body.” That is, we will face the judgment seat of Christ and be judged, not on the basis of original sin, but for our sins committed during our own lifetimes. Each will answer “according to what he has done,” and not for the sin of Adam. The imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt explains our inability to respond to God without regeneration, but the Bible does not teach that we will answer for Adam’s sin. We will answer for our own. But what about infants? Have those who die in infancy committed such sins in the body? We believe not.

So, the position here is a dichotomy between original sin and sin performed in the body. Original sin and sin of the body. This position is an egregious affront to Calvinism and Reformed doctrine in general. Clever, but totally contradictory. Isn’t it funny how babies put the all-majestic Al Mohler between a rock and a hard place? You see, Calvin didn’t believe in baptismal regeneration per se. He believed in the authority of the church to forgive sins on earth, also known as the “power of the keys.” He also believed in church membership being synonymous with salvation. “In Christ” is synonymous with being “in the church.” Based on this, Calvin believed that babies who were baptized by the church were saved because the church had “loosed” their sins (absolution CI 4.1.21, 22). Of course, Mohler would not get away with teaching what Calvin believed on this in Southern Baptist circles so he came up with this formula of original sin versus sin of the body. It is also why he avoided mentioning Calvin in the post like one would avoid the plague. Let’s see how it works for us:

We believe that this passage bears directly on the issue of infant salvation, and that the accomplished work of Christ has removed the stain of original sin from those who die in infancy. Knowing neither good nor evil, these young children are incapable of committing sins in the body – are not yet moral agents – and die secure in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Starting with a faulty theological premise is like the proverbial more lies to cover prior lies. The Bible in fact states that babies, “are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies,” (Psalm 58:3).

But this leads us to the second babyology problem that Mohler has. Babies, in fact, go to heaven because their consciences are not developed and they are therefore not yet, “under the law” of their heart or God’s law (Romans 2:12-16). Mohler can’t bring this up because Calvin believed that Christians remain under the law. Calvin believed that a perfect maintaining of the law had to be kept in order to secure justification. This perpetual justification is supposedly kept in place by faith alone in sanctification and preaching the gospel to ourselves every day. Or, keeping ourselves “under the gospel.” Calvin didn’t believe that grace replaces the law in justification; the law’s righteous demand still needs to be satisfied in order to maintain justification. Mohler is careful not to go there while woefully overestimating the ability of Southern Baptists to connect the dots.

Mohler concludes the post by quoting Reformers who looked favorably on the deaths of infants: “I cannot be sorry for the death of infants.” And after criticizing Ambrose for “speculation,” he cites a sermon by Charles Spurgeon, in the same post, that propagates the idea that babies who have gone to heaven are calling out the gospel to their lost parents. That’s not speculation?

Spurgeon turned this conviction into an evangelistic call. “Many of you are parents who have children in heaven. Is it not a desirable thing that you should go there, too? He continued: “Mother, unconverted mother, from the battlements of heaven your child beckons you to Paradise. Father, ungodly, impenitent father, the little eyes that once looked joyously on you, look down upon you now, and the lips which scarcely learned to call you father, ere they were sealed by the silence of death, may be heard as with a still small voice, saying to you this morning, Father, must we be forever divided by the great gulf which no man can pass? Doth not nature itself put a sort of longing in your soul that you may be bound in the bundle of life with your own children?”

Problem is, Christ taught that those who will not listen to the word of God will neither be persuaded if someone came to them from the grave. How much less a beckoning from heaven by babies? Total confusion. Mohler is clearly no match for the baby issue.

Like Christ said, from the mouth of babes….

paul

6 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on August 14, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

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  2. lydiasellerofpurple said, on August 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I am simply amazed Al Mohler still has a job in the SBC after the events of the last 5-8 years. From Mahaney to directing a movement that has split many churches to calling his colleagues heretics. The man can get by with anything. The SBC proves over and over it is spiritually dead. And their actions prove they really underneath it all could care less about children. Mohler should have been fired over Mahaney alone.

    Are there no men of character in the SBC leadership anymore? Nope, they are more about their position and retirement.

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    • paulspassingthoughts said, on August 15, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      It’s an institution–not a home.

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  3. james jordan said, on August 15, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    “Universalism is an unbiblical heresy. The Bible clearly teaches that we are born in sin and that God will not tolerate sinners.” (Mohler)

    I have a question for anyone who wants to shoot, and its on the book of life.

    Been listening lately to some Jewish rabbis on youtube, and one of them said in Judaism the belief is that everyone is born with a share in the world to come (aka heaven), and that in Judaism (Rabbinic Judaism, of course) hell serves two functions. One is what we’d call purgatory, where if you’ve sinned bad but not bad enough to lose your share in the world to come, you go burn in hell for up to 11 months, and then get out and go to heaven. The other is if you’re so bad you’ve completely lost your share in the world to come, you go to hell and burn for 12 months, and then cease to exist.

    Now I mention all of that only to focus the question on the book of life issue, because I guess they get the starting point of that afterlife theory from the passage on the book of life in the Torah where Moses asks to be blotted out of the book of life on behalf of the Israelites who worshipped the golden calf (or something like that). Doesn’t the book of life imply some of this? Doesn’t it imply that we are born not damned but going to heaven?

    The book of life in scripture doesn’t start blank (due to original sin) with people being added in when they “get saved”. It starts with names in it and they get blotted out when the people sin (and I would assume telling one little white lie isn’t enough to get blotted out, because I don’t think God is crazy).

    So don’t the passages about the book of life disprove original sin all by themselves? Just a thought. I need to refine this a bit, so I’m crowdsourcing it.

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  4. […] got the quote from Paulspassingthoughts, the article Al Mohler’s Struggle with Babyology.  And this post began as a comment on that […]

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  5. A Mom said, on August 16, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    Mohler seems like a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. Like in politics, where much is decided by wheeling & dealing behind the scenes. I would not trust him to water my plants.

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