Calvin On Infant Salvation -- By: Charles Eugene Edwards

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 088:351 (Jul 1931)
Article: Calvin On Infant Salvation
Author: Charles Eugene Edwards

Calvin On Infant Salvation

Charles Eugene Edwards

Since John Calvin never taught that deceased infants are eternally lost, how say some among us that he did so teach? Possibly, for the same reason that when a minister in more recent times has publicly denounced the repulsive saying, “There are infants in hell not a span long”: forthwith some hearers have declared that they heard him preach this very obnoxious doctrine! Calvin’s doctrine was discussed with sufficient thoroughness by Dr. Charles W. Shields in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review of October, 1890 (p. 634) with a convincing array of quotations—some references needing correction, perhaps for printer’s errors.

Most of the quotations in this article are from the splendid series of the Calvin Translation Society, which deserves a warm tribute. It is a surprise to see in the Brittanica’s article on Calvin (13th Ed., Bibliography) for this Society, “48 vols. Edinburgh, 1843–1855”, when we can count fifty-one of these English volumes, mostly commentaries. “When will American Calvinists surpass the work of those patrons, some from the nobility, by raising funds for Calvinistic theological literature in English and many foreign languages? A fund of a million dollars would be a bagatelle for such a worldwide need, perhaps not enough for the group of the Slav languages alone; and one year’s income from it, not more than enough to print in English three thousand sets of Turretin’s Theology, the first textbook in Princeton and other seminaries, that Genevan theologian who has been ranked next to Calvin. Do we have not because we ask not? The first denomination, Board, Committee, or institution that obtains such a unique endowment, will have a commanding position, for all other Calvinistic organizations will be inclined to beg for its aid. And observe how lavish in publications are the enemies of the Reformed faith!

Arminius said that Calvin excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture. Hooker said that the “perfectest divines were judged they which were skilfulest in

Calvin’s writings”. In addressing the 9th General Council of the World’s Presbyterian Alliance at a celebration in New York of the 400th anniversary of Calvin’s birth, Dr. B. B. Warfield pointed out that Calvin marked an epoch in the history of the doctrine of the Trinity; that he was the first to present the work of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King; his impulse also was epoch-making in Christian ethics; and he was preeminently the theologian of the Holy Spirit. Also that he was distinctively the Biblical theologian of his age; where scriptural declarations failed him, there he stopped short. American Calvinists should rende...

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