The Doctrine of Infant Salvation Part 1 -- By: Alan H. Hamilton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 101:403 (Jul 1944)
Article: The Doctrine of Infant Salvation Part 1
Author: Alan H. Hamilton


The Doctrine of Infant Salvation
Part 1

Alan H. Hamilton

Introduction

Although it is now a comparatively dead issue, the question of the salvation of infants, dying such, has been one that has intrigued, tormented, and divided the visible church for many years. That it is dead now is not because its answer is clear in the majority of minds, nor because theologians are in agreement upon it, but probably because the advent of liberal theology has caused the Church to be occupied with such basic doctrines of the faith as the inspiration of the Scriptures, the deity of Christ, and the like.

It may be safe to say that the majority of Christian people today believe that the infant who dies is taken to safety and bliss in heaven, but relatively few of these could give a clear reason for their hope. Since few people go through life without this problem touching them more or less intimately, it is profitable from the practical standpoint that one should have investigated the Scriptures and have considered the faith of the people of God through the years, before coming to a conclusion for oneself.

The doctrine of infant salvation has, in the second place, value as a test of theological systems. The utter inability of an infant to do anything for himself drives the investigator to the core of theology to consider the attributes and decrees of God; to the core of anthropology to consider the nature and extent of sin and grace; to the core of soteriology to know the breadth of the salvation provided in Christ and the part, if any, which the recipient must play in it; and to the core of ecclesiology to understand the character of the true church and to discover whether or

not the visible church has any capability for dispensing grace by means of its ordinances. “No system of theological thought can live,” says Warfield, “in which it [the doctrine of infant salvation] cannot find a natural and logical place.”1

A third benefit, particularly worthy in the light of present trends in child study, will be derived from knowing assuredly the spiritual state of a child born into the world, so that if he should live rather than die, he may be understood and dealt with accordingly.

The entire program of Christian religious education will be built upon the educator’s answer to these three questions: (1) What is the spiritual state of the child as he comes into the world? To this, two contrasting answers have been given, the one that he is born with a spiritual life which must be carefully cultivated and directed, the other that he inherits the curse of a fallen race and is born devoid ...

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