Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I hate you, Supralapsarianism

I was in a discussion about whether babies are saved or not with a Calvinist the other day, and he asserted that no, they are not saved. While this initially surprised me, I utterly astonished when a horde of other Calvinists came to his aid, point out that this was true. It occurred to me then that I hate modern Calvinism.

That's right, hate. And all your logical corollaries and theological derivatives too. Because that's when I realized that modern TULIP wielding Supralapsarianism Calvinism is exactly the caricature that Arminians complain about. Behold, the litany:
1. Calvinism is invalid because men are damned before they even get a say in the matter. It doesn't matter what they do or don't do, God has from all eternity past fixed them for a single destiny. Human free agency is rendered worthless, and the laws of nature are tossed out.
2. The God of Calvinism not only desires men to be lost, He has not even made them potentially saveable.
3. God damns babies.

If Supralapsarianism is right then there are essentially two classes of men, those who are damned from all eternity past, and those who are predestined to salvation. Babies, Esau being held up as the foremost example, are hated by God before he was born or had done anything good or bad.
The problem is, none of this is scriptural. Look at how God treats babies in the Bible:
Jonah 4:11 - God has compassion on the children, not wanting to bring destruction on them
Deut 1:39 - The ignorant children will be brought into the promised land.
Luke 18:16 -  Jesus becomes indignant at the thought of men keeping the children from Him
2 Sam 12:23 - David expects to go join his dead son in heaven (see Ps 23:6)
Deut 24:16 - Among many others - promises that men die for their own sins.
1 Cor 15:22 - The blessing of Christ to men far exceeds the curse delivered in Adam.

But let's pretend that none of those other verses exist, and let's only deal with the consequence of this theology. What would the Calvinist say to evangelize (assuming they ever would) to the mom who just lost her baby after a complicated delivery, or the father who finds his two day old dead. They would say that "God saves who He wills. Maybe your kid is in hell being predestined to eternal suffering, maybe not. It doesn't really matter, but you should come to Christ. What? Why would you want to come to a Christ who damns helpless babies who don't know their right hand even exists? You should. No you just should."

How do we assert God is less loving, less compassionate, less tender than we are? How can we read that God is love and assert in the same breath that He is not? How can we tell men that our God has compassion for the least and lowly, that Christ came to save those who are most helpless to save themselves, and then go on to assert He has no desire to save them?
That's not to say that all men are not born with a corrupted nature, but it is to say that unless we are willing to say with Scriptures that "mercy trumps judgement"


Rick Brownell said...

Are we to suppose then, that in Psalm 135:6, when “the Lord does whatever he pleases, in heaven and in earth,” that after “He destroyed the firstborn of Egypt (Ps. 135:8),” He found no delight in demonstrating His righteousness in their death, and afterward, saved them? I agree with Spurgeon and most Calvinists that though we are always left to consider the goodness of God in this matter, we are not left to consider that He is always good in the way we think He should be. Surely His goodness does not default in the killing of the firstborn of Egypt. There simply is no evidence from Scripture that all infants are regenerated should they die as infants. Yes there are some special instances, which Calvin himself recognizes as well, but that does not necessarily imply that therefore all infants are saved when they perish, as difficult as that premise is for us to grasp. We simply do not know, and must trust in God to do whatever He sees fit. This is certainly a better response than giving some suffering mother a line that she'll buy into to make herself feel better isn't it?

Phil said...

Let's take this in order.
1. Regeneration is not salvation.
It is only they who confess with their mouth and believe in their hearts who are saved.
Babies do not confess, babies do not believe, therefore babies are not saved. That, and only that, is the logical end of your proposition and belief set. This pansy half hearted notion of "well, maybe they are saved" is nonsense. We know what it takes to meet the requirements of salvation and babies do not meet it. If God wanted them to be elect He would have kept them alive until they made a credible profession of faith.

2. You point out that God is sovereign and whatever it pleases Him to do He does. I agree, and what I have come to hate about this brand of TULIP Calvinism is that nobody bothers to ask the next question - what is it that pleases Him to do? It pleases Him to save and be a savior.

3. You are appealing to the exodus eh? Very well. Tell me, who does God destroy? Ex 4:22-23 "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me. If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'" Not only those who had been warned, but those who repeatedly, willingly, of their own agency, defied God. How is that the same condition as babies?

4. You didn't interact with any of my verses that point out God cares for the salvation of children.

5. I repeat again: in what way can that mother or father of a dead infant trust in the goodness of God who delights to destroy the helpless, having hated them before they were born, and giving them no joy in their existence, but only creating them that He may pour His fury on them for all eternity?

Think this through! You may think this agnostic stance is a good middle of the road view to hold, but it actually changes the whole shape of your worldview and evangelism.