“Infant Salvation” by Loraine Boettner


There has been a good deal of discussion lately among Southern Baptists about the future of infants when they die.  Some say that Calvinism implies infants will not be saved in death.  But Loraine Boettner shows that infant salvation only finds a logical place within Calvinism, while non-Calvinistic systems are inconsistent to affirm it:

“Most Calvinistic theologians have held that those who die in infancyThe Reformed Doctrine of Predestination are saved. . . . Such for instance, was the position held by Charles Hodge, W.G.T. Shedd, and B.B. Warfield. Concerning those who die in infancy, Dr. Warfield says:

“Their destiny is determined irrespective of their choice, by an unconditional decree of God, suspended for its execution on no act of their own; and their salvation is wrought by an unconditional application of the grace of Christ to their souls, through the immediate and irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit prior to and apart from any action of their own proper wills . . . And if death in infancy does depend on God’s providence, it is assuredly God in His providence who selects this vast multitude to be made participants of His unconditional salvation . . . This is but to say that they are unconditionally predestinated to salvation from the foundation of the world. If only a single infant dying in irresponsible infancy be saved, the whole Arminian principle is traversed. If all infants dying such are saved, not only the majority of the saved, but doubtless the majority of the human race hitherto, have entered into life by a non-Arminian pathway.”

Certainly there is nothing in the Calvinistic system which would prevent us from believing this; and until it is proven that God could not predestinate to eternal life all those whom He is pleased to call in infancy we may be permitted to hold this view.

Calvinists, of course, hold that the doctrine of original sin applies to infants as well as to adults. Like all other sons of Adam, infants are truly culpable because of race sin and might justly be punished for it. Their ‘salvation’ is real. It is possible only through the grace of Christ and is as truly unmerited as is that of adults. Instead of minimizing the demerit and punishment due to them for original sin, Calvinism magnifies the mercy of God in their salvation. Their salvation means something, for it is the deliverance of guilty souls from eternal woe. And it is costly, for it was paid for by the suffering of Christ on the cross.

Those who take the other view of original sin, namely, that it is not properly sin and does not deserve eternal punishment, make the evil from which infants are ‘saved’ to be very small, and consequently the love and gratitude which they owe to God to be small also.

The doctrine of infant salvation finds a logical place in the Calvinistic system; for the redemption of the soul is thus infallibly determined irrespective of any faith, repentance or good works, whether actual or foreseen. It does not, however, find a logical place in Arminianism or any other system.

Furthermore, it would seem that a system such as Arminianism, which suspends salvation on a personal act of rational choice, would logically demand that those dying in infancy must either be given another period of probation after death, in order that their destiny may be fixed or that they must be annihilated.”

Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1932), 144-45.

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One Response to ““Infant Salvation” by Loraine Boettner”

  1. If there is anything clear in the Bible about eternal life and salvation it is that one has to trust in the Gospel period! Regardless of the age of the person, and if personhood begins in the conception then from that point to the day of the person’s death!

    Also, salvation according to the word of God is always based upon God’s Eternal Choice. Before the foundation of the world God entered into a book called ‘the Book of life” all names of those who would be saved His amazing grace. That means if there are any conceived babies who die in the womb, their names were written there for sure. Now, the question comes up just ‘how’ does such a child conceived in the womb, who hasn’t been taught our particular language skills, or has developed educational intelligence about various matters in human life?
    Wish I had all the answer but I don’t and neither does the word speak a lot on this subject. But it certainly does speak. God say’s He knew us in the womb. All of our parts. He created us. And also, in that, we were created being a “child of Adam” which certainly means without any question, we have Adam’s fallen nature. We are dead spiritually, blind, cannot hear with understanding spiritual truths on our own, and actually a child of the kingdom of Satan. That my friends is the status of ALL human beings bar none! That is clear from scripture. So regardless of what Boettner, Spurgeon, or any one else say’s to the contrary they are going counter to the written word of God.
    Does that mean that all babies in the womb and even in early age after birth are all lost and without any hope? No, not so. If God purposed to add their names in the word of Life or Book of Life they will be in heaven because God Himself will communicate the Gospel message and all that is needed in that childs soul to understand the facts of the Gospel. Can’t the OMNIPOTENT God do just that? Certainly HE can! So, either HE does it to all conceived children or little babies and all of them go to heaven and were written in the book of life or just the elect ones! We just don’t know that particular answer. Based upon the thoughts however, about just certain persons are elect and certain person are allowed to remain in their sins or sinful condition later in aging and life, would indicate the same goes on with these children. Also, to say they have to “act” out their sins and do so with particular great intelligent actions or they are NOT held responsible is absolutely ridiculous. People go to hell because they are ALREADY lost and not because they act out a sin! Although, a baby does act out its since for David said they come forth speaking lies! I know that is a fact also for I have experienced seeing it in a little new born child. Haven’t you? Sure you have if you are observant of what sin really consists of and how it works. Plus, they die which is a result of sin and a fallen nature and desires are motivated by sin even in the womb!
    That doesn’t fit the sensitivities of people and their emotions but mankind needs to deal with this based on revealed truth. God’s creates souls and spirits and one is just a important as another. Nothing makes a baby more important than a 90 year old man! All are souls! God chooses and He calls and He allows to remain in sin and lostness! That is the bottom line! Let us remain faithful to our clearly revealed doctrines of grace and election rather than capitulating on these issues to fit our emotional state of mind and feelings! We don’t have to protect God or any one. Truth is truth and we have it in the word of God.


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