Most of the people who hold to presumptive regeneration are really holding to an amplified faith in God’s promises. They see it as illicit to even consider anything outside of God’s yes and amen. Unfortunately, they discredit the didactic of election by this route. One cannot mistake the fact that Abraham had two children; both elect. One to condemnation and the other to glory. If one was to ask Abraham about Ishmael, what would he have said? Surely he would have said that both his sons were in covenant. Both had God as Father-one internally and the other externally. Both had the same call on their lives. Both were called to receive, accept, believe, repent, etc. Yet in these truths, Abraham knew well that not all are elect unto glory-to which he found out firsthand. Our faith must not supersede truth. It as irresponsible to presume above what the scriptures have revealed. As well, consider that we all presume to a large degree anyways. Example, I presume you are a believer and vice versa. But this is based on confession and fruit. When it comes to an infant, not that we doubt God regenerates and converts some even at birth or in the womb, He does! To go further is problematic.
As mentioned above, to go further than the scriptures expound is problematic. I have a bevy of quotes from the reformers that would seem to lend credence to the doctrine; however, to think that all of these men were either ignorant of the obvious harmonies of scripture about election or intentionally negligent would seem a bit mindless. One can safely subscribe to the truths about election and have a stable faith in God’s promise without doing an injustice to the fact. Example: Since Westminster did not believe that ALL children dying in infancy are undoubtedly elect, nor does the scriptures, if I was to have lost a child in the womb prior to birth, I would stand faithfully hopeful about the child’s position in Christ, but could not know positively.
As well, I have a number of quotes from Westminster on baptismal regeneration. Do we think for a minute that Westminster believed that God regenerates ALL infants at baptism? Of course not. Thats the point, one cannot run aimlessly with the idea by tugging at a bunch of scriptures out of the harmony of scripture to build a straw man. That doesn’t work.
8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
I understand that we all presume to a degree. I mention that in my opening post; however, this presumption is based on fruits and confession. An infant has no fruit nor confession.
However, as mentioned, if one was to ask Abraham about his children, he would have been sound in his theological deductions, i.e. we are faithful to God’s promise, acknowledging a twofold distinction in that not all are elect.
I challenged a friend to present some scripture on the idea and this was his response:
The introduction to almost every epistle. The authors address their readers as Christians. The appeal to them on their identity in Christ. They are even fearful for them in Christ. There’s a presumptive union with Christ there.
My response was:
Yes, externally. It is an example of the local church. Paul knew well that not all in the local setting were regenerate and neither did he imply it.
I will add one caveat: If we were to look out over time, surely we would find that God works in the family unit in more ways than not. That is, God is a God of family. He works through the federal headship. In this, we have a confidence. Do I believe my daughter is a Christian? Yes she is! I am raising her as such. Discipleship is not equated w/ regeneration and conversion. Do I think she is regenerated yet? I don’t really think so as she shows no interest in God or His son. Do I have faith that God will do what He says? Well the scripture that comes to mind is:
6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.