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by Rich Lusk

  • ISBN: 0975391429
  • Category: Christian Books
  • Author: Rich Lusk
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  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Athanasius Press (November 16, 2005)
  • Pages: 171 pages
  • FB2 size: 1649 kb
  • EPUB size: 1677 kb
  • Rating: 4.5
  • Votes: 809
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See if your friends have read any of Rich Lusk's books.

See if your friends have read any of Rich Lusk's books. Rich Lusk’s Followers (3). Rich Lusk.

Rich is obviously a deep thinker, and his footnotes are little essays-in-disguise.

'Covenant children are like olive plants gathered around the table. This makes parents gardeners. Rich Lusk, Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents.

Rich Lusk is an author and speaker and his book Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents is a book-length discussion of Christian infant faith. He is currently the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama as well as a contributing author to The Federal Vision and The Case for Covenant Communion. He received his B. S. in Microbiology from Auburn University and a . in Philosophy from University of Texas at Austin.

Rich Lusk, Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents.

LibraryThing members' description. Library descriptions.

Rich Lusk is an author and speaker and his book Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents is a book-length discussion of. .Last updated November 13, 2019. He is currently the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama as well as a contributin. Rich Lusk is an author and speaker and his book Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents is a book-length discussion of Christian infant faith.

What does make you rich is financial educatio. nfortunately a type of education we do not receive in. nfortunately a type of education we do not receive in school. If a person has a solid financial education, they would know that there are two kinds of deb. ood debt and bad debt. A person with a sound financial education would know how to use good debt to make them richer faste. uch faster than a person who only saves money and has no debt.

At what point is it reasonable to suggest that a child has faith? The Scriptures indicate that we can be confident that our children have faith from the womb and that we can expect that faith to flower and bloom throughout their lives by God's grace. What is the nature of such faith? From where does it come and what do the Scriptures have to say about it? How can anyone say that an infant has the capacity for faith? In this book, Rich Lusk answers these questions and more, giving hope to Christian parents that their little ones do indeed belong to Christ and have the capacity to trust him.
Reviews about Paedofaith (7):
huckman
Much of Christian thinking today is conversionistic i.e. thinking that says salvation comes ordinarily through the means of a "Damascus Road" experience.

Rich Lusk shows just how far this kind of thinking is from the biblical paradigm. The Bible speaks of God growing His kingdom and Church through the chief means of the family. Because we are in covenant with God, our children also belong to Him. They are His children; and as His children He blesses them with the gift of faith in seed form.

It is then given to us as parent-stewards to nurture this faith in our children so that they might grow in this faith, that it might mature and bring forth fruit in abundance.

As parents, we should treat our children as Christians, not as pagans. This will make a world of difference in how we train and instruct in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Rolorel
Rich does a great service to the workings out of the historic struggle in this area. Very readable and well cited. Read along with Leithart's.
RuTGamer
This review is for "paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents," ISBN-10: 0-9753914-2-9; ISBN-13: 978-0975391426, Paperback: 171 pages; Pub: Athanasius Press, Nov 16, 2005, by Rich Lusk, pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church (Birmingham, AL), writer & theologian. Yes, he has a small 'p' in the title, not a capitol 'P,' for reasons unknown to me; however, the full colon before the phrase "A Primer.." was editorially added by me & not on the original front cover, put in to reflect a sub-title below the title & drawing, & above the author's name. First, while I disagree with Lusk's conclusion, I applaud him for having integrity & honour to admit that he doesn't know the exact answer to the question of the fate of children who die in infancy & before the age of accountability: "I admit that this issue has not reached full resolution in the history of theology, and far be it from me to suppose I can solve it here to everyone's satisfaction...Whatever we say about infant salvation, it must not be a test of orthodoxy." (p.68) Gladly, he follows with this charge: "We should be charitable toward those who see things differently. [paragraph break] Nevertheless, we should pursue the issue as far as we can." (p.68) I can't give him 5 stars because of theological error on his "main" claim of paedofaith (see below). However, for these (& many other) reasons, I give his book 4 of 5 stars (& would give Lusk, himself, 5, were I allowed to rate an author). This tells us 2 things about him: He's as wise as the serpent (in pursuing knowledge/vision of this issue to avoid the curses of Hos 4:6 & Prov 29:18), but also as gentle as the lamb (in both his honest admission that he doesn't have all the answers as well as a charge to "be charitable toward those who see things differently."). In these 2 acts, he fulfills Matt 10:16:
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:..." Hos 4:6a (KJV)
"Where there is no vision, the people perish:..." Prov 29:18a (KJV)
"Behold, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves; be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity) as doves." Matt 10:16 (AMP)

But he goes further by stating a truth that many theologians won't admit, namely that NOT all infants (even all 'covenant' infants) are necessarily saved:
"I would not want to conclude from this that absolutely all covenant infants have faith..." (p.29)
"As I said earlier, not all paedofaith is saving faith." (p.63)
"While I want to acknowledge the difficulty of the problem here, I think admitting the possibility -or better, the normativity -of infant faith, in accord with the evidence marshaled above, goes a long way toward a suitable solution." (p.69)
"4. Obviously, then, I would argue that argue that all covenant infants dying in infancy are saved. I am happily agnostic about non-covenant infants who perish in infancy, but Scripture gives no solid basis for hoping they are saved apart from a general appeal to God's mercy." (footnote, p.71)
This begs the question: why has God NOT put the "exact" in answer Scripture? Probably to keep us humble & force us to search the Scriptures for hints, as well as examine what methods are impossible, just as important, so we can test the spirits by The Word & reject falsehoods.

The last point, especially, is much better than the "Baby Universalism" myth, that all babies go to heaven FOREVER: since some parents (for example, those with handicapped kids, or those living in high-crime areas) are tempted to kill their kids "to send them to heaven," & prevent them from growing up & possibly rejecting Christ, something Lusk thankfully does not tempt them to do (since he admits, above, that he doesn't see a "solid basis" in Scripture for this position).

Here are highlights of his book:

The only typo I found: The footnotes on p.19 go from 12-16, when they should go from 13-17. Don't worry: we all (myself included) are human :) Perhaps, in a future edition/revision, you can correct those small typos & address my Millennium theory. On p.33, note 8, Lusk reminds us that Jesus is the "Elder Brother (or ''firstborn''; see Rom. 8:29)," & rightly reminds us this "has been largely neglected." Equally important in my view is what Lusk mentions on p.26, note 3, where he notes that "Jesus is the supreme model of child-like trust and humility." Correct: Jesus IS supreme role model/example in ALL things: John 13:15, and our example of how to handle suffering: I Peter 2:21

VERY FUNNY: On p.72, note 3, Lusk mentions that "No matter how much rationalists in the Church may deny the possibility of infant faith, at this point common sense and parental practice show otherwise...Some Anabaptists moved in just this direction when they said that baptizing a baby was no different than dipping a cat or a stick in the water, because they are all lacking rationality." Did you catch that? He's referring to baptising a stick or a CAT!

>^..^= . MEOW! :-)

He hammers home the point that parents raise their children with God at the centre of their life so they may be covenant children & partake in God's blessings. Regardless of his theological misbehaviour elsewhere, we realise that he's calling us all to a closer walk with Lord Jesus & a stronger faith in God. Pastor Lusk dearly loves the Lord, & his motives/intentions seem pure, as do his "exhaustive" attention to detail: he quotes more church fathers than a library! Whilst his conclusion is wrong (he should focus on a Biblical proof MORE and opinions of dead theologians LESS), he brings to the table the strongest & most scholarly researched position paper on paedofaith to date! His points deserve addressing/answering, so I shall:

OK, what of his main argument? Lusk argues that 'covenant' infants (e.g., infants belonging to parent(s) who is/are saved), can have faith, thus satisfying the Scriptural requirement for salvation that one must have faith & BELIEVE in Jesus. Hence, his title is "paedofaith," a portmanteau, a linguistic/literary blend/combination of 2 or more words & their meanings, joined to coin a new word, literally translated: "child faith" or "infant faith." Lusk is correct to assert that salvation apart from faith in Christ/King Jesus is impossible: Heb 11:6; Mk 16:16; Eph 2:8-9; and not "just" faith, but faith IN JESUS: Jn 3:16;14:6; Acts 2:38:

Heb 11:6 (KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Mk 16:16 (KJV) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Eph 2:8-9 (KJV) 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Jn 3:16 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Jn 14:6 (KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Acts 2:38 (KJV) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Further, Lusk, himself, states in footnote 4, p.72, the following instructive truth: "As R. C. Sproul, Jr. once pointed out, we must be leery of all versions of ''justification by youth alone.'' I agree: Scripture says Faith is required; this is true even if we choose not to believe it.

But here's where Lusk runs astray: He claims that babies can have faith, a claim with which I disagree based both on observation AND Scripture. Since I disagree, this begs the question: How can a loving & merciful God be fair & impartial to babies, as God claims in I Pet 1:17 & Col 3:25, if infants don't have faith sufficient for salvation?
1 Pet 1:17 (NASB) "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;"
Col 3:25 (NASB) "For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and [a] that without partiality." [Footnotes: Colossians 3:25 Lit there is no partiality]

ANSWER: As I say, in my own book on this selfsame "Infant Soteriology" (Salvation of Infants) subject When Babies Die: Where do they go?: Heaven? Hell? YES - and NO: The answer is good, but NOT what you might guess... available in several formats of various prices], the reader is selling God short & putting God in a box, demanding God act on OUR time-table. No! While I, too, admit that I don't know the exact answer, I'll state unequivocally that proper hermeneutic exegesis of Scripture gives Biblical proof that the 1,000-year Millennium (Rev 20:1-15) is a possibility: a possible time/place for such babies to have an opportunity to hear the Gospel: Scriptures show babies, even infants, in the Millennium (Is 11:6b,8), in physical bodies that live & die (Is 65:20b), as well as a Rebellion that proves Free Will still exists (Rev 20:9), the latter which is required for faith (since faith apart from free will is not faith but rather a puppet or robot).
Is 11:6b,8 (KJV) "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb...and a little child shall lead them. 8And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den."
Is 65:20b (NASB) "And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed."
Rev 20:9(NASB) "And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them."

Did you get that? Again, I admit that I don't know what DOES happen, but these passages show what CAN happen, what IS Scripturally possible: Babies getting a chance to hear the gospel in the Thousand Year Millennium Reign of KING JESUS. When I emailed Lusk recently about this, he cryptically implied I need to research his position on the Millennium; when I did, I understood why: He doesn't believe: "...I tend to think of myself as an optimistic amillennialist, insofar as far as I would use a label..." http://www.trinity-pres.net/audio/09-07-19sermonnotes.pdf ("Sermon follow-up,"7/19/09, "Victory" - Psalm 72, by Rich Lusk)

Also, Lusk's "An Eschatology of Victory" series of Sunday School lessons http://trinity-pres.net/media/sundayschool.php give the impression that he believes the earth is getting better, not more wicked, due to the Millennium happening at this time & that some dispensationalists (such as me) are discouraged from spreading of the Gospel, since we think Satan will only be defeated at Christ's return. That is debatable. Also, I think he views the 'End Times' as having already happened in 70AD. Perhaps, but have you not heard of Dual Fulfillment?

I'll address the main point: How can Lusk deny a literal Millennium in the face of Rev 20:1-7?

I await his reply here. :)

Lusk claims that the mustard-seed description of the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13:31; Mk 4:30; Lk 13:19) means the kingdom will be slow in developing (like the plant), but I think he's extending the parable to mean things Jesus didn't intend: Jesus plainly just meant to show the SMALL seed can grow to a LARGE kingdom, no more. I agree with Lusk's claim that babies can't be saved without faith, but I disagree with his claim that babies can have faith. He relies upon Ps 22:9-10, which he reads as infant faith. From the AMP, it reads:
9 Yet You are He Who took me out of the womb; You made me hope and trust when I was on my mother's breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from my very birth; from my mother's womb You have been my God.

My comments:

With all due respect to Rev. Lusk, he applies incorrect exegesis of this passage. Proper hermeneutic principles tell a different story. On p.3 of his book, Lusk, himself, admits that Ps 22:9-10 might be merely metaphoric, citing vv. 12 & 16, which compare David's enemies with animals. As Lusk points out, vv. 12 & 16, are metaphorical, so proper hermeneutic exegesis also requires that we read vv.9-10 "in context" with the rest of the chapter. This alone hints that these verses may be (and probably ARE) metaphorical in nature. Furthermore, when a passage says something that can't be literally true (infants CAN'T have faith), then proper hermeneutic principles of exegesis require that the plain/literal meaning be rejected, which is the case here:

In hermeneutics, interpretation of the Bible, the "Literal Interpretation Principle," accepted by many, if not most, Bible scholars worldwide (often called the 'Golden Rule of Interpretation') is: "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense." So, when the plain sense (babies having ability to have sufficient understanding to have a grounded faith -in anything) makes nonsense, it must be rejected.

Can you see the problems with *this* theology? Those who take a literal translation of Ps 22:9 (KJV: "But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.") run into three problems:
(1)A literal translation makes no sense (as discussed above)
(2)A metaphoric translation is possible (as discussed above)
(3)However, I must also point out that if this were true (and some believe it to be true!) then the baby was saved, because he had "faith in Jesus." With me, so far? However, most evangelicals believe "once saved, always saved" based on JESUS' claim in Matt 7:23: "And then will I [Jesus] profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity," which suggests that Jesus NEVER knew the lost. (If you can 'lose' your salvation, then Jesus would be unable to tell them that He 'never' knew them, because He would've known them BEFORE they lost their salvation! Also, Jn 10:28-29 says NO one can pluck us out of either Jesus' or God's hand!) So, we must be consistent in our theology. If ALL babies (or at least all 'covenant' babies) have faith in Jesus, as the author, falsely interprets Ps 22:9 literally, then ALL babies (or at least, all covenant babies) would necessarily be saved, and since most agree "once saved, always saved," then that means ALL adults (or at least all 'covenant' adults) must be saved, but this is obviously false (Many called but FEW chosen: Matt 20:16, 22:14; NARROW is the way, and only FEW that find it: Matt 7:14, etc.) So, we see "sentimentalism" creeping in & Scripture creeping out. It is FORBIDDEN to base theology on "what feels right." Something ISN'T true, simply because we believe it. So, in conclusion, we must reject Lusk's claims of a literal meaning, here. This is especially true since other Scriptures allow for a correct interpretation which harmonises with a metaphoric interpretation of chapter 22 of Ps, in general. Here is more proof that Ps 22:9 might be metaphorical:
(4)David (in a state of depression & often on the run for his life) says in Ps 13:1-4 that God has forgotten him and has hidden His face from him. Oh, really? Is this literally true? No, this too is metaphorical: What David alleges & claims would be against the nature of God: See e.g., vv. 5-6: David's heart shall rejoice in God's salvation, and the Psalmist will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with him. So, since Ps 22:9 might be metaphorical, we must look to other Scriptures that address this directly.

CAVEAT: Lusk did also mention in his email to me that he disagreed with me on the points of baptism, covenant, eschatology (the millennium). We do disagree on the Millennium, but I don't disagree with him that one needs to be saved (with faith) for baptism to work. Also, regarding the covenant (e.g., Is is: "once saved, always saved" or is it: "you can lose your salvation"??), I do agree with him, here, too and did see his work on that subject at http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/covenant-election-faqs (title: "Covenant & Election FAQs (VERSION 6.4)"), where he distinguishes between salvation that endures to the end and "reprobate covenant members may temporarily experience a quasi-salvation." I would AGREE with him here: While GOD may know who will endure to the end, WE don't, but if a person is indeed saved & holds on to God, then GOD WILL hold on to HIM (or her).

I make this caveat for one key reason: My arguments about infant salvation are "helped" by the "once saved, always saved" theology, but by no means am I in need of this argument to make my case, and indeed, my main argument against paedofaith (which does not rely upon a "once saved always saved" theology) is here:

*VERY IMPORTANT* Children CAN'T have faith before the age of accountability. PROOF:

"1a And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli... 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him." I Sam 3:1a, 7 (Holy Bible, KJV)

Rom 10:14 DEMANDS that the person understand the Gospel, something of which babies are incapable: Rom 10:14 (KJV) "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

On p.92, Lusk claims that "The New Englanders eventually came to believe that God dealt with every sinner in basically the same way...through the understanding to reach the will and emotions."

The New Englanders were correct on both counts: As I've shown above, I Pet 1:17 & Col 3:25 show God is indeed impartial. Regarding understanding & intellect: Belief requires intellectual ability, something that children don't have until the age of accountability (different for each child). MORE Scriptural proof that you DO need to understand/comprehend in order to have faith:

Rom 10:17 (KJV) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Mk 1:14-15 (KJV) 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
I Cor 11:28 requires an examination of ourselves, something that requires conscious knowledge, not possible for children or babies, when taking communion, which, again, means that faith requires knowledge. Oddly, Lusk cites this passage at the top of p.115, but doesn't directly refute it, relying instead on an emotional plea to allowing children to the communion table. And, on pp.117-118, Lusk extends this appeal to the emotion, asking if we would also exclude the elderly and senile from communion? While we SHOULD include them, this doesn't prove that they have faith, but instead is a testament to our mercy.

Faith comes by hearing, which requires intellectual abilities of understanding, something that babies DON'T have! Repenting of sin (faith that we need Jesus) requires that the person KNOW & UNDERSTAND of what he/she must repent. Again: babies can't repent of something that they don't understand! Scripture is clear that Samuel DIDN'T know the Lord when he was a child! He DIDN'T have 'paedofaith,' according to the literal & plain sense meaning of I Sam 3:1-7, so the child WASN'T saved at that time, as Lusk claims to be normative for covenant children (such as Samuel).

Furthermore, we know WHY he couldn't have had faith before the age of accountability: Faith requires hearing (Rom10:17) and understanding (Mark 1:14-15) the Word of God, namely that we need to repent & trust in Jesus, something of which babies are incapable. So, since I Sam 1:1-7 disagrees with a literal meaning of Ps 22:9 on the point of babies having faith, and since we "use Scripture to interpret Scripture," we must reject a 'literal' meaning of Ps 22:9, and accept that it is metaphorical, even as suggested by the context of the verses near it in that same chapter (and as suggested by Ps 13:1-4, which MUST be metaphorical, and can NOT be literal).

This exegesis also applies to Ps 71:5-6, cited by Lusk on p.7. Additionally, Ps 139:14, cited on pp.9-10, doesn't address faith or salvation, but rather consecration & calling to serve God, Who has special love & care for him, but does God not also call all of us? Indeed, many are called, yet few chosen! Also, Lusk cites Matt 21:12-17 on p.15, referring to children who are praising Jesus & possibly old enough to have a pure and "child-like" faith, worthy of emulating. Jesus includes infants in v.16b: "And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?," but Lusk is making too much of this as it, too, is metaphorical. Example: Faith to move a mountain (Mt 17:20, 21:21, I Cor 13:2) is metaphorical: No mountain has EVER been moved in Scripture.

Next, Lusk cites Luke 1:41 on p.24, which, like Lk 1:44 shows the unborn child (John the Baptist) leaping in the womb; the author uses this as proof that the unborn child could have faith. Oh, really? How does Lusk not know that this leap is a mere physiological reaction, like when poked with a pin or bumped, something that doesn't require faith, or even consciousness: involuntary reactions, like when you are asleep? Then, on pp.25-26, Lusk cites Matt 18:1-14, but this passage doesn't even address faith in children, much less salvation; rather, it addresses how we ought treat those who are weaker than ourselves, using children as an object, as proved by Matt 18:14b: "...it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish," where Jesus translates this parable to show a different meaning than assigned by Lusk: a sermon on mistreatment -not faith, nor salvation. Also, I Tim 2:3-4 & 2 Pet 3:9 CLEARLY say God wants ALL people saved (not just babies), but not all are. So, using Scripture to interpret Scripture, neither can Matt 18:14 mean that all babies are saved.

On p.29, Lusk claims that "...Jesus completely identifies Himself with little children, which would be odd, to say the least, if children were not capable of having faith..." Not odd at all: Most people wouldn't find it one bit odd for Jesus to love people who are temporarily incapable of faith, whether due to being possessed by a demon, or by simply being asleep, so if the baby indeed is incapable of faith, this WOULDN'T preclude Jesus from loving them! False connection logic: one act doesn't necessarily depend on the other.

And, on p.35, Lusk claims that "blessings can only be received by faith," hoping this will prove babies receiving blessings must have faith. Again, bad logic: One might receive a blessing for your car (some oil, transmission fluid, or a spare tire, for example), but can your CAR have faith? God forbid, and certainly not! :)

On p.40, footnote 1, Lusk, referencing Gal 1:15, misses the point. The passage says: "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace," to make his case for infant faith, but this overlooks 2 key facts: First, many are called, but few chosen (Matt 20:16, 22:14), & secondly (more to the point), one doesn't have to have faith (or even be conscious) to be called. You can be called whilst you are asleep!

On pp.55-56, Lusk claims that "infants do not have to be conscious of their faith in order to have it," because they "know and trust their mothers even from birth," but if that were all that was required for "saving faith," then why the Scriptural requirements to repent (something with can't be done apart from knowledge & understanding)? As Arsenio Hall was fond of saying: "Things that make you go: 'hmm...'."

On p.69, Lusk cites 2 Sam 12:22-23, a very misunderstood passage, attempting to use this as proof that David will see his son in heaven. However, as shown earlier, David often made claims that COULDN'T have been literal (Ps 13:1-4, for example: God did NOT forsake David!). Also, when he said that he would go to his son, he might have referred to Sheol, the grave, which is just as likely a meaning as Heaven. So, we mustn't dogmatically stick to one bad interpretation, when many better ones exist.

On p.82, Lusk claims that "Any objection to paedobaptism is also an objection to paedocircumcism, but everyone agrees that infants were to be circumcised in old covenant Israel." He implies that most would accept that faith is required for baptism, and that we must baptise babies due to the Scriptural precedent to circumcise them, but is this a good comparison? No: baptism was intrinsically connected to faith, as in "repent and be baptized," in Acts 2:38, but circumcision was not related to faith (of the babies anyhow) in the Old Testament in any known passage, so his comparison fails. Perhaps circumcision was related to identity, in a similar way a name or title was, but not to faith.

On p.108, Lusk claims that "If paedobaptism is biblically warranted, paedofaith must be a reality," a claim with which I agree. But, for all the passages Lusk cites about the whole household being baptised, such as Acts 16:31 on p.68, we recall that only those who heard the gospel, believed, & repented, were baptised, and this necessarily excludes infants. If infant baptism were mandated by Jesus, one would expect at least ONE example of an infant being described in Scripture being baptised, but this doesn't happen.

I would counter by admitting that: "If the Millennium is Biblically prohibited, paedofaith looks much more plausible."

Since I've shown Scriptural proof that babies can't have faith (and since this accords with observation), I now posit that the Millennium is a possible means by which babies CAN have an opportunity to hear the Gospel; I'd like to know Lusk's objection to a literal Millennium time-period. I hope to email him, now that I've done the homework he assigned me. :)

On p.133, he points out that Prov 22:6 doesn't say a child will ENTER into the right way, but rather that he will not DEPART from it, arguing that the child is saved from infancy on up if he/she is a covenant child. However, I respectfully point out that this passage DOESN'T say WHEN the child entered into the salvation! It could be when he or she first believed. But Lusk is correct to put emphasis on the overall lifestyle & rearing and not just on the "conversion" of the child. Similarly, on p.130, he compares salvation to marriage (a good comparison in light of Lk 12:36, Rev 19:7-9, etc.), and admits that a child may have a salvation experience comparable to the wedding day, but should not seek OUT such a dramatic conversion experience, rather focusing on a lifetime relationship with The Lord. This is a beautiful analogy and gives a balanced view of how much emphasis to place of the day you got saved versus the day-to-day relationship.

In the footnote on p.134, Lusk claims that "Arguments for an age of accountability rest on very thin Scriptural support," but this is incorrect: Even though the exact phrase, "age of accountability," isn't found in the Bible, the actual subject matter is:

Jas 4:17 (KJV) "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
But, children aren't "accountable" at that age: They are unable to discern between good & evil:
Deut 1:39 (KJV) "...your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil..."
Is 7:16 (KJV) "For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good..."
However, at some "age," an infant, who later becomes a child, does have some "accountability":
Prov 20:11 (KJV) "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." Luke 2:52 (KJV) "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." [NOTE: Jesus INCREASED in wisdom: It was NOT all-at-once conferred upon Him.]

On p.137, Lusk claims that "Faith is not just an individual reality, but also corporate."

He's partly right: In Mk 2:4 & Lk 5:19, for example, it was faith of friends who lowered the paralysed man down through the roof, not the sick man's faith. (Boy, did his friends have faith to tear up a neighbour's roof & risk getting arrested for it!) But notice: This was faith to get the man through the crowd, NOT to get him saved. It was THAT man's faith that God him saved: He had a Free Will choice to either believe or reject.

So, yes, faith for "obstacles" CAN be corporate, but "saving" faith is individual (NOT corporate), as proved by passages that address that theological question. Only THAT man pays for his own sin:

Deut 24:16 (KJV) "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

Ez 18:20 (KJV) "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

On p.155, Lusk rightly points out that "Adults are more skilled at ''faking it,'' whereas children tend to have simple, unfeigned authenticity." True, but this is CHILDREN, not babies! So, what's the point? Lusk also critiques Gundersen regarding many passages that speak positively of children. Yes, but speaking positively and saying they have saving faith are 2 different things!

On p.156, Lusk takes Gundersen to task for rejecting children as disciples if they don't "already fully understand what it means to put Jesus ahead of mother and father...(cf. Lk. 14:26)," & asks: "But by this hermeneutical logic, one wonders how Gundersen justifies feeding infants in light of the fact that they can not do any work (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10)." But this is a classical unequal parable:

Prov 26:7 (KJV) "The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools."

I'm not attempting to call Lusk a fool, but his parable IS indeed unequal: being a disciple is a VERY difficult job, and, like ALL jobs, not all are "qualified," but being a child, by contrast, is a job with a DIFFERENT expectation. A 'child' works by maturing & growing up, an investment, if you would. Therefore, his/her "job requirements" are FAR less than that of a disciple, yet still sufficient to justify being fed.

On p.157, Lusk cites Matt 18:2, where Jesus called a child to Himself as proof that Jesus endorses child discipleship, but it doesn't follow that this is proof of discipleship. Rather, a more reasonable explanation would be that Jesus was using this child to illustrate a point. Indeed, in v.4, we find such a alternate (and more reasonable) meaning: we should have humility like a child. When Jesus gives us the answer in vv.3-4, Lusk invents an answer not supported by Scripture: We see NO examples of child disciples anywhere in Scripture! This reminds us of "Ockham's Razor": The simplest explanation is often the correct one, especially when supported by Scripture, verses 3-4, in this case. However, it IS true that Jesus wants children to follow Him, at least according to their limited abilities. In that sense, ALL of us should be disciples, and Lusk isn't totally wrong.

CONCLUSION: While Lusk admits that "I would not want to conclude from this that absolutely all covenant infants have faith..." (p.29), he nonetheless argues "that all covenant infants dying in infancy are saved" (footnote, p.71) & that there is "the possibility -or better, the normativity -of infant faith" (p.69), strongly implying that the child, in I Sam 3:1-7, should've known the Lord. Yet, Scriptures tell us plainly that the child DID'NT know the Lord!

Secondly, respectfully, I would like his reasoning for rejecting a literal exegesis of a 1,000-year Millennium era, which, of course, is a reasonable alternative to his theory, and would make paedofaith unnecessary to permit children a Free Will opportunity in the Millennium if they die in infancy.

Lastly, I address & rebut many other more minor points; he's welcome to address my rebuttals above, although I admit that many of them, while important in their own right, aren't central to the argument of paedofaith.

Rev. Lusk's book is very user-friendly, as well as detailed (even if a bit repetitive), and, on balance, is an invaluable resource, with both a 'regular' index and a 'Scripture Reference' index, besides a Table of Contents. While I disagree with his main argument, I give him 4/5 stars & recommend his book for its many other valuable insights.

Gordon Wayne Watts
LAKELAND, Fla., U.S.A.
Naril
Lusk, Rich. 2005. Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents. Monroe, LA: Athanasius Press.

Rich Lusk serves as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He has been a prolific writer and ardent defender of The Federal Vision. This book is a brief historical and theological defense for the idea of paedofaith (the idea that infants are born as believers). The implications of such a view affect ones ecclesiology, sacramentology, and to a lesser degree, one's church/state convictions.

Synopsis:

Pastor Lusk offers persuasive defense for the idea of paedofaith within a covenantal framework, drawing heavily upon such passages as Psalm 22:9-10, Psalm 71:5-6, Psalm 139, Psalm 8, Psalm 127:1-5, Psalm 128, Matthew 18:1-14, Matthew 19:13-15, 1 Corinthians 7:14, among others.
Lusk then proceeds to offer a brief historical analysis, citing from such heavyweights as Luther and Calvin, as well as the confessions and catechisms, to defend the legitimacy of paedo faith as a valid framework with covenantal theology. Lusk's history also encompasses the early debates on the American continent within Presbyterianism, highlighting the awakenings and Jonathan Edwards influence in moving Presbyeterianism further away from the idea of paedo faith. Lusk essentially concludes that the church sold out to a baptistic paradigm for conversion/initiation of children into the church. Infant baptism was reduced to nothing more than a "Wet dedication". Included within this analysis is the issue of infants who die in infancy and how the church has spoken to the status of such children.
The book progresses to cover some nuanced and necessary qualifications to the author's thesis and then concludes with some practical advice on how children should be nurtured within the church and home assuming the paradigm of paedo faith.

PROS:

First of all, Lusk's book is informative and we should all aspire to learn more and more about this precious topic of how God looks upon our children and how we ought to treat them and assimilate them into the church community. As a Baptist I've long been unsatisfied with the tradition's theological treatment of children. Baptists have varied in their theology of children, historically believing in an age of accountability, where our children automatically go to heaven because God would not be seen as just in condemning an infant who has no capacities to comprehend general revelation, which is usually seen as necessary for God's just wrath (Rom. 1). In this paradigm, children go to heaven primarily because God would not be just in condemning one with limited capacities.
Baptists who hold to original sin run into a problem with automatically placing infants and the disabled into heaven based primarily on their convictions that God's can't justly condemn. The problem resides in the fact that original sin still needs to be dealt with and God can't arbitrarily just look over the "state" of sin that the infant resides under, even if one is convinced that God can't justly condemn due to a lack of general revelation. In my reading of Baptists like Spurgeon, Piper, and MacArthur, they all want to ground their conviction of the infant's salvation primarily due to lack of general revelation, but then proceed to grant that God, in His inscrutable wisdom and goodness, is able to impute the righteousness of Christ to such infants apart from their faith. Lusk sees this as problematic because it would undermine "sole fide". Lusk's conclusion, then, is to state that our infants are in fact believers. While I still need to work on this issue some more, and do share some of Lusk's concerns with the Baptist position of infants. Most Baptists believe that all infants and mentally handicapped, regardless of parental status, automatically are brought into Christ at death.
What's ironic of the Baptist position, if I'm allowed to criticize my own camp, is that they deny to Presbyterians and Reformed the claim that their children are born into some sort of covenantal status because they think the Scriptures do not teach such; but are willing to pronounce with certainty that all children and mentally handicapped automatically go to heaven and are imputed with Christ's righteousness when they die. Where can the Baptist speak with such unflinching certainty of the status of children when they happen to die, but are entirely agnostic and even opposed to the idea that the child had any objective status before they died? This is a contradiction that should force Baptists to either, be a bit more gracious to their Presbyterian and Reformed friends, or claim an agnostic position about what happens to our children if they should die young. Baptist brethren, you can't have it both ways!
I don't share all of Lusk's convictions, but am willing to grant that his answers regarding children of believers is far more rooted in Scripture and Church history than any Baptist treatment of this topic. I say this to the Baptist's shame. Perhaps, I will one day offer a Baptist reassessment of a theology of children (it is something I have been working on for several years). After reading Lusk's book, one ought not laugh mockingly at the idea of paedo faith. He is persuasive enough to at least garner some respect for the position.

CONS:

While Lusk presents a strong case for paedo communion based on his understanding of paedo faith, he does not satisfactorily explain why the likes of Luther, Calvin, and confessional Presbyterianism/Reformed have required some qualified understanding of active faith for the Eucharist. Lusk even cites Luther and Calvin as advocates of paedo faith in his historical defense of the doctrine, but seemingly doesn't struggle with why the Lutheran and Reformed tradition have required some form of confirmation for participation in the Table.
Lusk conveniently highlights the awakening and the likes of Jonathan Edwards as the enemies to paedofaith and proponents of an unbiblical rigorism with regards to initiation of children into church membership, even claiming that Baptists essentially won the day. Why does Edwards get pegged as a foe in this debate, while Calvin and Luther get ignored in that their practice was not markedly different from what Edwards was advocating?
Quoting from Lusk (2005:98),
Edwards' theology tended to downplay the biblical themes of paedofaith and covenant succession. The hyper-emphasis on a conversion experience led to a decline in attention given to the nurture of covenant children in their infancy and youth.
Lusk proceeds to offer this footnote on the previous quote:
Of course that makes it rather ironic that the Edwards family is one of the greatest illustrations of covenant succession in American history. One generation after another in the Edwards family tree served God faithfully in the church and world.
Edwards' family line is so impressive that some have cited him as proof of eugenics. I would submit that Edwards was not functionally different from what Calvin's childrearing would have looked like. I would also submit that their piety would be much similar in the home. What Lusk wants to call a "hyper-emphasis" on religious affections may very well be consistent with the Scripture's emphasis on proper religious affections. I would suggest John Piper's, "Desiring God", as an able defense of "Christian Hedonism" as being anything other than Scriptural.
I don't appreciate how Lusk seemingly wants to cite Edwards lineage as "ironic", almost as if it were in spite of Edwards "hyper-emphasis" conversion. Pastor Lusk, is it possible that it's no irony at all and that Edwards "Biblical-emphasis" on affections actually played a part in emulating for his children what the converted Christian life should look like?
Lusk also offers some qualified praise for Ted Tripp, a Baptist, whose books have been a blessing to many on the topic of parenting. Lusk positively cites that Tripp believes that God's grace attends discipline so as to work in the children. I would submit to Lusk that we Baptists are not as monolithic as he would like to portray. We are no enemies of children. A recent study I read (which I can't find), ranked Baptists as first among the retention rate for children who go on to affiliate with the Church into adulthood.

Closing Thoughts:
Lusk's book was well worth my time and I shall refine my own position even further based on some thoughts derived from this work.

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