In our last installment of “Compare & Confess,” Ruberad argued that the Heidelberg Catechism is stronger than Westminster on the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. That was very generous. Today I want to return the favor.
There is a history of confusing covenant with election in some three-forms confessing churches and denominations. Some actually believe that covenant = election. This may be due in part to the Canons of Dordt 1.17:
1.17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers
Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.
Even those who don’t believe covenant = election still appeal to this article to maintain that all children of believers who die in infancy are elect without question. But notice that the article says, “ought not to doubt.” It does not presume to guarantee that infants of godly parents are automatically elect. But still, the language of the article leaves room for dispute.
The Westminster Confession leaves no room for dispute:
X.III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
Some say this might have been a deliberate non-statement in order to avoid controversy. I say it’s brilliant. It doesn’t tell us that all infants of believers are elect; it tells us elect infants are regenerated. Your thoughts?