Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Memory of Zephaniah:

Yesterday, my wife and I were blessed with a very healthy baby boy we named Zachariah. But what ended as a single-birth pregnancy, began as twins. We named our other child Zephaniah. He died sometime in the early months of pregnancy. Along with our great joy over Zachariah we have sorrow over Zephaniah. We look forward to bringing Zachariah to the waters of holy baptism but are unable to do that for Zephaniah. Martin Chemnitz wrote

Are the children of believers who died before birth or in birth damned?
By no means, but since our children, brought to the light by divine blessing, are, as it were, given into our hands and at the same time means are offered, or it is made possible for the seal of the covenant of grace to be applied to them, there, indeed, that very solemn divine statement applies: The man-child, the flesh of whose foreskin is not circumcised on the eighth day, his soul shall be blotted out from [his] people (Gen. 17:14). Hence the Lord met Moses on the way and wanted to kill him because he had neglected to circumcise [his] son (Ex. 4:24-26). But when those means are not given us--as when in the Old Testament a male died before the eighth day of circumcision--likewise when they, who, born in the desert in the interval of 40 years, could not be circumcised because of daily harassment by enemies and constant wanderings, died uncircumcised, (Jos. 5:5-6) and when today infants die before they are born--in such cases the grace of God is not bound to Baptism, but those infants are to be brought and commended to Christ in prayers. And one should not doubt that those prayers are heard, for they are made in the name of Christ. (John 16:23; Gen. 17:7, Matt. 19:14) Since then, we cannot bring infants as yet unborn to Christ through Baptism, therefore we should do it through pious prayers. Parents are to be put in mind of this, and if perhaps such a case occur, they are to be encouraged with this comfort." (An Enchiridion, by Martin Chemnitz, Page 119, CPH St. Louis 1981)

1 comment:

Daniel Gorman said...

I have no doubt that the children of believers who die before the Church baptizes them are saved. However, Chemnitz is wrong to disconnect their salvation from the means of grace. The children of believers are not saved by their parents' faith or by the prayers of their parents but by their own faith. The children of believers hear the outward word preached by and to their parents and believe it (Rom. 10:17).

Chemnitz is also wrong to assume the children of believers who die before the Church baptizes them are not saved through baptism. Chemnitz offers no proof that Almighty Christ does not baptize those whom the Church was unable to baptize ( Eph. 5:25-27).