Reformed Views of Children

Dear Reader,

I am pondering how one can be reformed (i.e. Calvinist, accepting the 5 points known as TULIP) and not have a covenantal view of children. I should say that I have quite a few friends who are reformed and yet do not accept infant baptism.

In my view, we are all total depraved, unable to choose good, until and unless God chooses and saves us. However, God also promises that He will be faithful to families. He looks at households. And therefore we, as believers, trust that He will be faithful also to our children. We treat them as members of the covenant community because we trust in His promises. We baptize them as infants to show their inclusion in this community. And then we begin the process of educating them about God. This is discipleship; it is the raising up and training of young believers. It is not evangelism, because we treat our children as believers who must be discipled rather than unbelievers who must be saved.

But what is we do not have this covenantal view? Believing in total depravity and the inability of people to have any part in saving themselves, we would have to see our children as unable to choose good. How then do we educate and train them? They would not be believers to be discipled who, though still sinful, are at times able to do good through God’s work in them. They would be unbelievers who must be witnessed to. How could we expect any obedience or spiritual growth from them until we first see them saved?

A lot of the problems I have with the materials out there for teaching children lies in this problem–are they believers or not? We preach moralism to them again and again, but are they even able to do any good? Or we call them again and again to come to Christ, wasting time that could be used for the training of these  young Christians. Often, we do both at once–telling them to be good and obey us and God and yet always calling them to come as ones who can not yet do good.

I am serious in my questioning. I do not mean to mock anyone’s position. But I cannot understand how one can simultaneously hold to a reformed view of salvation and a non-covenantal view of children. Speak up, Reformed Baptists! Tell me what you think!


3 responses to this post.

  1. […] 3. The point for my children, and probably for most of yours, is moot. I believe my children are saved. They are no longer incapable of choosing any good because the Spirit of God has worked in them such that they now can choose good, though like all of us still have fleshly natures which will cause them to sin and choose the bad at times too. (See more discussion on infant baptism and the salvation of children here.) […]


  2. Posted by Emily Camilli on July 30, 2013 at 11:24 am

    You have summed this up well. I would like to know too. If you have ever read Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book on children, you can see the reformed Baptist’s position come out. She has charts on how to respond to your child’s sin based on whether or not the child is saved. It left me very confused. As a side note, I do LoVE her books. She is a favorite of mine:)


    • I’ve never heard of her, maybe I’ll have to look her up. I am glad I wasn’t too far off base in surmising what others think 🙂 It’s always dangerous territory.


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