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The Spiritual Condition of Infants: A Biblical-Historical Survey and Systematic Proposal [Kindle Edition]

Adam Harwood , Paige Patterson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What is the spiritual condition of infants? According to the Augustinian-Calvinist view, all people inherit from the first Adam both a sinful nature and his guilt. The result is that all infants are subject to the judgment of God against their nature before they knowingly commit any sinful actions. But is this the clear teaching of Scripture?
In The Spiritual Condition of Infants, Adam Harwood examines ten relevant biblical texts and the writings of sixteen theologians in order to clarify the spiritual condition of infants. Although no passage explicitly states the spiritual condition of infants, each text makes contributions by addressing the doctrines of man, sin, the church, and salvation.
If this biblical-historical analysis exposes the traditional Augustinian-Calvinist view to be inadequate, then is it possible to construct an alternate view of the spiritual condition of infants? Such a view should remain faithful to the biblical emphasis on humankind's connection to Adam and his sin but also recognize the guilt and condemnation of an individual only in the manner and time that God does in Scripture. That is the aim of this book.

"Through extensively examining relevant biblical and historical sources, two major questions with profound pastoral consequences are answered in this important book: Do infants inherit a sin nature from Adam? Although utilizing different models, most theologians agree that infants inherit a sin nature. However, are infants, therefore, guilty before God? In answering this second question, Adam Harwood challenges the dominant systematic discourse and properly reorients our understanding of infant salvation. Harwood's careful thesis will stand."
--Malcolm B. Yarnell III
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

"This is a first-rate treatment of a knotty problem. Since the Scripture does not settle this issue, Harwood has mined the Church's best thinkers for their insights."
--Charles White
Professor of Christian Thought and History
Spring Arbor University

"Harwood addresses thoroughly a significant pastoral and family issue by examining the pertinent biblical texts and representative theologians. Although some readers will hold to alternative understandings of Augustine and Luther and may question why Arminian theologians are not examined, such factors do not diminish the tenability of Harwood's exegetically based argument or the great usefulness of the book, as it points, especially in its conclusion, to the companion issue, the salvation of infants.
--James Leo Garrett Jr.
Distinguished Professor of Theology, Emeritus
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Dr. Harwood has written a wonderful book that will be of great benefit to the academic world as scholars struggle with the theoretical implications of the issue of infants and salvation, but more importantly, it will be of greater benefit to those who not only struggle with the theoretical issue, but are on the front lines ministering to grieving people who have lost beloved infants. This book lays out in a clear, intelligent, and accessible manner the issues surrounding the eternal destiny of those who die in infancy. Dr. Harwood is to be commended for his work."
--Rustin J. Umstattd
Associate Academic Dean and Assistant Professor of Theology
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Adam Harwood is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Truett-McConnell College at Cleveland, Georgia.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1051 KB
  • Print Length: 198 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608998444
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers (March 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Y6E7IW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #839,482 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
In his book "The Spiritual Condition of Infants: A Biblical-Historical Survey and Systematic Proposal," published by Wipf & Stock, 2011, Adam Harwood, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Truett-McConell College, Cleveland, Georgia, tackles head-on a subject debated since the second century AD. But Harwood's book does not focus all its attention upon the concept of infant salvation; it boldly addresses "the spiritual condition of living infants" (5).

Harwood begins by noting the difficulty of various views inherent in such a topic: "If you believe that people need to hear and respond to the Gospel to be saved, and you say that infants are guilty of sin, then the consistent viewpoint is that all infants who die without hearing and responding to the Gospel will be separated from God" (5). In this manner of speaking, a person cannot have his cake and eat it too. An infant (a person one year old and younger, including the pre-born) cannot stand both guilty of sin and also in need of hearing and responding to the Gospel in order to be saved.

In my opinion, this scenario differs significantly from adults who have not heard the Gospel, since all adults have sinned. In their case, they are both guilty of sin and also in need of hearing and responding to the Gospel in order to be saved. But such cannot be admitted with regard to infants.

Harwood is not attempting to neglect the issue of infants possessing a sin nature, which would ensure that the person would sin as he ages. His agenda is to demonstrate that "infants inherit a sinful nature and later acquire their own guilt after they know the difference between right and wrong but knowingly choose to do wrong" (9).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Spiritual Condition of Those Who Die in Infancy February 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Here is a scriptural, scholarly schematic for approaching and appreciating one of the most debated and difficult questions of Biblical theology. Written with an academic hand, but with a pastor's heart, the author has offered a near encyclopedic survey of scripture texts and theological traditions on the matter. This is a worthy volume and demands a hearing by all who want to grasp the complexities of the spiritual condition of those who die in infancy. No study of this issue would be complete without attention to this author's thesis. I recommend this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Synthesis of the Major Western Views April 19, 2012
Have you ever taken a seemingly insignificant topic, idea, or person, and delved into that subject learning all the interactions and facets connected to it? Several years ago a friend lent me the book Cod, which did exactly as described above. The author took this ubiquitous fish and explored it in the history of Western peoples, and lo and behold, not only did you learn about this fish, but the whole of history began to open with connections and causes you never grasped in high school Western Civ.

Theology works in similar ways. Taking a small tangential subject and exploring how others have wrestled with one issue opens up the way that person thinks about God, Christ, Sin, Salvation and the Church. When all research is done and the topic is laid bare on the table, you end up with much more than you expected.

Adam Harwood did this with The Spiritual Condition of Infants: A Biblical-Historical Survey and Systematic Proposal. Harwood is a professor at the Georgia Baptist college, Truett McConnell, and grapples with an issue painful for anyone who has lost children and thorny for the Christian friend or clergy called to minister to a friend in time of crisis.

This is not some dry academic tome, although there is no doubt he has done his homework. It is packaged in a readable work, full of personal stories and historical narratives, navigating the tragic nature and steps of logic necessary for such a topic.

The book begins with the author stating his assumptions about the topic and how he came to interact with this subject and the theologians he has wrestled with along the way. Related topics and questions are considered, and then he jumps headlong into the historical treatment of the fate of infants.
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