Adam Brought Sin into the Human Race: A Response to Adam Harwood

by Jared Moore on December 23, 2012 · 326 comments

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Adam Harwood, Professor of Christian Studies at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, GA, recently argued that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, because they believe in original guilt, may not be able to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BF&M2K).  You can find part 1 of his argument here and part 2 here.  I’m amazed at the accusation from Dr. Harwood for many reasons:

1) Al Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, served on the committee that crafted the BF&M2K.  I don’t think he would have helped craft the BF&M2K and unashamedly affirm the BF&M2K today if he disagreed with it.

2) The BF&M2K says in “Article III. Man,”

In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.

Professor Harwood argues that this statement affirms that Adam’s guilt did not spread to the rest of the human race.  The reality, however, is that the BF&M2K begins discussing man’s sin with this statement: “man [Adam] sinned against God and brought sin into the human race.”  Harwood left this statement out of his rebuttal to Dr. Schreiner and SBTS (Part 1 and Part 2).  We must understand the rest of the BF&M2K statement in light of Adam bringing sin into the human race.  This means that sin spread to the human race, otherwise, the statement means nothing about the human race, only Adam.  I assume that Harwood believes the only “sin” Adam spread to the human race is a “nature and an environment inclined toward sin.”  I don’t believe that sin can be reduced to a nature and environment since Jesus died to redeem us from sin.  Sin always brings condemnation, but let’s see what the BF&M2K says in Article II,

He [Jesus] honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin.

If we grant Harwood’s interpretation about Adam “bringing sin into the human race” referring only to man’s inclination to sin and his sinful environment, the BF&M2K calls these two elements “sin” and argues that Jesus died to redeem mankind from sin, which means that man’s sinful nature and sinful environment separate all mankind from God (requiring redemption).  Otherwise, why does the BF&M2K speak of Jesus dying to redeem man from sin?  Jesus actively atoned for man’s sin, which implies that man is condemned due to his sinful nature since this is how Adam’s sin passed to the human race; otherwise, what is Jesus saving these humans from?  All humans need salvation from sin (including sinful nature and environment since the BF&M2K calls these “sin”).  Thus, after we understand the BF&M2K on its own terms that Adam brought sin into the human race, we can understand the rest of the BF&M2K:

Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.

I agree with this statement while affirming original guilt.  Adam brought sin into the human race.  Where there is sin, there is condemnation.  The BF&M2K at least implies that all are condemned in Adam (since Adam brought sin into the human race), but face greater condemnation when they morally choose to sin.  The Confession of Faith of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, The Abstract of Principles, agrees:

God originally created Man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

I affirm both the BF&M2K and the Abstract of Principles.  Harwood, on the other hand, is arguing that Adam’s guilt did not spread to the entire human race in a manner worthy of condemnation even though the BF&M2K argues that Jesus died to redeem man from sin (including sinful nature and sinful environment if we’re to understand the BF&M2K on its own terms).  

3) If Professor Harwood denies that sinners are separated from God due to their sinful natures and environments, and that Jesus died to actively redeem sinners from their sinful natures and sinful environments, then I believe he misinterprets what the BF&M2K says.  The BF&M2K defines sin as, “a nature and an environment inclined toward sin,” in addition to transgressions. Yet, Harwood believes that mankind is only condemned for his own transgressions, and his sinful nature and environment are not “sin” that requires a trust in Christ for redemption.  The only answer for sin in the BF&M2K is faith in Jesus Christ.  Consider Article IV of the BF&M2K where sin is only forgiven based on faith in Christ:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Therefore, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is justified in arguing in favor of original guilt, since the BF&M2K argues man needs redemption due to sin (sinful nature, sinful environment, and transgressions).  This redemption is only applied through saving faith in Christ Jesus according to the BF&M2K.  The difference between Harwood and I is that even though I believe my interpretation of the BF&M2K is the “plain reading” of the document, I believe the BF&M2K is ambiguous enough to allow both of us to affirm it.  

Let’s unite brother to reach the nations.

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

1 Jared Moore December 23, 2012 at 5:11 am

If you choose to comment, remember we are brothers and sisters. Comment for God’s glory alone.

2 Andrew December 23, 2012 at 8:54 am

Thanks for this rebuttal. Harwood’s understanding is flawed and in my opinion is dangerous to the church. It was gracious and loving and truthful.

3 Les Prouty December 23, 2012 at 9:33 am

Good rebuttal Jared. It does seem a bit odd to suggest Mohler would be out of accord with a document that he helped craft.

Harwood’s position against imputed guilt is indeed flawed and flies in the face of the plain reading of scripture, as has been pointed out several times already in other places.

I’ve wondered what the real motivation behind Harwood and the non-Calvinists (of the Trad statement kind) in seeking to try and establish the non-imputed guilt position. Of course I think they are genuinely trying to interpret scripture. But I think there may be something unknowingly behind it. That is, their entrenched view of the free will of man and their denial of God’s absolute sovereignty in all things.

This denial of imputed guilt allows the onus to be, once again, on man. Man decides when he is guilty. God cannot impute guilt without man’s decision. Not in the non-Calvinist, at least the new non-Calvinist world. Man has to be the decider.

Anyway, good piece.

4 William Thornton December 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

Hmmm, traditionalists “unknowingly” have certain entrenched positions…and that coming from a Calvinist?

Interesting.

5 Les Prouty December 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

Yes, and Mohler unknowingly disagrees with a document he helped draft. And Trads couldn’t possibility have presuppositions that drive their quest for a scriptural basis for an interpretation. That could only be Calvinists.

Interesting indeed.

6 Dale Pugh December 23, 2012 at 11:11 am

I didn’t sign the Traditionalist statement, but I would say I’m more aligned with that view than with the Calvinist view. That being said, I think your last paragraph misrepresents the non-Calvinist view. (At least it misrepresents my own view):
“This denial of imputed guilt allows the onus to be, once again, on man. Man decides when he is guilty. God cannot impute guilt without man’s decision. Not in the non-Calvinist, at least the new non-Calvinist world. Man has to be the decider.”
Man is guilty. End of discussion. He’s guilty because God says so, not because he decides to feel guilty. Romans 3:23 and many other verses make that much clear. Man doesn’t decide whether or not he’s guilty. He does decide whether to respond to God’s freely offered gift of grace.
I don’t know Haarwood, nor can I speak for him or anyone else, but where does Harwood state that man is not guilty of sin before God? As I have read his words, he does not say this. What is stated by Harwood and many others is that we do not bear Adam’s guilt. We bear our own guilt. This would be a simple reading of Jeremiah 31:30–”Everyone will die for his own iniquity.”

7 svmuschany December 23, 2012 at 9:51 am

Harwood’s, and those who agree with him, need to be very careful. One simply has to look at the Unitarian movement (started largely by anabaptists and methodists, both of whom reject original sin) and the WOF movement (which came out of the wesleyan methodist system). Both these two groups reject the doctrine of original sin, they are among the only ones who truly have, and look at what they have become as a result.

When one no longer believes that we are guilty as a result of inherited guilt from Adam, it opens the door to true heresies such as universalism. If we are not guilty from birth, if all we have is a sin nature, then maybe if we live a good enough life, we will go to heaven with out need for Christ’s atoning work. Harwood and others would say everyone will eventually sin, it is inevitable. But the problem is that they cannot honestly answer is why is it ineveitable. What is it that makes humans ALWAYS sin, no matter what type of family (Christian or non) that they are born into? The answer to that is our sin nature which is inherited from Adam!!!

8 volfan007 December 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I’m very, very certain that Dr. Harwood does not reject original sin. He rejects that man is GUILTY of Adam’s sin…big difference.

David

9 Christiane December 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

in these conversations,
it is always difficult for me to evaluate what is being said concerning:

the role of man’s conscience upon which God’s laws are written,

man’s free will (his actual decision to involve himself in sin or to refrain from sin),

the effect of ‘original sin’ on mankind (is our nature poisoned or just wounded)

and the integrity of our being made in the image and likeness of God (is it retained or destroyed, in Southern Baptist beliefs)

many more concerns, but those are some of the difficult areas for me to sort out, probably because I don’t see ‘unity’ in Southern Baptist beliefs on the teachings concerning the effects of the sin of Adam on God’s gift to mankind of free will . . . that area shows a lot of controversy and sometimes outright disagreement

10 theoldadam December 23, 2012 at 11:34 am

Yes, it is God’s view of us that matters and His view of us is that ALL are sinful and that “no one seeks for God”.

That sinful nature…that ‘sin’ condition that we have, puts our ‘wills’ in bondage to that fallen condition. We are then unable, unwilling to choose God…until He chooses us. And that happens through the hearing of His Word. “We are born not of the will of man…but of God.”

All of that stems from a biblical understanding of our fallen nature and bondage to sin…inherited.

11 Robin Foster December 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I find the posting of this article rather disappointing in its timing. In fact it seems down right cowardly. My comment may not survive the cut, but to post this on a Sunday morning, two days before Christmas when most ministers are focused on family and/or wrapping up church Christmas celebrations lacks any Christian decency for a proper response. Disagree if you want. Tear apart Adam’s argument. That’s fine. That is what debate is all about. But to do this when other events of the year take precedent is seems like a cowardly act done because one fears they cannot defend their position. Disappointing.

12 Dave Miller December 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm

It is Festivus, Robin. Such debate is seasonally acceptable under Festivus traditions, sir.

13 Jeff Parsons December 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Making accusations against Christian brothers that are based in pure speculation seems much more cowardly IMHO.

14 Jared Moore December 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Robin, brother, I’m a pastor who preaches and/or teaches 3 times on Sunday and I drive the church van; plus, we’re traveling to TN after church tonight to spend time with family two days straight. So, we’re packing today. I don’t follow your logic. Anyone can interact with this post after Christmas if they so choose.

I think it would be more helpful if you interacted with the article and/or Dr. Harwood’s words. I hope you have a great Christmas.

15 Robin Foster December 24, 2012 at 12:07 am

Merry Christmas to you also. Enjoy your family.

16 volfan007 December 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Once again, there’s a huge misunderstanding on many people’s part about what Dr. Harwood, and others, are saying. They have never said that they dont beieve in original sin. They do. They believe that man inherited a sin nature…due to Adam’s fall. They do believe that people are sinful from conception….all because the human race and the universe fell with Adam. They just do not believe that means that all people are GUILTY of Adam’s sin….not held responsible for Adam’s sin. We are all held responsible for our own sins.

David

17 Jared Moore December 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

David, do babies need the active atonement of Christ to save them from sin? I think the BF&M2K argues that all humans do. That’s the big issue.

18 Dale Pugh December 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

So, is that the main question then, Jared? Do babies or young children go to heaven or hell when they die?

19 Jared Moore December 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Dale, I think the main question is, “What does the Bible say?” The overwhelming declaration of Scripture is that human beings are sinners who need Jesus.

20 Christiane December 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

perhaps people need to go to the Holy Gospels and see what Our Lord Himself has said about the little ones . . .

when He has spoken about them you can rest assured He speaks the truth,
because when He speaks, there is no ‘in other words’

why is it people don’t quote Our Lord’s Words as ‘authoritative’ in these matters?
He speaks in the very Person of God . . . and the Father has said ‘Hear Him’

?

21 Les Prouty December 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Dale, I think some related questions that need to be answered biblically are:

1. Are babies innocent?
2. Are babies guilty?

3. If innocent, why do they need Jesus?
4. If guilty, how (under Harwood’s scheme)?

5. If guilty, do they stand condemned?

That’s a start that may lead to more questions.

22 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm

David,

Adam says infants are sinful yet says they do not commit sin until they are capable of knowing good and evil. That is rather contradictory. He says infants only get to Heaven because of Jesus but never explains why infants need Jesus.

You can see lots more from me in response to Adam at SBC Focus: http://www.sbcfocus.net/2012/11/30/upcoming-adam-harwoods-the-spiritual-condition-of-infants-a-review-and-response/

23 theoldadam December 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Infants are born into ‘sin’. The symptoms don’t appear for a few months, maybe, but the condition is sure and deadly.

Do babies that die go to heaven or hell? What kind of a God do we have?

24 Christiane December 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm

What are you talking about here:

“The symptoms don’t appear for a few months, maybe, . . . ”

Where does this stuff come from ?

25 Bart Barber December 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Of course, an important underlying question here is whether there is or will be anyone in eternal hell who never committed any actual transgression against God.

That’s a pretty raw deal, if true…

INFANT: (To person next to her) “This torment is horrible! Why are we here?”

HITLER: “I rebelled against God, rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ, and slaughtered six million of God’s chosen people. What about you?”

INFANT: “I never did anything. I was aborted by the ELLA abortifacient drug just three days after I was conceived. But my great-great-great-great-great-great-great…-great Grandmother and -father ate forbidden fruit and were sinners. Maybe that’s it.”

God could do that if He so desires. But is that what He has revealed to us?

26 Jared Moore December 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Dr. Barber, I think that’s an unfair caricature. Who here has argued that, or what Southern Baptist has argued that?

I believe all babies go to heaven based on the same salvation given by faith alone in Christ alone. I realize babies cannot possess faith, but the Calvinist has no problem with such notion since faith is a gift of God as well. I believe babies are saved, not because they are not guilty, but because they receive salvation through God’s gift of grace due to the finished work of Christ. Jesus died for babies the same way He died for me.

27 Dean December 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Jared, what is the difference in believing a child is born with Adam’s sin nature and condemnation but not his guilt, meaning an infant is safe, and your belief that children are guilty but God saves them? There is none unless you take one more step and clarify are all infants saved or just the elect infant.

28 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Dean,

People don’t usually say babies are born with sin nature and condemnation, but not with guilt; the condemnation implies the guilt. Harwood’s point is that babies are not born with condemnation because they are not born with guilt. Thus it is hard to see where in Harwood’s view babies need Jesus.

29 Dean December 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Chris, I’ve read many such statements. I believe I have read Dr Adam make a similar statement about nature and condemnation but not guilt. We don’t live in the garden, we are going to die, etc… We are born with Adam’s condemnation. I am interested in knowing if all infants are safe or only the elect.

30 Jared Moore December 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Dean, all of us can only speculate, but I would argue that all those incapable of receiving faith are part of the elect at death. Only God knows.

31 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Dean,

I’ve never read that statement, and I know for a certainty that it is not Adam’s view. In his book he makes explicitly clear that infants are not under condemnation because they are not guilty. He believes infant death is due to the subjugation of all creation to decay, not because of the penalty of sin.

As for which infants are safe, the best we can offer is speculation. The Bible does not tell us.

32 Dean December 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Chris, I can’t help what you have read but with all due respect I know Dr Adam has stated we are born condemned but not guilty. He differentiates that statement from the reform by stating the reform states we are born condemned and guilty.

33 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Dean,

Care to offer a quote? Here’s one for you, from Harwood’s book: “Infants who die without hearing and responding to the gospel are not condemned because they are not yet responsible moral agents.” Harwood says that infants will be condemned if they live long enough. They will certainly commit sin for which they will be guilty and stand under condemnation. But he is clear that until such a point that we might call an “age of accountability,” infants are not under condemnation. The sinful nature they inherit from Adam guarantees that if they live long enough they will be sinners under condemnation, but they do not inherit condemnation from Adam.

34 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Dean,

Another quote for you from Harwood: “This view affirms that everyone is sinful because of Adam, but it denies that we are guilty due to the sin of Adam. Instead, we are guilty and fall under condemnation only when God judges our own sinful thoughts, attitudes, and actions.”

It’s also important to note that Harwood never offers much clarity on *how* infants are sinful. The best I can find is he thinks they are sinful not because they commit sin but because they have a sinful nature. It’s a peculiar definition of sinfulness.

35 Les Prouty December 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Dean,

I think Chris is right on this, but we both could be wrong. Maybe Harwood has said that and we just don’t remember.

But tomyou: what do you think the bible teaches? Does it teach that babies are conceived with a sin nature and are under condemnation from conception? But are not guilty?

If yes, where from scripture would you get that? And why/how would the not guilty be under condemnation? For what?

36 Dean December 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Chris and Les, from SBC today December 14. Blessings on you brothers. To be clear no one comes to the Father except through the Son. Dr Adam-
“Thanks for the question. I don’t regard it as “picking a fight.” Rather, you have identified a key difference between covenantal and non-covenantal interpretations of Romans 5:12-21. If Southern Baptists will agree to disagree on this point, the current differences in the SBC can be diffused. In a word: UNITY!

Here is the distinction:

1. Adam sinned, thus we inherit condemnation.
or
2. Adam sinned, thus we inherit *Adam’s guilt and* condemnation.

Paul (esp. Rom 5:18) obligates me to affirm statement 1, not 2.
Statement 1 doesn’t require that Adam’s *guilt* is passed to all people; such an idea is necessary for the system known as covenantal theology. But I regard that interpretive grid to be both unhelpful and unnecessary.

Is it **possible** that Paul was simply referring to the general condemnation which results from living in a fallen world (the created world) and a fallen body (now inclined to sin and destined to die physically)? If this is possible without including that we also inherit Adam’s guilt, then why would I do so?”

37 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Dean,

Adam’s definition of condemnation in that case is not condemnation. This is like saying an inherited sinful nature is the same as original sin. There is a desire on the part of some to use historic Christian or biblical language while also stripping it of its meaning. Condemnation never means living in a fallen world or having a nature inclined toward sin; condemnation means standing guilty under the wrath of God.

38 Les Prouty December 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Dean, I agree with Chris’ reply on changing definitions. I would also ask how that understanding of condemnation would affect what Paul says, “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

39 Dean December 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Les , condemnation is inhalation as I understand it. We are hopeless, the salve described in Romans 7. In Christ however we are not condemned, our death sentence has been cleared. Now as for my opinion on infants. I believe the Scripture teaches they are born with Adam’s sin nature but not his guilt. They have a passive act in Christ which cleanses their sin nature. I assume that is almost identical to your belief except that they have a passive act in Christ which cleanses them from guilt and not just the sin nature. I will now out now. Thanks for a few delightful minutes.

40 Dan Barnes December 23, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Romans 7:9 Paul states “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died”. So Paul was 1) Once alive and apart from the law, then 2) the law came and 3) sin followed then 4) he died. So, those who believe we have guilt and condemnation from the moment of conception, at what point was Paul alive and apart from the law?

41 Jared Moore December 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Dean, first, Harwood is arguing infants are not under condemnation. You’re arguing something different than Harwood. Second, the difference is babies are part of the church in my view through the grace of God in Christ, thus receiving all the special love, grace, etc. with the rest of the church, but in your view, babies receive the general love of God that the rest of redeemed creation receives passively through the atonement; a less personal love than the church receives. Furthermore, there are only two categories in Scripture for humans: church and non-church. IMO, your view adds a third category that is not present in Scripture.

42 Dean December 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Jared, I’ve not stated a view. I asked a very specific question- are all infants part of the church or just the elect?

43 Bart Barber December 24, 2012 at 7:55 am

Journeyed to Mom’s yesterday. Merry Christmas to all. Seven hours on the road will interfere with your blogging. :-)

It is neither a caricature nor an accusation. It is, rather, “an important underlying question.” It would be an accusation if I had said, “Hey, Jared, here’s what you really think,” or even, “Here’s what you must necessarily mean.”

But, instead of purporting that this was your view, or anyone else’s in Southern Baptist life, what if I was posing this question as step one of a diabolical strategy to accomplish checkmate in three moves? To entangle you in your own theology? :-)

And so, here’s my second move: When is man justified? Do you, with the antinomian hyper-Calvinists, believe in eternal justification? Or do you, with the orthodox evangelical Calvinists, believe that justification takes place at conversion?

Checkmate in two.

:-)

44 Jared Moore December 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Bart, justification takes place at conversion. I, however, do believe that babies are a special case, as are others who do not have the mental ability to receive the gifts of faith and salvation. We’re trying to respond based on limited Scripture.

My concern with your view is that you believe that those who do not have the mental ability to possess saving faith are “safe,” but not part of the church. Thus, the personal love God has for the church, He does not have for these who are passively atoned for in Christ (think of the numerous times Jesus speaks of His love for His church). Jesus actively atoned for the sins of His church.

Plus, there’s so much Scripture that places all mankind together, under condemnation, and speaks of salvation only in Christ.

Also, what about where the Bible speaks of “the dead in Christ rising” when He returns? This is obviously talking about the church, but what about babies who you believe are not part of the church but part of the redeemed creation? The rest of creation will not “rise from the dead,” but will be made new.

Finally, this is what the BF&M2K clearly says as well. There’s no salvation from sin apart from faith in Christ, and Adam brought sin into the human race. All humans must possess faith in Christ to be saved. That’s what the BF&M2K says.

The list of issues can go on and on.

45 Bart Barber December 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Well, unlike what I did in posing a question and providing a hypothetical dialogue, you actually HAVE told me what my belief is. I’ve written that somewhere, or are you informing me about what I believe?

46 Jared Moore December 25, 2012 at 4:29 am

Bart, feel free to state what your belief is, correcting what I’ve said in case I’ve misunderstood you.

47 Bart Barber December 25, 2012 at 9:44 am

OK. Thanks, Jared.

To my recollection, I have not written about the relationship of deceased infants with the church. On what basis do you claim “you believe that those who do not have the mental ability to possess saving faith are ‘safe,’ but not part of the church”?

48 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm

That presumes that infants are not guilty of anything, something the Bible never teaches.

49 Bart Barber December 24, 2012 at 8:02 am

Chris,

OK, so you’ve got a drug that can induce a chemical abortion three days after fertilization. I’d say that your options are…

1. To declare that this is a soul-less non-human. I’m not going there.
2. To declare that this zygote-baby is capable of morally significant behavior (or, indeed, of behavior at all), in which case I’m going to ask you to name one behavior that this child can accomplish.
3. To declare that this zygote-baby is capable of sinful thought, in which case I’m going to ask you what part of this child is doing the thinking.
4. To declare that transgression is something that can occur totally apart from the action of the body or the will, in which case I’m going to charge that you’ve defined transgression away to meaninglessness.

Or do you see another alternative?

50 svmuschany December 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm

As you took the argument to the extreme allow me to do the same.

If as you would argue, a child is born without inherited guilt, and thus not under condemnation, then would you not say that it would be possible, however unlikely, that a child could grow up into adulthood, if raised by a proper Christian family, and never sin? IF you say no, that it is impossible for anyone, no matter how well raised, to live a sinless life from the moment of accountability and on, then by your own logic it would be preferable to kill every single child before the age of accountability, as most of those children will never accept God. Better to kill them before they have a chance to sin, rather than let them grown up to the point they will sin, and never accept Christ Jesus as their savior and Lord. Of course you would not (I hope) accept such a position as it overgeneralizes your theological beliefs regarding sin and accountability. Just like you overgeneralized with your post regarding those of us who hold to the historical definition of original sin, that is to say inherited guilt and condemnation from Adam into ALL souls conceived into this world.

51 Bart Barber December 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm

1. I didn’t take the argument to the extreme. I didn’t take it anywhere. I asked a couple of questions, and I’ve laid out a number of options to try to learn more about Chris’s view.

2. I suppose that your argument would work equally well for Jared’s view, Mohler’s, Akin’s, or anyone else’s besides those who believe that there will be people in Hell who have never committed any actual transgression against God.

3. Anyone, not just an infant, who has been saved would be better off to die immediately and go to Heaven. Why don’t we kill everyone immediately after baptism? There are several reasons: (a) Because, even if it were better for them, it would be worse for US to be guilty of murder, and I’m just selfish enough to care about that. (b) Because if we kill off infants and believers, nobody is left to share the gospel with those adults who are already lost. (c) We have enough trust in the sovereignty of God to leave matters of life and death to Him.

52 Jess Alford December 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Matt. 19:13-15. This passage is ample basis for the salvation of children who die in infancy, even the unborn, Jesus loves little children, notice the word “little”. These passages does not declare these “little” children were Baptised, or even joined the church. Jesus placed his hand on them and prayed for them.
Jesus said theirs is the Kindom of Heaven, Little children and infants belong to Heaven.

53 Christiane December 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I just had the strangest thought (I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything, but here goes):

God when God gave Adam a living soul (made him into a human being), Adam was an adult, not a child. Eve was formed as a living soul, as an adult also. They chose to sin against God AS ADULTS, fully consenting with their wills to do it, all excuses aside.

I wonder if the grace of God towards infants and children as expressed by Our Lord is not somehow connected to the fact that the first sin against Him coming from His human creations came from a couple of ADULTS, capable completely of making a decision (especially before the Fall) that really fully counted as a sin?

honestly, the closer and closer some people get to determining just who is going to hell in this world for sure, I think the closer they place themselves into the great sin of presumption and assumption . . . presuming themselves to be God in judging their fellow men, and assuming that they themselves are so far above other men as to be in a position to speak them to hell. I do worry for people who are so deep into the sins of presumption and assumption, for fear of what awaits them on judgement day, when they face the God Who has warned them against these sins.

54 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Jess,

Jesus loves many people who are unsaved and unbaptized. That Jesus loved the little children proves nothing about their spiritual status. And that he used their general faith as an illustration does not mean they had saving faith in him.

55 cb scott December 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

“Jesus loves many people who are unsaved and unbaptized” . . . . . . . .And exactly who does Jesus hate, Chris?

56 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Esau, for one.

57 cb scott December 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm

You can apply your argument against Jess Alford’s comment for that answer and you know it.

You stated that Jesus “loves many. . . ” Obviously, you believe there are many more than one He hates. Who else does Jesus hate, Chris?

58 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 10:58 pm

cb,

I really have no clue what you mean when you say, “You can apply your argument against Jess Alford’s comment for that answer and you know it.”

As for who it is that Jesus hates, I wouldn’t hazard a guess. I know that God does hate some, Scripture makes that plain enough. We can try to redefine hate if we wish, but there’s a reason God chooses to reveal himself with that word.

59 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm

cb,

I think I figured out your meaning. If you assume that I think God loves the elect and hates the non-elect, then if the Bible speaks of God’s love for a particular person or people, then that should imply that they are among the elect. Is that what you had in mind?

60 cb scott December 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm

OK Chris,

I will say that I appreciate the fact that you have not trotted out the, “You just don’t really understand Calviism” tripe this time. I appreciate that.

However, I am, from reading the comments on this thread, convinced that Bart Barber is right in something he stated very early this morning:

“I realize that one can be so committed to his particular theory that he will bend anything to suit it . . . .”

61 cb scott December 26, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Chris,

If you have not done so yet, check out the Akin-Mohler segment below in this thread about the destiny of infants who die.

62 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 11:28 pm

cb,

I saw it, and as a general framework it has some merit (though I would also disagree with it in a few places – something that probably doesn’t surprise those who know what a disagreeable fellow I am), but it is not a compelling argument. I still believe a compelling argument does not and cannot exist because God has not given it to us.

63 cb scott December 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm

And yet, you are dogmatically convinced that the particular Calvinistic position you embrace regarding soteriology precise and completely accurate according to Scripture. Amazing.

64 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 11:46 pm

cb,

Sure, because Scripture does say quite a bit about that whereas it says nothing about the spiritual condition of children or the fate of infants who die. Where Scripture is silent, the absolute most we can do is offer cautious speculation. But where it speaks, we can – and often must – speak.

65 cb scott December 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Scripture also reveals much about the attributes of God and therein lies the the answer to the destiny of people who die as infants. They are in the presence of God.

66 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm

cb,

Except God’s love and God’s justice are both perfect and in his perfect justice he condemns the guilty. If I’m right that all humanity stands guilty before God, and babies are included in humanity, then babies are in just as much trouble as the rest of us because they are guilty and God is just even as he is love. It is no answer to appeal to his love without addressing how he deals with the sin and guilt of infants. Again and again and again, we must hold to what the Bible tells us. Beyond that, we can only speculate.

67 Randall Cofield December 27, 2012 at 12:10 am

However, I am, from reading the comments on this thread, convinced that Bart Barber is right in something he stated very early this morning:

“I realize that one can be so committed to his particular theory that he will bend anything to suit it . . . .”

I realize that one can be so committed to synergistic salvation theory that he will bend anything to suit it…

Interesting how these ad hominem fallacies can be turned about with equal force (or lack thereof)…

68 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 4:15 am

Chris,

Therein you are correct. God’s love and God’s justice are both perfect and in his perfect justice he condemns the guilty.

Chris, one must appeal to God’s justice first and, I believe foremost, to make such a statement as I and multitudes of believers before me have. I continue to declare, “that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them.”

Chris, if I appealed first to the attribute of God’s love, the risk of mere emotionalism and simplistic sentimentalism would be far too great to be so assured that people who die as infants are in the presence of God.

It is because God is perfectly just that one should conclude He does not cast to hell those who had/have yet to participate with willfulness (infants) in their imputed curse of a sin nature. It is completely reasonable, based upon God’s justice, to conclude that as is the sin nature of Adam imputed to all mankind conceived by earthly parentage, He (God) also, with willful intent, imputes the righteousness of Christ (The Second Adam) into all who, in and by His foreknowledge, die as infants.

In addition, it is obvious from the plain reading of Scripture that God does love infants and has demanded their care and protection by adults. Therefore, His love, justice, and perfect knowledge obviously calls for His own care toward and protection for those people who die in their infancy from the torments of hell due to their obvious lack of personal participation in sin as sinners.

There is no valid reason to believe otherwise, if we take the whole of Scripture at face value, without straining to make the justice, love, and perfect knowledge of God fit into a specific soteriological dogma.

It is a cardinal rule that when we seek to understand any theological dogma, we must first seek to understand the revealed attributes of God. Therefore, the primary argument that people who die as infants must have its first appeal based upon the attributes of God rather than any argument based completely on soteriological dogma.

69 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 4:23 am

Randall Cofield,

Having read your various comments on this and other blogs for sometime now, it is obvious to me that in your pompous arrogance, your interaction on these threads is better suited for the football posts and threads wherein meaningless and unfounded accusations have an acceptable virtue.

70 Randall Cofield December 27, 2012 at 5:01 am

Having read your various comments on this and other blogs for sometime now…

Then you will have also noticed that I do not respond in-kind to these types of attacks.

71 Chris Roberts December 27, 2012 at 5:02 am

cb,

To repeat myself: All is to be guided by the dogma of Scripture. If it can be supported by the text of Scripture, we certainly ought to believe it. If it cannot, we ought to be very cautious. If Scripture is silent, we cannot be dogmatic. Scripture is not silent about soteriology, it is silent about infants. My soteriology does not guide my conclusions about infants, the Bible guides my conclusions, just as it guides my soteriology. Thus I stop being dogmatic about infants where the Scriptures stop teaching me: it tells me they are as fallen and guilty as any of us, and it tells me they need Jesus.

72 Randall Cofield December 27, 2012 at 6:19 am

cb scott

…one must appeal to God’s justice first and, I believe foremost, to make such a statement as I and multitudes of believers before me have. I continue to declare, “that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them.” (emphasis added)

To appeal to the justice of God here requires that one presuppose infants guiltless.

Per Drs. Mohler and Akin (for whom I have great respect) and the testimony of scripture (Ro. 3:10-18, etc.), infants are not guiltless.

Giving due diligence to the attribute of God’s perfect holiness, we must conclude that one who is guilty cannot enter into His presence in that condition. Perfect justice demands banishment from the presence of holy God that which is stained by sin (be it by nature or act).

Hence, infants are in need of God’s mercy and grace, not His justice.

Your argument unravels on the grounds of the revealed attributes of God.

73 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 8:41 am

Randall Cofield,

Obviously, reading comprehension is a secondary issue for you that enhances your pompous arrogance.

In the exercise of God’s perfect justice and perfect knowledge toward people who die as infants, God’s love, “mercy” and His unmerited “grace” are in accompaniment and applicable toward them (those who die as infants).

Why would that not be the case? Would you declare that God’s attributes are unbalanced toward specific creatures of His creation? Or, is it possible, as is the case with some, that you do not consider infants at certain stages of development as having personhood or complete personhood that would cause God to withhold His mercy and grace toward them?

74 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

Chris,

In your contention that Scripture “is silent about infants” is the basic issue of our disagreement here, I think. It is my contention that the whole of Scripture gives us insight toward God’s position on those great multitudes who die as infants. . . . and again, I lean strongly to what is revealed to us of God’s attributes.

Chris, I realize we do not have complete revelation as to all the attributes of and the entirety of the mind of God. Yet, I do believe that we have sufficient revelation of such to declare that people who die as infants are in God’s presence.

75 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 9:29 am

Randall,

You stated:

Hence, infants are in need of God’s mercy and grace, not His justice.
Your argument unravels on the grounds of the revealed attributes of God.

Your argument unravels on the definitions of guilt and justice. Do you hold that God creates the soul of the child out of nothing at conception? How then is the child condemned already at conception for a guilt that it could not have done anything to bring upon himself? If God merely treats the child as if he had sinned, then He does not treat the child according to the just facts of reality, but according to an imaginary union, resulting in a guilt that is no guilt and a justice that is no justice. Far be it from the Judge of the whole earth to condemn the innocent with the guilty. And don’t appeal to the depravity of the child, since the condemnation was prior to the depravity, and the supposed reason that God would inflict the innocent child with depravity (because God chose to see the child as if he was guilty of Adam’s sin).

76 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

Randall,

You stated: “Per… the testimony of scripture (Ro. 3:10-18, etc.), infants are not guiltless.”

Let’s look at that to see if infants are even spoken of in that passage…

10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;

According to 9:11, not only have the unborn done nothing righteousness, but they also have done nothing for which to be condemned.

11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

Those in the womb cannot understand anything or seek anything.

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

The unborn have nothing to turn aside from, and cannot understand good, much less do good.

13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

They are conceived without a throat, without a tongue, and without lips. The deceive no one.

14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

They are conceived without any mouth.

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.”

They are conceived without feet. They have no paths, and they no nothing.

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

They are conceived without eyes and without a brain with which to ponder the concept of fear of God.

77 Randall Cofield December 27, 2012 at 10:13 am

cb scott,

No problem with reading comprehension on my part.

In the exercise of God’s perfect justice and perfect knowledge toward people who die as infants, God’s love, “mercy” and His unmerited “grace” are in accompaniment and applicable toward them (those who die as infants).

Your attempt to subordinate God’s love, mercy, and grace to His justice denies the perfection of His justice: viz.

A God of perfect justice “will by no means clear the guilty.”

Infants are guilty according to the testimony of scripture.

You appeal to God’s justice as the grounds for your declaration that infants “speed their way to paradise” when they die.

Perfect justice does not clear the guilty.

You attempt to further reinforce your contention that infants “speed into paradise” on the grounds of God’s justice with the following:

It is because God is perfectly just that one should conclude He does not cast to hell those who had/have yet to participate with willfulness (infants) in their imputed curse of a sin nature.

Here you insinuate infants are guiltless, contra Mohler, Akins, and, more importantly, scripture. Further, you would, by this statement “speed into paradise” those which, by your own admission, are cursed and sinful by nature. And this, you claim, God does on the grounds of His justice.

Nay. To the extent that infants “speed into paradise” they do so on the grounds of receiving mercy, grace, and forgiveness….not justice.

Neither you nor I would ever live in God’s presence if we had been justly left in our guilt and condemnation, nor will infants if left in their guilt and condemnation.

So I reiterate: Your argument unravels when considered in light of the “revealed attributes” of God’s immutable justice and unapproachable holiness.

One is on dangerous ground when one cries up the justice of God for fallen creatures. It’s mercy we want.

In answer to your question: I am convinced that person-hood begins at the moment of conception.

78 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 10:22 am

Randall Cofield,

Again, your comment reveals a lack of reading comprehension. Reread my comment.

No, never mind. Your pompous arrogance will not allow honest comprehension.

79 Randall Cofield December 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

Hi Ken,

In response to both of your posts to me:

Ro 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

We are all born under that Law of God (Ga. 4:4-5). That which possess a sin nature and is born under the curse is guilty before God.

I’ve argued this here ad nauseum, but men far more intelligent than I have made very sound cases for exactly what I’m arguing.

If you want to make a dent in me, dismantle Jonathan Edward’s treatise on Original Sin. :-)

Peace, brother

80 Randall Cofield December 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

cb scott,

Again, your comment reveals a lack of reading comprehension. Reread my comment.

No, never mind. Your pompous arrogance will not allow honest comprehension.

I see you have no intention of engaging in meaningful dialogue.

I’ll move on.

81 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

Randall,

You failed to address the points of my rebuttal. But here is what you did say:

In response to both of your posts to me:
Ro 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

We are all born under that Law of God (Ga. 4:4-5). That which possess a sin nature and is born under the curse is guilty before God.

To be born under the law does not establish that the law condemns prior to moral agency.

Rom. 9:11
11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—

Far from being conceived in a state of condemnation, this tells us those in the womb have nothing good or bad on their record.

Deut. 1:39
39 And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

This is a quote of God Himself, who spoke of the knowledge of good and evil only one other time, to refer to the tree of Adam’s first sin. Therefore, when God says that little children do not have that knowledge, it strongly implies that they have not committed their first sin. Why is it that God named the forbidden tree in the garden, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?” After all, He could have simply called it, “The Tree of Sin.” God used the name of the tree to link the first sin of Adam and Eve with the knowledge of good and evil. It was God who linked the knowledge of good and evil to the first sin of man, and it was God who described children and “little ones” as not having the knowledge of good or evil. Upon describing them as such, He declares that these little ones He will bring into the promised land, even though their rebellious parents will die in the wilderness.

Rom. 7:8-11
8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

Paul was without the law before he had an accountable understanding of the law. He was alive in the sense that the death sentence of condemnation that comes from knowledgeably breaking the law was not yet hanging over him. The Mosaic Law promised life to those who perfectly obeyed it. The Law was the hope of the Jews—their hope for life and acceptance from God. But to all who put their hope in the letter of the Law, only death and condemnation result. The sense in which Paul uses the words kill and death in these passages reflect the dashed hopes for life through the Law (which are realized either in this life or in the next).

Though Paul speaks of sin working in him before his knowledge of the law, he does not speak of it as condemning sin, but rather, he is speaking of his sinful nature and tendencies. The text affirms that sin cannot work death except by the commandment when understood. It is only when the commandment came that Paul died, though the reason for his sin—his sinful nature—was working in him all along. The law here is not limited to the written Mosaic Law, but does include the law written on the hearts of all men.

Romans 4:15
15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

Romans 5:13
13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Romans 3:19-20
19Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

What law can a zygote understand, seeing how it does not yet have a single brain cell? Clearly, the zygote does not yet have any law; and where there is no law, “sin is not imputed” and “there also is no violation.” The law speaks to men, giving them “the knowledge of sin,” “so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.” These passages plainly show that it is the knowledge of sin that makes a man accountable to God.

You also said: “If you want to make a dent in me, dismantle Jonathan Edward’s treatise on Original Sin. :-)”
That would take up too much space and time, and I doubt you would read it. I have read his treatise. His philosophy of identity, and of God recreating the world ex nihilo every moment, is so bad that I have no use for the rest of it. It results in relegating all of reality to the mere thoughts of God, as if God can “constitute” truth from falsehood.

82 Randall Cofield December 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Ken,

Well, if you can dismantle the arguments of someone the caliber of Edwards with such apparent ease…I’m in way over my head with you. :-)

However, I am interested in your (and Parsonmike’s) interpretation of Ro. 7. I responded to him near the end of this thread on that one, but it seems there are some similarities between the two of you on that passage. Could you point me o 4 or 5 reputable expositors who see that passage the way you guys do?

I’d be much obliged.

Peace

83 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Bart,

I turn it around the other way. The Bible declares all humanity to be sinful and guilty. I believe babies are part of all humanity. That being case, they are included in what the Bible says about all humanity, even if I do not understand how. Any other option removes babies from the category of humanity, a position no pro-lifer should ever want to take.

84 Bart Barber December 25, 2012 at 2:03 am

Chris,

I understand where you’re coming from, and by talking about guilt rather than about transgression (which was, after all, the subject matter of my initial question), you really jump us straight to the conclusion rather than joining in a stroll through the premises that get us there.

Nevertheless, I want to affirm with you what the Bible says about the universality of sin and guilt. But aren’t we just picking and choosing where we want to make a “special case” for the aborted newly-conceived? Jared makes a special case for them that they are able to be saved without ever having heard or comprehended the gospel, without having ever had faith, without having ever repented, and without ever having confessed their faith. The Bible universally declares that salvation comes exclusively through these experiences concomitant with conversion, but Jared would tell us that salvation actually comes to some people apart from the gospel as we generally universally know it.

I am admittedly saying that the universal declarations about sin and transgression apply to everyone for whom it is possible for them to apply. All who can possibly transgress do so. I’m simply arguing that there is a “special case” for those who are infants (or, with Jared, I would include those who never attain to moral awareness because of developmental issues), but that the special case has to do with whether they are transgressors rather than whether they are saved by faith.

In doing so, I am no more backing away from what the New Testament says about the universality of sin than Jared is backing away from what the New Testament says about the universality of faith or repentance being irreducible elements of one’s becoming a Christian.

85 Chris Roberts December 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Bart,

This is where I see Calvinism as offering a better, more consistent answer. Since faith and repentance are both gifts from God, God is able to give them to whosoever he will, including infants. Infants are able to receive these gifts even if they are not able to understand them. The speculative part is in saying that God grants faith and repentance to all children who die – speculating that all who die in infancy are among the elect. But there is no necessary question about the nature of their salvation: though guilty, God grants them faith and repentance and they are saved.

86 Randall Cofield December 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Chris,

That’s precisely the point I was trying to make @ December 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm (currently comment #87)

87 cb scott December 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Chris Roberts,

Why do you demand (maybe demand is too strong) that it is necessary to embrace Calvinism to believe people who die as infants go to heaven?

Why can it not be simply stated that as surely as the Adamic curse is imputed to mankind in infancy that he righteousness of Christ be imputed to those in infancy by God in His foreknowledge?

As surely as God in His sovereignty knows every sparrow which falls to the earth, He also knows every person who will be conceived and those who will die in their infancy. He knew all of this prior to the founding of the universe. The provision of Christ in His atonement to save sinners was before all of creation.

Just as surely as the curse of sin through Adam has affected all of the human race by imputation, the righteousness of Christ is sufficient to save infants by imputation.

88 Chris Roberts December 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm

cb,

I don’t demand that at all, but I think Calvinism offers the most biblically consistent explanation for how it might happen that all infants who die go to Heaven.

89 Bart Barber December 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I can have an amicable discussion with Calvinistic friends over where faith comes from, but this, it seems to me, is actually a discussion over what faith actually is. Whatever “faith” is held by a newly-conceived infant, it can have no element of noticia in it, nor can it involve assensus. One wonders how it can possibly survive an encounter with James 2.

90 Chris Roberts December 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Bart,

By insisting on what the Bible says, we nonetheless admit to not knowing how it all works. The Bible says we are all sinners, we must all have faith and repentance, and these are given as a gift of God. Either babies are included in these universal statements, or they are not. If they are not, how do we know? The Bible mentions no exceptions to any of these. We are left with either accepting what the Bible says even if we don’t necessarily know how it all works, or imposing beliefs not taught by Scripture because our limited minds cannot make the Bible “work” as is.

91 Bart Barber December 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

If those universals all apply to infants, then the result is simply that all infants are condemned without hope.

92 Chris Roberts December 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Bart,

That is a possibility, but I don’t think it likely and as mentioned, the Bible provides an alternative possibility, one best expressed in Calvinist theology.

93 Bart Barber December 26, 2012 at 1:08 am

I just don’t see the winsomeness of an approach that makes faith something less than notitia or assensus, or even, really, fiducia. Faith is, I think, a pretty central element of the Christian gospel. Must it be sacrificed on the altar of election (not to speak of repentance and confession)?

94 Randall Cofield December 26, 2012 at 2:05 am

Bart,

Whatever “faith” is held by a newly-conceived infant, it can have no element of noticia in it, nor can it involve assensus.

Your contention is accurate only if one holds to a synergistic view of salvation. It is in no way a problem for those holding a monergistic view.

It is no more difficult for our Sovereign God to create knowledgeable, assenting trust in a “newly-conceived infant” than it is for Him to create it in a wretch like me…

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

95 Bart Barber December 26, 2012 at 3:19 am

Randall,

Nor, I suppose, to create it in an eggplant or a drum of nuclear waste.

And yet, I think the normal and orthodox way to view these things is that part of the means God has employed to create these aspects of faith in us is by giving us minds with the capacity for knowledge, wills with the capacity for assent, hearts with the capacity for trust. Or do we disregard God’s work in the natural order and His use of means?

I realize that one can be so committed to his particular theory that he will bend anything to suit it, but although it is one thing to agree as a mental exercise that God could indeed create faith within the HAL 9000, but it is absurd to suggest that God has created you or I no better adapted toward it than is the case with a fertilized egg. To say as much is to ignore that God has created us as creatures who develop and whose spiritual capacity—even to reject God—comes of age and grows.

Have you ever counted how many times the Bible…the New Testament…the words of Jesus Himself!…explicitly states as the grounds of a person’s condemnation the sinful acts of that person’s own mind, will, and body? The sheer volume would serve as a suitable basis for the blog post of all blog posts.

It seems to me that you run the risk in this thread of running far beyond monergism toward eternal justification and the entirety of sin, condemnation, faith, and redemption as something not only wrought by God by wrought not even IN a human being but as some sort of cosmic abstraction.

Fine! Have your theory about the order in which faith arrives vis-a-vis other elements accompanying salvation. But whenever faith arrives and however it got there, we must be able to agree about what faith IS: It is the act of the will of a human being to trust upon Christ. And we must be able to agree about what repentance IS: It is the turning of the will of a human being away from sin. And we must be able to agree about what it is to confess Jesus as Lord.

I have understood Calvinism to be a set of propositions related to a particular purported way in which God gives rise to these things, but that we all agreed that, whatever the explanation of it, the phenomenon of it all is that actual human beings turn from sin, trust in Christ, and acknowledge Him as Lord.

Not until this very day did anyone show me a kind of Calvinism in which those things are all just extra accessories.

96 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 4:15 am

Bart,

I don’t think anyone has treated them as accessories but see it within the power of God to grant faith and repentance to infants in such a way that they can exercise them toward Christ. This does not mean they function in infants the same way as in adults (that is, I would not claim that infants go through the same mental process) but that when God grants faith, he grants faith. Not an abstraction, not a mental process, but real, actual faith – real, actual trust in God through Jesus Christ. How is this faith processed in the mind of an infant? I have no idea. But I know of nothing that would hinder God from granting faith to a child just as he granted faith to me.

To me it still goes back to where I started: the Bible says certain things universally. We have the option of (1) making an exception in the case of infants, or (2) accepting that the universal statements really are universal and without exception. Those who take position 1 argue for something they cannot begin to prove. Those who take position 2 are also left with a measure of speculation, but only speculating within the boundaries permitted by Scripture. We know we are all guilty sinners who stand condemned and worthy of the wrath of God. We know our only hope for salvation is through Jesus Christ. We know we receive his righteousness and life by faith in him. We know this faith is given to us by the grace and power of God. We know God grants this grace to his elect. We know it is within God’s power and prerogative to elect whomever he wills, no matter what their age may happen to be when they die. So far all of this is biblical fact. I realize you disagree, but you know where I am coming from.

With that already established from Scripture, it is possible to tentatively speculate that all infants who die have already been numbered among the elect and are granted faith – faith being more than just an abstract notion imprinted in the mind, but the very power, force, trust, etc. When God grants faith, he grants faith. True, saving faith. Infants receive this faith and by the faith given to them, trust in Jesus by the grace of God.

97 Randall Cofield December 26, 2012 at 4:57 am

Bart,

Yet eggplants, drums of nuclear waste, and HAL 9000 aren’t the revealed objects of God’s redemption, are they?

And yes, I do regard the fact that God often works through natural means. I also regard that He is not bound exclusively to working thus. He as well possess the ability to create ex nihilo, a concept not foreign to regeneration…

I did not suggest that you or I are no better adapted for faith than a fertilized egg. I responded to a post in which you offered the example of a “newly-conceived infant.”

I find this puzzling:

It seems to me that you run the risk in this thread of running far beyond monergism toward eternal justification and the entirety of sin, condemnation, faith, and redemption as something not only wrought by God by wrought not even IN a human being but as some sort of cosmic abstraction.

I do not subscribe to, nor have I posted anything in this thread concerning “eternal justification” or “some sort of cosmic abstraction.” Why the obfuscation?

This too is puzzling to me:

Fine! Have your theory about the order in which faith arrives vis-a-vis other elements accompanying salvation. But whenever faith arrives and however it got there, we must be able to agree about what faith IS…

I’m not interested in having “my theory.” I’m just trying to stay within the clear soteriological parameters laid out in scripture. And I used (and agreed with) your definition of faith in my response to you. Again, I don’t understand the obfuscation.

Brother, I’d certainly be open to hearing you address the question of how God deals with infants.

98 cb scott December 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

Below are five of the reasons Al Mohler and Danny Akin state for believing all people who die as infants will be in the presence of God forever.

The entire article can be found at Between The Times, a blog operated by faculty and administrators of SEBTS.

I agree that number one is the strongest of all arguments. It is based upon revealed attributes of God rather than a specific soteriological dogma.

First, the grace, goodness and mercy of God would support the position that God saves all infants who die. This is the strongest argument and perhaps the decisive one. God is love (1 John 4:8) and desires that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). God is love and His concern for children is evident in Matthew 18:14 where Jesus says, “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” People go to hell because they choose in willful rebellion and unbelief to reject God and His grace. Children are incapable of this kind of conscious rejection of God. Where such rebellion and willful disobedience is absent, God is gracious to receive.

Second, when the baby boy who was born to David and Bathsheba died (2 Samuel 12:15-18), David did two significant things: 1) He confessed his confidence that he would see the child again and, 2) he comforted his wife Bathsheba (vs. 23-24). David could have done those two things only if he was confident that his little son was with God. Any other explanation does not do justice to the text.

Third, in James 4:17, the Bible says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” The Bible is clear that we are all born with a sin nature as a result of being in Adam (Roman 5:12). This is what is called the doctrine of original sin. However, the Scriptures make a distinction between original sin and actual sins. While all are guilty of original sin, moral responsibility and understanding is necessary for our being accountable for actual sins (Deuteronomy 1:30; Isaiah 7:16). It is to the one who knows to do right and does not do it that sin is reckoned. Infants are incapable of such decisions.

Fourth, Jesus affirmed that the kingdom of God belonged to little children (Luke 18:15-17). In the passage he is stating that saving faith is a childlike faith, but He also seems to be affirming the reality of children populating heaven.

Fifth, Scripture affirms that the number of saved souls is very great (Revelation 7:9). Since most of the world has been and is still non-Christian, might it be the untold multitude who have died prematurely or in infancy comprise a majority of those in heaven? Such a possibility ought not to be dismissed too quickly. In this context Charles Spurgeon said, “I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them.”

99 Ken Hamrick December 26, 2012 at 8:16 am

Bart, CB, Chris & Randall,

Some points from the middle for your consideration:
1) Faith is not what actually saves us, but God’s response to that faith (His uniting us to Christ through the regenerion of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit). Faith is simply what God requires before He will perform this saving act upon us.

2) Faith is the gift of God, since it is only by God’s gracious influences (spiritual conviction, revelation, persuasions, and the orchestration of events, etc) that the elect sinner is brought to an actual repentant surrender and fully embraces God on His terms through His Son. Faith is required for salvation because unbelief is the ultimate expression of spiritual rebellion against God.

3) After God saves us by indwelling us and joining us to Christ, that presence of God within us forever generates a faith that is even greater than the initial faith that brought us to Him.

4) Babies are conceived with a spiritual nature that will inevitably result in rebellion against God, but they do not begin their existence as individuals already rebelling against God. The sin nature does not become a sinning nature until the moral law of God is understood. That is why Paul says of the unborn (Rom. 9:11; cf Deut. 1:39) that they have done neither good nor evil. The sin nature is simply the state of spiritual death, which is spiritual separation from God, and results in a complete self-centeredness from which sin is inevitable once agency is attained.

See Rom. 7:8-11. Paul was without the law before he had an accountable understanding of the law. He was alive in the sense that the death sentence of condemnation that comes from knowledgeably breaking the law was not yet hanging over him. The Mosaic Law promised life to those who perfectly obeyed it. There were elements of grace within the Law that pointed to Christ, in the form of provisions for cleansing the guilty by substitutionary sacrifice. But even with these gracious provisions, no man ever followed the Law successfully. The Law was the hope of the Jews—their hope for life and acceptance from God. But to all who put their hope in the letter of the Law, only death and condemnation result. The sense in which Paul uses the words kill and death in these passages reflect the dashed hopes for life through the Law (which are realized either in this life or in the next).

Though Paul speaks of sin working in him before his knowledge of the law, he does not speak of it as condemning sin, but rather, he is speaking of his sinful nature and tendencies. The text affirms that sin cannot work death except by the commandment when understood(see also Rom. 4:15; 5:13). It is only when the commandment came that Paul died, though the reason for his sin—his sinful nature—was working in him all along. The law here is not limited to the written Mosaic Law, but does include the law written on the hearts of all men.

5) Just as in the case of John the Baptist, God can indwell the child in the womb if He chooses, even at the point of death. Since unbelief is ultimate rebellion, of which the child is no more capable than he is of believing in Jesus, then the God who demands that unbelievers drop their rebellion and surrender in repentant faith can choose to savingly regenerate these ones who are incapacitated and spiritually dead through no will of their own as individuals.

100 Ken Hamrick December 26, 2012 at 8:52 am

Chris,

You stated:

To me it still goes back to where I started: the Bible says certain things universally. We have the option of (1) making an exception in the case of infants, or (2) accepting that the universal statements really are universal and without exception.

As a Calvinist, you should know that assumptions read into universals can cause problems. How many times have you explained that to Arminians? Whenever the plain meaning of those universal statements seem to contradict with other specific statements, then we need to look at reconciling the two. When for example Rom. 3:11-18 makes its universal declarations of how sinful all people are, it attributes characteristics that do not apply to the child at conception, since a zygote has no throat, no mouth, no tongue, no lips, no eyes, no feet, and no brain with which to understand anything. When Rom. 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” we cannot sweep under the rug what Paul also says of infants in 9:11 (and also what if found in Deut. 1:39). Paul uses the same tense here, in “all have sinned,” as he uses in Rom. 5:12. It refers to the single past action of the race sinning in Adam. This verse does not say that “all have sinned and are condemned,” but only, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All mankind sinned in Adam and falls short of the glory of God because of it. And, of course, all who are of an age to be able to read Paul here have sinned as individuals; but that does not mean that individual condemnation is intended universally and “without exception.”

101 Ken Hamrick December 26, 2012 at 9:04 am

Rev. 20:11-15 ESV
11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

This God, who judges “each one of them, according to what they had done,” is the same God who described the unborn twins as having done nothing good or evil (Rom. 9:11). Notice that in Rev. 20:11-15, it does not say that they were judged according to what they all had done together in Adam, but rather, “they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.” This is perfect justice defined: each man judged according to his works.

Notice that in v. 15, a possible contradiction arises, which might leave loose ends: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” But there are no loose ends, since God works all things together. There are not two different reasons by which a man may be condemned here. Rather, there are two different aspects of that same condemnation that are shown. All those whose names were written in the book of life were found redeemed, regenerated and spiritually united to Christ. All those whose names were not written in the book of life ALSO were guilty of having done things as individuals that were sinful. Where does that leave “little ones… who today have no knowledge of good or evil” (Deut. 1:39), “nor having done any good or evil” (Rom. 9:11)? It leaves them safely in Christ.

102 Ken Hamrick December 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

Chris, et al,

What are your thoughts regarding the distinction between a positive righteousness and the mere lack of any condemnable sin, such as is spelled out by William Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3rd ed., p. 721:

The chief function of Christ’s obedience of the moral law is to earn a title for the believer to the rewards of heaven. This part of Christ’s agency is necessary, because merely to atone for past transgression would not be a complete salvation. It would, indeed, save man from hell, but it would not introduce him into heaven. He would be delivered from the law’s punishment, but would not be entitled to the law’s reward: “The man which does the things of the law shall live by them” (Rom. 10:5). Mere innocence is not entitled to a reward. Obedience is requisite in order to this. Adam was not meritorious until he had obeyed the commandment, “Do this.” Before he could “enter into life,” he must “keep the commandment,” like every subject of divine government and candidate for heavenly reward. The mediator, therefore, must not only suffer for man, but must obey for him, if he would do for man everything that the law requires.

“Mere innocence is not entitled to reward.” The lack of sin is reason to keep these babies from condemnation and hell, but it does not earn them heaven. They need the righteousness of Christ for that. No one gets to heaven outside of a regenerating union with Christ. While Scripture does not tell us about how God regenerates these children when they are to die, it does clearly tell us things that directly bear on the situation. Salvation is always unearned, but condemnation is always earned and never a gift like grace.

103 Jess Alford December 26, 2012 at 9:15 pm

What if the sin nature don’t kick in until the age of accountability, it still would be scriptural.

104 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Jess,

Except there is absolutely no biblical warrant for saying something like that.

105 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 8:29 am

Chris,

Do you have no response to my comments immediately above?

106 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

Jess,

You said, “What if the sin nature don’t kick in until the age of accountability, it still would be scriptural.” What do you mean by not “kicking in?” It begins its corrupting effects from conception, as the principle working within us. But as Paul explains in Rom. 7, this principle of sin can only work death (bring about our condemning sentence of death) through the commandment when understood.

107 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

correction: “no most common” should be “now most common”

108 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 9:11 am

Chris,

Earlier, you seemed to be inclined toward Augustinian realism in regard to the union in Adam. Of course, that would be unusual today, but far better than the usual idea of federal union. However, unless you are willing to go as far as to affirm traducianism (the idea that the soul of the child is propagated from the parent and not created ex nihio), then you are still redefining the Biblical ideas of guilt and justice. The Princeton anthropology of Hodge that is no most common among Calvinists acknowledges that these infants have no culpability for the Adam’s crime, but instead bear his guilt as an alien guilt just as the believer bears Christ’s righteousness as an alien righteousness. Alien guilt is injustice and no real guilt at all.

As an traducianist, I used to see the guilt of Adam’s sin bringing immediate condemnation on every child, since all men had a real participation while in Adam’s loins. But I found that Scripture would not allow that God condemns anyone except for their own sins as individuals. Here are the passages that convinced me: Deut 1:39; Rom. 9:11; Ezek. 18:20; Deut. 24:16; Rom. 7:8-11; Rom. 4:15; Rom. 5:13; Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6 and Rev. 20:12-13. Therefore, regardless of whatever artificially constructed headship may be popular, and regardless of whatever extreme symmetry is insisted upon in the parallel of Adam and Christ, I must stick with the Bible and not call it silent where it does speak or say that it speaks where it does not.

109 Chris Roberts December 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

Ken,

Several of your terms are unfamiliar to me, so I don’t know where I stand, ie Augustinian realism – no clue what that is. I haven’t given much thought to traducianism, I’m not sure it’s something we can really answer.

I do think our relationship with Adam is such that we share his guilt in a way that his sin is our sin so we stand condemned with him. This would not violate God’s word that the soul that sins shall die. Along with that, God often demonstrates the principle of corporate punishment: David sins, and the whole nation suffers plague as a result. This alone tells us we have to do a little more work to understand what God means in the passages you list.

110 Ken Hamrick December 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

Chris,

Maybe one day we can discuss this more thoroughly. As for corporate guilt, we are corporate only in this world–on Judgment Day every man stands alone. Therefore, corporate penalties are limited to this world’s consequences alone. No one went to hell for David’s sin.

What do you do with Rev. 20, where it tells us that God will judge “each one” according to what he has done?

111 Chris Roberts December 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

All people have “done” Adam’s sin.

And with that, I’m out for a few days – Mississippi bound.

112 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 10:14 am

Chris,

Travel safely and may God grant you a good time with family and friends.

Enjoy watching the SEC representative, the MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOG NATION stomp Northwestern.

SEC! SEC! SEC!

113 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

Randall Cofield,

To engage one who is determined to misrepresent what I have stated is an exercise in futility.

As to your moving on; I am glad you are going to the Gator Bowl with Chris Roberts. I think the trip will be a good thing for you and a good thing for the Baptist Blog World as a whole.

Enjoy the trip.

114 Robin Foster December 24, 2012 at 12:14 am

Dead on Bart.

115 Randall Cofield December 24, 2012 at 12:36 am

Robin,

Come now, brother. Aside from the probability that sinners condemned to hell will more likely be cursing God, not “agreeing” with Him concerning their condemnation (i.e. Bart’s Hitler), not one person on this thread is arguing that infants will be in hell.

116 Robin Foster December 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

And your point?

117 Randall Cofield December 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Bart’s post is a non-sequitur.

118 Dale Pugh December 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Would you point us to the place in the Bible where we are told that those in hell curse God? The rich man called out for mercy and expressed compassion for his family, but we see no cursing of God for his torment. The fact is that the day will come when “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father.” That is the worship of God, not the cursing of Him. The biblical evidence for such recognition of God as God and Jesus as Lord makes Bart’s illustration more probable than you’d like to admit, it seems.

119 Chris Roberts December 26, 2012 at 4:23 am

Dale,

No one wants to endure torment. We should not be surprised the man in the story wanted relief. And even the lost love their families, so again, no surprise that he would want them spared. But there is a world of difference between a person that seeks to avoid Hell because they don’t want the torment and the person who willingly yields to Christ.

That also marks the difference between those who at the end will bow in worship and those who bow as conquered foes. Yes, all will be forced to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, but this does not mean any will ever acknowledge they need that Lord. The Bible gives us no reason to think the sinner’s heart will ever be changed, not even in Hell. So long as the unregenerate remain unregenerate, they will always be enemies of God, lovers of evil, spiritually blind. Even in Hell where they may want escape from punishment, they will have no desire for Christ, not as we are supposed to desire him. They will not worship God – as in give him themselves in worship and adoration – unless some great change takes place in them, a change the Bible never mentions. The lost are brought forward as conquered foes, forced to acknowledge their God, and cast into eternal punishment where they will forever dwell with hearts just as cold and hard toward God as ever in this life.

120 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 12:24 am

Bart, no one here that I’ve seen has argued that such an infant would be in eternal hell. What you’ve written is a caricature.

Les

121 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 12:36 am

Read all the comments, Les.

122 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

CB, I think I have. But maybe I’ve missed it. If you could save me a bit of time (I know, I’m an Auburn guy and a little slow) I would appreciate it brother.

123 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 12:55 am

Les,

How about approaching the question in another way?

Is every person who has commented on this thread willing to declare that every human being who died as an infant is now in heaven and none who have died as infants is now in hell?

124 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 1:03 am

CB, that is indeed a different way to put it. Much different than Bart’s caricature.

I cannot speak for everyone else. I’l say this for myself. I believe that all infants dying in infancy along with all who are mentally incapacitated their entire lives are among the elect and are regenerated and when they die they are immediately in the presence of Jesus.

I think Harwood and other Trads here also believe that all such die and immediately are in the presence of Jesus. It is a theological question how, or maybe better why, that is.

125 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 1:06 am

cb,

I’m not Les, but I would hope no one would speak that dogmatically on the issue. We are permitted our speculations, but the Bible never tells us clearly the fate of infants and I would hope we would hold back from firm declarations when the Bible is silent.

126 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 1:11 am

CB (and Chris),

In light of Chris’ last comment about speaking dogmatically, I should add what I have written elsewhere on this issue…that I hole my belief on this issue very tenuously and with some degree of uncertainty. I agree, Chris, that we cannot be dogmatic about it. There is simply too much we are not told. It is not explicit. All our views are mostly inferred. Sorry I was not more clear and came across dogmatic about it. I believe what I stated. But not with the same degree of certainty I believe in the virgin birth.

127 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 1:15 am

“that I HOLD my belief…”

128 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 4:52 am

Well, there you have it. There is the answer.

Chris states he really does not know. Les, when pressed by Chris, states he does not know either. (Les also adheres to infant baptism, but, as he would state, that is not the subject here, so why bring that up?)

Well gentlemen, for the record, I shall make a declaration and as dogmatically as you both declare your position on soteriology to be correct shall I make this declaration. And, in your case, Chris, if a person does not declare your position on soteriology, it is because they do not “understand” as well as you do, the truth of Scripture.

Here is my dogmatic declaration:

Every infant who has died by a natural or unnatural death (abortion included) is in the presence of God and is not, nor have they been or will they ever be in hell. Just as certainly as can the sinful nature of Adam be imputed to humanity, so can the righteousness of Christ be imputed to all who God the Father knows will die in infancy, no matter the cause. For certainly, God in His sovereignty, knows the conception and the death of every human life He has created just as He knows every sparrow who falls to the earth and every hair on the head of every person.

129 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm

cb,

But your dogmatic position is based on conjecture, not the absolute words of Scripture. The Bible offers no absolute guarantees in the case of infants, all we can do is hypothesize. As it happens, I also believe all infants who die will go to Heaven, but I leave it an open question.

In Harwood’s book he quotes an early Anabaptist, Balthasar Hubmaier, who said, “I confess here publicly my ignorance. I am not ashamed not to know what God did not want to reveal to us with a clear and plain word.” I am comfortable with that position. Children who die are in God’s hands. We can take hold of the Bible’s hints to offer conjecture on what we think will happen to them, and I think the hints are strong enough to offer parents some real hope, but our position is ultimately one of trust: we trust them in God’s hands, even though he has not told us what he will do.

130 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Chris Roberts,

Many, many of the beliefs you promote as fact (especially relating to soteriology) are no less conjecture than my declaration that all who die in infancy are in the presence of Holy God. Frankly, some of the things you state as fact are less arguable as such than my declaration of those who die as infants going straight to God’s presence.

131 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm

cb and Chris,

I agree with cb and I have outlined some of the proof from Romans in a few texts below.
Paul was alive before he had knowledge of the law but when the law came, he sinned and died.
And he wasn’t an infant when it happened.

132 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm

cb,

I know you disagree with me that my beliefs are biblical, but I am convinced that I hold nothing that does not come from the Bible in ways clearly taught and supported by Scripture. No speculation or conjecture needed. When things are unclear, I hold them tentatively, such as my view that infants who die go to Heaven. When things are clear, I hold them dogmatically, such as Reformed soteriology.

As for your view, care to offer me the biblical case – clear and direct – that infants who die go to Heaven?

133 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:42 am

I’ve missed it as well. Who said that?

134 John Wylie December 24, 2012 at 12:45 am

Les and Randall,

Although I’m not a Calvinist I’m actually in agreement with the Calvinist view on original sin. Having said that though I have seen comments on SBC voices a number of times by Calvinists who do indeed believe in infant damnation.

135 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 12:46 am

John Wylie, I’m sure that is possible. There are some who believe that. I was asking about on this thread…this post.

Les

136 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:48 am

I don’t doubt there are people out there who believe some, perhaps many infants will to to Hell, but it is not a common view, Reformed or not. Offhand, I can’t recall ever seeing it promoted by anyone on Voices, but I’m not known for a stellar memory.

137 John Wylie December 24, 2012 at 1:03 am

Les,

Yes I understand that you meant this post, but none of us read these things in a vacuum.

Chris,

Whether it is appropriate to name someone or not I’ll give you an example. There is an occasional poster on here whose name is Rick (not the moderate guy), who is a self professed Calvinist who very clearly believes in infant damnation. I personally have a number of Calvinist friends who believe that some infants are to be damned. I’m not saying this to defame anyone. I personally have a great respect for Calvinists, but when nonCals bring up the infant damnation charge they’re not pulling it out of thin air.

138 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 1:08 am

John,

Again, I know they are out there. I am aware of several in the Calvinist camp who believe children of Christians are secure while children of non-Christians are sort of an unknown category: the Bible makes no guarantees either way regarding infants with unbelieving parents. That may not offer the clarity some would like, but it also isn’t saying children of unbelievers are certainly destined for Hell.

139 Adam G. in NC December 24, 2012 at 2:10 am

I’m not really endorsing either position here (infant damnation or salvation) but I would like to ask a few questions for thought?

Are we not ALL born self-absorbed with our own personalities sitting on the throne of our hearts? Are we not ALL born hating God?

I dont recall ever encountering a newest born baby or the youngest child that wasnt largely self-centered. Is this not guilt? It this not the root of Adam’s fall?

140 Randall Cofield December 24, 2012 at 2:49 am

That was one of the most shockin’ things about my children. I didn’t have to teach them to be sinners…. Isn’t that surprising??!!

141 Tim Rogers December 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

Adam G. in NC,

Allow me to engage your questions with questions. Your question seems to be more rhetorical than really seeking an answer. So let me ask questions that may remove the rhetoric from your questions.

I dont recall ever encountering a newest born baby or the youngest child that wasnt largely self-centered. Is this not guilt?

Could be if it is nature. But, the question remains, it is nature or nurture? An argument certainly exists due to the fact that from the moment of conception this baby is dependent on someone else for its existence. He/she is a guest in the womb of the mother and dependent on her for his/her nutrition. Thus, in the development of his/her psyche he/she is placed in the center of receiving what one wants when one wants it. Upon birth this baby is constantly being nurtured to believe that when he/she needs something to eat, food is readily available. When he/she feel uncomfortable because of that food has made its way through the body, comfort is readily given. The newborn baby is made the center of the world and receives all the attention then the parents have to teach the baby to share. Why? Because the parents have nurtured that newborn to believe he/she should get what he/she wants when he/she wants it.

So, your question of self-centeredness can be answered, not as guilt by nature, but guilt by nurture.

142 Adam G. in NC December 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm

This seems too much like modern psychobabble that just plain thinking. I clearly see it as guilt by an inherited slant toward the self as opposed to God.

143 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 12:08 am

Tim,

The baby Jesus was nurtured, and was never self-centered. Since he was not conceived in a state of spiritual death (disunion with God), then God was always His center. As for the rest of us, we are begin our existence as individuals who are spiritually separate from God. Our own self is the limit of our spiritual world, and so we are naturally centered in ourselves. Sin is putting self-will over God’s will; however, until the child is able to comprehend and understand both the existence of God and the relation of His will to the child’s will, the child is not guilty of sinful self-will but merely ignorant self-will.

If we learn anything at all about sin from the account of the fall it is that sin consists in the will of the sinner exercised against God. If sin can be viewed in such a way as to include not only the transgression but also the nature, it can only be done to the extent that the nature is just as much a result of the sinner’s will as the act.

144 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Define sin the way James and Paul do. It is more than self-centeredness, which is proof of their fallen nature. Sin is knowing the law and choosing to do wrong.

Guilt is what one has after one sins. Sin is not the evidence of guilt, rather guilt is the evidence of sin.

145 Adam G. in NC December 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm

“Sin is knowing the law and choosing to do wrong.”
This is a good definition of self-centeredness.

146 Tim G December 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Once again the misrepresentation is alarming. I know of no one in the non Calvinist side who disagrees with original sin. I know of no one who says that man decides when they are a sinner. No one! That straw man just burned to a crisp!

I would think that an honest discussion would include an honest understanding first and foremost.

By the way – it’s Christmas time – lets celebrate Jesus!

147 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Calling something original sin doesn’t make it original sin. Inherited sinful nature is not original sin.

148 Randall Cofield December 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm

THE EXPONENTIAL EFFECT OF DOCTRINAL ERROR

Dr. Harwood, though conceding that infants possess a sinful nature and that they are, indeed, sinners, maintains that they do not become guilty until they are cognizant of their sin.

He mistakenly cites the “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation” portion of the BF&M Article III to support this contention, and offers an over-reaching interpretation of De. 1:39 as further support. This, in turn, requires that he proffer a very strained interpretation of Romans 5 to maintain his guiltless-until-cognizant doctrine.

A robust doctrine of the immutable, unapproachable holiness of God unravels Dr. Harwood’s position. May that which possess both a sinful nature and actual sin (though not cognizant of said sin) enter into the holy presence of God sans the redeeming, atoning work of Lord Jesus? Nay! The universal, unquestionable testimony of holy writ forbids such!

One Doctrinal Error Inevitably Leads to Another

The “Traditionalist” insistence that faith originates in the will of the creature necessitates this erroneous doctrine of guiltless-until-cognizant. In “Traditionalist” soteriology, a non-cognizant infant obviously cannot generate faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore they must remain guiltless until cognizant.

However, infant salvation is no great difficulty for Monergists. In regeneration, the grace of God creates saving faith in the born-from-above sinner. When we reject synergism (which Dr. Harwood, by his own statement, gladly embraces)–and salvation is from top to bottom a work of God’s grace–the problem of infant salvation disappears.

It is no more difficult for our Sovereign God to create faith in an infant than it is for His amazing grace to create faith in a wretch like me…

Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

NOTE: I DO NOT believe those dying in infancy (pre- or post-birth) are consign to hell by our Righteous God. I will not respond to anyone who accuses me of such.

149 Randall Cofield December 23, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Correction…”consigned“…

150 Louis December 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for an interesting post. I think it is important for people to debate this issue and understand one another’s positions. Peter Lumpkins has been writing about this, and I have commented on his blog about it.

There is nothing cowardly about posting this. I truly do not understand that idea, and hope that upon further reflection, this post will not be seen as cowardly by anyone.

I agree that the BFM has been and can be affirmed by people in both camps on this.

And in fairness to Harwood, I may have missed this, but I have missed his saying that Reformed people cannot affirm the BFM.

I think that Harwood is pointing out that some in the Reformed camp have said or implied that the Reformed perspective is the only legitimate perspective re the BFM.

Of course, once that is pointed out, it brings up the issue of whether Reformed people can affirm it.

As to whether all babies and mentally disabled people are saved, whether none are, or whether some are, why don’t we simply say that the Bible does not tell us this?

What’s wrong with just saying that salvation is in the hands of the Lord, and that it is by grace through faith, and is accomplished by Christ’s death?

People who start proclaiming how God mediates this to infants and the infirm are jeopardizing their credibility in big way. There is simply very little to no information as to how this works itself out.

Why don’t we say that God is just and merciful and that Christ’s sacrifice is powerful to accomplish all that God intended, and that we are totally comfortable leaving these questions to the Lord?

I think that many Christians and non-Christians alike would see a great deal of honesty and humility in that approach, rather than an approach that makes pronouncements beyond the light we have been given.

151 Chris Roberts December 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Louis,

At SBC Today Harwood posted http://sbctoday.com/2012/11/29/the-ets-the-ap-the-bfm/ in which he very strongly implies that those who hold a Reformed view of inherited guilt cannot affirm the BF&M. In Twitter he insisted that Southern Seminary needs to label his view as being within the bounds of orthodoxy and BF&M but refused to offer the same for the Reformed view.

152 Louis December 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Thanks, Chris. I don’t think I saw that post.

In the part I had seen, he was taking issue with some at SBTS holding the view that if one did not believe in inherited guilt, one was not orthodox and could not sign the BFM. I also did not see the Twitter info.

153 Tom Fillinger December 23, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Denying that Adam’s sin brought guilt to all persons who ever lived other than Jesus Christ is not just an issue of BF&M. it is virtually ‘another gospel’. While we must always address those adopting such a posture with an irenic and gracious tone, we must never-the-less state clearly what this denial is – - heresy if not worse.

It is long past time to bring clarity to such matters and stop ‘making nice’ for the sake of ‘making nice.’ Unorthodox theology is aberrant, wrong and deadly. My prayer is that we establish an exegetical forum that identifies, clarifies and correct such corrupt theological postures in our midst. Paul commands that we do no less – Titus 1:9. We address issues, not malign persons.

154 Dean December 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Tom, I would absolutely love for our convention to establish the SBC orthodox view on this matter and others. You would fine out very quickly we speak in vagueness in order that those who hold minority views can still be SBC. Unity among diversity. If we could get rid of that idea I’m afraid you would have to start baptizing babies or create a denomination. The B F &M states plainly that we become transgressors. I sincerely wish the reform would petition the convention to clarify matters. We would be free of folk who love to call others heretics when this convention tolerates them as the minority.

155 Tom Fillinger December 24, 2012 at 8:43 am

Dean – The issue is NOT do we become transgressors. I believe both perspectives hold to that principle. The issue is guilt. Orthodoxy has held for thousands of years that we inherit both a sin nature and guilt for what Adam did as the head of the human race.

156 Dean December 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

Tom, “Orthodoxy has held for thousands of years that we inherit both a sin nature and guilt for what Adam did as the head of the human race.” You are correct and orthodoxy has also held that man was born with Adam’s sin nature but not his guilt. Now as for your first comment to me. I would love to for our convention to settle this issue just as you do.

157 Doug Hibbard December 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Heresy and “another gospel” are pretty big lines and ones that should not be trotted out for everything.

Now, if Dr. Harwood and those in agreement with him reach a conclusion that Jesus is not necessary for salvation, then they’ve crossed that line. As it sits, it appears their conclusion remains that God’s grace through Christ’s blood is necessary, but applicable differently for those who have not reached a point of being capable.

I disagree, and instead fall simply on the truth that God is as merciful as He is just, as loving as He is righteous and will handle it. That may be too simplistic for the great minds around here, but that’s me.

Put the heretic sword back in its sheath. Save it for real heresy, because it’s out there.

158 Randall Cofield December 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Doug,

Now, if Dr. Harwood and those in agreement with him reach a conclusion that Jesus is not necessary for salvation, then they’ve crossed that line. As it sits, it appears their conclusion remains that God’s grace through Christ’s blood is necessary, but applicable differently for those who have not reached a point of being capable.

I absolutely agree that we need to be very cautious with terms like “heresy” and “another gospel.”

I think the problem lies in that Dr. Harwood, et. al., have failed to clearly delineate how Christ’s blood is “applicable differently” (well posited!) for the non-cognizant.

159 Dean December 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Randal, that others would include The reform as well unless they are saying infants go to hell. Jared stated earlier he believes the infant who dies is part of the church. How is the blood applied? There is no believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth. No hearing the Gospel. The burden of explanation is for both the reform and the non-Calvinist.

160 Randall Cofield December 24, 2012 at 12:22 am

Hi Dean,

I think it is rather incumbent upon those who declare the non-cognizant guiltless (though sinners)–and yet at the same time claim they need the atonement of Christ–to explain how the blood of Christ is “applicable differently.”

That is an unorthodox view, not to mention self-contradictory.

You say:

There is no believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth. No hearing the Gospel.

This is problematic only if one is a Synergist (and Dr. Harwood has stated plainly that he is). Not a problem at all for Monergists (see my post @ 4:18 pm above).

161 Randall Cofield December 24, 2012 at 12:24 am

Sorry about that, Dean. Missed a blockquote. Last paragraph is my statement.

162 Dean December 24, 2012 at 1:46 am

Randall, I have always read the Calvinist brothers proclaim that the preaching of the Gospel is necessary for the elect to be redeemed. Therefore it is a question of how this blood is applied. As for your question I think I understand and appreciate it. The Lord’s death provides redemption for sins and deals with man’s sin nature giving us a new nature. As for the infant, the application would be the same for dealing with the infant’s sin nature or his guilt.

163 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 1:55 am

Jesus died to take our punishment. He was our substitute. The punishment we deserve was laid on him. His death wasn’t about our sin nature, it was about our sin. It was about the fact that we stand guilty before God, condemned, and under his wrath.

164 Dean December 24, 2012 at 2:17 am

Randall, you are exactly right brother about the substitutionary death of our Lord. At our rebirth we receive a new nature made available by the work of Christ. Our new nature is dependent upon that sacrificial death because without it there can be no rebirth. Christ died for our sins – yes. Christ died that we may be adopted and have the nature of our Father – yes. The same application provided both. Hey brother I’m going to sleep but let me say we believe the same about the infant’s destiny. Your belief is strong and an orthodox view. You work hard not to contradict total depravity. Thank you for the discussion. Merry Christmas

165 Rick Patrick December 23, 2012 at 11:16 pm

As I understood Harwood, he was not stating Southern professors could not sign the BFM, but that the official Southern interpretation of the BFM only permits the inherited guilt position, while MANY Southern Baptists embrace the following order of events which must certainly be considered at least consistent with the BFM: (1) become capable of moral action, (2) transgress, and (3) fall under condemnation.

I assure you Adam is not alone in this view. The BFM is not the issue. The issue is: “Should one of our seminaries interpret the BFM so narrowly as to exclude a position sincerely held by many Southern Baptists?”

166 Les Prouty December 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Rick,

I haven’t read the SBTS official interpretation of election, regeneration, and such Reformed positions. Maybe there’s a link I’ve missed. But you may know. Do the allow for the faith before regeneration in their interpretation? I know that view is the one of many SBs also.

167 Rick Patrick December 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm
168 Les Prouty December 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Rick, I haven’t found it yet. But I’m looking. You said,

“The issue is: “Should one of our seminaries interpret the BFM so narrowly as to exclude a position sincerely held by many Southern Baptists?””

Don’t they already do that on other Reformed positions?

169 Rick Patrick December 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm

If they do, are they right to do so? I have no problem with them espousing a view more narrow than the BFM. I just think that their official interpretation of the BFM should allow for, and even mention, the other acceptable Southern Baptist views.

In a history book, I may prefer Republicans, but I at least admit the existence of Democrats, and admit they are Americans too. Otherwise, students get the impression that the one view they have heard is the only view.

170 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:02 am

Rick,

Are you saying you think Southern students don’t know non-Calvinists exist?

171 Rick Patrick December 24, 2012 at 12:28 am

I think, in some cases, they may not have been informed of the existence of other legitimate SBC interpretations that deserve to be respected as within the boundaries of orthodoxy, even if they do not hold to these views personally. It would be nice for the official BFM Interpretation to be as inclusive as the SBC itself.

Furthermore, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

172 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:32 am

Rick,

Has Harwood shown that this is an actual official position from Southern of how the BFM should be interpreted, and that other views are not taught at the seminary? As Bart brought up in a different post, one would like to see some actual evidence before accusations are thrown around. Harwood does what many at SBC Today do: offers a lot of conjecture and spins it to make it sound bad but gives nothing concrete.

173 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 12:01 am

Rick,

This is the politician’s game: “I was misunderstood!” Unfortunately, his words remain at SBC Today for all to see. His first post had nothing to do with the BF&M commentary (which I’m not aware Southern ever called its official position – Harwood imposed that classificiation). His posts started with a look at Schreiner’s view. Harwood was careful to remain in the realm of speculation, but the kind of speculation intended to make a point. The point itself came through loud and clear enough: Harwood believes Schreiner’s views are incompatible with the BF&M and that such views should not be permitted in SBC seminaries.

174 Rick Patrick December 24, 2012 at 12:52 am

We are indeed talking about two different posts.

In the first, Adam was asking if Schreiner’s view did not conflict with the BFM 2000, which I too understand as placing condemnation after transgression after moral capacity, in contrast to imputed guilt. I don’t remember Adam saying anything about what should be taught in seminaries, just asking for clarification of the apparent contradiction. It is a fair question to ask Schreiner if his view conforms to BFM 2000.

In the second, Adam was addressing Block’s article in the Southern Seminary exposition of the BFM. Once again, the inherited guilt position is discussed, with no mention at all of the inherited sinful nature without inherited guilt position. This is also a fair question, and the milder one which I was referencing: “Should a seminary supported by all Southern Baptists interpret our BFM in a manner that excludes the legitimate views held by many Southern Baptists, or should it not at least reference those views as also within the BFM’s large umbrella?”

175 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 1:02 am

Rick,

After devoting most of his post to showing why he thinks Schreiner’s view contradicts the BF&M, Harwood concludes with these two “rhetorical” questions:

1. Is Dr. Schreiner’s view of inherited guilt/condemnation contrary to the BFM 2000?
2. Do we expect SBC professors to teach according to the BFM?

http://sbctoday.com/2012/11/29/the-ets-the-ap-the-bfm/

It is hard to miss his implied meaning.

176 Rick Patrick December 24, 2012 at 1:13 am

Granted, Harwood is asking the kind of good, hard questions that Southern Baptists should have been asking for years but have not. At least, we are finally getting around to it. Better late than never.

However, I think it is a mistake to identify his reasonable yet challenging questions as unsupported accusations. He is a very precise and careful scholar who is investigating a matter. After he has completed the process of asking questions and getting answers, he may produce some charges, but I suspect he will simply invite further dialogue and seek some kind of consensus. He has an irenic spirit and desires unity as much as anyone.

177 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 1:05 am

Also, I don’t object to Harwood asking Southern to clarify their (un)official exposition on the BF&M. Clarifications can often be helpful. He wants them to affirm that his views are orthodox and within the boundaries of the BF&M. I have no objection to that and wouldn’t mind seeing Southern say something along that line.

That said, Harwood himself refused to offer similar concessions to Reformed theology. This follows from a rather extensive Twitter discussion with him. He never once conceded that the Reformed view is orthodox and/or permitted within the BF&M. Again, it’s hard to miss what he is moving toward – that which SBC Today seeks: the removal of Calvinists from any positions of teaching or influence within the SBC, at least if they are teaching and talking as Calvinists.

178 Rick Patrick December 24, 2012 at 1:30 am

“I have no objection to that and wouldn’t mind seeing Southern say something along that line.” Thank you for this Christmas present.

As to Harwood’s Twitter exchange, he would have to clarify his view, but my impression is that he MIGHT consider imputed guilt among the acceptable orthodox Christian views, albeit inconsistent with BFM 2000.

As to the notion that Dr. Harwood and SBC Today are moving toward the removal of Calvinists from any position of teaching or influence in the SBC, I do not believe his questions support such a claim. It is one thing to ask for clarification and the inclusion of one’s own view. It is another to seek the eradication of another’s view and the removal of anyone teaching it.

179 Louis December 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Rick,

That’s what I believe he was saying, too.

Above, Chris points me to a Twitter feed.

180 William Thornton December 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

I doubt that the writing of a young theology prof in an obscure Baptist state convention college will set the norm for any seminary or for the SBC at large, but around here questions have been raised about this college’s actions and attitudes relative to Calvinists. Many in the Georgia Baptist Convention are not terribly friendly to that strain of Calvinism that has bubbled to the top of SBC life.

Harwood and his employer, Truett-McConnell College – Emir Caner, President – are clearly attempting to be the locus of Traditionalism in the SBC and perhaps the locus of anti-Calvinism.

Perhaps Frank Page’s informal Calvinist/Traditionalist study group will make some definitive statement early next year after they are done.

181 Debbie Kaufman December 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

William: Georgia Convention is not friendly to much that is not straight Fundamentalist thinking. They have been trying to narrow the gate more than Southern Baptists normally do for quite sometime without much success.

182 Debbie Kaufman December 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm

It’s hard for most folks to take the Georgia Baptist Convention seriously.

183 Dave Miller December 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Just dropped in. This has been a relatively productive discussion of this issue. Let’s not start lobbing personal insults, okay?

184 Debbie Kaufman December 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Dave: I don’t see this as a personal attack, but a statement based on fact if you look at the Georgia Conventions illustrious history of passing things such as the Blogger stance among many. If one wants to bring up anything the Georgia Baptist convention is against, then it’s only fair to bring up that Georgia Baptist Convention is against anything that is not Fundamentalist in thinking. I have the facts to back this statement up.

185 Frank L. December 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm

“” I have the facts to back this statement up.”"

Case closed! Matter resolved. Now we can move on.

186 Joe Blackmon December 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Case closed! Matter resolved. Now we can move on.

Frank,

I love you brother. Merry Christmas.

187 William Thornton December 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

Debbie, the GBC blogger thing is ancient, forgotten history at this point. Both major political candidates in the recent GBC election had blogs.

What makes this excursion relevant to the bulk of this discussion is that Harwood/Caner/TMC may have practical application of these theological discussions I the area of who is acceptable I various levels of Baptist life and service.

188 William Thornton December 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

Not sure what you mean here. Examples, please?

189 William Thornton December 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

…oh, and have a nice Christmas all.

190 Bart Barber December 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

This week is an odd week to be blogging. I’ve posted a reply or two above. I understand that we’ll all be in-and-out, myself included. I’ll rejoin the conversation as I am able to do so this week.

191 Greg Harvey December 24, 2012 at 9:14 am

Everyone ought to read Louis’ comments carefully. The position is well reasoned and consistent both with Scripture and with the anti-tradition stance we Baptists subscribe to vis-a-vis Roman Catholicism.

The pretzel we get into supporting a poorly crafted and arguably unbiblical Age of Accountability doctrine is much better handled by emphasizing trust in God.

I appreciate the firm dogmatism that surrounds the issue and how some view a strong assertion of understanding as politically helpful or even theologically necessary. But I fail to grasp how either argument results in a greater commitment to or execution of the one thing we have in common: a commitment to participate in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

It very much feels like straining gnats and swallowing camels…

192 Louis December 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Thanks, Greg. I agree completely.

193 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 9:26 am

There seems to be 2 issues here:

1] SBTS and the BFM2000
2] Are we guilty at conception?

I really can’t speak to issue [1]. At least not now with only one side of the story.

As to issue [2] above, as a 5 point Calvinist who learned my Calvinism from the Bible and not from man [although I have learned much from men and I teach Sunday School so I am not disparaging teaching], I strongly disagree with the idea that guilt is something that can be passed from one individual to another.

Jesus was NEVER guilty for the sins He died for. He was condemned without being guilty.

We remain condemned for our own sins until we are united with Jesus. In union with Him, we are united with His death as well so that His life given satisfies justice on behalf of all those united with Him. His death counts for us. In His dying then and our union with Him, we are freed from condemnation. He suffered and died for us freely and voluntarily do that we might receive and share in the life of the Godhead.

Now what union do we have with Adam? Some might say he carried the whole human race in his spirit or soul. Then that spirit was traduced to his posterity and thus condemnation and guilt were passed on. Others say that God creates the spirits of his posterity anew but that by headship and covenant God justly pronounces each guilty and condemned because their representative Adam sinned.

But Romans supports neither of these theories. The jump to Romans 5 ignores chapters 1-4, where the Spirit tells us through Paul’s hand that condemnation comes by personal transgression.

And after we read chapters 6 and 7, it is reaffirmed that condemnation/guilt is earned and not imputed without willful sin.

Thus to interpret 5:12-18 as meaning guilt is imputed is to wrench it from the context that sandwiches it.

And there is no reason anyone, even C’s need to do that. The 5 points do not need it to stand. Error never helps truth.

194 Rick Patrick December 24, 2012 at 10:26 am

Gold star for parsonsmike, a Five Point Calvinist disaffirming inherited guilt. Let me be the first to say parsonsmike is not a heretic. The denial of inherited guilt does not make anyone a heretic. It is as kosher as Jewish Rye!

195 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 10:31 am

Jewish Rye does not go well with a Christmas ham. Yeast rolls are far better.

196 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 10:38 am

Rick,

Thanks for the gold star brother.

197 Dean December 24, 2012 at 10:49 am

ParsonMike , thanks for this post. Nice job.

198 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

Mike,

Would you agree then that what we need is to get away from this nominalistic idea that God just throws around guilt from one person to the next, and get back to the idea that God’s justice is based on substantial reality? Whether one is for inherited guilt or against it, the best path to a stronger argument is to return to a more participative and realistic view. Even if we deny an inherited guilt in the sense of personal condemnation, we still need a real, participative union in Adam in order to explain the justice of passing all of the temporal consequences onto all of Adam’s descendants. We did not sin as individuals, and so God does not hold us accountable as individuals. However, we did sin as a corporate whole while in the loins of Adam, and so God does hold us responsible as a race.

199 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Ken,
Certainly Adam’s posterity suffers due to his sin, even as each tribe and ‘family’ and nation suffers for its parents and leaders sins. Likewise, I suffer consequences due to my father’s sins.
But as to being REAL, the truth is, sin can be done by groups, but I didn’t do the sins of my dad. Nor of his dad, Nor of my great grandpappy. Nor of Adam. I may suffer the consequences of those sins but my siblings and I didn’t do them in dad ‘corporately’. Nor in Adam corporately.
So though i came from Adam, there was no me in the garden. there was no me participating in Adam’s sin. I was not yet. Thus I could not participate. Thus in that sense Adam represents every man and any man. And this in the sense that if I had been Adam, then I would have sinned the sin he sinned. And every person would have, any person would have.
Likewise we see this same sameness played out in the idea behind the age of accountability. That everyone, having reached whatever that age is for them WILL sin, even as i did, you did, and Adam did.

200 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 12:18 am

Mike,

Coming from a traducianist, this is a strange denial of realistic union in Adam and corporate responsibility for that seminal participation.

201 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 9:29 am

There is a lot to this issue that people are not even aware of. From the Reformation until the days of Turretin, there was a realistic mode of thinking that was the predominant view in the Church, by which all men were seen to be justly held guilty (Adam’s sin justly imputed) because the moral nature of all men participated in Adam’s sin and was propagated from him with the guilt and culpability inhering. In other words, the sin was imputed to mankind because it was ours. Turretin marked a middle point of change in thought, in which a less realistic (less participative) view surpassed the older, more Augustinian view. This less realistic view is what is most common now, by which it is held that the sin is ours merely because it was imputed to us. The early view had little problem explaining the justice, while this later view runs into continual objections because it is inherently unjust and must appeal to mere sovereignty and the supposed incomprehensible justice of God.

If you want to know what I hold concerning infants, you’ll find it here.

202 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

Some problems with the current federal/covenant view of imputed sin:
God as Sovereign may do anything. But God has chosen to be just, as well as sovereign. While He may certainly hold the innocent as guilt in a sovereign act, He cannot do so as a just act. Justice is not swallowed up in sovereignty, as if power and righteousness were synonyms. They are not. By choosing to be just, God has chosen to limit His actions to only those actions which are just. Every act would be sovereign, but not every act would be just. Thus, there are several problem with federal/covenant view as it is usually held today:

First, how can the Holy God of righteousness be a continual fountain of corruption, by continually creating out of nothing the morally corrupt souls of newly conceived children around the world? This would make Him the Source of far more moral corruption than the devil ever caused.

Secondly, you have God punishing men for what He Himself has done. If He creates the soul of the child with moral corruption, and then condemns the child for having moral corruption, then He is punishing the child for something of which only He is directly responsible for.

Thirdly, you have God punishing the innocent for someone else’s crime. The doctrine of immediate imputation says that God creates men with moral corruption as a penalty for Adam’s sin, even though these souls did not exist as a part of Adam and did not spiritually participate in his sin. Rather, God simply chooses to view them AS IF they had sinned Adam’s sin, in contradiction to what actually happened in reality.

203 Jared Moore December 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Ken, I think you’re on very dangerous ground making these outlandish statements about God (if you’re wrong). To answer your questions, 1) Adam is the evil source; 2) Adam is the evil source; 3) I suppose you view the substitutionary atonement as unjust as well?

204 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Jared,
I think he is accusing Federal headship people that the consequences of their position are as he states.

205 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm

That’s right, Mike. Thanks. I had to take a nap (nightshift, as you know).

206 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Jared,

If God created my soul out of nothing, then Adam did nothing to me except as God chose to bring Adam’s penalties on me. If I choose to make one of my children the representative of the other, and then spank the other for the disobedience of the first one, then who is really the source of the pain?

Condemnation is never gratuitous like grace. To give a man a salvation or a righteousness that he does not deserve is grace; but to give a man a condemnation or guilt that he did nothing to deserve is injustice.

207 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Except we are guilty of Adam’s sin not just because his sin gets passed on, but because in Adam we sinned.

208 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Chris,

Can you explain exactly how it was that I was “in” Adam when he sinned, or how I sinned “in” Adam. Are you a realist as I am?

209 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

The same way that in Christ you were crucified.

210 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Chris,

Are we not included in Christ and His crucifixion through the spiritual inbeing that is effected by the indwelling Holy Spirit? Are you then affirming the old Augustinian view of the participation of he moral nature of all men in Adam’s sin, and the propagation of that moral nature to all men?

211 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Ken,

Going back to Romans 5, the key distinction is a matter of birth: if we are in Adam / his offspring, we are participants with him in his sin and inherit the corruption and guilt that go along with it. If we are in Christ / his offspring (born again), we are participants with him in his crucifixion and receive the righteousness and life made available through the work of Christ.

We are in Adam by physical birth but only in Christ by the new birth which is effected by the Holy Spirit.

212 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Chris,

Right. Either “of Adam” or “of Christ.” Headship representation is all over the bible.

213 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I see a problem with that, Chris. Only a union involving the moral nature can be just moral ground for the sharing of a moral guilt. A union of strictly physical nature would fail to implicate us in his crime.

214 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Ken,

Rushing around the house with kids means pop-in-pop-out on SBC Voices with correspondingly short posts. Time doesn’t permit a more thorough discussion of “in Adam”. Suffice it to say, it is not just a matter of physical descent, though physical descent is what causes our identity in Adam. Descent is what distinguishes those who are in Adam versus those who are in Christ.

215 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Like the early Reformed Church, I see Rom 5 speaking of our descent from Adam, but not merely our physical descent. Rather, it speaks of the descent of our entire nature, both moral and physical, and that is why we are said to have sinned when Adam sinned.

Any other use of the words “sinned in Adam” are an abuse of language.

216 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Ken,

I might be able to go along with that, but that begins to go beyond what Romans 5 specifically tells us. We see two heads: Adam and Christ. We are either in Adam or we are in Christ. In Adam, we receive his sin/guilt and condemnation/death. In Christ, we receive justification and righteousness and life. We are identified with Adam because we are his descendants. Likewise, we become identified with Christ when we are born again.

Because of the work of Christ we receive a renewed nature – the heart of stone is exchanged with a heart of flesh (though recognizing this is not fully done this side of Heaven; or at least, we are not yet made so that we only ever desire that which is pleasing to God). But while we inherit guilt and sin and corruption through our participation with Adam, I think it might be going too far to say we inherit his nature (his heart) or that we inherit Christ’s nature – though this would depend in part what you mean by inherit.

I identify our nature as synonymous with our heart (not the biological organ, of course) and when I talk of nature and the Bible talks of our hearts, I take it to be the same thing. We each have our own hearts, our own natures, though they have been corrupted through a common participation with Adam.

On some of this I might be inclined to waver as I think about it some more. Once I can get kids to stop jumping on me.

217 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 12:43 am

Chris,

The propagation of Christ’s seed is both parallel to and the opposite of the propagation of Adam’s seed. While Adam’s spirit is dispersed to many descendants, the spirits of believers are collected back into one Head, Christ. In the case of Adam, we have the results of his sin being dispersed to the many; while in the case of Christ, we have the many being justified through union into the One. This beautifully illuminates the thought of Rom. 5:16, “And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation” [to the many], “but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification” [through the one].

From the moment of Seth’s conception, mankind’s union in Adam ended. But our union in Christ begins at our new conception, and will never end. We were generated out of Adam, but we have been regenerated into Christ. Those who have been brought into Christ are currently and forever identified in the person of Christ, so that whatever blessings or judgment apply to Him apply to us. He brings His human past to the union, as well as His present, so that we are credited with all of His accomplishments as if they were our own. His righteous life, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, become ours. In Him we are righteous. In Him, we were crucified and raised from the dead. He is our new spiritual identity. Col. 3:3, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

While mankind was still within Adam, mankind shared the personal identity of Adam, and shared the ownership of his defining action (his sin). When a man is joined to the Spirit of Christ, he shares the personal identity of Christ such that he gains an ownership in His defining action (His obedience and death). We are joined to Adam’s sin because we were joined to Adam at the time of his sin; but we are joined to Christ’s death because we are joined to Christ now. Since Adam’s “seed” are propagated by dispersion, it was necessary that we be united in Adam during his defining action. But Christ’s “seed” are propagated by annexation, rather than by dispersion, and so we need not be united in Christ during his defining action. Unlike the case of Adam, when the Spirit of Christ is propagated to a believer, the Person of Christ is also propagated. It is not merely a spirit derived from Christ that indwells us, but the Person of Christ Himself. Therefore, it is sufficient for our ownership in His defining action that the Christ within us now is the same Christ who died on the Cross.

218 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Ken,

“If I choose to make one of my children the representative of the other…”

But you are not Holy God.

It is all about representation. Either one believes in Adamic representation (federal head) or not.

219 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Les,

It is not as simple as either believing in the headship of Adam or not. I affirm the earlier form of that headship, which looked to an actual and real inbeing of all mankind in Adam as the ground and basis for the justice of passing the penalty of Adam’s sin onto mankind. You may believe in a more arbitrary and less participative view of that headship if you want, but such a view is full of holes.

220 Chris Roberts December 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

“I affirm the earlier form of that headship, which looked to an actual and real inbeing of all mankind in Adam”

I’m not sure if I’m saying something other than this, but this is more or less what I am trying to say when I speak of us sinning in Adam or participating in Adam’s sin.

221 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Ken,

I like the way Turretin puts it:

Adam was the germ, root and head of the human race, not only in a physical sense and seminally, but morally and in a representative sense. He entered into covenant for himself and his posterity(as was seen before) who just as he received the gifts which he possessed for himself and his, so he lost them for himself and his. It is evident that the things principated are contained in the principles and announce their condition. And just as Adam had received the condition and promise of life not only for himself but also for his posterity (if he had stood), so he ought to have contracted the guilt of death by fall, not only for himself, but also for all his. For to whom the benefits pertain, to them also is most just the burdens and disadvantages should also pertain. The denial of the imputation of Adam’s sin would not a little weaken the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (which answer to each other and upon which is founded the principal part of the antithesis instituted by Paul between the first and second Adam). For the descent from the negation of the former to the denial of the latter is most easy. Hence there is no one of the heretics who have denied the imputation of sin who have not for the same reason opposed the imputation of Christ’s righteousness ( as is seen in the Pelagians, Socinians and Arminians). Hence the reasons by which the imputation of Adam’s sin is opposed can no less be turned back against the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; those upon which the imputation of Christ is built also serve to established the imputation of Adam’s sin. Nor is it a hindrance that the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is of grace, while the imputation of sin is from justice. Grace can give to another what is not due to him, justice cannot. For grace bestows favor upon the undeserving. For in the imputation of Adam’s sin, the justice of God does not inflict punishment upon the undeserving, but upon the deserving (if not by a desert proper and personal, still participated and common – founded upon the natural and federal union between us and Adam.)

Institutes of Elenctic Theology Volume I – Ninth Topic – Question IX.XXII and XXIV

BTW, in quoting him, I am in no way suggesting anyone here is denying imputed sin. Federal headship is the reason for the quote.

Now, family calls. It is Christmas eve, after all and a worship services beckons shortly. Merry Christmas all.

222 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 12:50 am

Chris,

You stated:

“I affirm the earlier form of that headship, which looked to an actual and real inbeing of all mankind in Adam”

I’m not sure if I’m saying something other than this, but this is more or less what I am trying to say when I speak of us sinning in Adam or participating in Adam’s sin.

Then I would say you are on the right track. However, that would mean that you do no hold to that form of the doctrine that is prevalent today.

223 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 2:17 am

Les,

You stated: “I like the way Turretin puts it:…”

Adam was the germ, root and head of the human race, not only in a physical sense and seminally, but morally and in a representative sense. He entered into covenant for himself and his posterity (as was seen before) who just as he received the gifts which he possessed for himself and his, so he lost them for himself and his. It is evident that the things principiated are contained in the principles and announce their condition. And just as Adam had received the condition and promise of life not only for himself but also for his posterity (if he had stood), so he ought to have contracted the guilt of death by his fall, not only for himself, but also for all his. For to whom the benefits pertain, to them also it is most just the burdens and disadvantages should also pertain.

Turretin often returns to this theme, that because Adam had the opportunity to win benefits (or, “goods”) not only for himself but also for his posterity, then it is therefore appropriate that whatever he lost and suffered by sinning should be passed on to his posterity as well. This would not pass for justice in any court. Merely because someone agreed to give some great benefit to both my grandfather and me on the condition that he passed some test does not make it right that the death penalty given to my grandfather also be passed onto my head for his failure. Giving undeserved benefits may be grace, but giving undeserved penalty is injustice. Additionally, because Adam’s probation was not a matter of grace but of works, there was no just basis even for passing the benefits earned by Adam (if he passed the test) to his posterity without a spiritual participation in that probation (as explained by a realistic union of nature). There is no way to jump from the “physical sense” to the moral and “representative sense” without jumping to the spiritual sense. Turretin habitually juxtaposes the physical with the moral, leaving out the spiritual. At least Turretin recognizes here that the physical cannot be the moral sense, but he leaves the obvious reality out of the picture. Spirits are moral or immoral. Moral representation has no moral basis without the spirit.

…Grace can give to another what is not due to him, justice cannot. For grace bestows favor upon the undeserving, justice inflicts punishment upon none except the deserving. For in the imputation of Adam’s sin, the justice of God does not inflict punishment upon the undeserving, but upon the deserving (if not by a desert proper and personal, still participated and common—founded upon the natural and federal union between us and Adam).

The natural union is merely physical in Turretin’s system, and so it is insufficient ground to justify the imputation, as discussed above. Without a union that includes the moral nature, Adam’s crime would morally implicate only him. The federal union is itself putative, and cannot serve as solid ground for imputing sin and punishment “to the deserving.” In his system, the union is as much an imputed thing as the sin—it is all part of the same nominalistic construct, existing nowhere other than in God’s mind. Thus, it begs the question to point to this union as qualifying the posterity as “deserving,” so that the imputation of sin is justified. Turretin rightly sees the need for some just reason on which to ground the imputation, as the imputation itself is without substance and cannot carry its own weight (i.e., it is not a self-justified imputation, but depends on something else for justification). However, the reason that this nominalistic imputation needs to be grounded on some just basis is the same reason that the federal union fails to provide that just basis. It is correct that something completely nominal and arbitrary needs a just anchor in substantial reality, but the federal union has nothing of substance with which to anchor the imputation (regardless of how substantial it is made to sound). And since Turretin denies any spiritual participation in Adam’s sin, then one is left to wonder what he could possibly mean by “participated and common.”

224 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

All I have time for right now is to point out one short quote and a link to a fuller discussion on this issue. First the quote:

” . . .It would surely be a violation of simple justice were God to hold a person liable for punishment whom He did not at the same time regard as guilty of the sin being punished. (John) Murray, . . insists that Romans 5 intends that we understand that both reatus culpae and reatus poenae and not just the latter were imputed to the race. Indeed, he insists that God imputed to the race, as an implicate of the race’s representational solidarity with Adam, both Adam’s guilt and Adam’s corruption (that is, his disposition to sin). After all, he notes, Paul does not say that God only imputed Adam’s liablility to punishment but rather that He imputed Adam’s sin itself (which necessariy entails both guilt and corruption) to the race.” Dr. Robert L. Reymond, “A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith

Sam Storms has more on “reatus culpae and reatus poenae” at:
http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/mediate-or-immediate-imputation/

Back later in the day hopefully. Xmas shopping.

225 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

” . . .It would surely be a violation of simple justice were God to hold a person liable for punishment whom He did not at the same time regard as guilty of the sin being punished. (John) Murray…”

Murray is saying that you are guilty of Adam’s sin and thus you deserve condemnation.
But how does Murray say that we are guilty of sinning in the Garden of Eden when we were not there?
Basically it comes down to an edict of God. God says you were in Adam so He creates you both fallen and guilty.

In contrast, Ken wants to put us there corporately, as does Shedd because our spirits came from Adam’s spirit [traducianism]. But in contrast to Shedd, who sees our being in Adam the cause for our guilt, Ken says that eternal condemnation is only meted out individually. So we suffer many consequences of Adam’s sin but we have to earn hell on our own.

226 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Les,

Murray acknowledges the inconsistency of an arbitrary imputation of guilt to those who are not culpable for the offense. But his answer to the problem is to say that God simply imputes the culpability with the guilt. Culpability is a fact—one is either culpable for committing the sin or one is not culpable! Murray’s view is similar to that of Edwards, who basically has God “constituting” truth as He sees fit.

227 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Ken,

Murray, “After all, he notes, Paul does not say that God only imputed Adam’s liablility to punishment but rather that He imputed Adam’s sin itself (which necessariy entails both guilt and corruption) to the race.”

Correct. If Murray is correct on what is imputed ( and I agree with him) than what necessarily follows if guilt and corruption.

228 Ken Hamrick December 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Les,

What does “culpable” mean? It means one is guilty of actually committing the crime in question (to deserve blame). Therefore, it is a matter of historical fact, and cannot be assigned, attributed, or transferred. If it is a fact that you committed the crime, then you are culpable. If it is not a fact that you committed the crime, then you are not culpable.

229 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Romans 5:18 ESV

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

How does the previous context [chapters 1 through 4] inform us on:
[a] Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men,

and [b]so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

From Romans 1
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
{They DO something, they suppress the truth. And because they DO that, God’s wrath is revealed against them.}

Chapter 1 [end of and beginning of] 2
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
{By the practice of evil deeds, one deserves death and judgment/condemnation.}

Chapter 2
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.
{What is the basis for wrath and fury, tribulation and distress in opposition to eternal life, honor and glory and peace?
One’s deeds.}

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
{To perish does not mean physically die, we all do that. Who will perish? Those that sin.}

Chapter 3.
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
{Who are held accountable to God? Those under the law. Who is under the law? Those who have the knowledge of sin. See Romans 7.}

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
{If we go back through these first 3 chapters and define sin as Paul has laid it out, what baby, born or unborn, what small child can qualify as a sinner? NONE. By our deeds we are condemned or justified and us adults ALL sin. But by FAITH in Jesus we are justified.}

Chapter 4

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:…
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith…
But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
[How do we get eternal life? By FAITH.]

Chapter 5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now let us revisit verse 18:
[a] Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men,
and [b]so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

as to [a], According to what has been written before in the previous chapters, how does Adam’s one trespass lead all to condemnation? verse 12: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. because of Adam’s sin we are born with a sin nature that sins when we come under the law. When we sin we get condemned.
as to [b], how does the one act of righteousness lead to justification and life? When we have faith we are justified and have peace with God.

230 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm

How does sin come about in a person?
We read from James 1:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Is sin the corrupt desire? Nope.
Is sin the temptation? Nope.

What then is sin?
It is the ACTing on by giving into that temptation.
Sin is in the DOING.
This doing might be internal, like lusting after another’s wife.
It might be external, like telling a lie.

Sin is not the corruption within, it is the acting on that corruption, the DOING of evil.

Thinking about speeding? is it a crime yet? Not until you put the pedal down.
You shall know the truth and it shall set you free. How?
By giving you the power and understanding to walk in obedience and not be enslaved to sin. The truth exposes the lie behind the temptation and robs it of its cloak of deception.
Every temptation has a way of escape. Its not SIN yet!
Sin condemns, not sinful disposition.

231 Frank L. December 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Wow! This is a mind numbing discussion. It clearly outlines the politics of the Convention but doesn’t accomplish much more.

It does make me thankful God is not aCalvinist– or a Trad.

In the end He will still outshine us all

232 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm

“It does make me thankful God is not aCalvinist– or a Trad.”

Greatest wisdom of this day.

Frank L., I think you should have held this one until Jan. 1, 2013. It would have given a high bar for all to aspire to reach by Dec. 31, 2013.

233 Donald R. Holmes December 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

The constant reference to Romans 5:12-20 to support infant guilt is forced. Adam’s transgression was the breaking of an easily understood revealed law. Paul is demonstrating that those between the giving of the Law to Adam and the giving of the Law to Moses were actual sinners (i.e. that they had transgressed law).

As for infant guilt – Paul makes neither mention of infants by name nor any intimation. Paul’s argument includes the concern of whether or not men were sinners in that time.

If one decides to force the discussion of infants on this text (where it is not required for Paul’s argument) then the only conclusion that can be drawn is that infants were personally guilty (i.e. transgressors), which would be an erroneous interpretation. Imputation of Adam’s guilt is neither stated nor required. It would be best to leave this text to address the subject of the text itself, rather than infer much that was never intended.

Calvin agrees that this text is not about infants: “Although this passage is understood commonly of infants, who, being guilty of no actual sin, perish by original depravity, yet I prefer that it should be interpreted generally of those who have not the law. For this sentiment is connected with the preceding words, where it is said that sin is not imputed where there is no law. For they had not sinned according to the similitude of Adam’s transgression, because they had not, as he had, the will of God revealed. For the Lord forbid Adam to touch the fruit [of the tree] of the knowledge of good and evil; but to them he gave no command but the testimony of conscience.” – Calvin

It is obvious that Paul had no intention to refer to infants in this text. Turretine agrees that this text is about the adults during the time between Adam and Moses. No one would think of infants here if it were not in an attempt to support a theological/philosophical system.

234 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Donald,

I agree with you that Paul is not thinking of infants directly in Romans 1 through 6, I disagree that Paul is simply giving us a piece of obscure history in the middle of a doctrinally rich letter.

What is the point of telling us that and why put it in this place?

235 Donald R. Holmes December 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I would not refer to this as an obscure piece of history, as it is an integral part of Paul’s argument.

The point of bringing it up is the recurring reference to this text to support infant guilt, which is NOT what Paul is writing about.

236 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Don,

Well certainly it is an integral part of of Paul’s argument.
Could you please explain how it fits in?

Simply asserting what it is not leads to no enlightenment.

237 Donald R. Holmes December 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm

<>

Perhaps…but my point is what it is not. Specifically that it is not about infants as so many seem to assume. The enlightenment that I hope one might have would be to interpret the text within authorial intent, thus avoiding error. If someone wishes to make the case for infant guilt, she must go elsewhere.

Now, what exactly are you asking me? If it is about how I see these verses fitting in the context, it is (speaking generally) to demonstrate the great evil that had entered the world thru sin, and that the benefits of the atonement are much greater. The parenthetical text in v. 13-17 is the narrator properly guiding the understanding of the reader. There is, here, a potential point of misunderstanding concerning death, the Law, and sin. Also, he highlights differences between the work of Adam and of Christ. He is showing that the work of Christ meets and removes well-known and extensive evils.

238 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I showed how my take on Romans 5:12-18 is connected to what went before in chapters 1-5. Let me go past 5 to chapters 6 and 7 to complete the context of what I see bears on this matter in Romans.

I was keying on 5:18
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

My goal was to show that there is conditions that must be present both in condemnation and in justification. All people are not justified. The condition is that faith must be present. All people are not condemned, sin is the condition that must be present.

In the following two chapters, I am going to show how Paul affirms this again, even as he did in the chapters previously. And something else as well.

Chapter 6
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

{Here again we sin that we must DO something [obey] to sin which leads to death. Are we who obey God not going to die physically? Yes we have and will. Thus death is not physical death but spiritual death. Sin is the obeying of it or in the disobeying of God and that evil doing leads to death.}

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

{Death, spiritual death is the result of obeying sin: its fruit is death. So the wages of sin, what you earn by doing it, is spiritual death. You don’t earn spiritual death the moment you are conceived, you can not do anything. But if you are born condemned, how can you gain it by earning earn it? Some inherit a fortune, others earn it. Inheriting it is not earning it. }

Chapter 7
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

{let me quote James 1 and compare this to what Paul is saying}
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

{Paul adds this: our sinful passions, aroused by the law.
Let me look back to Romans 3:}
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

{Sinful desires are not sin, they give birth to sin. How? By our ACTING on them.
So how do they bear fruit to death? By our acting on them.}

{Through the law, Paul says in chap. 3 comes the knowledge of sin. And this knowledge, he adds in chapter 7 arouses our sinful passions, so that when it is fully grown [we act on it] it bears fruit [our sin does] to death.}

{So what is required to sin? Knowledge of the law that arouses sinful passions.
And what brings death? Our acting on those sinful passions or simply, our sin.}

Stay with me here.

{The very next passage from chapter 7 reads:}

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

{Yet if it had not been for the law I would have not known sin. What does he say in chapter 5:12b: but sin is not counted where there is no law. And also in another place, with the knowledge of the law comes sin, and again, that knowledge arouses sinful passion.}

{For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. His sin nature lay dead until the law brought him knowledge of sin, where it aroused his sinful passions, and he sinned and died!}

{Was this after he was saved? Nope. he didn’t die spiritually then. It was earlier when he was not yet a sinner by conscience deed and thus not under the law [For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive] and [Romans 3: Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.]

Until he understood law he was alive for he knew not law and thus could NOT sin,. But when he became aware of Right he was slain by sin and died.
That moment in his life was his age of accountability.
It happens to each of us just like it did to Paul. And Adam:

For apart from the law, sin lies dead. ADAM was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and ADAM died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to ADAM. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived ADAM and through it killed ADAM.

239 Les Prouty December 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm

parsonsmike,

I’m trying to follow you. Are saying that Paul, adult version, was “safe in Jesus” up until that time?

240 parsonsmike December 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Les,
The Bible does not specifically state the destiny of those who die young. But Paul said he was alive until the law came, sin revived and slew him. Thus interpretation is required. How those who die young get to heaven, by what means, I, like the Bible, remain silent. i interpret ‘alive’ as not condemned.

How do you interpret that passage?

241 Randall Cofield December 25, 2012 at 1:11 am

Hi, Parsonsmike.

Until he understood law he was alive for he knew not law and thus could NOT sin,. But when he became aware of Right he was slain by sin and died.
That moment in his life was his age of accountability.
It happens to each of us just like it did to Paul.

Does ignorance of the Law exempt us from its requirements? When we break God’s Law, aren’t we guilty of transgression whether we are aware of it or not?

Isn’t Paul saying that apart from a right understanding of the Law he self-righteously saw himself “alive,” but when he understood the spirit of the Law he then knew himself to be dead spiritually? (vs. 9)

Isn’t he saying that his Pharisaical understanding of the commandments deceived him into thinking that he had fulfilled them perfectly, and therefore had life? Yet when he understood the perfection required by God (the spirit of the Law), he suddenly realized that instead of life he had death…by the very Law he thought “proved” him alive? (vs. 10)

Isn’t he saying in vs. 11 that his own depravity seized upon a deceitful appropriation of the commandment? Isn’t he is acknowledging that while his own sin-nature had already produced death in him without the law, is now, with the law, shown to be “sinful beyond measure” (vss. 12-13)?

242 Jim G. December 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Merry Christmas everyone!

This is certainly an interesting discussion. I wish I could jump in but there are too many loose ends. I hope we can see that ALL of our soteriological disagreements are not soteriological in foundation, but rather anthropological and properly theological – in other words, what kind of God do we serve, what kind of human did he create, and just what does it mean by saying Adam “fell?” These are the three key questions and as I read, unstated assumptions abound on all 3 of them. Only after those assumptions are out on the table can we have a clearer discussion.

Again, “God became man in order that man might become God” (Athanasius, de inc. 54) Merry Christmas!!!!!

Jim G.

243 Rick Patrick December 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Man might become God? Really? Because I don’t want that.

I would prefer “God came to man in order that man might come to God.”

I do agree with the “Merry Christmas” part!

244 Jim G. December 25, 2012 at 12:30 am

I love the good stuff from the church fathers, Rick. :0)

Old Athy had no better way to say how he viewed salvation!

Merry Christmas!

245 volfan007 December 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm

The BFM 2K absolutely gives room for both the Augustinian view and the Traditional view about original sin and the sinful nature of man to be considered orthodox views. They both fit into sound, Scriptural teaching. I believe that Dr. Harwood’s point was that we have a SB seminary, which would exclude a huge number of SB’s, due to them insisting on profs believing the Augustinian view.

And, Jared, I believe that babies absolutely go to Heaven….they go due to the blood of Jesus being shed on the cross….infants and the mentally handicapped are not condemned for the sin of Adam, but, of course, they are sinful…born with a sin nature…and, since they never reach the age of accountability, then they go to Heaven; covered by the blood. They dont have to put thier faith in Jesus, because they never understand this…mentally unable to understand it. And, they are not condemned by Adam’s sin…God does not hold them responsible for the sins they commit….because, they dont know what they’re doing. So, yes, I believe that the mentally handicapped and young children go to Heaven. I believe we have several verses that back this up, which have been brought out before….many times.

I do believe that an Augustinian view on the eternal existence of the mentally handicapped and young children, would only be able to say that they hope children are elect and go to Heaven. Or, as a strong Calvinist prof from my seminary days used to say that some children are elect, and go to Heaven, and some are not, and go to Hell. It’s all up to the sovereign choice of God.

David

246 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

It is always refreshing to read comments made by a man who had to take more than two semesters of systematic theology in seminary or Bible college.

You can tell a guy who has spent some time reading biblical theology, historic theology, dogmatic theology, and not just systematic theology.

You are dead on in your comment, Vol. Thanks for coming back on this fine Christmas Eve.

I agree with you that he BF&M gives room for the Augustinian view. I think there is room also for the Federal view and probably even the Theory of Mediate Imputation. Although, that is very slim at best.

The folks who worked on the BF&M 2000 had a very specific agenda and it was not to mandate that all Southern Baptists believe in the Augustinian view of imputation. The BF&M is a very broad document. It is as one seminary president stated. “The BF&M is a sufficient guide for cooperation.”

247 Dale Pugh December 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm

We are fortunate that those who framed the BF&M were wise enough to keep the options open. Those calling for a narrowing of definitions for the purpose of orthodoxy would do well to follow that example, in my opinion.

248 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Duckman Dale,

When you read the names of the folks on the BF&M committee, it is easy to see that the views on certain doctrines would be very diverse.

Frankly, there may have been one or two folks on that committee who didn’t/don’t know imputation from immutability. I will mention no names. We must never forget that the SBC is a political entity.

249 Dale Pugh December 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm

That’s true, SEC CB. The politics involved sometimes works for good, sometimes for ill. Nevertheless, I believe that, on the whole, in matters of doctrine and practice, we take a very positive track.

250 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I agree, Duckman Dale. In matters of doctrine and practice we do take a very positive track and have, done due diligence to stay on it.

251 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I love to use commas. I talk in commas. However, I should have left that last comma out of the comment above, Duckman Dale.

252 Dale Pugh December 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm

We’re you “comma-tose” when you typed it?

253 Dale Pugh December 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Shoot! That’s “were” not “we’re.” Guess I was speaking in apostrophe……

254 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Kate Turabian said I had a syndrome known as Comma Tosser.

Obviously, Ms. Turabian was not born in the Southland.

255 volfan007 December 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Amen, CB. Merry Christmas to you and yours….

256 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Merry Christmas to you and your family also, Vol.

BTW, I hope that next Christmas Santa brings you folks of the VOLUNTEER NATION a Big Ole Bowl Game!

257 volfan007 December 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

A double amen to that, CB! And, may your Red Pachyderms run all over the Leprechauns from South Bend! Go SEC!

258 Randall Cofield December 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Brothers, it should be pointed out that this parsing of Adamic sin-nature/sin/guilt/condemnation is an attempt to divide that which is indivisible.

* All receive an Adamic sin-nature (Ro. 5:19 states that by Adam we were “made” [lit., "constituted"] sinners). Note that Adam’s corrupted disposition of heart precedes his act of sin. It is precisely this depraved sin-nature which we inherit, and our personal sin always originates from that very inherited nature.

* That which possesses a sin-nature inexorably acts in accordance with that nature (Jer. 13:23).

* All who sin (recall that sin originates in the disposition of the heart/sin-nature, not in the act itself) are guilty/condemned before Holy God (Ro. 3:19).

* All sin (Ga. 3:22).

Edwards, in his treatise on “Original Sin,” states this inescapable union with Adam penetratingly:

“Let us suppose, that Adam and all his posterity had coexisted, and that his posterity had been, through a law of nature established by the Creator, united to him, . . . so as to constitute as it were one complex person, or one moral whole: so that by law of union there should have been a communion and coexistence in acts and affections; all jointly participating, and all concurring, as one whole, in the disposition and action of the head: . . . Now, in this case, the hearts of all the branches of mankind, by the constitution of nature and the law of union, would have been affected just as the heart of Adam, their common root, was affected. When the heart of the root, by a full disposition committed the first sin, the hearts of all the branches would have concurred; and when the root, in consequence of this, became guilty, so would all the branches; and when the heart of the root, as a punishment of the sin committed, was forsaken of God, in like manner would it have fared with all the branches; and when the heart of the root, in consequence of this, was confirmed in permanent depravity, the case would have been the same with all the branches; and as new guilt of the soil of Adam would have been consequent on this, so also would it have been with his moral branches. And thus all things, with relation to the evil disposition, guilt, pollution and depravity, would exist, in the same order and dependence, in each branch, as in the root.” (italics added)

We are united to Adam–and are thus universally guilty “in Adam”–on the grounds that we share his sin-nature (what Edwards terms “disposition of heart”), from which originated inexorably both his personal act of sin and ours.

I see no way to scripturally divide Adamic sin-nature > sin > guilt > condemnation. They’re a package deal. Take one out and the sequence is irretrievably broken.

259 parsonsmike December 25, 2012 at 12:15 am

Randy,
In response to this:
“Brothers, it should be pointed out that this parsing of Adamic sin-nature/sin/guilt/condemnation is an attempt to divide that which is indivisible.”
That is an assertion that needs proving. The Bible plainly tells us in many places that God judges men for their own deeds. That God condemns men for their sins.
The idea you present is basically found in one disputed passage that must be ripped from its surrounding context to be interpreted as you do.

” All receive an Adamic sin-nature (Ro. 5:19 states that by Adam we were “made” [lit., "constituted"] sinners). Note that Adam’s corrupted disposition of heart precedes his act of sin. It is precisely this depraved sin-nature which we inherit, and our personal sin always originates from that very inherited nature.”

No one seems to be disputing this point.

“That which possesses a sin-nature inexorably acts in accordance with that nature (Jer. 13:23).”
Can the Ethiopian change his skin
or the leopard his spots?
Then also you can do good
who are accustomed to do evil. [Jer. 13:23]

Again, no one is disputing this point either.

“All who sin (recall that sin originates in the disposition of the heart/sin-nature, not in the act itself) are guilty/condemned before Holy God (Ro. 3:19).”

We agree here.

” All sin (Ga. 3:22).”
But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith [Gal. 3:22-24]

The argument is that until the law comes in [I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. Romans 7:9], one is not a sinner even though one commits acts of sin/selfishness because, in Paul’s argument sin is dead until then [For apart from the law, sin lies dead. Romans 7:8]. “Then” being when law comes in. And as we read in another place: but sin is not counted where there is no law [Romans 5:12b], and yet again in Romans 3: For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

You also said,
“We are united to Adam–and are thus universally guilty “in Adam”–on the grounds that we share his sin-nature (what Edwards terms “disposition of heart”), from which originated inexorably both his personal act of sin and ours.”

But again that is but an unproven assertion. In fact this is a conclusion not a premise. You have to use the Word to show us how Romans 5 MUST mean this. But the Word is completely silent everywhere else on that idea of yours, and it is quite vocal that God judges men for their own deeds.

So tell us and show us how and in what way we are united with Adam.
We are united with Christ by His Spirit indwelling us, born again by the Spirit. How are we united to Adam? Adam is dead and long gone from this world.

And yes we have a sin nature due to Adam’s sin. But condemnation and guilt, according to many and various places in the Word, arise from our choice to disobey God.

260 Randall Cofield December 25, 2012 at 2:08 am

Hi parsonsmike,

I said:

“We are united to Adam–and are thus universally guilty “in Adam”–on the grounds that we share his sin-nature (what Edwards terms “disposition of heart”), from which originated inexorably both his personal act of sin and ours.”

To which you responded:

“But again that is but an unproven assertion. In fact this is a conclusion not a premise.”

Yet when, just a few paragraphs earlier, you quoted me:

” All receive an Adamic sin-nature (Ro. 5:19 states that by Adam we were “made” [lit., "constituted"] sinners). Note that Adam’s corrupted disposition of heart precedes his act of sin. It is precisely this depraved sin-nature which we inherit, and our personal sin always originates from that very inherited nature.”

…you responded to that statement by saying:

“No one seems to be disputing this point.”

My two statements are saying the same thing, yet your two responses are contradictory….

You ask:

So tell us and show us how and in what way we are united with Adam.
We are united with Christ by His Spirit indwelling us, born again by the Spirit. How are we united to Adam? Adam is dead and long gone from this world?

We are united to Adam by his sin-nature/depravity dwelling in us. You apparently agree with this for your next statement is:

And yes we have a sin nature due to Adam’s sin.

You then state:

But condemnation and guilt, according to many and various places in the Word, arise from our choice to disobey God.

I disagree. Our guilt and subsequent condemnation arises or originates from our sin-nature/wicked desires, not the act of disobedience (though the act certainly carries with it guilt and condemnation). Jesus plainly said:

Mt. 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth (the external act) come forth from the heart (the internal sin-nature/depravity); and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart (the internal sin-nature/depravity) proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (the external acts of sin)

Clearly, the sin for which we are guilty/condemned arises or originates from our Adamic sin-nature/depravity. Again Jesus makes this plain:

Mt 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

God judges the heart as well as the actions.

So in Adam, we are all guilty. Not guilty because his act of sin is imputed to us, but guilty because his sin-nature/depravity, in which all our sin originates, is imputed to us.

In my opinion, Dr. Harwood’s mistake lies in trying to divorce guilt from the sin-nature.

261 parsonsmike December 25, 2012 at 2:40 am

Randall,

I would have to spend more time examining Dr. Harwood’s position before I could either agree or disagree with him. But i think you are missing the point. The Bible is quite clear that it is our sinful acts that are judged, and such acts could be external or in the heart [internal] but they are acts because they are choices we make, Sin is what is judged, not sin nature. We sin because of our sin nature but we prove that we deserve condemnation because we don’t always sin, i.e., we don’t always lie, we don’t always steal, etc.

Now let us look at the passage you brought forth:

18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” [ESV]

This tells us where our evil deeds originate: our sin nature. What defiles us? What comes out [our sins]. And a sample of these sins are listed. Are we responsible for our actions? Yes because we understand right from wrong and choose to do what is wrong. From Romans 1 and 2:

29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.

Notice that it is the doing, the practicing that brings judgment. Yes we do and practice such things because we have a sin nature, but it is the deed itself that brings on us the judgment of God.

Let us look at James 1:
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Paul calls that desire [in Romans 7] a sinful desire. Notice that the desire itself is not the place that brings death but first one is lured and enticed, Then after that conception it gives birth to sin. And then sin must fully grow to bring death. In other words, judgment follows action, and is simply not there at or before temptation. Yet our sin nature is already there.

We know that with temptation there is a way of escape. escape from what? Escape from doing sin. Why escape from sin IF one is condemned already for one’s nature?

The Matthew 15 passage is firmly in my camp, for it speaks of our deeds defiling us. It is what proceeds OUT of the heart that defiles.

Do you think Christians still have a sin nature? Are we still united to Adam? Are you still united to your dad? Do you not have his genes? You use the term united, but I do not see the sense of it.

Look at Romans 7:
3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

Why is she an adulteress? because of the marriage union, the two become one flesh. Union then speaks of a togetherness. Likewise we are united to Christ, we have a togetherness, we are His body, he is our Head, the Spirit our bond. You received a sin nature because you descended from Adam, but that does mean you are or ever have been united with him. Nope.

262 volfan007 December 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

ParsonMIke,

Amen, Bro. You have spoke well on this fine day.

David

263 Randall Cofield December 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Parsonsmike,

I think you may be missing the nuance of my argument concerning our inherited sin-nature, but I do thank you for the exchange.

Have a blessed Christmas, my dear brother.

264 Jess Alford December 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm

I agree that babies and little children go to Heaven when they leave this world.

I would like to lay out a thought at this point. Those that go to Heaven have to be in the Book of Life.

Can we say that everyone starts out in the Book of Life, and then at the age of accountability, whoever receives Christ get to remain in the Book of life due to Faith in Christ? If anyone who rejects Christ at the age of accountability, and leaves this world in a condition of unbelief, their name is erased. Does the Bible not teach everyone has a part in the Book of life? Rev. 22:19, Ex. 32:33, Da. 12:1, Lu. 10:20, Rev. 3:5, Rev. 20:12, Rev. 21:27.

If we say babies go to Heaven at death, wouldn’t the places that I’ve named teach this? I know this would be a new doctrine to some, but it would make sense to look at scripture in this way.

265 Dale Pugh December 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Such a position would have some interesting implications for the doctrine of election, I would think.

266 Jess Alford December 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Dale Pugh,

I cannot see where this view would affect the doctrine of Election.

267 Dale Pugh December 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

Jess:
The difficulty would be that your view extends election to all people born on the face of the earth. Once those people grow to the “age of accountability” they become non-elect. I would state the difficulty as questions:
On one day a person is elect, but on the next day he/she is not elect?
What is the determining factor that makes a difference in eternity for that person from one day to the next?
You’re saying that everyone’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life but at some point in time their name is blotted out of that Book?
If God is sovereign and writes a person’s name in the Book of Life (election), how is it that He then condemns that person to eternal condemnation (non-election) simply for growing up to a certain point?
I’m no Calvinist. I disagree with unconditional election and, to a lesser degree, limited atonement. But I can’t see how your position would affirm election at all. Election becomes an arbitrary decision on God’s part. In your view, one day you’re in, the next day you’re out. My understanding of election is that a person is elect from all eternity. End of discussion.
And then there’s the point that CB makes below. Your concept won’t hold water from a biblical standpoint.

268 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 10:51 am

Dale,

Your critique does not follow. God is not only the One who elects, but He is also the One who “numbers all our days.” All things work together so that there are no loose ends. It is NOT a matter of all men beginning their existence as elect and growing out of election. Rather, it is a matter of God not allowing nonelect children to die before they have become moral agents.

Merry Christmas!

269 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 10:53 am

Dale,

Oh—I see now that you’re replying to Jess’ Book of Life theory.

270 Dale Pugh December 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Ken, is that a serious statement on your part? I’m not sure whether to respond or simply chuckle and move on.

271 cb scott December 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

” Rather, it is a matter of God not allowing nonelect children to die before they have become moral agents.”

That statement seems to be a major stretch to give 5 point Calvinism complete credibility in all things theological.

272 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Dale,

Yes, its a serious statement. If chuckling is the only rebuttal you can come up with, then…

273 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm

CB Scott,

I’m a centrist, not a 5-point Calvinist. But I see no major stretch involved. All things work together.

274 Dale Pugh December 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Ken, if my chuckling bothers you, so be it. You can attempt to belittle me if you so desire, but you cannot make a serious biblical case for such an argument. My rebuttal would be that the God you describe is arbitrary and capricious. That isn’t the God of the Bible.

275 cb scott December 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Ken Hamrick,

I calling yourself a centrist, are you part of what is known today as an Emergent?

Do you adhere to the concept that in the study of theology there is no singular Truth, but many truths?

Would you be comfortable with the following statement:

“Christianity has no objective doctrinal boundaries, but adapts to the times.”

Or do you mean by calling yourself a centrist that you are a biblicist in the Southern Baptist concept of not adhering to 5 point Calvinism or Arminianism?

276 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Dale,

Chuckling doesn’t bother me. I was not trying to belittle you, but to get you to reply more substantively. Unconditional election may be arbitrary, but there is nothing capricious about it. And the idea that no nonelect child would die prior to moral agency would be the natural result of a God who both elects and is just. It is a false dilemma to suppose that He must choose between the two.

277 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm

CB Scott,

I’m a Southern Baptist Centrist—a one-point (unconditional election) Congruist/Compatibilist/Antinomist. For more info, see: http://sbcopenforum.com/2012/08/29/beyond-traditionalism-reclaiming-southern-baptist-soteriology/

278 Dale Pugh December 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Ken, the capriciousness enters when one can be “elect” one day and “not elect” the next. Your proposal that non-elect children are allowed to grow into their condemned state is most definitely capricious. You can state it by the use of Romans 8:28 all you want, but that verse does not substantiate your view. I’m sure there would be other area where we would agree, but on this, we are miles apart.

279 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Dale,

Thanks for the reply. I verified the definition, since I don’t always remember correctly. Capricious: characterized by or liable to sudden unpredictable changes in attitude or behaviour; impulsive; fickle. How is carrying out an unchanging, eternal plan capricious? Not one child would change status from elect to nonelect, so I do not understand that charge. As for the Biblical case, the entire case for unconditional election together with the entire case for God being just are all that are needed.

280 cb scott December 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm

“Congruist/Compatibilist/Antinomist.”

OK. And now it is I who shall chuckle.

281 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm

“Congruist/Compatibilist/Antinomist.”

OK. And now it is I who shall chuckle.

:)

282 Dale Pugh December 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Ken, understand that I do not consider God to be capricious, therefore I do not consider His eternal plan to be capricious. I do consider your approach and unconditional election in general to be both arbitrary and capricious. Thus, I deny unconditional election. It is arbitrary because of the sheer fact that it is so random. It is capricious because the randomness of unconditional election is both impulsive and fickle.

283 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Dale,

So then, your objection is against unconditional election itself. Regardless of your disagreement, you should at least acknowledge that “a serious Biblical case” for it can be made, and indeed has already been made in every Calvinist systematic theology book.

284 Chris Roberts December 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Dale,

Surely you realize that unconditional election does not mean that God acts in a capricious or arbitrary manner but that his reasons are not our reasons, and he never describes our actions (conditions) as the basis for his election? He has reasons for choosing/electing/purposing/willing/planning as he does, those reasons are not in response to a set of conditions we must fulfill, and those reasons are not revealed to us.

285 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm

“Can we say that everyone starts out in the Book of Life, and then at the age of accountability, whoever receives Christ get to remain in the Book of life due to Faith in Christ?”

No. We can not say that. No legitimate view of imputation would allow for such a position. Such a position will not hold up to biblical scrutiny.

286 Jess Alford December 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm

cb scott,

How will it not?

287 Jess Alford December 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I cannot see where this view goes against Calvinism, non- calvinists or goes against the BF&M.

288 cb scott December 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Jess Alford,

It may go with Calvinism, Non-Calvinism, or the BF&M in a stretch.

But, it will not go with the Bible. So, the rest don’t much matter.

289 Donald December 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I have heard this idea suggested before, Jess, but I cannot remember where. I googled and did find someone making the case:

http://www.letusreason.org/Doct5.htm

I am not convinced, but since you are discussing this perhaps this will help focus the discussion a bit.

290 Donald December 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Sorry, my bad. This is not the same idea.

291 Jess Alford December 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Donald,

It’s pretty close to the same idea, they do say babies start out in the Book of Life. This docterine makes perfectly good sense to me.
Election would still work, Non-Calvinist shouldn’t complain, and I can’t see where it goes against the BF&M.

Can you show me where in the Bible this would be heresy.

292 Chris Roberts December 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Jess,

If your name is in the book, you are among the elect. One cannot be among the elect then not among the elect.

293 Randall Cofield December 24, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Hark! the herald angel sings,
Glory to the new-born King!

294 parsonsmike December 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

God judges and renders condemnation due to man’s evil deeds, a sampling:

Romans 2
6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

Job 34:11 For according to the work of a man he will repay him,
and according to his ways he will make it befall him.

Proverb 24:12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

Psalm 62:12b For you will render to a man
according to his work.

Mat. 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

2nd Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

1st Peter 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

Rev. 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.

see also Mat. 25:31-46

Also this from Ezekiel 18
Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

and 2nd Kings 14
6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”

The Bible teaches that we are condemned for our own sins.
Not for our father’s sins, nor our great grandfather’s sins, nor for any of our ancestor’s sins which includes Adam, BUT only for our own sins.

295 parsonsmike December 25, 2012 at 1:02 am

Merry Christmas to all.

296 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 1:51 am

Merry Christmas!

297 Randall Cofield December 25, 2012 at 2:12 am

Have a blessed Christmas, brothers.

298 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 2:22 am

You have a blessed Christmas, too, brother Randall.

299 Bart Barber December 25, 2012 at 2:17 am

Reading through those comments that mention me, I realize that some were offended by my Hitler-infant dialogue. I offered it as a device to advance the conversation in the direction of the argument that I wished to make, knowing full well that most SBC Calvinists do not believe that any perishing infants will go to Hell (nor anyone else who is not an actual transgressor). My goal all along was, after a little back-and-forth, to suggest that there’s really not a one among us who, in any significant and eternal sense, believes that any of these people are actually under condemnation (since we don’t believe that any of them are going to Hell).

If the end result is that all of us agree that every last person who dies before reaching moral accountability is going to Heaven, then why are we arguing again over our various theories as to the mechanism by which we separately believe that the same outcome is accomplished?

However, because the dialogue has unfolded the way that it has, please grant me the latitude to make an observation. I’m not an anti-Calvinist. I’ve blogged about my appreciation for some of my heroes of the faith who have been Calvinistic in their thinking. I’ve blogged encouraging civility among the various positions on the soteriological spectrum. I’ve maintained, I think, a friendlier relationship with many SBC Calvinists than have some people in the SBC who are not Calvinists.

And so, maybe it is because of these things that it might catch some of you off-guard a bit when I argue against Calvinism. But let me explain it to you: It’s because I’m actually quite sincere when I say that I am not a Calvinist. ;-) I’ve encountered the occasional anti-Calvinist who thinks that, because I’m entirely uninterested in sallying forth to war against Calvinists, I’m some sort of a closet Genevan. Perhaps there is a Calvinist-friend of mine (or two) who thought that, because I wish to be your friend and cooperative partner in ministry, I’m secretly in admiration of limited atonement? Not so. And I think that there has to be room for people like me to try—feebly though you may think us to do it—to advance as forcefully and colorfully as I am able an argument against Calvinistic soteriology, all the while maintaining my respect and appreciation for those of you who hold a Calvinistic soteriology.

300 parsonsmike December 25, 2012 at 3:00 am

Bret,
Although many Calvinists disagree with you on this issue, not all of them do. There are Federal headship people who are Arminianists, and who knows, maybe some who are Traditionalists.
And as a Calvinist myself who agrees with you on this issue, i welcome your best arguments in any area of soteriology. To me it is not Calvinistic doctrine but the truth of God’s Word and any chance I can to promote His truth, I like to take, whether it is of soteriology or whatever.

301 volfan007 December 27, 2012 at 11:05 am

Parsonmike,
I think Bart and Bret were Maverick brothers; were they not?

;)

David

302 cb scott December 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

And don’t forget cousin Beau.

303 Louis December 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

Merry Christmas to all!

My girls are a sophomore and freshman in college. I am up and showered and waiting for them and my wife to come down for the festivities. So, don’t worry. I am not alone or wasting my Christmas morning.

Volfan007 is exactly on point re the BFM. And Bart Barber fits right in there.

I like the fact that these issues are being discussed. Discussing systematic theology like this is actually a sign of theological health. We believe the Bible is true, and we are discussing very technical issues regarding salvation etc. We should never get to the point where these types of discussions are not PART of our denominational relationship.

If you want to go to a denomination or fellowship where theology is NOT discussed, but it’s basically political agendas 24/7, you can find them.

But these discussions are only part of our life together, and David’s and Bart’s comments illustrate this so clearly.

I am perfectly happy and honored to fellowship and labor alongside of people who do not see everything the way I do. Obviously, there are boundaries, but this issue is not one of them.

Woe be it under the Reformed person or Trad who takes to the mic at an SBC meeting to try and unravel this. I predict that his/her name will be mudd at the end of the day.

I still think that you guys are doing too much extrapolation and daisy-chaining of scriptures together to get to “all babies go to heaven” etc.

We simply do not know what happens in some particulars.

I have read, it may have been C.S. Lewis, that some speculate that some people who live a hardened life against God or reject his gift of salvation, even when they stand at the throne of judgment, will be unable to accept that gift. Their fates are sealed, and their unbelief permanently altered them such that even in the face of judgment, they won’t believe or submit.

There are some scriptures that indicate some who thought they believed, did not, and some will cry woe and want to enter into eternal life, but cannot.

But when we think of fallen angels or demons, they know the truth, and still don’t submit to God.

At any rate, all that is going to happen at judgment is unknown to us.

I do not subscribe to the theory that scripture clearly teaches that all infants and infirm go to heaven.

I do not subscribe that those who have never heard all go to heaven.

I do not subscribe to the theory those who committed a sin at age 8, say, but then the next day, suffered a traumatic injury that left them with the mentality of an infant, all go to heaven. And I don’t subscribe to the theory that they all go to hell either.

These are questions we cannot really answer with a lot of confidence. There are theories, some of which have SOME scriptural support. But nothing is really clearly affirmed.

What is clearly affirmed is that God is just and all of his judgments are right.

What he does in these situations – all enter heaven, all go to hell, some go into to heaven, some to hell (how that works – God foresees what they would have done if they reached adulthood (isn’t that the way some see election), God presents the truth to them and some choose life and others choose death, – who knows.)

If God had wanted us to know these things clearly, he would have told us clearly.

But since he did not, it’s probably because our job is to follow the light we have.

Merry Christmas, again!

304 Ken Hamrick December 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

Louis,

Good points about our unity in the SBC.

I think it’s much too easy to say, “If God had wanted us to know these things clearly, he would have told us clearly.” There are things that He has shown clearly that the paradigm of the day dismisses, redefines, and has us ignore. While theories of an inherited condemnation rest on inferences, God has told us in no less than six explicit and direct statements that He “will judge every man according to his deeds.” And the same writer who reminds us of that fact in Rom. 2 also points out in Rom. 9:11 that children in the womb have done nothing either good or evil. It is only when these clear statements of Scripture do not fit with our presuppositions that they lose their clarity.

305 Bart Barber December 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Louis,

Thank you for the dialogue, brother. Merry Christmas to you.

I do believe that the Bible speaks with some clarity to us about both the connection between condemnation and our own willful sinfulness and the connection between salvation and our own faith, repentance, and confession demonstrated in a new life.

May God bless you and your family in the coming year!

306 cb scott December 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Bart Barber,

I may have missed you, but be assured, it was not intentional.

May grant you and yours a blessed Christmas Day and bring joy to you all in the coming New Year.

307 Bart Barber December 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Merry Christmas, Dr. Scott!

308 cb scott December 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Louis,

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. I trust that you are in well health and prospering in our Lord Jesus this fine day.

I think you are right, as are many of us, in stating that there is plenty of room in the SBC for the various views of soteriology within the easily determined parameters of orthodoxy. Naturally, there will always be a view beyond the scope of biblical truth that pops up from time-to-time. History provides much evidence to validate that. But each of those “pop-ups” play themselves in time.

There have always been Calvinists in the ranks of the SBC and many were instrumental in the change brought to the convention during the CR. That effort (the CR) in and of itself is evidence that cooperation can be maintained and advance in the Kingdom’s work can be accomplished by those who are willing to refuse to be constantly be fixated on soteriological dogma to the point of calling all who do not agree in every point heretics.

Personally, I do not like to be labeled as a Calvinist or a Non-Calvinist ( however that is actually defined) and I certainly am not a Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian adherent or an Arminian. I wish that Southern Baptists could just call themselves biblicists, but that is probably to much to wish for or, if we use a movie title; It is “A Bridge Too Far.”

On another issue, I do believe we can argue strongly that those who die as infants go to heaven. I think we can make that argument best from the revealed attributes of God and anthropology rather than strictly from soteriological dogma. For surely, if the sin of Adam is imputed to all mankind, the righteousness of Christ can be imputed to all who, in the foreknowledge of God, die as infants.

Danny Akin and Al Mohler have written on this subject and I may post that article here in this comment thread momentarily if I can find it.

Anyway and again, let me say, God bless you, Louis, on this Christmas day.

We are enjoying this day here in South Georgia. A few years ago, I got a recipe from Bart Barber for a Low Country Boil. I am cooking that for my clan today as we celebrate the birth of our Lord together.

309 Randall Cofield December 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Hi, Parsonsmike,

I responded to your treatment of Ro. 7 further up the thread, but it kinda got lost in the stream of comments. I’m re-posting it here:

You said:

Until he understood law he was alive for he knew not law and thus could NOT sin,. But when he became aware of Right he was slain by sin and died.
That moment in his life was his age of accountability.
It happens to each of us just like it did to Paul.

Does ignorance of the Law exempt us from its requirements? When we break God’s Law, aren’t we guilty of transgression whether we are aware of it or not?

Isn’t Paul saying that apart from a right understanding of the Law he self-righteously saw himself “alive,” but when he understood the spirit of the Law he then knew himself to be dead spiritually? (vs. 9)

Isn’t he saying that his Pharisaical understanding of the commandments deceived him into thinking that he had fulfilled them perfectly, and therefore had life? Yet when he understood the perfection required by God (the spirit of the Law), he suddenly realized that instead of life he had death…by the very Law he thought “proved” him alive? (vs. 10)

Isn’t he saying in vs. 11 that his own depravity seized upon a deceitful appropriation of the commandment? Isn’t he is acknowledging that while his own sin-nature had already produced death in him without the law, he is now, with the law, shown to be “sinful beyond measure” (vss. 12-13)?

I think it may be a stretch to say that we are spiritually “alive” prior to becoming “aware of Right,” and that we then are “slain” in the sense of becoming spiritually dead.

310 Jess Alford December 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and God bless you all.

311 cb scott December 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Jess Alford,

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas Day. Also, and again, may I state that I am glad your are cancer free. I know that is a blessing to you and your family.

312 volfan007 December 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I saw your pic on Bob Cleveland’s facebook wall….the one where you were getting your degree from New Orleans Baptist Seminary. So, it’s Dr. Scott now? Congrats, Bro. BTW, with that hat you wore, you looked like either a pizza man about to make a pepporoni pizza, or a Catholic Bishop about to approach the Pope……..lol.

David

313 Chris Roberts December 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm

We must henceforth refer to him as, “Great Scott!”

314 Jess Alford December 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Chris Roberts,

If that doesn’t make one laugh, nothing will.

315 Christiane December 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I couldn’t resist. The picture is that good:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-t4lNk2-5Re8/UM93wWHUZXI/AAAAAAAAELs/7bDM3F8i-x4/s400/DSC02253.JPG

Congratulations, C.B. :)
I know you worked hard for this.

(the ‘hat’ makes C.B. look like an Oxford ‘don’ ie. ‘professor’ . . . very impressive)

316 Dale Pugh December 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Man! I wish Golden Gate had given us those kinds of hats when I got my doctorate……..Very academic looking.

317 Jess Alford December 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm

CB Scott,

I still have lymphoma, but no cancer in my lungs.

318 Louis December 26, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Bart, Ken, C.B. and all – Merry Christmas to you too!

319 Jess Alford December 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Chris Roberts,

Sir, there is no way you can escape the fact that Jesus loves little children, and they belong to Heaven. Matt. 19:13-15. The fact that this passage tells us they are Heaven bound at death. This is a solid Biblical view of the ssalvation of little children.

320 Christiane December 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm

thing is, the Bible (O.T. and N.T.) are ‘testaments’ . . . the Bible doesn’t ‘replace’ what it testifies to, but stands as an inspired written witness to it

it is important to keep that distinction when speaking of the sacred Scriptures, no matter what denomination people are in

321 Donald January 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

Perhaps some of the out-spoken commentators from this thread will see fit to interact with Dr. Harwood’s response over on SBCToday. Thus far, the silence is deafening.

322 volfan007 January 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Spurgeon–No man perishes through Adam’s sin only…
In a sermon entitled “Good News for the Lost” and based upon Luke 19:10—”For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”—and preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on Lord’s Day morning, March 9, 1873, Spurgeon denies natural depravity alone sends anyone to hell.1

Below is the relevant section:

… Let us consider how men are lost. We know first that they are lost by nature. However much men may rebel against the doctrine, it is a truth of inspiration that we are lost even when we are born, and that the word “lost” has to do, not only with those who have gone into sin grossly and wickedly, but even with all mankind.

Did you ever notice the other place where this text occurs? It is in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew and the eleventh verse, and it occurs there in a very significant relationship. Let me read you the words. Christ is speaking about little children, and he says, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” The Lord had placed a little child in the midst of the disciples, and had declared that they must be converted and become as little children, and yet he uttered these words in that connection.

From that passage it is clear that, by nature, little children are lost, and they owe their salvation to the Lord Jesus, when God is pleased to carry them to heaven in infancy. Jesus is come to seek and to save those who are lost by nature; and it is most certain that no man now perishes through Adam’s sin only, and no man is cast into hell because of natural depravity alone; his own personal sin and unbelief cast him there.2

1I am very much aware Spurgeon is more than a complex theologian and at times, at least for me, profoundly baffling. One may search his sermons and abundantly discover many places appearing where his explicit allegiance to what many reference as the “Federal Representative View” when speaking of Adam’s progeny’s relationship to Adam’s sin. However, it seems Spurgeon’s “Federal” understanding was not of the same brand as Covenant theologians either then or now. In short, whatever “guilt” infants inherited from Adam in “natural depravity” remained an insufficent factor so far as sending the infant to hell.

2C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XIX (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1873), 134; the paragraph is broken apart for better readibility, italics added

From a blog by a Baptist Pastor named Peter Lumpkins….

323 dr. james willingham January 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Enjoyed your answer to Adam Harwood. Years ago when I was looking at the issue of sin and guilt, I realized that there was something in the federal doctrine of imputation that really makes sense of and in man’s situation. Our government runs on the basis of imputation. If the President decides to engage in a war, like it or not, we are going to be engaged with him, and this is due to the fact that he is our elected representative. While there is also something to be said for inherited sin, from an Augustinian perspective, vide, A.H. Strong, the Federalist is the position that seems to be the most consonant with the biblical statements. The fullness of the meaning comes to flower, however, in the sacrificial work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the imputation of His righteousness to our account. Following upon that is the implanting of His righteousness in us in a growing form, a plant of growth and development, of fruitfulness and productivity, designed to make us useful and serviceable during our tenure of service on earth. Note: Not perfect, just serviceable.

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