Many of you may recall my conversations with Dr. Adam Harwood of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary over the Spiritual Condition of Infants. I consider Dr. Harwood to be the leading scholar on this topic and recently requested his permission to repost his article on the subject to assist those who may be struggling with the issue.
For more on this topic I highly recommend Dr. Harwood’s book, The Spiritual Condition of Infants.
Inherited Sinful Nature:
A View Permissible as both Biblical and Baptist
by Adam Harwood, Ph.D.
(originally published at SBCToday and reposted here by permission)
The doctrinal formulation known as inherited guilt, or imputed guilt, holds a prominent position within the history of Christianity as well as among Baptists. The claim of this paper is that inherited guilt, the view that every person inherits more than a sinful nature or inclination but also the actual guilt of the first Adam, faces the challenge of maintaining internally-consistent theological assertions when formulating a doctrine of infant salvation. In other words, there may be a better way of understanding what the Bible teaches about our inheritance from Adam and subsequent sin and death which has been answered by God in the gift of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This view, inherited sinful nature, is presented in a basic way through seven biblical statements on the spiritual condition of infants. The paper supports this view by engaging key texts (such as 2 Samuel 12; Psalm 51:5; and Romans 5:12), major theologians (such as Augustine, Calvin, Wayne Grudem and John MacArthur), and our convention’s common doctrinal statement, the BFM 2000.
This paper is offered as a resource to benefit Southern Baptist pastors. While the professors teach students about doctrinal issues such as the nature of our inheritance from Adam or how to formulate a theologically-consistent doctrine of infant salvation, it is pastors who do the hardest work. It is pastors who prepare and deliver funeral sermons for those previous infants and minister to those hurting families in subsequent years. Reared in SBC churches across the country (moved by the military every few years), I heard a wide variety of Southern Baptist pastors and Bible study teachers advocate a view which was sometimes referred to as an age or stage of accountability. This view resonated with many people as faithful to the teachings of Scripture. But there seemed to be little-to-nothing in print which articulated a biblical-theological defense for such a view. This paper is offered as a small contribution to begin filling that theological void. It is my intuition that this view of inherited guilt will be gladly received because it is already widely affirmed throughout the SBC.
The content of this paper was drawn from the work in my 2007 PhD dissertation in Theology completed at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The dissertation was revised and published in 2011 with pastors in mind. Unless a person wants to comb through 400+ footnotes from more than 200+ sources, I recommend simply reading this paper. On a personal note, it is humbling to know that God may desire to encourage and sharpen certain pastors in their high calling through this proposal. If it blesses even one pastor and aids in his ministry, then I will thank the Lord, because it was prepared as an offering to the Him and now I am honored to offer it for consideration to the pastors who serve in His churches throughout the SBC.
There are few things more painful or perplexing than the death of an infant. Because the fog of grief can cloud your thinking, the best time to set into place a biblical view about tragedy and suffering is before it strikes. Although several books have been written on the subject of infant salvation, the current proposal is unique because it attempts to address the spiritual condition of infants who are physically alive. Why focus on the spiritual condition of living infants? Before we consider the issue of the salvation of infants, we need to be clear about what the Bible does and does not affirm about their current spiritual condition.
In one paper, I must exclude more information than I can include. The content, nevertheless, is organized as follows: first, a presentation of the dilemma concerning infants; second, a proposal of seven biblical statements on their spiritual condition; third, some comments of pastoral application.
The Bible presents a dilemma concerning infants. On the one hand, Genesis 3 and Romans 5 describe humanity’s fall into sin and the horrible legacy for subsequent generations. We all have a relationship with the first Adam, and that relationship results in our being sinners. Even before we understand the difference between right and wrong, we are sin-stained people. The Bible also informs us that every person will spend the rest of eternity somewhere—either with God in heaven or apart from God in hell. The good news is that God did not abandon his broken creation. At the very moment we were hopeless and helpless in our sin, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). Jesus, who was and is fully God and fully man, lived and died and was raised to provide the forgiveness of sin and to make peace between God and man (1 Cor 15:1–4; 1 Tim 2:5–6).
But the sad part of the good news is that not everyone will be forgiven of their sin. Jesus spoke of a broad gate and road, which lead to destruction, and the many who would go that way (Matt 7:13). Jesus warned about the danger of being thrown into hell (Luke 12:5). Thankfully, some people will go to heaven. And those people who go to heaven will at some point in their lives hear the saving message of the Gospel—that Christ died for our sins. And the people who hear that message will have repented of their sin and turned to Christ for the forgiveness of their sin.
The dilemma comes when we consider infants. I’ll define an infant as a person who is one year old or younger (including the pre-born). Infants are part of sinful humanity. Even if they don’t yet know they are sinners, they inherit from the first Adam a sinful nature. And later in life, they will inevitably and certainly act out of that sinful nature and knowingly commit sinful acts. But infants who die never had a chance to hear, understand, and respond to the Gospel. It’s not just that they do not hear and respond; infants cannot hear and respond to the Gospel.
It seems wrong to think that the loving God of the Bible would allow those infants to spend eternity in hell. But it seems equally wrong to think that the holy God of the Bible would welcome guilty people—no matter how young—into heaven. Thus, the dilemma: How does God welcome some, or any sinful infants into heaven? The Bible doesn’t explicitly answer this question. When Anabaptist leader Balthtasar Hubmaier (1480–1528) was asked about the eternal destiny of unbaptized infants, he wrote, “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.”
The Bible does not explicitly answer that question. There is no chapter and verse in the Bible that answers that particular question in that particular way. We can, however, based on Scripture’s clear teaching regarding sin and God’s judgment, attempt to build from Scripture an argument for how we think God deals with people who die in infancy. We can also rule out some wrong answers.
These are the kinds of questions that need to be answered:
- In the Bible, are infants and adults treated the same way?
- Does the Bible teach that infants are already guilty of sin or only that they inherit a sinful nature and will later become guilty?
- In the Bible, does God judge our sinful nature? Or does He judge only our sinful thoughts, attitudes, and actions?
Are infants guilty of sin or not? If you believe that people need to hear and respond to the Gospel to be saved, and you say that infants are guilty of sin, then the consistent conclusion is that all infants who die without hearing and responding to the Gospel will be separated from God. But almost no theologian says that. Nearly all theologians hold out hope that some (or all) of those infants will go to heaven. But most of those same theologians also say that infants are guilty of sin. If you begin with infant guilt, then you’re left with a doctrinal system in which some sinful, guilty people (infants) are welcomed into heaven. That system is internally inconsistent.
Let me illustrate for you the inconsistencies. Ronald Nash was a well-respected theologian and philosopher who taught at Christian colleges and seminaries for 40 years and wrote more than 30 books. He attempted to reconcile infant guilt and the hope of heaven in his 1999 book entitled When a Baby Dies. Nash insists that infants are guilty because of their sinful nature. So, infants are guilty. However, “divine judgment is administered on the basis of sins committed in the body.” He cites 1 Cor 6:9–10, which includes sexual sins and says this excludes infants. So, infants are not guilty. But, Nash writes, infants are guilty due to their sinful nature. So, infants are guilty. However, infants don’t know the difference between good and evil, so they are incapable of personal sin. Nash cites Romans 1, which is “clearly dealing with responsible adults.” So, infants are not guilty. Typically, Ronald Nash is consistent and clear. But in this case, he insists that infants are guilty before God and at the very same time not guilty. How can that be?
That’s the dilemma. What is their spiritual condition? What can we know from Scripture? To address this dilemma, I will present and defend seven biblical statements on the spiritual condition of infants and close with suggestions for pastoral application.
(1) Infants are people. Sometimes we think and speak about infants, especially in the womb, as not-yet-people. Infants are a fetus or a potential person, but not yet a person. That is not the view of Scripture. In Psalm 139, David explains how God formed him in his mother’s womb. David was “made” and “woven” together. Even when David was “unformed substance,” God saw him and David’s future days were written in God’s book. In Jeremiah 1, God tells Jeremiah that He “knew” Jeremiah before He formed him in the womb. And God “consecrated” Jeremiah before he was born. From these passages, we see that infants are people, which means they are the special creation of God and (Gen 1:27) made in God’s very image. Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not distinguish grammatically between pre-born or born-alive infants. He used the same Greek word (brephos) to refer to John the Baptist as a baby inside the womb (Luke 1:41) and to Jesus as a baby outside of the womb (Luke 2:12). The womb is the place where God creates people. In the words of the widely-read twentieth century theologian, Dr. Seuss, who repeatedly made this statement in Horton Hears a Who: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Infants are people.
(2) Infants are impacted by sin. One of the questions people ask before they read my book is this: “If infants are not guilty of sin, then why do some infants die? Isn’t death a result, or wage, of sin?” That is a great question. Death is a result or wage of sin. And some infants die. But it does not follow that their deaths are a result of either personal or inherited guilt. Instead, death is the result of God’s universal judgment against sin. Even infants can be caught up in the horrible effects of living in a fallen world.
Consider one example of the death of an infant in Scripture: David’s first son. Second Samuel 11 details the awful events of David’s adultery with Bathsheba. David’s cover-up ended in the death of her husband, Uriah. In chapter 12, the prophet Nathan confronted the king with a story that ended with the accusation, “You are the man!” Struck by that truth, David admitted his sin. God forgave David but announced that there would be severe consequences for his actions. One of those consequences was that the child in Bathsheba’s womb would die (12:14). Scripture tells us that the child was born and became sick. David fasted and begged God to spare his son’s life. But the infant died. Question: What sinful action did the infant commit in order to earn the punishment of death? The answer (of course): Nothing. The infant had done nothing wrong. The child didn’t die because of Adam’s sin. The text is clear that the child didn’t die because of his own sin. The child died as a direct result of David’s sin. Our sins can have horrible consequences for other people, including infants.
Consider also Pharoah’s infanticide in the day of Moses and King Herod’s infanticide in the day of Jesus. Those babies did nothing wrong. I don’t cite these examples to say that the death of infants can always be blamed on the sinful actions of other people. The story of Job and the teachings of Jesus (John 9) tell us that is not the case. Instead, what we have seen is that infants can suffer death without personally committing any acts of sin. Infants are impacted by sin.
(3) Infants are not sinless. We reject Pelagianism. Pelagius taught that infants are sinless and Adam was only a bad example that we choose to follow. That’s wrong. Only Jesus was born without sin. All other people, including infants, inherit a sinful nature from Adam. People may look at babies and speak of their innocence and purity. If by those words, they mean that infants have not yet knowingly committed sinful actions, then yes, they are innocent and pure. But if they mean that infants are without sin exactly like Adam and Eve before the fall or like Jesus, then no.
David wrote this: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps 51:5). Old Testament scholars who comment on this passage explain this as David’s reference to his sinfulness from the first moment of his life. But this is not a comment on infant guilt. Systematic theologians sometimes cite this verse to support a claim of infant guilt. That is not what David said. OT scholars who provide the explanation for Psalm 51:5 I am advocating include: Franz Delitzsch, Edward Dalglish, Mitchell Dahood, Michael Goulder, Hans-Joachim Kraus, and others. These Old Testament scholars say David is not referring to guilt but sinfulness.
Scripture clearly connects us to Adam. Sin entered the world through one man (Rom 5:12). So, all orthodox Christians agree that infants are not sinless. What they disagree on is guilt. There are two different views of this. That brings us to our next position.
(4) Infants inherit from Adam death, not guilt. Augustine taught, and John Calvin later affirmed, that all infants inherit from Adam not only a sinful nature, but also his guilt. Augustine argued that all of humanity was physically (seminally) present when Adam sinned in the Garden. So, we were physically present in Adam. Calvin, though, argued that Adam acted as our representative, or our federal head. He acted as our representative. When Adam sinned, he acted on our behalf and because he is our representative, when he was judged guilty we were judged guilty. In either case, this tradition of Augustinian-Calvinism teaches that all people inherit from Adam both a sinful nature and Adam’s guilt. So, the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition affirms that all people, even as infants, have inherited guilt. In explaining this view, theologian Wayne Grudem wrote that “even before birth, children have a guilty standing before God and a sinful nature that not only gives them a tendency to sin but also causes God to view them as ‘sinners.’” Calvinists point to Rom 5:12-21, in which Paul parallels the work of Adam and the work of Christ. But despite the teachings of Augustine and Calvin, Paul was not arguing for our guilt in Adam. Rom 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Paul connects sin to death and states that all have sinned.
Some people read Augustinian-Calvinism into Romans 5, insisting that every person will die because “all sinned,” adding these words that are not in the text: “in Adam.” They say Romans 5 means we’re all guilty because of Adam’s sin. But the text only states that “death spread to all men, because all sinned.” We need to be careful not to read a theological system into the text of Scripture.
Several New Testament scholars who comment on Romans 5 are careful not to read inherited guilt into the passage. C. E. B. Cranfield, in his International Critical Commentary on Romans, allows for a distinction between Adam’s sin being passed to infants and the guilt they later incur after they commit sinful actions. He writes, “But those who die in infancy are a special and exceptional case, and Paul must surely be assumed to be thinking in terms of adults.” In Cranfield’s estimation, Paul was dealing with adults in Romans 5 not infants.
Millard Erickson raises the problem of reading an exact correspondence into Romans 5. If all people were present and guilty because of Adam’s disobedience (universal condemnation), then an exact correspondence would mean that all people were made right with God through Christ’s obedience (universal justification). But that is not the case. We reject Universalism. Rather, we say that one must personally ratify the work of Christ in our life by responding in repentance and faith to be saved. In a similar way, we must personally ratify the work of Adam in our life. We do so the first time we commit an act of sin after we know the difference between right and wrong. We must become guilty. (The picture on the next page attempts to illustrate Erickson’s view of conditional imputation.)
The Scriptures teach substitutionary atonement (Christ died in our place) not substitutionary guilt. You are not held responsible for the sins of another person but for your own transgressions. You are not held guilty for the sins of your father, your grandfather, or your great-grandfather. Can their sins have consequences on you? Yes. Are you held guilty for the adultery of your great-great-grandfather or the lies of your great-great-great grandmother? No. Neither are you held guilty for the sins of the first Adam. We are connected to Adam, but we answer to God for our own sin and guilt. We inherit from Adam death, not guilt.
(5) Inherited guilt requires inconsistent claims regarding our inheritance from Adam and its effect upon infants when formulating a doctrine of infant salvation. If you begin by assuming infant guilt, then an infant’s only hope for heaven is found in one of four ways, all of which appear to be doctrinally inconsistent.
If you begin with infant guilt, then the infant might have a hope of heaven due to baptismal regeneration (baptism for salvation). This was Augustine’s solution. He thought baptism would cleanse the infant of the stain of “Adamic sin.” But if an infant died before being baptized then, he wrote, the infant would suffer a “milder condemnation” in hell because the infant still retains the guilt of Adam’s sin. But we reject baptismal regeneration–both for infants and for adults. People aren’t made right with God by the act of water baptism–whether by sprinkling or immersion. Guilty people are made right with God by repenting of their sin and placing their faith in Christ. But if you begin with infant guilt, the road to infant salvation may pass through baptismal regeneration.
If you begin with infant guilt, then the road to infant salvation may travel the road of parental faith. Covenant theology holds out the promise that infants who die with believing parents may go to heaven due to the covenant nature of salvation. They point to 1 Cor 7:14 sanctification and the nature of covenant promises being “to your children.” This is the example of John Calvin and Wayne Grudem. Infants of believers can have this hope but not infants with unbelieving parents. So, the difference between heaven and hell for an infant now lies in whether or not parents are Christians?! We reject that view.
If we begin with infant guilt, then hope for heaven can also be found in forgiveness apart from repentance at death. Infants who die remain guilty but enter heaven apart from repenting of that sin/guilt and apart from confessing faith in Christ. When would infants repent of their guilt? John Piper speculated in a footnote of an otherwise excellent book that infants who die will mature after death and confess Christ. Was it a commitment to infant guilt that led Piper to speculate about post-mortem confessions of Christ? That is not a good solution.
If we begin with infant guilt, then their hope for heaven can be based on forgiveness apart from the commission of sin. If we begin with inherited guilt, then you are left with an infant who is guilty of sin before committing any act of sin. Infants are considered guilty, then, on what basis? On the basis of Adam’s actions in the Garden. Those options fall short because they begin with an assumption that is foreign to Scripture: infant guilt.
(6) Infants are free from condemnation but will later become guilty for sins committed after they develop moral knowledge.
Free from condemnation? Moral knowledge? What is the basis of such a statement? Is there one example from Scripture of infants being declared free from God’s judgment simply because of their lack of moral knowledge? Yes.
Recall the story of the 12 spies. Ten said, “We can’t take the land because of the giants.” Two said, “God has promised us the land, so we can take it.” Do you remember why Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years? Because they voted with the ten spies, who failed to trust God. Deuteronomy 1 and Numbers 14 records God’s judgment against them. With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, the older generation (defined in Scripture as twenty years and older) would not enter the Promised Land. Instead, they would wander around and die off in the desert. After the last of that generation died, the younger generation of Israelites would enter the land. What was the single reason the younger generation was spared God’s judgment? Their age. I am not suggesting that 20 is the age of accountability, but according to Deut 1:39, that younger generation had “no knowledge of good or evil.” They lacked moral knowledge and were spared from God’s judgment.
Even some Calvinists affirm this reading of this story. Pastor and author John MacArthur holds a similar interpretation of Deut 1:39 and links that with the spiritual condition of infants today. In his book Safe In the Arms of God, he writes, “The Israelite children of sinful parents were allowed to enter fully into the blessing God had for His people. They were in no way held accountable, responsible, or punishable for the sins of their parents. Why? Because they had no knowledge of good and evil, right or wrong.” Then, he quotes Ezek 18:20, which reads (ESV), “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.”
MacArthur continues, “The same is true today. A child may be conceived out of wedlock. A fetus may be aborted by an ungodly mother. A child may be beaten to death by an ungodly father. But before God, that child does not bear culpability for the sins of the parents. The children were considered ‘innocent’ of sin. They had not rebelled; they had no ‘say’ regarding the Israelite’s rebellion and unbelief. In a profound way, God blessed their innocence.”
If the Bible teaches that sin and death (not guilt) comes from Adam, then when does a person become guilty? Although there is no “age of accountability” in the Bible, there are conditions for accountability:
1. You know the difference between right and wrong.
2. You knowingly commit your first sinful act.
Only after those two conditions are fulfilled is a person guilty before God and under condemnation.
This basic view was the consensus among theologians prior to Augustine. It has been affirmed by various Christian thinkers throughout church history. In my estimation, the proposed view is more consistent with both the doctrinal statement of the SBC and more clearly reflects the claims of Scripture. Of the two views (inherited guilt or inherited sinful nature), only one of them (inherited sinful nature) is affirmed explicitly in Article 3 of the BFM 2000, “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.” It is permissible, however, to affirm inherited guilt, because such a view claims more not less than the BFM 2000.
Infants, according to the BFM 2000, are not transgressors; infants are free from condemnation. Why? Because they have not yet become capable of moral action. This describes the conditions we noted above for an age of or condition for accountability. This failure to affirm inherited guilt is advocated in Article 3 of the BFM 2000 and runs contrary to most systematic theology textbooks in print. Inherited guilt is a dominant but weaker view. It needs to be refuted because it is unnecessary for a robust doctrine of sin. But whether you affirm inherited guilt or sinful nature, it’s clear that all infants are descendants of the first Adam and have inherited (at least) a sinful nature.
(7) In the Bible, God judges sinful actions, not our nature.
Consider the following statements from Scripture about God judging sin: 2 Cor 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” What is the basis of God’s judgment in this verse? Our nature or our actions?
Consider the argument that Paul builds in his letter to the Romans. In chapter 1, God’s wrath is revealed against the following actions: the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (v. 18), fail to honor or thank God (v. 21), claim wisdom (v. 22) but choose idolatry (vv. 23–25), and practice homosexuality (vv. 26-27). What is the basis of God’s judgment in this passage? Our nature or our actions? The same things can be seen in the rest of Romans 1.
Romans 3:10 is a classic statement of man’s unrighteousness, “There is no one righteous, no not one.” What follows in vv. 11–18 is not a summary of man’s sinful nature but his sinful actions. We fail to understand or seek God (v. 11), turn aside and fail to do good (v. 12), speak sinful words (vv. 13–14), kill, destroy, fail to live peaceably, and fail to fear God (vv. 15–18). What is the basis of God’s judgment in this passage? Our nature or our actions?
Reflecting on Romans 1-3, New Testament scholar Harold Hoehner writes, “Paul makes it very clear in Romans that it is their willful acts of transgression and disobedience that bring this wrath.”
The significance? Augustinian-Calvinists argue for our guilt and the judgment of God based upon our sinful nature but Paul argues for our guilt and the judgment of God based upon our sinful actions, which excludes infants.
In this paper, I have argued:
1. Infants are people.
2. Infants are impacted by sin.
3. Infants are not sinless.
4. Infants inherit from Adam death, not guilt.
5. Inherited guilt requires inconsistent claims when formulating a doctrine of infant salvation.
6. Infants are free from condemnation but will later become guilty for sins committed after they develop moral knowledge.
7. In the Bible, God judges sinful actions, not our nature.
I’ll close with a few words regarding pastoral application.
God has things to say to parents who have lost an infant due to miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, or some other tragedy. These Scriptures are meant to bring hope and encouragement and can be affirmed regardless of one’s position on our inheritance from Adam.
- Your child was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).
- Parents should never have to bury a child. It’s not the way life should be. David modeled in Psalm 13 the appropriate response when we enter those dark times. He brought his questions and his pain to God–continually stating that his hope and trust are in God.
- The death of infants demonstrates in painful clarity that this world is broken. But Christ through His death on the Cross defeated death and will remake and restore His broken world. Because of God’s decisive victory in Christ, there will one day be neither death nor mourning (Rev 21:4).
- God is present. He can provide comfort and peace as you trust Him (Rom 15:13).
- Jesus welcomed little children (Mark 10). He pointed to them as examples for adults of citizens in God’s kingdom. Just as Jesus welcomed little children during His earthly ministry, He still welcomes them into heaven. Jesus does the same thing now that He did 2,000 years ago. He takes infants in His arms and blesses them (v. 16).
- Like King David, who mourned the death of his infant son, parents who know the Lord (because only those parents will be in heaven) can say, “One day, I’ll go to be with him” (2 Sam 12:23). Parents, you have a solid biblical basis for the hope of one day being personally reunited with your child.
- Jesus alone is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). Jesus alone is our only hope for resurrection and reunion with our loved ones, whether they are adults, children, or infants.
Under God’s good providence, the theological conclusion regarding infant salvation has been shared by Baptists for more than 400 years. This was true whether one self-identified as a General or Particular Baptist, Sandy Creek or Charleston Baptist. The same is true today. The two streams of Baptist tradition still differ on the nature of our inheritance from Adam. But we stand united on the reason pastors can make such a claim. Pastors can comfort any family grieving the loss of a precious infant because of the boundless love God demonstrates at the Cross of Christ, for “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
 Because this manuscript was not intended for academic peer-review, few quotations are cited. For bibliographic information or a more comprehensive treatment of this topic, see Adam Harwood, The Spiritual Condition of Infants: A Biblical-Historical Survey and Systematic Proposal (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011).
 John Piper, Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear The Gospel to be Saved? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 77 n. 6. Surprisingly, Piper cites in support of his claim Ronald Nash, When a Baby Dies (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), who argues in chapter 3 against precisely the view to which Piper is open, salvation via post-mortem faith.
 For an example of this agreement, see R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin, “The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?” at http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/07/16/the-salvation-of-the-little-ones-do-infants-who-die-go-to-heaven/, accessed June 14, 2012
 For a chapel presentation by Dr. Harwood in which he explains the Baptist Faith and Message 2000’s affirmation of inheriting a sinful nature but rejection of imputed guilt, see http://www.truett.edu/chapel/fall-2011-chapel/fall-2011-chapel-video-player.html
106 thoughts on “Born Guilty?”
I can’t quite figure out what guilt really means in this context. If we define guilt as:
1. directly responsible for doing an action.
Then no one is “guilty” for having a sin nature anywhere. I’d agree with that… but the issue constantly gets confused. If we define guilt as:
2. incurring or receiving a penalty
Then everyone is guilty if they all get penalized.
It’s like if two mob families feud. One godfather gets “wasted” then out of revenge they send hit man to kill the other’s son. Let’s say the other’s son is not part of the feud, only part of the family. The mob hit men get him cornered and he says “Look, I’m not ‘guilty’ for what was done.” They say “Your mob godfather killed ours. Someone has to pay from your side.” Is this comparable to generational curses or corporate headship or original sin? “Someone has to pay.” But is that guilt? Say our country has a rogue sub that fires a nuclear weapon at Russia and leads to war. Our country is technically not guilty of doing it, yet the sub is so associated with us, that the guilt falls on us in some way.
So if people go to hell, indirectly or directly because at one point Adam sinned, they are penalized but not “guilty” in the sense of #1. If we define guilt only in terms of personal action and responsibility, it is impossible for anyone to be guilty for something anyone else does, ever. Is this the Biblical view of things? Could the nation of Israel get “guilt” incurred upon the corporate whole by the actions of individuals? Could the people who crucified Christ say “His blood be upon us and upon our children“? Is there any evidence for a Biblical unity of households, either in a salvific or sinful sense?
One thing I’m sure of: There is one Mediator between God and humankind, the man Christ Jesus. All things are reconciled through him and through his blood. No human being can say “I am innocent without the Blood of Christ and have no need of him, for I am like an angel of God in heaven.” If we dig deep into our origination, our source, the ground we come from, if we deal honestly with text of Scripture, we will say “humans as a race are not pure in the sight of God.” But Christ could still apply vicarious faith and salvation; though this would make it far better to die as an infant, as Job opined.
It’s been awhile. In any event. I go to these verses whenever I want to define guilt. It may not resonate with you but it does with me:::>
Joh 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Joh 15:23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
Joh 15:24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
Joh 15:25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
This is one of three Eternal Beings telling the disciples what , why and how guilt is and exists. One comes to know guilt by the spoken Word of God.
When I was very young in the Lord and only about 21 years old I saw something. I was working with a ministry group in Bridgeport Washington picking apples. There were about a hundred of us including women and children. I was a tractor driver so when the lunch whistle blew I never got to stop doing what I was doing before heading up to the main building where I could eat lunch. There were two other tractor drivers so depending on how quickly we could get the full bins to the loading docks and empties back into the orchards we could go up and get our lunch. I was the chief tractor driver so I had to leave last for lunch because it was my responsibility to check to be sure the other two drivers did not miss a bin or two before they went up to get lunch. Some days I got a 40 minute lunch break, sometimes it was only 20 minutes. In any event whenever I was done I always drove my tractor to the back of the building parking it next to the children’s sand box play area where there would always be several toddlers playing just outside the kitchen windows. The mothers and single sisters doing kitchen duty were also responsible for all the children doing day care. They would let the little ones outside to play in this area. I did this day after day after day after day. For several months at lunch time I drove my tractor to the same spot, turned it off and got off it then walked pass the children playing entering into the lunch hall. One day near the end of this year’s picking season, we picked apples for several years in a row, as I got off the tractor I said to the children when passing them by “don’t touch the tractor”. I went in and promptly got lunch and sat and enjoyed some lunchtime chat and fellowship with others. As soon as the lunch whistle blew again signally everybody needs to get back to work I headed outside and absolutely all the little children were crawling all over that tractor. I was stunned. I ran them off the tractor, got on it, started it up and off I went back to work. The next day at lunchtime I did as every other day. I came and parked the tractor, got off it and went past the children and into the lunch hall and ate lunch. The lunch whistle blew to go back to work so off I go out the back door and there they were crawling all over that tractor again. I decided after the next several days of this that I should no longer bring the tractor up to this place and park it so as to not endanger these little ones.
I began asking the Lord about this. And then it dawned on me the inherent nature of sin that we were all born with especially the nature that is rebellious when someone tells us NO you cannot do that kicked in and came alive within each of these little children. What started them playing on the tractor after so many days when they never once thought to do so was the day I established a law that said don’t do that. .
I came to the conclusion that the principalities and powers of spiritual wickedness are constantly at work and they do their best work on infants and toddlers when we establish a law that we believe will be the wisdom necessary to guide them into their future in this fallen wicked world they too were born into and will have to sojourn through as the rest of us.
I’m not convinced there is guilt in our flesh other than the inherited guilt of Adam that causes us to suffer death by whatever means, accident, sickness, murder or old age.
I do believe there is something to the passing on this guilt. I would parallel this idea with the one about the Levitical Priests while as yet in the loins of Abraham paid tithes when Abraham did to Melchizedek.
I’m also convinced that this sort of guilt is unlike the guilt that follows our disobedience. How does one explain the testimony of Simeon who the Scriptures describes as righteous and devout, yet couldn’t die before seeing the promise promised him by the Holy Spirit, his salvation:::>
Luk 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
Luk 2:26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
Luk 2:27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,
Luk 2:28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
Luk 2:29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;
Luk 2:30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
Luk 2:31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
Luk 2:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
And then of course there is the Apostle Paul as Saul of Tarsus, blameless according to the Law yet later on after regeneration and conversion writes he is the chief of sinners to ever live.
Then of course there this that King David writes and be mindful this is the man who after he summoned Uriah’s wife to his bed chamber and committed adultery with her sinning against himself, his family, her family, Uriah’s family and God and then on top of it all had Uriah sent into harms way so that he could be killed:::>
Psa 18:20 The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
Psa 18:21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
Psa 18:22 For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me.
Psa 18:23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt.
Psa 18:24 So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
Fascinating post, Michael. I loved the story of the kids on the tractor. I wonder if Jesus would have said “Whoever looks on a tractor, to lust for it in his heart, has already played on it.”
3. Infants are not sinless.
6. Infants are free from condemnation.
These two clearly contradict. Did he give a single Biblical justification for something “not sinless” being free from condemnation? All he does he then assert:
7. In the Bible, God judges sinful actions, not our nature.
This is clearly false, I’d argue. The Bible does describe the predisposition and propensity to do something as sinful in itself and worthy of judgment. Also how can a being exist and not “do” something in any sense whatsoever? A baby breathes, can it think? Can it be jealous of a twin in the womb? We want to defend it’s person-hood, yet say it literally has no quality of a thinking person? Whatever limit of intelligence it has, can we justly say that it is “zero” ability? Do we need intelligence to commit a sin? Can we measure a sin like pride or lust, before it’s committed an act? Can we justify that pride and lust as itself not being a sin? “Whoever looks with lustful intent” has already committed an act. There was no action externally, only internally. Also another thing is, son-ship under sin and Satan, expresses a genealogically line and familial nature. Satan himself in his original sin was described as iniquity being found in him, before he committed the act of lies and rebellion.
I can’t be satisfied with this shallow and cursory treatment of original sin and infant salvation.
➡ Millard Erickson raises the problem of reading an exact correspondence into Romans 5. If all people were present and guilty because of Adam’s disobedience (universal condemnation), then an exact correspondence would mean that all people were made right with God through Christ’s obedience (universal justification). But that is not the case. We reject Universalism. Rather, we say that one must personally ratify the work of Christ in our life by responding in repentance and faith to be saved. In a similar way, we must personally ratify the work of Adam in our life
This is just… not Biblical. Where in all of the Bible does it say we have to “ratify the work of Adam in our life,” that is heresy. We are born unconditionally in Adam, and that is why the parallel is closely similar but inexact.
//Millard Erickson raises the problem of reading an exact correspondence into Romans 5. If all people were present and guilty because of Adam’s disobedience (universal condemnation), then an exact correspondence would mean that all people were made right with God through Christ’s obedience (universal justification).//
I agree. These verses seems to me to cap it off and end that dispute and debate:::>
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, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Rom 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.
The first part of the verses starts out as UNIVERSAL CONDEMNATION. But then the Apostle Paul changes emphasis to the ELECT by saying in the second part of verse 17:::> MUCH MORE WILL THOSE WHO RECEIVE THE ABUNDANCE OF GRACE AND THE FREE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS REIGN IN LIFE THROUGH THE ONE MAN JESUS CHRIST.
One only need to look up the two Greek Words the translators use for the one English word “JUSTIFICATION” in verses 16 and 18.
In verse 16 the Greek word used is:::>
Strong’s Definition: δικαίωμα
From G1344; an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: – judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness.
1) that which has been deemed right so as to have force of law
1a) what has been established, and ordained by law, an ordinance
1b) a judicial decision, sentence
1b1) of God
1b1a) either the favourable judgment by which he acquits man and declares them acceptable to Him
1b1b) unfavourable: sentence of condemnation
2) a righteous act or deed
AN EQUITABLE AND RIGHTEOUS ACT OR DEED
In verse 18 the Greek word used is:::>
Strong’s Definition: δικαίωσις
From G1344; acquittal (for Christs sake): – justification.
1) the act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him
2) abjuring to be righteous, justification
I know it is hard for some to accept the doctrine of election. It seems to me you can refute the objection to it because of Romans 5:16-18.
Sure Michael, election is Biblical, but wouldn’t you say the Bible bases it on foreknowledge not determinism?
dizerner writes, “…election is Biblical, but wouldn’t you say the Bible bases it on foreknowledge not determinism?”
Most people refer to 1 Peter 1 for this conclusion, however, the translation is not agreed upon.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” KJV
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:” ESV
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” NASB
The Greek has “…eklektois parepidhmois diasporas…” Peter is writing to the elect who are the pilgrims dispersed throughout the world. So, are they elect according to the foreknowledge of God or are they pilgrims dispersed throughout the world according to the foreknowledge of God? Both are true. God’s foreknowledge consists of His knowledge of that which He will do in the future (part of His omniscient thus of those He elects to salvation) and not knowledge He gained by looking into the future to discover what people choose (not omniscience).
Nonetheless, the context of 1 Peter – “you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:” – suggest that Peter is encouraging these believers emphasizing that their being dispersed throughout the world, and the hardship encountered, is according to God’s foreknowledge – thereby according to His plan.
The foreknowledge is connected to the election, there is no doubt about that. Not only that but we have plenty of other verses verifying the same idea.
When you say stuff about “looking through corridors” or “gaining knowledge” you are just building an elaborate straw man to burn. You can have all the fun you want burning it, but it’s not any Arminian’s position at all.
God can know autonomous future actions with no action on his part, because God is supernatural. This does not mean the independence of the action forces God to “learn” anything.
dizerner writes, “The foreknowledge is connected to the election, there is no doubt about that. Not only that but we have plenty of other verses verifying the same idea.”
Maybe you could give us those verses or cite a study available on the internet that explains your view.
Everyone agrees that foreknowledge is connected to election as God knows what He does. If God elects then God knows what He has chosen to elect.
To deal with infants, Dr. Harwood has to create a second plan of salvation – one in which all infants are saved. It is when a child personally sins, that he is subject to that second salvation plan reserved for those passing the age of consent.
An alternative is posed by the Calvinists in which there is only one plan of salvation and it applies equally to infants and those no longer infants. It is expressed in the Calvinist conclusion: regeneration precedes faith. God saves through regeneration. We see that salvation manifested in adults through a faith response – the confession of Christ as Lord and believing that God raised Christ from the dead (Romans 10). If that faith response does not occur, as with an infant who dies, it does not mean the infant is not saved – salvation is the result of regeneration.
The real issue is whether God saves all infants. Here we might expect the infants of believers to be saved simply because the parents of those infants pray for their salvation usually before they are born and the Scriptures give support to parents that God honors such prayers.
What about unbelievers who do not ask God to save their infants? Are those infants saved? In Jonah, we read, “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” Might we suspect that parents also dressed their infants in sackcloth to save them from destruction? I think so. What about those infants who died in the flood of Noah or in Sodom where the parents could care less? I would not tell parents who have nothing to do with God that their children go to heaven. Better to let them grieve over their failure to pray for the salvation of their infant than to placate them so that they can continue in their sin without remorse.
I do not follow the writings of Calvin. In fact I have not read any of his writings directly that I know of. I have read snippets though from those who have cut and pasted things he wrote.
I do however believe with conviction that one has to have been made alive first before there is activated the gift of Faith given to them to do good works. I do not believe all infants when they die in their infancy go to Heaven. I believe in the doctrines of Grace and the doctrine of Election. God knows His creatures one and all and Elects some to receive the propitiation Christ died to secure for His people saving us from our sins.
.Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
To emphasize this let me ask you, can you “increase your salvation”?
I know and do believe we can ask the Lord to “increase our faith”.
Luk 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Psa 22:9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
Psa 22:10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
michael asks, “To emphasize this let me ask you, can you “increase your salvation”?”
Never heard of that.
Thank you Leighton for returning to this subject and sharing this article from Harwood! I agree with David/Dizerner that Harwood should have clarified further what he meant by children being sinful but not guilty. Harwood said of the Ps 51 text – “David is not referring to guilt but sinfulness.” I think it is better to say that one can inherit sin in their nature without inheriting guilt. They would have sin’s presence (dormant), but not sin’s disease. Perhaps like being HIV positive, but without AIDS. That seems to me a reasonable solution, though I know David/Dizerner doesn’t agree. 🙂
I would also like to see how Harwood deals with Rom 7:9 (in conjunction with 5:13). Alford and Meyer both see that passage as pointing to the moment when personal guilt is created by the individual’s conscience confronted by the law, and then the soul passes from spiritual life to spiritual death when the first act (in the will) of personal sin is committed.
But do you believe we have to “ratify the work of Adam” before we are in Adam? “If you believe in your heart that Adam sinned for you and confess with your mouth that Adam is your damnation, you shall be damned?” When people say we share Adam’s guilt, I don’t think a single one means we literally did Adam’s sin, they mean we share in his condemnation just like we share in Christ’s justification. This whole debate over guilt is just because people are defining it two different ways and talking past each other. None of us “sinned after the likeness of Adam,” not a one of us, not babies and not adults, no one sinned after the likeness of Adam, because Adam’s situation was completely different. It’s not like once someone sins they suddenly “share in the guilt of Adam,” they still had nothing to do with Adam’s personal sin. If we aren’t saying Adam screwed us all over like Christ saved all our butts, what the heck is our Gospel? One of works justification? (Pardon my frustrated French there, lol.) Also this article continually makes “death” only mean physical death, which is clearly not how Paul saw death. Paul saw physical and spiritual death as both closely and inseparably linked with original sin.
Yes, David, you are frustrated! 🙂 But I’ll continue to be patient! Parsing what happened to the rest of humanity when Adam sinned, including to Eve, is the issue, along with what happened to the rest of humanity when Jesus paid for sin. We both agree universal things happened at both events, and conditional things became possible because of both events.
When Paul said – 1 Cor 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Because this verse just means physical death and physical resurrection, it cannot be made to mean universal salvation too. All will physically die and all will be physically raised for judgment. How do you understand this verse?
But spiritual life and spiritual death are always conditional. Man experiences spiritual death for his own sin, that’s the condition. I think that is what you were saying too. But what if he has not yet committed personal sin, like if physical death takes place soon after conception? I think you are saying that such a person still has personal guilt before God because of Adam’s sin. I believe Rom 7:9 suggests differently.
Man experiences spiritual life through the grace of God based only on Christ’s sacrifice. We both agree God can sovereignly distribute that grace any way He wishes, but has clearly threatened hell to those who willfully reject His offers of the truth about their sin and of His mercy to their enlightened conscience (Heb 3:7-8). But if He wants to give that grace to those who have not personally committed sin, I’m ok with that! And I believe that is what He indicates in verses like Rom 7:9.
We aren’t saved or lost by righteous deeds or unrighteous deeds, we are saved or lost by being in Adam or being in Christ. Our deeds are fruits, not roots, of our condition. This is a Gospel fundamental, that if you reject, builds an entire righteousness by works instead of by son-ship (familial descent), and makes all of our sins exactly in the likeness of Adam, something Paul denies. It also means Christ’s work is only partially what saves us, for he takes our test grade and “fixes” it up, instead of giving us his test grade altogether. I’d encourage anything pondering these things to think about what these Scriptural truths mean, and let the Son set us free indeed from slavery to sin.
1 Corinthians 15
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
The “all” of “in Christ all will be made alive” is defined in v22 as “those who belong to him.”
We might read v21 in this way: as in Adam all who came out of Adam die, so in Christ all will all who come out of Christ be made alive.
➡ All will physically die and all will be physically raised for judgment. How do you understand this verse?
Paul is giving a compact version for brevity.
For as in Adam all [spiritually and physically] die, so also in Christ all [who have faith] will be made alive [spiritually and physically].
Paul overlapped spiritual and physical death because his ancient understanding didn’t differentiate between biological processes ceasing and that of the soul, we are a tri-part yet unified being in NT understanding. The way some people constantly overemphasize physical death being the only penalty to sin, you’d think we would never die at all if Christ paid that penalty.
David, Don’t you think having two different meanings for “all” in this one verse (everyone, only those with faith) gives encouragement to our Calvinist friends to use “all” in the less normal distributed use, in contexts where its universal meaning is more natural?
The fact is that all is not always used to mean a literal all, the Calvinists are right about it, and no Arminian should be ashamed of it.
I just did!
and you just did too.
//Sure Michael, election is Biblical, but wouldn’t you say the Bible bases it on foreknowledge not determinism?//
That is too broad a question. Can you expand it to something more specific, like an example??
Is the issue basis determinism vs. compatibilism?
If so, not sure, but I do believe in miracles and the move of the miraculous by the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit.
Well, I’ll just tell you then. 💡
elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1Pe 1:2 NKJ)
still I am struggling with your point?
I certainly agree with Peter and what Silvanus recorded on his behalf so we can read the epistle named after him, 1 Peter.
I don’t understand your pointing to determinism? What is the point in doing so?
You said “election is undeniable” but I don’t think people deny election they just define it differently. That’s my only point.
huh? Can you cite please in which comment I made above where I say “election is undeniable”? I just went back and read them all and don’t find where I said that.
➡ I know it is hard for some to accept the doctrine of election. It seems to me you can refute the objection to it because of Romans 5:16-18.
Why do you think it’s “hard to accept the doctrine of election”? See, I assumed you meant because it’s arbitrary under determinism. Then you say “you can refute the objection to it.” That is the same as saying you think you can’t deny it.
If you still can’t understand me, we can just drop it. It’s off-topic anyway. 😛
you misunderstood me. Or I misunderstood you? In any event //I know it is hard for some to accept the doctrine of election. It seems to me you can refute the objection to it because of Romans 5:16-18.//
I do not find the doctrine of Election objectionable. Some do. I do not. Looking at and contemplating what is being taught in those verses, Romans 5:16-18 one can easily refute the objection that we have free will and there must be something we do as part and parcel to our election and salvation.
And yes, it is off topic in one sense but in another Election deals with guilt as I noted when citing John 15.
If you say “some find the doctrine of Election objectionable” please explain why they find it objectionable. Why would anyone find that doctrine objectionable? Well, so far you haven’t’ felt like letting us know. Care to tell us why some find it objectionable?
Dizerner, I can’t explain why some who I have interacted with do not believe in the doctrine of Election. You would have to take that up with them. I believe I was elected, PREDESTINED and foreknown before the foundation of the world to receive the abundance of Grace and the gift of Righteousness and on July 21, 1975 while reading Matthew chapter 1 and verse 21 I came into an understanding of my lost condition and God’s wonderful Grace to send Christ to save me from my sins. It is by God’s Grace that we are saved through faith and that is not of ourselves lest one should boast they had a little itty bitty part to play in being saved to enjoy Eternal Life and Salvation. I was dead in my transgressions and sins. I was dead, dead, dead and then miraculously I was made alive in Christ by the Hand of God and seated in Heavenly places in Him waiting on Christ to transform my lowly body, too, to become like His glorious body. God the Father is now and has been from the moment I came together in my mother’s womb restoring me, confirming me, strengthening me and establishing me in Christ and all because of His place in dominion over all creations..
Here’s another place in Scripture that establishes the distinction for me besides the citation I gave yesterday, which was Romans 5:17. Today I cite from 1 Corinthians 15:::>
1Co 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
My question is why, why, why if Election is universal or for every human being and everyone gets saved does the Apostle write that sentence “THEN AT HIS COMING THOSE WHO BELONG TO CHRIST”, and not “THEN AT HIS COMING EVERYONE WILL BELONG TO CHRIST AND BE SAVED AT THAT TIME”????
Do you know the Bible says people that were not invited can still end up at the wedding feast? No Calvinist can explain that for sure. No we don’t think all are elect, but God doesn’t remove our free will either. What I see you doing here is saying all of grace means irresistible grace; irresistible grace is a concept foreign to Scripture. How can irresistible grace be in vain or resisted? Well it can’t. Any action at all does not equate to an action you can boast in. Trusting Jesus is not what we are forced to do, but no one will boast in it. And no, it doesn’t mean we birth ourselves or glorify man. Sure you were dead, I was dead too, but a spiritually dead person can trust on Christ for life. Abraham was justified while ungodly, while being dead, dead, dead, the dead can hear Christ’s voice and live when they believe in the light that draws them through prevenient grace. Most Arminians believe plrenty well in election, as by accepting and following Christ we make our calling and election sure. Blessings.
//Do you know the Bible says people that were not invited can still end up at the wedding feast? //
Yes. There are various kinds of righteousness. One is self-righteousness. Another is imputed Righteousness. That guy who got into the wedding feast most likely was one who was righteous and blameless according to the Law of Righteousness, sorta like Simeon as is recorded about his in Luke chapter 2 or Saul of Tarsus, who, before he was converted and regenerated was blameless according to the Law of Righteousness. There are also several others who had lives lived that were blameless according to the Righteousness of God who gave it all up counting it as dung like the Apostle Paul counted everything he achieve on his own, setting his self-righteousness aside for Christ’s:::>
Php 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Php 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Php 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
Php 3:10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Php 3:11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
//No Calvinist can explain that for sure. No we don’t think all are elect, but God doesn’t remove our free will either.//
No He doesn’t but these are those at the wedding feast clothed in self-righteous deeds that they have done that Christ says about them sadly here:::>
Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
//What I see you doing here is saying all of grace means irresistible grace; irresistible grace is a concept foreign to Scripture.//
Yes, that’s what I have settled upon over against my own desires for self-justifications. Now I am at liberty to be guilty of my sins because Christ sent the Holy Spirit Who came and set me free. Now I too wait on the Grace of God in Truth:::>
Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
//How can irresistible grace be in vain or resisted? Well it can’t.//
// Any action at all does not equate to an action you can boast in. Trusting Jesus is not what we are forced to do, but no one will boast in it. And no, it doesn’t mean we birth ourselves or glorify man. Sure you were dead, I was dead too, but a spiritually dead person can trust on Christ for life. Abraham was justified while ungodly, while being dead, dead, dead, the dead can hear Christ’s voice and live when they believe in the light that draws them through prevenient grace.//
Ah, well that is almost true. Where I differ with you is the prevenient grace part. You want to have an itty bitty part in your salvation, that little pick me up that gets you over the hill into the downward slide into the pool of salvation. I on the other hand was lifted up by the Hand of God, conjoined to Christ by no will power of my own and dropped into that pool of salvation. Oh how wonderful this pool is! 🙂
// Most Arminians believe plrenty well in election, as by accepting and following Christ we make our calling and election sure.//(sic)
Again, for clear and obvious disagreements here on irresistible and prevenient grace I differ on how one is made elect and called. I stand in the belief of irresistible Grace.
Here’s my go to Scriptures I stand by standing up for and affirming irresistible Grace:::>
Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
1Pe 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1Pe 5:11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
And with Peter and Silvanus and countless others saved by His True Grace through His True Faith I too believe the Word of God is the true Grace of God that sets us apart and saves us primarily from ourselves and from all of our guilt, from the womb to the physical grave:::>
1Pe 5:12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.
Pro 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
Paul believed in the “itty bitty” part of free will choice:
by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach– if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard,
Jesus believed in the “itty bitty” part of free will choice:
it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life
How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
By setting up your own standard of righteousness with the hyper-grace doctrine of monergistic irresistible grace, you are denying the clear Word of God by insisting a choice is a work of the law we can boast in, which is false and against Scripture. Choosing or rejecting Christ’s work does not deny grace, nor set up a system of works righteousness, because you are defining works incorrectly as a choice, something Scripture denies.
dizerner writes, “Choosing or rejecting Christ’s work does not deny grace, nor set up a system of works righteousness, because you are defining works incorrectly as a choice, something Scripture denies.”
Calvinists say that irresistible grace involves the regeneration of the sinner such that “free” will enjoyed by Adam and lost when he sinned and became a slave to sin is restored. In addition, the heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh. When the person hears the gospel preached, faith is transmitted to the individual irresistibly – a gift of God. The person then makes a choice to accept Christ. The issue is whether a person makes a choice through a freedom of will and faith inherent to him – he was born with them – so that it is his work or by a free will and faith given to him by God so that he responds to the grace of God. If you believe that a person only chooses Christ consequent to God restoring the person’s free will and giving them faith, then you line up with Calvinism. If not, you are likely into some form of works theology.
being afar field of the immediate topic of infant guilt, though I believe this issue can be traced back to the lack of accepting one’s guilt as an infant in the womb, I will press forward and say that I am not setting up any standard. That’s an absurd strawman to impugn upon what I have argued. The standard I am embracing is Scripture alone. God has set up the standard in a two part process as Hebrews 1:1 and following indicate. For me, I find myself sitting with Christ in Heavenly places patiently waiting for Our Heavenly Father to make my enemies a footstool for my feet.
Rom 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I do not deny we have choice and free will. I just haven’t been able to align mine with the Will of God’s. Choosing or rejecting Christ’s work is indeed a response however a dead person cannot respond by the gift of Faith once delivered to the Saints until they are made alive and in this case made alive in Christ by the Active Will of God’s predetermination before the foundation of the world. There indeed are works of righteousness the Elect are called upon to do, as the Apostle wrote found at Ephesians 2:10. I don’t believe I am defining works incorrectly as a choice simply because I do not deny the Scriptures, I heartily embrace them as my go to verses cited in my last comment points out.
I do believe I am standing in the true Grace of God because I have given myself over to the study of the Scriptures, my choice and I am constantly giving myself to pondering them daily, again my choice.
1Pe 5:12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.
Both Silvanus’ and Peter’s chose to come under and obey the faith once delivered to the Saints, an obedience many priests gave themselves to as did the Apostle Paul who had Tertius write the following on his behalf for ours. First the Priests then the Apostle Paul:::>
Act 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
The Apostle Paul:::>
Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
Rom 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Yes, once made alive and give the gift of Faith once delivered to the Saints I too now do:::>
Pro 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
Michael let me be clear. By questioning your theology I am in no way impugning your spiritual character or sincerity. But Calvinists teach regeneration before faith, which logically means to be born again, you have to already be born again, and I find that nonsense. Only an unbeliever can start “believing” else he is already a believer and needs not to believe. It’s this weird logic Calvinists do that is hard to untangle.
dizerner writes, “But Calvinists teach regeneration before faith, which logically means to be born again, you have to already be born again, and I find that nonsense. Only an unbeliever can start “believing” else he is already a believer and needs not to believe. It’s this weird logic Calvinists do that is hard to untangle.”
Regeneration changes an unbeliever and gives him the ability to believe. The regenerated unbeliever does not believe in Christ until hearing the gospel whereupon faith is conveyed and then belief follows. I do not understand how you conclude this to be nonsense. It is not really that different from prevenient grace which follows the same process except to conclude that people can refuse to act on faith (which seems truly nonsensical). If you are going to tie “being born again” to “being a believer,” then you cannot also also argue that being born again is regeneration (as it is not necessary that regeneration convert the unbeliever). In effect, you are presuming your conclusion (begging the question).
Calvinists take for granted that “faith comes by hearing.” Thus, to equate regeneration with being born again does not allow the person who is born again to be a believer. I think Sproul gets around this by saying that everything occurs simultaneously although the logical order would be regeneration followed by hearing, then faith with faith being simultaneous with being born again (the exercise of faith makes one born again).
Prevenient grace is not regeneration, your entire argument rests on that. Arguing you need regeneration to be regenerated is what’s truly circular, because if you are in a negative state and need to be in a positive state to become positive, you are forever locked out.
Regeneration is being born again that’s where the word “re” and “generate” even comes from. It’s nonsensical to argue otherwise. Faith comes by hearing but not necessarily even as Paul points out “Who has believed our report?” because not all believe it. Also believing/faith is what produces regeneration, not the other way around, believing/faith is how one is spiritual born. One is not spiritual born to then afterwards believe, it’s the cart before the horse. You can’t need regeneration to then believe so you can then be regenerate…
➡ …the logical order would be regeneration followed by hearing, then faith with faith being simultaneous with being born again (the exercise of faith makes one born again).
Uh, no. The logical order is the order the Bible gives us. You hear unto belief. You believe unto salvation.
dizerner writes, “Prevenient grace is not regeneration, your entire argument rests on that.”
That is what is claimed. However, absent prevenient grace, a person is Totally Depraved and unable to affect any move toward salvation. Prevenient grace changes this situation enabling a person to hear and respond to the gospel. Clearly something has changed. Not to call that change regeneration is done so as not to identify with Calvinism. Regeneration affects a change in a person enabling them to be saved. This is what prevenient grace is said to do.
Then, ‘Arguing you need regeneration to be regenerated is what’s truly circular, ..”
That is not being argued. The depraved person must be changed in the process of salvation prior to any movement toward salvation. The issue is whether we can say that this change is regeneration.
Then, ‘The logical order is the order the Bible gives us. You hear unto belief. You believe unto salvation”
Romans is clear. Faith comes by hearing. The exercise of faith is believing – “confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Seems like you agree belief comes through hearing and then through belief comes salvation. Wouldn’t you tie regeneration in with salvation?
dizerner writes, “Seems like you agree belief comes through hearing and then through belief comes salvation.”
You are equating faith to belief and I don’t think that is accurate. Faith comes by hearing and manifests itself in belief (e.g., that God raised Christ from the dead). Faith also manifests as the confession of Christ as Lord. Then the righteous live by faith, so faith manifests in the life the believer lives (basically a life lived under the Lordship of Christ).
So, I agree that belief comes through hearing as a byproduct of faith, but belief is not the only thing that comes by hearing (or the only thing that is a byproduct of faith).
Then, ‘Wouldn’t you tie regeneration in with salvation?”
Everyone ties regeneration in with salvation. People differ on how this should be done.
So faith is not belief and regeneration is not being born again. It seems you are redefining things to make them fit monergism? Can you elaborate more on how these words differ from each other?
1. The caterpillar is (regenerated/born again) as a butterfly.
2. I had (belief/faith) that the bridge would not collapse.
1. The caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly.
2. I trusted that the bridge would not collapse.
You are creating strawmen in the absence of an argument. Try developing an argument for what you believe (given that you believe something and are not just opposing everything for spite).
I didn’t “develop an argument,” I asked you a point blank question. What is the difference between those words for you?
If I can’t ask you a simple question without a knee-jerk, thoughtless and constant cry of “Strawman! Strawman! You’re doing this and that and not developing this and that and have an absence of argument blah blah” I may as well talk to a the wall, it would be more edifying.
You appear to be very frustrated and exasperated when you wrie:
“If I can’t ask you a simple question without a knee-jerk, thoughtless and constant cry of “Strawman! Strawman! You’re doing this and that and not developing this and that and have an absence of argument blah blah” I may as well talk to a the wall, it would be more edifying.”
It probably would be better to talk to a wall than to rhutchin the Calvinist troll. At SBC today where he is banned it is noticeably better and nicer to interact there without him. I have observed that you and others have run into this wall numerous times without any apparent good coming out of it! I don’t think it is a wise or smart thing to keep banging your head against this same wall. You really have to pick your spots with this troll, or you will be wasting time talking to a wall. I watch you and others continue to interact with him with no positive results and something a friend said comes to mind: “Who is the bigger fool, the fool who just acts like himself, or the person who tries to reason with the fool unsuccessfully and yet keeps on trying to talk to the same fool????”
I’ve been online conversing for a long time I guess. It’s hard to put into words but you get a sixth sense about this. I express my frustration in the hopes that rhutchin might see his method of argumentation is not the most effective and he often seems unwilling to consider any opposing view. If I truly felt there was zero chance of that—I would not respond.
dizerner writes, “I didn’t “develop an argument,” I asked you a point blank question. What is the difference between those words for you? ”
No difference. They all speak of change. I, like all Calvinists, maintain that God changes people and people do not change themselves. We can call this change regeneration or transformation, or being born again (the issue being whether they all speak of the same change). When you say that “I didn’t develop an argument,” I take that to mean that you cannot argue against the Calvinist position. I have noticed that you never argue against any Calvinist position, having nothing to offer in its place, so you are always asking questions suggesting an incredible ignorance of Calvinist. This despite your comments suggesting that you are familiar with Calvinism. Maybe you are the wall.
As I shared already, dizerner, I do not consider myself a Calvinist seeing I don’t study his writings. The faith I have has come to me from the Spirit of God so thankfully I do not have a dog in your fight with Calvinists. And quite frankly however weird the logic is for you about Calvinists being to hard to untangle is not my problem and well above my pay grade! It sounds to me it is an issue you need to take up with God and probably He is only going to listen to you on His terms not yours!
I should take up my issue with Calvinists with God? 😕 Trust me I pray for them, and not just that they believe what I want them to, but the truth itself. But telling God about Calvinists may make me feel better but probably won’t help any of us. Remember this: you can’t use the “sovereignty” card to just back up your own personal beliefs. Trust me, I know we shall all stand before the judgment seat, that’s why I, as Paul said, “persuade men” and don’t trust in a fake “irresistible grace” nowhere found in the Bible. Blessings!
Dizerner, no I won’t trust you. Twice in this last post you ask me to trust you. Only a fool says in his heart there is no God.
Also, your arrogance is being revealed. How arrogant it is of you to believe your faith is better than the gift of Faith that comes once a person is made alive in Christ by the Grace of Almighty God on His terms.
Who’s using the sovereignty card? God is Sovereign. According to His Own testimony, He is well able to care for Himself and those whom He sent Christ to save.
Psa 50:7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God.
Psa 50:8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.
Psa 50:9 I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds.
Psa 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.
Psa 50:11 I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
Psa 50:12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.
The work of being a full fledge fisherman means we persuade men. There happens to be darkness and evil all around and the sheep of His pasture need men and women to be sent to go fishing and to catch them and seek their welfare by making them disciples and baptizing them and their whole households including the infants and servants. We will know them by their fruits Arrogance is not one of them.
Again, you have basically argued that your faith is good enough which is pure arrogance and your self-righteousness defending your faith is pure insanity. Thanks be to God that IF AND ONLY IF you are one the Elect, the Sovereign God will save you. We can rejoice to see it clearly because it is plainly revealed in Scripture that God alone saves His people from their sins. No human does that that only God has chosen Christ to come and do. You may be a Philip type, who knows? God does. He knows everything.
Joh 14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Joh 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
Joh 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
Joh 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
As for irresistible Grace I commend you to God and this Word of His Grace:::>
Psa 33:10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
Psa 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Who resists the plans of His heart? Only a fool says there is no God:::>
Psa 14:1 To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
Psa 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
Psa 14:3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
Why call me a liar, that is bearing false witness. 🙁 I’m not here for character insults-but bless you anyway.
Well dizerner, I pray thee tell, can you cite exactly where I called you a liar? I believe your theology is flawed and you might be building on a human’s point of view as all of the citations from Scripture indicate by me. At one point I even say you may be a “Philip” type, who as those verses indicate, he was struggling to believe correctly.
In any event, I apologize if what I have written came across as accusatory in the sense that you were lying.
I said “trust me I do such and such” and you said no, you won’t believe I do those things.
Determinists think they are being more God exalting and noble and virtuous by denying humans any “part” or any “choice” or any “action” in God’s world and the fight with good and evil. What they don’t realize is this: whether humans play a part is not our choice, it is God’s choice. Logically, if God says our autonomous choice plays a part, and we deny God that truth, we are not exalting God at all. By insisting humans play no part, we don’t exalt grace, rather we deny responsibility, and attribute all evil actions to God’s ultimate instigation, a far worse “man-exalting” and ignoble doctrine than libertarian free will, a beautiful truth that we are actually in God’s image, and not automatons.
//Logically, if God says our autonomous choice plays a part, and we deny God that truth, we are not exalting God at all. By insisting humans play no part, we don’t exalt grace, rather we deny responsibility, and attribute all evil actions to God’s ultimate instigation, a far worse “man-exalting” and ignoble doctrine than libertarian free will, a beautiful truth that we are actually in God’s image, and not automatons.//
Who is denying personal responsibility or playing no part in the Faith we have received? The book of James makes clear those who have received the Faith once delivered to the Saints will produce good works. The book of the Revelation in chapter 19 says about the same thing when it is revealed to John what the robe of Righteousness is, the fine linen robe each of us is given to wear. They are the righteous deeds of the Saints. So no one is denying any personal responsibility here.
What I deny is that your faith has any responsibility in it. God begins with our condition. He then has to re-condition us so to speak so that we function as if we never sinned. Some go onto maturity, if God permits it and some do not. See Hebrews 6:3. We are justified by Faith. But that “faith” is not personal faith. The “faith” that is acceptable to God is the “faith” He generously bestows upon those He has abundantly supplied His Grace and gift of Righteousness to having conjoined them to Christ so that it no longer is I who live but it is Christ in me:::>
.Gal 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Someone who does not “choose” God is a non-elect person or is just not justified yet. Some, as Scripture shows, have His Faith at work in them from their mother’s womb. I do not believe that is the rule, but rather the exception. All who have been known before the foundation of the world who God has called to His Eternal Glory in Christ will at some point in their lifetime be touched by the Hand of God and regenerated, “made alive in Christ” and given the gift of Faith and then they will go through a training or disciplining process. Not everyone produces great works of Faith. Some have weak faith and need more encouragement than some who are strong in the Faith once delivered to the Saints:::>
Rom 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Rom 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Gal 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Gal 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Gal 6:3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Gal 6:4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
Gal 6:5 For each will have to bear his own load.
You seem to be caught up with yourself and what you do for God as meritorious before God. I’ve cited examples of men far more qualified to be meritorious than you before God who humbly sought out the Grace of God now that they have been conjoined to Christ. The Apostle Paul speaks about his life before the Law came alive in him. After the Law came alive in him he sought to distance himself from his self-works of righteousness counting them as dung in favor of Christ’s Righteousness which comes by Grace through Faith instead of the Law.
Php 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Php 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Php 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
Php 3:10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Php 3:11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Michael, Michael. We all have pride we all have self-righteousness. You assume a lot of things about me, and I find that very sad. Somehow I think you’d tell Jesus, when he says “Well done though good and faithful servant,” that he’s glorifying man, he’s man centered and preaching salvation by works. Try to get out of your determinism means grace box, and walk by faith, my brother. That’s not a matter of pride, but a matter of using God’s grace responsibly.
Imagine this: getting to heaven and realizing you could have done more on earth than you did. But you never tried because of some idea about “determinism.”
Michael you have some strange views on the nature of faith due to your calvinism.
Faith is choosing to trust in God and His Word. It is a choice that we make, it is something that we do, God does not have faith in our place nor do our parents or our friends. Our choosing to trust God pleases Him greatly and people are commended in scripture for the faith that they have (conversely they are challenged and even rebuked for their lack of faith as well).
So it is clear that faith is something that we do (which also explains why those who choose to have faith are repeatedly commended in the Bible). Because the Christian lifestyle is dependent upon faith, some mature while others do not, not because God does not desire maturity for all believers, but because believers differ in their faith, obedience and their spiritual practices (including studying and applying scripture, prayer, fellowship with other believers, etc. etc.). With these things in mind, look at some of your statements:
“What I deny is that your faith has any responsibility in it. God begins with our condition. He then has to re-condition us so to speak so that we function as if we never sinned.”
This is not true at all, the Christian life is not one of functioning “as if we never sinned” it is one in which we replace the bad thoughts and practices with good thoughts and practices (e.g. we are to walk by the Spirit not by the flesh, again a choice, again something that we do or do not do, we are take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, etc. etc.).
“Some go onto maturity, if God permits it and some do not.”
The Bible does not say that God merely “permits” some to go onto Christian maturity it says that His desire is for all to be mature (cf. Ephesians 4:13-16 – “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Col. 1:28-29 “Colossians 1:28-29 – We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Etc. etc.).
If believers are not mature it is not because it is God’s will for them to remain immature it is their own bad choices that lead to immaturity (e.g.the choices of some in Corinth resulting in their immaturity, note how Biblical writers challenge immaturity and put the responsibility for being immature on the people who are immature)
“We are justified by Faith. But that “faith” is not personal faith.”
This statement if meant literally, is heresy.
We are justified through faith, and it ***is*** our personal faith, our very personal choice to trust God and His Word.
God does not have the faith for us or instead of us, we are not saved through the faith of others, whether they be parents, friends or others.
“The “faith” that is acceptable to God is the “faith” He generously bestows upon those He has abundantly supplied His Grace and gift of Righteousness to having conjoined them to Christ so that it no longer is I who live but it is Christ in me”
Faith is not a thing “bestowed” on one person and not another, that is your false theology of calvinism talking not the Bible. Again, faith throughout is a choice that we make to trust God and His Word regardless of the circumstances that we are facing. Faith is not a **thing”” bestowed like pixie dust on some and not others (again that is Calvinism, not the Bible).
Robert writes, “Faith is choosing to trust in God and His Word.”
This is wrong. Faith is not choosing. A person makes choices before faith. Faith influences the choices a person makes sometimes in a heavy handed manner. Faith manifests as a confession of Christ as Lord – if a person is found to “reject” Christ as Lord, then they could not be said to possess faith in the first place. If a person confesses Christ as Lord, we know that faith is present as that confession cannot be made absent faith.
Robert, first you don’t read very well or you don’t comprehend what I have written. Where did I ever claim I was a Cavinist in any of my comments above?
Second, you are telling me you have something to do with your salvation? As in if you do not do something about it, God plus you you won’t be saved?
You made comments such as the following that sound just like the comments that Calvinists make:
“I do not find the doctrine of Election objectionable. Some do. I do not. Looking at and contemplating what is being taught in those verses, Romans 5:16-18 one can easily refute the objection that we have free will and there must be something we do as part and parcel to our election and salvation.”
“Choosing or rejecting Christ’s work is indeed a response however a dead person cannot respond by the gift of Faith once delivered to the Saints until they are made alive and in this case made alive in Christ by the Active Will of God’s predetermination before the foundation of the world.”
As these are exactly the kind of statements that Calvinists make I thought you were a calvinist.
You now write:
“Robert, first you don’t read very well or you don’t comprehend what I have written. Where did I ever claim I was a Cavinist in any of my comments above?”
I think I read just fine, and perhaps I did not correctly interpret your calvinistic comments properly. I did not say that you claimed you were Calvinist, instead I believed it because of comments like those above, comments that calvinists do make.
So what is your position then, do you take a Lutheran view on election and imputed righteousness? Or something else?
Lastly, you wrote:
“Second, you are telling me you have something to do with your salvation? As in if you do not do something about it, God plus you you won’t be saved?”
Yes we do have something to do with our salvation: it is called faith.
Unless we have a faith response to the gospel we cannot and will not be saved.
Our faith in itself does not save us, but if there is no faith there is no salvation.
And our having faith is not “God plus you you won’t be saved”. Rather God chooses to save those who trust Him. Those who place their total trust in God saving them, not they saving themselves will be saved.
It is both misleading and wrong to speak as if we do nothing in the process of salvation. We DO SOMETHING it is called faith. Paul is very clear that justification is through faith not works, it is nevertheless through faith.
Robert writes, “Yes we do have something to do with our salvation: it is called faith….It is both misleading and wrong to speak as if we do nothing in the process of salvation. We DO SOMETHING it is called faith.”
Why do you avoid the issue on faith? Do you mean faith as that which God gives to a person as a gift (the Calvinist position) or that which is inherent to a person by birth (the non-Calvinist view).
oh and by the way, I did not say I do not believe you did those things. My point was I don’t trust you. I believe you do those things, pray for those you believe are in error and who err when it comes to the way you believe God’s Faith works in a person called to His eternal glory in Christ.
Jer 17:5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
Jer 17:6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Jer 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
Jer 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Well, MIchael, I’ll give you the dignity of trusting you, even if you don’t trust me.
I believe in neither inherited guilt, born sinful or born with a sinful nature.
Where can I fit in then? 🙂
Tom Torbeyns writes, “I believe in neither inherited guilt, born sinful or born with a sinful nature.
Where can I fit in then? :-)”
You can be the friendly neighborhood Pelagian.
Is that positive or negative? 🙂
Given that Pelagianism has been deemed heretical by some, you might take it as a negative.
Tom do you believe someone needs to be born a second time? Or that anyone in Christ is a new creation?
both I think 🙂 (John 3:5, 2 Cor 5:17)
My question then—why does a good nature need that?
It has nothing to do with a nature. The Bible doesn’t say: “He died for our nature”. The Bible says that He died for our sins (personal acts against the Law of God).
Not only did you not answer my question, you state an untruth. What in your view is the old man, the flesh sold under sin, and sin in the singular? And why would a good nature need to be born twice and a new creation?
I think I did answer your question but I think you would like to hear a different response. Our original nature is good (Romans 1+2) but can become sinful by sinning, since sinning becomes a habit, like a second nature and then we are children of wrath (Eph. 1/2)
Sin in the singular is only transgressing the law of God and being born is not a transgression of the law of God.
The early church was in disagreement with Augustine’s guilt idea. They understood infants to be innocent.
The flesh of human beings is not sinful in and of itself, since flesh is not matter as the gnostics said.
We are 100% responsible for our sins, not Adam or God or the devil and we need to repent IF we sin.
Infants can still be saved and we can still be responsible under original sin.
I’d like to talk further about this but can I ask if you’ve studied under Jesse Morrell?
I have not studied under Jesse Morrell but I have read many of the early church father’s writings and I think Jesse Morrell has a pretty good grip on this.
I have done a lot of research on this and so far I have not found a single good argument for original sin. Those prooftexts can all be disolved in the biblical and church-historical context. 🙂
But do you reject original sin for emotional reasons (I know it’s hard to be unbiased with ourselves )? Because I think with every person I’ve ever heard, underneath there is for sure emotional reasons driving them, not just love for the Word of God.
C’mon. I reject it because of what the Bible says, because of what Jesus said in the Bible, because of what Paul said in the Bible, because of what God said to Ezekiel said in the Bible and because of what God said to Adam and Eve after the fall in the Bible. I also reject it because of what the apostolic fathers and the church fathers said and because of the proof texts and bad fruits of the lives of many people who believe in it. By their fruits you will know them.
So no emotional reasons at all, about injustice or unfairness?
I also think it is injust and unfair but it doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what God thinks.
William Birch, a respected and beloved Arminian wrote:
“Prior to St Augustine, in the early fifth century, the early Church fathers unanimously hold to the absolute necessity of the gracious inner working of God’s Holy Spirit due to our inherent and total depravity.”
– William Birch, “The Loss of Arminius to the Remonstrants” (on his website williambirch.net)
I don’t see any proof for “real” inherited total depravity in the earliest of apostolic and church fathers.
This book is a good exposition upon the matter and it shows how some people who believe in original sin even dare to twist the writings of the early Christians to maintain their erroneous positon:
(It took me a long time to republish it with a friend of mine, so I would really appreciate if you would read it 🙂 )
Sure I will try, I love reading stuff like this. I see original sin simply as God’s diagnose of our problem; he declares humanity sick and gives us one cure in Christ. I’ve spent my whole life especially focusing on this one doctrine, so I feel completely convinced it’s Scriptural.
Let’s start with something simple. How do you think a sin could truly be described as “not in the likeness of Adam and Eve” if we all sin on the basis of a neutral nature and knowing right and wrong?
Tom Torbeyns writes, “I have not found a single good argument for original sin.”
Original sin refers to the effect Adam’s sin had on his posterity. One effect is that all people die. If all people now are subject to death – an effect of original sin to which we all agree – even infants, what death do the Scriptures have in mind and does that mean that all people must be saved from death (whatever it is)?
Another issue. Since one effect of Adam’s sin was expulsion from the garden and from the presence of God, how has that changed man’s relationship to God.
To say that there is not a good argument for original sin seems naive to me. The argument is not whether there is original sin but what all those effects of original sin (Adam’s sin) mean in relation to salvation – the effect on infants being a point of contention.
I think this analogy for Romans 5 works better:
Let us shed light on one of the contributors to this article and who is telling the truth.
Refutation of Jesse Morrell’s Documentary “Beyond Augustine”
Original Sin rightly handled.
Two really nice resources. Thanks Steven.
Refutation of Jesse Morrell’s Documentary “Beyond Augustine”
Refutation of Jesse Morrell’s Documentary “Beyond Augustine” Part II
Hi Steven, I think pointing to an article that is no more than – “I interpret the pre-Nicene RC founding documents better than that guy does!” – is not helpful.
Our authority is God’s Word alone! Most of those “fathers” professed the false Gospel of baptism-salvation, or faith plus works salvation. Augustine certainly did! So why should we care what view they had of “free-will”?
Let’s stick to discussing what Scripture says. Also, I think the article’s declaration that Morrell needs to be saved is faulty, without producing a declaration of a false Gospel by him. It is also very unedifying.
Therefore, not only is Morrell incorrect for misrepresenting Calvin since he wasn’t even saying all the fathers held to his [Morrell’s] view (Calvin said we can’t know what they believed), but Morrell is also engaging in error when he assumes quoting Calvin, who was extremely limited in his resources, is enough to settle the issue of what the fathers taught. It is thus falsehood for Morrell to claim “free will was universally the orthodox Christian doctrine. For example John Calvin who didn’t hold to the doctrine of free will admitted this fact” (17:41 – 17:50)
As we have seen Morrell is fond of using deception. Either he can’t help it or it’s on purpose. Either way he is accountable to God. His errors are overwhelming. I pray he will see this rebuke and refutation as a wake up call to abandon his false heretical positions and deceptions. I pray he will seek the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. It is my prayer that the elect among Morrell’s followers will abandon his heresy and cult as well as trust completely in the perfect person and works of Christ for salvation viewing our human good works as evidence of salvation, and not what gets you into heaven, since, Jesus and what He did during His life and on the cross deserve all glory and credit for man’s salvation.
Good morning Steven! Dialog is more helpful on this site. You should hit the reply underneath the post of the person who commented on your contribution and address their comments and questions directly.
Cutting and pasting from an article you already gave a link to is not as helpful. And without using quotation marks and referencing it’s source, it’s plagiarism!
You are truly welcome to interact on this site, and I hope we will be able to get to know you better from hearing your own thoughts and questions, especially concerning specific Scriptures relating to these posts by Leighton.
Brian or Leighton, this has been on my heart. Hopefully you can shed some light.
If Adam’s sin(s) are not inherited or transferred, then Christ righteousness also is not inherited or transfered.
Why do we still insist that Christ righteousness is transferred to the believer? There’s many word studies that show that “transferring” is a corruption of: to “impute” or “to be declared” or “reckoned”.
But in light of this article, because we are not born guilty nor is Adam’s sin transferred to us, on the flip side, we are also not born righteous, nor is Christ righteousness transferred to us- when we are “born again.”
Now to be declared or reckoned righteous by God, that’s OK with me. And Christ righteousness covering me or He interceding for me, I’m also ok with. But to have Christs righteousness transferred into me or my spiritual bank account, I think that’s wrong. Hence, once saved always saved and a myriad other “get out of jail free card” theologies with no accountability on the part of the believer.
I wasn’t sure where to ask this question but since this post was about being born guilty, I felt this was relevant. Thank you brothers.
Hi Simple – Thank you for the question, but I think your premise needs some rethinking. It is a difficult subject indeed, and many opinions are out there. So, I just offer mine in hopes it might be of some help!
I think you are trying to compare what we receive from Adam at our physical conception/birth as compared to what we receive from Christ at regeneration. I believe we receive our life from Adam, which includes our soul that is bent towards sin and physical death, but not guilty of Adam’s sin. I believe we receive from Christ, at the moment of regeneration, His everlasting life (His indwelling Spirit), which includes His righteousness (which is inseparable from His presence). And we receive the new bent towards revealing that righteousness even in the Adamic life we are still living out (Gal 2:20).
There is nothing in Scripture that I have seen that demands just a quid-pro-quo between what we got from Adam and what comes through Christ. Actually Paul uses the phrase “much more” 4 times in Romans 5 (9, 10, 15, 17, see also 20) to demonstrate there is not a one-to-one correspondence from what happened through Adam to what happens through Christ.
The main problem with this view, which I agree with, is it flies in the face of the Traditionalist view of free will. Man inherits a sinful nature so he not only chooses to sin but he will sin, he must sin, he is determined to sin if he grows to maturity. Incidentally, this inherited sinful nature is the true definition of Total Depravity. Of course this kind of compartmentalism is endemic to much of the Traditionalist thinking.
Your SBCToday link at the top is bad. It resolves to a gambling site. Not good.
yes – thank you very much youngearther!
I have passed this on to the content editor – and apparently he has not had time to address it.
BrD… Maybe the SBC are giving an inference that it is a gamble to follow them and their links. 😂😂😂
Good one Brian!!
You have a sharp mind!!
Love it! ;-D
I’ll drink to that!
FYI, SBC Today has been out of business for quite some time.
A couple years back, one of the Admin/Moderators, by the name of Rick…something…made a comment on a Facebook group, and was admonished for his comment, so much so, that he lost credibility of maintaining the blog. They kept it up for a spell, but it got to the point where no one was posting articles anymore.
Thanks for letting us know Ed!
Your link to the SBC Today article goes to [link removed] SBC Today
Is now archived at [baptistnews-com / tag /sbc-today/]
Hello Amber and welcome!
And our very sincere thanks!