Monday, July 09, 2007

Perfect Timing

On the very day I post my recent discussion on original sin (see previous post), Gene Bridges of Triablogue posted a link to an article discussing evidence of an infant's ability to lie. Folks who take the time to read my previous entry will notice that my exchange on original sin touched on the specific subject matter of Gene's post and the article he links to. Tip 'o the hat to Gene for the link!

17 comments:

kangeroodort said...

I am sorry my friend, but this article is quite far from saying that children are liars from birth. The article states that children as young as six months may use "deception" to get attention. I see several problems with using this article to support your position.

First, it is based on a very small sampling and is the result of one man's research. As usual the media will jump all over something before further research is done.

Second, the conclusions are very interpretive and are far from scientifically sound. Third, the fact that children will use whatever means they have available to them to get attention does not mean that they are purposefully being deceptive.

The real issue is the child's awareness. Are they consciously being deceptive? The researcher concludes,

"It demonstrates they're clearly able to distinguish that what they are doing will have an effect. This is essentially all adults do when they tell lies, except in adults it becomes more morally loaded."

The last part of this statement is the important part. For the child it is just cause and effect with no thought of moral implications. While I do not doubt that this may be evidence of our sinful nature, it does not become "sin" until we are consciously deciding to violate our consciences.

I have a 16 month old, and there is no doubt that when she throws a temper tantrum it is out of harmony with God's holiness. The issue is that my daughter does not yet realize that temper tantrums are sinful, and does not therefore incur guilt for the natural manifistation of her sinful nature.

As Paul said,

"What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the law had not said, "You shall not covet". But sin, taking the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead."

While the seeds of death are present in children, they do not die until they fully understand that what they are doing is wrong. It is for this reason that Christ could truly say of them, "for such is the Kingdom of heaven".

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Kd,

"I am sorry my friend, but this article is quite far from saying that children are liars from birth."

Okay, but I didn't make the claim that this article says children are liars from birth. I merely stated that this article discusses evidence on an infant's ability to lie.

"First, it is based on a very small sampling and is the result of one man's research."

Actually, the doctor who was named in the article was a woman. Also, the article indicates that she was not alone. Note the phrase, "Behavioural experts have found that...". Now, I'm not trying to sound condescending here but did you even bother to read what you're critiquing?

"While I do not doubt that this may be evidence of our sinful nature, it does not become "sin" until we are consciously deciding to violate our consciences."

If this is so then why does David tell us in Psalm 51:5 that he was a sinner from birth? And why does David likewise say in Psalm 58:3 that the wicked go astray from birth? Indeed, if people are not sinners at birth, how can David refer to them as 'the wicked'?

"The issue is that my daughter does not yet realize that temper tantrums are sinful, and does not therefore incur guilt for the natural manifistation of her sinful nature."

Whether or not your daughter *realizes* that she is sinning is irrelevant. She is still sinning. She sins because she is a sinner. And as far as your prooftext is concerned, Paul only states that he would not have come to *know* sin if not for the law. Paul is not denying the reality of sin from birth but is merely addressing his own awareness of it. Indeed, Romans 7:13 states that sin was shown to be sin by affecting Paul's death.

And on a side note, I have to ask, what is up with your screen name? Does it have some meaning or did you just come up with it on the spur of the moment?

Bob said...

I always find the Original sin discussion rather humerous. Espescially reading the things people say to wriggle around the sinfulness of children. At 6 months old they become liars NOT at birth! Hmmm yes they have a whole 5 months of sinlessness, I suppose around 6 months they start acting selfishly and begin to THEN minipulate.

I really like how Augustine described the behaviour of infants in the Confessions. He simply said that if as a grown man I cried until my wife brought me my food or yelled when I wasn't feeling entertained we would call it poor behaviour but suddenly when infants do the same we sort of turn a blind eye and say that's just what babies do.

"The real issue is the child's awareness. Are they consciously being deceptive?"

I don't know why these sorts of things matter in this discussion. That is an imposed philosophical presupposition, that for something to be sin in an individuals that in mental cognition and forethought is also needed. There are plenty of things we do that are wrong and we don't know it at all, that doesn't change the fact that they are wrong. So just because babies do not possess as powerful of cognitive faculties as adults that does not excuse behaviour, to say such is to bring an a priori assumption to the Scriptures.

A side note I wonder how Christ was as a baby...I mean how much crying did He do?

Bob said...

Oh and good response Matt, you wrote:

"Whether or not your daughter *realizes* that she is sinning is irrelevant. She is still sinning. She sins because she is a sinner. And as far as your prooftext is concerned, Paul only states that he would not have come to *know* sin if not for the law. Paul is not denying the reality of sin from birth but is merely addressing his own awareness of it. Indeed, Romans 7:13 states that sin was shown to be sin by affecting Paul's death."

I don't know why that is always the issue with those who deny original sin. It simply isn't Biblical, it is an assumtion the natural man slips in and expects you to bow to these extra Biblical ideas of "fairness". All of a sudden sin isn't sin because children are ignorant...

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Bob,

"A side note I wonder how Christ was as a baby...I mean how much crying did He do?"

Good question, especially within the context of this discussion. However, I tend to think that if the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity is true, then Joseph was the one doing the lion's share of the crying! (sorry, couldn't resist ;-)

Bob said...

Lol, I suppose that would be true.

kangeroodort said...

Hey Matt,

Thanks for correcting me on the article. I did read the entire article. I skimmed through it first and wrote the part about it being one man's research, and then I read it more carefully while writing the rest of my post, and referencing it for quotes. So I apologize for that, but mostly I apologize to her.

I noticed that there was only one doctor being cited throughout the article, and that the sampling was only 50. While the article starts with "Behavioral experts have found", the article only cites Dr. Reddy's findings and mentions nobody else even backing up her research.

By the way, I do not deny original sin. I do deny that God hold's children guilty for their sin until they are old enough to conciously rebel. I gave some scriptural evidence for that which I do not believe you adequately addressed. What did Paul mean when he said, "I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the Law came I died"? If original sin causes death in us from birth, how could Paul say that he was once alive apart from the law? What does he mean when he says that "when the Law came". Does he mean that when the Law came to Moses he died? Did Paul have some pre-existence before the Law, or did Paul mean that before he came to know the Law (i.e. became morally conscious), he lived, but after he understood God's law (which was written on his heart, i.e. conscience), and yet violated that law, he died?

David was using hyperbole for the effect of shocking his listeners and making for colorful and powerful imagery. This does not mean that children are born without a sinful nature, but the passage does not address whether or not God holds small children accountable for their actions. To seek to build such doctrines in poetry of this nature seems unwise, especially when there are other scriptures which would seem to argue against such a notion.

The main point of my post was that it was unwise to jump all over some new "research" in order to back up your theological viewpoints. Calvinits have long appealed to the new birth being an irresistable work of God on the basis that a child (in the physical realm) has nothing to do with when he or she will be born. How would you feel about me citing new, yet debatable, research to demonstrate that babies actually signal the mother when it is time to be born through hormones, etc.? See http://pregnancy.families.com/blog/what-triggers-labor for details.

My screen name has reference to the kangeroo court that Calvinists believe rightly condemned Arminianism- the Synod of Dort.

God Bless

kangeroodort said...

Hey Bob,

A few comments on what you said below,

"I always find the Original sin discussion rather humerous. Espescially reading the things people say to wriggle around the sinfulness of children. At 6 months old they become liars NOT at birth! Hmmm yes they have a whole 5 months of sinlessness, I suppose around 6 months they start acting selfishly and begin to THEN minipulate.

I really like how Augustine described the behaviour of infants in the Confessions. He simply said that if as a grown man I cried until my wife brought me my food or yelled when I wasn't feeling entertained we would call it poor behaviour but suddenly when infants do the same we sort of turn a blind eye and say that's just what babies do."

No offense, but I find the fact that you see such a discussion as "humerous" to be rather disturbing. There is nothing funny about the question of wheter a small child is deserving of eternal punishment, and/or destined for it if that child should die in childhood.

The cousin of one of my friends just found her four month old child dead in his crib after she fed him and laid him down for a nap. Would you be comfortable saying such things to her? Would you quote Augustine to her? Would you tell her that her child was burning in hell because he cried in order to get her attention? If our pastoral responses cannot naturally flow from our theology, then we need to at least re-evaluate our theology.

The Augustine quote is not very helpful. It is a false analogy as far as I am concerned. An adult is able to meet his own needs and is consciously able to ask for things with respect. A small child is dependant, cannot meet his/or her own needs, and has not the mental capacity for showing respect in the same manner as an adult.

Now let me ask you how you would harmonize passages like Rom 7:9; Matt. 18:2; 19:14, and 2 Sam. 12:23 with what you seem to see as the implications of original sin?

Matt,

I just wanted to say thank you for always posting my comments even though you most certianly disagree with most of what I say. That is a level of fairness that should be (but unfortunately is not) common practice among all bloggers.

God Bless.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Kd,

"While the article starts with "Behavioral experts have found", the article only cites Dr. Reddy's findings and mentions nobody else even backing up her research."

Nobody else backing up her research? But does not the very sentence you quote do just that? If more than one behavioral expert "has found" what Dr. Reddy is attesting to, then how is this not a "backing up" of her claims?

"By the way, I do not deny original sin. I do deny that God hold's children guilty for their sin until they are old enough to conciously rebel."

The Reformed view of original sin makes reference specifically to how God imputes the guilt of Adam's sin to his progeny first and foremost rather than on how God views the actual sin of young children.

"I gave some scriptural evidence for that which I do not believe you adequately addressed. What did Paul mean when he said,..."

I would refer you to any number of Reformed commentaries on Romans 7 if indeed you are interested in seeing how a Calvinist handles that text. For the moment, I am more interested in the implications of your stated view that men are born into this world possesing spiritual life. Now, you affirm that men are born with a sin nature so I'm curious as to how men can have spiritual life while simultaneously possesing a sin nature especially before the application of Christ's atonement? Is not the possession of the sin nature itself sinful? That is, surely you agree that thoughts, feelings, intentions, and desires, can be sinful. If so, since all these spring from man's heart (ie sinful nature) how can anyone be spiritually alive even at birth?

"David was using hyperbole for the effect of shocking his listeners and making for colorful and powerful imagery."

Then I would offer the same comments in response to you that I gave to Don Bradley. Furthermore, on what basis do you declare David's statements to be hyperbole? Do you see all the Psalms as hyperbole or only these? Having posed these questions, I would be willing to grant you that Psalm 58:3 is hyperbole but I still don't see how this squares with your position especially in light of the points I made to Don concerning this verse. Now, as far as Psalm 51:5 goes, I do not concede hyperbole here. There is no reason to believe that David is exagerating here especially in light of Paul's statements in Romans 5. Thus, I would ask how someone who is counted as a sinner from birth by God cannot be guilty and likewise held accountable as a sinner? Is there indeed such a thing as a guiltless sinner in your view?

"The main point of my post was that it was unwise to jump all over some new "research" in order to back up your theological viewpoints."

Granted. Which is why I carefully worded my post to avoid any such statements lending to the notion that this research absolutely confirms the Reformed view. I posted this only as an additional tidbit for those interested in this discussion. I am of the opinion that God's truths do not need man's flimsy efforts at confirmation thru his own devices.

"How would you feel about me citing new, yet debatable, research to demonstrate that babies actually signal the mother when it is time to be born through hormones, etc.?"

Heh, interesting article. However, even if you did posit this as confirming your view of choosing your own time of birth, I don't think a parallel could be drawn. The signaling of birth is no more an act of the will or choice for the infant than the signaling of hunger by the stomach of any given person is.

"My screen name has reference to the kangeroo court that Calvinists believe rightly condemned Arminianism- the Synod of Dort."

I see. Then are you not concerned that this screen name of yours could cause a negative reaction from the Calvinists that you converse with? Would you not view a screen name of "Arminiusstinks" as being a bit inflammatory?

At any rate, do you have a real name or are you content to be referred to as "Mr. Kangaroo" or perhaps "that kangaroo guy"? ;-)

kangeroodort said...

Hello again Matt,

"Nobody else backing up her research? But does not the very sentence you quote do just that? If more than one behavioral expert "has found" what Dr. Reddy is attesting to, then how is this not a "backing up" of her claims?"

OK, how about "mentions nobody else by name backing up her research." Better? Forgive me if I do not necessarily put much stock in the integrity of journalists. The opening line could be for the purpose of making the research sound more impressive than it is (dare I say "hyperbole"?). It could be that one other behavioral researcher agreed with Doctor Reddy's findings. That would make the statement true, but far from impressive. Like I said, only one person's research is cited. If a bunch of behavioral experts agree with the results, it doesn't change the fact that the conclusions are based on one person's work, and those conclusions are based on a small sampling of 50 children. Perhaps you can produce another article with more than just Dr. Reddy's research being cited.

My other points still stand. The data could be interpreted in other ways, and I have a hard time believeing that every reputable behavioral expert fully agrees with Dr. Reddy's findings. Again, you are welcomed to produce evidence to the contrary.

The quote about whether or not a child's cries for attention are morally loaded sums up the point of contention as far as I am concerned. I would argue that such acts have no moral relevance, and there is no way to determine this one way or the other based on the data given in this article. So I do not think that it was wrong for me to state, "this article is quite far from saying that children are liars from birth." You seem to want to say that you never said this, but that was the crux of your argument with Don, and your appeal to Ps. 58:3. If I misunderstood you on this, then I apologize, but you can certianly understand why I would assume that was what you were trying to demonstrate by citing this article.

"The Reformed view of original sin makes reference specifically to how God imputes the guilt of Adam's sin to his progeny first and foremost rather than on how God views the actual sin of young children."

Do you then ignore the issue of "how God views the actual sin of young children"? Here is the million dollar question: Do you believe that a small child or infant is destined for hell if it dies in childhood? It is one thing to push your views on original sin, it is another to honestly deal with the implications.

"I would refer you to any number of Reformed commentaries on Romans 7 if indeed you are interested in seeing how a Calvinist handles that text."

So if I urge a scripture against your view, you refer me to Reformed commentaries, but demand answers to your questions and cited passages. Interesting. It is tempting for me to just refer you to commentaries, but I will answer your questions.

"Now, you affirm that men are born with a sin nature so I'm curious as to how men can have spiritual life while simultaneously possesing a sin nature especially before the application of Christ's atonement?"

First, I would ask you how possessing a propensity to sin would cause spiritual death until that nature is yielded to through actual sin? Personally, I have no problem with racial guilt, but I will get to that later.

"and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned [not "because all possessed a sinful nature"]. Rom. 5:12

"For the wages of sin [not a "sinful nature"] is death." Rom. 6:23

"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!" ["things" has reference to sinful actions, and not a sinful nature]. Rom. 6:21

"The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction." Gal. 6:8
The issue is not that possessing a sinful nature causes death, but the sowing to please that nature results in death.

"but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." James 1:14

Here is an interesting sequence. First we are enticed or tempted by our sinful nature, then we yield to those temptations (sin), and the end result of sin is death.

So it seems to me that there is some Biblical reasons to believe that there is in fact a difference between the resluts of possessing a sinful nature, and yielding to that nature in actual sin. There are Biblical reasons for answering your question, "Is not the possession of the sin nature itself sinful?" with a "No".

"Furthermore, on what basis do you declare David's statements to be hyperbole?"

Because children quite obviously do not speak lies from the womb.

"Do you see all the Psalms as hyperbole or only these?"

No, not all, but there are certianly many examples of similar exaggerated poetic imagery throughout the Psalms, and in other Biblical poetry (esp. the prophetic books). Some examples would be, Ps. 18:7-16, 42; 19:2-4; 22:8-10, 17; 27:2; 6:6, 7; 8:2; 51:8; most of Ps. 69, etc. I think Psalm 22:9-10, and Psalm 8:2 are particularly interesting in light of this discussion. While Ps. 22 is primarily a messianic prophecy, it is hard to imagine that David had absolutely no thought of himself when he wrote it.

"Having posed these questions, I would be willing to grant you that Psalm 58:3 is hyperbole but I still don't see how this squares with your position especially in light of the points I made to Don concerning this verse."

The only thing I have stated concerning my view is that I do not believe God holds small children accountable for their sins until they are the result of conscious rebellion. There is nothing in this Psalm that would speak to that issue. This is especially true since those David refers to in verse 3 are contrasted with "the righteous" of verses 10, and 11. This is further evidence of the use of shocking hyberbole in this verse. David is contrasting the wicked with the righteous. This Psalm is a cry for vindication from the wicked, and is not speaking to the issue of guilt for sins committed by small children.

Ps. 51 is a cry of repentence from a man who is feeling intense guilt for the horrible sin he had commited against God and man. This Psalm should be understood in this context. If we accept that David had himself in mind, at least to some extant, in Ps. 22:9, and 10, it will help us to understand this passage. In Ps. 22, David is again crying out for help and vindication, and his comments in verses 9 an 10 are for the effect of contrasting himself with the wicked who are assailing him. In Ps. 51, David is acknowledging his sin, has no intentions of defending himself, and therefore his statements in verses 5 and 6 reflect his emotional and repentant state. It would, again, be unwise to seek to establish a doctrine of sin guilt or death for small children from this cry of anguish and self abasement. In Ps. 58, and 22, David is trying to make himself look good in comparison with the wicked he wants God to judge. In Ps. 51, David is identifying himself with the wicked as he acknowledges his guilt before God.

I find further evidence that Ps. 51 is not speaking to that issue from the comments David made shortly after he wrote this Psalm. After his child died as a result of his sin, David said, "But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." 2 Sam. 12:23. That is how I see it- take it or leave it.

"Heh, interesting article. However, even if you did posit this as confirming your view of choosing your own time of birth, I don't think a parallel could be drawn. The signaling of birth is no more an act of the will or choice for the infant than the signaling of hunger by the stomach of any given person is."

Actually, that was kind of my point. The research doesn't really line up with the theological considerations I mentioned, and neither did the article you cited. I do however see some correlation. Even if the child's signal is unconcious, it would still mean that the child was not entirely passive in the process. That is what Reformed theologians tell us regarding the new birth, and like to use physical birth as an analogy. Personally, while there are certianly analogies that can be drawn between the new [spiritual] birth and physical birth, whether it is entirely passive or not is not, as far as I am concerned, one of them.

"I see. Then are you not concerned that this screen name of yours could cause a negative reaction from the Calvinists that you converse with? Would you not view a screen name of "Arminiusstinks" as being a bit inflammatory?"

I am not sure how to react to this because it is hard to tell if you are being serious. I will only say that "Arminiusstinks" is in no way comparable to "Kangeroodort". If you truly think that my screen name is inflammatory, then I have much to say about that, but I will wait to find out if you are truly offended before making further comment.

"At any rate, do you have a real name or are you content to be referred to as "Mr. Kangaroo" or perhaps "that kangaroo guy"? ;-)"

You can call me "Captian Kangeroo" for all I care. I am not easily offended.

Now as far as my view of God's dealings with infants, I believe that God does not hold them accountable because he has atoned for racial guilt on the cross, and, unlike the guilt that results from actual sin, that atonement is automatically applied to everyone who is born. For a more detailed account of this view I could refer you to a book if you like (since that seems to be the easier way to do things around here).

God Bless.

Bob said...

Kd, you wrote:

"No offense, but I find the fact that you see such a discussion as "humerous" to be rather disturbing. There is nothing funny about the question of wheter a small child is deserving of eternal punishment, and/or destined for it if that child should die in childhood."

That's a loaded description. All I thought was humurous (I thought this was rather clear in what I said) was the side steps made by OS deniars. I of course think the subject itself is weighty, and the fact that children are born in sin is serious. What you said was simply beside the point and argument against the person.

So when you say all of this:

"The cousin of one of my friends just found her four month old child dead in his crib after she fed him and laid him down for a nap. Would you be comfortable saying such things to her? Would you quote Augustine to her? Would you tell her that her child was burning in hell because he cried in order to get her attention? If our pastoral responses cannot naturally flow from our theology, then we need to at least re-evaluate our theology."

In saying this you are trying to cast me as this insensitive jerk, that is simply argument against the person. Next we have here an appeal to sympathy, now I of course feel terrible that your cousin lost her child but what does that really have to do with whether or not the damnation of infants is in fact warrantable?

I simply don't take a dogmatic stand as to saying "All babies that die go to heaven" sure perhaps your cousin would like to hear that but the reality is that scripture doesn't say that. Nor am I dogmatic and saying that "All babies that die go to hell because they never made a decision." I think that is a problem for Arminians so just like how they make up open theist notions and hack attributes of God off to fit their theology likewise babies that die prior to making a "decision" all go to heaven. Again that simply is not Biblical.

"The Augustine quote is not very helpful. It is a false analogy as far as I am concerned. An adult is able to meet his own needs and is consciously able to ask for things with respect. A small child is dependant, cannot meet his/or her own needs, and has not the mental capacity for showing respect in the same manner as an adult."

So not showing respect is excusable? That is "normal"? Is that how babies would have behaved in an unfallen world?

As for the verses you brought up:

In romans 7:9 Paul in speaking of "alive" does not mean I was born sinless. That's really all I need to exegete for the purpose at hand, to say alive=born sinless is to import into the text.

I am not sure what the point in Matt 18 has to do with children being sinless, again that needs to be imported as does the idea that all children under 17 that die go to heaven. Same with 19:14. What do those passages have to do with the original sin? People bring them up and again this is why I find this discussion rather humerous because all of a sudden every time Jesus mentioned children it shows that they were all going to heaven.

Now the 2 Samuel 12:23 passage is probably the best you have pointed to. David definatly had an idea that he was going to in his death meet his deceased child. Again is this universally applicable (all children that die under 17 go to heaven)? Also does he really have heaven in mind or the waiting place before the judgement (abrahams bosom)?

kangeroodort said...

Hello Bob,

"That's a loaded description. All I thought was humurous (I thought this was rather clear in what I said) was the side steps made by OS deniars. I of course think the subject itself is weighty, and the fact that children are born in sin is serious. What you said was simply beside the point and argument against the person."

Sorry if I offended you Bob. That was not my intention [that is why I said "no offense"] If I misunderstood your comments then I apologize. It was not that clear to me that you considered this a "weighty" topic based on what seemed to be rather snide and dismissive remarks. By the way, as I have already pointed out I am not an "OS deniar". I affirm original sin, if original sin has reference to the sinful nature that we all inherited from Adam. I am only questioning the implications, i.e. the notion that small children will be eternally punished because they possess a sinful nature.

"In saying this you are trying to cast me as this insensitive jerk, that is simply argument against the person. Next we have here an appeal to sympathy, now I of course feel terrible that your cousin lost her child but what does that really have to do with whether or not the damnation of infants is in fact warrantable?"

Wow. Maybe I am the insensitive jerk. Again, I was not trying to paint you in any way. I was only trying to make the point that our theology should naturally flow into our ministry. Would you be embarrassed to tell that mother what you believe, or would you temporalily hide your theology? Now, if I understand Calvinism correctly, you should at least say that it may well be that her child was a reprobate that God had irrevocably determined to damn according to an unchangeable decree. Then again, the child may have been unconditionally elect, so at least one can hope. BTW, for future reference, it was not my "cousin's" child, but the cousin of a friend of mine. I have never even met the family.

"I simply don't take a dogmatic stand as to saying "All babies that die go to heaven" sure perhaps your cousin would like to hear that but the reality is that scripture doesn't say that. Nor am I dogmatic and saying that "All babies that die go to hell because they never made a decision."

Then what do you think? Are you saying the Bible is unclear about this issue? Are you saying that what you believe about OS does not necessarily mean that children who die in the guilt of their sinful nature will end up in Hell? Do you believe that they may yet end up in heaven? How so? This is a rather strange appeal to mystery in light of some of your previous comments.

"I think that is a problem for Arminians so just like how they make up open theist notions and hack attributes of God off to fit their theology likewise babies that die prior to making a "decision" all go to heaven. Again that simply is not Biblical."

For someone who is so concerned about informal fallacies, you sure don't seem to mind "poisoning the well".

"So not showing respect is excusable? That is "normal"? Is that how babies would have behaved in an unfallen world?"

We can only speculate as to how babies may have behaved in an unfallen world. Surely you are not trying to make "an assumtion the natural man slips in". The issue is perspective. We expect respect from adults because they understand what respect means and how to show it. That is not necessarily the case with small children, and I cannot imagine too many people chastising an infant for disrespecting their right to sleep because its crying woke them up in the middle of the night.

"In romans 7:9 Paul in speaking of "alive" does not mean I was born sinless. That's really all I need to exegete for the purpose at hand, to say alive=born sinless is to import into the text."

Now I don't want to misapprehend you here so I will ask you what you mean by this. Do you mean "I am not sure what Paul meant by being alive before the law came, but I am certian it cannot mean something that contradicts my understanding of OS"?

"I am not sure what the point in Matt 18 has to do with children being sinless, again that needs to be imported as does the idea that all children under 17 that die go to heaven."

I am not sure where you got the idea that I believe we do not become morally responsible until we are 17. Surely you are not trying to misrepresent me, are you? The Matt. passage [and numerous parallel passages] do not, by themselves, prove anything. I do believe, however, that if we want insight into any Biblical doctrine, then we should first look to the Master for answers. While Jesus' comments could easily be understood as referring to small children as innocent and worthy of the Kingdom, there is nothing that he said, to my knowledge, that would lend support to the idea that Christ viewed children as guilty sinners awaiting God's just and wrathful judgment. So while Christ's interactions with children may not speak directly to the issue, they line up far better with my view than yours.

"Same with 19:14. What do those passages have to do with the original sin? People bring them up and again this is why I find this discussion rather humerous because all of a sudden every time Jesus mentioned children it shows that they were all going to heaven."

Like I said, I am not claiming that these passages definitively teach that children are all going to heaven. They do, however, harmonize far better with my view than yours.

"Now the 2 Samuel 12:23 passage is probably the best you have pointed to. David definatly had an idea that he was going to in his death meet his deceased child. Again is this universally applicable (all children that die under 17 go to heaven)? Also does he really have heaven in mind or the waiting place before the judgement (abrahams bosom)?"

Where did you get this idea that Abraham's bosom is a place where we await judgment? You may have extra-biblical reasons for believing that, but the Bible itself sure doesn't say anything about it. Didn't you say we should be careful not to "import into the text" foreign ideas? When Jesus mentioned "Abraham's bosom" he also said that the rich man was immediately conscious in Hades, a place of fiery torment. So I don't see how this solves the problem for your view.

For more on what I believe see my latest post to Matt above. You will likely disagree, but at least you should be able to better understand why this issue isn't as black and white as you would like it to be.

Bob said...

KD,
Well this is why I am beginning to rather dislike internet blog debate, it perhaps is the medium but it just seems to make debate on issues that matter into gamesmanship. These sorts of things need to be discussed over a pint of oatmeal stout (well maybe rootbeer for you if your that kind of guy). The reality of this discussion is that we are all Christians here and we should be able to talk about these things without getting snotty. (I am speaking to myself here as much as to anyone else)

I will reply to a few things said just to clear up where I stand on original sin and human responsiblility. Oh and thank you KD for clarifying your position I gathered that you were not denying OS per se but rather were interested more in the accountability of children to God. Anyrate you wrote:

" Would you be embarrassed to tell that mother what you believe, or would you temporalily hide your theology?"

I wouldn't at all blush it is what the Bible teaches, to be ashamed of the fact that people are born dead in sins and tresspasses is to be ashamed of the word of God.

"Now, if I understand Calvinism correctly, you should at least say that it may well be that her child was a reprobate that God had irrevocably determined to damn according to an unchangeable decree. Then again, the child may have been unconditionally elect, so at least one can hope."

Pretty much, however I would add that the infant would have had faith in there too. Unconditional election isn't some impersonal decree. (I again am agnostic though on this issue of accountability of infants but on a purely soterological basis this is my position).

"Then what do you think? Are you saying the Bible is unclear about this issue? Are you saying that what you believe about OS does not necessarily mean that children who die in the guilt of their sinful nature will end up in Hell? Do you believe that they may yet end up in heaven? How so? This is a rather strange appeal to mystery in light of some of your previous comments."

I don't know what is so strange about it, I am saying that I don't know. However I am at the same time challenging your rational behind WHY you may believe that all children that die under a certain age are saved. Now the reason I say I don't know is because the Bible simply isn't explicit, it is clear that we are born inheriting a fallen nature. However, when it comes to the judgement of infants the Bible is not clear in my estimation. (On my blog I just put up an excerpt from AW Pink's book "The Sovereignty of God" and in it he actually in passing says that infants are not accountable).

"For someone who is so concerned about informal fallacies, you sure don't seem to mind "poisoning the well"."

I think the correlation I made between Arminianism and open theism and Arminianism and Age of accountability fits. Both are unbiblical (at least directly).

"Now I don't want to misapprehend you here so I will ask you what you mean by this. Do you mean "I am not sure what Paul meant by being alive before the law came, but I am certian it cannot mean something that contradicts my understanding of OS"?"

No, I was saying that a full exposition for the purposes at hand was not needed. The point was simple that when Paul referred to being "alive" apart from the law that he was not in the context referring to a prior state of sinlessness in his life which he at one time enjoyed.

If you want a full exposition of Romans 7 that is fine, however, wasn't my purpose to do that you asked a simple question and recieved a simple answer. "Alive" does not=a prior state of sinlessness. To say that is to import into the text. Again for the question at hand that's all I felt needed to be addressed.

To go from that and say that I am just not going to deal with passages that don't jive with my view of OS is simply spacious reasoning and unfounded.

"The Matt. passage [and numerous parallel passages] do not, by themselves, prove anything."

Where then is our disagreement?

"While Jesus' comments could easily be understood as referring to small children as innocent and worthy of the Kingdom, there is nothing that he said, to my knowledge, that would lend support to the idea that Christ viewed children as guilty sinners awaiting God's just and wrathful judgment. So while Christ's interactions with children may not speak directly to the issue, they line up far better with my view than yours."

You know this is the same line of reasoning that the liberals use to justify homosexuality. Jesus never said homosexuality wasn't wrong so...Jesus never said children are born in sin so...

You know for somebody who says they don't deny OS you sure seem to flirt with doing such. And considering you just said these passages don't prove anything how can you say they line up with "your view" as opposed to mine (agnostic)? Nevertheless "far better".

"Like I said, I am not claiming that these passages definitively teach that children are all going to heaven. They do, however, harmonize far better with my view than yours."

Again, I HAVE NO VIEW ON THIS! What by the way is your view that all these passages seem to be lining up to suppor though they don't prove anything?

(I just don't know how passages that don't prove anything can harmonize with any particular view, that's doublespeak.)

"Where did you get this idea that Abraham's bosom is a place where we await judgment?"

Well, this is going to be hair splitting but the point is that we were never meant to live without a physical body. As Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, however to merely shed off the mortal flesh was not the final glorification we await the resurrection of our bodies (1 Cor 15). Now while we are without a body our spirit will be in what was dubbed "Abrahams Bosom" sorry if you don't like the term. It is there we await the resurrection. Now I don't claim to have that all mapped out either, so often particularly with these issues that are somewhat periperial we are like children trying to build forts and make sense of the blueprints we have receieved.

"You may have extra-biblical reasons for believing that, but the Bible itself sure doesn't say anything about it. Didn't you say we should be careful not to "import into the text" foreign ideas? When Jesus mentioned "Abraham's bosom" he also said that the rich man was immediately conscious in Hades, a place of fiery torment. So I don't see how this solves the problem for your view.

I don't know how it would be importing to the text to bring up the fact that it may not necessarily be heaven that David would see his son in. All he said was that he would see him again, perhaps prior to the resurrection. Again I don't know and I am fine with that. But to take this text and say "David said he would see his baby that died again therefore all babies that die are automatically saved." that is simply an invalid inference. Also what "PROBLEM" is on my plate?

Also again I don't have a position, I have left the accountability of infants issue up to God so I don't know how you can keep saying that "This text though it prooves nothing fits my position far better than yours." Again I don't really know your position (that is irrelavent to the point just made) but you don't seem to know mine so I don't know how you can keep making these sweeping statements like this.

"For more on what I believe see my latest post to Matt above. You will likely disagree, but at least you should be able to better understand why this issue isn't as black and white as you would like it to be."

I don't think it is black and white, again I really don't have a position on fate of infants and children who die at young ages, I have left it up to God and I am fine with that. What I take issue with is that you have strung all these texts together which you say don't prove anything which end up supporting "your view" as opposed to "mine".

kangeroodort said...

Hello again Bob,

You said...

"I will reply to a few things said just to clear up where I stand on original sin and human responsiblility. Oh and thank you KD for clarifying your position I gathered that you were not denying OS per se but rather were interested more in the accountability of children to God. Anyrate you wrote:"

Honestly, I would let you have the last word on this, but you asked me so many questions in your response that I feel I must give some answers (and pose a few as well)

"Pretty much, however I would add that the infant would have had faith in there too. Unconditional election isn't some impersonal decree. (I again am agnostic though on this issue of accountability of infants but on a purely soterological basis this is my position)."

I cannot help but ask how a four month old could have saving faith? Didn't you criticize what you thought was my position along these lines when you wrote, "likewise babies that die prior to making a "decision" all go to heaven. Again that simply is not Biblical." Now perhaps you would say that saving faith is a "decision" that God causes, rather than one that God graciously enables, but I think you would still say that there must be some cognitive assent. So again, how does a small child exercise saving faith? What about children who die in the womb, or shortly after birth? To make matters worse, Paul said "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved...for 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Rom. 10:10, 13). Now how does an infant or unborn child "confess with their mouth" and "call on the name of the Lord"?

The issue for me Bob, is that you have a very dogmatic view of what original sin entails. You say that small children and infants are guilty of sin, but when it comes to the implications of such dogmatic statements, you quickly retreat to agnosticism. What I am saying is that if you cannot commit to the implications of your doctrines, then why do you push them so hard and find it humorous when others try to "wriggle" around them as you say? This is one of my main objections to Calvinism. Certain doctrines are derived which lead to Biblically unacceptable conclusions, but when those conclusions are brought to bear against these doctrines, the appeal to "mystery" is supposed to satisfy. I have no problem with "mystery" regarding things that are hard to understand, or are not fully revealed, but to call flat contradictions "mystery" is unacceptable to me. Don't Calvinists point to apparent contradictions as sufficient grounds to abandon Arminianism? Don't they try to logically argue their case and "prove" Arminianism false? Does it seem fair to you that whenever a contradiction is lodged against Calvinism, we are just suppose to accept it as "mystery"? I know I am opening up a can of worms here, but this is the frustration I often encounter in dialoguing with Calvinists. Now if you are saying that small children and infants are guilty of sin and condemnation, then you must, to be consistent, also say that they will certainly go to hell when they die. To say otherwise, as far as I am concerned, is to concede the argument. And by the way, what Biblical evidence do you have for believing that God regenerates and gives faith to small children and infants? On a side note, you said that election is not an "impersonal decree". If God chooses His elect with absolutely no consideration for anything in them or about them [in other words, with no regard for personality], then in what way is such a decree "personal"?

"I think the correlation I made between Arminianism and open theism and Arminianism and Age of accountability fits. Both are unbiblical (at least directly)."

Do you think we could then add that the belief that a small child or infant is unconditionally regenerated and given faith [somehow] is also unbiblical? The point I was making in the above statement was that you should not lump all Arminians together and then urge that against my view. That is what "poisoning the well" means. It would be the same as my attributing the hyper Calvinists belief that evangelism is unnecessary [if not a sin against God's sovereignty], to all Calvinists, and then going off on how ridiculous and Biblically irresponsible all Calvinists are. It is also very close to straw man argumentation. I do not hold to open theism [which is by far a minority view among Arminians], so your comments concerning it are simply unnecessary.

"If you want a full exposition of Romans 7 that is fine, however, wasn't my purpose to do that you asked a simple question and recieved a simple answer. "Alive" does not=a prior state of sinlessness. To say that is to import into the text. Again for the question at hand that's all I felt needed to be addressed."

You have from the start said that my view is "unbiblical". I was defending the charge by producing passages, when taken together, give strong support for my view. I also tried to deal with the passages that were urged against my view. I don't think it is unfair to expect the same. Is it that hard to come up with an explanation for what Paul meant by being alive before the law came? If nothing else, it does not harmonize well with your view.

"The Matt. passage [and numerous parallel passages] do not, by themselves, prove anything."

"Where then is our disagreement?"

The key here is the words, "by themselves". I am always careful not to say that a certain passage "proves" my point. You seem to think that there is some uncertainty with regards to this issue. When we are dealing with an issue that may not be explicitly dealt with, we need to find out which view best fits the Biblical data. When we consider Jesus' dealings with small children, and the other passages I mentioned together, they strongly suggest that small children are not held accountable for their actions. I was trying not to overstate my case. However, if you are so certain that I am wrong about these passages, then please offer an alternative interpretation. That is all that I was asking regarding Rom. 7:9. I did not shy away from Ps. 51 and 58. You may not agree with my interpretation of those passages, but at least I dealt with them. If you want to assert that my view is unbiblical, then the burden of proof is on you. I never said that your view was "unbiblical", etc., but only stated that the Biblical evidence offered did not prove your (or if you prefer, Matt's) position. You are the one who came into this discussion saying I was trying to "wriggle" out of something, and had no problem saying [more than once] that what I was saying was unbiblical. Personally, I don't think that I have been the one doing the majority of wriggling in this discussion.

So, what did Jesus mean when he said of children, "such are the Kingdom of God", and "unless you become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven"? Why is it that I am required to defend my position, but all you need to do is say "I don't know"?

"You know this is the same line of reasoning that the liberals use to justify homosexuality. Jesus never said homosexuality wasn't wrong so...Jesus never said children are born in sin so..."

This is not a very fair correlation. I am not saying that because Jesus did not say children are born in sin, then we can conlude that they are not. What I said was that Jesus' only comments regarding children seem to indicate that they are innocent and worthy of the Kingdom. Neither did I say that if Jesus didn't say anything about a certain subject, then it doesn't matter what any other inspired writer said. What I said was that we should go to him "first" for answers on any given theological issue.

"I don't know how it would be importing to the text to bring up the fact that it may not necessarily be heaven that David would see his son in. All he said was that he would see him again, perhaps prior to the resurrection. Again I don't know and I am fine with that. But to take this text and say "David said he would see his baby that died again therefore all babies that die are automatically saved." that is simply an invalid inference. Also what "PROBLEM" is on my plate?"

Now what if I answered the passages urged against my view with "I don't know"? Wouldn't you have something to say about that? The "PROBLEM" on your plate is that the necessary implications of your view of sin guilt for small children leaves no room for "well maybe they go to heaven, I will leave that up to God". Like I said before, if you are not willing to follow your view through to its logical conclusion, then maybe you had better be a little more cautious about calling my view unbiblical. So, are you saying that David's hope was to see his child again for a few moments at the judgment seat before watching him being sent to hell forever for the guilt of original sin? And the reason I mentioned the rich man suffering in hell is because it contradicts your statement that Abraham's bosom is a place where we await judgment. If that is the case then why did the rich man end up in Hades? The most we could say about Abraham's bosom is that it is where the righteous await judgment. If that is the case, then to say that David's child went to Abraham's bosom is also to say that his child was somehow righteous, or innocent. That is what I meant when I said that your appeal to Abraham's bosom does not solve the problem that this verse presents to your view.

"Again I don't really know your position (that is irrelavent to the point just made) but you don't seem to know mine so I don't know how you can keep making these sweeping statements like this."

Your position, if I understand it correctly, is that children are guilty of sin, and are spiritually dead as a result. Now if a small child is dead in sin, and dies in that state, how can you come to any other conclusion than that the child will suffer eternal punishment?

"What I take issue with is that you have strung all these texts together which you say don't prove anything which end up supporting "your view" as opposed to "mine"."

Fair enough. I guess what I take issue with is the fact that you want to have your cake and eat it too. What I am saying is that if you affirm that children are spiritually dead because of original sin, and dismiss the passages I feel would indicate otherwise, then be man enough to take it in the face and say, "All children who die before making a confession of faith will suffer the consequences of their sin guilt- an eternity in Hell."

I hope you do not think I have been snotty in this reply. At some point, if we are going to argue, it will start to sound like an argument. I have no disrespect for you as a Christian or a person. I do, however, think that we should be held accountable for what we say. Certianly you agree or you would have never gotten involved with this conversation in the first place.

God Bless.

Bob said...

Hey KD, you wrote:

"I cannot help but ask how a four month old could have saving faith? Didn't you criticize what you thought was my position along these lines when you wrote, "likewise babies that die prior to making a "decision" all go to heaven Again that simply is not Biblical." "

Well I don't as a Reformed person view faith as a mental assent and decision based upon a careful weighing of facts, it is a gift of God. Now from what would assume if you are an Arminian you would view faith as a choice, well then it would follow people like babies are too incompetent to make such an informed choice. Now as a Reformed person faith is a gift and therefore is not based upon complex noetic egagement to produce.

I am not sure what you are referring to as "not Biblical", if it is the notion that all children that die before making a decision as your paragraph structure would indicate I would agree.

"Now perhaps you would say that saving faith is a "decision" that God causes, rather than one that God graciously enables, but I think you would still say that there must be some cognitive assent. So again, how does a small child exercise saving faith?"

As a Reformed Believer I see faith as a resting in the arms of Christ. It is a gift of God and not a mere decision. So a child exercises saving faith just like an eye sees. He may not be able to intelligibly express his faith in God but that is irrelevant.

I think I am going to stop here. I really don't feel like spending 20 minutes to respond to all of the stuff in the rest of your comment considering all of this debate is on pure conjecture and speculation about the fate of dead infants. It is just that conjecture, that is why I have repeatedly said "Idon't know" and I am fine with that. I don't know the mechanics of infantile faith and I don' think I really need to to say that if infants are saved they are saved by faith.

All that said I am all for debating theology but where the Bible is silent I think we need to be as well. (Deut 29:29).

kangeroodort said...

Hey Bob,

Thank you for the response. I have enjoyed the interaction. It has forced me to think more clearly about this issue. For the record, I see faith as more than just a choice, or a decision. I agree that faith is a gift so long as it is understood in the context of divine enablement, and not causation. I am sure you are aware that the passages used by Calvinists to insist that faith is a gift (esp. Eph. 2:8), when examined grammatically, do not really support that claim. For me, faith is a God enabled response to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is looking away from self to God, and casting oneself on His mercy and merit. It is receiving God's gracious gift of salvation (which is what Eph. 2:8 really says). I like the way Paul states it in Rom. 5:1, 2,

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."

That is quite another subject of course, but I find it hard to believe that one can have saving faith without some knowledge of what (or rather, "Who") one is believing in. Reformed theology may teach otherwise, but the Bible seems to imply that faith is a complete trusting in Jesus Christ, something an unborn child or infant could not possibly do.

You said,

"All that said I am all for debating theology but where the Bible is silent I think we need to be as well. (Deut 29:29)."

I agree that their is no point debating what the Bible is silent on, but I do not think the Bible is completely silent on this issue. That is why I cited the passages which seem to me to indicate that God does not hold small children accountable for their sins (and especially not for just having a sinful nature).

Maybe you came into this conversation believing that the doctrine of original sin and infant damnation/ salvation were unrelated. That is where you and I differ. For me, to say the things that you have said necessarily implies the damnation of all infants and small children. That is the crux of our disagreement.

Thanks again for the interaction. May God Bless you as you continue to seek His truth.

kangeroodort said...

Sorry Bob but I need to clear one more thing up.

You wrote,

"I am not sure what you are referring to as "not Biblical", if it is the notion that all children that die before making a decision as your paragraph structure would indicate I would agree."

Now I have to assume that you are referring to the quote I posted in which you said, "likewise babies that die prior to making a "decision" all go to heaven Again that simply is not Biblical."

So the question you should have asked is what you were referring to as "not Biblical", because it was your quote. Sorry if that was not clear.