Monday, May 25, 2009

Original Sin


Scary Jordan 1997
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The Doctrine of Original Sin is a theological treatise (or mythology?) that explains why we sin and the nature of human nature. There are two ways in which the term is used.

1. Adam's "original sin" in the book of Genesis, and
2. Humanity's "inheritance" of Adam's sin.

Now, growing up as a fairly traditional Baptist, my understanding of that second idea was this: That because Adam sinned, all of humanity inherited a "sin nature," or a "bent to sin." That is, we all have it within us this tendency towards sinning. It is because we sin and because God can't abide sin that we need the salvation of God, the reasoning goes.

This was the orthodox view in my traditional circles back then and, with some modifications, I'm still in the same ball park today. I certainly believe that we all, as humans, are less than perfect, we make mistakes, we sin. Each one of us. So, I'm not too far astray from orthodoxy on this point.

I bring this up because of a recent conversation at another blog (who won't be identified, to protect the innocent - although, according to his line of thinking, there are NO innocent...) where the topic came up.

His view on this point appeared to be (and I could never get a straight answer from him, so it may still be that I'm mistaking his view), that what this doctrine means is that we all inherit guilt for sin right at birth AND that we begin sinning right away. So that, this two minute old infant who is whining and "demanding" that he be attended to is placing himself in God's place, or ideas to that effect.

Now, as it turns out, there are (I believe) three theories of original sin - the term, "Original Sin," is not found within the Bible, these are all extrabiblical extrapolations that derive these theories.

The first two, Augustinian and Federal hold that, because Adam sinned, we all inherit the guilt for that sin AND that we are born sinners. So clearly, this fella I was talking with was more Augustinian in his viewpoint.

The third theory, the Theory of Mediate Imputation, holds that we don't inherit the guilt for Adam's Sin, just that we inherit a "sinful nature," and that is what makes us guilty and in need of salvation. With this line of thinking, babies aren't considered to be sinners, just that they have inherited a sinful nature. So, apparently, I'm closer to this theory.

(There are other Christian groups that reject the theory altogether, saying merely that each person is held accountable for their own sins, so it may be that I'm closer to this group... I'm not quite clear on the distinctions...)

I bring this all up to consider the differences between those who believe Babies = Sinners and those who believe just that we have a tendency towards sinning.

This fella's opinion (it appeared) was that we were utterly depraved and wholly incapable of good. Humanity is evil. Worms. And, further, this is how god views us, as reprobate abominable hideous slime whom god can't even bear to look upon. We can do NO good, and that is why we need the blood of Christ, to cover our hideous sins. Even newborn babies come out and begin sinning.

This appears to be fairly consistent with the Augustinian (and later, Calvinist) thinking.

On the other hand, prior to Augustine (in the 5th Century BCE), Jewish theology did not swing this way. It was a new take on both the nature of God and the nature of man, is my understanding. And, I believe (and maybe I'm wrong, I don't have any evidence beyond observation), since the enlightenment (which is when the third Theory of Original Sin developed), I believe that utter depravity view has lost ground, along with the Augustinian Theory.

We recognize that logically and biblically, there is no reason to assume that newborn babies sin. It is a ridiculous, absurd point to hold. What sin could a newborn possibly commit?! In my Baptist circles (and I believe beyond), we held to a belief in an "Age of Accountability," some point at which children become aware enough of their actions to understand the difference between right and wrong, but before which, one could not suggest that these little ones actually sin.

Beyond the infant thing, there is the more reasonable understanding of humanity that holds we are beloved children of God, capable of good and bad - not that we are utterly vile in every possible way. This fella balked at my suggestion that God may despair over our sins, but that ultimately God thinks of us as God's Beloved, not as filthy worms.

I found the whole conversation interesting and it made me wonder: Is it the case that some of the more strident of the Religious Right and some of the more vitriolic amongst the Political Right, if it's the case that they would tend to self-identify as Augustinian in their view of humanity? Such a low opinion of humanity would explain a lot and I'd be willing to bet that this is the case (with the acknowledgment that betting is a sin and I'm a vile, disgusting worm for suggesting such...)

103 comments:

Mark said...

Dan,
Eastern Orthodoxy, which both makes up a big chunk of the global Christian population and doesn't hold two either or your three notions of Original Sin ... so you've missed an important option.

As I understand it, the sin of Adam represents sin being brought into the world. We don't "inherit" the crime. We inherit the exile, i.e., where we live and dwell is not in the garden walking and talking with God. We are not in communion (theosis) with God as a result of the exile from the Garden. Clearly it is true that sin is in the world ... and we are not in theosis with Him, which lends support to this view.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, Mark. As I believe I've told you before, I'm not familiar at all with Eastern Orthodoxy. I don't know that any of the three theories I've summarized (VERY briefly) would disagree that we've inherited the exile.

I certainly agree that we don't inherit the sin/crime. Such a position would be illogical and contrary to biblical teaching.

As an aside, I wonder about your theosis - a term with which I'm not familiar. Wikipedia (I know, but it's easy and generally in the ballpark of correct) explains it as...

the process of transformation of a believer who is putting into practice (called praxis) the spiritual teachings of Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Orthodoxwiki says...

Therefore, an infant or an adult worshiper is saved from the state of unholiness (hamartía — which is not to be confused with hamártēma “sin”) for participation in the Life (zōé, not simply bíos) of the Trinity — which is everlasting.

Which seems like something that believers ARE in process with God here and now. No?

And for what it's worth, this fella identified himself as being from the "Orthodox" tradition. Is that how Eastern Orthodox folk self-identify?

Craig said...

Dan,

While, I'm not going too deep into this, due to time limitations. I will say that as someone who leans toward the Calvinist view, I would agree that while we don't inherit the guilt for Adam's sin, we do inherit, as does the entire creation, the state of being "fallen".

In addition to leaving out the Orthodox view, you also ignored the RC view, which holds that infant baptism covers "original sin". I would also respectfully suggest that you use a more precise term (or define what you mean by the term) "infant". As it would probably make further conversation more productive.

I would also disagree with your interpretation of the "age of accountability" on several grounds.
First (to use your own overused bad argument) the term "age of accountability does not appear in the Bible therefore it is an extrabiblical extrapolation that has derived this theory.

2. You have not and cannot actually provide an "age of accountability".

3. The concept of "age of accountability" is, I believe more often used in the context of God's mercy, rather than some magical age at which lying (for example) switched from non sin to sin.

You also (I believe), do not fully explore the related concept if "imago dei" and how God views his fallen image bearers. As well as the related issue of the holiness of God.

By simply looking at one small part of an interconnected series of doctrines (T.U.L.I.P. from a Calvinist perspective, or more simply "Creation, Fall, Redemption) you distort the positions of those with whom you disagree. I would also suggest that your characterization of this position as a "low view of humanity" becomes less accurate as you ax amine the bigger picture.

I, as usual, find it interesting that you have decided not to bolster your criticism of others positions (I'm not sure you have actually staked out a specific position at this point) with any Biblical references.

Craig said...

Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. Psalm 143 :2

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; – Romans 3:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23

Dan, I can only assume that you would argue that the terms; no one, not even one, and all, contain some kind of exemption for "infants". I would also assume that you would take issue with the use of the use of the past tense "have" in relation to future acts. Please, explain?

Craig said...

From the Belgic Confession

15. Of Original Sin

We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and a hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother's womb, and which produces in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind. Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death. Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.

Mark said...

Dan,
On Theosis, from Athanasius "God became man so that man might become God." (or if you prefer, "what is now seen through a glass darkly") Theosis is our participation, our communion with God. It is the ending of our exile, our being apart from God. It was what the Resurrection promises to rectify for us all, i.e., the reversal of Adam's sin and exile.

Craig's final comment (from the Belgic confession) isolates the difference between what I had noted and the Eastern view. Their view is that the sin is inherited. Our view it is the expulsion (and dwelling apart from God) that we inherit. If my forefather committed a crime and was exiled (say to Australia), I'd grow up Australian. Not inheriting the guilt and any particular association with his crime ... but my location would be inherited.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the extra explanation, Mark. And I agree, I believe, we inherit our location (the exile), not the penalty.

Craig...

1. I agree that we are "fallen," that we have a bent towards sin, a sinful nature. I agree on these concepts.

2. I'm not sure what "more precise" term for infant you'd like me to use. I referred (just casually, but still pretty precisely) to a "two minute old infant" and a "newborn babies com[ing] out and begin sinning."

How precise a definition of infant do you want? 121.252345 seconds old? (That's just a joke). Seriously, what do you mean?

3. You are welcome to disagree with the concept of "age of accountability." I recognize that it is extrabiblical and don't find any problem with that. In addition to being extrabiblical, it is extremely logical and logic is a good thing.

3a. As a sidebar - do you believe a two minute old infant has sinned? IS sinning? A baby that is three months old? A two year old? When do people begin taking actions that can be classified as a sin, in your opinion?

3b. IF you believe (along with the Baptists and I think a good many other evangelicals) that one has to be rational in order to commit sin (ie, one has to deliberately take an action that is known to be wrong), how old do you have to be to be thusly rational?

3c. The "age of accountability" does not refer to a specific age (five years, three months and six days), but a state of mind. Someone born with a severe mental disability may never be able to reason and therefore, never be able to sin. The bible suggests in places that we can't be held accountable for that which we didn't do or don't know. Do you disagree with this notion?

4. Where you say that I "distort the positions of those with whom you disagree," please tell me where and how I have distorted anyone's position so that I may correct myself. If you can't tell me specifically someplace where I've done this, I'd suggest idle speculation does not hold a place in adult conversations. Thanks.

Craig said...

Dan.

1. I'm glad we can agree that all creation is fallen.

2. When I ask for more precise, I am hoping for an upper limit. For example Wiki says that infancy ends when one begins to walk, between 12-18 months usually. I would suggest that there is a significant developmental difference between a 2 minute old, and an 18 month old.

3. I'm glad you allow disagreement. However my question still stands. What do you consider the "age of accountability". Do you go with the Jewish tradition and say around 12-13? Older, younger? I really just want you to define your terms, so I am better able to understand you.

3a. I believe that a two minute old infant is positionally sinful. In other words, if a two minute old child stands before God in judgment I believe that there is no difference between his position and yours or mine. However, no where have I ever suggested that a two minute old infant has committed sin.

3b. I believe that sin is transgressing God's will/commandments. In other words an intentional lie, is just as much a contravention of the commandment as commandment as an unintentional lie. Beyond that I am willing to rely on God's goodness, justice, and mercy in how he chooses to deal with us.

3c. This is the first place you have hinted at scriptural support for your position, yet no actual scripture. I can only repeat that I am unwilling to take the role of God on this. Beyond that I am willing to rely on God's goodness, justice, and mercy in how he chooses to deal with us.

4. My primary point regarding your characterization of others position lies in the fact that you choose to limit yourself to attacking one facet of a multifaceted theology. Further, your last two paragraphs are certainly not an objective rendering of the conversations that I've seen.

I eagerly await your response to the remainder of my earlier questions, and hope that my answering yours does not mean you will leave things unanswered.

Finally, why is this an issue? Are you assuming that a belief in original sins means that one is presuming that God will send the 2 minute old to hell? It seems as though the concept of an "age of accountability can sit with a 5 point Calvinist view of total depravity. I wonder why you assume otherwise.

Craig said...

Earlier post contd.

From the Canons of the Synod of Dordt

"Article 1: God's Right to Condemn All People

Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: "The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God" (Rom. 3:19), "All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23), and "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). (All quotations from Scripture are translations of the original Latin manuscript.)"

From the Westminster Confession

"Question 21: Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
Answer: Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Question 22: Did all mankind fall in that first transgression ?
Answer: The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Question 23: Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
Answer: The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Question 24: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Question 25: Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
Answer: The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Question 26: How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
Answer: Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Question 27: What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
Answer: The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come."

Again, I've thrown a lot out here, and I promise not to add to it until you have time to adequately deal with what's here.

Craig said...

I know I said I wouldn't, but before we get bogged down, could you define what you mean by "extra-Biblical", and how you determine good extra-B, from bad. Or, maybe some kind of categories of revelation. I just want to be certain that we are on the same page definition wise, or get that sorted out early for the sake of clarity.

Dan Trabue said...

Last question, first:

I don't have any problem at all with something being extrabiblical. I am sorry if that has not been clear.

I point it out from time to time because some people seem to live and die by their interpretation of the Bible or what they presume the Bible says and oftentimes, their position is not even found in the Bible.

It is obviously extrabiblical, for instance, to say that pollution is a bad thing. Nonetheless, I think this is true.

What I have a problem with is not an opinion being extrabiblical, what I have a problem with is an opinion being neither biblical, nor logical, nor moral.

Opposition to gay marriage, for instance. Gay marriage is not mentioned even one time in the Bible. Any opinion about gay marriage is, therefore, extrabiblical. Now, if there were some logical or moral reason to be opposed to gay marriage, then make that case.

But lacking a biblical, a logical or moral reason to oppose gay marriage, I have little patience with.

Dan Trabue said...

Earlier Craig asked...

Dan, I can only assume that you would argue that the terms; "no one," "not even one," and "all," contain some kind of exemption for "infants".

Here is where I have a problem with the way some people read the Bible - they lack basic reasoning.

yes, Paul and others have said "There is none righteous, no not one," but to take such points literally and extending that to mean, "Even babies sin," is just a bit goofy. Such statements are hyperbolic in nature. When I fart and laugh and say, "MAN! That's the worst smell in the world!" I don't mean literally that nothing smells worse than my fart. Hyperbole.

When Paul says, "None is righteous, no not one," it is not the same as making the assumption that even two minute old infants actually sin.

To sin requires knowledge. It requires the ability to effectively reason. An infant who rolls over in their sleep and smother (God forbid) a sleeping sibling is NOT guilty of murder. There was no intent there. There was no deliberate attempt to kill someone.

So the problem comes when some people cast reason aside and say, "Well, if Paul says that there is no one righteous, or that we ALL have sinned, well dang it! That must mean that babies sin, too!"

They are taking a literal wooden reading of a passage in the Bible and cast aside reason in favor of a heavy-handed illogical literal reading.

You seem to agree with me that a two minute old infant has not sinned, right? That's all I'm saying. This other fella I was talking with WAS suggesting just that.

I'm not saying that as humans, we don't sin. I'm just saying that sin requires some intent, some reasoning ability that certain folk (babes, children, mentally disabled) don't possess.

Beyond that, I'm saying that God views us as beloved children, not detestable worms, and this more negative view that the other person held appeared to be tied to his Augustinian view of Original Sin.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said...

My primary point regarding your characterization of others position lies in the fact that you choose to limit yourself to attacking one facet of a multifaceted theology.

Here, Craig, I'm speaking about one particular conversation I've had with one particular person.

From that, I was wondering IF others (such as some of the people who formerly stopped by here and whose blogs I formerly commented upon) were of the same mindset as this one fella. That is, do they think that even babies sin and that humanity is not viewed upon by God as "beloved children," who happen to sin, but as disgusting worms, wholly incapable of any good.

Since he's never visited here, I chose not to name him, but if you think I'm portraying his position unfairly, I could quote him, if you'd like.

Dan Trabue said...

As far as my "attacking," yes, I am attacking the position that infants sin. I am attacking the notion that God views us primarily as disgusting sinners, not as beloved children.

Do you think that is an unfair position to take? I would suggest, lacking any evidence at all from you, that I have distorted nothing. But please, point to some specific line where I have distorted someone's view and I can be corrected.

Also, you mention unanswered questions. I'm not sure what you are looking to have answered.

You said...

You also (I believe), do not fully explore the related concept if "imago dei" and how God views his fallen image bearers. As well as the related issue of the holiness of God.

What exactly do you mean here? How do YOU think God views "his fallen image bearers?" I think I HAVE answered that: God views us primarily as God's beloved children whom God wishes to gather in, like a mother chicken gathers her chicks. Which is not to say that God is not saddened or angered by bad behavior/sin. But that sadness/anger is the grief of a loving parent, not the fire of a hateful, loathing god.

Do you have another opinion?

You also said...

I, as usual, find it interesting that you have decided not to bolster your criticism of others positions... with any Biblical references.

I could do this, but my point in this conversation has been primarily about logic.

I mean, this fella in this other conversation listed verses like...

God views us as "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" (Rom 9:22), "dead in the trespasses and sins", "following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience", "carrying out the desires of the body and the mind", "by nature children of wrath" (Eph 2:1-3)

And I can turn around and offer verses that talk about God's love for us ("For God so loved the world...", etc) but at that point we have to turn to our logic - what do we DO with these verses that sometimes paint an angry, vengeful God and sometimes paint a loving, doting parent?

I'm primarily concerned with our reasoning with what we DO with bible passages. We are all familiar with both sorts of passages so I felt no compelling reason to visit that. I can if you wish.

Dan Trabue said...

For instance, here, some fella named David Ray Fanning has provided these biblically compelling reasons why it is clear that babies are NOT sinners...

The Bible is clear that babies are not sinners for the following reasons: 1) Sin is a personal choice (Isaiah 53:6 states, “All we like sheep have gone astray” NOT “All were born astray”; James 1:14-15 states, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his OWN desires…when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” NOT “When conceived/born, babies inherit the sin of Adam”); 2) Everyone is responsible/accountable for his own personal sins (Ezekiel 18:20 states that children do not bear the iniquity/guilt of their parents; Romans 14:12 states that each one will give account of HIMSELF to God); 3) Children are pure, innocent and without sin (Isaiah 7:14-16; Matthew 18:2-4; 19:13-15; Mark 9:36; 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17; Romans 9:10-12; I Corinthians 14:20)...

The Bible is clear that babies are not sinners for the following additional reasons: 5) God gives babies their human spirits and makes them in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 17:25; Hebrews 12:9). God is not the giver or source of sin (James 1:13, 17); 6) The Scriptures indicate that sin is chosen (not inherited) by humans at some moment during their “youth” (not at conception or infancy, Genesis 8:21: Job 13:26; Isaiah 7:16; Jeremiah 3:25; 32:30) at which time they are held accountable and spiritually separated from God (Isaiah 7:15-17; Romans 7:7-12); 7) Jesus was conceived as an offspring of King David “according to the flesh” through Mary and was “born of a woman” (Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4). No baby, including Jesus, is conceived/born a sinner (Hebrews 4:15)...

Craig said...

So, your exegesis of Paul's use of the term "no one" is essentially the Bill Clinton defense. It just depends on who defines all. While you are certainly able to hold the view you express here, you have not shown any reason that your view is accurately representing what Paul wrote. In this case there is nothing to indicate that all does not in fact mean all. But beyond that, All (or no one-not one) is not in conflict with the verses you cite. All have sinned, or all bear the curse, or however you choose to phrase it. Therefore God sent his son to redeem all (or at least all who choose, or are predestined for redemption). Further, your contention that it is possible for a human to be sinless, is certainly not supported by what you have written.

At the risk of being repetitive, allow me to repeat myself. What's the point? This is at best a secondary issue. It's just a rehash of the junior high school question about some guy who lives on an island who has never heard of Jesus. This is not nearly as hard as you are making it.

You keep throwing out what the Baptist church thinks about this topic with no actual citation. No offense but I'd like to see something actually from the Baptists. I have given you ample resources as to what the reformed churches believe on this issue, why is the Baptist position "better"? Once again, I'll leave it here until you catch up with my previous stuff, or decide not to.

If this is just about you posting a screed to whack on some nameless guy, more power to you. If you really want to look at what the different views are, we can do that as well.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said...

It just depends on who defines "all." While you are certainly able to hold the view you express here, you have not shown any reason that your view is accurately representing what Paul wrote. In this case there is nothing to indicate that all does not in fact mean "all."

Reason. THAT is my point. Reason dictates that babies do not/CAN NOT sin. Obviously, it takes intent and understanding to be able to sin/do wrong.

You yourself have agreed with me, I believe, saying that a two minute old infant has not sinned, right?

If the Bible were to say something impossibly ridiculous ("It is good to slaughter the children of your enemies," for instance), we don't NEED to find another biblical passage to explain why that shouldn't be taken literally. Our God-given reason is ENOUGH to know that, NO! this is wrong, it's NOT good to slaughter the children of our enemies. NO! This is wrong. Two minute old infants do NOT sin.

That is my point here. Or one of them, anyway. Some people appear to be setting aside reason in an effort to take literally what does not need to be taken literally.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said:

If this is just about you posting a screed to whack on some nameless guy, more power to you. If you really want to look at what the different views are, we can do that as well.

My point is to raise this question: IS this unusual Augustinian view (that babies sin, that God views us as disgusting worms) common amongst many on the religious/political right?

If it is merely the case that this fella is an oddity in his position on this topic, that's a good thing. But I do know that there are some out there (from reading around in these internets) who agree with him. I'm wondering if it's the case that those who hold the view that people are worms and that babies sin is a common view on the Right. What is your opinion?

THAT's my point.

Mark said...

Dan,
I don't think Augustine viewed people as worms, of if you think he does, I'd ask you to find a citation or attribute the source.

How do you define sin? Infants certainly can sin if your principal feature defining sin is a disharmony with God. In that regard, infants cannot but fail to sin. You would offer that they have insufficient reason (I'd offer the Greek notion nous as better suited) but perhaps that is upside down. That perhaps have insufficient awareness to not sin.

Craig said...

So, I will ask again, what's the point. Several posts ago, when I "agreed" with you about 2 minute old babies sinning, I clarified my view with a caveat, yet you have not dealt with anything beyond your literal interpretation of what someone else said. If this mystery man is not here, let's move on, and try some nuance.

You keep using what Baptists believe on this matter as some kind of authority. Is it safe to assume that you agree with the entirety of what Baptists believe, or are you cherry picking this one doctrine which seems to support your "position".

To your specific "point", you keep appealing to "reason", but that asks as many questions as it answers. Who's reason? Yours? Mine? Pauls? For years people "reasoned" (wrongly IMO) that the Bible supported slavery in the US. And yet, they "reasoned" persuasively. The French Revolution was launched on the basis of "reason" and yet I would think you would agree that what followed was not "reasonable". So let's move beyond this nebulous indefinable idol of reason. You keep saying that reason demands that you ignore the plain text of "all have sinned", and yet you provide nothing upon which you base your "reason". By your "reason" since not all have sinned, not all need a savior. So in one verse all means all, in another all means not all.

Again, what's the point? You keep belaboring this mystery person, and not dealing with an actual person who is having a reasonable conversation with you. I have not set aside reason in this case, nor did the authors of the confessions (at least one of which is accepted by the Baptists) I cited. Let's engage on what's in play. I've thrown out a lot of stuff, which you've chosen not to deal with. So what's it going to be. Your call.

I would like to look beyond your characterization of what someone else said, but if all you are doing here is whacking on him, then I'll bow out. If you want to talk with someone else, and respond to what I've said, I'll be happy to spend the time.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said:

Once again, I'll leave it here until you catch up with my previous stuff, or decide not to.

You'll have to help me out here: WHAT previous stuff are you wanting addressed that I have yet to address?

And I would appreciate some answers/clarifications from you on some of my questions.

For instance...

I am attacking the notion that God views us primarily as disgusting sinners, not as beloved children.

Do you think that is an unfair position to take?


OR

As a sidebar - do you believe a two minute old infant has sinned? IS sinning? A baby that is three months old? A two year old? When do people begin taking actions that can be classified as a sin, in your opinion?


OR

The bible suggests in places that we can't be held accountable for that which we didn't do or don't know. Do you disagree with this notion?


OR

IF you believe... that one has to be rational in order to commit sin (ie, one has to deliberately take an action that is known to be wrong), how old do you have to be to be thusly rational?


(You DID say that you think a sin can be committed without knowledge - "I believe that sin is transgressing God's will/commandments. In other words an intentional lie, is just as much a contravention of the commandment as commandment as an unintentional lie." - is that your answer? That babies and the mentally ill sin when they do something with no knowledge that it's wrong?

If so, that sort of is getting to another of my points: That SOME of those on the Religious Right hold rather illogically harsh views of their fellow humans, including the very least of these.

Dan Trabue said...

Mark said:

I don't think Augustine viewed people as worms, of if you think he does, I'd ask you to find a citation or attribute the source.

Well, I don't know. That's what this other fella was saying and there are certainly some quotes from Augustine that sound that way. But I'm relying on this Orthodox fella to speak for Augustine or for others to correct his misunderstanding for me, since I'm no Augustine expert.

How do you define sin?

"Missing the mark" I believe to be one common, fairly literal translation of the word for sin. "A deliberate transgression" would be another way. I think "Sin" is described and discussed in more than one way in the Bible.

I'm suggesting that by ANY definition of sin that I have heard of, babies do not sin. Sin requires an awareness or at least the ability to discern right from wrong. Can you think of any examples of somebody sinning unaware? Can you give me ANY example of what a "baby sin" would look like? Because I can't even begin to guess at what that would be.

In the book of James, it says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." That seems to imply that anyone who does NOT know the good to do, is not sinning.

Craig said...

Sorry, our posts crossed. I'm not sure how prevalent the Augustinian view (at least in the simplified way you have phrased it) is. I'm certainly not sure how this fits with a person's political views. I guess I would not necessarily use the worm metaphor, but I would say that God is holy and we are not. Which leaves a gap between creator and created that we cannot bridge. This is why I said earlier that by taking this out of the bigger picture context (creation-fall-redemption, TULIP) you distort the picture.

Personally I really like the way David Crowder put it.

I am full of earth
You are heaven’s worth
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity
You are everything that is bright and clean
The antonym of me
You are divinity
But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I wanna be holy like You are

You are everything that is bright and clean
And You’re covering me with Your majesty
And the truest sign of grace was this
From wounded hands redemption fell down
Liberating man

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy like You are

But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean

Dan Trabue said...

And Craig, in case you missed it:

YOU will have to help me out. WHAT SPECIFIC points are you wanting me to address?

And again, I'd appreciate some answers to my questions.

Craig said...

I am attacking the notion that God views us primarily as disgusting sinners, not as beloved children.

I ADDRESSED THAT EARLIER, AS WELL AS IN THE POST THAT CROSSED THIS. YOU KEEP REFERRING TO AN AUGUSTINIAN POSITION WITHOUT ANY CITATION, NOT TO MENTION THAT AUGUSTINE IS NOT SCRIPTURE.

Do you think that is an unfair position to take?

I AM NOT GOING TO IMPOSE MY NOTION OF FAIRNESS ON GOD.


OR

As a sidebar - do you believe a two minute old infant has sinned? IS sinning? A baby that is three months old? A two year old? When do people begin taking actions that can be classified as a sin, in your opinion?

I ALREADY DEALT WITH THIS IN AN EARLIER POST.


OR

The bible suggests in places that we can't be held accountable for that which we didn't do or don't know. Do you disagree with this notion?

UNITL YOU PROVIDE THE PLACES THAT "SUGGEST" THIS, I HAVE NOTHING TO RESPOND TO.


OR

IF you believe... that one has to be rational in order to commit sin (ie, one has to deliberately take an action that is known to be wrong), how old do you have to be to be thusly rational?

I BELIEVE THAT TO SOME EXTENT THAT DEPENDS ON HOW YOU DEFINE SIN. IF YOU LIMIT SIN TO KNOWING ACTION, THEN YES. HOWEVER, I'M NOT SURE YOU CAN LIMIT SIN IN THAT WAY. I THINK MARK ADRESSES THIS VERY WELL.


(You DID say that you think a sin can be committed without knowledge - "I believe that sin is transgressing God's will/commandments. In other words an intentional lie, is just as much a contravention of the commandment as commandment as an unintentional lie." - is that your answer? That babies and the mentally ill sin when they do something with no knowledge that it's wrong?

AGAIN, SINCE YOU HAVE SEEMED TO LIMIT SIN TO ACTION I WOULD SAY YES ACCORDING TO YOUR LIMITS. YOU ALSO HAVE NOT GIVEN ANY REASON TO BELIEVE THAT "THOU SHALT NOT LIE" HAS ANY EXCEPTIONS.



I need to give up the computer now.

Craig said...

Dan,

Your choice; I can cut and paste, or you can go back and re read. Let me know.

Craig said...

The all caps was expediency not emotion, please don't take offense.

Mark said...

Dan,
Let me use your terminology then. If sin is "missing the mark" then how can an infant fail to miss the mark. An infant cannot shoot at the mark so therefore it cannot but fail to miss.

As for your question "Can you think of any examples of somebody sinning unaware?" Uhm, in the Orthodox liturgy at our confession at every Eucharist we confess (this is the start, not the full prayer)

I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. I also believe that this is truly Your pure Body and that this is truly Your precious Blood. Therefore, I pray to You, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, known and unknown. And make me worthy without condemnation to partake of Your pure Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. Amen. Note importantly the bolded sections. It is certainly possible to sin without being aware of it even in your context of (missing the mark), i.e., you should have "attempted" to make a mark which you did not even try or notice. In American jurisprudence terms, which are a stretch here but the analogy holds, "ignorance of the law is no excuse."

James doesn't offer that is the complete zoology of sin, i.e., "knowing the good and not doing it" is not a complete list of all possible sins.

As for your right/left question. I think those on the right would reject the ideas of the essential goodness of man(as expressed by Rousseau for example) is corrupted by society. Let me turn that question around. Solzhenitsyn wrote that "the line between good and evil is drawn through every human heart." Do you agree with that?

Craig said...

Dan,

A few unresponded to thoughts/questions.

"When I ask for more precise, I am hoping for an upper limit."

"I believe that a two minute old infant is positionally sinful. In other words, if a two minute old child stands before God in judgment I believe that there is no difference between his position and yours or mine."

"Finally, why is this an issue? Are you assuming that a belief in original sins means that one is presuming that God will send the 2 minute old to hell? It seems as though the concept of an "age of accountability can sit with a 5 point Calvinist view of total depravity. I wonder why you assume otherwise."

"You keep throwing out what the Baptist church thinks about this topic with no actual citation. No offense but I'd like to see something actually from the Baptists. I have given you ample resources as to what the reformed churches believe on this issue, why is the Baptist position "better"?"


It's fairly clear that you didn't really read my posts, because you continue to ask questions that I had addressed. But we're good now.
That's enough unanswered questions for now. But you could re read and find a couple more if you like.

Dan Trabue said...

Not sure what it means. But, if you're suggesting there is good and evil in humanity, I agree and that is my point. This fella I was speaking with was suggesting there was no good in humanity.

I am not of the camp that says there is no evil in humanity. I have never met anyone who believes that, nor have I read anyone who believes it.

Nor am I of the camp that says there is no good in humanity. We ARE created in God's image. We bear that stamp of God upon us. We have good things we do all the time.

Yes, Paul says "all my righteousness is as filthy rags," but I would not suggest that Paul actually thought that when he saves a starving person from starvation, that doing so is evil. Rather, I'd suggest Paul is engaging in hyperbole. Given the reality that we DO good things all the time, what else could it be?

Now Mark, I'm still curious, what does it look like when an infant sins? How does an infant "miss the mark?" What is the infant doing when they miss the mark?

I don't think God is as unfair as our laws are. God knows our hearts. God knows what we know and what we don't know and judges us based upon our knowledge (ie, God wouldn't give us a ticket for jaywalking if we had never known of a concept of a "street") and with God's glorious grace.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, I believe it is the case that you have failed to recognize my answers, for I HAVE answered at least some of your questions. Where you asked...

"When I ask for more precise, I am hoping for an upper limit."

I answered:

The "age of accountability" does not refer to a specific age (five years, three months and six days), but a state of mind. Someone born with a severe mental disability may never be able to reason and therefore, never be able to sin.

Where you stated...

In other words, if a two minute old child stands before God in judgment I believe that there is no difference between his position and yours or mine."

I (not realizing this was a question which needed a response) respond:

We are saved by God's grace. I'm not suggesting otherwise. Baby, mentally challenged or less so, we are saved by God's grace. All I'm saying is that a two minute old has not sinned, as I have stated and you apparently agree with.

You asked...

"Finally, why is this an issue? Are you assuming that a belief in original sins means that one is presuming that God will send the 2 minute old to hell? It seems as though the concept of an "age of accountability can sit with a 5 point Calvinist view of total depravity. I wonder why you assume otherwise."

I answered:

1. Reason. THAT is my point. Reason dictates that babies do not/CAN NOT sin. Obviously, it takes intent and understanding to be able to sin/do wrong.


2. But, if you're suggesting there is good and evil in humanity, I agree and that is my point. This fella I was speaking with was suggesting there was no good in humanity.



3. I am attacking the position that infants sin. I am attacking the notion that God views us primarily as disgusting sinners, not as beloved children.


At least that much was my point in making this post. That, and I was wondering if this fella's position on Augustine's position is "orthodox" within whatever camp he comes from. That is, I was wondering if (some of) the conservatives who have visited here and been on the more disagreeable side of things ALSO believe that babies sin and that humanity is disgusting in God's view.

You asked about the Baptists and I had not gotten around to that because I was waiting for some clarification/answers to questions already raised before starting on other topics.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said:

YOU ALSO HAVE NOT GIVEN ANY REASON TO BELIEVE THAT "THOU SHALT NOT LIE" HAS ANY EXCEPTIONS.

But I have. Reason.

And I'm not suggesting that reason says "don't lie," has exceptions. I'm suggesting that reason tells us that not every person is capable of recognizing a lie from a truth.

For every person who is able to comprehend, clearly they should not kill, they should not lie, they should not steal. But for those who do not KNOW that taking something is wrong, who don't know the difference between truth and falsehoods, they can't really lie or steal because they don't know what they're doing.

And I'm sorta out of time myself.

That's one problem with conversations like this: They get so widespread and meandering, it becomes difficult to address points in short amounts of time that we often have.

Feodor said...

In Orthodoxy, humankind was made to be in communion with, in love with, God. Such a created relationship would only be meaningful if the human person was free.

God took a risk, in other words, in fact, in the words of Kallistos Ware. "But he who takes no risk does not love."

Sin entered when men and woman took that freedom and chose, at times, to repudiate the Godward relationship that is the true human essence.

The consequences were physical and moral. Physical because work ceased to be fully a gift of loving relationship with the world. Death is God's mercy that humans do not live forever in this alienated way. Moral in that men and women have interrupted communion with the world that sees the whole world as a sacrament of that loving relationship with God.

This is the part mentioned earlier where we live behind the dark glass.

And everything that God does in the Holy Scripture is seen, by Orthodoxy, as a move to help men and women recapture in better and better ways, our essence: being created to be in love with God. These actions of God have a continually deeper and more meaningful effect, until, ultimately, God becomes incarnate Godself. In this way, the Incarnation is more at the center than the cross. The cross seals the ultimate victory over Death, but the Incarnation, and the Incarnation's Ascension into Heaven, seals the deal that all men and women can increasingly -- and eventually will fully -- enter into complete and free love with God.

In this way, Orthodoxy does not approach sin juridically -- focalizing judgement and punishment with the possibility of suspending eternal judgment -- or in terms of warped desires, Augustine's concupiscence.

Instead, Orthodoxy sees Sin as a chasm between ourselves and our true nature, our true essence as Godlike lovers. The chasm exists because in freedom, and patterned after Adam and Eve's Fall, we turn from communion with God and the world, from love... to use. From Gift to Object.

Human beings became subject to frustration, boredom, depression, and yes, desires, too. But sin as wanton hedonism is a symptom, not the illness. The Illness of Sin is refusing love.

And a baby does not do that.

Craig said...

Dan,

Thanks for responding to the few couple you did. You still haven't explained how you elevate "reason" to some exulted status.

It seems as though what you have done, is to set up a false dichotomy. A is your interpretation of what some mystery guy said. B is your interpretation of how you "reason" out this situation. The problem is no one here is arguing A, and you haven't really made a case for B. So you can continue to put forth your notion of A and argue with no one, or you can discuss C& D which people are actually putting forth.

I'm going to stop here, because you have still not answered two (from my perspective) vital questions. When you do, then we can see where things are.

Sorry, one more question. Are you suggesting that anyone who believes in the doctrine of original sin, has no ability to reason? (I guess there are really two parts to that 1. In regard to your version of some guy's version of what may or may not be an accurate presentation of what Augustine said. 2. In regard to the doctrine of original sin that is accepted by what could well be the majority of Christendom.)

I will eagerly anticipate your responses to my other questions.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said:

Thanks for responding to the few couple you did. You still haven't explained how you elevate "reason" to some exulted status.

If by "few couple," you mean all but one or two, you're welcome.

As to why I hold reason in high esteem, I would only ask, what else? Shall we merely guess at what is right and wrong? Shall we take someone else's word as to what is right and wrong? Shall we bow to tradition?

Reason is all we have. Yes, we do have wisdom writings and especially the Bible, but we have to use our reason to get to any degree of meaning on how to live, don't you agree?

I mean, what else is there?

Craig asked...

Are you suggesting that anyone who believes in the doctrine of original sin, has no ability to reason?

Well, since I believe in the doctrine of original sin (as I have stated repeatedly), no, I don't think that. I think those who suggest the Bible teaches that humanity is primarily scum in god's eyes and that babies commit sins are failing to use good reasoning skills on those points.

I thought I'd made that pretty clear. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Now, could you make it clear to me: Are you suggesting that it is your opinion that most folk who self-identify as Augustinians and/or "orthodox" DON'T believe that infants can sin? Is it your suggestion that those folk generally DON'T believe God views humanity primarily through a lens of disgust because we are wholly incapable of any good?

Also, earlier I asked...

As far as my "attacking," yes, I am attacking the position that infants sin. I am attacking the notion that God views us primarily as disgusting sinners, not as beloved children.

Do you think that is an unfair position to take?


To which you responded...

I AM NOT GOING TO IMPOSE MY NOTION OF FAIRNESS ON GOD.

Perhaps you misunderstood my question. By "unfair" here, I was asking, "Do you think this is an unreasonable position to take?"

That is, do you think it is unreasonable to be opposed to the suggestion that babies commit sins? To be opposed to the suggestion that God views us primarily as disgusting sinners, not as beloved children?

For all your insistence upon answered questions, I'd like a few more answers on your part, too, please. Thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

As to your questions about Augustine, that is part of the point of my post. I am not an expert at all on Augustine. This fella was representing that an Augustinian view of Original Sin is that humanity are sinners from Day One (ie, babies sin) and that god views us primarily as disgusting sinners, not primarily as beloved children.

Understand: I AM NOT SAYING THAT THIS IS AUGUSTINE'S POSITION. I'm saying that is what this fella was saying is the "orthodox" Orthodox view and I'm asking if he's correct about Augustine. I don't know and so I'm asking.

Does that make sense?

According to this site (which references the Encarta Encyclopedia)...

Saint Augustine appealed to the Pauline-apocalyptic understanding of the forgiveness of sin, but he also included the notion that sin is transmitted from generation to generation by the act of procreation. He took this idea from 2nd-century theologian Tertullian, who actually coined the phrase original sin. Medieval theologians retained the idea of original sin, and it was asserted by 16th-century Protestant reformers, primarily Martin Luther and John Calvin. Liberal Protestant theologians later developed an optimistic view of human nature incompatible with the idea of original sin.

According to this site...

* Eastern (Orthodox, Coptic, and Byzantine Rite Catholic) Christians take Paul to mean that our inheritance from Adam is death.
* Western (Augustinian) Christians take Paul to mean that our inheritance is death and guilt.


So, you tell me: Do you think Augustine's position is that humanity is incapable of doing anything but evil and that is how god primarily views us (as evil) and that even babies commit sins, or is it something else? OR, are you even in a position to know yourself?

This is one of the questions of my post.

Dan Trabue said...

On Baptists and an Age of Accountability, are you asking me if that is actually their position, or are you wondering if I've got it right? I mean, you can look it up yourself to see that an "age of accountability" is very common in Baptist and other circles.

Here is Al Mohler (no great Baptist, but certainly renowned for being Southern Baptist...)

Theologians have long debated an "age of accountability." The Bible does not reveal an "age" at which moral accountability arrives, but we do know by observation and experience that maturing human beings do develop a capacity for moral reasoning at some point. Dismissing the idea of an "age" of accountability, John MacArthur refers to a "condition" of accountability. I most often speak of a point or capacity of moral accountability. At this point of moral development, the maturing child knows the difference between good and evil -- and willingly chooses to sin.

The Bible offers a fascinating portrait of this truth in the first chapter of Deuteronomy. In response to Israel's sin and rebellion, God condemns that generation of adults to death in the wilderness, never to see the land of promise. "Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give to your fathers." (Deuteronomy 1:35). But God specifically exempted young children and infants from this condemnation -- and He even explained why He did so: "Moreover, your little ones who you said would become prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good and evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it" (Deuteronomy 1:39). These little ones were not punished for their parents' sins, but were accepted by God into the promised land. I believe that this offers a sound basis for our confidence that God deals with young children differently than He deals with those who are capable of deliberate and conscious sin.

Based on these arguments, I believe that we can have confidence that God receives all infants into heaven.

Salvation is all of grace, and God remains forever sovereign in the entire process of our salvation...

We must remember that God is both omnipotent and omniscient. He gave these little ones life, knowing before the creation of the world that they would die before reaching moral maturity and thus the ability to sin by intention and choice. Did He bring these infants -- who would never consciously sin -- into the world merely as the objects of His wrath?

The great Princeton theologians Charles Hodge and B.B. Warfield certainly did not think so. These defenders of Reformed orthodoxy taught that those who die in infancy die in Christ.


So, what exactly are you looking for? I'm telling you that I was raised in a traditional Baptist church and the above teaching is very common in the evangelical circles in which I traveled. Do you think I'm mistaken?

Dan Trabue said...

I will note that Mohler goes on to say...

All are born sinners, and those who reach the point of accountability and consciously sin against God will be judged and punished for their sins in hell -- unless they have come by grace to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But I believe, given what he says earlier and in other places, that although he uses the term "we are born sinners," he means by that that we have a sinful nature, which is what I've been saying, NOT that infants commit sins.

Here is the source for the above.

Craig said...

Dan,

I believe I have answered your questions up to this point, however I will try to catch up.

RE Fairness, had you said reasonableness instead of fairness I would have answered differently. Here goes. I would not go so far as to say that God only views us as worms (or what ever). I would say, actually I already did, that If one assumes the Holiness of God as being absolute, and that the fall has corrupted the previous relationship between God and man, I would not have a problem with the worm as an analogy for the difference between God's holiness and our sinfulness. I would add that I see this as a proper view from our standpoint, not as a metaphor for how God views us, nor for how we view each other. Scripture is replete with instances of calling out to God from a position of insignificance or despair (Psalm 40 springs to mind, as well as Paul). It seems self evident that if God saw what was created to bear the image of God as something other than "very good, if fallen and separated", then He would not have sent His son to redeem the fallen creation.

RE; Augustine, I didn't really have a question about anything other than you expecting us to accept your version of someone else's version of Augustine as accurate.

But, since I'm a nice guy I'll answer your questions anyway.

I think that it is pretty clear that man (post fall) is, from birth, at odds with God. (I will not repeat myself, since I addressed this earlier) Remember I'm a Calvinist, this goes with the territory. I'm not sure I totally buy the entire Augustinian construct. I'm not sure I have to be. I think I addressed how I think God views above. I'm not God so I certainly don't know how God views us. I do think that scripture tells us enough about the nature of God that we can get a pretty good sense.

RE: Baptists- My actual question was. Why are you putting forth the Baptist view as authoritative? Would you agree that all of the Baptist teachings are authoritative, or just this one? I'm not questioning your ability to understand what people around you believed, I'm asking why that view is "better" than other views.

RE-your last. I have said that at least twice earlier in this thread, who are you talking to?

Craig said...

Sorry to be repetitive, but you keep skipping this.


"Finally, why is this an issue? Are you assuming that a belief in original sins means that one is presuming that God will send the 2 minute old to hell? It seems as though the concept of an "age of accountability can sit with a 5 point Calvinist view of total depravity. I wonder why you assume otherwise."

"At the risk of being repetitive, allow me to repeat myself. What's the point? This is at best a secondary issue. It's just a rehash of the junior high school question about some guy who lives on an island who has never heard of Jesus. This is not nearly as hard as you are making it."

Craig said...

“Here is where I have a problem with the way some people read the Bible - they lack basic reasoning.” Dan T. 9:35 am

Just a few thoughts from others, whom you might say lack basic reasoning.


R.C. Sproul very clearly explains one of the very important truths that original sin teaches us: "We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners." People do not come into this world good and then get a sinful nature upon their first willful sin that they commit. Rather, we come into the world with a sin nature and all of our sins are a result of having that sin nature. We act according to our natures. So because of our sin nature, we do sinful actions. A cow does not become a cow by mooing, but moos because he is a cow. Likewise we do not become sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.


"God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices" (Ecclesiastes 7:29).


"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Psalm 51:5

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. Eph 2:3

Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
No one! Job 14:4

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,… Proverbs 22:15

The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though [a] every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. Genesis 8:21

Craig said...

Previous post contd.

Jonathon Edwards, in his classic work The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended, remarks that on this verse: "The word translated youth, signifies the whole of the former part of the age of man, which commences from the beginning of life. The word in its derivation, has reference to the birth or beginning of existence...so that the word here translated youth, comprehends not only what we in English most commonly call the time of youth, but also childhood and infancy."

All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Psalm 14:3

"What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous? … Job how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water! Job 15:14, 16


The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

If death is a result of sin, then why would those who don’t/can’t sin die?

I’ll not cut and paste any more than the Link to Jonathan Edwards work on the subject. But I think we can agree that people like Edwards and Sproul are rational.

http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/classics/jonathanedwards/original_sin.shtml



Here is where I have a problem with the way some people read the Bible - they lack basic reasoning. Although, this quote would suggest that you feel that Sproul and Edwards, not to mention the folks who compiled the Westminister and Belgic confessions as well as the Canons of Dordt actually lack basic reasoning skills.

A few more who appear to lack basic reasoning. (I’ll just post links for convienience)

Blaise Pascal- http://www.equip.org/articles/greatness-and-wretchedness

http://www.equip.org/perspectives/salvation-and-the-age-of-accountability

Calvin-http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/history/dfg/amrl/calvin.htm

This should be more than enough to make my point. You probably won’t have time to read it all anyway.

I’ll end with this. This is (at best) a secondary issue; it is not something that Christians should divide over. It is a doctrine that a significant portion of the Church accepts (RC,Orthodox,Lutheran,Reformed, etc.). It’s not like its some bizarre fringe thing, it’s actually pretty mainstream. It’s also something that anyone who has done any youth ministry has dealt with. Quite frankly I’m not sure why you have made this such an issue. Other than your attempt to equate a much broader community with your mystery man, the whole exercise seems kind of strange.

Mark said...

Feodor,
You suggest a baby cannot refuse love. Hmm. Are you a parent?

Dan,
You note:

* Eastern (Orthodox, Coptic, and Byzantine Rite Catholic) Christians take Paul to mean that our inheritance from Adam is death.
* Western (Augustinian) Christians take Paul to mean that our inheritance is death and guilt.

So, you tell me: Do you think Augustine's position is that humanity is incapable of doing anything but evil and that is how god primarily views us (as evil) and that even babies commit sins, or is it something else? OR, are you even in a position to know yourself?
I don't think your conclusions follow from what you state above. I think the notion of sin+guilt in the West followed Augustine and was then completed by Anselm via penal substitution.

How do you assume that if one feels everyone (even babies) are guilty that babies actually commit sin. Certainly Old Testament theology has notions of crime of the parent(s) being atoned for by future generations. I haven't read extensively of Augustine (and he wrote volumes) but have read his Confessions parts of City of God and some shorter works. I don't get the gloom that you seem to associate with his outlook even regarding man. He worked against Donatism and Pelagius ... and for the latter firmly rejected the idea that man can of his own works effect his salvation.

Craig writing here as a Calvinist, I think, would even reject free will, which is a notion that the East firmly rejects.

Feodor said...

Mark, a baby may refuse our love but that's because we are worms. A baby will not refuse God's love.

And yes, I am a father, as Augustine was as well. His son died in his teenage years.
____

Sarcasm aside, by "refuse" I mean a conscious deliberation -- not the instinctual signals and pre-conscious yearnings of infants.

____

Augustine -- and thereby the Catholic West -- agrees with the East that it is human nature that is corrupted in the Fall. But in this sense, one cannot talk about an individual (baby or woman) being fallen as that's tautological since the whole cosmos is fallen.

This is the state of things and the staging to sin which brings guilt. But the staging is not guilt. Guilt results from choice in a context of free will.

Free will is also our nature, in fact, it is condition of our original created nature because God created us to be in full loving relationship with God. Such a relationship would mean nothing without free will.

The difference between the East and the Augustinian West is the understanding of what it is in the fallen cosmos that operates specifically in the nature of human beings.

Augustine called it concupiscence. Desire. Originally it was a good thing: desire for God and natural, innocent desire between Adam and Eve. After the original misuse of free will by the hands and eyes, this desire became a proclivity to desire one's self and things for one's self, specifically by the body, the flesh, and primarily, though not solely, by the sexual organs, "the members." Guilt attaches to actions on this basis of desire.

For Augustine, a child, born in fallen nature, begins to accrue guilt when the child begins to know desire and lose the war between free will for the good and bodily drive for fleshly desires (sin).

For Augustine, everything that is created is good, though now also fallen. Sin is an unavoidable result of the trap between good free will and the stronger desirous (concupiscent) body. So we are not worms, but we are lost without God, who continually and unceasingly reaches out with grace into the world (indeed, grace is God's life among us) and Christ who redeems us from the prison of the trap (as Paul so eloquently puts it in Romans).

So, anyone who dies, baby or man, dies in a sinful nature but because of God's grace can be redeemed. But condemnation comes to those who die unrepentant of victory by selfish bodily desires over freely choosing love of God, which is sin.

Augustine finds that babies are innocent because their faculties and limbs are not strong enough to pursue desires. And also because their fleeing moments of desires quickly fade and are inconsequential.

As follows:

Feodor said...

From Confessions, Chapter 7 of Book 1:

"Hearken, O God ! Alas for the sins of men ! Man saith this, and Thou dust compassionate him; for Thou didst create him, but didst not create the sin that is in him. Who bringeth to my remembrance the sin of my infancy ? For before Thee none is free from sin, not even the infant which has lived but a day upon the earth. Who bringeth this to my remembrance? Doth not each little one, in whom I behold that which I do not remember of myself? In what, then, did I sin ? Is it that I cried for the breast ? If I should now so cry,--not indeed for the breast, but for the food suitable to my years,--I should be most justly laughed at and rebuked. What I then did deserved rebuke; but as I could not understand those who rebuked me, neither custom nor reason suffered me to be rebuked. For as we grow we root out and cast from us such habits. I have not seen any one who is wise, when "purging" anything cast away the good. Or was it good, even for a time, to strive to get by crying that which, if given, would be hurtful--to be bitterly indignant that those who were free and its elders, and those to whom it owed its being, besides many others wiser than it, who would not give way to the nod of its good pleasure, were not subject unto it--to endeavour to harm, by struggling as much as it could, because those commands were not obeyed which only could have been obeyed to its hurt ? Then, in the weakness of the infant's limbs, and not in its will, lies its innocency. I myself have seen and known an infant to be jealous though it could not speak. It became pale, and cast bitter looks on its foster-brother. Who is ignorant of this? Mothers and nurses tell us that they appease these things by I know not what remedies; and may this be taken for innocence, that when the fountain of milk is flowing fresh and abundant, one who has need should not be allowed to share it, though needing that nourishment to sustain life ? Yet we look leniently on these things, not because they are not faults, nor because the faults are small, but because they will vanish as age increases."

Feodor said...

Sorry, last thing: as Augustine understood human nature to be constituted by free will, he also understood salvation as open to all and possible to everyone. However, as God is omniscient, God knows what will happen in history and who will be saved. But God's omniscience operates outside of time and history.

Radical Protestant Theology (working in the midst of violent intra-Christian wars) brought God's knowledge within time and history and came up with the Elect, thereby combining and confusing two things Augustine and Catholicity wanted to keep separate and unconfused.

In combining salvation and God's omniscience within history, the notion of free will is very hard to resuscitate without torturing the logic of thought.

Craig said...

Mark,

At the risk of starting a further digression, I'm not sure that some notion of free will can't sit within Calvinism. But, even if it doesn't, I'm perfectly comfortable with Unconditional Election. Please, I beg you, let's not go down this road. Not because I wouldn't enjoy the discussion, but because Original Sin is enough for the amount of time I have for this thread.

Further paradox, if I were to exchange reformed theology for anything it would probably be Eastern Orthodox.

Dan Trabue said...

Feodor said:

For Augustine, everything that is created is good, though now also fallen. Sin is an unavoidable result of the trap between good free will and the stronger desirous (concupiscent) body. So we are not worms, but we are lost without God, who continually and unceasingly reaches out with grace into the world (indeed, grace is God's life among us) and Christ who redeems us from the prison of the trap (as Paul so eloquently puts it in Romans).

So, according to Feodor, this other fella is way off on Augustine, it sounds like to me.

That's all I was asking.

Thanks, Feodor, for the great info.

And, Craig, (who has asked repeatedly, "Finally, why is this an issue?" I have repeatedly answered WHY it is an issue. I have repeatedly pointed to the problem of having a crisis of a biblical interpretation vs. reason and one that is so far from being reasonable (ie, that babies sin and humanity is wholly incapable of anything good and is viewed by God to be nothing but horrid sinners).

That is why it matters, that is why I brought it up, as I have repeatedly answered. Are you not hearing my answers or is it that you're looking for some sort of different answer than the one I have?

And, as an aside, I don't see that Sproul in your quotes is saying that babies commit sins and that humanity is utterly incapable of any good, so I'm not knocking his reasoning. I'm quite specifically knocking the reasoning of those who would say that babies commit sins.

Feodor said...

Augustine is like an old psychoanalyst.

Cigars are good, asian rugs are good, food is good, theater is good, sports are good, politics can be a good.

And everything is also about sex and it's twisted.

Dan Trabue said...

Mark asked...

How do you assume that if one feels everyone (even babies) are guilty that babies actually commit sin.

Again, I was responding to/writing about the specific comments of this one fella who kept suggesting that babies commit sins (when they "demand" they get their way, they are usurping God's place as Lord...). As I've tried to make clear, I have no problem with the notion that we all inherit a sinful nature/that we all sin eventually. But by "all" I mean those of us who are able to reason and deliberately commit sins.

The person in a vegetative state commits NO sin, they can't. The 2 minute old infant CAN'T commit a sin. They have no reasoning ability yet to deliberately choose to sin.

Again, I'm talking about what this one particular fella was saying and, from there, I was wondering if that is true for the more harsh on the Religious Right side of things - I wasn't saying that was their viewpoint, I was wondering if it were.

Craig said...

Dan,

I guess I was looking for more in my why question than you were. It seems like a lot of effort over a pretty minor issue. It seems as though you are not interested in anything beyond discrediting the mystery dude. As far as Sproul, I would suggest a little research on your part. After re reading the quote I think you are misinterpreting what he says. It sounds like he is saying that we sin because we are born with a sin nature. Not that we are born w/o a sin nature and we acquire it when we commit our first sinful act. Which seems consistent with a number of the scriptures as well as with your stated position.

Dan, if I could make a respectful suggestion for down the road. This post was obviously aimed at one particular person, and just as obviously I didn't totally get that. Maybe it would be more productive to let the person in question speak for himself, and then throw it out for a more open discussion without trying to fit everyone into the hole that the other guy dug. I personally, as well as Mark apparently, seem to be interested in a broader discussion or the doctrine. I still think that could be interesting. I'll probably drop in as long as this drags on, but I feel like I've said my piece. Thanks for the time.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said:

Not that we are born w/o a sin nature and we acquire it when we commit our first sinful act.

But I don't disagree with that. That is what I'm saying. I agree that we, as humans, have a bent towards sinning. It's part of our nature, part of who we are.

So, once again, I'm not saying I disagree with the notion that we have a sinful nature. I'm disagreeing with the notion that babies sin and that we are wholly incapable of good. I'm not saying that I necessarily disagree with the notion of the Theory of Original Sin, I disagree with that fella's take on it.

As to your comment that "This post was obviously aimed at one particular person," well, once again, that was my question. I don't know that it was aimed at one particular person. An awful lot of people whom I have come across in these blogospheres seem to have a similarly low view of humanity. I'm wondering how widespread this fella's views are.

Further, I think it is a fairly big deal because I think the notion of setting aside reason in favor of a literal interpretation of a few verses (where no literal interpretation is called for) is problematic. I think setting aside reason IS a pretty big deal. God gave us Reason for a reason, ya know?

So, if we read a passage that SEEMS to suggest that babies sin and that disagrees with reason, but we go ahead and assume that it must be correct because that is what that passage seems to suggest and we'd rather go with a literal interpretation over reason, that's a problem.

If we find a passage that suggests that slaughtering innocent children (and they ARE innocent) is a good, acceptable thing and yet reason tells us that it is a horrible thing, and yet we accept that it is a good thing because a literal interpretation of that passage seems to suggest it is good, then there is a problem.

God gave us Reason for a reason. Rejecting our God-given reasoning is a pretty big problem. For these reasons, I bring it up.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said:

I personally, as well as Mark apparently, seem to be interested in a broader discussion or the doctrine.

Well, that appears to be what we've had here. I brought up the question: Is this guy correctly speaking for the Orthodox faith tradition in saying that babies commit sins and that God views us primarily as horrid sinners? The answer from all three of you appears to be no (with some qualifications and hesitations, it seems).

If we are merely having a semantics disagreement (which appears to be largely the difference between those who have spoken up here), with whether or not the word "sinners" is appropriate for someone who has not committed a specific sin, but rather, has inherited a "sinful nature," then that's a disagreement I am fine with.

I think a sinner is one who has sinned, like a biker is one who has biked. One may have a love and longing for bicycling - perhaps one could even have a "biking spirit," but until one actual bikes, I would suggest it is semantically mistaken to call that person a biker.

Same for sin.

But if by "sinner," you merely mean one who has, as a human, inherited that tendency towards sin, well then, we're merely having a semantics disagreement.

However, if one insists that infants and people in vegetative states are actively committing sins, that's where I object on grounds of basic human reasoning and where I think there is a bigger problem.

That problem being:
1. taking a line from the Bible, 2. interpreting it literally
3. whether the circumstances and logic call for it or not, insisting on the literal translation is the one and only correct translation

I think that is problematic and a larger problem beyond just on this one topic.

Craig said...

Dan,

First, I think your splitting hairs. If we're born with a sin nature, then we are by nature sinful. Even though I ,might not actually be sinning, I am still sinful. You still won't address the practical matter here. If babies are born with a sin nature one of two things is going to happen. They will either die before "committing" a sin (in which case I'm willing to trust that God is just and merciful), or they will grow up and "commit" sin, in which case they have the option to accept or reject Gods grace and mercy. So, it would seem that the final outcome still depends on Gods grace and mercy. You keep coming back to the fact that you think someone in this discussion as saying that babies/coma patients actively sin. Yet no one is saying that, at least here. You also keep insisting that this hinges on taking verses literally. Yet, you give no reason why these verses should not be taken literally, beyond you "reason". Yet a number of people who seem "reasonable" would seem to dispute your "reason". You seem to elevate reason to the status of some sort of mythical totem. But reason is fallible, so where does that leave you? If one was to listen to you it would seem that nothing from the Bible is ever to be taken literally. Yet, people like Sproul, Edwards, Mohler, Calvin, Luther, etc do it all the time.

So, It would seem that you have your answer. Your mystery man is not accurately representing others views. No one said he was, except you. You say that we have hesitations, some might call that nuance. Had it gone the other way, you would have accused us of having a flat hermeneutic.

I'll close with this. You say.

That problem being:
1. taking a line from the Bible,

YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN YOU A NUMBER OF "LINES" FROM THE BIBLE, AND THE WAY YOU DEAL WITH THEM IS TO PLACE YOUR REASON ABOVE THE PLAIN TEXT.

2. interpreting it literally

YOU HAVE NOT MADE A CASE, BEYOND "YOUR REASONING" WHY THESE TEXTS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN LITERALLY. NOR HAVE YOU MADE A CASE THAT THOSE WHO DO SO ARE DOING SO WITHOUT USING "REASON"
3. whether the circumstances and logic call for it or not, insisting on the literal translation is the one and only correct translation

YET YOU HAVE NOT PRESENTED ANY REASON (BEYOND DAN'S REASON SAYS SO) TO ASSUME A FIGURATIVE TRANSLATION.

This is where things get hung up. We, you can't provide a reasonable reason to assume the following should be taken figuratively.

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Psalm 51:5

Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! Job 14:4

So, if you want to keeps splitting hairs, ok. If you want to move on and look at this doctrine in context, that's cool too.

BTW, you still haven't given any reason to accept the Baptist take on this over the RC,EO, or Reformed.

Craig said...

Dan,

Your bicycle analogy fails more quickly than a 10 year old w/o training wheels. The fact is that we are not born with a "bent" to bicycle, we are born with a"bent" to sin.

In your desire to expose your buddies error of making man too small, it seems you have made the opposite error in making man too big. IMO, if I have to decide how I'm going to relate to God (not the reverse), I will take the "low road" and assume maximum humility any time. You say he minimizes the status of man, you minimize the nature of the Fall. Which is more significant?

What you appear to be doing here is to set up a third "class" of humanity.

Jesus-sinless
The vast majority of man-sinful
Infants/people in vegetative states-sinless?????


“There is no one righteous, not even one; – Romans 3:10
You seem to be arguing otherwise.

Feodor said...

Craig says, "Even though I ,might not actually be sinning, I am still sinful," and thereby replicates the radical protestant confusion of human nature with sinfulness that I indicated in a previous comment.

Much of early Christianity and still in Orthodoxy, Anglicanism (heavily influenced by Orthodox theology), Thomistic Catholicity, and Lutheran, pietisitc, and anabaptist protestantism largely understands human beings as corporately and ontologically living in a fallen nature. It makes as little sense to say "I" have this nature as it does to say "I" live on earth. Well, who doesn't? Fallen human nature is a predicate of the category, "Human Being," not of instances of the category.

Feodor said...

A cheap metaphor to tease out the different theological attitudes to "fallen human nature," would be to think of all human beings as rockets, created by God to shoot for the moon. We are born on the pad, all systems go, with everything we need to successfully launch, escape orbit, and rendezvous with the moon at just the right angle and approach.

However, we don't have enough fuel to get there.

The Orthodox -- and much of Anglicanism heretofore -- is that since that is the state of affairs for all of human life, then we should enjoy the whole experience of blasting off, booster burn in adolescence, shucking the gloves and helmet when escaping orbit, etc. (Created Human Nature). The sacraments are a constant reminder of the joyfulness of the ride (the Church). When we make mistakes as a crew (SIN), we trust that our God-given capacities can think of a way to correct the problem. That we will fall short (Fallen Human Nature) is a matter for God to handle and in faith we trust that God already has, generally speaking in Christ, and when the time comes will do so specifically.

Catholicism, particularly Thomistic Catholicism, believes much of the same about our readiness but thinks we will make graver errors (SIN) along the way. Our training (the shaping of our minds in Christ) did not take as well as it did under the Orthodox assumption (Fallen Human Nature). So we will have to rely much more on the ground control of sacraments to get us back on the right track after we continually nudge ourselves on to a wrong track. That we are going to fall short is cause for some constant anxiety and constant dutiful vigilance to the God who runs ground control, a source outside of ourselves and our environment.

Augustinian Catholicity fears we are always going to fuck it up (Fallen Human Nature), to put it crudely, and so constant anxiety and constant vigilance comes with a constant feeling of guilt. (The SIN is the same as above, though.)

These two are combined to mark modern Catholicity with its attention to great human capacities if always tied to ground control for directions and guilt for needing it so much. (Free Will and the Church, respectively.)

Lutheran, pietistic, and anabaptist protestantism focuses on the gap when the fuel runs out and believes that the biggest test of human life is knowing that and focuses on growing the faith and trust that God will fill that gap. They launch with the entire focus on that point only of the trip and the need to foster a feeling of trust. Sacraments and ground control are of no use given the coming psychological test (SIN) of that moment when the fuel runs out. It's an existential problem (Fallen Human Nature).

Radical protestantism -- Calvinism and much of the American frontier ethos -- doesn't belive teh premise that we are loaded with all we need and headed in the right direction. We launch in an almost entirely jaded and determinedly pessimistically attitude, wanting to get past the jolting shock of lift off, booster burn, and escape velocity so that what is left is really up to God. Nothing ground control can do (Original Sin), nothing the knobs and switches we have in front of us can do (Total Depravity) except to violently end the journey early (Damnation). We took off without enough fuel, or, even worse, we deliberately shorted ourselves on fuel before even getting to the launch pad. We are "sinful" at T-minus, before we even got to 0:00 on the clock.

It's up to God and he already knows and we can perhaps figure it out by examining which capsule we are in.

revolutionrevolution said...

hey Dan,

I stumbled across your blog looking for pictures of Payne Hollow, and low and behold, I found you. Not only has the title of your blog sparked my interest, but so has alot of the topics you have covered such as faith, environmental issues, and peace. I am sure there are things we may disagree on (and this seems like the place for comments that disagree), but i think there may be alot we go in the same direction with. At any rate, I look forward to reading your blog in the future and if ever I start a new blog, I hope you follow mine as well.

Blessings,
Joshua

Stan said...

One other point that the readers ought to know. The origin of this discussion is hinted at in the comments here, but only hinted at. Dan's contention is that God did not order Israel to "go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" (1 Sam 15:3) (as an example). You see, God would have been unjust in ordering the deaths of children and infants, so we cannot understand that passage as something literal. It's mythological or erroneous or ... well, not right. (I shouldn't go further; I've never quite understood what Dan thinks it is. I just know he thinks it's wrong.) When I defended God's actions as justice against sinners, he thought me crazy because "infants are not sinners". And that is where this whole discussion came from. So as you mull over your position on the topic of Original Sin, you'll need to figure out how that all fits in as well.

The comments here are lengthy and I've undoubtedly missed some of what was said about me that wasn't accurate, but my goal here has not been to defend myself. It was simply to clarify misunderstandings that I saw of what I hold, what others here apparently hold, and even what Dan holds. If I have been perceived as saying "Dan is wrong" or "Dan is unkind and unfair", please delete that from your thoughts. I'm simply pointing out differences.

Oh, and Craig, I have thoroughly enjoyed what you write. Thanks.

Feodor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Feodor said...

Infants being "born dead" is oh, so much better.

Not that you care, Stan, but Augustine would not agree with you, nor you with Augustine. Not really a problem. I don't agree with a lot of Augustine, either.

But please indicate your "biblical" justification for babies being "born spiritually dead."

Otherwise, you're way out on a theological limb-of-one that allows for the euthanizing all kinds of cognitive diseased patients and the unconscious, unresponsive people who no longer can "know" anything.

I fear that you could define my sleep as a lapse when "I" may no longer "know" "God."

Am I an I when I sleep? Do I "know" things when I sleep? Or, more specifically, do I know "God" any better than a baby when I am sleeping?

Right now, I'm in far that you live on the east coast.

Stan said...

Feodor, I know Augustine, and you're no Augustine. (Okay, sorry joke. Just trying to keep it light.) I'm guessing that you didn't really check into the whole "Pelagius versus Augustine" thing. Pelagius argued that we're all born capable of living a perfect life and, as such, would need no Savior. Augustine countered with "We're all born dead in sin." Of course, he didn't use my words. :)

But, seriously, I'm not "out there" somewhere. This is standard Christian theology ... or at least was for a couple of thousand years.

I do like the sarcastic humor though. Tells me that the best argument you have is ridicule. ;)

Dan Trabue said...

Let me apologize for being away, I've been busy.

And, let me especially apologize to Stan (who outed himself right here on my blog!) because he feels I've misrepresented his position. It was not my intention and was trying my best to describe the exchange without misrepresenting his position, but apparently failed to do so. For that I am seriously apologetic.

Dan Trabue said...

Having said that, Stan, let me remind you of bits of our conversation so you can perhaps help clear up my misunderstanding. I sincerely find this odd inability to effectively communicate with one another (especially along the so-called Left/Right divide) quite interesting and worthy of study, perhaps you can help.

As I indicated in this post, I came to believe that you APPEAR to think that babies actually sin based on your words. I indicated in the post that I COULD be wrong ("His view on this point appeared to be (and I could never get a straight answer from him,so it may still be that I'm mistaking his view)...")
and apparently was.

But here are snippets of our exchange. Perhaps you can see why I felt like a straight answer was not at all clear...

Dan said...

Now, having said that, I'm still curious if you'd be willing to tell me which sin exactly a one day old infant has committed.

And, as I have repeatedly stated, I AGREE that humanity is sinful, I'm not disagreeing with that take on Original Sin. You can tell that I agree by the way that I say, "Humanity is sinful by nature." or "We have inherited a tendency to sin."

I agree with thee, I agree with thee, I agree with thee. Okay?

What specifically I'm objecting to is the notion of babies as sinners.

You SEEM to be saying, "Babies are sinners. They commit sin when they want their way." But when asked for an indication of what specific sins you think they are guilty of, you and Mohler both seem to fall back to the sinful nature aspect of it. If that's all you're saying and you're using the word "sinner" to imply a sinful nature, then we agree mostly, we're just disagreeing on semantics.

IF you are saying, though, that they are actually SINNERS, in that they have committed sins, that is where I object.


=====
To be cont'd...

Dan Trabue said...

As you can see, I was repeatedly saying that I AGREE with the notion of a sinful nature in humanity. I was specifically and repeatedly saying that my objection was to the suggestion that babies ("two minute old infants") can and do COMMIT sins.

If you were saying that "babies are sinners - and by that, I mean they have a sinful nature, a tendency towards sin, being human," then it seems like to me you would have said that and we would merely have had a difference in semantics, mostly.

Instead, here are some of the things you've said (mixed in with my replies to your comments and your replies to my comments, etc)...

Stan said...

But, beyond that, you start with a presupposition that I do not. "Children are innocent." You begin with a denial of Original Sin -- that mankind is sinful from birth.

Dan replied...

Actually, I believe you have a wrongly interpreted version of that doctrine. Babies ARE innocent. They have committed no sin. They are white as snow, there is not a sin upon them.

This would be an example of something that is logically discerned and impossible to reject, so far as I can see. Aside from anything the Bible says, clearly and beyond all doubt, a two minute old newborn has committed no sin. They are innocent.

I would assume you can agree with me?


Stan replied...

So ... I say, "I was brought forth in iniquity" and you say, "Babies are innocent." You contest my understanding ... fine ... but you must admit that we're starting from different perspectives. So if you see babies as innocent and I see all humans as guilty from birth, then we cannot come to the same conclusion about what to do about it, can we? So when you say, "I would assume you agree with me", the answer is, "No!"

Dan replied...

I'm not sure I understand your position then. What exactly is it that you think newborns are guilty of?


Stan replied...

There is little wonder that we come to different conclusions." The things you take as "obviously true" (like "babies are innocent" and "the Bible teaches that women are property" or "polluting is sin") I don't see. I can't even say, "You're wrong." I haven't started in the same place.

And elsewhere, Stan wrote...

(I do not find "a god that would command a brutal death for innocent children" -- remember, I don't believe in "innocent children".) That means that His wrath is justly displayed in those who commit sin...


Now, perhaps you can answer a straightforward question for me and clear this up:

Do you believe that two minute old babies commit sins? I now believe your answer to be, "Yes," but you can tell me.

For my part, when I say, "Babies are innocent," I mean that they have committed no actual sin, that they are incapable of committing sin. They are, by definition, innocent.

I understand and agree that they have inherited the human condition of being imperfect and that, given time and understanding, they WILL sin. But they are, at two minutes old, wholly innocent of having committed any sin on their own.

And since the Bible says that we are not held accountable for the sins of others, what could you possibly mean when you suggest that babies are not innocent?

A little help, please? And thanks.

(And once again, I am truly sorry if I was unsuccessful in accurately representing your position. Here are your own words, you can tell me - and any other readers - what you mean by them.)

Dan Trabue said...

OR, for a very brief summation of that whole mess, consider this exchange...

DAN:

Aside from anything the Bible says, clearly and beyond all doubt, a two minute old newborn has committed no sin. They are innocent.

I would assume you can agree with me?


...if you see babies as innocent and I see all humans as guilty from birth, then we cannot come to the same conclusion about what to do about it, can we? So when you say, "I would assume you agree with me", the answer is, "No!"

Do you see how it looks like you're saying, "NO!" I do not agree with you that two minute old babies are innocent of any sin?

I must say that I feel like I'm getting mixed messages in your answers, can you help me understand your position?

Feodor said...

Stan,

Augustine says:

"Hanc ergo aetatem, domine, qua me vixisse non memini, de qua aliis credidi et quam me egisse ex aliis infantibus conieci, quamquam ista multum fida coniectura sit, piget me adnumerare huic vitae meae, quam vivo in hoc saeculo. quantum enim adtinet ad oblivionis meae tenebras, par illi est, quam vixi in matris utero. quod si et in iniquitate conceptus sum, et in peccatis mater mea me in utero aluit, ubi, oro te, deus meus, ubi, domine, ego, servus tuus, ubi aut quando innocens fui? sed ecce omitto illud tempus: et quid mihi iam eum eo est, cuius nulla vestigia recolo?"

And those are his words, not mine.

Feodor said...

And if I were you, Stan, I'd pay particular attention to, "et quid mihi iam eum eo est, cuius nulla vestigia recolo?"

Dan Trabue said...

After thinking more on Stan's position, I think it might be something along these lines...

1. All humanity has a sinful nature, even two minute old infants.

2. Meaning that all humanity are sinners - even infants.

3. Which is not to say that infants have actually committed a sin, at that age they can't deliberately sin - but they ARE sinners because they have inherited a sinful nature.

[and at this point, I am in agreement with you sort of, although I think the term "sinner" is inaccurately applied to infants. I think the problem this far is merely semantics, though, not that you think infants actually sin...]

4. Along with a sinful nature, all humanity has included a "guilt nature" or has simply inherited guilt (this is where I'm starting to lose you), meaning... ? what? That even infants are guilty of something, even though they have committed no actual sin themselves?

That SEEMS to me to be what you're saying, which SEEMS to me to go along with what I've read about Augustine's position on Original Sin. But that is the part that makes no logical sense to me (if it is indeed what you're saying). How can one inherit guilt? Logic and the Bible both tell us that any person is only guilty for things they have actually done.

Mark said...

Dan,
Sin isn't guilt. Sin is exile. You can inherit exile.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, Mark. No problem there. At this point, I'm just trying to understand what Stan thinks (and those who think as Stan does). He sure sounds like he's saying we inherit guilt.

Stan IS saying, after all, "you see babies as innocent and I see all humans as guilty from birth." Guilty of WHAT? Is that somehow not a legitimate question?

In what sense of the word is "guilt" being used by Stan?

I'm using guilt as defined by Merriam Webster...

1. the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty

2 the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously


"Having committed an offense" is what guilt means, so it seems an entirely reasonable question, "WHAT offense?" And since it, by definition, "especially consciously," then how is it possible for an infant to be guilty of anything?

Am I missing something?

Dan Trabue said...

Here's another "money quote" from Stan that helped start off this conversation...

First problem: Human beings are stillborn, spiritually speaking. Born spiritually dead, that sweet thing is under God's wrath.

Second problem: "Righteous" entails not doing what God doesn't want and actually doing what God does want. What does God want? It's simple. "No other gods." He gets all the glory. He is the one to be honored. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" ... that kind of thing. Very simple.

And what is an infant doing from the moment of birth? Thinking only of self.


These sorts of quotes are why I'm not clear where Stan sits. IS that infant sinning "thinking only of self"? No, clearly not to any reasonable person, that is my position.

IS that infant "under the wrath of God"? No! A thousand times, no! It is horrible language to use to talk about God and God's relationship with the very least of these. That child is under the GRACE of God, not the wrath of God.

Now, if Stan has merely expressed himself poorly here, no problem. It happens to me all the time.

If Stan is merely an aberration and most folk of his religious ilk DON'T think that babies are under the wrath of God and guilty as soon as they are born, fine. These were my questions in starting this post.

I'm just striving for clarity and understanding here. I don't believe my questions are in any way unreasonable, not in the least, but it sure seems like I've had a hard time getting answers. (And that may VERY WELL be my own danged stupidity, to be sure. Nonetheless, my questions seem reasonable to me and I don't think I'm the only one.)

Feodor said...

Dan, on your question regarding whether the infant lives under the wrath of God, Augustine, at least, responds clearly in a way that, I think, Stan can also understand (and this will be my last entry for Augustine):

"I ask you, my God, I ask, Lord, where and when your servant was innocent? But of that time I say nothing more. I fell no sense of responsibility now for a time of which I recall not a single trace."

Confession, Book 1, Chapter 7, translated by Henry Chadwick, published by Oxford.

Doesn't sound like an infant should worry all that much about God's wrath. And to tell you the truth, I don't think many infants do, really. Maybe Stan knows something no one else does, though.

EL said...

Having no desire to read the preceding seventy-four comments let me just say, haling back to your post, that you and I are in agreement.

'Original Sin', though not mentioned in those exact words, is fairly and honestly extrapolated from the body of the Book entire. We do not inherit the guilt of Adam's sin, but rather, that seed of propensity toward sin; and that is why Christ came.

A babe is born in sin but is not yet a sinner. We say, "I was born in sin," or "I was born a sinner," but that doesn't quite hit the mark square and true. It only takes one sin to brand one a sinner in the eyes of God, and in need of a savior. And that first sin occurs-- and its doom pronounced --before we even understand the gravity of that sin or its consequence. We instinctively know what we did was wrong (at some point in our young lives), but we do not grasp the weight of our sin. Sad, no?

Long story short, and based solely on the body of your post, I agree.

EL said...

Again, without bothering to read everything prior to my entry into this discussion....

"...that sweet thing is under God's wrath."

This is true. BUT... The child cannot possibly know the gravity of its nature, nor will God hold that child accountable for what it cannot comprehend, let alone understand. When the child of David and Bathsheba died, David ceased his fasting and praying and began to wash and eat... the child died because of DAVID's sin, not its own. And David knew he would see his child again. He had peace about it. If David believed his child would suffer an eternity in hell having committed no sin of its own, could David have so casually arose from his prayers and ceased his mourning? Could any of us have done that?

God is just. Yes, that child needs a savior too; and how God has decided to work that out is His business. But suffice it say, I don't believe David's child fell into a burning pit of fire and brimstone.

Some folk take this "wrath" business too far... sacrificing common sense for heartless literalism. Jesus said, "Suffer the children to come unto me..." and he didn't mean after they crawled a few millennia through the fires of hell.

Anonymous said...

El,

I've got no problem with what you have said. Where I have a problem with Dan is the following, from the subsequent comments not the post.

First, his use of the term "tendency toward sin" in regards to our nature. To call our nature a tendency implies that there is a probability that we will not sin.

Second, his insistence that there is a class of people who are sinless. Failing some Biblical justification for this proposition, it seems problematic.

Third, his insistence that the fate of these infants is determined by their lack of sin, rather than the mercy of God.


Craig

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, Eric, for the thoughts. Good to hear we're not far in disagreement.

Craig, I believe you misread me.

1. Yes, I agree with those who say that this means we have a bent towards sinning, or a tendency to sin. You will notice that I also mention that we ALL do, eventually, given the opportunity. So, I'm not suggesting that there are some rational, alert people who are able to choose not to sin.

2. Yes, I DO think that it is quite obvious that infants simply can NOT sin. One has to be a rational, reasoning person to choose to sin. Infants are not in that class. Do you disagree? If so, please show me what "sin" a two minute old infant is capable of.

3. Somewhere in all this discussion, I have clearly stated that we are all saved by God's grace. Infants included. The difference is that a two minute old infant who is saved by God's good grace is also not a sinner - meaning that they have never sinned, since they are not capable of sinning at two minutes of age.

Again, if you disagree, you can share with us what sin they are possibly guilty of. The fact is, they are not capable of committing sins at two minutes of age.

Yes, they have "inherited" the human condition, which is one that will sin and those two minute old infants WILL sin one day. But they have not committed any sin yet and they do not inherit guilt for someone else's sin. That would be illogical and unbiblical.

Where in all that do we disagree?

Craig said...

Dan,

I'd prefer not to get into a discussion of semantics, but since you continue to misrepresent what I have said I will try.

1. My issue is with the word tendency. We do not tend to sin, it is inevitable. Please show me one other besides Jesus who resisted this tendency to sin.

2. You continue to insist on some sort of third class of humanity. (Jesus, Almost everyone else, infants) Yet you offer no backing for this beyond your reason. You continue to insist that I am saying that infants "commit" sin, when I have not. I will try this once more. Infants are positionally sinners, due to their humanity. They will (I believe) be judged to be practically righteous if the situation arises. This is much like any who are "saved". The result of this judgment is (again, I believe) based solely on the goodness, mercy, and grace that is the nature of God, rather than the "sinlessness" of the infant. The fact that your continue to cite only your reasoning, not scripture or others, considerably weakens your argument.

3. I addressed that above. Yet I will repeat, give us something beyond your reason that would indicate that this is a reasonable position. It is interesting that you appear to be saying that one who is sinless is in need of God's grace.

I do appreciate your concession that it is in fact inevitable that infants will sin. But, you have shown nothing the support your opinion that infants are sinless. (again I am drawing a distinction between the condition of sin, and actively committing sin.)

Again, your argument would be significantly buttressed if you could demonstrate any scriptural support for your position; or conversely have dealt with any of the previously mentioned scriptures in a way that suggests a plausible alternate reading of the text.

Dan Trabue said...

1. Ummm, Craig, where have I misrepresented you? You suggest that in your comment, but you didn't show that anywhere in the rest of your words.

2. So, as to the bent or tendency towards sin, you just disagree with my word usage, or semantics. Fair enough. As I have also said, we have a sinful nature, is that preferable? I mean the same thing there.

I believe I obtained the "bent" and "tendency" to sin language from Baptist thinkers, but I could be wrong. It's language I've heard somewhere else and have just repeated here. I don't think tendency is wrong here, but mainly, it sounds like you just don't like the word. No problem. Use another.

3. As to your concern about a "third class of people," that is not language I've used, it's your language. I'm merely stating the obvious: infants can't choose to sin, they can't sin.

Do you disagree with this or not? It sounds like you don't disagree that babies can't actively sin, instead, you bring up the extrabiblical concept of "the condition of sin." What, pray tell, is the "condition of sin?"

It would help if you could clarify: Do you think that two minute old infants can actively participate in sin? Do you think they can be guilty of some sin? If so, which sin? If not, then I don't know that we disagree.

Dan Trabue said...

As to your concern that I "buttress" my argument with scripture.

My argument is the extremely logical position that a two minute old infant can not sin, since they lack the rational capacity to choose to sin. Thus, my argument is also the additional logical position that infants are not guilty of anything.

For such obvious logic, I don't know that I need any scriptural support. Are you disagreeing with my logic? If so, make your case against my logic.

If you say, "Verse X says babies are guilty of sin," that does nothing to buttress your logical case, it only demonstrates to me poor exegesis. If you don't believe babies are guilty of sin, then we don't disagree, it seems to me.

Craig said...

Dan,

I'm not sure re stating my position one more time will help you to be able to accurately re state it.

1. You misrepresent my by continuing to insist that I have said that infants actively commit sin. Never have, never will.

2. My objection to your use of tendency or bent it implicit in those terms is the possibility of non sinning. Again I appreciate your finally admitting the inevitability of sin though.

3. You are correct, you have never used the term "third class", however when you continue to insist that infants and others are sinless you have created a de facto third category of humans. I assume you agree that Jesus was sinless (1st category), I further assume that you agree that humans are sinful (2nd category), I also believe that you have stated that infants and others are sinless (3rd category). You have continually decided not to provide any support (scriptural or otherwise) for your position. Instead you create a different argument (That infants "commit" sin. An argument which no one here is advancing)

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Psalm 51:5 It sounds as if the psalmist would disagree with you on this.

I will try to clarify (again).

I do not believe that a two minute old infant "actively chooses to sin". However this is a pointless construct. There are two possible outcomes for this infant.

Option #1. The infant will die, at which point it will be subject to judgment ( as will we all). At that point God will judge with perfect justice and mercy. I believe that God will look upon this infant "brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.", and judge appropriately (God's definition, not yours or mine). I believe that scripture supports the notion that this infant will go to heaven.

Option #2, the child will live a life of a normal number of years, then die. At that point it will also be judged. Not by what sins it committed, but by whether Jesus claims it as one of his "sheep" or not.

In either case, your claim that the infant is sinless in moot. It doesn't matter.

Nonetheless, I would need more than "because I say so" to find your argument convincing.

Your "obvious logic" means nothing. You have already demonstrated (vis a vis your turnaround on "gay marriage") that you can use the same "logic" and "reason" to reach equally contradictory conclusions. Why should anyone accept this.

You still have provided no alternative (figurative) interpretation for any of the citations previously mentioned.

Instead you say "I don't know that I need any scriptural support.", what hubris.

Throughout this entire discussion I have been arguing this from a foundation of scripture, you have not. Why would I agree to play on such a one sided playing field as your logic.

So, you can reason away, you still haven't demonstrated why this matters practically.

I'd love to say I'm done, since this is getting incredibly repetitive, but you will probably say something that will prompt me to respond.

Again to quote Sproul (although I am sure that he is incapable of using reason or logic particularly well). "We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners." People do not come into this world good and then get a sinful nature upon their first willful sin that they commit. Rather, we come into the world with a sin nature and all of our sins are a result of having that sin nature. We act according to our natures. So because of our sin nature, we do sinful actions. A cow does not become a cow by mooing, but moos because he is a cow. Likewise we do not become sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners."

Seems to sum it up pretty well.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the follow up Craig. A few thoughts....

You said:

1. You misrepresent my by continuing to insist that I have said that infants actively commit sin. Never have, never will.


I didn't say that. I ASKED THE QUESTION = ARE you saying that infants commit sins? Asking the question is not misrepresenting you, it is asking a question, allowing you the chance to clarify. Which you have once again.

I also asked you the question, Do you think infants inherit guilt? Which I believe went unanswered.

So what I'm wondering at this point is WHY are you arguing at me? IF you believe that infants don't actively sin AND I believe this, and IF we both believe that all people - infants included - inherit a "sin nature," then it does not sound like to me we are in disagreement.

What are you debating, then? I must admit I don't have the slightest idea why you're acting as if we disagree if we agree.

All I can see that you are arguing about is that I consider infants who commit no sin to be sinless, since that is a semantic tautology. One who has committed no sin IS without sin ("sinless"). One who is without sin HAS committed no sin.

It appears you don't like my language - not that you're debating that infants have committed no sin. It seems you are saying, "Infants have committed no sin, BUT you are WRONG to suggest they're sinless!"

Is THAT the basis of your argument?

If so, then we disagree on the use of that word, it seems to me. I think you are using it wrongly (by definition) while you appear to think I'm using it wrongly.

There you go. I don't know what else to do with that. If you don't like my using the word "sinless" to describe infants who you agree CAN'T sin, then use another word.

So, do you think infants inherit guilt? (And I will note: That is not a misrepresentation, it is a question.)

Craig said...

Dan,

Despite my better judgment (and the fact that I've already answered this question), and notwithstanding your refusal to answer my question, here goes.

I do not believe that infants inherit guilt. I believe they inherit judgment, I believe they inherit the fallen status of humanity. I believe that the only way for infants to be saved is through God's mercy demonstrated through the atoning work of Christ. I do not believe that the infants status has anything to do with it.

I am really time limited right now, and while I'd like to get an answer from you, I really don't think there is much further to go with this.

Dan Trabue said...

Again, I'm not sure what you want an answer on or what remains unanswered. It seems we agree upon everything mostly but semantics.

1. We agree that infants can't commit sins.

2. We agree that we are all human and have a sinful nature.

3. We agree that infants don't inherit guilt.

4. We agree that we are all saved by God's grace.

5. We disagree on the use of the word "sinners" - you think it appropriate to call infants who you agree can't sin "sinners," I think it inappropriately by definition. But that is mostly a semantic disagreement, it seems to me, since we agree on the primary concepts.

You asked earlier...

I can only assume that you would argue that the terms; no one, not even one, and all, contain some kind of exemption for "infants". I would also assume that you would take issue with the use of the use of the past tense "have" in relation to future acts. Please, explain?


Well, since you and I both agree that infants can't sin, so it would seem we both have to do something with passages that say "all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory." For instance, we can assume that this is hyperbole, setting aside as obvious that those who CAN'T sin (as you and I both agree infants can't) DON'T sin. Paul is speaking of ALL those who CAN sin HAVE sinned, seems a reasonable conclusion to me.

It seems like all your other questions are mostly related to ideas that we have already agreed upon. If you have some specific question, feel free to re-ask it.

For my part, other than the semantic question on the use of the word "sinner", I don't see that we disagree.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

Again, where I see the primary area of disagreement in this is as follows.

Dan; Infants can't sin, therefore they are sinless. Since they are sinless (here is where I'm guessing since you really haven't gone beyond this point) they can't be condemned by God.

Craig: Infants inherit a sin nature which places them in the same category (sinners) as all the rest of humanity. Therefore whatever happens to them is dependent on God's grace, mercy, and justice.

Your construct puts the emphasis on the sinlessness of the infant. Mine places the emphasis on the nature of God.


As to what you've ignored, I'll cut and paste one of the several times I asked this.

"Finally, why is this an issue? Are you assuming that a belief in original sins means that one is presuming that God will send the 2 minute old to hell? It seems as though the concept of an "age of accountability can sit with a 5 point Calvinist view of total depravity. I wonder why you assume otherwise."

"At the risk of being repetitive, allow me to repeat myself. What's the point? This is at best a secondary issue. It's just a rehash of the junior high school question about some guy who lives on an island who has never heard of Jesus. This is not nearly as hard as you are making it."

I do not have problem with the use of the word all in the passage you mentioned. First since you haven't defined infants beyond your hypothetical 2 second old, your assertion that I have agreed with you that infants CAN'T sin is putting words in my mouth.

Second, If you dismiss this passage as pure hyperbole, you reintroduce the concept of a class of sinless humans.

Third, simply by being born as a fallen human we "fall short of the glory of God" and thereby need a savior.

Forth, It seems more reasonable that Paul is speaking to all who will can, have and will sin. Again, by introducing this concept of a sinless class of humanity, or even a stage of human life where one is sinless, you obviate the need for a savior for all. Which is Paul's point.

Again, please don't take infrequent responses as anything but build season ramping up.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me.

Craig

Dan Trabue said...

Craig suggests that I think...

Since they are sinless (here is where I'm guessing since you really haven't gone beyond this point) they can't be condemned by God.


And Craig agrees with me that babies can't sin. I wonder then, Craig, do YOU think babies are condemned by God? If so, for what?

I can't imagine that you think God condemns babies (which you agree with me in thinking that they don't sin). What does God condemn babies for, if they have not sinned and if they have not inherited guilt (which you agreed with me upon)? Do you think they are condemned for inheriting the human condition - for inheriting a "sinful nature," even though they have not acted upon it?

I'm not sure what you're saying.

Craig went on to say that it is his position...

Infants inherit a sin nature which places them in the same category (sinners) as all the rest of humanity. Therefore whatever happens to them is dependent on God's grace, mercy, and justice.Your construct puts the emphasis on the sinlessness of the infant. Mine places the emphasis on the nature of God.


As I have noted, we don't disagree that babies are saved by God's grace, just like everyone else. Since I think even babies are saved by God's grace, the emphasis on salvation then is, what? God's grace, seems to me.

I don't think we disagree.

Again, I think the only place we disagree is that "sinner" is an appropriate term to use for someone who has not/can not yet commit a sin. You think it is, I disagree.

Semantics aside though, we agree on the concepts (well, allowing that you could clear up for me what you think God condemns babies based upon).

Dan Trabue said...

As to your questions that you have asked repeatedly, I have answered them repeatedly. Look up my answers.

Or, if you don't see them, I'll point them out when I get a chance.

Craig said...

Dan,

Don't bother. It's not worth going around and around. I'm tired of trying to explain the same nuance over and over, let it go.

"We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners." People do not come into this world good and then get a sinful nature upon their first willful sin that they commit. Rather, we come into the world with a sin nature and all of our sins are a result of having that sin nature."

Your hair splitting and gets old.

Dan Trabue said...

Splitting hairs? How so? I am saying we agree and it is your insistence upon suggesting that I'm misusing sinless (ie, "without sin") incorrectly that appears to be the contention.

That appears to be the only problem, that and your suggestion now that God condemns babies. And so, I am not splitting hairs, I'm defining terms and asking "WHAT exactly does God condemn babies for??"

Try to understand it from my position: It seems a reasonable question to a less than reasonable and somewhat outrageous point.

Craig said...

Dan,

I'm done, unless you answer the unanswered questions on the table. You can re state my position all you want. If it makes you feel better then you can say we agree.

One more question. Do sinless infants need a savior?

Dan Trabue said...

I take it by your tone, you think we disagree. Praytell, where? We agree that infants do not sin (what I call, strangely enough, "sinless"). We agree that infants don't inherit guilt. We agree that we are all saved by God's grace, infants included.

WHERE do we disagree?

The only area I can see is that you seem to hint that infants are condemned by God. If that is your position, we do disagree. But if that is your position, it seems a reasonable question to ask: Condemned for what??

You are free to think that I have not answered your questions (although clearly I have) and you are free to not answer mine, of course, but if you want to make your case or help clear up any confusion, it seems a reasonable question to ask.

Peace.

Craig said...

Dan,

Why should I answer your questions when you don't reciprocate. I have clearly answered (in some cases multiple times) everything you asked. You still have not.

One more time.

Infants do not commit sin. (we agree, although I suspect you would say that this goes up to the age of accountability, while I would not)

Infants do not inherit personal guilt. They inherit (however you want to say it) a sin nature, the curse of Adam, the results of the fall, human depravity, the stain of sin. This separates them/us from God, in the same way we all are separated.

I did not say condemned (I have clearly not said condemned), however we all will pass the same judgment, where we will be condemned or not according to the justice of God.

You claim that we are born perfect, and become sinful when we commit our first sin. Why should I do more to make my case when you have done nothing. You provide no evidence scriptural or otherwise for this.

You refuse to explain why you agree with this one minor point of Baptist doctrine, and why the baptists are correct.

So, Do sinless infants need a savior?

So once again.

Craig said...

Further clarification. When I say that you don't answer, maybe I should say that your answers don't move the conversation anywhere, but back to your opinions.

Example, I have posted numerous passages from scripture that would seem to be problematic for your position, and your "answer" is (paraphrase) I don't need scripture I've got Reason and Logic. It is an answer, but it doesn't advance the conversation since you won't go into the (if any) Biblical grounding of your Reasoning process. Not to mention (as you have frequently) that your Reasoning process is fallible and likely to produce a complete reversal of direction.

I a similar fashion, I have introduced quotes by folks who can reasonably be said to have a fair amount of intelligence, reasoning ability and logic. Instead you don't address their points.

You fail to address the contradiction that one of the Baptist confessional documents (Westminster) contradicts your interpretation of the Baptist take on original sin.

So, if I am given the choice between the likes of Sproul, Edwards, Calvin, Paul, The Westminster folks and Dan, I'll go with the big guns.

Once again, do sinless infants need a savior?

Feodor said...

Simply jumping in and then jumping out:

Of course infants need a Savior. Not because they deserve punishment, but because they will die.

The whole Cosmos yearns for communion with God, because the creation, intended to be good, beautiful, and true, strives to be free from the limits and damage of time.

The cosmos and babies are made for eternity, but all of creation is incomplete, a "flaw" if one has to see it in the ultimately negative.

But neither is culpable for this incompleteness.

Is there an inherited guilt? Original sin is not to be interpreted in juridical or quasi-biological terms, as if it were some physical "taint" or guild, transmitted through sexual intercourse. This would be the usual way Augustine is interpreted, although, as I have pointed out, Augustine fudged when it came to particularizing this theology to actual infants.

The doctrine of original sin can mean rather that we are born into an environment where it is easy to do evil and hard to do good; easy to hurt others, and hard to heal their wounds. It means that we are each of us conditioned by solidarity of the human race in its accumulated wrong-doing and wrong-thinking, and THEN hence, wrong-being. And to this accumulation of wrong we have ourselves add by our own deliberate acts of sin. The gulf grows wider and wider.

So, why should the entire human race, and even the entire cosmos, suffer because of Adam's fall?

Because, as human beings, made in the image of the Trinitarian God, are interdependent and co-inherent. No man is an island. We are "members of one another." Even though we are not, in the juridical sense, "guilty" of the sins of others, yet we are somehow always "involved."

So everyone, everything, is in need of a Savior.

Lift your eyes to creation n and get out of these petty seventeenth century miasmic squabbles.

Feodor said...

Oh, and since some of you don't trust your divinely created minds and your own capacity to pay attention to God's glory in creation and, instead, need dead guys to confirm your thoughts, I'll give you four:

Origen, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Palamas.

Craig said...

Dan,

I eagerly await your disagreement with Feodor. As well as answers.

Dan Trabue said...

Sorry, I thought I'd answered this.

Feodor's answer works perfectly well for me.

"Of course infants need a Savior. Not because they deserve punishment, but because they will die."

I've never said that infants don't need a savior. Instead, I've said that we all our saved by grace alone. I thought that would be the clue that tells you I think infants need a savior.

What do you mean, "my disagreement with Feodor?"

Craig said...

Dan,

Perhaps your instance that infants are sinless,and that they do not inherit guilt would lead me to the conclusion that you think they don't need a savior.

As Jesus said, only the sick need a doctor. So it should follow that those who are sinless and guiltless are good to go.

I'm not sure what your point is in introducing death into the equation at this point, as many will die without a savior.



"We are "members of one another." Even though we are not, in the juridical sense, "guilty" of the sins of others, yet we are somehow always "involved." I don't have time to find the quote that really planted the seed. So, I'll let it drop.

Seriously, this is getting pointless. We've each said our piece, and I'm not sure further repetition is going to help. You are incredibly committed to your position, and I don't think it is worth continuing to ask you to deal with things you either feel you've dealt with already, or choose not to. So with that, This will be the end of any real substantive participation in this thread.

To give Feo, a tiny bit of credit, I really do have better things to do.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig said:

Perhaps your instance that infants are sinless,and that they do not inherit guilt would lead me to the conclusion that you think they don't need a savior.

BUT YOU AGREE THAT INFANTS DON'T SIN! You and I have already been through this, infants don't sin - that's what I mean by saying infants are sinless - and you and I agree upon that notion so, IF you ALSO don't think infants sin, does that automatically make you think that YOU don't think they need a savior??

You're not making any sense, brother.

Craig said...

Dan,

For some reason I'll repeat this one more time. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we're sinners. We are born fallen, into the curse, whatever you call it. That doesn't make us free from sin.

I'd really like to be done, since you continue to apply your flat interpretation to what I have said. Unless you want to deal in nuance, I don't have time for you to continually take one thing out of context and flatly apply it across the board.

In Genesis 3 God curses/punishes humanity, this is a continuing condition until Revelation 21. You can play semantic games all you want. I'd really like to move on.

Dan Trabue said...

?

WHAT exactly is it you disagree with me on? So far as I can tell, we are in agreement.

If that's the case, you need not reply. We agree, good for us.

Craig said...

Dan,

Just to simplify, we agree on everything, you win, I'm tired of trying to explain. Good on ya.