Are Children Conceived with Sin

I try to answer this with the following that I put together and would value any and all comments and discussion on a subject that is generally avoided

On Salvation of Children and The Mentally Incompetent

I have written previously on the principle that there is a time of innocence for children and those who cannot reason. That is those that are not mature enough to understand The Law and thus The Law that convicts is not present in them. The whole understanding that children are not saved and there is no Time of Innocence is based on an interpretation of Psalm 51 specifically Ps 51:5. However, to interpret Ps 51 to mean that man is created sinful and thus condemned I believe is to break Scripture. Specifically it is an interpretation that is stating that God created something evil which is a contradiction concerning the Nature of God and not possible.

Here is the Biblical Logic that supports the view I hold.

  • Everything is created by God:
    • John 1:1- 3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
  • God is Good and cannot create Evil:
    • Mark 10:17- 18 17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
    • Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness
    • 1 Timothy 4:4&5 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
  • Psalm 51:5 cannot mean God created us with sin which is evil. It is often interpreted this way but to do so breaks the Scriptures above and many others
  • Thus Romans 5:12-14 is stating that man was under the judgement of sin which is death as Adam was. That is physical death. It also makes plain that where there is no Law there is no sin imputed.
    • Romans 5:12-14 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
  • This is further explained in Roman 7:6-14 which again explains that Paul did not sin (covet) until the Law brought the knowledge of sin (covetousness). He specifically states under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that he was once alive apart (separate) from The Law but when the commandment (The Law) came sin became alive and I died (spiritually died) The clear implication is and consistent with the above Scriptures is that Paul was spiritually alive before The Law came.
    • Romans 7:6-14 7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “ You shall not covet .” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

The conclusion therefore is that while Ps 51 and other Scriptures make it plain that The Law is placed in our conscience and through that conscience, we have no excuse for sinning. But until our will and subsequently our conscience comes alive, we have no knowledge of The Law and thus exist as an innocent. However, through the sin of Adam we have inherited the effect of sin which is physical death. Thus, at conception we become alive under the curse of Ancestral (Original) Sin by the fact that we can physically die. And when our will and conscience become alive we experience Actual Sin and spiritual death.

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This I can tell is very near and extremely dear to your heart perhaps even personal in nature. None the less I hear your hearts cry for those who are not able to reason in thier mind what is right or wrong, sin or not sin incapable of making an intelligent choice. Am I correct in my summation in regards to your feelings and stance on this.

I am saddened to think that would be true as the unborn not given a chance to live are condemned already. :sleepy:

Gods unlimited grace that compelled Him to set the captives free, would certainly not condemn someone who could not make a reasonable choice when given the choice. When does that time of reason come, only God knows for it is unique to each individual.

God is not a respecter of persons He knows us particularly in that time of innocence.

Fast forward to the last moments of my Father and many others who had severe dementia were they condemned because they didnt know even who they were

Thank you for asking the way you did it stirred me to think and ponder on this. Be safe and take care.
Mike

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Mike
This subject is another of long study for me. And yes I lost a grandson to a miscarriage so it is very personal. I also believe that the Church at large ignores this issue particularly when they interpret Ps 51:5 to mean that we are lost at the moment of conception. My experience with those that challenge this is that they simply respond that it is up to the Mercy of God. Or like R C Sproul (who I usually agree with) say that only the unborn of saved parents are taken to heaven. More than that I weep for those like yourself who have family members that did not have capability to reason.

All that said did you find my presentation worthy to be called an apologetic for the case that those who cannot reason are in a state of innocence.
Dan

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Good question @dan0647 - I agree with your point that infants (and some with mental disabilities) are treated by God as innocent. You’ve mentioned one verse that points this out - Romans 5:13, sin is not imputed when there is no law. I’ll give you another - Romans 4:15, where no law is, there is no transgression.

Both of these verses establish that someone without either the law of the natural creation on the outside, the law of the conscience on the inside, or the laws of God’s revelation in the Bible are not charged with sin or transgression. The principle is that greater light incurs greater accountability. More light = more judgment…less light = less judgment…no light = no judgment.

And it is true that some Calvinists such as R. C. Sproul will invoke their peculiar views on election to extend even to infants. (By the way, I think Sproul, like many Calvinists, has very many valuable teachings - but you do have to learn to “eat the meat and throw the bones away”!)

You say that for God to create something evil would be contrary to His nature and therefore impossible. I would agree. It would have been impossible for God’s nature to have created an evil Adam and Eve. They had no sin nature until they broke God’s law and sinned.

But I hope you understand that every person ever descended from them was not “created” all over again the way that Adam and Eve were. Only they were created - all the rest of us have been procreated. And the sin nature that Adam and Eve brought upon themselves has been passed down from them through the whole human race.

And that is what Psalm 51:5 is describing - I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. The sin nature is present in both body and soul in every infant from the moment of conception - otherwise, children would not physically die. However, until the growing child becomes aware of God’s law on some level, the sin nature on the inside is not activated - it does not damage the soul within - otherwise, children would be spiritually lost. But at some point in the growing child’s life, the law enters, sin is activated, the child’s soul is corrupted, and he becomes spiritually dead and in need of salvation. Romans 7:9 - when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

I hope this will help you in dealing with these kinds of issues.

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Thank you James
And yes I understand that we are not created as Adam was but have a natural tendency to sin that was inherited from Adam. I like the Orthodox term Ancestral Sin as opposed to Original Sin. It is interesting to note that Calvin established his doctrine based on Augustine’s stand against Pelagianism as did the Roman Catholic Church concerning the necessity for baptism. I believe however that Augustine did not advocate that infants were lost.
Another point is that Romans and all of Paul’s Letters need to be understood in the light that he was a Pharisee of Pharisees and a Rabbi of the Jews. When he writes about theology it is with the understanding that Judaism in the main was correct in its understanding of God and His Creation. And the Jews believed in the concept of Age of Innocence hence their ceremonies of Bar and Bat Mitzvah. Consequently Paul through the Holy Spirit would have made it clear if this concept was wrong just as he did concerning circumcision.
Again thank you for your kind response and help. I am dealing with someone in ministry that holds this extreme Reformed View concerning children. However he is getting his PhD from a Reformed Seminary and I’m just an old Pipeline/Marine Engineer. :blush:
Yours in Christ Dan

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Ah - you’re of the lowly “ignorant and unlearned fisherman” class! Then congratulations - you’re in some stellar company!

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YES I will concur that you have mounted a intelligent claim for your stance. I would as well like to add this passage to your defence.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
James 4:17 NKJV
I am not a physician just a father and an infant or unborn child, only knows what thier body and surroundings tells them, hunger, pain, being startled, comfort from a mothers voice etc.

Take care out there, and thanks for responding.
Mike

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@dan0647 I appreciate your question and the responses. I believe that this topic is an example of that about which theologians need to have the humility to say, “I don’t know.” I imagine teaching a theology class. The first day I scrawl, “I DON’T KNOW,” in huge letters across the whiteboard and spend the entire class teaching how to say this. Too many Christians think that they need to know how the Infinite operates, which leads them boldly to pronounce what they think they know but really do not know, which hinders Heaven’s cause by making it sound pridefully insensitive to real-world experiences of the lost. If I am a parent who suffers a spontaneous abortion, what am I to think of a pastor who asserts that children like mine are in Hell? We do not know that. What we know is that God is just, and Jesus–God incarnate–indignantly commanded, “Let the children come to me!” That is all that I need to know.

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Happy birthday @blbossard!

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I appreciate all your comments and support. I would like to say that I have a lot of passion about this for both personal as well as my desire to comfort those who have lost children or worse lost children through an active choice of abortion. This gets to my biggest concern.
I view this subject as one of the greatest weaknesses of Calvinism and the Church at large because it is being ignored. And yes I know that this concept has been discussed since Augustine of Hippo or earlier. However the rise of Reformed Theology in the USA and around the world as well as the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church is causing great grief among practicing Christians primarily due to the silence of those who oppose this. One of the roles of an apologist is to actively present biblical views on a subject that is difficult not avoid it.
I believe that we who are knowledgeable are remaining silent and causing great pain because of our lack of response. As Walter Martin once said: “It is very unlikely that I will ever change someone’s mind with a strong apologetic but that is not my purpose. My purpose it to let believers know their is a strong apologetic for a Biblical View.” And BTW I do not consider myself as a proprotor of Armenism. I love and appreciate Calvin and Augustine but as someone said “Take the meat and spit out the bones”.

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I recall my dad once expounding on Isaiah 65:20 “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.” He said in the millennial kingdom a person would not be judged before the age of 100. He thought that may be the age of responsibility when a person may live to be as old as in the early days of creation. That would mean there is an age of responsibility, and the sacrifice of Christ would cover the sins of those who have not attained to that age. I’m sure it’s different for each child. I think I was seven years old before I became aware in my spirit and not just through my parents’ teaching that there is a God out there. I wonder if that becomes the point of responsibility.

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I once heard J Vernon Magee on Age of Responsibility. He said there were a lot of opinions. However the Jews put it at puberty hence Bar Mitzvah for boys and Bat Mitzvah for girls. The story in Luke about Jesus in the Temple at 12 many think was his time of Bar Mitzvah.
Dan

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Well, some children mature physically before others, some mentally, some emotionally or socially - I don’t think you can assign a specific universal age of spiritual accountability for all children - perhaps an upper age by which most children would be expected to have a spiritual awareness - but some flexibility even then should be understood.

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I agree. I believe with children that the age of accountability is different for each one. I also believe that a child’s faith in God comes at different ages. For my children it was around 5 but they were always presented with the Gospel from the time they were in the womb. My wife would sing the hymns during her pregnancy.
I just mentioned the Jewish traditions of Bar & Bat Mitzvah because it is strong evidence that the Jews and thus Paul strongly believed in the Age of Innocence as part of their culture. I am sure if the Holy Spirit thought this concept was wrong that He would have had Paul (or other writer of the New Testament) very plainly correct this concept. There is the Truth concerning the Old Testament and the Jewish Culture that where God does not correct or speak they got it right. Even Jesus states this in Mathew 23:3 *therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them . This statement by Jesus while condemning of the Pharisees is stating that in teaching and thought the Jews generally got it right.

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Been reading and following just wat to share a thought or two.
For me growing up in the Catholic faith I see that Jewish tradition symbolized as First Holy Communion, at around age 8 and Confirmatoin around age 14. Age 14 made more sense for me but again as I said earlier it all depends on the individual and thier mental acuity. Having encountered hundreds of individuals over the past years with debilitating addictions of various natures drugs, alcohol, etc. There have been some older adults with the inability to comprehend the simplest things let alone the complexities of Christ. Sad to see but God knows them better than we can.
Mike

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If you are not able to follow A LAW (whether subjective to yourself or the Law of Moses), Then you are not responsible for your sin.

Romans 7:9 Once I was alive apart from the Torah; but when the commandment came, sin came to life 10 and I died. The commandment meant for life was found to cause death.

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Wow… I am very overwhelmed with joy because of the discussions available in this platform, reading through the truths presented and argued I just wonder what it would have meant for me if I missed the opportunity to be a part of this righteous connection.
In truth, this has been a topic i had trouble about in my heart but seldom gave myself into thinking/reasoning about because of the popular perceptions I have heard about it.
I lost a brother bearly 2wks after delivery (1992), I was 11 yes old. I have always wondered how someone so innocent could just be condemned without an opportunity to live and make a choice.
Glory be to the God of justice and compassion for His mercies, I very fundamental truth “I believe” has been revealed to me.
Thanks guys and God bless you all, especially @dan0647.

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Dear Aba
It is for you and others like you that I posted this and followed with a discussion. Unfortunately there are many traditions that do not accept this conclusion, but I believe they have never been fully challenged. It is my hope that those who accept the reasoning of this discussion would meet those that disagree head-on in a 1 Peter 3:15 manner. The reason for this desire is not to change the traditions that hold that children are not innocent but rather to forcefully provide an answer for those like you to understand that there is an answer to the question. Only the Holy Spirit can change the hearts and minds from deeply ingrained doctrine. Hopefully one day Ravi will directly address this question and take it on. I picture someone like Ravi debating someone like R C Sproul who I respect but, as a Calvinist, did not hold to the position of all children being innocent.
God Bless You.
Dan

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Thank you so much @dan0647. God bless you even more. I have good and encouraging news for my mum and younger sister who both lost a child each before their first month after delivery.
Thank you Jesus.

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