Do infants commit actual sins?

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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Immorality or sin is the failure to obey the law. Adam did this in the garden The result of this was separation from God and physical death. Sin avoidance does not require reason, it requires self control. The reasoning man will rationalize sin and fall into it, but the self controlled man will avoid sin by doing good. This is the premise of Hebrew living, if we are doing good, following our good inclination, we cannot also be doing evil and following our evil inclination.

Trying to follow your logic here,
Avoiding sin requires both outward and inward obedience- that's why God must first change the nature of a human being to allow him to have a nature free from the bondage to sin BEFORE man can do "good" (and thus, not sin).

Not sure about the promise of Hebrew living, or what the Greeks thought,
but that is the biblical revelation of the topic, and the Westminster Standards summarize the doctrine of Scripture to be that.

Cf. (Scripture proofs omitted)
Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XVI
Of Good Works

I. Good works are only such as God has commanded in His holy Word,[1] and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intention.[2]

II. These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith:[3] and by them believers manifest their thankfulness,[4] strengthen their assurance,[5] edify their brethren,[6] adorn the profession of the Gospel,[7] stop the mouths of the adversaries,[8] and glorify God,[9] whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto,[10] that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.[11]

III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ.[12] And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure:[13] yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.[14]

IV. They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possibly in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.[15]

V. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins,[16] but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants:[17] and because, as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit,[18] and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.[19]

VI. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him;[20] not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreproveable in God's sight;[21] but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.[22]

VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others:[23] yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith;[24] nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word;[25] nor to a right end, the glory of God,[26] they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God:[27] and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.[28]
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
…I am not a Hebrew scholar so I have to rely on sources here but it seems to be universally accepted that Genesis 6:5 uses the words yetzer ha’ra (evil inclination, not demonic in nature or sinful but rather a drive for self preservation, security, personal gain) and yetzer ha’tov (good inclination, desire to please God, altruistic endeavors towards others, selflessness )…/QUOTE]

I cannot find the word "ha'tov" in Genesis 6:5 so your post does not do much to convince me. I did find the word "yetzer" in Genesis 6:5 and the TWOT roughly means "form." The form of man's thoughts were evil continually.

Romans 5:12 says that an evil inclination is sin.

How is it possible to have an evil inclination that is not sinful? I think original sin IS sin. If an "evil inclination" is not sinful, then who is to say we will not have evil inclinations in heaven? But the bible teaches that we will not be able to sin in heaven.

It is impossible to have sinful inclinations and not act according to them apart from regeneration. In the same way, it is impossible to have a lemon root and bear orange fruit.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Bob, a couple of thoughts here on your latest post (#60).

I do not believe “Jewish tradition” is a source of any light (I was born a Jew, by the way), except it be in line with Scripture. You go on to say,

“If one looks hard he can see through this where the concept of a sinful nature (later evolving into Original Sin and then Total Depravity) and the concept of an age of accountability both draw their origins.”​

Are you saying that OS and TD have their origins in Jewish tradition? I would say Total Depravity derives straight from Scripture:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Romans 3:10-12).​

(TD doesn't mean we are all as bad as we possibly can be; it means we are totally unable to please God in any respect in our fallen (i.e., unregenerate) state, as we are dead to Him in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2).)

Likewise Original Sin, this comes not from Jewish tradition, nor Roman for that matter, but from God’s word. Adam’s sin – he being the head of the human race – is imputed to his progeny; Christ's righteousness – being head of the new human race – is imputed to His seed. Romans 4 and 5 bear this out (I do not want to take the space – if not necessary – to unpack that here (fie on you pc word censors! [a little in-house humor here at PB]).
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
It would probably help the discussion immensely to review this biblical teaching, as expressed by the Westminster Confession:

WCF Chapter 6:
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof

6:1 Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit (Gen.3:13; 2Cor.11:3). This their sin God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory (Rom.11:32).

6:2 By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God (Gen.3:6-8; Ecc.7:29; Rom.3:23), and so became dead in sin (Gen.2:17; Eph.2:1), and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body (Gen.6:5; Jer.17:9; Rom.3:10-19; Tit.1:15).

6:3 They being the root of all mankind (Gen.1:27-28; 2:16-17; Act.17:26; Rom.5:12,15-19; 1Cor.15:21-22,45,49), the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation (Gen.5:3; Job 14:4; 15:14; Ps.51:5).

6:4 From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good (Rom.5:6; 7:18; 8:7; Col.1:21), and wholly inclined to all evil (Gen.6:5; 8:21; Rom.3:10-12), do proceed all actual transgressions (Mt.15:19; Eph.2:2-3; Jas.1:14-15).

6:5 This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated (Prv.20:9; Ecc.7:20; Rom.7:14,17-18,23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:8,10); and although it be, through Christ, pardoned and mortified, yet both itself and all the motions thereof are truly and properly sin (Rom.7:5,7-8,25; Gal.5:17).

6:6 Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto (1Jn.3:4), doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner (Rom.2:15; 3:9,19); whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God (Eph.2:3), and curse of the law (Gal.3:10), and so made subject to death (Rom.6:23), with all miseries spiritual (Eph.4:18), temporal (Lam.3:39; Rom.8:20), and eternal (Mt.25:41; 2Ths.1:9).​


The doctrine of Original Sin teaches several interconnected truths. Here's the Shorter Catechism's Q&A 18:
Question 18. 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 original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

1) ALL men are born guilty of ADAM'S first sin. This is a vital truth, however much it is denied and hated, even by many professing believers. There is a great irony in the common objection, of course, but even this is only too human. See, people are HAPPY to be the beneficiaries of Christ'S obedience and innocence imputed to them without deserving it; but often the same people are FURIOUS at the very suggestion that they might be found federally guilty and condemned because of their first Representative's disobedience. After all, they say, "I don't deserve that! No one asked me!" He is victim of the conceit that his his destiny is subservient in the last consideration to his own will. As if there never were any slaves? Or subjects?

2) ALL men (of ordinary generation) are born lacking original righteousness. They have no communion with God from the start, and the intrinsic natural result of this is a dead-existence. If a child is born without a set of lungs, he will be a stillbirth. He is missing a crucial component necessary for his lively existence. A fish can be born without lungs, but it doesn't need them either. There is no intermediate condition between sacred and profane in the case of human being. So one not in fellowship with God is necessarily in a state indistinguishable from the damned.

3) ALL men (of ordinary generation) are born with a corrupted nature. Christ excepted (not being born of ordinary generation), all men are now indisposed from the beginning of their existence to holiness. Now this condition, even without motion toward sin is truly and properly sin, because it is EVIL. But, it is fair to argue that infants can only with torturous difficulty be said, definitively, to be culpable for acts that are hardly voluntarily (willfully) rebellious. As one has wisely put it: an infant's NEEDS and WANTS are indistinguishable to himself, and pretty much to his parents or caregivers either.

So, being sinful, the slightest motion of an infant's life is sin; but regardless of how excusable it may be he is guilty and condemned by Adam's first sin. But it is from the sinful nature that proceed all "actual transgressions," to quote the catechism. These are the positive accumulations of a lifetime (however short) of acts that the conscience is (or will be) persuaded, infallibly, are the fruits of his own sin. All those who end up in hell have "the worm that dieth not," which M.Henry proposes is the misery of an everlastingly accusing conscience.

And, of course all the motions of the sinner in hell are also sin. Neither heaven nor hell is a place without development or the outworkings of perfection. As in heaven we will always and forever "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;" so in hell sin is perfectly horrid, and the wicked will add sin to sin without end, and exactly justify their eternal sentence. Even to resent the justice of God upon oneself in the least degree is to impugn the dignity of the Judge.


The unanswered and unanswerable question is only this: did God elect every infant who has died or will ever die in infancy (or the womb)? This kind of scholastic curiosity leads to perverse derivatives (such as: "if yes, then why oppose abortion?"). If God's answer were "No," then he would be just. If it were "Yes," he would still be just--because the condition of the subject is no factor in election. It is not a proper or decent question. Any answer given, especially those that proceed from sentimentality, is grossly speculative.

The CHRISTIAN has been given this Word in which to HOPE: "I will be God to you, and to your children after you." At the end of the day, there is nothing else for the bereaved believer to lay his grief by than the Promises that have been granted to him, and the confidence that it is in his interest to say with Jesus, "Yet not my will, but thine be done," and "When I awake, I shall be satisfied with THY likeness." His happiness or recovery from grief can never stand firmly on having a particular answer to his prayer from God. Our comfort in prayer is in the ONE to whom we pray, in the communion we have now by PRAYER and then by sight; and not in whether we clasp that little one to us when we stand there in his presence.

And yet, for all that could remain uncertain about the outworking of God's Providence, those promise-words are not to be doubted.
 
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Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
…I am not a Hebrew scholar so I have to rely on sources here but it seems to be universally accepted that Genesis 6:5 uses the words yetzer ha’ra (evil inclination, not demonic in nature or sinful but rather a drive for self preservation, security, personal gain) and yetzer ha’tov (good inclination, desire to please God, altruistic endeavors towards others, selflessness )…/QUOTE]

I cannot find the word "ha'tov" in Genesis 6:5 so your post does not do much to convince me. I did find the word "yetzer" in Genesis 6:5 and the TWOT roughly means "form." The form of man's thoughts were evil continually.

Romans 5:12 says that an evil inclination is sin.

How is it possible to have an evil inclination that is not sinful? I think original sin IS sin. If an "evil inclination" is not sinful, then who is to say we will not have evil inclinations in heaven? But the bible teaches that we will not be able to sin in heaven.

It is impossible to have sinful inclinations and not act according to them apart from regeneration. In the same way, it is impossible to have a lemon root and bear orange fruit.

Jon,

Once again I failed to post the missing piece of information. My apologies for thinking faster than I type as I am sure we all tend to do. It is in Genesis 2:7 the Bible states that "Elohiym (God) formed (vayyitzer) man". Rather than one Yod as would be usual, this word has two: vaYYitzer. The rabbis determined, from this unusual spelling, that these two Yods (Ys) signify two yetzers, or "impulses." The first yetzer is yetzer ha'ra or inclination to evil or impulse to evil as is found in Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 8:21. (What we would call Original Sin although it is not viewed as such by Jews) The second yetzer is yetzer ha'tov or good inclination. I am still researching the whole yetzer ha'tov thing for scriptural reference but as I alluded to, it is universally accepted in modern Rabbinical literature and Judaism as the second Yod referred to in the word "Vayyitzer".


Last nights exploits revealed that the Yetzer ha'tov is alluded to but is more a rabbinical literature concept. Not to be entirely relied upon. I feel no more comfortable with it at this point than the views of the church fathers. I have been pointed to the Dead Sea scrolls and the Targumim for some insight by a person I know and believe knowledgeable and reliable in Judaic beliefs but is also a Christian. He tells me his studies reveal a knowledge of Original Sin within the early Jewish Christian church, the question is, was this original sin view in line with the confessions we hold or was their view something different in regards to guilt and imputation. He advised I study this for myself and make the determination of my own volition.

Steve,

He also confirmed my conclusions (by means of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the baths found at Qumran) that the early Jewish believers were not practicing infant baptism. The Jewish view of baptism prior to Christ, was that it was for ceremonial purification and required a total immersion, so much so that they would remove there clothes so that no part of the body was shielded from the water. Leviticus 15:16 says "He shall wash all his flesh in the water". They would then self immerse, (it was important that no one touch them during cleansing) in a mikveh, a pool specifically made for this purpose or a location meeting certain requirements such as the Jordan River. The water could not be drawn by hand and no part of the body was to remain dry. This would seem to eliminate the possibility of today's infant baptism by sprinkling being historically correct.

It is very difficult to believe that infants were self immersing. It is also mentioned that repentance must precede baptism for without repentance there can be no cleansing. It is conceivable that some of the early church Jewish Christians adopted the Pagan model as we have evidence of sects including non-Jewish and non Christian elements in worship. It would be akin to churches today using icons and such. There were however some Jewish Christians who continued to practice Jewish ceremonial temple rites until the destruction of the temple in 70 AD at which time they had to modify many of their practices and some of them became only symbolic as they could not be carried out without temple facilities. Imagine a couple getting married in a field today with no aisle to walk down, a symbolic aisle is created. It is possible that at this time you had Jews baptizing by means other than immersion as no mikveh was available but this would not have been by choice.

In deference to the board rules I will cease posting my views which may cause challenge to the stated confessions as it seems offensive to some and that is not my intent. I do not consider a challenge to my faith an offense but rather an opportunity. I apologize for any offense and emphasize that my efforts are not to provoke anger or cause schisms, merely to make every effort to prove my faith and know the "why" of my belief system beyond a memorized confession, written by fallible men, so that when challenged by the enemy I can present an informed and educated defense of the Gospel. We must not allow ourselves to be content in our confessions. Everyday, new findings are coming from the archaeological explorations and they can provide much insight to some of these discussions. We are implored to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I believe this to mean take nothing for granted but strive to prove it as judgment awaits those who teach false teaching. I wish not to be an ashamed workman that says I relied on the early church fathers or Reformers, or common confessions although I believe each of these have their rightful place.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
"why" of my belief system beyond a memorized confession, written by fallible men, so that when challenged by the enemy I can present an informed and educated defense of the Gospel. We must not allow ourselves to be content in our confessions. Everyday, new findings are coming from the archaeological explorations and they can provide much insight to some of these discussions. We are implored to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I believe this to mean take nothing for granted but strive to prove it as judgment awaits those who teach false teaching. I wish not to be an ashamed workman that says I relied on the early church fathers or Reformers, or common confessions although I believe each of these have their rightful place.

Bob,
The role of the Confessions is to summarize the doctrine of Scripture on matters to which they speak. It's not a matter of being "content" with them, it's a matter of:

1) understanding their role as faithful summarizes of the doctrine of Scripture
2) second, understanding what they summarize a particular doctrine to be

It's not a matter of waiting for them to be disproved by archaeological finds, or the opinions of men, or the supposed 'logic' of men-

it is to understand what they are saying,
and to test them by Scripture interpreting Scripture only.

Any difference needs to be specifically stated, and a case made from Scripture interpreting Scripture as to the reason for any difference.

So far, you have not done that.

You merely vaguely assert we ought not go by the Confessions because, the implication being, that summaries of doctrine are not valid, or they must, somehow contradict Scripture (or is it they contradict your opinion?).

Remember, the Confessions have been time tested, many great Divines and skeptics have gone before us in proving out the statements and/or propositions of doctrine summarized in them.

We must start with a recognition of that before all else.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
In deference to the board rules I will cease posting my views which may cause challenge to the stated confessions as it seems offensive to some and that is not my intent. I do not consider a challenge to my faith an offense but rather an opportunity. I apologize for any offense and emphasize that my efforts are not to provoke anger or cause schisms, merely to make every effort to prove my faith and know the "why" of my belief system beyond a memorized confession, written by fallible men, so that when challenged by the enemy I can present an informed and educated defense of the Gospel. We must not allow ourselves to be content in our confessions. Everyday, new findings are coming from the archaeological explorations and they can provide much insight to some of these discussions. We are implored to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I believe this to mean take nothing for granted but strive to prove it as judgment awaits those who teach false teaching. I wish not to be an ashamed workman that says I relied on the early church fathers or Reformers, or common confessions although I believe each of these have their rightful place.

Mr. Carlberg, while certainly adherence to the Board rules is commendable, I do not think it is a matter of offense (not in the sense of feeling insulted, certainly), but a matter of principle. A careful perusal of this thread may help you understand the position we take, and why we do. When someone is asked to subscribe to a confession the intention is not that they will mindlessly conform, but that they will intelligently agree. We do not encourage anyone to let their faith stand on the documents of the church, rather than on the word of God. The presumption, when someone subscribes to a confession, is that they have read it, compared it to Scripture, and found it to be a faithful summary. Thus those who are members here, are here because they have professed that these documents accurately reflect the teaching of the word of God. Not, to allude to B.B. Warfield, that beginning with the Confession they can extract this meaning from Scripture; but that beginning with Scripture, they cannot make it come to any other conclusion than what has been confessed.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Leviticus 15:16 says "He shall wash all his flesh in the water". They would then self immerse, (it was important that no one touch them during cleansing) in a mikveh, a pool specifically made for this purpose or a location meeting certain requirements such as the Jordan River. The water could not be drawn by hand and no part of the body was to remain dry. This would seem to eliminate the possibility of today's infant baptism by sprinkling being historically correct.

This is an interesting statement. I'm simply going to comment on it in isolation from the remainder.

It begins with a Scripture text, passes into the "commandments of men (Mt.15:9), and comes to a conclusion not obviously connected to the premises laid out. Clearly, some inferences are being asked from the reader; but they are more than inferences--they are incredible leaps of logic.

It begins with a quote from the Law, which was given to Moses, and promulgated to Israel in the wilderness, a place where more often than not, other than what they carried or was miraculously provided, there was basically no water, Ex.15:22, 17:1ff, Num.20:2, 21:5, Dt.2:6,28; 8:15, "...who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock;" Neh.9:20; Ps.78:15; Is.43:20; 48:21; cf. Ps.107:4-5; Ezk.19:13; Ps.63:1; Hos.2:3.

Suffice to say that if one's concept of the many and varied ceremonial cleansings or washings of the OT (referred to as "baptisms" in Heb.9:10) could not be performed in perfect accordance with the Law under wilderness conditions, I do believe the concept itself requires adjustment.

It is immaterial what some later generation added to the Word of God, contra Dt.4:2 and 12:32, by laying on the people religious requirements or insisting on elaborations and exaggerations of divine ordinances. Note that our Lord himself rebuked his generation for admitting this folly, Mk.7:13. I find incredible the proposal: that the NT divine ordinance of baptism has for it's foundation exhibitions of "will-worship," Col.2:23.



And besides those criticisms, the alleged implications of the Jewish ritual-bath isn't even accurate, as it pertains to minors.
Consider the following quotation from Maimonides, Mishna Torah » Sefer Kedushah » Issurei Biah, chapter 13, halacha 7
We immerse a minor who seeks to convert based upon the guidance of the court.12 For it is an advantage for a person [to convert].13 When a pregnant woman converts and immerses herself, her child does not require immersion.14

Notes:
12. Conversion, a change in status, must be brought about through a conscious decision by the convert. A minor is not considered as able to make mature decisions and is not held responsible for his conduct. Therefore he cannot make the decision to convert. Nevertheless, the Jewish court makes this decision on his behalf.
The converted child, however, has the option of refuting the conversion when he comes of age. If he protests his conversion at that time, he is considered a gentile and need not observe the mitzvot. If, however, he accepts his conversion when he comes of age, but regrets afterwards, he is bound by his original decision.
13. A person cannot act on another person's behalf unless it is considered to his benefit, but our Sages consider becoming part of the Jewish people a benefit sufficient enough to justify their actions. The Maggid Mishneh explains that although the Torah and its mitzvot compel a person to restrain his conduct, as long as he is young and has not become habituated to forbidden conduct, he will be able to accommodate himself to the Torah's guidelines.
14. For the fetus is considered as part of her body and her immersion is sufficient for the fetus as well.
source: Chapter Thirteen - Texts & Writings


Observe:
1. This text uses the term "immerse" consistently for the TBL word group. It does so throughout the chapter in this translation. But at the same time, earlier halacha (see #3 for example) point to Ex.19:10 as evidence that the children of Israel were originally "baptized" (as other translators have rendered "TBL" in this excerpt), besides the necessity of their circumcision and sacrifice to be constituted Israel. Hence, the requirement, based on Num.15:15, that all converts afterward should imitate them.

I have already addressed the incongruity of treating desert baptisms as immersions, where there is neither the amounts of water necessary, nor the facilities, for performing such.

2. This text directly addresses the matter of minors. Conversion is above all regarded as a matter of the will. However, the court authorizes the "TBL" of the minor, whiich would go immediately along with circumcision as directed, Lev.12:3. His "seeking" is subsumed into his parent's act. As the notation indicates, the covenant-identity can later be repudiated as a nullility; but if it is first accepted then repudiated he is treated like an apostate.

The second sentence provides the justification for imposing the "TBL" on the minor: because it is objectively to his advantage.

In the third sentence the unborn child is considered to be "TBL" because his mother undergoes the rite, and he with her.

Evidently, the "TBL" was then considered valid for all subsequent generations (just as the alleged original rite of Sinai was thought to have transferred). So, in the Jewish mind, of the 12th century anyway and looking backward to the traditions, minors took such "TBL" with their converting parents.



In recognizing certain Jewish teaching on conversion, I am not conceding that the ritual-cleansing--by any form it takes--was actually required by the LAW for reception into the covenant. The Law stipulated circumcision alone as a ritual, followed by corporate conformity to the ceremonies of all the people; and not a retroactive recapitulation of the individual Israelite experience at Sinai.

If pressed to accept that Israelite converts were, in fact, baptized-in-accordance-with the Law, I would still be bound to reject the notion that such baptism required any greater extravagance than would have been minimally acceptable under essentially waterless conditions wandering in the wilderness, thus ruling out immersion as a requirement.

And lastly, the ancient Jewish authorities (at least of the 12th century) received entire families as converts, and 'baptized' them male and female, including their minor children. This undermines a major assertion from the original quote, on which is based further inferences.
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I haven't been following this thread, but I just wanted to throw out there that it was actually Augustine that led me to believe that infants do commit actual sins!

From "Confessions" VII. xi.:
Who brings to remembrance the sins of my infancy? For in thy sight there is none free from sin, not even the infant who has lived but a day upon this earth. Who brings this to my remembrance? Does not each little one, in whom I now observe what I no longer remember of myself? In what ways, in that time, did I sin? Was it that I cried for the breast? If I should now so cry -- not indeed for the breast, but for food suitable to my condition -- I should be most justly laughed at and rebuked. What I did then deserved rebuke but, since I could not understand those who rebuked me, neither custom nor common sense permitted me to be rebuked. As we grow we root out and cast away from us such childish habits. Yet I have not seen anyone who is wise who cast away the good when trying to purge the bad. Nor was it good, even in that time, to strive to get by crying what, if it had been given me, would have been hurtful; or to be bitterly indignant at those who, because they were older -- not slaves, either, but free -- and wiser than I, would not indulge my capricious desires. Was it a good thing for me to try, by struggling as hard as I could, to harm them for not obeying me, even when it would have done me harm to have been obeyed? Thus, the infant's innocence lies in the weakness of his body and not in the infant mind. I have myself observed a baby to be jealous, though it could not speak; it was livid as it watched another infant at the breast.
Who is ignorant of this? Mothers and nurses tell us that they cure these things by I know not what remedies. But is this innocence, when the fountain of milk is flowing fresh and abundant, that another who needs it should not be allowed to share it, even though he requires such nourishment to sustain his life? Yet we look leniently on such things, not because they are not faults, or even small faults, but because they will vanish as the years pass. For, although we allow for such things in an infant, the same things could not be tolerated patiently in an adult.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think we should be careful when trying to judge exactly what action on a particular infant's part is sinful... It is God who judges not man, and though we may discuss the theology of it all when it comes to judgements on individual cases there are some situations in which we need to use discernment and others that we need not judge at all. In Scripture there is the image of the mother comforting her child through nursing. This is all a mother need know, she need not figure out what the exact motivation behind her baby's cries are.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I think we should be careful when trying to judge exactly what action on a particular infant's part is sinful... It is God who judges not man, and though we may discuss the theology of it all when it comes to judgements on individual cases there are some situations in which we need to use discernment and others that we need not judge at all. In Scripture there is the image of the mother comforting her child through nursing. This is all a mother need know, she need not figure out what the exact motivation behind her baby's cries are.

I understand what you are saying,
especially as it might relate to something like crying.

But also, it becomes early very apparent- a child defies his parent. He takes something, mother takes it away, the child defies and throws a tantrum. It's willful.

I don't think from a biblical standpoint it is so much sin from the standpoint of cognitive ability, but even then, I think the child knows a lot more than we acknowledge. But that is more, anecdotal and more subjective.

We know that all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and that death passed to all men by Adam, and that they do (actually) sin Romans 5:12. There is no age qualification on that.

Cognitive ability or ability to articulate are really separate issues.

I don't see substantial reason evidence Scripturally to believe that those are the basis for accountability for sin. That's why I appreciate the Westminster summary of the doctrine of Scripture on this point.

Notice how it comes at the issue not from the standpoint of infants being a special case based on ability to sin, but on God's ability to effectually call who He will:

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter X
Of Effectual Calling

I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call,[1] by His Word and Spirit,[2] out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ;[3] enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,[4] taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;[5] renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good,[6] and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:[7] yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.[8]

II. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man,[9] who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,[10] he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.[11]

III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit,[12] who works when, and where, and how He pleases:[13] so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.[14]

IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word,[15] and may have some common operations of the Spirit,[16] yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved:[17] much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess.[18] And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.[19]

It acknowledges, within the power of God's eternal decrees, that He may save who He pleases- any age, any stage and from any nation. Specifically, we have reason to believe it includes infants. Believing parents have special reason to believe in the salvation of their child.

But in the end, a believing parent has reason to hope, not demand.
And we do not know how many, or how few elect elect infants our God will redeem.
but we do have reason to believe it will be some.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
I think we should be careful when trying to judge exactly what action on a particular infant's part is sinful... It is God who judges not man, and though we may discuss the theology of it all when it comes to judgements on individual cases there are some situations in which we need to use discernment and others that we need not judge at all. In Scripture there is the image of the mother comforting her child through nursing. This is all a mother need know, she need not figure out what the exact motivation behind her baby's cries are.

Since we have a seven week old in the house, I can particularly appreciate your comment. This is something of which my wife and I constantly try to remind ourselves. We both believe he is sinful already, but we do not yet have the wisdom to discern it.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
"But also, it becomes early very apparent- a child defies his parent. He takes something, mother takes it away, the child defies and throws a tantrum. It's willful."

I would take the position that exercising the will is not in and of itself sin.

If I am hungry, I go make myself a sandwich. That is exercising my will, for a reasonably felt true need.

The baby's need for milk is far greater than my need for any sandwich; of this I am certain.

Yet he can't feed himself. So, he makes his need known the only way he knows how. Indeed, the way God has given him to make his need known.

I really don't think that is sinful.

Do you posit that Jesus as a baby never cried from hunger?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
"But also, it becomes early very apparent- a child defies his parent. He takes something, mother takes it away, the child defies and throws a tantrum. It's willful."

I would take the position that exercising the will is not in and of itself sin.

If I am hungry, I go make myself a sandwich. That is exercising my will, for a reasonably felt true need.

The baby's need for milk is far greater than my need for any sandwich; of this I am certain.

Yet he can't feed himself. So, he makes his need known the only way he knows how. Indeed, the way God has given him to make his need known.

I really don't think that is sinful.

Do you posit that Jesus as a baby never cried from hunger?

The example does not suppose that crying for hunger's sake is the basis of sin.

What might be in view is, e.g. taking away a toy that the child has a pattern of throwing. It might hurt the child or someone else or damage something. Though the parent makes it clear to stop, the child persists, the parent tries to take away and the child resists and persists.... then cries long and hard.

In the real world, this happens and every parent knows it.

Obviously, the child is not honoring their father and mother, for example, and all the implications of commandment five.

It really boils down to whether one believes sin rests on the cognitive ability of the child to either appreciate their sin, or articulate it in a manner understandable by an adult.
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the term "infant" needs to be defined. One minute you are speaking of newborns, the next of toddlers, the next of children.

In light of Scott's addition of unborn infants in light of baptism, perhaps we should consider them as well, when a yet unborn child kicks his mother, is this not an act of sin as it dishonors its mother?

I would tend to say no. I would once again say this question is being premised on the false Greek philosophical assumption that the essence of man in his ability to reason. We keep asking if a child has the ability to reason. Is this the correct approach?

Instinct by definition requires no reasoning. It is acting without thought or reasoning. Is crying instinctual of a baby? If so then reason does not apply.

If sin is "misssing the mark" then indeed, even an infant sins by such things as soiling its diapers. Did Christ soil his diapers? This discussion rapidly digresses into absurdity.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Westminster Larger Catechism

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.
.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Instinct by definition requires no reasoning. It is acting without thought or reasoning. Is crying instinctual of a baby? If so then reason does not apply.

Hard to follow your reasoning.

No one on the thread has proposed that crying, per se, is sinful. Are you suggesting that it is?

What is "instinct" in a human being based on?
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Scott,

There is no validity to the argument that the wilderness was devoid of the amounts of water needed for ritual bathing. The Qumran is an example of a dry desert community which received the majority of their rain only twice a year. There is much evidence that they were able to provide the necessary water for ritual baptism at this site.

Also remember that God was the provider for all things necessary to the nation of Isreal for rightful living, including water. Just as a shepherds responsibility to the sheep is to lead them to water, so God did for them in the desert, providing water as needed but only as they relied upon Him. This is a great picture of itself.

Assuming for sake of argument your presumption is correct however, and the archetype was modified due to a lack of water, it still is to be presumed that the preferred method would be the pre-exisisting full immersion practice and partial immersion or sprinkling would only be a short term substitute until adequate water supplies were once again to be had.

To continue this practice today would be the equivalent of them continuing to live on Quail and Manna after entering a land flowing with milk and honey.


Although I believe in water conservation, I do not believe that our situation today requires us to adopt water conserving baptisms.

I think we will have to agreeably disagree here.

Also, take close notice of Maimonides, Mishna Torah » Sefer Kedushah » Issurei Biah, chapter 13, halacha 7 as you mentioned: "14. For the fetus is considered as part of her body and her immersion is sufficient for the fetus as well."

This is very specific that the fetus is not considered an individual separate from the mother. Therefore baptizing the fetus with the mother is not baptizing one who does not choose to convert. A born child is only able to convert and be baptized by approval of the Jewish Court. Are you trying to infer here that we should baptize all pregnant women as the child is yet a fetus? If not then we must recognize that born children were not baptized without the permission of the Court. Why would this be if the custom was to baptize all infants on the 8th day.

To your last argument, by the 12th century, you have Jewish cultures conducting all kinds of religious customs, to say that any of these are by default correct is a far stretch. As I previously posted, I doubt even the validity of the Ribbinical texts which arise in 200 as reliable biblical interpretations. The traditions of the Qumran and earlier Jewish communities in my view are far more reliable than those after 200.
 
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Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Scott,


My point was in regards to instinct, however, surely you did not miss the post by Tyler Ray:


- Augustine "Confessions" VII. xi.:

"In what ways, in that time, did I sin? Was it that I cried for the breast? If I should now so cry -- not indeed for the breast, but for food suitable to my condition -- I should be most justly laughed at and rebuked. What I did then deserved rebuke but, since I could not understand those who rebuked me, neither custom nor common sense permitted me to be rebuked."

It was well established in my mind from previous posts that crying was being established as a determinate factor in establishing evidence of a babies sin. Had Augustine not cried, would he have not sinned? Or would we just not know he had committed the proposed sin of jealousy because he was silent? Once again, this logic is absurd.

A baby cries because it is instinctual. Even as adults, crying is an instinctual response to matters that are beyond our control, death, pain, emotional anguish etc.

My point is that instinctual behavior is not based on cognitive thought or "reasoning". When a loved one dies you don't have to think to cry. Nor can it be willfully suppressed. We are born with instincts. The ability to recognize our mothers voice in one of these instincts. Separation from a mothers voice can cause an infant to instinctively cry. No thought or reasoning required. They do not make a connection that crying will physically obtain them the means of drawing closer to the mother. This reasoning only comes later.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
There is no validity to the argument that the wilderness was devoid of the amounts of water needed for ritual bathing. The Qumran is an example of a dry desert community which received the majority of their rain only twice a year. There is much evidence that they were able to provide the necessary water for ritual baptism at this site.

No, what is INVALID is the idea that it is legitimate to compare settlement conditions, for a relatively small and dispersed community, living in semi-arid stasis, and having both access to water, and the time and resources necessary to construct pools for storage, or bathing, or any other purpose; and nomadic conditions, with a whole nation of a million or more people, in the open DESERT, on the move, living in tents; and what's more: invariably placed under various time-and-material constraints.

The two situations could not be more dissimilar, except for the nebulous connection between two arid-locations, neither of which shares an actual neighborhood, nor are the sizes of those neighborhood comparable.

It is improper to reason back to immersions in the desert, thinking that Israel must have immersed themselves in earlier times because of ex post facto archaeological findings and literary descriptions of traditional practice (extra-biblical) from another era and location; and the a priori decision on the limits of what manner of rites the term baptism is allowed to describe.

If, in fact, baptism can lawfully describe a sprinkling, as well as almost any other ritual cleansing (up to and including a full bath), then the allegation that bathing pools were required in the desert wastes where Israel was wandering about, in order that they could fulfill various requirements imposed on them, is mooted entirely.

And furthermore, all deductions from the proposal that something can't happen, or it must happen because immersion is required, are tossed out.



There are two a prioris at work in this debate.
1) "Baptism has to mean a full body immersion, ergo the desert must have contained, and the wanderers must have possessed, the means to immerse."

Please note that the meticulous descriptions of the utensils and furniture prescribed by God for his religious ceremonies contain no provisions for full-body immersion. The facilities and the water would have to be ceremonially clean and dedicated for any such purpose if such a requirement were imposed. As it stands, washing requirements were either connected to the laver and its sanctified waters, or else they were generalized and needed no dedicated facilities or manner of direction. Once again, the Mosaic law, given in the wilderness, knows nothing of immersion--and especially, it is wholly opposed to the idea of a nude bath (another man-made regulation applicable in some late Jewish religious communities); n.b. Ex.20:26; 28:42. Qumran, Essenes, Pharisees or any other cultural way of life are totally irrelevant to determining a biblical baseline for legitimacy.​

2) "The Mosaic Law containing all the regulation for ceremonial life was promulgated under desert conditions for nomads in ancient times; ergo, those spatio-temporal conditions establish what is ordinarily possible and proper, thus informing exegesis.

The difference between the two a prioris is two completely different social contexts accepted as the proper background. One (the second) is original to the text of Scripture when it was delivered to Moses. The other is foreign to the text relative to when it was delivered, and assumes certain traditional practices promoted in the first century are normative for interpretation. The habit of reading tradition back into the text (and beside it) was critiqued by our Lord contemporaneously as containing much error. Which should take precedence?​


Also remember that God was the provider for all things necessary to the nation of Isreal for rightful living, including water. Just as a shepherds responsibility to the sheep is to lead them to water, so God did for them in the desert, providing water as needed but only as they relied upon Him. This is a great picture of itself.
How does the acknowledged fact--that God provided everything necessary for Israel in their desert wanderings--demonstrate that they practiced immersion under those conditions? If you haven't established that immersions were required/expected in that setting, then he didn't need to provide them, and he didn't provide them in fact.

You are asking the reader to first accept the theory of immersions everywhere Israel went, and then saying "God must have provided for the need." Anything becomes possible by the same logic. Theorize that Israel needed heavenly moon-rocks for building their 12-stone altars. Well then, he must have taken some beefy Israelites up there and got them. The "if -then" only works when the "if" holds water (pun intended).

Was the wilderness a place of plenty and ease? Or a place of privation, in which circumstances God gave his people what would sustain them, while not removing them from the harshness of its discipline? If baths were the order of the day, then Israel would have had them everywhere. And so would today's nomads. They do not have them today under similar conditions. So much less would they have been available in the ancient days of wandering the wastes.


Assuming for sake of argument your presumption is correct however, and the archetype was modified due to a lack of water, it still is to be presumed that the preferred method would be the pre-exisisting full immersion practice and partial immersion or sprinkling would only be a short term substitute until adequate water supplies were once again to be had. To continue this practice today would be the equivalent of them continuing to live on Quail and Manna after entering a land flowing with milk and honey.
This is false reasoning. You claim that the archetype was "modified." Presumably, you mean that baptism is the archetype, which you claim has a fixed and certain definition. You already "know" what baptism "is supposed to be," and then you point backwards to the desert and the Law and say that the "types" of baptism are allowed by circumstances to be "less" that the fullness.

The first problem is that baptism is itself a ritual and a type. It is a sign, pointing to something else, something spiritual. Which is the same function as the OT rituals, including their cleansings. NT baptism is not a "reality" to which various OT symbols gave witness. Both sets of signs (OT & NT) point above to heavenly realities.

The second problem is the idea that the archetype undergoes any kind of "modification." I'm not completely certain what you might mean by that; at best I suppose that you mean it admits a lesser earthly-representation of itself, in order to fit into earthly conditions. It certainly cannot mean that the later practice (without biblical support) is most certainly valid, serves as an "archetype," and lesser exhibitions must have been authorized due to circumstances. This is a recipe for permitting the change of anything at all, provided one offers a plausible notion of "development." This isn't reasoning at all, but ex post facto justification. It eliminates the possibility of ever reforming anything by reestablishing the baseline.

A third problem would be an allegation that there was a "pre-existing full immersion practice" prior to going out the wilderness. But there was no such Law prior to going out to the wilderness, and the giving of the Sinai covenant.

A fourth problem would be in assuming that the sects of Judaism that practiced the full-body baths in and around the first century is the normative background to NT baptism. Why should this be believed? By anyone, including baptists in the present day? Such requirements cannot be established by Scripture, and Jesus himself criticized the rabbinical traditions wholesale, and in particular various elaborate cleansing rituals of his day, see e.g. Mt.23:26; Mk.7:4.

As for the criticism that to sprinkle/pour is "going backward" (if it be allowed at all under primitive conditions only), this thinking inverts the OT-NT relationship. The NT rituals are LESS GLORIOUS in outward form than the OT ceremonies. As Paul explains in 2Cor.3, one of the effects (intended by God) of the glories of the OT Tabernacle and Temple rituals, even the whole legal-ceremonial system, was that it blinded many to the spiritual realities. People were caught up in the signs themselves, seeing them as ends, rather than as means to the end--spiritual communion with God. Our ordinances today are fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory; yet, in them, God's new covenant is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles.

Finally, it would be a fatal concession for the baptist to allow for any baptisms by sprinkling and pouring today, even for nomads in the heart of the Sahara. Because if it could be justified by circumstances, then the "baptism-means-immersion-absolutely" pillar of their argument would fall.

Although I believe in water conservation, I do not believe that our situation today requires us to adopt water conserving baptisms. I think we will have to agreeably disagree here.
I don't think you understand my critique. You make it sound as if my argument stands or falls depending on whether or not we are in the desert. I'm not making the circumstantial argument. The argument is this: if those OT ceremonial cleansings were baptisms, then baptism ipso facto does not require full-body immersion for validity. Anywhere. Any time.

This is very specific that the fetus is not considered an individual separate from the mother. Therefore baptizing the fetus with the mother is not baptizing one who does not choose to convert. A born child is only able to convert and be baptized by approval of the Jewish Court. Are you trying to infer here that we should baptize all pregnant women as the child is yet a fetus? If not then we must recognize that born children were not baptized without the permission of the Court. Why would this be if the custom was to baptize all infants on the 8th day.

To your last argument, by the 12th century, you have Jewish cultures conducting all kinds of religious customs, to say that any of these are by default correct is a far stretch. As I previously posted, I doubt even the validity of the Ribbinical texts which arise in 200 as reliable biblical interpretations. The traditions of the Qumran and earlier Jewish communities in my view are far more reliable than those after 200.
I really don't think that you are following the nature of my argument, and why I appealed to a Jewish text. You made a claim concerning Jewish beliefs and practices. You offered us no verifiable references for your claim to knowledge. And, in fact your conclusion that such practices precluded infant baptism does not follow from the premises you offered.

Not only do they not follow, they are refuted by Jewish belief and practice concerning converts. Where do I say anything about Jewish infants being baptized on the 8th day? The purpose of the text is to point out the fact that contrary to your unsubstantiated claim that minors and infants were not "baptized" by Jews in mikveh, there is readable and debatable evidence that they were so, going back to the days of Jesus and before. Maimonedes believed that he was defending ancient practice going back to Moses himself. While that belief fails the test of Jesus and the Apostles, it does not fail the test of being traceable to the first century, and even to the intertestamental period.

You keyed in on the connection between the fetus and the mother. And apparently you ignored the far more relevant portions of that halacha (verse equivalent), as well as the fact that this "baptism" of any family and members was a one-time event, which affected even an unborn infant. In other words, the infant WAS "baptized," and as the rest of that verse tells us, so were any MINORS in the house, from infancy up to 13yrs, male and female, by the order of the court. Indeed, all the unborn children for a thousand generations were believed to have been so "baptized" in that single event.

This is so obvious, by the fact that no one whose lineage was presumed to go back to Sinai after so many generations was treated as if he needed this "baptismal" rite. He (or she) was believed to have been so "baptized" in the generation standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai. You really need to come to grips with this form of thinking that is manifestly present in Judaism, and which is about the only SURE THING that goes back all the way to Sinai. Certainly the traditions don't; but the thinking in terms of family solidarity certainly does.

If it was present in Judaism in the 12th century A.D., and believed to be mainstream thinking going back at least to the first century, it becomes extremely relevant to our beliefs concerning the NT setting. Proposing that the most isolated and splintered sects of Judaism closer to those days (Qumran, Essene, etc.) give us the most accurate reflection of first century Judaism is seriously overestimating their relevance. The reason we have more of their writings from those days is not because they were mainstream, but because they were NOT. Their texts survived in caves and hidyholes near the Dead Sea because of the semi-arid and inhospitable conditions there.



In conclusion, we can say this much: the only "hard evidence" so far produced concerning the use of mikveh--for anything remotely resembling "baptism" in NT terms--initiating Jewish converts into that religion, expressly states that "baptism" was authorized for approved MINORS (anyone from infancy to 13yrs) on the basis that it was judged objectively beneficial to that person. And even for an unborn child--whose case is addressed because he is in some sense regarded as a separate human being--he too was judged to have been "baptized" with the rest of the family (particularly in the mother's personal participation), and no later inclusion was deemed necessary to "catch him up" with the other members of the house.

This "baptism" was not required to be repeated by any subsequent generation maintaining that sect's doctrine. They were all viewed as having received that "baptism" in their fathers and mothers, JUST AS non-converting Jews were believed to have all shared in the "baptism" that took place at the foot of Sinai.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
A baby cries because it is instinctual. Even as adults, crying is an instinctual response to matters that are beyond our control, death, pain, emotional anguish etc.

My point is that instinctual behavior is not based on cognitive thought or "reasoning". When a loved one dies you don't have to think to cry. Nor can it be willfully suppressed. We are born with instincts. The ability to recognize our mothers voice in one of these instincts. Separation from a mothers voice can cause an infant to instinctively cry. No thought or reasoning required. They do not make a connection that crying will physically obtain them the means of drawing closer to the mother. This reasoning only comes later.

Still very difficult to follow your reasoning.

A baby might cry just to "put up a fuss."

It's not automatic someone cries when a loved one dies. It may happen and be appropriate, but its not an automatic "instinctual" response, it's really an emotional response that to some extent can be controlled and varies from person to person. One could use that reasoning of being an instinctual response to chopping off the arm of someone who stole something dear to you (an "instinctual" response).

God's Word teaches us that all men are morally responsible agents.

Crying because of hunger, as you cited another from Augustine is not in view here. No one has posted that crying, per se, is sinful.

And how do you know that no thought is required when a baby cries when he is separated from his mother. How do you know that? Maybe the child is reasoning the mother is being taken away, and the safety that it represents.

You still have not addressed what sin is.

Is it the Westminster summary of the doctrine of Scripture as to what it is?

Or is it a vague notion of what "the Greeks" thought?

Or is it something else, that we, as creatures subjectively determine?

That's what you are not getting to in your reasoning.
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Scott,

Augustine was not addressing hunger, he clearly states we all hunger and do not sin merely by hungering, he was addressing crying and jealousy. It is clear that Christ hungered but yet was without sin. He also wept.

Let's get to the core of the question.

I think the reoccurring idea presented in numerous posts here and what the original question pointed too is "infants", perhaps we should say pre-toddler, or crib babies, ones who are helpless and incapable of "reason" or continuity of thought, is it possible for them to actually commit sin apart from being effected (to various degrees depending on your creed and veiwpoint) by the Original Sin of Adam which required no action on their part. Is wanting your pacifier a sin, is desiring the warmth and touch of your parents a sin? Is crying because your diaper is wet a sin?

Sin is clearly defined in scripture as knowing to do good and doing it not (James 4:17)
It is also defined as missing the mark or failing to live up to the standard of Christ.
It is considered by some as breaking the commandments or failing to keep the law.

I can live with any of these definitions for the sake of this discussion. If you have another by which you are reasoning please share it.

All of these definitions require a basic knowledge. Understanding what the mark is. There are some Reformed believers who would say that the child of believing parents which has been baptized is under grace and the Covenant until they are fully aware of their falling short of the mark and the condemnation of sin (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 5:13) . To such a point parents should not teach a child what the law as it could condemn the child prematurely. I do not believe this to be doctrinally sound. Would you?

I believe that we are admonished to "train up our children in the way that they should go" this is not a conscious effort to keep them in ignorance but rather the opposite. If they are elect they will desire a knowledge of that which is right and strive to live in a manner worthy of the covenant.

I only have one child, he has always tried to do what was pleasing to his parents with few exceptions, he was always a happy child, he never threw a tantrum or "put up a fuss" just because he wanted to. In fact it was not until he could "reason" for himself that we had any disciplinary issues. Once he could reason, he thought his judgment was better than ours, not to do evil, but to do what he thought was a higher good for himself. This we immediately addressed.

Friends of our with multiple children have told us that some are a challenge in every regard and others are very compliant. When at the infant stage, most babies prefer to smile and be happy, it is only ones suffering from illness such as colic, chronic ear infections, allergies, etc. that are always fussing. I reject the notion that infants "put up a fuss" just because. I would counter that if a parent is not selfish (a sin) but rather kind, gentle, patient and long suffering, the parent will attend to an infants needs. There is nothing more grieving for a parent than to discipline a child for "putting up a fuss" and then later find out it was a result of an ear infection, a medical condition or some other issue the child was not capable of adequately relating other than "putting up a fuss". I have had the privilege of caring for my elderly father in the late stages of cancer. The pain caused him to be in a constant state of discomfort and unrest. He was unable to relate this and tell us what to do to make him comfortable. He fussed quite a bit. I do not believe this was sinful, I believe it was involuntary and instinctual.

What is instinct you ask? It is an involuntary action or reaction to perceived stimuli. It stems from the subconscious portion of the brain much like a reflex.

Instinct at their base are not sinful. Example: you exclaim "oow" or "ouch" out when you smash your finger. When we allow sin nature to take over our being instincts can become sinful. Example: you exclaim curse words or profanity when you smash your finger.

If your instinct is to chop off the arm of a thief then you have some serious anger and sin issues in your life. I would contend this is not an instinct. It does not originate from the subconscious. It is a willful act of revenge.

You seem to misunderstand what I am saying about "reason"

"Reason" requires conscious thought and more specifically the ability to consciously determine what is most beneficial when given a choice. This is what the Greeks believed differentiated between man and animal or a "heathen". Remember, it has not been until recent times that uncivilized cultures were regarded as human, based on the notion that they were unable to determine right from wrong by the standards of Greco-Roman culture uncivilized were regarded as subhuman. This is the very reason why many Puritans had no problem killing American Indians as subhuman savages. They believed they were not committing a sin in killing a "savage", they were merely killing an animal.

Roger Williams held a different opinion on this matter and the Puritans excommunicated him for amongst other things, trying to evangelize the Indians.

"Boast not proud English, of thy birth & blood;
Thy brother Indian is by birth as Good.
Of one blood God made Him, and Thee and All,
As wise, as fair, as strong, as personal."

-Roger Williams

Shame on those Puritans.

Wow, I'm really chasing rabbits here. The point is that other than inherited sin, committing sin is a conscious act. Infants In my humble opinion are not capable of conscious acts. Toddlers and children are a different issue.

This I believe is consistent with II Helvetic confession defining "ACTUAL SINS"


Chap 8.
ORIGINAL SIN. We therefore acknowledge that there is original sin in all men.

ACTUAL SINS. We acknowledge that all other sins which arise from it are called and truly are sins, no matter by what name they may be called, whether mortal, venial or that which is said to be the sin against the Holy Spirit which is never forgiven (Mark 3:29; I John 5:16). We also confess that sins are not equal; although they arise from the same fountain of corruption and unbelief, some are more serious than others. As the Lord said, it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for the city that rejects the word of the Gospel (Matt. 10:14 f.; 11:20 ff.).


I believe the confession separates "ACTUAL SINS" from "ORIGINAL SIN" for a reason. As responsible individuals we alone are responsible for ACTUAL SINS.

We could discuss sins of omission but that is a different beast altogether.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I believe the confession separates "ACTUAL SINS" from "ORIGINAL SIN" for a reason.

Please quote the Confession sections so we know your basis for saying there is a qualitative difference between actual and original sin.

And show the section of the Confession you rely on for your proposition that actual sins are the only ones deserving God's judgment.

Instinct at their base are not sinful.

Also, what Confession section separates culpability for "instinct" as distinct from "sin."
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
instinct = natural propensity

Since when is when is man's natural propensity to sin not sinful? Don't make me get the popcorn out. :popcorn:
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the reoccurring idea presented in numerous posts here and what the original question pointed too is "infants", perhaps we should say pre-toddler, or crib babies, ones who are helpless and incapable of "reason" or continuity of thought, is it possible for them to actually commit sin apart from being effected (to various degrees depending on your creed and veiwpoint) by the Original Sin of Adam which required no action on their part. Is wanting your pacifier a sin, is desiring the warmth and touch of your parents a sin? Is crying because your diaper is wet a sin?

Bob, first of all I would say that even crib babies commit sin. My daugher is going to turn 2 years old next month, but even a year ago she would at times try to hit my wife or I if we were doing something to upset her (take her away from a toy, or something along those lines). I understand that each baby is different in the sense that some are more 'willful' than others. My daughter is very willful. The sinful nature of children can be seen simply in the fact that if you as a parent DO NOTHING, the child will grow up selfish and self-centered. Parents don't have to teach their children how to be selfish or self-centered, they have to teach them to share.

In fact, we weened our daughter off of the pacifier when she turned 1 year old. She cried every night for a week until she finally was no longer dependent upon it. In a very real sense of the term, she was 'mastered' by her pacifier. She NEEDED it (in her own mind). How often do we as adults engage in that type of behavior? People who are addicted to all kinds of things feel like they 'need' something, when they really don't. It is the same with a child. The difference is that we as parents are unable to explain to our daughter that she is becoming dependent upon something that she doesn't need, and that she is letting something 'master' her. If I could have explained this to her I would have. Yet my inability to communicate with her does not at all mean that she is not acting in a sinful, selfish way.

Sin is clearly defined in scripture as knowing to do good and doing it not (James 4:17)
It is also defined as missing the mark or failing to live up to the standard of Christ.
It is considered by some as breaking the commandments or failing to keep the law.

I can live with any of these definitions for the sake of this discussion. If you have another by which you are reasoning please share it.

But also keep in mind that sin still existed in the Gentiles even when they had no law, as per Romans 2:14. The requirements of the law was written on their hearts, and so they were a law unto themselves. In Romans 1 we already saw that no one has an excuse for suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Quite simply, all humans are born with a sinful nature, a propensity to sin.

All of these definitions require a basic knowledge. Understanding what the mark is.

I think Romans 1 shows that everyone has enough knowledge of the truth to be held accountable for suppressing it. I am speaking of a spiritual knowledge, not necessarily a mental/computing knowledge.

I only have one child, he has always tried to do what was pleasing to his parents with few exceptions, he was always a happy child, he never threw a tantrum or "put up a fuss" just because he wanted to. In fact it was not until he could "reason" for himself that we had any disciplinary issues. Once he could reason, he thought his judgment was better than ours, not to do evil, but to do what he thought was a higher good for himself. This we immediately addressed.

I count you blessed that you have a child that was so easy to deal with at a young age. My daughter throws tamptrums almost every day (and my wife and I do not give in to her, we employ time-out and spankings as consistently as possible). Yet our daughter is often 'set-off' by the simplest things. And she is not yet 2 years old (she has been throwing tamptrums much earlier than this).

There is no doubt that sin might manifest itself differently in different children. All humans at birth have a natural propensity to sin, yet this does not mean that all of them sin in the worst way possible every second of the day. Yet the sinful nature is always there.

Friends of our with multiple children have told us that some are a challenge in every regard and others are very compliant. When at the infant stage, most babies prefer to smile and be happy, it is only ones suffering from illness such as colic, chronic ear infections, allergies, etc. that are always fussing. I reject the notion that infants "put up a fuss" just because.

You mentioned that you define infants as crib-babies and pre-toddler. I can guarantee you that my daughter acted sinfully at this stage. Infants 'put up a fuss' for any number of reasons. Some might be legitimate reasons (such as needs), but others might be for reasons such as playing with a toy or having her pacifier.

I would counter that if a parent is not selfish (a sin) but rather kind, gentle, patient and long suffering, the parent will attend to an infants needs. There is nothing more grieving for a parent than to discipline a child for "putting up a fuss" and then later find out it was a result of an ear infection, a medical condition or some other issue the child was not capable of adequately relating other than "putting up a fuss".

I don't punish my daughter for her behavior until I know what the reasons for it are. If she falls to the ground and smacks her head, I am not going to punish her because she is crying hysterically. But if it is nap time and my wife picks up our daughter to go upstairs, my daughter will be punished if she throws a fit and starts trying to hit my wife in the face because she can no longer play with a toy. My daughter has done things like this well before she turned 22 months.

What is instinct you ask? It is an involuntary action or reaction to perceived stimuli. It stems from the subconscious portion of the brain much like a reflex.

Here is a definition of instinct I found at the online dictionary:

1: a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity
2: a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason

This perfectly fits the idea of a natural propensity to sin. The natural response of any human (apart from the grace of God) is sinful. Humans, by their fallen nature, are selfish, self-centered creatures (which is sinful).

Instinct at their base are not sinful. Example: you exclaim "oow" or "ouch" out when you smash your finger. When we allow sin nature to take over our being instincts can become sinful. Example: you exclaim curse words or profanity when you smash your finger.

There is a fine line between a reaction and an instinct. If the doctor taps on your knee, and your leg extends, that is a natural reaction (not an instinct). When someone spits in your face and insults you, the natural human instinct is to get angry and defensive. So there is a difference between reaction and instinct, even in something as simple as burning your finger or smashing it with a hammer. Naturally our sinful nature will always be in control, seeing as how we are naturally slaves to sin. Yet God every day restrains the wickedness of men. Without God's restraining hand of grace, many people in this world would be engaging in many more wicked acts than they already do.

"Reason" requires conscious thought and more specifically the ability to consciously determine what is most beneficial when given a choice.

Ok, here is where we are entering uncharted territory. Very few people I know can actually remember what it was like to be an infant. There is simply no way for us to know that infants don't reason. Let's think about how humans think. When you 'think' to yourself, what language are you thinking in? English? Take some time to consider how one 'thinks'. Is there any evidence to suggest that infants don't 'think'? None of us can remember what it was like to be an infant, and whether or not we actually 'thought'. But based on how babies learn things, I think that they DO think. They come to learn through cause and effect that objects don't cease to exist simply because they are out of view. They don't learn this through communicated words and language, but through simple observation. They are learning and they are thinking. We should not be so quick to say that babies don't have conscious thought.

The point is that other than inherited sin, committing sin is a conscious act. Infants In my humble opinion are not capable of conscious acts. Toddlers and children are a different issue.

I must disagree. Committing sin is a spiritual act, one that everyone does. It might involve conscious decision making, as well as emotional responses, but it is a spiritual act of the will. It is a suppression of the knowledge of the truth. This knowledge is not 'head' knowledge or 'computing' knowledge, but a spiritual knowledge (a 'sense of the divine').

I believe the confession separates "ACTUAL SINS" from "ORIGINAL SIN" for a reason. As responsible individuals we alone are responsible for ACTUAL SINS.

I again must disagree. In a certain sense we are guilty of sinning in Adam as well:

Romans 5:12-14 (NASB)
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.

In a sense, we as humans were 'with' Adam when he sinned, and are in some way 'culpable'. This concept of a connection between a person and their unborn children is also seen in other passages:

Hebrews 7:8-10 (NASB)
8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.
9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,
10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

We see here that in some sense Levi is responsible for receiving and paying tithes even when he was yet in the loins of his father Abraham.

So in the end I would argue that we are guilty of original sin in two ways: First, we are guilty in the sense that Adam fell, and so now we suffer the consequences of his fall (namely we are born with a sinful nature). Second, we are actually responsible, along with Adam, for the fall. When he sinned, we sinned, for we were in him, and he was our federal representative.

It has been difficult for me as an individualistic American to grasp the concept of communal responsibility and federal headship, but it is biblical. It became much easier for me to grasp once I asked myself a simple question: How comes I complain about being held responsible for Adam's sin, but I am happy about being accounted as righteous because of Christ's obedience? Federal headship exists in both cases. If God should not impute to me any guilt for Adam's transgression, then I should not expect him to impute righteousness to me for Christ's obedience.
 

Bob Carlberg

Puritan Board Freshman
Scott,

Evidently you are not familiar with II Helvetic. Please read it and you will see that I was quoting it directly. "Chapter 8" means I am referencing Chapter 8. I never said actual sins are the only ones deserving God's judgment. You seem to be interpreting my words akin to how you interpret scripture and adding some things as you see fit. What I said was they are distinctly separated in the Confession. The Confession clearly states that not all sins are equal.

Once again I quote Chapter 8:

"ORIGINAL SIN. We therefore acknowledge that there is original sin in all men.

ACTUAL SINS. We acknowledge that all other sins which arise from it are called and truly are sins, no matter by what name they may be called, whether mortal, venial or that which is said to be the sin against the Holy Spirit which is never forgiven (Mark 3:29; I John 5:16). We also confess that sins are not equal; although they arise from the same fountain of corruption and unbelief, some are more serious than others. As the Lord said, it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for the city that rejects the word of the Gospel (Matt. 10:14 f.; 11:20 ff.)."

If you wish to define instinct and sin as the same please qualify it from a confessional standpoint. And let me be clear, although it is instinctual for man to sin, that does not make all sin instinctual. Is it instinctual or willful to commit adultry?

I cite II Helvetic Chapter 9:

"WHAT MAN WAS AFTER THE FALL. Then we are to consider what man was after the fall. To be sure, his reason was not taken from him, nor was he deprived of will, and he was not entirely changed into a stone or a tree. But they were so altered and weakened that they no longer can do what they could before the fall. For the understanding is darkened, and the will which was free has become an enslaved will. Now it serves sin, not unwillingly but willingly. And indeed, it is called a will, not an unwill (ing). [Etenim voluntas, non noluntas dicitur.]

MAN DOES EVIL BY HIS OWN FREE WILL. Therefore, in regard to evil or sin, man is not forced by God or by the devil but does evil by his own free will, and in this respect he has a most free will. But when we frequently see that the worst crimes and designs of men are prevented by God from reaching their purpose, this does not take away man's freedom in doing evil, but God by his own power prevents what man freely planned otherwise. Thus Joseph's brothers freely determined to get rid of him, but they were unable to do it because something else seemed good to the counsel of God."

As you can see, the confession clearly states that sin is willful. Even in an enslaved state it is considered willful to sin.

To say it is instinctual and unwillful would be to say that God forces us to sin. This is heresy.

This brings me to Sevenzedek:

A propensity is not = to an instinct. You have an instinct to breathe. It is not optional on your part but mandatory. You have a propensity to drink water. You may willfully choose to go without and die.

And finally To Loopy:

I agree we have a natural propensity to sin. Propensity does not however = instinctual. Look at Def. 2 of your own writing. Instinct is "unalterable" and "without involving reason"

As to knowing the motives and thoughts of a child, God knows them but as for man?

It is not unreasonable for a child to have behavioral issues who is given a pacifier in place of the breast and then weaned from the pacifier. In fact it may be sinful for a parent to give a child a pacifier as this is a form of deceit. It serves to "passify" a child who needs the love and nourishment of its mother. If the baby is put to the breast rather than "passified" with a cold and nutritionless passifier, it will be happy and quickly nod off to sleep, with a paddifier one can only expect problems. Parents are scripturally admonished not to provoke their child to anger. If you went to a restaurant and were expecting to receive a steak and they brought you a rubber dog treat in the shape of a steak instead, would you not be indignant and frustrated?

I do not consider a 22 month old child a crib baby although they may still be in a crib. Most children are able to creep crawl or walk by 9 months and have some sort of self sufficiency and willfulness by that point.

If you are not able to communicate with your child, how do you know what the source of their "misbehavior" or "fussing" is about? As you said, you cannot remember your days as an infant and if you cannot remember or communicate then you have no way of drawing an inerrant conclusion in a matter. You are forced to guess and it becomes your selfish will against a child's instinct. Need I point out which one will win out?

As to Adam's sin:

It has been proposed here that a child who is born of covenant parents is under the covenant and therefore under grace. As such the sins of Adam are not imputed unto him but rather to Christ and they are covered underthe blood and grace. If so then the only sins for which they must account for are actual sins for which we are individually responsible and alone. Correct?

What now of the child born of non-believing parents?

Is grace for a child dependent on the works of the parents?

To say that we are not responsible for actual sins but rather they are Adams fault is heresy. Correct?

Last question, to whom is it referring in verse 14 when it says "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." if we have all sinned in the likeness of Adam through Federal headship?

I'm not inferring we haven't, just want to know who you think these people were. Was it referring to Enoch?

And how does this square with Ezekiel 18:20 - "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."

Or with John 9:1-3
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

I think I'm being called to dinner :D
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree we have a natural propensity to sin. Propensity does not however = instinctual. Look at Def. 2 of your own writing. Instinct is "unalterable" and "without involving reason"

The problem is that it is often extremely difficult in humans to KNOW whether something was done without any use of reason whatsoever. I would argue that humans are both emotional and rational creatures. Yet even when a person seems like they are acting purely off of emotion, they are STILL using reason. For example, there have been times where someone upset me by something they said, and I felt a strong desire to verbally lash out at them and take my 'revenge' using hurtful language. When we say that someone has acted 'emotionally', we are saying that they are no longer thinking of the 'long term' but are instead rather short-sighted, only focusing on satisfying their immediate emotions and desires. This is done when we immediately respond back to people with hurtful language. We often end up regretting the harsh words that we spoke, because after our emotions have passed we finally consider the long term effects of our actions.

With that said, it is very hard in my opinion to demonstrate that humans engage in actions that involve no reason whatsoever. A good example might be the act of blinking our eyes. Often times it takes a conscious effort not to blink, but instinctively we blink, or close our eyes at certain times (such as when bright light is shined into them). Are these things simple biological reactions (such as the knee jerk)? Are these things instinct? If there truly is such a thing as instinct in humans (actions involving no reason or emotion), then obviously those actions are not sinful (just like blinking your eyes is not sinful). I have no problem with the theory that instincts, as defined here, exist. I DO have a problem with the argument that all the actions of infants are purely instinctual. I do not believe for a second that this is the case.

As to knowing the motives and thoughts of a child, God knows them but as for man?

God knows them infallibly, but certainly man can know them. Has no one ever explained to you why they did something? Has everyone in your life lied to you about their motives? You can know them if you can find out the information (detectives do that all the time).

It is not unreasonable for a child to have behavioral issues who is given a pacifier in place of the breast and then weaned from the pacifier. In fact it may be sinful for a parent to give a child a pacifier as this is a form of deceit. It serves to "passify" a child who needs the love and nourishment of its mother.

Please define what you mean by 'behavioral issues'. I would argue that sin itself is a behavioral issue. Again, we must be careful about building our worldview based on a secular understanding of human nature, rather than what is presented to us in Scripture. Perhaps it is wrong for parents to give their children pacifiers. But then again, my daughter did not just have a 'behavioral' issue regarding the pacifier, she has had 'behavioral' issues regarding watching Sesame Street, playing with a toy, or drinking milk.

If the baby is put to the breast rather than "passified" with a cold and nutritionless passifier, it will be happy and quickly nod off to sleep, with a paddifier one can only expect problems.

And you can prove this universally? I highly doubt that all of my child's behavioral problems are simply due to the fact that we gave her a pacifier for about 8 months. There is something called a 'sin' problem, which all humans have.

Parents are scripturally admonished not to provoke their child to anger. If you went to a restaurant and were expecting to receive a steak and they brought you a rubber dog treat in the shape of a steak instead, would you not be indignant and frustrated?

That has nothing to do with the fact that my daughter throws tamptrums today. Furthermore, there are children who naturally learn to suck their own thumb (which I did as a child). I certainly didn't consider that to be a 'rubber dog treat' (since I was giving it to myself).

I do not consider a 22 month old child a crib baby although they may still be in a crib. Most children are able to creep crawl or walk by 9 months and have some sort of self sufficiency and willfulness by that point.

So what 'age' for you becomes the 'age of accountability'? At what age can babies sin? 20 months? 12 months? Self-sufficiency has nothing to do with sinfulness. There are people in hospital beds and in retirement homes that are not self sufficient in any way. So self sufficiency has nothing to do with sinfulness. And again, there is no way to prove that newborn babes do not think, do not have a will, and do not have a sinful nature.

If you are not able to communicate with your child, how do you know what the source of their "misbehavior" or "fussing" is about?

Cause and effect. If I take something from my daughter, and she starts throwing a tamptrum and pointing at the object, then I know what caused the misbehavior. Pretty simple.

As you said, you cannot remember your days as an infant and if you cannot remember or communicate then you have no way of drawing an inerrant conclusion in a matter. You are forced to guess and it becomes your selfish will against a child's instinct. Need I point out which one will win out?

I would like to think that my will is not selfish, because I am saved by Grace through faith in Christ. I seek to serve the Lord in ALL things, which includes raising my children. Certainly I sin every day, but I am not a slave to sin anymore. Furthermore, since neither one of us can remember what it was like to be an infant, we should let scripture be our guide (as it should always be).

As to Adam's sin:

It has been proposed here that a child who is born of covenant parents is under the covenant and therefore under grace. As such the sins of Adam are not imputed unto him but rather to Christ and they are covered underthe blood and grace. If so then the only sins for which they must account for are actual sins for which we are individually responsible and alone. Correct?

I don't quite understand what you are suggesting. I believe that my children are born under the curse of Adam, like every other child that is born on this earth. What do you mean when you say that your children are 'covered' under the blood and grace? Are you saying that they are guaranteed to be Elect? Are they saved? That is a discussion for another time, but I was just curious as to what you meant by what you said.

What now of the child born of non-believing parents?

From my perspective the children of ALL human parents are born under the curse of Adam. I certainly do believe in Common Grace, and I do think it is an act of grace that my child will grow up learning about the Lord, whereas many other children in this nation will not.

Is grace for a child dependent on the works of the parents?

Nope. God uses various means to accomplish his will. Christian parents might very well be the means by which God calls a child to repentance and faith.

To say that we are not responsible for actual sins but rather they are Adams fault is heresy. Correct?

You are misunderstanding what I said. I never said that OUR sins are Adam's fault. No. What I said was that we are in some way responsible for Adam's sin, and so WE are also at fault too. Yet at the same time we DO commit our OWN sins. I never denied that we commit actual sins. In fact, I was simply showing you that even little babies can act in sinful ways.

Last question, to whom is it referring in verse 14 when it says "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." if we have all sinned in the likeness of Adam through Federal headship?

No, we have all sinned in our own ways, and I have never denied this. But keep in mind that Paul made it very clear in verse 18 that through the act of one man, condemnation came to all men. It wasn't just that we had to deal with the consequences of Adam's sin. In a certain way we were responsible as well, because we were in him.

I'm not inferring we haven't, just want to know who you think these people were. Was it referring to Enoch?

I am not sure what you are asking here. But I think it is clear that even though our sin may not be 'like' Adam's sin, or as 'heinous' as Adam's sin, all have still sinned, and death reigns over all.

And how does this square with Ezekiel 18:20 - "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."

Great question, because now you have to ask yourself why Achan's family was punished for his sin, if in fact there is no such thing as communal responsibility:

Joshua 7:22-26 (NASB)
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was concealed in his tent with the silver underneath it.
23 They took them from inside the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the sons of Israel, and they poured them out before the LORD.
24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor.
25 Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
26 They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day.

I would argue then that Ezekiel is giving hope to the people, encouraging them to come back and turn to God. Furthermore, the example that Ezekiel gives is with regard to social justice. Do you think that Ezekiel was making the argument that the son was absolutely sinless? Not at all.

Or with John 9:1-3
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

I completely agree that many things happen that are not necessarily the result of sin. I am not sure what you intend to show through the example of the blind man. Obviously the disciples believed that someone must have sinned in order for the man to be born blind. But that is not necessarily the case. Yet how does this demonstrate that my arguments are incorrect?

In the end, if we do not believe in federal headship and communal responsibility, how can we claim to have the righteousness of Christ imputed to us? I was not there physically when Christ lived, died, and rose again, just like I wasn't there physically when Adam sinned. It would be a double standard on my part to accept the fact that I am declared righteous because of Christ's obedience, while at the same time deny that I previously had been declared guilty because of Adam's disobedience.
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
It has been proposed here that a child who is born of covenant parents is under the covenant and therefore under grace. As such the sins of Adam are not imputed unto him but rather to Christ and they are covered underthe blood and grace. If so then the only sins for which they must account for are actual sins for which we are individually responsible and alone. Correct?

Please point me to where this has been proposed. Such an understanding is certainly inconsistent with Reformed theology, and the proposer needs to be reminded to refrain from advocating unconfessional positions.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The Confession clearly states that not all sins are equal.

Bob, "not equal" meaning what?

On the one hand you say original and actual sins are "not equal," implying one is less culpable(?) than the other. On the other you say,
I never said actual sins are the only ones deserving God's judgment.
implying they are both culpable.

So, what is the difference you say exists doctrinally, from the standpoint of their deserving God's judgment?
 
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