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If there is total depravity, how can there be an "age of accountability"?

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  • If there is total depravity, how can there be an "age of accountability"?

    I'm trying to reconcile these two ideas - if we are born in sin and are totally depraved, what do we say then about babies, toddlers, and adolescents and their sin nature and need for atonement / justification?

    I realize that Augustine wrestled with this same issue, and I'm not sure I like his conclusions. But if total depravity is a true doctrine, than wouldn't one have to wrestle with the fate of a child if they die without being justified by faith?

    Perhaps there is a simple solution to my question that I'm missing. But the dillemma does help me understand how the idea of an infant baptism would be necessary; of course, as an arminan charismatic protestant, I don't buy into the concept; but how does a traditional evangelical calvinist solve the dilemma?

    I suppose that, in one sense, a child's death before the opportunity to be justified by a faith would be the same as a grown man's death? Is this how it would be viewed by a Calvinist?

    I don't want to necessarily debate the concept of our sin nature from birth, particularly in light of the following passages:

    Psalm 58:3
    The wicked are estranged from the womb;They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

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

    So I understand that everyone from birth needs to be delivered from iniquity; but it's the concept of total depravity and the child that has my curiosity piqued; but I suppose of atonement is limited my question is a non-issue for some. Would this be the case?
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

  • #2
    The true hard-line Calvinist sits on Predestination here. If they were of the Elect, what age they died at doesn't matter. If they weren't... the age they die at doesn't matter.

    There are varying degrees from there.
    One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father over us all.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm not a calvinist, but I do believe that the Bible teaches all are born dead in sin and are in need of regeneration and faith in Christ as their savior. I do not believe the Bible teaches an "age of accountability" either.

      Just as I believe that an adult cannot come to faith of their own will, I do not believe a child can. It is a work of God to regenerate and renew.

      Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

      Some say an infant cannot have faith. But I believe it is God's work to regenerate the dead spirit of a person, to plant the seed of faith in their hearts. A seed is all it takes. If He can do that for an adult, I have no reason to believe it is too hard for Him to do it for an infant. I believe that the Spirit can and does work through the Word in baptism to regenerate and renew and to plant that seed, so infant baptism makes complete sense to me.

      I realize you, nor most here would agree with me, but I hope I've at least explained it so that you can understand why I believe as I do.
      Our destiny is to find our identity within the circumference of His identity--to express His nature, character, etc. ever revealing more of Him. ~ R&D Prinzing

      Comment


      • #4
        Oh, I realized that I never answered your question about limited atonement. I have never believed that the Bible taught this -- I have always known that Christ's sacrifice is for the whole world and not a select few.

        In the past, I would have simply said that I could not logically reconcile the fact that it is God's work alone to save and that He also desires all to be saved, but since God's word clearly proclaimed both, I believe both.
        And though it's no longer the case that I can't reconcile those two, that's where I'll have to leave it due to board rules.
        Our destiny is to find our identity within the circumference of His identity--to express His nature, character, etc. ever revealing more of Him. ~ R&D Prinzing

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by the rookie View Post
          But if total depravity is a true doctrine, than wouldn't one have to wrestle with the fate of a child if they die without being justified by faith?
          I'm not sure that total depravity declares the need of faith, but rather God's grace. Grace is the universal term here. So the age of accountability might be that threshold where one can begin to accept by faith or to deny the need or desire for God's saving grace. So, it isn't that grace isn't needed in the circumstance of innocents, but rather how God bestows it.

          God Bless!
          Watchinginawe

          I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

          Comment


          • #6
            The idea that because we are born in iniquity is equal to being totally depraved from the moment of birth is a huge leap if you ask me.

            (Psa 51:5-7 KJV) Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. {6} Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. {7} Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

            God did not create man and then leave him to himself after Adam sinned. He brought a covering for Adam & Eve so they could stand in His presence and gave them a promise of life to give them hope.

            The fact that man can do no ultimate good because of sin, doesn't mean he is without effort to try or the ability to recognize what is good. What he lacks is the power to overcome his sin nature and actually do that good he knows. The tree Adam ate from contained the knowledge of good and evil. That is what makes him accountable even though he is without power to perform. Therefore his dependence must be upon God - who is the only one who can keep alive his soul.

            Calvin for some reason fails to consider that God desired mankind to be saved from the beginnning and neglects to see the provision made right there in the garden to restore Adam's relationship with God. A relationship he could not initiate, but was expected to maintain thru faith in the promise and obedience to the word of God.

            Even Cain had a relationship with God who warned him about sin and that by doing right, he could overcome it. Cain however like many since, despised the word of God, preferring his sin rather than follow after the remedy given for it. Cain wasn't born a murderer, but his sin led him to it. Yet God gave him warning beforehand, instruction about what he needed to do, and protection from retaliation after. Why? so that Cain could have hope in this life and continue to live in the earth by the grace and mercy of God given to him.

            Which shows us that forgiveness has always been the will of God and faith the vehicle by which it is obtained. Those who persist to despise the word of God therefore have no excuse, and they will die in their sins - not because of depravity, but because they choose to do so. It is not because the grace of God was not extended to them - which Cain is the example.
            Robin

            Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established that, unless one loves the truth, he cannot know it. - Blaise Pascal
            And Jesus saith unto him [Thomas], I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. - John 14:6
            Discernment is not needed in things that differ, but in things that appear to be the same. - Miles Sanford
            Those who compromise with Christ’s enemies may be reckoned with them. - C.H. Spurgeon

            Comment


            • #7
              As to the age of accountability, Isaiah spoke of a little child before “he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right” (Isa. 7:15-16).

              This seems to imply that there is an age of moral accountability. Jesus said even of adults, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:41). How much more would this apply to infants who do not yet know moral right from wrong?

              Original sin, brought about by Adam is canceled by Christ. If so, then no human being is hell-bound because of Adam’s sin. They must commit sins of their own to go there. In this case, since infants have not committed personal sins, they could all be saved even though they are not yet old enough to believe. The judicial condemnation brought by Adam (Rom. 5:12) was reversed, and God is free to save any and all. This being the case, there is no reason that God must condemn infants. Christ died for them. God can save them if he wishes to do so. But since God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and since the infants cannot believe, God saves them through the finished work of Christ.

              The precise age of accountability may differi ndividually, depending on their moral development. Perhaps it is earlier for those who are exposed to concepts of moral right and wrong earlier. At any rate, it probably occurs sometime between ages four and twelve.

              The point at which it occurs is when the individual is old enough to understand the difference between moral right and wrong and the consequences of making moral choices. In biblical terms, when they are aware of the “law writtenin their hearts” (Rom. 2:15).

              They are morally accountable when they are old enough to know that what they do is against the moral law of God. Or, as Isaiah said, they are morally responsible when they are old enough to “to reject the wrong and choose the right” (Isa. 7:15). <><
              Revelation 3:3
              .....If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

              Comment


              • #8
                When we were born we were born with a sinful nature, but we were born in innocency. If we die in that state then we go to heaven. Because we were innocent, God did not impute sin to us, it lay dormant within us waiting for the God's Law to awake it, and that is what Paul meant when he said the following:

                Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

                Once sin was awoken by the commandment, God imputed that sin to him because he knew what he was doing and freely chose to do it. With sin came the condemnation of the Law - death.

                Once you realise that an action is a violation of what God said, and you do it anyway, like Adam and Eve, you die! Your death though, is merely God reckoning the actual deadness of your spirit to your account.
                - Matt -
                .
                Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing
                of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by the rookie View Post
                  I'm trying to reconcile these two ideas - if we are born in sin and are totally depraved, what do we say then about babies, toddlers, and adolescents and their sin nature and need for atonement / justification?

                  I realize that Augustine wrestled with this same issue, and I'm not sure I like his conclusions. But if total depravity is a true doctrine, than wouldn't one have to wrestle with the fate of a child if they die without being justified by faith?

                  Perhaps there is a simple solution to my question that I'm missing. But the dillemma does help me understand how the idea of an infant baptism would be necessary; of course, as an arminan charismatic protestant, I don't buy into the concept; but how does a traditional evangelical calvinist solve the dilemma?

                  I suppose that, in one sense, a child's death before the opportunity to be justified by a faith would be the same as a grown man's death? Is this how it would be viewed by a Calvinist?

                  I don't want to necessarily debate the concept of our sin nature from birth, particularly in light of the following passages:

                  Psalm 58:3
                  The wicked are estranged from the womb;They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

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

                  So I understand that everyone from birth needs to be delivered from iniquity; but it's the concept of total depravity and the child that has my curiosity piqued; but I suppose of atonement is limited my question is a non-issue for some. Would this be the case?
                  Your question brings to mind the fact that God's word says we are saved by grace through faith Eph 2:8. And if an infant cannot have faith, then I need to trust that God in His love will make sure that whatever happens to those infants who die before they can have faith will be taken care of in a manner that God determines, and I believe that He knows what is best, and will always do the right thing in exercising His love in each individual case.
                  If the Calvinistic Westminister Confession is true (that "God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass"), then God ordained my disbelief of Calvinism.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I was wrestling through this very issue on my OT Survey paper about the killing of all the firstborn in Exodus. I hope I didn't fail the paper rookie... Certainly that was God's judgment right?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      BTW, if indeed the doctrine of total depravity is flawed, the implications are ginormous

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I hope not, Baycee.

                        I'm going to avoid that sticky little theological point for now and come back to it later (meaning Egypt and the death of the firstborn and then Joshua and the command of the Lord to cleanse the land later on)

                        As I'm following the answers, there seems to be a lack of consensus; so maybe we can focus on one point first and then work forward logically and theologically from there:

                        Are babies born into depravity / iniquity totally depraved? If they die before consciously engaging with truth and faith by grace then is it simply an issue of predestination?

                        Part of why I asked the questions initially is because I don't want to assume or presume I know how a Calvinist would answer, but I wanted to hear the actual thought process on total depravity and the condition of a child before God, particularly in the case of the death of an infant or toddler.
                        The Rookie

                        Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I hope that I can help a little.

                          I am not a calvanist, which I believe you already knew that. However, I do believe in the concept of the "age of accountability". I do not have much information, except this.

                          Adam and Eve were not considered to be in sin until they had gained the knowledge of good and evil. In their case, it was by sinning. However, it was the point where they could acknowledge what they had done that made them accountable for their actions.

                          A baby, although being born into sin, IMHO, is not held accountable for sins committed, when they did not commit any sins other than being born. But this is my opinion.

                          Here is some scripture evidence.

                          For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. Isaiah 7:16

                          Now we know that this is a prophecy either concerning Jesus, or a baby during Isaiah's time period that was named Immanuel. the point is that the child was hinted to have a period of time where they are to learn right from wrong, which is where I scripturally derive the concept of Age of accountability. This verse tells me that even in the OT, a child had a period of time where he or she is to learn right from wrong. And from there, once they have reached a certain point, then they are held accountible for their actions.

                          I know that this may not be enough for some out here, or maybe not enough scripture for you, Rookie, but this is enough for me.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by third hero View Post
                            I hope that I can help a little.

                            I am not a calvanist, which I believe you already knew that. However, I do believe in the concept of the "age of accountability". I do not have much information, except this.

                            Adam and Eve were not considered to be in sin until they had gained the knowledge of good and evil. In their case, it was by sinning. However, it was the point where they could acknowledge what they had done that made them accountable for their actions.

                            A baby, although being born into sin, IMHO, is not held accountable for sins committed, when they did not commit any sins other than being born. But this is my opinion.

                            Here is some scripture evidence.

                            For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. Isaiah 7:16

                            Now we know that this is a prophecy either concerning Jesus, or a baby during Isaiah's time period that was named Immanuel. the point is that the child was hinted to have a period of time where they are to learn right from wrong, which is where I scripturally derive the concept of Age of accountability. This verse tells me that even in the OT, a child had a period of time where he or she is to learn right from wrong. And from there, once they have reached a certain point, then they are held accountible for their actions.

                            I know that this may not be enough for some out here, or maybe not enough scripture for you, Rookie, but this is enough for me.
                            third hero greetings

                            In my opinion there is no answer in scripture to this question. Quite often we make judgments based on our feelings.

                            That is what faith is about. Trusting God that He is good.

                            Isaiah 55:8 "For my thought are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."

                            In Jesus Christ, terrell

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mikey0
                              To reconcile this one must understand that, as you cited from scripture, all are concieved in sin. As such we are all under the threat of Hell from conception. Since you say you didn't want to argue our sin condiition from birth I won't get into that. You quoted all scripture needed to prove that point with your citations. One only needs to accept the truth of the bible to understand.

                              The problem arises when we think we can contribute any to salvation. We can not. Since the bible in many, many verses teaches that it's the faith of Christ that saves and not our faith. Does anyone need to believe or have faith to be saved? No. Same for babies. God saves whom He will. The verse in Isa 7 is clearly talking about the baby Jesus. Not about all babies in the womb.
                              Hi Mikey0,
                              I think you made a good point about faith. It is in this life that we must walk by faith. In the next life we will see Him face to face. When we see in the OT that whole cities were to be destroyed, it was because mortal life continued. Failure to rid the land of its wicked inhabitants only brought them back at a later date.

                              But since the cross, this immediate judgment has been stayed and mercy is available to all who look to Christ. Therefore God is just when He extends that mercy to any whom He wills. It is God who judges the heart, and a child or infant who has yet to commit any willful sin will not be judged for what they have not done.

                              Certainly no earthly judge sentences any man for what he has not done. Do we not expect that the Judge of the whole earth is even more righteous than we are? While sin is in our nature, it is not our nature that brings judgment upon us, but our actions that we do as a result. Those who have done no good nor evil yet, would certainly seem to be candidates for mercy.
                              Robin

                              Truth is so obscure in these times and falsehood so established that, unless one loves the truth, he cannot know it. - Blaise Pascal
                              And Jesus saith unto him [Thomas], I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. - John 14:6
                              Discernment is not needed in things that differ, but in things that appear to be the same. - Miles Sanford
                              Those who compromise with Christ’s enemies may be reckoned with them. - C.H. Spurgeon

                              Comment

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