Reply to Jared Moore Regarding Southern Seminary and the BFM, Part 3

January 9, 2013

Adam Harwood, PhD
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies
Truett-McConnell College
Cleveland, Georgia


Moore misrepresents Harwood. Again.

            You write: “Harwood believes that mankind is only condemned for his own transgressions, and his sinful nature and environment are not ‘sin’ that requires a trust in Christ for redemption.  The only answer for sin in the BF&M2K is faith in Jesus Christ.  Consider Article IV of the BF&M2K where sin is only forgiven based on faith in Christ.” Once again, you have misrepresented my view. Your arguments would be strengthened if you supported them with evidence.

First, it is your view, Rev. Moore, which results in the salvation of guilty infants in contradiction to the BFM, which states: “There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.” You argue 1) all infants are born sinful and guilty and 2) they are saved by the grace of God. But consider: How can an infant have “personal faith in Jesus Christ”?

My view is consistent with the BFM: All transgressors (guilty people who are under condemnation) must repent of their sins and receive Christ in order to be saved; infants are not yet transgressors because they have not yet reached moral capability. But in your view, all infants are guilty due to Adam’s sin; those who die in infancy are elected and regenerated (thus, saved) apart from repenting and believing in Christ.

In my view, infants who die are safe with God through the Cross of Christ; hence, there is no salvation apart from personal faith in Christ. In your view, guilty infants are saved without repenting and believing in Christ; hence, you advocate for salvation apart from personal faith in Christ. Which view contradicts the BFM? The ax you wield against my view undercuts your own.

Second, I anticipated your objection in my book. Consider this extended quotation from page 154 of The Spiritual Condition of Infants:

Infants are sin-stained, not guilty. Infants are not sinless because they inherit a sinful nature. But infants are not guilty because God judges our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, not our nature. If I were pressed to speculate how God might deal with people who die in their infancy, I would offer this suggestion: All people who die in their infancy will be included in God’s restoration of his fallen creation through Christ’s work at the cross. Perhaps this is the time Jesus mentioned as “the renewal of all things” (Matt 19:28). Paul said that creation would be set free from its bondage to decay (Rom 8:19–23). Although infants are not guilty of sin, they have been stained by it. Even though they have not knowingly acted in ways that would incur God’s judgment, they may be in need of God’s redemptive and renewing work. And it is Jesus who promises, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).

Thus, your statement: “Harwood believes that … his sinful nature and environment are not ‘sin’ that requires a trust in Christ for redemption” is inaccurate. The sin nature requires the atoning work of the Cross of Christ; but people who have not yet become transgressors are nowhere in the BFM held accountable for Adam’s guilt.

Words Matter

            Your post raises good questions concerning the definition of certain words. Consider:

1. Does “sin” refer only to thoughts and actions contrary to God’s law (actual sin) or can it also refer to a universal, inherited inclination toward sin (per Article 3 of the BFM)?

2. Similarly, does “condemnation” always entail inherited guilt or can it refer to judgment which a person earns upon becoming a transgressor (per Article 3 of the BFM)?

If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then what is the problem?

Inherited Sinful Nature in Article 3 of the BFM:
Disparage, Ignore, Revise, or Affirm?

            Perhaps some people who are unhappy with the inherited sinful nature view are actually unhappy with Article 3 of the BFM. Some Southern Baptists disparage Article 3. Founders Ministries, for example, writes of Article 3: “The 1963 statement (which remains virtually unchanged at this point in the 2000 revision), reflecting the doctrinal downgrade of the SBC in that era that ultimately necessitated the conservative resurgence that began in the next decade, reduces the impact of the fall from leaving man’s nature enslaved to sin to leaving it, along with his environment, ‘inclined toward sin’” (http://blog.founders.org/2012/06/response-to-statement-of-traditional_05.html). Article 3 reflects the “doctrinal downgrade” which resulted in the Conservative Resurgence? If that is the case, then why didn’t Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Al Mohler, and others on the BFM 2000 Study Committee clean it up when they had the chance? Perhaps Article 3 was virtually untouched in 2000 because it was already a robust theological statement accurately reflecting Southern Baptist theology.

Others ignore the BFM. Consider, for example, the prominent Southern Baptists who regularly address SBC seminarians, conferences, and pastors but do not affirm the BFM in their own church. (This is so common that I consider examples unnecessary.) SBC churches are free to affirm any statement of faith of their choice. But it seems odd that so many Southern Baptists distance themselves from their own Convention’s statement of faith. I regard the BFM to be an excellent statement. I’m happy to cooperate with other Southern Baptists under the BFM. But such cooperation is disrupted when an institution such as SBTS publishes an interpretation of the BFM which affirms a position not affirmed in the BFM. Such a move excludes a group of Southern Baptists with whom it should be cooperating.

Perhaps the SBC will decide to revise the BFM. If so, fine. If not, fine. Either way, please stop referring to an affirmation of inherited sinful nature as “Harwood’s view” and please start referring to it as “the BFM.” This will provide an accurate starting point for these discussions.

Some of the people who commented on your post noted that a denial of inherited guilt is “flawed,” “dangerous to the church,” “opens the door to true heresies,” and “virtually ‘another gospel.’” I understand that you are not responsible for the comments under your post. But perhaps our posts can do more to foster a spirit of unity and peace as we discuss differing theological positions. An affirmation of inherited sinful nature–without affirming that all people inherit Adam’s guilt–is the view of Article 3 of the BFM. (Note: Until a search of the BFM uncovers the word “guilt” in the text, I’ll remain unconvinced that the BFM affirms that all people inherit guilt from the first man.)

Affirmations of inherited sinful nature (with its denials of inherited guilt) haven’t been universal in Christian history but they have been frequent. I will document their claims in my presentation at the March 2013 John 3:16 Conference (http://www.jerryvines.com/pages/2013-john-316-conference/2013-john-316-conference/), but here is a list of some of the theologians whose views are consistent with inherited sinful nature: Eastern (John Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa) and Western (Tertullian) theologians as well as both Magisterial (Zwingli) and Anabaptist (Marpeck) Reformers. Similarly, inherited sinful nature has not been universally affirmed but it has been frequently affirmed among Baptists. Consider as examples a 400-year old confession of a Baptist “founder” (John Smyth) and statements from all three SBC Presidents who presided over BFM Study Committees (Mullins, Hobbs, and Patterson).

The list of theologians who deny that people are accountable to God for Adam’s guilt is impressive. Apparently, I’m in good company.

Happy New Year and God’s richest blessings on your life and ministry, brother.

In Him,
Adam

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Johnathan Pritchett

Dr. Harwood, this is top notch theology!

“Infants are sin-stained, not guilty. Infants are not sinless because they inherit a sinful nature. But infants are not guilty because God judges our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, not our nature. If I were pressed to speculate how God might deal with people who die in their infancy, I would offer this suggestion: All people who die in their infancy will be included in God’s restoration of his fallen creation through Christ’s work at the cross. Perhaps this is the time Jesus mentioned as “the renewal of all things” (Matt 19:28). Paul said that creation would be set free from its bondage to decay (Rom 8:19–23). Although infants are not guilty of sin, they have been stained by it. Even though they have not knowingly acted in ways that would incur God’s judgment, they may be in need of God’s redemptive and renewing work. And it is Jesus who promises, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).

I really need to move your book up in my Amazon queue buy it.

Sadly, Limited Atonement schemes from Calvinists also limit its scope and power, among other things. While they disagree with Lutherans on this point, they still regard Luther’s own existential nightmare and personal crises as the interpretive grid for books like Romans. Which makes a book about the God-exalting Gospel and incredible accomplishment of Christ, as well as power and life in the Spirit, with its cosmic implications regarding all people groups and the cosmos itself, and reduce it all down to “the individual standing before God’ or whatever.

Tunnel-vision regarding the Triune God’s cosmic purposes simply won’t do.

Carl Peterson

Adam,

This is the first time I could come back. I will look at your reply to my part II after this one. Sorry if I rehash some of that post in this one.

You said “My view is consistent with the BFM: All transgressors (guilty people who are under condemnation) must repent of their sins and receive Christ in order to be saved; infants are not yet transgressors because they have not yet reached moral capability. But in your view, all infants are guilty due to Adam’s sin; those who die in infancy are elected and regenerated (thus, saved) apart from repenting and believing in Christ.

In my view, infants who die are safe with God through the Cross of Christ; hence, there is no salvation apart from personal faith in Christ.”

I am at a loss as to how in your view infants are saved through a personal faith in Christ. You state earlier in the piece (or at least imply) that infants cannot have personal faith. So how is your view really salvation through personal faith? Whose faith? It seems it is salvation because the infant is not yet guilty and thus should receive condemnation. I think the infant could be somewhat compared to the rest of creation. Creation is flawed because of sin but God will save creation at the end times. He will resotre it.
Again please elucidate on how in your view infants either have personal faith or personal faith in Christ is used to save infants who are non-transgressors.

“(Note: Until a search of the BFM uncovers the word “guilt” in the text, I’ll remain unconvinced that the BFM affirms that all people inherit guilt from the first man.)”

Really? I respect you but I think this is misguided. We can’t find the word Trinity in our bibles but I think we would both challenge anyone who does not believe in that doctrine. I think you need to open to see if certain words like “sin” or “condemnation” might possible be open to a more Reformed interpretation in the BFM.

CARL

    Johnathan Pritchett

    That analogy between “guilt” in the BF&M and “Trinity” is not a very good one.

    Trinity is just a useful short-hand label to work out the Biblical data that there is one God (being), and that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Some people who are NOT Oneness don’t like that term either (for reasons that “it isn’t in the Bible”) and use Godhead instead. That’s fine, since the have the Trinitarian content there, but it is also a bit silly to not use a word for a conceptual framework for Christian diety because it isn’t a word in the Bible.

    In any case, the BF&M is not the Bible, it is a theological statement derived from interpretation of the BIble and briefly systematized into short, specific doctrinal positions. There is nothing about a doctrinal statement that forces us to insert a word and meaning where it is not there. Precisely the opposite. Adoctrinal statement is where words should be inserted for clarity. Which is why we use words like Trinity in them, even though it is not in the Bible.

    “Dispensation” is a Bible word, that doesn’t mean “dispensationalism” is therefore correct.

    These kinds of arguments both ways, and it is far beyond the time that everyone should hang up the “that word is/is not in the Bible” type arguments….

    Dr. Harwood said infants are “safe”, so “salvation” has personal faith, and there is no salvation without it. It isn’t Dr. Harwood’s problem if you don’t have room for infant safety in your theology.

    Dr. James White recognizes this issue in light of holding to imputed guilt, and has repeatedly affirmed God can save or damn infants at His good pleasure and thus rejects affirming that all infants are covered by grace automatically, regardless of our “feelings” or whatever. Presumably then, on this view, God would probably save and damn infants at the same ratio He saves and damns everyone else. Sadly, however, if this view were correct, such a view would ultimately make Yahweh the most efficient practitioner of Molech worship in the cosmos.

      wingedfooted1

      Brother Johnathan,

      This is how Calvinist Vincent Cheung puts it.

      “The popular position that all infants are saved is wishful thinking, and continues as a groundless religious tradition. Those who affirm the doctrine of election have never been able to establish that all those who die as infants are elect. Their arguments are forced and fallacious. And those who reject the biblical doctrine of election lacks even this to fabricate a doctrine of infant salvation. Thus the invention deceives the masses and offers them hope based on mere fantasy. The way to comfort bereaved parents is not to lie to them, but to instruct them to trust in God. Whatever God decides must be right and good. It may be difficult due to their grief and weakness at the time, but if the parents cannot finally accept this, that God is always right, then they are headed for hell themselves and need to become Christians.”

      Interesting.

      God bless

        Adam Harwood

        Wingedfooted1,
        For clarity, are you quoting Vincent Cheung approvingly? If so, please tell us more about his background, theological method and writings.
        In Him,
        Adam

          wingedfooted1

          Adam,

          If what you mean by “approvingly” do I agree with him, then I give a resounding “God forbid!”

          From what I can tell (and I am open to correction) Vincent Cheung is a (gulp!) reformed Baptist preacher. The entire article, from which this quote was taken, can be located from his website and the link is provided below (definitely worth the read, though painful).

          http://www.vincentcheung.com/2011/04/16/infant-salvation/

          Also, from what I have read from him, he is a full blown 5 point calvinist who holds the supralapsarian position and has no issues with God being the Author of sin (in his own words “So what?”). It appears that some within his own ranks classify him as a hyper-calvinist, though I beg to differ. I see Cheung as the “consistent” calvinist who takes calvinism to its ultimate and final conclusion.

          God bless you and your ministry.

        Mary

        Vincent Cheung is rejected by almost all Calvinists as a hyper-calvinist.

          wingedfooted1

          Mary,

          But calvinists don’t have a monopoly on the labeling front. What many calvinists label as “hyper”, should be seen as “consistent”.

          Vincent Cheung is just the consistent (and from what I can find, “reformed” Baptist) calvinist who takes calvinism to its ultimate and final conclusion. Many of Cheung’s views, including double predestination and the supralapsarian position, were held by John Calvin himself.

          How could John Calvin be a “hyper-Calvinist”?

          Even if (and that’s a BIG “IF”) there is a distinction between Cheung and other calvinists, the difference is insignificant (both hold completely to the 5 points of calvinism). What I mean by that is that those who consider themselves part of the “mainstream” calvinists are only a stone’s throw away from what Cheung teaches and believes.

          And as the apostle Paul wrote…. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

          Perhaps many of today’s calvinist wish to distance themselves from what Vincent Cheung believes, but I haven’t seen any of them rebuke him with scripture. If you think otherwise, I encourage you to go to his website and reading his writings (maybe you can rebuke him).

          If Calvinism is true (even in the slightest), everything Vincent Cheung writes and believes is true as well.

          Regardless of any label, he is brutally honest and totally consistent. He is, as I have said before, a credit to the theology he embraces.

          Grace

    Adam Harwood

    Carl,
    Thanks for your note. Sorry for the delay in reply. I was tied up with other commitments this morning.
    I think Johnathan’s comment addressed your major objections. I’d be happy to field any follow up questions. Blessings.
    In Him,
    Adam

volfan007

Spurgeon–No man perishes through Adam’s sin only…
In a sermon entitled “Good News for the Lost” and based upon Luke 19:10—”For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”—and preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on Lord’s Day morning, March 9, 1873, Spurgeon denies natural depravity alone sends anyone to hell.1

Below is the relevant section:

… Let us consider how men are lost. We know first that they are lost by nature. However much men may rebel against the doctrine, it is a truth of inspiration that we are lost even when we are born, and that the word “lost” has to do, not only with those who have gone into sin grossly and wickedly, but even with all mankind.

Did you ever notice the other place where this text occurs? It is in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew and the eleventh verse, and it occurs there in a very significant relationship. Let me read you the words. Christ is speaking about little children, and he says, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” The Lord had placed a little child in the midst of the disciples, and had declared that they must be converted and become as little children, and yet he uttered these words in that connection.

From that passage it is clear that, by nature, little children are lost, and they owe their salvation to the Lord Jesus, when God is pleased to carry them to heaven in infancy. Jesus is come to seek and to save those who are lost by nature; and it is most certain that no man now perishes through Adam’s sin only, and no man is cast into hell because of natural depravity alone; his own personal sin and unbelief cast him there.2

1I am very much aware Spurgeon is more than a complex theologian and at times, at least for me, profoundly baffling. One may search his sermons and abundantly discover many places appearing where his explicit allegiance to what many reference as the “Federal Representative View” when speaking of Adam’s progeny’s relationship to Adam’s sin. However, it seems Spurgeon’s “Federal” understanding was not of the same brand as Covenant theologians either then or now. In short, whatever “guilt” infants inherited from Adam in “natural depravity” remained an insufficent factor so far as sending the infant to hell.

2C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XIX (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1873), 134; the paragraph is broken apart for better readibility, italics added

From a blog by Peter Lumpkins….

    Adam Harwood

    Peter’s site (SBC Tomorrow) has some excellent research on inherited guilt and infant salvation. I especially appreciate his care in documenting sources.

volfan007

BTW, Dr. Harwood, great post….excellent and Biblical…and readable! I love it when smart people can talk in a language that even I can understand. Thanks.

David

volfan007

winged,

It’s thinking like this…and of James White…that makes me shake my head at Calvinism. And, that makes me glad that I’m not sold out to this Augustinian system.

David

Mark

I just want to point out that Spurgeon said the following in his commentary on Psalm 51:5.

Verse 5. Infants are no innocents, being born with original sin, the first sheet wherein they are wrapped is woven of sin, shame, blood, and filth. Ezekiel 16:4, etc. They are said to sin as they were in the loins of Adam, just as Levi is said to pay tithes to Melchizedek, even in the loins of his forefather Abraham Hebrews 7:9-10; otherwise infants would not die, for death is the wages of sin Romans 6:23; and the reign of death is procured be the reign of sin, which hath reigned over all mankind except Christ. All are sinners, infected with the guilt and filth of sin; the rot (according to the vulgar saying) over runs the whole flock. Hence David reflects upon original sin as the cause of all his actual, saying, Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Thus man’s malady begind betimes, even in our conception; this subtle serpent sowed his tares very early, so that we are all “born in sin.” John 9:34. Christopher Ness’s “Divine Legacy,” 1700.

    Adam Harwood

    Mark,
    Thanks for your note. I understand that your comment is a reply to David’s comment, not my post. Nevertheless, if I may reply: I think Peter’s point in citing Spurgeon (see footnote 1 in the excerpt) is not to suggest that Spurgeon denied that infants were sinful. Spurgeon certainly affirmed such a view. Rather, Spurgeon’s view of infants differs from Reformed theologians today (this distinguishes between “Calvinist” theology and an overlapping view known as “Reformed” theology). The difference is this: Like Mohler and Akin in their paper on this topic, Spurgeon was clear that ALL people who die as infants will be saved by God’s grace through the atoning work of Christ. However, some Reformed and Calvinistic theologians (for example, Wayne Grudem) are unwilling to affirm that ALL people who die as infants will be saved. I think this clarifies the Spurgeon quotation regarding infant salvation. Blessings, brother, and thanks for commenting.
    In Him,
    Adam

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Well, even Spurgeon had bad exegesis at times.

      Randall Cofield

      Johnathan,

      I’m sure that had you been around in 1875 (wearing your Superman pajamas, of course), you would have been able to correct Spurgeon quite handily.

      :-)

        Randall Cofield

        I’m sorry. I’d claim the devil made me do it, but the fact is I’m Totally Depraved….

        Bwaahahaahaaahaaaa…..

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I actually got Superman pajama pants this year for Christmas from my ten year old son, matter of fact! They are awesome. I cherish any gift he picks out himself.

        Yes, I would have indeed corrected Spurgeon. He indeed would have needed it. ;)

volfan007

We all believe that infants are sinners. Who is saying that original sin is not true in infants? that we’re all born sinners with a sin problem in our hearts?

David

Carl Peterson

Johnathan Pritchett,

My point regarding the analogy regarding the word “Trinity” was only to demonstrate that one should look at what the document is meaning instead of rejecting a possible meanining only because a particular word is not included. That is all and for that purpose I think it works.

“Dr. Harwood said infants are “safe”, so “salvation” has personal faith, and there is no salvation without it. It isn’t Dr. Harwood’s problem if you don’t have room for infant safety in your theology.”

Never knew infants did not need to be saved. That they are “safe” without Christ. I do not think this is Adam’s position. He has already stated that infants are under Adam’s sin which he means that infants have a sin nature. Thus infants need salvation. all men need salvation.

    Adam Harwood

    Carl,

    Thanks for your note.

    I appreciate your attempt to rescue me from my own words. I know I often need this kind of help. But in this case, I am not requesting help.

    I understood your analogy regarding the word “Trinity” but differ with you for some of the same reasons Johnathan already mentioned. We’re not talking about a doctrine properly constructed from the words of Scripture (as is the case with “Trinity”); the BFM is a summary of the Bible. If inheriting Adam’s guilt is such an important doctrinal point, then why isn’t the word used? Also, how has its absence gone unnoticed and uncorrected for so long? The reason? *Imputed guilt* is not necessary for orthodoxy. Adam introduced sin, which resulted in death and condemnation for all (Romans 5:12-21). That’s in the Bible and that’s what I affirm. The BFM explains condemnation as something that happens to us, not a condition we are in from the time of conception. If that is the case, then it is not necessary for Adam’s guilt to pass to people in order for them to come under condemnation.

    I never said infants are “‘safe’ without Christ.” Rather, infants are without guilt and safe with God and they enter heaven through the atoning work of Christ (see quotation from my book in Part 3 of my essay above).

    I actually borrowed the phrase “safe” from John MacArthur. We hold a similar interpretation of Deut 1:39 and he links his interpretation of the passage with the spiritual condition of infants today. In his book _Safe In the Arms of God_, MacArthur writes, “The Israelite children of sinful parents were allowed to enter fully into the blessing God had for His people. They were in no way held accountable, responsible, or punishable for the sins of their parents. Why? Because they had no knowledge of good and evil, right or wrong.” Then, he quotes Ezek 18:20, which reads, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (ESV). Keep in mind my book only argues this to be the case for infants; the Deuteronomy 1/Numbers 14 text names children up to the age of 20 years!

    MacArthur continues, “The same is true today. A child may be conceived out of wedlock. A fetus may be aborted by an ungodly mother. A child may be beaten to death by an ungodly father. But before God, that child does not bear culpability for the sins of the parents. The children were considered ‘innocent’ of sin. They had not rebelled; they had no ‘say’ regarding the Israelite’s rebellion and unbelief. In a profound way, God blessed their innocence.”

    MacArthur used the word “innocent.”

    If the Bible teaches that sin and death (not guilt) comes from Adam, then when does a person become guilty? Although there is no “age of accountability” in the Bible, there are conditions for accountability:

    1. You know the difference between right and wrong.
    2. You knowingly commit your first sinful act.

    For more on this issue, please see my essay “Inherited Sinful Nature” found on the right hand column of this site.

    Thanks, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

    Johnathan Pritchett

    No. They are safe in Christ, not without Christ. They are rescued (saved in that sense).

Carl Peterson

Adam,

I have some real problems with Jonathan’s reply. One major thing is that most of it is about a very minor point in my post. Is your view that infants are “safe”? I do not know how to reconcile that statement with other posts you have made regarding your theology and more importantly with scripture. No where does it say that infants are safe. All need salvation. Even all of creation needs salvation. To just say that infants are “safe” either is just another way to say that they are “saved” or that they are safe without the real need of salvation. Either way it does nothing to answer my question. If infants do not need to have personal faith for salvation the point in my post seems correct.

BTW I am just asking questions as one who does not hold your theology but wants to learn about it and discuss as gentlemen. I hope we can still discuss this instead of not being your problem to deal with me.

CARL

    Adam Harwood

    Carl,

    Thanks for your note. Apparently, I was still typing my reply above when you submitted this comment. My note above should address your “safe” question.

    I do appreciate the patience with which you ask questions and I understand we differ on this issue. I do not consider you a “problem” to deal with but a brother in Christ who is seeking to better understand the view of another brother. Ideally, discussions on this topic within the SBC will proceed in a similar manner. In light of the Cross, why would we speak with each other any other way?

    In Him,
    Adam

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Your boo-hooing about my reply aside, you are correct that all creation is in need of salvation if we mean salvation from bondage of corruption and futility. No one here disagrees with that at all. In fact, that is what we argue. Infant death needs rescue from that. It doesn’t follow that the redemption in this sense includes guilt for an infant any more than it includes guilt for the rivers and trees.

wingedfooted1

Adam,

“‘What is that age?’ You often hear that question asked. That’s really not the question because we’re not talking an age of accountability–get this in your mind–we’re talking about a condition of accountability! Get the word ‘age’ out of this discussion. We’re talking about a condition of accountability, not an age. Who qualifies then, in our discussion, as an infant or a child who, dying, is saved–who dying, instantly goes to heaven? Who are we talking about? Answer: those who have not reached sufficient, mature understanding in order to comprehend convincingly the issues of law and grace, sin and salvation……….. It’s not an age; it is a condition…… That’s who we’re talking about: people in that condition where they cannot, in a mature way, understand and comprehend convincingly these issues. We’re talking about those people.” – John MacArthur – The Salvation of Babies Who Die

Of course I am trying to juggle this in my mind in regards to calvinism’s unconditional election to salvation. Why is one person saved because of a condition (in this case, infancy death or mental retardation) and another person is reprobated due to another condition (total depravity)? According to calvinism, the unregenerate are incapable of comprehending “the issues of law and grace, sin and salvation”. They say that the unregenerate are deaf and blind to spiritual truths. It’s not just an issue of they “don’t want to”, but rather “they can’t”.

Also, are we to seriously believe that crib death, abortion, and mental retardation are reserved only for “the elect”?

Grace

    Adam Harwood

    You have raised good questions. Age of accountability and unconditional election are an odd couple.

Brad Reynolds

Dr. Harwood,

I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts. I am not surprised Southern Seminary has wisely chosen to be eerily silent concerning your brilliant post from Dec. 11 but I must state that the silence is deafening.

I would like to take a moment to address the question that some have raised equating our inherited sinful nature with inheriting guilt. While I am not a Greek scholar, I do enjoy studying the Greek NT. There are at least four words Paul could have used to express that we inherit Adam’s “guilt”. (I do apologize for not using a macron as needed by two of the words below but I could not figure out how to do so in “Word”).

1. enochos – used eight times in NT. It can be translated as one who is “under obligation” or “subject to” or “liable.”

2. katadikazo – used four times in NT – usually translated as condemned but can mean “to pronounce guilty”

3. opheilo – used thirty-six times in NT – usually translated “to owe” or “to be indebted” but can be translated as “guilty” as in Matt. 23:18 KJV

4. hupodikos – used only once in the NT: Romans 3:19 – The context demands a rendering similar to the NASB: “accountable.” The HCSB also translates this word well: “subject to God’s judgment.” Romans 3 is not dealing with man’s universal inherited guilt from Adam, but every person’s accountability to God because of personal sins (see the context beginning in Romans 1).

(It is interesting to note that every time any of these words is used in the NT in a way which can be rendered “guilty” it is always associated with errant personal deeds or at least an accusation of errant deeds.)

The point is: when Paul addressed what we inherited from Adam in Romans 5 (or in 1 Cor 15) he had the full arsenal of the Greek language at his disposal to state we inherited Adam’s guilt. He never used such terms. Dr. Harwood, your point on the BFM is important because you are dealing with a Southern Baptist Seminary whose interpretation of our official document seems to run counter to that very document, which is disconcerting at best. However, I will bypass this important subject to address the larger issue: not only does the BFM2K not use such language but more importantly the NT does not.

If the concept of inheriting Adam’s “nature and environment inclined toward sin” but not his guilt is so unorthodox and Semi-Pelagian (verging on heresy) as some blogs and seminary interpretations seem to indicate then why would the Holy Spirit not inspire Paul to be clear that what we inherited was Adam’s guilt, unless…we didn’t.

    Adam Harwood

    Well stated, Dr. Reynolds. Thanks for weighing in on this discussion.

    Adam Harwood

    Dr. Reynolds,

    Regarding the silence of Southern: Good question.

    1. Perhaps they are unaware of my posts of Nov. 29 and Dec. 11 and Jan. 7-9. But I don’t think that is the case. Because I mentioned him by name in the essays, I personally Tweeted two of them to Dr. Mohler. Also, I’ve heard privately from several professors and adminstrators from other SBC seminaries. If those men are aware of the essays, then surely SBTS is aware of them.

    2. Perhaps they do not have the resources to formulate a reply. But how can that be? Many of their administrators and professors comment on current events and theological issues multiple times per week. They dedicate a lot of time and money into letting people know what they think. Surely they are able to offer a reply if that were their desire.

    3. Perhaps they share the view stated recently by one man that we serve at an “obscure” school. By implication, our view doesn’t matter. Perhaps their hope is that by ignoring these essays, people will forget about this important issue and move on to other things. My reply: Are we not brothers in Christ, whose inquiry is worthy of reply for that reason alone? Also, are we not constituents who fund the school through our CP dollars. What if a congressman were to ignore honest and important questions from his constituents? Isn’t this a similar situation?

    4. Perhaps they read the essays but interpreted the Dec. 11 essay as posing a rhetorical question. That was not my intention, but I may have been unclear.

    5. Perhaps we will hear from them on this issue. That would be great. After all, the reason for the question was to receive a reply.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

      Johnathan Pritchett

      One problem could be that while they are not short on people who can give a theological reply, they are short on people who have a good reason why a seminary that receives Co-Op money demands more from its faculty than the BF&M and don’t know how to handle explaining the BF&M and their exposition of it in light of the fact that the two don’t line up and they were called on it.

      Clever responses to wiggle out of “political” issues like this are harder to deal with than just discussing theology.

      But, if I were a betting man, they just think they are above it, and don’t get down with other Baptists and answer.

      Sadly, all the Baptist press outlets do not have real reporters doing real journalistic work and go after these sorts of things getting into people’s faces like reporters should.

      Even more sadly, we Traditionalists still have zero structures to seriously engage the issues and generate excitement and discussion.

        Adam Harwood

        Johnathan,

        I agree with much of what you said–until the end of your post. Two points at which I would differ:

        1. Many Southern Baptists who affirm the Traditional view do not speak out or even agree with us publicly for fear of being labeled “divisive.” I’ve been told more than once that I will never work at Southern Seminary–which is an odd thing to hear because I never submitted an application.

        2. The Traditional Southern Baptists have ALREADY built a structure through which we can communicate our message. It’s called the SBC.

        Mary

        It could be that they are still so concerned over the Traditionalist document on salvation and the errors in it, that they hope, perhaps traditionalists will discover and correct those disheartening errors first, and thus, they are waiting on this pressing matter to be handled first.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Which errors? There hasn’t been a demonstration that there are any.

      Brad Reynolds

      Dr. Harwood,
      I began my comment with this observation: “I am not surprised Southern Seminary has wisely chosen to be eerily silent concerning your brilliant post from Dec. 11 but I must state that the silence is deafening.” And I truly meant it. Southern Seminary and specifically, Dr. Mohler, is wise to avoid your question, because of the most difficult task of clarifying its interpretation of the BFM2K in relation to the BFM2K, and then actually discussing these important theological issues publicly.

      And yet, in his blogpost this past summer entitled Southern Baptists and Salvation: It’s Time to Talk Dr. Mohler stated, “we must recognize and affirm together that we have already stated where Southern Baptists stand on the great doctrines of our faith. The Baptist Faith & Message is our confession of faith, and it binds us all together on common ground” and “There is a lot for us to discuss, and plenty of time for that discussion.” Based on his comments and the title of his blogpost I would presume that if he were aware of your post he would gladly take the lead in responding.

      I too can only conjecture as to the silence. I do not believe he is unaware. You and I both taught on seminary campuses and we both know they are aware of what is said even on obscure blogs, of which SBCToday is not. And yet, there is that outside possibility that he is unaware. Thus, we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

      Perhaps more possible is the truth that he is an incredibly busy man, who is truly doing great things for the kingdom of God as he stands against the cultural tide of secularism while witnessing of our God. Thus, currently, he really does not have the time to devote to this. This seems more believable to me.

      Perhaps, he feels it is not his place to speak for the faculty of Southern on their interpretation of the BFM2K (or perhaps he desires to speak to them first). But that begs the question of whose place is it then?

      One thing I do not believe: that any true servant of our convention would ever buy the line that you serve at an “obscure” school…blah blah blah. One thing I have noticed of Dr. Mohler from afar, is he is a gentleman and theologian and thus believes in the soul competency and worth of every individual no matter how insignificant others errantly may think one is.

      Further, I do not believe that anyone in the SBC believes this is going away.

      It is not just the silence of Southern begging questions, but now the silence of BP is becoming loud (Mr. Pritchett’s comment on this was intriguing). Your question posed in Dec is laced with theology which the convention (whom BP serves) made clear was important for discussion.

        Mark

        Brad, didn’t you at one time adhere to both the BFM2K and the Abstract at the same time? Would you please share how you were able to hold to both confessions at the same time? I’m asking out of curiosity not to validate Southern or Mohler, etc.

        Thanks.

          Brad Reynolds

          Mark
          I will be glad to…I get lost in this maze of comments – trying to go back and see who responded where. Therefore, I have placed my comment at the end in case you miss it.

Johnathan Pritchett

Regarding 2), I mean outlets comparable to the various Reformed Baptist outlets such as conferences, books, organizations, etc. that do things which generate excitement for Reformed theology in the SBC in general, direct the discussions within the convention, and yield influence. Clearly they have us beat on this, otherwise, there would be no concern for the disproportionate influence they have in the Convention.

Regarding 1), They really need to be clarified on this that it isn’t divisiveness, but open, respectful conversation. Also, I hope you never submit an application to teach at Southern. Your gifts would be wasted there anyway.

    Adam Harwood

    On 2) I agree and was only pointing out the irony. Trads have ALREADY built a structure. But many of the Trads communicate their message in ways that involve only “old media.” The New Calvinists both inside and outside the SBC have developed powerful inroads through “new media.” Consider: Many pastors and seminary students now do their theological research on the internet before opening a book. And the books they read are often chosen based on recommendations gleaned from social media and the larger sites such as Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. Also, New Calvinists podcast their sermons and free articles online. Which ministries dominate these venues? New Calvinists. John Piper, Justin Taylor, Mark Driscoll, et al. (Notice that none of those men I mentioned are Southern Baptists but they all have a strong influence within the SBC.) Southern Baptists have a foothold in the Gospel Coalition. I am aware of one blogger/author at Gospel Coalition who is not hostile toward the Traditional SBC position: Trevin Wax. He does not affirm it but he is not hostile toward the position. In my view, he is (as Fox News would say) “fair and balanced.” (I hope I don’t cause Trevin trouble with his friends by making this observation in the SBC Today comment stream. I regard him to be a friend.)

    On 1) All of our SBC seminaries are worthy of respect and it would be an honor to be considered for employment by ANY of them, including Southern Seminary. What I mean is this: Several people have warned me that by addressing this issues, I have lost any chance at serving in a leadership capacity within the SBC (teaching at Southern, speaking at national conferences, publishing with B&H, etc.). My reply is this: I was trained at an SBC seminary to think and write on theological matters. If I am unable to serve as a resource for Southern Baptists on key theological issues within the SBC, then what good is the training for which many thousands of CP dollars were invested into my MDiv and PhD?

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Sounds good for the most part.

      Except, that I don’t know that ALL our seminaries are worthy of respect. I don’t even know what that means. As institutions of higher learning? Seminaries are ran by persons, and with persons, respect is earned and can be lost. Some of the posturing at some of the seminaries does not foster respect.

      Furthermore, I wouldn’t believe those people that you have lost any chance of serving in leadership within the SBC, or at one of the other seminaries. I bet if you had a book that would turn a profit for B&H, they wouldn’t find you too unorthodox to publish it.

      But if those things are true, then in line with your last question, why should entities that would exclude you be worthy of my respect if that is how they roll?

      I am a Southern Baptist as are you, and if our denominational entities are not interested in having our views reflected at certain positions and publications within various outlets in the SBC, then I have a problem with that and withhold respect until it is earned by a change in mentality at those institutions and entities.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I could also argue that NONE of the seminaries are in the best shape right now. The current system has churned out folks entering the ministry that have done little more than facilitate the decline in the SBC. Appealing to a general denominational decline and a rise in secularism in the U.S. does not gainsay any of this criticism, since it doesn’t follow that because the rest of Christendom in the U.S. is in decline, the SBC must also follow suit. I went to Biola instead of one of our seminaries so as not to be a product of that system in its current state.

        It also doesn’t bold well when all these non-SBC entities, organizations, pastors, and theologians have more influence in the SBC than SBC entities, organizations, pastors, and theologians do right now. That too is one of the reasons why I keep harping that Trads go beyond the internet. ;)

Randall Cofield

Dr. Harwood

Help me understand your position here.

You seem to be saying that:

1) All are under condemnation even prior to being “capable of moral action”

2) All, even those not “capable of moral action,” possess a sin-nature

3) All, even those not “capable of moral action,” are under the penalty of sin, which is death.

Yet you seem to be denying the presence of guilt before one becomes “capable of moral action.”

If we hold that God places under condemnation–and the penalty of death–those who are not capable of moral action–and are, therefore, guiltless–do we not impugn both the holiness and justice of God?

Dr. Harwood, I noticed that in your citation of Ro. 5:18 you speculated that “condemnation” in this passage might mean “the fallen nature and environment mentioned in Article 3…(and) physical death.”

Yet the term Paul uses (katakrima) means “a judicial pronouncement upon a guilty person, condemnation, punishment, penalty.” As far a I am aware, all of the cognates of this term include the concepts of both guilt and resultant punishment/penalty. Even the English term implies guilt.

If you agree that even those not capable of moral action are under condemnation, are you not, by the very definition of the biblical term, agreeing to their guilt?

If you insist that they are not guilty, yet God nevertheless consigns them to katakrima, would that not impugn the justice of God?

Thank you in advance for your response, brother.

    Brad Reynolds

    Randall,
    If I may interject a thought here, which may help others understand why some of the Trads would contemplate the condemnation as possibly being the “fallen nature and environment and physical death.”

    I will assume we agree that in regard to Adam Romans 5 is referencing Genesis 3. When one reads Genesis 3 one reads that the serpent is cursed for his own actions and the “ground” is cursed because of Adam but man is not cursed (in that text). Thus, the judicial pronouncement of cursing in Genesis 3 is upon the serpent and the ground with the man and woman (and their progeny) receiving the judicial pronouncement of pain and toil and disharmony. Physical death is implied in the text.

    Thus, the effects of Adam’s sin upon creation and even his progeny (fallen nature,environment, physical death) is implied in the judicial pronouncement but the guilt of Adam’s sin upon his progeny is not implied. Thus, I would agree all of creation is under the condemnation of Adam’s sin as spelled out in Gen 3 (which is what Paul is referencing) but I would not agree all of creation is “guilty” for Adam’s sin.

    Moreover, holding one person guilty for another’s sin seems to impugn God’s character more than affirming we are all under Adam’s condemnation (his physical seed was changed, thus effecting his progeny with a sinful nature) but not all guilty for his personal action. Even today, the universal truth that my sin effects my progeny negatively does not imply they are guilty for my sin.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Hear hear! Well said.

Randall Cofield

Dr. Harwood

One other point of clarification. You state:

“Infants are not sinless because they inherit a sinful nature.”

Would you mind defining the term “nature” as you use it here? I understand that you believe this nature is “inclined toward sin,” but you deny that infants actually commit sin. So my query is this: Exactly what is this “nature”?

Is it “mind,” “will,” “heart,” or something else?

Thanks, brother.

Adam Harwood

Randall,

Thanks for your note. A PhD student from SEBTS named Dave asked a similar question following my Dec. 11 essay. You can find my reply here (http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/12/11/sbts-and-bfm/#comment-35522). You followed up last month with a similar query about “condemnation” after I offered Dave my reply. Because neither my reply to Dave last month nor this week’s essay satisfied your concern, I doubt another attempt will be helpful. I will, however, attempt to explain it again.

On all three points: Not exactly.

On point #1) I asked in Part 3 above: “Similarly, does ‘condemnation’ always entail inherited guilt or can it refer to judgment which a person earns upon becoming a transgressor (per Article 3 of the BFM)?” That is why you wrote: “I noticed that in your citation of Ro. 5:18 you speculated that ‘condemnation’ in this passage might mean ‘the fallen nature and environment mentioned in Article 3…(and) physical death.’”

First, those were in two different places, one in the post and another in the comment section; those statements are situated in slightly different contexts. My question in the essay above was not syntactical but theological. In other words, I was not attempting to define the semantic limits of the Greek word in Romans 5:18. Rather, I asked this question in the comment stream of Dec. 11 and in the essay above: “Is it **possible** that Paul was simply referring to the general condemnation which results from living in a fallen world (the created world) and a fallen body (now inclined to sin and destined to die physically)?” (See here: http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/12/11/sbts-and-bfm/#comment-35527) Again, these questions related to the BFM’s use of “condemnation” not Paul’s use of “katakrima.” Even if we include Paul’s use of the Greek word, there is a difference between a lexical definition and a resultant situation.

My dispute does not concern the judicial nature of this condemnation but the *timing* of the condemnation. Romans 5:18a states: “as one trespass led to condemnation for all men” (ESV). In the remainder of the verse we read: “so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (v. 18b). Because neither of us are Universalists, Randall, we understand that we do not lift this statement out of its context and affirm that all men are saved. Rather, we understand that the one act of Jesus led to justification for all men without distinction. Also, like Millard Erickson, I affirm that the act of Christ must be ratified just as the act of Adam must be ratified. In this way, there is a real condemnation (God’s judgment) which goes out to all men, but not before they sin (which would contradict the earlier chapters of Romans) and not to Jesus (which would contradict several statements throughout the Bible which declare that He was without sin).

As I wrote to Carl in the comments above: “The BFM explains condemnation as something that happens to us, not a condition we are in from the time of conception. If that is the case, then it is not necessary for Adam’s guilt to pass to people in order for them to come under condemnation.”
As Dr. Bart Barber wrote in the comments section of my Dec. 11 essay on the phrase “and under condemnation” from Article 3: “This is clearly not inceptual. It states that they are under condemnation, but (very carefully, I think) makes no statement about when that condemnation began.” (See http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/12/11/sbts-and-bfm/#comment-35523)

I hope this helps clarify my view of condemnation.

On point #2) You write: “All, even those not ‘capable of moral action,’ possess a sin-nature.” Yes. Or a nature inclined toward sin. This view is consistent with the Bible, as summarized in Article 3 of the BFM.

On point #3) You write: “All, even those not ‘capable of moral action,’ are under the penalty of sin, which is death.” Kinda. All people are under the general penalty of sin because they live in a fallen world and are subject to physical death. But they are not under sin’s penalty in the sense that they should be considered guilty of transgressing God’s law until they have actually knowingly transgressed His law. People are not held accountable for breaking His law until they actually break His law.

Thanks for your note, brother.

In Him,
Adam

Adam Harwood

Randall,

You write: “I understand that you believe this nature is ‘inclined toward sin,’ but you deny that infants actually commit sin.”

What you have written is only partially true. I am not the only one who affirms that people inherit a nature “inclined toward sin.” That is actually a line drawn from Article 3 of the BFM.

You have been asking me many questions over the last few weeks, Randall. I have taken the time to answer them. Now, May I ask you a few questions?

1. Do you affirm the BFM?
2. If so, what is the concern which motivates your questions?
3. If not, then what is the concern which motivates your questions?

I’m just trying to understand your perspective, brother.

In Him,

Adam

    Randall Cofield

    Dr. Harwood,

    Thanks for your reply. I’m happy to answer your questions.

    1) I do.

    2) Your interpretation of the BF&M.

    2a) Love for the Self-disclosed attributes of God’s Holiness and Justice.

    Question 3 is obviously not applicable.

    You state:

    You have been asking me many questions over the last few weeks, Randall. I have taken the time to answer them. Now, May I ask you a few questions?

    Brother, I say this with genuine respect and love for you as a brother in Christ, but you have not answered the questions I have posed. You have, invariably, informed me that you’ve answered them elsewhere, usually referring me to prior responses to other individuals.

    I’ve read all of your articles here at SBC Today, as well as every comment associated with them, and I’ve read reviews of your book, both pro and con.

    I have not found the answers to the specific questions I am asking. Two possibilities exist:

    1) You have answered my questions, but my reading comprehension is inadequate.

    2) You have not answered the questions I have raised.

    If the latter is the case, perhaps you have read over them too quickly and simply concluded that you had already addressed them. It happens.

    Either way, if you’re not interested in responding to the questions I posed here @ January 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm and January 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm, I’ll not bother you further.

    Grace to you, brother.

    PS. I am responding to your articles and comments here at SBC Today, so the fact that I have not yet read your book should be irrelevant.

      Randall Cofield

      Dr. Harwood,

      I didn’t see your post @ 3:33 pm before posting this. It was either not there when I read you post @ 3:53, or I overlooked it. Apologies.

      I’ll now read your post @ 3:33…. :-)

Randall Cofield

Dr. Harwood,

I really appreciate your reply.

And I think I see where we are talking past one another.

You state:

A PhD student from SEBTS named Dave asked a similar question following my Dec. 11 essay. You can find my reply here (http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/12/11/sbts-and-bfm/#comment-35522). You followed up last month with a similar query about “condemnation” after I offered Dave my reply. Because neither my reply to Dave last month nor this week’s essay satisfied your concern, I doubt another attempt will be helpful. I will, however, attempt to explain it again.

I read this the day you posted it (twice, to make sure I understood you), and I just read it again. I believe I understand exactly what you are saying.

First, I’m not a Covenant Theology man, never have been. Your entire response to Dave (and, by extension, to me) presupposes the contrary. I’m coming from a completely different direction.

If I may, let’s narrow the question considerably.

For the sake of getting to the point, let’s assume that infants are not guilty. Yet you contend that they are under condemnation and are consigned to death.

If God consigns to condemnation and death those who are not guilty, He is not Just.

I trust that you see the problem.

Scripture is explicit in stating that God “will by no means clear the guilty.” Any meaningful doctrine of the perfect Justice and Righteousness of God must equally hold that He will by no means condemn to death the guiltLESS.

Wouldn’t you agree….?

    Adam Harwood

    Thanks for your reply.

    I’m using my phone so it’s hard to see everything on this site but I don’t remember labeling your view as Covenant Theology. I’m not sure how you think that would change my perception of what you have written.

    I don’t concede that God condemns as guilty people who have not yet committed transgressions. I don’t see in the Bible that people die physically because they are guilty of Adam’s sin. Rather, they were born into God’s fallen creation and are subject to physical death even before they commit any sinful actions. David’s infant son, for example, died as a result of his dad’s sin, not his own sin or Adam’s guilt.

    There is no injustice on anyone’s part.

    Adam

Randall Cofield

Dr. Harwood,

Thanks so much for the interaction. I am not trying to be contentious; I just see what I believe to be a gaping theological hole in what you are proposing here. I pray you do not take offense, brother.

The reason I noted the Covenant Theology point is because you made it the distinctive between your position and Dave’s (and you pointed me to your response to him for the answer to my question). You seem to be reading the CT position of Federal headship into my question, and that is muddying the water.

Notice:

“I don’t concede that God condemns as guilty people who have not yet committed transgressions. I don’t see in the Bible that people die physically because they are guilty of Adam’s sin.”

For the sake of advancing the dialogue, I granted your contention that infants are guiltless; viz. ” …let’s assume that infants are not guilty”.

Now, consider two additional statements you have made and affirmed. First:

“Adam sinned, thus we inherit condemnation.”

Thus far, according to your stated position, infants are 1) without guilt, and 2) inheritors of condemnation. You then state:

“Rather, they were born into God’s fallen creation and are subject to physical death even before they commit any sinful actions.”

Summary: You state that infants are without guilt, inheritors of condemnation, and subject to physical death.

First, scripture is plain that death is the result of–and penalty for–sin. Secondly, you maintain inherited condemnation (a biblical distinction that always carries with it the association of guilt)…yet you insist infants are guiltless.

Therefore, if you are granted all three positions, the only logical conclusion one can draw is that God consigns to condemnation and death those who are guiltless—namely infants.

Even if you retract position #2 (inherited condemnation), you still have God consigning to death (the consequence/penalty of sin) those who are guiltless—namely infants.

Brother, I know you don’t believe God is unjust. I’m just positing that without modification your position on this issue would render Him such.

One final question that I’ve asked to which I don’t think you have responded:

When you quote the BF&M concerning inheriting a “nature inclined toward sin,” how do you define nature. What is it?

This question is absolutely vital to this debate.

I hope that I have not been offensive in any way.

Grace to you, brother.

    Randall Cofield

    Dr. Harwood,

    To be clear, I know you don’t believe God leaves infants in condemnation and death. On that point we are in agreement, we just “get there” by very different theological routes…

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I obviously do not speak for Dr. Harwood, and I already explained my position on the inherited nature, why there is universal sinfulness, etc. So here, I will offer some further considerations to your inquiry, especially on the issues involving sin, penalty, consequences, condemnation, and God’s justice.

    “First, scripture is plain that death is the result of–and penalty for–sin.”

    Indeed, but the former (the result of) can be the case even without the latter (penalty for). While death is the penalty for sin, it isn’t the only cause of death, excepted that it is the penalty (consequence) of Adam’s sin. This is a distinction with a difference, not without one. What I mean is that physical death need not be the penalty of personal sins, while remaining the result of Adam’s sin.

    Death happens for all of Adam’s children because that was the world they are conceived into because Adam got the boot from the Garden of Eden for his sin and we all inherit a death nature. His sin doesn’t mean it is our sin, therefore, his guilt isn’t our guilt (Rom. 5:12-13 ought to make this plain as well).

    Because of Adam’s sin, the consequences fall to his posterity. This doesn’t mean they are guilty for Adam’s sin or that God is unjust for them having do deal with the fallout from Adam, even without sharing his guilt.

    We see this every day in our own lives. Our sins can negatively affect our children (even before they are born), but that does not mean they are therefore guilty of our sin and share in that guilt. Indeed, it would be unjust of God to pile our guilt on to them as well, which would necessitate eternal damnation even prior to any sinful actions taken on their part. Thus, them just dealing with the consequences of our sins, which includes inheriting a death “…nature and environment inclined towards sin” (thus being “sin-stained” in Dr. Harwood’s terminology), is not itself unjust, or God would continually be unjust towards every generation by imputing prior consequences from immediate parents AND the guilt which carries a sentence for something they never did to boot!

    Given that, do you think God unjust for this? May it never be! There is really no logical difference between my children being imputed with my guilt rather than being imputed with Adam’s guilt. The whole apparatus of the theology behind the imputation of Adam’s guilt does not uphold God’s justice they way it is intended to, but rather, it smears it. On the other hand, inherited consequences without guilt does nothing to raise justice questions at all, but rather only theodicy questions.

    In the case of physical death, there is nothing in the Bible to warrant that a record of personal sins must occur for physical death to occur, since the penalty of sin is not only physical death but also eternal torment.

    On this view, an infant having no actual transgressions can still physically die as a result of Adam’s sin only (1 Cor. 15:22).

    All of this explanation has not even mentioned “guilt” as a cause or necessary condition for physical death, nor does the Bible make it clear that guilt (imputed from Adam or charged for personal sin) is a necessary condition for physical death either. Dr. Harwood provided the example of David’s son, for instance. It is not unjust that non-transgressors like infants and the unborn die physically. God is just by default, but He is also just because He punishes the guilty with perishing in eternal torment.

    I always found it odd that people insist that infants are guilty and that’s why they physically die. An infant no more understands physical death due to inherited guilt than understands the knowledge of good and evil and willful sin in light of that knowledge that rational, morally accountable agents possess. Our view simply makes more sense. Infants die physically in a fallen world, but that doesn’t mean their death is the result of guilt of some committed transgression, either their own or the imputed guilt of Adam for his transgression.

    As such, there is no need to consider “death” in the case of infants to include MORE than just physical death that they need redemption from, since they are not actual transgressors. They need the redemption of creation, not the further redemption from eternal damnation for sin or imputed guilt on top of that.

    If your theology doesn’t have a place for infant safety and fallen cosmos redemption, but ONLY a redemption of actual and personal sinners (which on your view includes infants with some incredible workarounds to account for their salvation), then that is your problem and not one for anyone else.

    So yes, while Scripture is plain that death is the result of sin (Adam’s), and the penalty for sin, they need not artificially be lumped together in the way you are thinking since the penalty of sin (actual, personal sin) is death AND eternal torment. Infants can and do die as a result of the penalty for Adam’s sin, but it does not follow that they are in any sense guilty of Adam’s sin or any other sin if they die in the womb, or in infancy, or before some age of reason or accountability or whatever else one may claim as a similar category.

    One can also claim that while there is condemnation for everyone who personally sins, there is no condemnation, but rather simply just (the consequence of) physical death, for infants who do not sin. This does no violence to Romans 1-3, Romans 5:18, Romans 11:32, etc. at all. Remove the notion of imputed guilt, and realize Paul never had infants in view in those passages, but rather sinful idolators among Jew and Gentile alike, and this whole problem goes away. Indeed, Romans 5:12-21 doesn’t just have death in view, but also sin, and Romans 5:18 brings condemnation in view as well, so death isn’t the only issue in the passage, but death, sin, and condemnation.

    This whole infant death/miscarriage problem has arisen by, and is the result of, gratuitous theological additions imposed on the text and trying to work from there. It is not something that is actually stated in the text (in its proper context) or implied by the text.

    Don’t blame us, we didn’t write the Bible. It is Reformed theology that strains mightily to account for automatic infant salvation, which is why many Reformed theologians outright reject it as inconsistent and argue similar lines we do against YOUR consistency problems. We posit infant safety instead, precisely BECAUSE God is just. In fact, I could even argue that this infant safety is not only just, but compassionate as well, in light of God’s orders regarding Canaan…some other time perhaps.

    Morally accountable sinners die AND receive eternal punishment for sin. There is sin without the law, death without the law (Rom. 5:13), and even perishing without the law (Rom. 2:12a). Physical death alone isn’t punishment for sin. Physical death and eternal torment COMBINED is the punishment for sin, i.e. condemnation/perishing.

    So, given that physical death, only when combined with eternal torment (condemnation), is the penalty of guilt of sinful activity, God punishing the guilty in this manner is just.

    Infants merely dying physically without committing sins of which make them guilty or having Adam’s guilt imputed to them is therefore NOT.unjust since they are NOT consigned to eternal damnation, even on your view.

    In fairness though, and ironically perhaps, Schreiner in his Baker commentary on Romans comes closest to making this work for a Reformed perspective, but even he is hopelessly inconsistent precisely because he tries to have it this way as I spelled it out above, and still affirming imputed guilt (which carries the penalty for eternal torment).

    Go figure on that one.

    Dr. Harwood, myself, and others simply remove the conundrum by removing extra-Biblical and gratuitous theological notions of the imputed guilt of Adam which is nowhere stated or implied in the text, but quite the contrary, excluded from the text.

    This response taken in consideration with my other responses, there is no inconsistency here that I am aware of, though there may be perceived ones for Dr. Harwood to sort out with you.

    You may not agree with my position taken in total, but it doesn’t suffer from either inconsistency or being un-Biblical (or even Pelagian for that matter! Not that you’ve tossed that around like others have towards us in the past).

    Granted we haven’t engaged certain verses from the Psalms, Jeremiah, and all that, but I have all that worked out as well. ;)

      Randall Cofield

      Johnathan,

      Greetings, my prolific, word-producing brother. Ever heard of “write tight”? :-)

      At the risk of sounding hypocritical after my rather lengthy post below, may I make a request?

      ……………..Thank you. You are very kind to have granted my request to make a request.

      Could you respond to my questions above in a post of substantially less that 1226 words?

      As you know, I’m not the sharpest pencil in the drawer, and often your verbosity confuses me… :-)

      I’m a simple man, and those are simple questions.

      And you do seem to be responding to issues not patent in my questions….but, then again, I could be confused.

      Try maybe….350 words? :-)

      Peace, my brother.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I may not be able to honor that request. I take the Shedd approach to theology, which sadly excludes brevity. Lack of brevity is a hangover from my former Calvinism. ;)

        I did address all your issues though.

          Randall Cofield

          JP,

          I’ll have to take your word for it.

          You gonna be at the national SBC this year?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            No. I am but a SBC peon.

    Adam Harwood

    Randall,

    The second quotation was made one month ago in a reply to Dave following the Dec. 11 essay! I clarified in the rest of that reply (as well as in my comments to you above) that my use of “condemnation” only goes as far as Romans 5 and the BFM. Adam sinned and sin entered the world; sin resulted in death and condemnation (Rom 5 12, 18-19). We inherit condemnation ONLY in the sense that it’s a result of Adam’s sin which cascades to all and all people (without distinction but NOT all people without exception) sin. The parallel in Romans 5 is NOT that all people inherit justification. People must act on the works of both Adam and Christ in order to personally ratify their acts. In this way, there is judicial condemnation only AFTER personal transgression; there is condemnation for all in a general sense only because all die physically.

    You state there is “a gaping theological hole” in the view I have articulated. You are not the only one who believes this to be the case, brother. But I ask that you refrain from gathering a patchwork of comments from a variety of contexts to reframe my words and then ask me to concede a position which I have repeatedly rejected. Because you have failed to acknowledge the explanations already provided in my essay above and my subsequent clarifying comments, your continued questions are not regarded as an attempt at understanding but an attempt to argue. Feel free to write an essay which details these gaping holes. Make your case, just like Jared Moore made his case. But please know that for the reasons I have detailed in this comment, I may not reply to your further inquiries on this comment stream.

    Blessings, brother.

    In Him,
    Adam

wingedfooted1

Blessings, Adam.

I know this doesn’t have a direct bearing on the subject of “inherited guilt”, but it is related to the topic of the “sin nature” we all inherit from Adam.

From his “God Created Evil” article, Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes….

“It is true that a person sins according to his evil nature, but as Luther writes, it is God who ‘creates’ this evil nature in each newly conceived person after the pattern of fallen Adam, whose fall God also caused. And then, God must actively cause this evil nature to function and the person to act according to it. Luther writes that God never allows this evil nature to be idle in Satan and in ungodly people, but he continuously causes it to function by his power.”

Disturbing.

    Randall Cofield

    Wingfooted1,

    Disturbing.

    Are you familiar with the relationship between First Cause and Efficient Causes?

    There are copious examples of this in the bible, but I’ll use one that is quickly recognizable.

    The wicked Sabeans (these were the forbears of C.B. Scott’s beloved SABANITE NATION) and the viscous Chaldeans killed Job’s servants and stole all his livestock.

    To which Job responded: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

    I have a few very simple questions:

    1) Who created the Sabeans and Chaldeans?

    2) Who created the “nature” of the Sabeans and Chaldeans?

    3) ***Who was the First Cause of the S’s & C’s killing and stealing?

    4) Who did Job say “took away” his servants and critters?

    5) Who is guilty of killing and stealing Job’s property?

    *** Be careful on this one. If you don’t read the scripture closely it gets tricky.

    I hope this serves to sooth your disturbed conscience. :-)

    Grace to you, brother.

    Oh. One final question:

    Are you prepared to have a relationship with a God Who is so Immense He turns your world upside down and scares the pants off you sometimes?

Randall Cofield

Dr. Harwood,

Again, I am genuinely appreciative of your responses.

Because you have failed to acknowledge the explanations already provided in my essay above and my subsequent clarifying comments, your continued questions are not regarded as an attempt at understanding but an attempt to argue…..

Brother, I acknowledged your explanations, even stating that I’ve read every word you have posted here, as well as every comment, many of them multiple times.

Your statement seems to presuppose that your explanations are perfectly adequate and that I am in some way obligated to questioningly accept them. They are not, in my estimation, and I’m under no such obligations.

And, to be frank, the bare fact that you regard my questions not as an attempt to understand but as an attempt to argue does not, in fact, render them such. You are, at that point, speaking to my motive. I’m sure you would object if I were to engage you thus. There are plenty of fence posts available on my property if I desire to merely argue.

Come now, let us reason together, brother.

But I ask that you refrain from gathering a patchwork of comments from a variety of contexts to reframe my words and then ask me to concede a position which I have repeatedly rejected.

These do not seem to be “patchwork” comments. They appear to be part-and-parcel of your position, which is why I am asking questions for clarification. You initially declared my questions asked-and-answered, referring me to your posts to others, which posts did not directly answer the questions and contained erroneous assumptions as to my position. When you did engage my questions, you continued to force presupposed positions (on my part) into them, and answered accordingly.

My questions were predicated on clear statements you have both made and defended. Further, my questions were honestly (without ulterior motive) grounded in the clear revelation of the Righteousness and Justice of God. Your answers were predicated upon responding to a position I plainly stated I do not hold (Covenant Theology). I simply do not follow your logic that I am the one “reframing” here.

Further, your claim that you have answered my questions (and that I just don’t accept your answers) overlooks at least one glaring, pertinent question: How do you define “nature” when you quote the BF&M? If infants “inherit a nature…inclined toward sin,” of what does this nature consist? I cannot find where you have addressed this.

And any biblical definition of this “nature” would seem to significantly undermine much of your position on this matter….

Brother, I have tried to engage you with respect on this matter, but you seem prepared to dismiss me on the basis of presumed motives. You may certainly dismiss me if you will, for I am of no real consequence in the larger scheme of the campaign you are waging. But when those at whom you are aiming this do respond, you will face far more difficult questions than those I am raising.

Now to your most recent response:

…my use of “condemnation” only goes as far as Romans 5 and the BFM. Adam sinned and sin entered the world; sin resulted in death and condemnation (Rom 5 12, 18-19). We inherit condemnation ONLY in the sense that it’s a result of Adam’s sin which cascades to all and all people (without distinction but NOT all people without exception) sin. The parallel in Romans 5 is NOT that all people inherit justification. People must act on the works of both Adam and Christ in order to personally ratify their acts. In this way, there is judicial condemnation only AFTER personal transgression; there is condemnation for all in a general sense only because all die physically.

Ok. We “inherit” condemnation as a result of Adam’s sin…but we must “ratify” that “inherited” condemnation by personal acts of sin. Brother, that defies any reasonable definition of the term “inherit.” I “inherited” my father’s features, mannerisms, and blood-type. No “ratification” necessary—or even possible, for that matter. Those things are irrevocably mine by…um…my ”nature.”

Notice your inconsistency. You embrace that we “inherit” a “nature” inclined toward sin. No “ratification” necessary, it is ours as a result of Adam’s sin. Further, you (unwittingly?) attempt to circumvent the condemning properties of this “inherited nature” by failing to define “nature.”

You have posited that God does not judge our “nature” but our sin. Yet you do so without defining exactly what this nature is. Obviously, defining inherited “nature” biblically would unhinge much of your argument.

You really must clarify (with scripture) how we can inherit a sin-nature without having to “ratify” it, yet we do not “inherit” condemnation unless we “ratify” that condemnation.

Your appeal to Ro. 5 does not accomplish this clarification. You force “ratification” into the text where it does not exist. Notice that you work from a synergistic view of soteriology, and force into the text that we must “ratify” (clearly a “work” on our part, contra Eph. 2:8-10) the perfect, completed work of Christ to “inherit” justification….therefore (on the ground of errant soteriology) we must “ratify” Adam’s sin to “inherit” condemnation.

Your contention that “The parallel in Romans 5 is NOT that all people inherit justification” is a red herring. You are compelled to deny the obvious “parallel” because you have forced the concept of “ratification” into the text.

Notice: Adam’s trespass results in inherited death for all—all, including infants, die, no “ratification” necessary. Christ’s righteousness results in inherited life for all—no “ratification” necessary. You must force “ratification” into the text for two reasons: 1) because your soteriology requires it, and 2) to avoid the accusation of “universalism.”

Why would you not simply avoid forcing something into the text that isn’t there and just let Paul’s parallelisms interpret Paul’s parallelisms; viz.

1Co 15:21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.

Do we have to “ratify” the immense power of God which raises us from the dead??!! Was Lazarus compelled to “ratify” his resurrection before Christ could raise him from the dead? Nay. Is an infant compelled to “ratify” its death before God takes away its life? Nay.

Apply the parallel to Ro. 5: We “inherit” condemnation and death from Adam, no “ratification” necessary. We “inherit” justification and life from Christ, no “ratification” necessary.

Not convinced? Consider further:

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

See the “as/so” parallel? Who dies? All who are in Adam, including infants. How do we come to be “in Adam”? We’re conceived and born–no “ratification” necessary…or even possible!”. (Unless you can make a scriptural case for infants not being born “in Adam” you have a real conundrum here). Who is made alive? All who are in Christ. How do we come to be “in Christ”? We’re “begotten by the Word” and “born from above”–no “ratification” necessary…or even possible!

There’s your parallel. Just as all who are “in Adam” die, just so, all who are “in Christ” are made alive.

Apply the parallel to Ro. 5: Just as Adam’s sin resulted in judgment and condemnation for all who are “in Adam,” just so Christ’s righteousness resulted (not just potentially, but absolutely) in justification and life for all who are “in Him.” (Oh! Pause and sing the Doxology!)

Continuing now: Just as by Adam’s disobedience all who are “in Adam” are made sinners (not just potentially, but absolutely), just so by Christ’s obedience all who are “in Christ” are made righteous! (Notice that just as we are “made” sinners by another, so we are “made” righteous by Another. As the Curse, so the Gift).

Forcing “ratification” into the text to protect a position of guiltlessness and no condemnation for infants really robs the text of the parallel Paul is actually making. Conversely, interpreting Ro. 5 in light of Paul’s almost exact parallel in I Co. 15 both eliminates the forced “ratification” and allows the text to simply say what it is sayin’.

There is another point in your position that would bear closer scrutiny, but this post is already too long, so I’ll just float it in raw form and pose a question:

You contend that infants do not become sinners until they are capable of “moral action.” The phrase “moral action” could bear a little definitive scrutiny as well. For instance, my three children and three grandchildren all demonstrated behavior that is biblically definable as sin before they reached the age of one year (an age you floated for the sake of making your case).

Now, I grant you they were unaware that their actions were biblically definable as sin, but this is my question: Must an individual be aware that their behavior is sinful for said behavior to, in fact, be sin? Notice the question carefully. I’m not asking if they are culpable. I’m asking if their behavior is sin.

Brother, I do hope you will reconsider engaging me. Even a crumbling piece of lime stone can sharpen iron if applied diligently enough… :-)

Grace to you, Third Adam… :-)

    Johnathan Pritchett

    And you wanna gripe about the verbosity of others… ;)

      Randall Cofield

      I knew that was coming…..my verbose brother. :-)

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Let me point out your errors for both you and Dr. Harwood, since I believe he is done responding.

        1. Where does the Bible say God judges natures?

        2. Speaking of condemnation and inheritance, just because you come up with a category and use of the word inheritance that does not imply “ratification”, it does not at all follow that all categories and uses of the word inheritance do not imply ratification. That is a non-sequitur. Your further musings about “ratifying resurrection” is just straw and irrelevant to the issues under consideration here.

        3. You are the one who has imported concepts and frameworks absolutely foreign to the text of Romans 5:12-21, not Dr. Harwood. You have imported the “in Adam/in Christ” framework from 1 Corinthians 15 into Romans 5 where it is absent. 1 Corinthians 15 concerns spheres and ontology, whereas Romans 5 is evidential and makes observations in the contrasting of the acts and results of Adam’s and Christ’s respective acts. Hence, the uses of the words “through” and “results”. Romans 5 does not use the same framework as 1 Cor. 15.

        Furthermore, Romans 5 only says that the results of Adam’s action made (constituted) everyone sinners. That is a “what is the case” statement. The text does not state “how it came to be the case” that Adam’s sin made everyone sinners. You are reading your theology into the text, imposing extra-Biblical notions, and parachuting a completely different text with a different framework and inserting it where it is absent in Romans 5.

        Indeed, by positing the “in Adam” stuff, you have committed the often noted erroneous translation of Jerome and the subsequent bad theological error of Augustine (in Romans 5:12). Even Reformed exegetes have abandoned this language for the passage, or at least the credible ones. Schreiner admits this and pursues a different route to bail out Augustine’s idea (though it is inconsistent and unconvincing), and if I am not mistaken, Moo acknowledges this erroneous reading as well.

        More to the point, the consistent interpretation of a causative interpretation rather than an evidential one forces universalism into the parallelisms in passage. Universalism won’t do, but neither will hand-wringing, or calling out red herring will make that necessary but false interpretation not so. In order to avoid universalism, one must see this passage as evidential and observational. This entails that, like justification being “ratified” by faith (in Dr. harwood’s sense and meaning and use), condemnation must be “ratified” by sinning actual sins.

        Proper exegesis deals with what the text says. Sure, Scripture interprets Scripture, but exegesis must stand within the passage itself absent other considerations from a different book, with a different audience, with a different conceptual framework regarding the nature of a different topic. Romans 5 has to mean what it says on its own. You are doing your theology with this passage, you are not exegeting it.

        My original death view, and death nature view makes more sense of both 1 Cor. 15 and Rom. 5 for doing exegesis without having to add foreign concepts and frameworks and topics absent to either passage in order to theologize from both.

        You position certainly does not do this, and you aren’t even dealing honestly with Romans 5 regarding what it does say and how it says what it does say, by bringing in other things into the text that it doesn’t say or imply.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Three other things that often get left out of the Romans 5:12-21 passage.

          1.. It is more about how much greater Christ’s accomplishment and the subsequent results from it are in comparison to Adam than it is about anything else.

          2. The explanations in the passage are mainly “what” explanations, and not so much “how” explanations. The only how information Paul gives is that death spread, and so sin spread, And where death reigns, sin reigns in death. It never even says that all physical death is the result of personal guilt in sin. For there isn’t even a word about guilt in the passage, or even the notion of imputation except in the negation of it in Romans 5:13. Rather, it is that in the ruling powers of sin and death, there is universal death and sin for all peoples, and where there is the law, both death and sin are exacerbated.

          3. Because Paul is making observational claims stemming from his discussion in Romans 1-4, his point is that by linking the sin and death problem all back to Adam, it hammers home the universality of both the Jewish and Gentile need due to sin and Christ’s redemptive scope.

          This passage is similar to the way Paul appeals to Abraham in Romans 4, and it certainly has more similarities with Romans. 4 in conceptual framework than with 1 Cor. 15. I.e evidential and observational, not sphere and ontology. By this I mean that Paul’s demonstration by appealing to Abraham, who was before the Law, is why faith is the means of appropriation for both Jew and Gentile alike.This is why Jewish and Gentile believers both can sing “Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord. Right arm…” :)

          People make way too much out of what this passage never says, and fail to emphasize enough the awesomeness of Christ, which is what this passage is primarily about.

          Brad Reynolds

          Good Word!

    Brad Reynolds

    Randall,
    I think both Johnathan and Dr. Harwood have answered your questions. Perhaps it is our paradigms which allow the misunderstandings to continue. Nevertheless, in a desire to reach an understanding allow me to share some thoughts.

    1. I think when theologians use the term “ratify” they are using it with its recognized meaning of “agreement” or “formal consent” etc. In other words, Christ work on our behalf is agreed to or accepted by us; of course this agreement or acceptance is accomplished via faith, thus we ratify “accept” Christ work by faith. If that is a work in your book than so be it. In my book we either agree to his offer or do not agree. Thus, from my perspective, your forced use of ratification to mean something Dr. Harwood has not implied renders much of your thoughts on ratification as not applicable to the conversation.

    2. A forced interpretation of Romans 5:18b to render “all men” as those “in Christ” reveals the lens you have chosen to use in interpreting Scripture. We would use no such lens. At this point it would be wise to revisit the point Dr. Harwood made in referencing Dr. Erickson (a man far more Calvinistic than I). Dr. Erickson’s concept seems to follow this logic (please allow me a license to state what I think he is saying): The text in Romans 5 forbids rendering “all men” as the “elect” or “saved” or those “in Christ” etc. To force such is unfair to Scripture. And yet, the corpus of Scripture seems to forbid interpreting this as “universalism.”

    Therefore, verse 18 (with the whole of Scripture in mind) seems to be implying that the righteousness of one brought a free gift to all…but that gift must be accepted “ratified.” This certainly seems to be the best understanding and plain rendering of the text if (based on the rest of Scripture) one rejects universalism. If so, then, when Dr. Erickson addresses the question of infants he does so using the parallel that Paul DID USE in the text. Namely: As one allows the work of Christ to be applied to his life through a cognitive decision of faith so also Adam’s condemnation (which Dr. Erickson understands to be eternal separation) is applied through a cognitive decision to sin. Dr. Erickson uses this type of reasoning to argue for infants in heaven. To put it another way, Christ’ work for ALL is only applicable when accepted “ratified”; and in the same way Adam’s condemnation on ALL is only applicable when accepted (one sins). Honestly, it is a stronger argument for infants than the “of such is the kingdom of heaven” argument.

    The point is that Dr. Erickson uses Paul’s parallel in Scripture: As by one man’s offense condemnation came on all SO IN THIS WAY (Greek Word = houtos) by one man’s righteousness life-giving justification came on all.

    Dr. Erickson rightly understood this did not mean universalism and wisely recognized that one is saved by a cognitive decision (granted spiritual but nevertheless cognitive). If this is the SAME WAY (as the text makes clear) one is condemned then there must be a cognitive decision (one willingly sins). Thus, the parallel.

    Finally, as noted by Dr. Harwood and Johnathan. The idea that infants are GUILTY for ADAM’s sin, not only impugns God’s character by holding others guilty for personal sin they did not commit, but it also either condemns all unborn infants to hell or allows people into heaven without repentance of sin for which they are guilty of committing.

    PS – to answer your question on children and knowledge of sin, once again I would refer you to Genesis 3. Here the constituent parts of Adam’s actions which brought judgment were 1) knowledge of good and evil AND 2) transgressing God’s law.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Great word! I think this forms a fitting conclusion to the tit-for-tat.

      As for the P.S., there is also Romans 1: 18-32, James 1:14-15 and James 4:17 to add in that mix as well.

John Barker

Excellent post. I’m unsure what the end game is for those who put forward this interpretation of condemnation. I realize we get a little squeamish when talking about babies, but we must adhere to the clear teaching of scripture. I, like you, am unwilling to affirm a position so convoluted that only the “brightest” theologians can understand it. What does the Bible say? Seems pretty evident to me.

    Randall Cofield

    John Barker,

    Greetings, brother.

    …but we must adhere to the clear teaching of scripture.

    That’s what my father used to tell me before he went to be with the Lord.

    And he usually added “Son, refuse to be dislodged from what you know to be absolute Truth.”

    He fought a good fight….

    I sure do miss him.

    Peace, brother.

    Adam Harwood

    Hi, John.
    Like you, I presume, my “end game” is to be faithful to the teaching of God’s Word. Thanks for commenting.
    In Him,
    Adam

John Barker

My comment was directed towards Randall-

Brad Reynolds

Mark,
Thank you so much for your question. It allows me to revisit Dr. Harwood’s Dec. 11 post and my concern it prompted. Namely, that the faculty of one of our seminaries seems to have chosen to interpret the BFM through reformed belief and thus prescribe a meaning to the BFM which not only would exclude many Southern Baptists but would open the door for the BFM to be interpreted by faculty to mean something not organic to it.

Allow me to use my experience to illustrate my concern. When I was asked to teach at SEBTS I was told I would have to sign both the Abstract and the BFM. I read them thoroughly, as I do not affix my name to things I do not affirm. With my initial reading, there seemed to be some tension between the two.

I knew Godly men on both sides of the Calvinistic debate had signed BOTH (men far more theologically acute than I). Thus, I sought to reconcile them through a re-reading. (side note: to date I do not see where the Abstract states that man inherits Adam’s guilt but rather “a NATURE corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law…and as soon as they are capable of moral actions become actual transgressors” – ie they are not transgressors before they are capable of moral actions).

Before I reread the documents I came to a conclusion: if I had to interpret one through the lens of the other, I would use the BFM to interpret the Abstract rather than vice-versa, because as Dr. Mohler has aptly said “we have already stated where Southern Baptists stand on the great doctrines of our faith. The Baptist Faith & Message is our confession of faith, and it binds us all together on common ground.”

In other words, the Southern Baptist confession of faith is the BFM, not the Abstract, and further the seminaries are owned by the SBC.

The BFM 2000 was written to maintain the Scriptural fidelity which the convention had worked so hard to bring back via the conservative resurgence.

Before the resurgence was fully realized we had seminary professors (some of whom I had) affirming the BFM ’63 and yet apparently interpreting it through beliefs which they held to more firmly than the BFM. The wording in the BFM 2000 sought to weed out such neo-orthodoxy (especially with regard to inerrancy, notice the change in wording in article one on the Scriptures).

To put another way, I chose, after an initial reading of both documents, that I would reread them, and if the apparent tension was real I would interpret the Abstract through the lens of the BFM so as to be faithful and accountable to the convention.

I would NOT interpret the BFM through any other belief system (or document) which would force a meaning upon it which was not the meaning its text prescribed.

In the end, I felt the Abstract did not confine me to affirm either four or five point Calvinism and thus did not see the tension that others may see. I did not see the wording as demanding a reformed interpretation of the fall or salvation and thus did not need to employ the lens of the BFM.

Now back to the important issue. I am very concerned that the “faculty” of SBTS have chosen to interpret article 3 of the BFM 2000 to mean something it does not mean. Even more alarming is the thought that perhaps they did so because of a stronger commitment to reformed theology than the authoral intent of the BFM (It would not be a stretch to say such an interpretation of article 3 would be outright rejected by the chair of the BFM committee).

Put another way: it is one thing for a seminary professor to say the BFM allows for a belief that all inherit Adam’s guilt (I agree, it does allow such an interpretation) it is quite another for a seminary professor to interpret “inherit a nature inclined to sin” as meaning “the guilt of Adam’s sin falls on all”; such undermines the authoral intent of the BFM in favor of a different belief system.

wingedfooted1

Blessings,Randall.

(This is in response to the question(s) you asked above regarding the story of Job)

A lot of questions, but whatever responses I did provide contrary to the reformed camp would simply be disregarded, belittled, or ignored (as this comment thread has already proven). With that said, I will give the clearest and most concise calvinistic answer.

GOD DID IT.

Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes….

“Calvinists often affirm that Adam was free before the Fall. But again, I always speak of freedom relative to God, and from this perspective, I would say that Adam had no freedom whatsoever even before the Fall. To be ‘free’ from sin is irrelevant. The issue is whether Adam was free from God to choose to remain free from sin – he was not. In addition, I would not say that God permitted Adam to fall, but that God caused it.”

Cheung continues….

“Let’s say that I have committed a murder. I was indeed free from other creatures when I made my decision, and I acted according to my own internal desire. But this desire was caused and controlled by God, and the fact that I would always act on my strongest desire (which is human nature) was also caused by God. But this amounts to saying that we have no freedom from God to abstain from murder, but that we only have an internal freedom from other creatures to abstain from murder.”

Cheung adds……

“Actually, all Calvinistic and Reformed writers would affirm that sin came as a result of God’s decree, so that it was determined at least in this sense. The difference is that many say that this is a ‘passive’ or ‘permissive’ decree, whereas my position is that there is no such thing as a ‘passive’ or a ‘permissive’ decree with God, that it is unbiblical and impossible for a divine decree to be ‘passive’ or ‘permissive’. It is correct to say that sin came through the disobedience of Adam, but this is not the debated issue. The issue is what caused this disobedience. To say that before the Fall Adam had ‘free will’ is irrelevant unless by this ‘free will’ is meant freedom from God. If this is what is meant, then this is paganism, not Calvinism or Christianity. If only freedom from sin is meant, then again this is irrelevant, since the relevant question in discussing divine determinism should be whether Adam was free from God to abstain from sin, not whether he was free from sin to abstain from sin.”

So if Cheung is correct and reformed theology is upheld, freedom from sin is not the issue, but rather freedom from God.

Finally, you asked ….“Are you prepared to have a relationship with a God Who is so Immense He turns your world upside down and scares the pants off you sometimes?”

My relationship with my heavenly Father is just that, a relationship. If my Father did turn my “world upside down” it would only be because of His love for me. In other words, it would only be for my own good. But that is what Christianity is. It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship. Sadly, calvinism has turned it into a Dictatorship. By that I mean I don’t question God’s sovereignty, but that the relationship a sinner has with God is nothing but a facade in Calvin-land. You did not choose to enter into a relationship with God. You were forced.

Also 1 John 4:19 says….

“We love Him because He first loved us.”

If there is any truth to calvinism, the Lost can justly say…

“We hate God, because He first hated us.”

Peace.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Actually, the response to Randall is what is his understanding of the relationship between First and Efficient causes. And he thinks he asked YOU a simple question.

    We may also ask how familiar he is with Hebraic interpretation, current exegesis, ancient idiom, phraseology, expressive narratives and dialog in wisdom literature, etc. regarding his own understanding of Job before we can even begin to understand his questions.

    I have never found discussions of causality in the philosophical categories very helpful in doing or discussing either exegesis or theology without defining what is meant first, and keeping the philosophical rhetoric at a minimum since they can be loaded with all sorts of different baggage.

      Randall Cofield

      Johnathan,

      We may also ask how familiar he is with Hebraic interpretation, current exegesis, ancient idiom, phraseology, expressive narratives and dialog in wisdom literature, etc. regarding his own understanding of Job before we can even begin to understand his questions.
      </blockquote.

      ….and you guys think Calvinists are the elitists?

      I sho is glad us unejicatid cuntry plow boys got all you smart fellers tuh keep us strait….

      ;-)

    Brad Reynolds

    I would add that Randall’s interpretation of Job one takes liberties that many of us in the Traditional camp would be uncomfortable taking. The quote he mentions from Job came immediately after he heard the news of the loss of his children as a result of a ‘great wind’ (which could be ascribed to God much easier than the evil actions of man both in the text and theologically). While one could certainly make the argument that Job could have had in mind the totality of what God allowed, there is no doubt from earlier in chapter one his primary concern (as would be most of ours) was he children. In fact, had he lost everything except his children he may well have never entertained such a thought. Finally, the very next verse states that Job did not ascribe any “unseemliness” to God, which would certainly question the very concept Randal seems to be implying…namely, that God is the author of evil.

    Randal, to your other question about the greatness of God I would ask you: can you imagine a God who compels us to love the unloveable because that is his nature? To love his enemies. To love all of his creation, including the most vile and wicked, so much that He would send His only Son to die for his enemies?

      Randall Cofield

      Brad,

      The quote he mentions from Job came immediately after he heard the news of the loss of his children as a result of a ‘great wind’ (which could be ascribed to God much easier than the evil actions of man both in the text and theologically).

      Setting the strained interp of exactly what Job was referring to aside…

      You find it palatable to directly attribute to God the destruction of Job’s children but not to directly attribute to God the destruction of his servants (whom, as a righteous man, he no doubt loved) and critters?

      Not sure I follow that logic, brother.

      …the very concept Randal seems to be implying…namely, that God is the author of evil.

      I don’ hold that God is Author of evil. I was simply trying to get the Winged one to think outside of his box.

      As you are no doubt aware, nothing exists without the First Cause. Doesn’t make Him Author of evil anymore than a man’s son committing murder makes the father a murderer.

      …can you imagine a God who compels us to love the unloveable because that is his nature? To love his enemies. To love all of his creation, including the most vile and wicked, so much that He would send His only Son to die for his enemies?

      I try, brother, but it stretches every fiber of my being to try and scale the lofty heights of the love of God. It is greater far than my tongue can ever tell, but it will be my joy through the ages to sing of His love for a wretch like me. There’s not a soul on this thread more convinced of God’s love than I.

      However….I don’t find it too difficult to convince people of the concept of God’s love. What I do find difficult is convincing folks of the concept of the wrath of a Holy God who will absolutely pulverize wicked, rebellious sinners.

      Do you have a similar problem, or is it just me?

        Brad Reynolds

        Randall,
        Strained interpretation? If you were saying my comment was a strained interpretation then let’s review. If you were not saying that, then disregard the next few paragraphs.

        Job 1 opens with a notation of Job and his care for his children:
        “Whenever a round of banqueting was over, Job would send for his children and purify them, rising early in the morning to offer burnt offerings for all of them. For Job thought: Perhaps my children have sinned, having cursed God in their hearts. This was Job’s regular practice.”

        Then the text I referenced which follows the death of servants and stealing of livestock states:
        He was still speaking when another messenger came and reported: “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house. Suddenly a powerful wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on the young people so that they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
        Then Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying:
        Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
        and naked I will leave this life.
        The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away.
        Praise the name of Yahweh.
        Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.

        You referenced “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away…” was Job’s comments concerning the death of his servants and the stealing of his livestock. I then stated: The quote he mentions from Job came immediately after he heard the news of the loss of his children as a result of a ‘great wind’ (which could be ascribed to God much easier than the evil actions of man both in the text and theologically).

        If my comment on this text is a “strained interpretation” then you and I would most definitely disagree on how one approaches the interpretation of Scripture. In fact, my comment wasn’t an interpretation at all, much less a strained one. Rather it was an accurate reference of when Job uttered his comments you referenced and a further comment concerning the ascription of certain things to God.

        Your question concerning God’s destruction of Job’s children as opposed to his servants reveals an assumption on your part, which is not implied in my statement. I never made a distinction between Job’s children and Job’s servants as far as God was concerned. They were all made in God’s image and He is no respecter of persons.

        Thus, the idea that I might find it more palatable for God to destroy Job’s children rather than his servants is as errant theologically as it is hermeneutically (your errant assumptions of what I said). In fact, I am not convinced Biblically that God “destroyed” the children at all. He may have taken them home to heaven. We note at the end of Job that everything he had in chapter one was doubled except his children. He was given the same number of children as he had in chapter one, unless the ones in chapter one were saved to heaven and then his children were doubled for eternity.

        Concerning the Love and Holiness of God. Yes, I find the lost at a loss in comprehending God’s anger at sin…but when I share that God poured His wrath out on His son for their salvation I find them more receptive to hear. And I am reminded that the Power of God unto salvation for everyone is the gospel (not election).

        I hope this is helpful.

wingedfooted1

Randall,

Let me address your question…. “Are you familiar with the relationship between First Cause and Efficient Causes?”

I can only guess you are referring to the Westminster Confession…

“God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

To that Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes….

“To say that God is not the author of sin necessarily means that his sovereignty cannot be direct and exhaustive. That God is totally sovereign is something that the Bible clearly teaches. On the other hand, that God is not the author of sin is something that men wish to maintain against the Bible. Therefore, they affirm both, and most theologians attempt to work around it with permissive decrees (but the concept makes no sense), secondary causes (but does God directly cause and control these ‘secondary’ causes or not?), and compatibilism (but this is irrelevant, since if God controls all things, then the fact that men make choices and what choices they make are also controlled by God, so that this means only that God is compatible with himself; thus the idea is a red herring that does not address the question)……When you refuse to accept nonsense and press the issue, they throw up their hands and call it a mystery, and call you a heretic if you insist that the biblical doctrine is clear. But if this is permitted, then anyone can hold any position on any issue, and just call it a mystery…..The question is, how can they be right without self-contradiction — that God controls all things, but he really doesn’t, that God causes all things, but he really doesn’t? The Reformed is fond of appealing to ‘mystery’, ‘paradox’, and ‘antinomy’, which are nothing but more dignified and deceptive terms for saying, ‘Clearly, I contradict myself, but I don’t care’. Instead, it seems to me that divine sovereignty is an altogether clear and coherent doctrine.”

Though I disagree with Cheung completely (only because God has withheld the necessary grace from me to believe it; calvinistically speaking, that is), I can and do appreciate his consistency and honesty.

Grace

    Randall Cofield

    Winged1,

    The Westminster boys did seem to have a much better grasp of the issues than either yourself or Mr. Cheung…

    They managed to find the middle of the road while ya’ll occupy the opposing ditches.

      wingedfooted1

      Randall,

      Again, from Cheung, for clarity…

      “The Reformed is fond of appealing to ‘mystery’, ‘paradox’, and ‘antinomy’, which are nothing but more dignified and deceptive terms for saying, ‘Clearly, I contradict myself, but I don’t care’.”

      Oh so true.

      The Westminster “boys” were masters of pontification and prevarication; as most within the reformed camp have to be.

      Also, the “opposing ditches” observation is irrelevant, when the road itself is made of dirt and points to God being the Source of all Evil.

      Peace

        Randall Cofield

        WingedOne,

        The Westminster “boys” were masters of pontification and prevarication; as most within the reformed camp have to be.

        I always find it….interesting….when someone is so certain of their learn-ed exegesis that they feel perfectly capable of licentiously dismissing, with prejudice, as lies the learning of godly men of old…

        Strange thing, that…

Randall Cofield

Johnathan Pritchett, Brad Reynolds, WIngfooted1,

I see my posts kept you boys up ’til all hours of the night.

I’m flattered. ;-)

While I usually like the odds of a 3 on 1 skirmish (glutton for punishment?), tomorrow is the Lord’s Day.

The Study and the Closet beckon…

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Indeed. We all understand, and obviously, that is way more important than debating on the internet. May you and the congregation be strengthened, enriched, quickened, instructed, convicted, and compelled to act. May God be blessed, exalted, and glorified.

    Brad Reynolds

    Randall
    May the Lord bless your study. I have enjoyed your thoughts but please know when I engage it is in no way to try and sway or convince you.

    We both know where we stand and we both love Jesus. Rather, I do so for the reader, to plant a seed that a reformed lens may not be the best lens to use when approaching Scripture.

    Randall Cofield

    Brad & Johnathan,

    Thank you, dear brothers.

    I pray you are both made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus this Lord’s Day.

Randall Cofield

Johnathan, Brad…and Dr. Harwood, (if he ain’t too hacked with me)

I find it astounding that with all the chatter going on here that you guys will not define how you are using the term “nature.” Ya’ll keep assuring me God doesn’t judge “natures,”….so….let’s define “nature”…biblically. C’mon, guys.

Another question I raised (at which you made jabs, yet seemingly missed the nuance of the question) is this:

My three children and three grandchildren all demonstrated behavior that is biblically definable as sin before they reached the age of one year.

Now, I grant you they were unaware that their actions were biblically definable as sin, but this is my question: Must an individual be aware that their behavior is sinful for said behavior to, in fact, be sin? Notice the question carefully. I’m not asking if they are culpable. I’m asking if their behavior is sin.

I’d even settle for a straight-forward “yes” or “no” on that one.

    Brad Reynolds

    Randall
    I have never assured you God doesn’t judge the nature of man. I don’t think I have ever commented on whether I think the twisting of man’s nature (in the garden) by the effect of sin was an indirect judgment of God or not. Nevertheless, I shall define it Biblically as you ask. phusis – Greek word translated as nature is defined by Louw and Nida as “the nature of something as a result of its natural development or condition.”

    Concerning, your children and grandchildren. I am very comfortable saying infants innocently transgress God’s law at times.

      Randall Cofield

      Hey Brad,

      I’m sorry, brother. I mistakenly lumped you in with Johnathan and Adam on the “God doesn’t judge natures” issue. My apologies.

      I’ve asked for a definition of how they are defining “nature” in relation to their use of the BF&M phraseology that we “inherit a nature…inclined toward sin.”

      On your answer:

      Concerning, your children and grandchildren. I am very comfortable saying infants innocently transgress God’s law at times.

      …I appreciate your candor. I’d like to see if Johnathan and/or Adam will affirm this. It’s pretty relevant to the position Adam is positing (with which Johnathan, I think, agrees).

      Gotta go rest. Privileged to thrice preach on the morrow. :-)

      Have a blessed Lord’s Day, dear brother.

        Brad Reynolds

        An innocent transgression (ie – a one-year-old bearing false witness innocently (not knowing what he is doing)) does not constitute moral action according to the constituent parts of Gen 3 in the fall.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Yes, indeed Dr. Reynolds.

          Randall, here is my response to your latest round, since you somehow think there are still some unanswered questions in my many given, many worded responses.

          I have no problem attributing behaviors to infants and small children, etc. as “sinful” that God, and other morally accountable agents, can recognize as such, It doesn’t follow that they are charged as guilty because of exhibiting this behavior or for the guilt of Adam’s sin.

          Nature has multiple meanings in the Bible, and I have given two of the most pertinent in our dialog. One was the one Dr. Reynolds mentioned, the other is the “acquired by means of habit” definition.

          The Bible doesn’t “define” the word nature. It uses it, with its various meanings in various contexts.

          I have repeatedly said that the nature we inherit is a death nature. and that sin reigns in death. These are my theological conclusions from the exegetical data from both the relevant data found in Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15 that I have argued and demonstrated almost ad nauseum ad infitnitum in these threads. Other than that, we inherit a biological nature. I don’t know what else you could possibly be looking for. Since I reject Traducianism for Creationism, I don’t posit an inherited “spiritual” nature, but rather believe we immediately receive our spirits from God.

          So the millionth (hyperbole) time, we inherit a nature that will physically die and one that is separated from God’s immediate right-making activities in our life.

          As such, we “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin” and “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

          Thus, the guilty are punished for their sins and absent salvation by grace through faith, will suffer eternal torment. Infants, unborn, and whatever other categories which are argued to be “unaccountable” or whatever are by grace “safe” in the redemption of creation through Christ, though not “saved” by faith. I come to this via many of the conclusions and implications argued for in Adam’s book, which you, Randall, need to BUY rather than insist he rewrite it here for you for free to back-up every minute detail he posits and every objection you may want to raise since such information is available elsewhere.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Dr. Reynolds, you wrote:

      “I don’t think I have ever commented on whether I think the twisting of man’s nature (in the garden) by the effect of sin was an indirect judgment of God or not.”

      Even if this is A judgement, by God allowing it to become twisted (indirect judgement), or a direct twisting it Himself (this could be the case one may argue in that the ground was cursed, because Adam is part dust, and even though the text never says that Adam’s anthropology became twisted), does it follow that PERSONS are judged on the basis of this twisted nature inherited from Adam (however it became twisted, either directly or indirectly, and I can roll with either)?

      That is the question. On what basis are people judged?

      That “twisting” by the effects of sin on our human nature, either directly or indirectly (again, I can roll with either), is a judgment in the sense of being a judicial sentence or punishment FROM the JUDGING of Adam for committing a transgression in Genesis 3 anyway. An important distinction.

      So, does God judge people’s inherited nature, or not?

        Brad Reynolds

        Johnathan,
        I can find no place in Scripture where God judges man’s nature. Your last paragraph summarizes well my thoughts with the only possible exception that some may argue that it may not have been God’s judgment at all, but the natural consequence of sin. The point is the Bible is silent on God judging man’s nature and the only possible exception is an argument from silence in the garden of Eden and Adam’s nature which was then passed down to his progeny.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          I don’t think that it is a judgement at all. I am saying that if it were, either direct or indirect, I can roll with it because it doesn’t affect my arguments either way, because it would be a result from judging, not a basis for judging, since God judged the action of eating TOKOGE, and possibly, as some argue, for listening to his wife. .

            Brad Reynolds

            Johnathan,
            I apologize for any confusion I have created. I think we are saying the same thing (at least similarly). In regard to: does God judge man’s nature? My answer is: there is no indication from Scripture that He does.

            The only possible argument one could make is God judged Adam and part of the judgement was to twist Adam’s nature (this is a weak argument, as it is one from silence; in fact, it seems more likely that the twisting was a result of sin not a judgment from God (although some would argue that the result of sin is itself judgement, but such line of reasoning begs the question as to what judgment is).

            Even if we grant the above and further grant that our natures are twisted because of Adam’s seed, the idea that: therefore God judges our natures, does not follow.

            The effect of Adam’s sin on his nature, and by his seed his progeny’s nature, does not in anyway imply God judges mankind’s natures.

            Forgive me if I have muddied it more.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            No, that’s good. You bring clarity to mud. I tend to muddy things, not you. ;)

            We are in agreement.

            I think much discussion on this has involves a misunderstanding of what sin is, ontologically speaking, in the Bible. My view is that sin is a crime”, so to speak, an action of thought, word, or deed. I also hold that the Bible speaks metaphorically and analogically about sin as reigning powers.

            Some people talk of sin as if it were LITERALLY an infection, i.e. ontologically a stuff or goo that gets everywhere, and this borders on gnosticism. This type of stuff is a fundamental misreading of the texts from a medeival-early Reformation type category that badly needs to be dropped.

            Brad Reynolds

            Johnathan,
            You hit the nail on the head about sin and “evil.” Many Calvinist would not affirm this, but I have had consistent Calvinists claim “God created evil.” I am struck with their gnostic assumptions concerning the ontology of evil. In essence they are arguing God created some mystical intangible substance that entered into Satan and Adam. Sin isn’t a substance, it is action, word, thought etc. which is contrary to God.

            Lydia

            I think much discussion on this has involves a misunderstanding of what sin is, ontologically speaking, in the Bible. My view is that sin is a crime”, so to speak, an action of thought, word, or deed. I also hold that the Bible speaks metaphorically and analogically about sin as reigning powers. ”

            Thank you! And because this sin goo or virus is everywhere in the Calvin paradigm it makes all sin equal and we end up with such thinking as: are all potential mass murderers or no different from them. We are evil because we exist.

            That is Plato. All material world is evil. Only spirit world can be good.

            It is total moral confusion when you are like a mass murderer or pedophile because you exist whether you have “acted” in such a manner or not.

wingedfooted1

Randall,

In response to your rebuttal above….

Again, I quote Vincent Cheung (the consistent Calvinist)…

“The doctrine in question has been called ‘the free offer’, ‘the well-meant offer’, and ‘the sincere offer’ of the gospel. My position is that it makes God into a schizophrenic fool. It is unbiblical and irrational, and thus must be rejected and opposed…… it is wrong and sinful to preach the gospel as if there is a chance for even the non-elect to obtain faith and be saved, as if God is sincerely telling them that he desires their salvation and that they could be saved……… Instead, in our message, we must make it clear that God seriously commands every person, whether elect or non-elect, to believe the gospel, thus making it every person’s moral obligation to believe – those who do will be saved, and those who do not will be damned. But we must not present this as a ‘sincere offer’ of salvation from God to even the non-elect…..Faith comes only as God’s sovereign gift, and God has immutably decided to withhold this gift from the non-elect, but rather to actively harden them; therefore, to sincerely offer salvation to the non-elect as if God desires them to be saved and as if it is possible for them to be saved would be to lie to them in God’s name. There is no real or sincere offer of salvation to the non-elect, but only a real and serious command that they can never obey, and on that God will enforce against them with hellfire.”

Though I disagree with him completely, I do appreciate his brutal honesty.

Wish more Calvinists shared it.

Grace

    Randall Cofield

    WingedOne,

    Your insistent posting of a raving hyper-Calvinist makes clear who is guilty of prevarication here…

    Ever wonder why those you presume to be your fellow travelers largely ignore your posts?

    I’ll not bother feeding your fetish further.

      wingedfooted1

      Randall,

      I was wondering how long it would take you to pull the “hyper-calvinist” card. But what you call “hyper”, I call “consistent”. Either way he is a credit to the theology he embraces.

      Here’s another interesting quote from Calvinist Vincent Cheung…

      “Rather than concealing or misrepresenting the eternal decree of God to our hearers, when preaching the gospel, we should explain to them the truths that has immediate relevance to sin and grace, and to election and reprobation. But more than that, we should present to them the whole system of biblical doctrines, as clearly and comprehensively as we can manage and as time allows.”

      Actually, this is rather consistent with the teachings of the apostle Paul.

      2 Corinthians 4:2…
      Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

      Randall, when preaching the gospel to all, do you share the vital element of election (and thus, reprobation)? Or do you conceal this very important doctrine of the gospel of Christ from the Lost?

      Grace

        Brad Reynolds

        wingedfooted1
        I join you in the appreciation for consistent Calvinists. I know of two and I admire their intellectual honesty. I think their theology verges on heresy (with regard to God being the author of evil) but both are very honest about the implications of their beliefs.

        Moreover, I also understand why most Calvinists would not be as “hyper” (as Randall calls them).

        New-Calvinists would be hard pressed to say “fatalism” is inconsistent with Calvinism (although they could argue there is a difference in “fate” and “determinism”) but most would also be reluctant to say it is consistent with Calvinism because of the implications.

          Randall Cofield

          Brad,

          Don’t guess you’d be interested in discussing “consistent” non-Calvinism and having me hang the albatross of Joel Osteen around your neck…would you? ;-)

          (Please, please, please, don’t tell you are an Osteenite….)

            wingedfooted1

            Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes…

            “This is a significant and instructive objection, because it demonstrates the devastating consequence of disagreeing with my position, that is, the biblical teaching that God controls and facilitates all things, including false beliefs. My position is not that God affirms false beliefs as true in his revelation, but that he is sovereign over all things, and that this must include control over false beliefs. Thus he reveals only the truth in Scripture, but he controls whether someone believes in it. When a person rejects the truth, he does this under the control of God, who also controls what falsehoods he believes instead.”

            Randall,

            If you have an issue with Joel Osteen, or anyone’s beliefs for that matter, I think you should take it up with God. Any albatross would have to be hung around God’s neck.

            In fact, if calvinism is true, I can’t even blame you for what you believe (nor you me).

            Peace

            Brad Reynolds

            Randall,
            I would be most interested in discussing the “consistent” non-Calvinism of Moses and Isaiah and Paul, etc.

          wingedfooted1

          Brad,

          When I stumbled across Vincent Cheung’s website I found his forthrightness and honesty refreshing, though very disturbing. At least he has the fortitude to openly state what Calvinism truly teaches. I find it odd that some Calvinists label Cheung as a “hyper-Calvinist” when John Calvin, himself, taught double predestination and held the supralapsarian position. I mean, who could be more “calvin” than Calvin?

          That said, I also believe there are many calvinists out there who secretly hold to this position as well (more than they want us to know), but keep their true beliefs to themselves. In other words, many are more “calvinistic” than they are willing to admit.

          Jesus said “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”

          However, there is much (in fact, very much) about the gospel of calvinism that is kept behind closed doors.

          1 John 4:8…
          Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

          But now thru the “light” of calvinism we also know…..

          “Whoever does not hate does not know God, because God is hate.”

          It appears God’s secret decrees aren’t so secret anymore. Well, at least the calvinists have figured Him out.

          From one fellow traveler to another…..

          God bless

Mary

What struck me as still requiring a reply are these two statements::

“Scripture is explicit in stating that God “will by no means clear the guilty.” Any meaningful doctrine of the perfect Justice and Righteousness of God must equally hold that He will by no means condemn to death the guiltLESS.”

And:

“You really must clarify (with scripture) how we can inherit a sin-nature without having to “ratify” it, yet we do not “inherit” condemnation unless we “ratify” that condemnation.”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I replied and answered both. You need to make sure you read everything and understand everything before asserting such nonsense. I agreed in the fact of my replies that a reply was needed. It has been replied to, so there is no need to demand further replied.

    I would ask, in what sense are you using “death” as a condemnation? Just physical death? Or physical death including eternal separation and consignment to conscious eternal torment?

    Remember, Jesus physically died, and had no sin whatsoever. Even being treated as a sinful aggregate doesn’t mean Jesus was actually sinful, became sinful, or committed a sin. Yet, Jesus physically died on the cross.

    As such, committing sin doesn’t seem like a necessary condition for physical death to occur in a fallen creation.

    So, physical death taken in itself does not entail what it means to be “condemned to death the guiltLESS”, since the condemnation of death for the guiltY includes eternal torment in hell, and not merely physical death. As such, God’s justice is upheld.

    I also argued extensively why infants dying physically does no disservice to God’s justice, but also demonstrated how it smears God’s justice to affirm the imputation of Adam’s guilt. MY ARGUMENTS TO THIS NEED A REPLY AS WELL. We know that it would also be unjust of God to impute the guilt of my sins to my immediate children. The problem is this: there is no logical difference for the imputation of guilt of my sins to my immediate children than Adam’s sin to all his children. Both me and Adam are sinners after all, and both fathers to boot. Apparently God agrees. Read Deuteronomy 24:15 and Ezekiel 18, and so on…

    Are you saying that Jesus, who became a man, sent in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3 – literally “flesh of sin”), who became fully man patterned after the first man of dust (Adam), would never had physically died had he never went to the cross, assuming you believe, in the case of Jesus, that being treated as sinful can cause physical death just as easily as being actually sinful?

    Would Jesus also had stopped aging at a certain point? Would a sword have bounced off his neck had someone tried to cut Jesus’ head off? This can’t be so because Jesus sustained injury before the cross. So, while Jesus’ physical body could be susceptible to injury, it would never had expired?

    Is this your argument?

    If so, I guess I don’t get what you could possibly be talking about here when you ask the first question in light of these questions.

    Again, as for the second part, I have addressed that very question in length in response to Randall already in our discussions regarding “ratify” and “inheriting”.

    What is really left unaddressed is this idea that persons are somehow judged by God for their nature, rather than just their thoughts words and deeds like the Bible teaches.If persons are in fact not judged by their natures, then they are not condemned for the natures they inherit unless they ratify it by committing willful transgressions against God’s commands revealed in nature in general or in Scripture in particular (Rom. 1:18-3:2o

    Where is this idea that God judges and condemns people for their nature taught in the Bible Mary?

    Also, do you believe infants, aborted fetuses, etc. are:

    1. All covered by grace somehow or other.

    2. Some are covered by grace somehow or other and some aren’t.

    3. None are covered by grace somehow or other?

    If you believe EITHER 1 or 2, you have to consistently explain how this can be so apart from faith in Christ, and with inheriting a “nature and environment inclined towards sin”, as the consensus of Southern Baptists have determined to be the Biblical teachings on man’s default condition.

      Mary

      It would only be “nonsense” (as you called it) if your response where adequate.

Johnathan Pritchett

Randall, (and Dr. Reynolds if you disagree with the assertion of what God judges), where does the Bible teach that God judges people for the nature they inherit as well as their thoughts, words, and deeds?

Again, phusis has multiple meanings. Paraphrased meanings would be “properties inherent to a thing”, or “habits developed in conditioning”.

So Randall, here a few follow-ups as well: As per the golden rule, and my having indulged all your inquiries, I ask for the same. So…

1. Where does the Bible teach that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to his posterity?

2. Do you hold to Traducianism or Creationism. Reformed folk differ on this, so I don’t know your position. If you hold to Traducianism, where does the Bible teach that our spirit (or soul if your prefer that language) comes from Adam?

3. Do you believe that the physical material in the cosmos has moral content and is good or evil?

4. What do you believe sin and guilt are, ontologically speaking? Or to ask in a simpler way, is sin some sort of a “thing/stuff” or an action/event?

5. Does sin contain either material or immaterial substances/objects/stuff? If material, is it solid, liquid, or gas? If immaterial, is it an immaterial “solid”, “liquid”, or “gas”?

These sorts of questions will help us understand the various meanings and uses of “nature” in Scripture and our conversation. It will help us determine if God judges persons for actions/events, or objects pertaining to persons, or if the latter is included with the former. Another way to say it is if persons are judged for acts and events of missing the mark, or for possessing a nature of “mark-missedness” as some object/stuff inherent to persons, and thus inclined to mark missing. Or yet, another way to say it is does God look at the physical body of a person and judge it for its physical parts/stuff? Does God look at the spirit of a person and judge it for its spiritual parts/stuff? Or does God simply judge persons for what they’ve done while being persons?

I am curious to know where the Bible teaches that God judges the “stuffs” of which persons are composed, along with the teaching that God judges the thoughts, words, and deeds of persons.

Randall Cofield

Johnathan & Brad,

Busy day. Will try to respond tonight.

Randall Cofield

Adam, Johnathan, & Brad,

I think I can now state my conclusions concerning your position.

Johnathan states:

I have no problem attributing behaviors to infants and small children, etc. as “sinful” that God, and other morally accountable agents, can recognize as such…

Thank you, brother. That is a succinct answer.

So here’s the point I have wanted to get at for some time now. You have all acknowledged that infants 1) possess a sin-nature, 2) are sin-stained, 3) behave sinfully, and 4) are subject to physical death.

Now, rather than start with the nature of man, consider the copiously-revealed nature of God, namely His holiness. Read all the requirements of holiness/cleansing/purification for Israel, the priests, and especially the High Priest in the OT that must be observed before they can come into His presence. Note that the Immutable God dwells in unapproachable light, that He is of purer eyes than to look upon evil, even the heavens are not pure in His sight, that His face is against those who do evil, etc…………………

Now look back at the 4 concessions you have made concerning the nature of infants…..

Here is the reality that completely undermines the position of “guiltless until cognizant” you guys are positing:

Those who possess a sin-nature, who are “stained by sin,” and who behave sinfully…cannot enter into the Holy Presence of God without being redeemed from the Curse of sin..

That infants die is more than adequate evidence they are consigned to the Curse of sin and its requisite condemnation, your attempts to circumvent physical death being the penalty of sin notwithstanding.

Now, my Calvinistic position at least allows for infants being redeemed by receiving the miracle of the New Birth, being granted repentance, and being given the gift of faith–all the necessary elements of salvation explicitly stated in scripture.

Conversely, your position denies that they even need salvation from sin, and creates for them a un-biblical position of guiltless “safety”—thereby denying all the explicitly stated elements of salvation.

Brother’s, as it stands, yours is a position dangerously near to being “another gospel.”

Let the caterwauling begin. ;-)

Soli Deo Gloria

    wingedfooted1

    Randall,

    It seems Vincent Cheung agrees with you.

    “If God indeed saves the infants and the retarded, and if he indeed calls even them to manifest faith, then this means that when he regenerates infants and the retarded, he also grants them knowledge of the gospel and the intelligence to affirm it. There is nothing in the Bible that requires everyone who learns the gospel to learn it from men, and there is nothing in the Bible that says a fetus cannot think or believe. We often assume that they cannot, and even if we are correct to assume this, God can grant them the ability by miraculous power.”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Caterwauling. Good word! Indeed, let it begin.

    First, you do a lot of question begging here. Second, I get that you operate from Medieval-Reformation categories that have little in common with 1st century ones, so that is kind of a problem with the discussion. But we shall try to get through the clutter.

    To try to bring into sharper focus your insistence that “nature” incurs guilt, I can put it to you like this; that you and I wear clothes demonstrates that we are “sin-stained”, so to speak. It does not follow that we are guilty of something simply by virtue of wearing clothes given the fallen cosmos being what we are born into which we are given such conditions.

    I only posited that we inherit a death nature, and that sin reigns in death, thus we “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin” and “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.”

    The Bible says that all die in Adam. Nowhere does it say all sin in Adam, or that all are guilty in Adam or imputed with his guilt. Hence, we can make a conceptual difference between physical death and its causes, and death+eternal punishment as condemnation and its causes (often going under the unfortunate misnomer “spiritual death”, which is an odd phrase that literally would entail non-existence, but that’s a different conversation altogether).

    When a baby is formed and exits the womb at birth, nowhere does Scripture teach they realize that they are naked with open eyes. If you want to mention some proof-texts from Psalms (sometimes improperly translated to boot!) to help you out here, I am happy to discuss them.

    Speaking of evoking the Psalms, the infants God knits together in the womb do not offend his holiness and righteousness. I don’t know where this comes from. The grace that “safes” them, and I even said the word “salvation” (i.e. rescue) is fine as well, is the grace in the redemption of the cosmos achieved at the cross. The cross includes more than simply an atonement of guilty sinners and an (no doubt limited on your view) exchange of some kind.

    You have yet to answer my arguments that God rescuing infants does not offend His perfect justice, nor does this rescuing being necessary because God allows them to die physically offend His justice. There is also the argument that the imputation of guilt of Adam;s sin impugns God’s perfect justice, especially since God Himself disagrees with your view, since He said so Himself. Read Deuteronomy 24:15, Ezekiel 18, and so on…

    I have no problem positing that infants exhibit behaviors that we could construe as sinful. Such as one infant swatting at another. I never said in the quote that such behaviors are literally sinful actions incurring guilt to which they are held to account.

    Your problem is illustrating that such behaviors incur the wrath and condemnation revealed from heaven for the suppression of the truth. Your problem is demonstrating that infants are imputed with the guilt of Adam. Your problem is ignoring our arguments regarding that to become a guilty sinner requires the knowledge given by general revelation and special revelation (Romans 1:18-3:20, James 1:14-15, 4:17, etc.) Your problem is demonstrating that infants are conceived as reprobate, God-hating, truth-suppressing, wicked evil-doers with thoughts, words, and deeds that incur guilt to which they must give an account. Your problem is demonstrating that infants are conceived guilty by their very existence given the nature inherited and are thus worthy of condemnation in a Biblical sense (not a categorical error sense). On top of all that, you have still failed to demonstrate the Bible teaches that God judges natures.

    You merely posited your question begging theology, you neither argued nor responded to our arguments.

    You also wrote your own problem here: ” Note that the Immutable God dwells in unapproachable light, that He is of purer eyes than to look upon evil, even the heavens are not pure in His sight, that His face is against those who do evil, etc…………………”

    Who “do” evil. Can’t look upon that which “is” evil. I agree. However, there is nothing about a zygote-infant that is inherently evil or does evil. Biological material is not evil, nor is the spirit God gives inherently evil. A person must “do” evil to become evil, and in a fallen world, all will do evil since “as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” (Romans 3:9-18, 23) because they “inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin”. (Romans 1-18-31, 5:12-32 Cor. 15:22, etc.) Even the fallenness and futility of which all the cosmos has been subjected to is literally “evil”, even if “sin-stained”, so to speak. That is completely gnostic and foreign to the Bible. Persons are evil, not “stuffs”.

    Everything God creates is good. This is foundational for Scripture (Gen. 1), and foundational for Paul, even long, long, long after the fall (1 Tim. 4:4). What God created is good, what persons do in and with creation, whether prior to the fall with Adam (Gen. 3:6), after the fall (Gen. 6:5), and exacerbated with the Law (Rom. 5:20), is evil.

    I think your ontology of sin is out of whack with Scripture brother, and borders on gnosticism. Sin is not literally (ontologically) a “stain” that needs washed off, or by virtue of being “sin-stained”, so to speak, one has done something to incur guilt. A zygote has not done such a thing, and sin isn’t a juice that needs to be wiped or baptized off infants. Don’t mix metaphor with ontology. This sort of thinking is what has lead to infant baptism, immaculate conception, etc. Do you affirm those things along with the BF&M? Just curious, because to be consistent, I assert one has to do so, and can prove it were I to turn your own theological categories and presuppositions back onto you. :)

    Also, I don’t think you understand what the Bible means by granting repentance or faith being a gift. Curious to know what you mean by these things. I know what they mean, but wonder if you properly understand these things in context.

    Infants are born under a curse, no one disputes that. I say they are under the curse in that the fallen cosmos persons are born under the reigning powers of sin and death. It does not follow from this that zygotes-infants are personally guilty of something to which they must give an account at judgement because they are reckoned as guilty by mere existence and coming into being.

    Anyway, we just do theology different. If you insist on not answering my questions or bothering to argue against all that I have written, then I don’t I care to continue this particulr discussion as I have stated my position ad nauseum ad infinitum and countered all possible objections within MY Biblical framework (and not within some other framework into which it must fit since that merely begs the questions).

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Before anyone moans, by “MY” Biblical framework, I don’t mean my personally devised framework from whole cloth, but the established Biblical theology frameworks that I operate within as opposed to operating within Reformed theology, which would be Randall’s (or “HIS”) framework.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      This should read:

      Even the fallenness and futility of which all the cosmos has been subjected to is ***NOT*** literally “evil”, even if “sin-stained”, so to speak. That is completely gnostic and foreign to the Bible. Persons are evil, not “stuffs”.

Randall Cofield

Johnathan,

First, you do a lot of question begging here.

Indeed I do. “Question Begging” is a valid form of argument when the premises are all true and the conclusion logically follows without being assumed in any of the premises; viz, I used 4 premises already known to be true, added a fifth premise already known to be true, and arrived at a logical conclusion you do not believe.

Premises: T, T, T, T, T = Conclusion: T.

Your rejection of my conclusion has nothing to do with whether or not my argument is sound; rather you reject it because of your synergistic presuppositions; viz, “Infants must ‘ratify’ their salvation for it to be valid; infants cannot ‘ratify’ their salvation; therefore we must declare infants ‘guiltless’ and ‘safe,’ the Holiness of God notwithstanding.”

The Bible says that all die in Adam. Nowhere does it say all sin in Adam, or that all are guilty in Adam or imputed with his guilt….etc.

And yet the Bible clearly states that physical death the consequence of sin (Ro. 5:12, etc.), a point synergism requires you to deny. Unless you can make the case that infants die as a result of something completely unassociated with sin, you really have no case here.

You have yet to answer my arguments that God rescuing infants does not offend His perfect justice,….

If by “rescuing” you mean “saving” in the classical Christian sense, your statement is nonsensical. If by “rescuing” you mean declaring them “safe” sans salvific redemption, it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate both why and how God sets aside the demands of His immutable, unapproachable Holiness.

Your case for infant “safety” begins at the wrong end of the equation–the nature of man. Start with the nature of God, and you arrive at an entirely different conclusion. It is completely astounding to me that in all that has been posted here, that the Trads have not mentioned one single word about the Holiness of God.

…nor does this rescuing being necessary because God allows them to die physically offend His justice.

That statement is just nonsensical. Perhaps the fog of your synergistic viewing-lens is clouding your statement-positing abilities? ;-)

There is also the argument that the imputation of guilt of Adam;s sin impugns God’s perfect justice, especially since God Himself disagrees with your view, since He said so Himself. Read Deuteronomy 24:15, Ezekiel 18, and so on…

Hmm…Setting aside your assumptions about my “view,” perhaps you can explain to me how God’s declaration in De. and Ezek. that men die for their own sins—and infants do, in fact, die—squares with your position? Infants dying without sin utterly contradicts what those passages are saying.

Your problem is demonstrating that infants are conceived as reprobate… However, there is nothing about a zygote-infant that is inherently evil or does evil… (emphasis added)

You seem to be consistently missing a rather glaring point here. “Zygtote-infant(s)” die. It is incumbent upon you to demonstrate that they die for reasons other than sin/evil leading to said death. Until you can demonstrate that physical death is not a consequence of sin, the “problem” remains yours.

Who “do” evil. Can’t look upon that which “is” evil. I agree. However, there is nothing about a zygote-infant that is inherently evil or does evil. Biological material is not evil, nor is the spirit God gives inherently evil. (emphasis added)

Johnathan, do you realize that your position has pushed you dangerously close to denying that personhood begins at conception? “Zygote”…”biological material”….??!! You do realize that this is exactly the argument used by abortion-rights activists, don’t you? Do you not believe that personhood begins at conception?

If you do believe personhood begins at conception, then your whole argument of equating zygotes/infants to trees and rocks in relation to the Curse unravels at the seams.

And I’m amazed at your inconsistencies here. Infants, you concede, can “do” that which is definable as sin, yet you contend they are not sinful. You conceded that they possess a “sin-nature,” a “death-nature,” yet you deny they need salvific redemption from said nature (they are just automatically “safe”). Infants, you posit, “do” sin, but it is not sin, they “do” that which accords with a sin/death “nature,” but it is not evil.

Let me give you an example that we have all observed in some form or other:

An 11 month-old infant is in his great-grandfather’s arms. The infant keeps pulling at his grandfather’s watch, trying to remove it from his arm. Great-grandpa tells him “no.” The infant insists, squealing his indignation, and pulls more urgently on the watch. After three for four such exchanges, the grandfather spats the infant’s hand and states emphatically, “no!” The 11 month-old infant now screams his anger, throwing himself violently around in his grandfather’s arms. He then begins to pummel his grandfather’s face with his tiny fists, demanding that he get what he wants.

You gonna tell me that’s not sin? I submit to you that it is not only sin, but it rises even to some level of cognizant sin. The infant, though he may not know why, knows he’s not supposed to have the watch. But he does not care; he wants it anyway. How Adamic is that?!

Let’s carry it one step further. Take this infant’s sinful desire and put that exact desire in the strapping body of an 18 year-old. I’ll submit to you this: Without the tempering influences of the 17 intervening years, the sinful attitude of the infant will cause the 18 year-old to beat his great-grandfather senseless, rip the watch from his limp arm, and trample his unconscious body on his way through the door.

You still wanna tell me infants are not capable of “doing” evil?

Sin is not literally (ontologically) a “stain” that needs washed off, or by virtue of being “sin-stained”, so to speak, one has done something to incur guilt.

Indeed. And even infants “do” that which is in accord with their inherited sin-stained sin-nature. “But zygotes!” you cry, “zygotes can’t ‘do’ anything to incur guilt.” Johnathan, I don’t have to prove “zygotes” (I despise that term) sin to unhinge your argument. All I have to do to derail your argument that infants are “safe” is to demonstrate that infants sin.

Done.

God’s Law requires perfect obedience, and…

Ro 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

I am so grateful that the “righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed” in the person of Lord Jesus….even for infants

This was particularly…umm…”rich”:

Before anyone moans, by “MY” Biblical framework, I don’t mean my personally devised framework from whole cloth, but the established Biblical theology frameworks that I operate within…

…And we know that “YOUR” Biblical framework alone is “established Biblical theology”….exactly how?

Peace, brother.

Soli Deo Gloria

wingedfooted1

Randall,

Just curious, and in case I missed it or overlooked it, do you believe ALL infants who die in infancy go to heaven or do you believe that only some, or elect infants, are saved by Christ?

I know there is a difference of opinion on this within the reformed camp. I was just wondering where you stood.

Grace

Randall Cofield

Here’s a second stab at getting the formatting right:

Johnathan,

First, you do a lot of question begging here.

Indeed I do. “Question Begging” is a valid form of argument when the premises are all true and the conclusion logically follows without being assumed in any of the premises; viz, I used 4 premises already known to be true, added a fifth premise already known to be true, and arrived at a logical conclusion you do not believe.

Premises: T, T, T, T, T = Conclusion: T.

Your rejection of my conclusion has nothing to do with whether or not my argument is sound; rather you reject it because of your synergistic presuppositions; viz, “Infants must ‘ratify’ their salvation for it to be valid; infants cannot ‘ratify’ their salvation; therefore we must declare infants ‘guiltless’ and ‘safe,’ the Holiness of God notwithstanding.”

The Bible says that all die in Adam. Nowhere does it say all sin in Adam, or that all are guilty in Adam or imputed with his guilt….etc.

And yet the Bible clearly states that physical death the consequence of sin (Ro. 5:12, etc.), a point synergism requires you to deny. Unless you can make the case that infants die as a result of something completely unassociated with sin, you really have no case here.

You have yet to answer my arguments that God rescuing infants does not offend His perfect justice,….

If by “rescuing” you mean “saving” in the classical Christian sense, your statement is nonsensical. If by “rescuing” you mean declaring them “safe” sans salvific redemption, it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate both why and how God sets aside the demands of His immutable, unapproachable Holiness.

Your case for infant “safety” begins at the wrong end of the equation–the nature of man. Start with the nature of God, and you arrive at an entirely different conclusion. It is completely astounding to me that in all that has been posted here, the Trads have not mentioned one single word about the Holiness of God. Anthropology before theology is the cart ahead of the horse.

…nor does this rescuing being necessary because God allows them to die physically offend His justice.

That statement is just nonsensical. Perhaps the fog of your synergistic viewing-lens is clouding your statement-positing abilities? ;-)

There is also the argument that the imputation of guilt of Adam;s sin impugns God’s perfect justice, especially since God Himself disagrees with your view, since He said so Himself. Read Deuteronomy 24:15, Ezekiel 18, and so on…

Hmm…Setting aside your assumptions about my “view,” perhaps you can explain to me how God’s declaration in De. and Ezek. that men die for their own sins—and infants do, in fact, die—squares with your position? Infants dying without sin utterly contradicts what those passages are saying.

Your problem is demonstrating that infants are conceived as reprobate… However, there is nothing about a zygote-infant that is inherently evil or does evil… (emphasis added)

You seem to be consistently missing a rather glaring point here. “Zygtote-infant(s)” die. It is incumbent upon you to demonstrate that they die for reasons other than sin/evil leading to said death. Until you can demonstrate that physical death is not a consequence of sin, the “problem” remains yours.

Who “do” evil. Can’t look upon that which “is” evil. I agree. However, there is nothing about a zygote-infant that is inherently evil or does evil. Biological material is not evil, nor is the spirit God gives inherently evil. (emphasis added)

Johnathan, do you realize that your position has pushed you dangerously close to denying that personhood begins at conception? “Zygote”…”biological material”….??!! You do realize that this is exactly the argument used by abortion-rights activists, don’t you? Do you not believe that personhood begins at conception?

If you do believe personhood begins at conception, then your whole argument of equating zygotes/infants to trees and rocks in relation to the Curse unravels at the seams.

And I’m amazed at your inconsistencies here. Infants, you concede, can “do” that which is definable as sin, yet you contend they are not sinful. You conceded that they possess a “sin-nature,” a “death-nature,” yet you deny they need salvific redemption from said nature (they are just automatically “safe”). Infants, you posit, “do” sin, but it is not sin; they “do” that which accords with a sin/death “nature,” but it is not evil.

Let me give you an example that we have all observed in some form or other:

An 11 month-old infant is in his great-grandfather’s arms. The infant keeps pulling at his grandfather’s watch, trying to remove it from his arm. Great-grandpa tells him “no.” The infant insists, squealing his indignation and pulls more urgently on the watch. After three or four such exchanges, the grandfather spats the infant’s hand and states emphatically, “no!” The 11 month-old infant now screams his anger, throwing himself violently around in his grandfather’s arms. He then begins to pummel his grandfather’s face with his tiny fists, demanding that he get what he wants.

You gonna tell me that’s not sin?

I submit to you that it is not only sin, but it rises even to some level of cognizant sin. The infant, though he may not know why, knows he’s not supposed to have the watch. But he does not care; he wants it anyway. How Adamic is that?!

Let’s carry it one step further. Take this infant’s sinful desire and put that exact desire in the strapping body of an 18 year-old. I’ll submit to you this: Without the tempering influences of the 17 intervening years, the sinful attitude of the infant will cause the 18 year-old to beat his great-grandfather senseless, rip the watch from his limp arm, and trample his unconscious body on his way through the door.

You still wanna tell me infants are not capable of “doing” evil?

Sin is not literally (ontologically) a “stain” that needs washed off, or by virtue of being “sin-stained”, so to speak, one has done something to incur guilt.

Indeed. And even infants “do” that which is in accord with their inherited sin-stained sin-nature. “But zygotes!” you cry, “zygotes can’t ‘do’ anything to incur guilt.” Johnathan, I don’t have to prove “zygotes” (I despise that term) sin to unhinge your argument. All I have to do to derail your argument that infants are “safe” is to demonstrate that infants sin.

Done.

God’s Law requires perfect obedience, and…

Ro 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

I am so grateful that the “righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed” in the person of Lord Jesus….even for infants…

This was particularly…umm…”rich”:

Before anyone moans, by “MY” Biblical framework, I don’t mean my personally devised framework from whole cloth, but the established Biblical theology frameworks that I operate within…

…And we know that “YOUR” Biblical framework alone is “established Biblical theology”….exactly how?

Peace, brother.

Soli Deo Gloria

    Johnathan Pritchett

    First, let me pour water on burning straw and needless distraction. I believe personhood begins at conception.

    Second, you missed my point about infants. My statement was that they do nothing in their behavior to incur the guilt of condemnation. You have failed to illustrate what and how some 11of month old that dies will be held to account and died physically because he is an idolatrous God-hater suppressing the truth with knowledge of doing so.

    Third, death is indeed a result o f sin, but again, we can make a conceptual difference between physical death and death with eternal punishment. We find how physical death came about, as well as judgement against Adam’s sin back in Gen. 3.

    All I have done is posit the BF&M you claim to affirm. It does not hold by that which I continue to quote that infants are capable or moral action by implication that people become morally accountable to transgress and come under condemnation. It nowhere hints that we are conceived in condemnation.

    You still have not responded to all the passages from Ez. Deut., Rom. and James about sin and what condemns…other than toss your hands up about them.

    Again, our position does not start with anthropology or ignore God’s attributes. So that is straw as well.

    Again, brother, you ignore our arguments and offer platitudes responses to caricatures of our position.

    My framework is Biblical and deals with the text, what it says, what it means, and what it implies, in line with SBC doctrine.

    You posit theories of infant cognizant abilities to illustrate they are reprobate in God’s eyes worthy of condemnation and accountability before God for acting lime infants.

      wingedfooted1

      Johnathan,

      You said…. “You posit theories of infant cognizant abilities to illustrate they are reprobate in God’s eyes worthy of condemnation and accountability before God for acting like infants.”

      Exactly.

      “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ,….”

      If Randall holds to the Westminster Confession that only “elect infants” are saved (implying that reprobate infants are damned), than any explanation outside Calvin-Land must, and will, be rejected. YOUR explanation must fit within HIS framework.

      God bless

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Indeed.

        It is fair to say that it can fit in some Calvinist frameworks though. Piper and MacArthur argue at points that babies who die are not held liable for lacking knowledge.

        Schreiner openly admits infants are not even in view of Paul’s concerns in Romans 55 and much of my exegesis of the passage itself concerning my position on what Paul is actually saying can be backed up with quotes from his Romans commentary. Though both my exegesis and theology from it is consistent where his is not.

          wingedfooted1

          Johnathan,

          You said…. “It is fair to say that it can fit in some Calvinist frameworks though. Piper and MacArthur argue at points that babies who die are not held liable for lacking knowledge.”

          Understood.

          But even then it is a very weak attempt to prove that babies (and the mentally handicapped) are part of God’s elect. Again, are we to seriously believe that crib death, abortion, and mental retardation are reserved only for “the elect”?

          It appears that the reformed faith has a hard time providing comfort to its membership who tragically lose their children at a young age.

          Grace

            Johnathan Pritchett

            The Medieval and post-Reformation theological categories completely foreign to the context of the Bible, an over-reliance upon a South African monk who couldn’t read Greek, and a systematic grid imposed on the text from without forces a lot of theological pretzels for their exegesis and theology that is as unnecessary as it is incoherent at times.

      Randall Cofield

      Johnathan,

      Thanks for your response, brother.

      First, let me pour water on burning straw and needless distraction. I believe personhood begins at conception.

      Then do you concede that your equating “zygote-infants” with rocks and trees in relation to the Curse and Christ’s redemption of all creation is not a valid argument?

      Second, you missed my point about infants. My statement was that they do nothing in their behavior to incur the guilt of condemnation. You have failed to illustrate what and how some 11of month old that dies will be held to account and died physically because he is an idolatrous God-hater suppressing the truth with knowledge of doing so.

      Yet I did illustrate that infants are not sinless or guiltless—and therefore cannot enter into God’s holy presence without being saved and washed by the shed blood of Jesus. I’ve stated before that I don’t believe God leaves them in their guilt and condemnation, but does, in my personal estimation, redeem and save them—every one, without exception.

      I didn’t “miss” your point; I just don’t agree with it. That which possess a sin-nature, sins, and is subject to death cannot live in the presence of holy perfection without redemption/salvation.

      Third, death is indeed a result o f sin, but again, we can make a conceptual difference between physical death and death with eternal punishment. We find how physical death came about, as well as judgement against Adam’s sin back in Gen. 3.

      Then you will concede that God does, in fact, consign infants to physical death because of Adam’s sin?

      All I have done is posit the BF&M you claim to affirm. It does not hold by that which I continue to quote that infants are capable or moral action by implication that people become morally accountable to transgress and come under condemnation. It nowhere hints that we are conceived in condemnation.

      Surely you are aware that the 1925 BF&M states:

      ….[Adam’s] posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

      If we’re gonna settle this by appealing to BF&M, the one I hold to is older than yours—therefore, I win… ;-)

      You still have not responded to all the passages from Ez. Deut., Rom. and James about sin and what condemns…other than toss your hands up about them.

      Not at all. I pointed out that God’s plain declaration in Ezek. and De. that men die for their personal sins clearly contradicts your contention that infants do not die because of their sin. Your interp of Ro. and James are clearly refuted by the example of cognizant sin on the part of the 11 month-old, something we’ve all witnessed. There is no “tossing up of my hands” here at all.

      Again, our position does not start with anthropology or ignore God’s attributes. So that is straw as well.

      No straw here. Your position allows infants with a sin-nature, actual sin, etc. to enter into God’s presence—thus ignoring the exacting demands of God’s perfect holiness. God will not lower His standard simply because we wish to make exceptions for infants and assume them guiltless. He has declared the whole world guilty before Him. I’m stickin’ with that.

      Again, brother, you ignore our arguments and offer platitudes responses to caricatures of our position.

      …. :-) … To borrow a phrase…I always find it comical when Traditionalists begin complaining that Calvinists “caricature” their positions, offer “platitudes,” and “ignore” their arguments…

      My framework is Biblical and deals with the text, what it says, what it means, and what it implies, in line with SBC doctrine.

      Add “as viewed through a synergistic lens” and I’d say that statement is pretty accurate. ;-)

      You posit theories of infant cognizant abilities to illustrate they are reprobate in God’s eyes worthy of condemnation and accountability before God for acting lime infants.

      Now, that’s caricature….

      Peace, brother.

      Soli Deo Gloria

        Johnathan Pritchett

        T”hen do you concede that your equating “zygote-infants” with rocks and trees in relation to the Curse and Christ’s redemption of all creation is not a valid argument?”

        No, because I don’t hold that Yahweh counts infants any more guilty and worthy of condemnation than rocks or trees. Infants dying physically no more means that they are condemned as guilty than a rock or tree, but like the rocks and trees being redeemed from the fallen-ness of the cosmos, so are infants.

        “Yet I did illustrate that infants are not sinless or guiltless—and therefore cannot enter into God’s holy presence without being saved and washed by the shed blood of Jesus. I’ve stated before that I don’t believe God leaves them in their guilt and condemnation, but does, in my personal estimation, redeem and save them—every one, without exception.”

        Again, in what sense are they guilty and under condemnation? What does an unborn, undelivered “person” (since you hate the scientific words) do to incur guilt and condemnation? Or infants? Where is this notion that being stained and tarnished with the effects of Adam’s sin necessitate guilt as well? What makes a “condition” unholy? God doesn’t regard persons guilty unless they commit a crime. Crime requires intent, knowledge, and moral accountability. I am not questioning God’s justice verses “fallen man’s sense of justice, I am asking where the Bible teaches that God reckons infants and the unborn as such filthy unholy creations, and where we should view that that Scripture has infants in view when discussing wickedness of man and evil thoughts, and suppressing truth, idolatry, etc.? I stated that God saves them and redeems them. I also stated that God is not redeeming them in the same way He redeemed me or for the same reasons. I willfully and full well knowingly suppressed the truth and violated the revelation of the knowledge of God in creation, as well as in His Law I heard growing up in church. This doesn’t, in my view, apply to infants since they are not morally accountable, can repent, or exercise faith. Where there is no Law, there is no transgression. God is not offended by their nature. Nowhere does the Bible teach that nature offends God, rather actions, thoughts and deeds.

        I think we mean two different things when we talk about “sin nature”, “sin stained” and “death nature”.

        “If we’re gonna settle this by appealing to BF&M, the one I hold to is older than yours—therefore, I win… ;-)”

        This was changed for a reason. Recent scholarship and exegesis makes the older version highly unlikely. I suspect you’d even frown on some of what Thomas Schreiner says in his Romans commentary.

        I have been trying to tell you, when people strayed from the earliest creeds, they said too much, and speculated their way with categories to end up with doctrinal formulations foreign to the text. It happens. That Reformed theology holdovers got things wrong is not to be held against it in and of itself, they did the best they could. We just reexamine Scripture afresh, with better understanding of the ANE culture and what the Bible is actually talking about, and don’t find the same things. No big deal.

        “Not at all. I pointed out that God’s plain declaration in Ezek. and De. that men die for their personal sins clearly contradicts your contention that infants do not die because of their sin. Your interp of Ro. and James are clearly refuted by the example of cognizant sin on the part of the 11 month-old, something we’ve all witnessed. There is no “tossing up of my hands” here at all.”

        In what sense does Ezekiel mean “die” to you? Does God mean that if they turn from their wicked ways and live as he prefers since He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, that these people, having turned, will not die physically? (Ezekiel 18:32, 33:11) Surely not…

        But this does point to the conceptual difference that mankind is no longer able to sustain existence from physical death outside the garden and God’s Tree of Life, which means there is a conceptual difference in taking physical death in isolation from “death” and considering it. It also points away from the imputation of Adam’s guilt. It also, by Yahweh’s statements about Himself, in Exodus 34:6-7 that he does allow the consequences of the father’s sins to ring for generations. Take the two passages together, and God does not hold to account one for the sin of the other, even if he allows the consequences of such sins to affect the other. God also says he punishes the guilty. Take all that we know and I see no reason to think infants are guilty and under condemnation simply for possessing a nature and acting like infants without understanding, when Romans teaches that guilty sinners do so with full knowledge.

        And, of course, you haven’t established they are cognizant of a sin, they are cognizant of another older human doing something they don’t understand. Romans and James upheld. Easy breezy.

        “No straw here. Your position allows infants with a sin-nature, actual sin, etc. to enter into God’s presence—thus ignoring the exacting demands of God’s perfect holiness. God will not lower His standard simply because we wish to make exceptions for infants and assume them guiltless. He has declared the whole world guilty before Him. I’m stickin’ with that.”

        I don’t hold that what we perceive as sin in an infant counts as sin. So I don’t think your rebuttal applies, especially since you have failed to demonstrate that God reckons nature guilty rather than transgressors. So, this is a dead end argument for you. I ignore no demands for God’s standards of holiness. I just don’t posit that infants are unholy by virtue of existence. As for Romans 3:20, yes, the whole Jew and Gentile world is guilty, that is the point, not that infants are particularly guilty. Come on…exegesis!

        And you keep repeating your ontological problem with sin. Is the spirit God gives babies at conception evil, or the biological material?

        Playing along with your categorical errors of sin AND now holiness though, with your own reasoning about holiness, sin, and God’s standard relating to natures and not persons and their track record of set-apartness in behavior lived in reflection of God, or not as it were, for which they will give an account, I can just as easily claim that God makes them holy in redemption, just like all creation will be holy. This has nothing to do with the guilt and condemnation you suppose that infants and unborn have though.

        “…. :-) … To borrow a phrase…I always find it comical when Traditionalists begin complaining that Calvinists “caricature” their positions, offer “platitudes,” and “ignore” their arguments…”

        I’m not complaining, I am stating the obvious. I don’t complain about caricatures because (see below your next quote)

        “Now, that’s caricature….”

        One good caricature deserves another. ;)

      Randall Cofield

      Johnathan,

      One other point. You seemingly dismiss my example of the 11 month-old as platitude.

      So, I have a question:

      If that infant were your son, what would you do…and why would you do it?

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Probably swat at his hand to train the baby in the way he should go sooner rather than later.

        HOWEVER, it doesn’t follow from this that God charges the baby with guilt and condemnation for instinctively trying to grab something shiny.

        Apples and oranges.

          Randall Cofield

          Johnathan,

          Probably swat at his hand to train the baby in the way he should go sooner rather than later.

          Why?

          …for instinctively trying to grab something shiny.

          Instinct?

          Come, now.

    Brad Reynolds

    Randall
    I will avoid the temptation to quarry you concerning the idea of the “gift of faith,” but John Calvin’s honesty in his commentary on Eph, 2:8 might be helpful.

    I think Johnathan has well addressed your assumptions you make concerning our position as well as the errant paradigm from which you are operating, nevertheless, I think there is an item of note (which you continue to neglect).

    Allow me to illustrate. For years evolutionists have claimed “Creationists don’t play fair. They poke holes in our theory and then say it must be creationism since evolution has so many holes in it, without offering a theory themselves of how the world came to be except “God created.” While I think men like Dr. William Dembski have well documented an alternative option I must agree that creationism does not have the elaborate theory of origins that evolution does. As such it is must much difficult to punch empirical scientific holes into “God created.”

    You continue to try (unsuccessfully I might add) and punch holes in our view of infants but have yet to successfully address the elephant in the room concerning your theory.

    You argue God grants repentance to infants. Please explain if God grants repentance to a person who does not cognitively/actively chooses to repent?

    Either you are saying at the moment of conception infants have the ability to cognitively choose to repent or you are saying God grants repentance to people who do not cognitively choose to repent. If the former – WOW – this is as unsubstantiated Biblically as it is empirically. If the latter – talk about a different gospel. You are there my brother. I would reject that concept as unbiblical. At least Dr. Piper recognizes this as unbiblical and solves the issue of infants by allowing the possibility of repentance and faith postmortem, which is just as unbiblical but does not involve the “different gospel” concept of salvation without a cognitive choice to repent.

      Randall Cofield

      Brad,

      Excellent question, brother. I welcome the privilege to respond to it, but it may be a day or two before I’m able. Crazy busy.

      That ok with you?

      Grace to you.

wingedfooted1

Randall,

Here’s a “second stab” at two questions you haven’t answered yet.

Most recently….

Do you believe ALL infants who die in infancy go to heaven or do you believe that only some, or elect infants, are saved by Christ?

Options….

A. All

B. Some

And earlier….

When preaching the gospel to all, do you share the vital element of election (and thus, reprobation)? Or do you conceal this very important doctrine of the gospel of Christ from the Lost?

Options…

A. Yes, I share the entire gospel of Christ with everyone (both saved and lost).

B. No, I only share the entire gospel of Christ with the saved.

Peace

Johnathan Pritchett

So far, we have yet to hear:

1. Arguments for the imputation of Adam’s guilt.

2. Arguments that when the Bible speaks of “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” and “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” and so forth that the Bible authors are even considering the issue of infants.

3. Arguments that God judges and condemns natures as guilty.

4. Arguments that God holds newborns guilty for grabby shiny things without understanding.

I submit that this whole issue is a product of bad theology and categories imposed on the Bible, and then desperate attempts made to bail out a problem when there never was one to begin with when we understand God’s and the Biblical author’s actual complaints about the sin issues in the cosmos, and understand FROM Genesis 3 and 1 Cor. 15:22 why there is physical death and how we can discuss this in and of itself given a fallen cosmos without the notions of guilt, natures being judges, infant behavior being condemnable, etc.

When we are in heaven, and the Reformed theologian asks Paul the real reason why and how all the infants are saved given that we thought all were imputed with the guilt of Adam’s sin, their nature reckoned guilty, and their behaviors obviously being guilt incurring violations of God’s Law when they didn’t repent or believe in Christ given that they are infants,

Paul will most likely respond: “Huh? What the heck are you on about?”

The Reformed theologian offers Paul’s own words in the form of proof-texts…

Paul still responds: “Huh? Um, I think you misunderstood what the real problem of sin and death in the world was, and who was responsible for it, and what Christ did to fix it.”

Then Adam walks up to add his two pennies: “Stop blaming me, you’d have done worse, and I didn’t make you sin, you chose to. I didn’t make you guilty, you weren’t born that way, you became guilty yourself. Eve and I tried that blame game in the garden…didn’t you read about it in Genesis 3:13-14? It didn’t work. My banishment is why you physically died, not why you willfully sinned.”

Then Paul will offer you the exegesis and explanation of the passage of Paul’s link of sin and death to Adam and contrasting it with the act of Christ the same way I did a million posts ago (look up somewhere). He’ll probably bring up 1 Cor. 15:22 and Genesis 3 as well. All infants that grow to be morally accountable agents sin because of the inherited nature and environment of death, because where death reigns, sin reigns in death. It says so right there in Romans 5:12-21. Consider 5:12 alone. “sin entered -> death through sin-> more death spreading-> cause more sin.

Anyway, the one sin lead to death, and so death reigns, and sin reigns in death (5:21).

As Reformed Calvinist, Double-predestination teaching, Romans 9 misunderstanding Thomas Schreiner explains, “As a result of Adam’s sin death entered the world and engulfed all people; all people enter the world alienated from God and spiritually dead by virtue of Adam’s sin. By virtue of entering the world in the state of death (i.e., separated from God), all human beings sin. . . . Our alienation and separation from God are due to Adam’s sin, and thus we sin as a result of being born into the world separated from God’s life” (Romans, 275-6).”

Other than using that stupid phrase “spiritually dead”, I essentially agree with this, and stated the same thing much better above somewhere when I said we have a death nature, and we are in the condition of being born absent God’s immediate presence and right-making activity.

And to poo-poo the idea that this passages teaches we sinned in Adam and that is why infants die, he goes on to say, “First, any appeal to infants is extraneous to the intention of the text. If Paul wanted to concentrate on infants, he would not have specified the interval between Adam and Moses in v. 13. His intention was not to explain the situation of those who die in infancy (since this has occurred throughout history), but to provide an explanation for the death of those who did not possess the Mosaic Law.” (Ibid 27-278)

I agree with this as well. Paul’s point is not Randall’s point. And these issues are a by-product of bad theology and exegesis imposed on the text when the text isn’t concerned with explaining why infants die at all.

Again, Schreiner is inconsistent and wrong a lot, but here we find some agreement. :-)

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