Can a Southern Baptist Calvinist consistently affirm the BF&M?

I will come straight to the point. I contend that Southern Baptists who teach babies are born guilty due to Adam’s sin are NOT in compliance with the Baptist Faith and Message. Here is what we as Baptist believe according to our most current statement of faith:

“Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” – The BF&M under section ‘III: Man’

Can this point be any more clear? In my recent conversation with Dr. Adam Harwood, professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, he spells out the biblical reasons that we as Baptists believe and teach that babies are not born guilty of Adam’s sin.

Our discussion primarily addressed original sin, drawing from Dr. Harwood’s writings on the topic (this book, this booklet, this article, and this essay). We touched on issues such as: Romans 5:12-21, imputed righteousness, semi-Pelagianism, the “Traditional” Statement, and the possible dilemma caused by the existence of multiple confessions at Southern Baptist seminaries. [1]

Dr. Harwood correctly observes:

“Article 3 of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states clearly that people inherit something from the first man. But the BFM does not state that we inherit guilt or condemnation. Instead, we ‘inherit a nature and environment inclined toward sin.’ According to the BFM, people do not begin life under condemnation. Rather, ‘as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors.’”

Harwood continues by addressing the work of Calvinistic scholar, Dr. Thomas Schreiner, which is “standard fare in Reformed confessions and many systematic theologies.”  Schreiner’s view is that “people come into the world under condemnation due to Adam’s sin.” Harwood rightly calls Southern Baptist Calvinists out for teaching a doctrine that is clearly contrary to the Baptist Faith and Message. [2]

Below are the links to two podcasts with Dr. Harwood over these issues:

PART 1

PART 2

Or download from iTunes

64 thoughts on “Can a Southern Baptist Calvinist consistently affirm the BF&M?

  1. It was a great point that he made. All those Calvinists who jumped to call the traditional statement Semipalatinsk really hurt their position.

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  2. The issue is how we understand the phrase, “…[Adam’s] posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.”

    Is it that we inherit a “sin nature” making us “sinners” from conception so that we sin at the first opportunity? That interpretation is not excluded. If we are sinners, then we are subject to judgment and that judgment is death. It is true that all of us were subject to physical death from the moment of conception onward not because of our sin but because Adam sinned and made us sinners. This is one aspect of Original Sin. Can a person be condemned to death without cause?

    Dr. Harwood states, and Pastor Flowers agrees, “According to the BFM, people do not begin life under condemnation.” Is that true? If we begin life subject to death, then can’t the death to which we are subject be the result of “condemnation”?

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    1. I think you make a good point. Some people would argue babies are born already spiritually alive… yet there’s no hint that getting saved is being born again again. And if our very substance can be sinful even before we act, and there is good Biblical argument for that, our nature could make us condemnable. I think our intuitive drive to protect the weak and innocent kind of misfires when we think about original sin. If there is one mediator between humans and God, then all humans need that mediator legitimately. I wouldn’t describe it as being born guilty for Adam’s sin, yet we are born guilty and it’s because of Adam’s sin. We are a fallen race, not an innocent race that continually falls. I do think there’s a case for Christian parents exercising faith for their newborn and children, as God can deal with households as a unit. Otherwise we might have the strange conclusion that abortion is the greatest soul-saving tool we know of, or that people don’t even need the Gospel to be saved, both of which seem quite unbiblical.

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      1. Dizerner,

        “And if our very substance can be sinful even before we act, and there is good Biblical argument for that, our nature could make us condemnable.”

        Effected by sin is very different from having committed sin.

        For example, the physical world is effected by sin and yet has not personally committed sin.

        “I think our intuitive drive to protect the weak and innocent kind of misfires when we think about original sin.”

        I completely disagree with you here. Original sin means that the sin of the garden has effected the world and all descendenets of Adam, THAT is not at all the same as claiming that babies are guilty of Adam’s sin or that they are born guilty of sin. Of all the Christian traditions the Eastern Orthodox are most strong on this, believing that spiritual death is the consequence for all subsequent human persons, but not personal guilt or condemnation for Adam’s sin. Catholics influenced by Augustine went off the rails on this one.

        This also CONTRADICTS the passage in Ezekiel which as clear as can be said says that ***each person is responsible for their own sin***, the parent for their sin, the child for their sin, and not vice versa. Augustine invented the concept of inherited guilt based on his misinterpretation of the Romans passage (he did not know Greek and so his error has carried on for centuries).

        Regarding the desire to protect the weak and the innocent this is based on many passages on scripture, while the born guilty for Adam’s sin concept is based on **one** (and that one being misinterpreted by Augustine).

        “I wouldn’t describe it as being born guilty for Adam’s sin, yet we are born guilty and it’s because of Adam’s sin.”

        Now there is an incoherent statement. You reject the “born guilty for Adam’s sin” concept (which is the original sin concept of Augustine): but then you say “we are born guilty and it’s because of Adam’s sin”.

        How are we guilty for another person’s sin in light of the Ezekiel passage on personal responsibility?

        How is a baby guilty for what Adam did, if the baby did not do that sinful action themselves?

        This could only occur through some sort of transference of the guilt of sin, but the Bible never says that the guilt of Adam’s sin is transferred to babies. What it says, and again the Eastern Orthodox understand this better than most, is that **death** came upon all men due to Adam’s sin.

        “We are a fallen race, not an innocent race that continually falls.”

        We are all born spiritually dead (i.e. separated from God) due to the sin in the garden. But being spiritually dead is not the same as being guilty of Adam’s sin. In regards to babies, they are born spiritually dead, but they are not guilty of sin until they commit sin themselves (this is what Leighton’s whole article is discussing, and this goes with the Baptist statement).

        “I do think there’s a case for Christian parents exercising faith for their newborn and children, as God can deal with households as a unit.”

        There is no such case, in scripture faith is always of the individual, never by proxy or through a parent or another person. No evidence for this whatsoever.

        “Otherwise we might have the strange conclusion that abortion is the greatest soul-saving tool we know of, or that people don’t even need the Gospel to be saved, both of which seem quite unbiblical.”

        I have never appreciated this gruesome argument from paedobaptists, murder is justified because then it would save that murdered person for eternity. Talk about the ends justifies the means! It is a completely non-biblical argument, as the Bible never presents this point. It is also confused because it would amount to salvation by works, the “work” being the murder of the child which then justifies their being saved. The Bible constantly affirms justification/salvation through faith, not justification/salvation through murder/abortion.

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      2. Thanks for your thoughts on this, I always appreciate that and it makes me think.

        you say:
        This also CONTRADICTS the passage in Ezekiel which as clear as can be said says that ***each person is responsible for their own sin***, the parent for their sin, the child for their sin, and not vice versa.

        response:
        I’m not so sure it does though. You may be reading more into that Ezekiel passage then it actually says. It is talking about times and dispensations if you read closely.

        As I live, declares the Lord Yahweh, it will surely not any longer be appropriate for you to quote this proverb in Israel!

        Notice the “not any longer be appropriate,” indicating there was a time when it truly fit. See how this is confirmed in the parallel passage in Jeremiah:

        “In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made…”

        In Jer 31 this new time is linked to the new covenant in the very next verse after. And there’s no indication nor hint that it was wrong to say “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge,” this is described as an appropriate description that really happened; it was simply wrong to use that expression to excuse personal sin.

        So was Ezekiel 18 meant to tell us that the only way God has ever worked or will ever work is to only and solo judge each person’s sins completely unrelated to any other person’s sins? We have many passages saying this is not the case at all:

        “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”

        It seems to me your fallen sense of justice will never square with the morality described in this passage. The reason this becomes an even more important point is when the heart of the Gospel itself ends up violating our fallen sense of morality so that we desire to rewrite its truths in a more works oriented manner. There is no human innocence anywhere that circumvents the need for the Savior to take the wrath of God against sin, and this is the long and the short of it. Because I’m as innocent of the circumstances that led up to my first sin, as a baby is of being born in the wrong place and the wrong time. There just really is no way you can possibly compare the sins we face in this fallen world with the life Adam had and the sin Adam committed. Without the grace of our Savior every human being will inevitably sin, and that can’t possibly be described as a works based righteousness, as people seem to want to take Ezekiel 18. Ezekiel 18 was never meant to deny the fact that people do get punished for other’s sins and it never was meant to deny that fact that no human being can be righteous without grace. I read Eze. 18 in the light of a response to God’s grace.

        You’ve got to realize that if it was just the environment that was affected by sin, no matter the temptations in the world, some human being somewhere would be able to have the willpower to pull off righteousness and never sin, and they could stand before God and say “I don’t need Christ. I don’t need his blood. I don’t need his sacrifice. I don’t need him taking the wrath of God against my sin. I can stand fully clothed and spotless in the presence of God based on my own merit.” And this is simply how you are going to have to describe any human who circumvents Christ somehow. It doesn’t make sense to me that you say, “Okay a baby is innocent, until it grows a few years, and then will inevitably 100% sin.” You want to take some standard of justice based on deeds and moral works, then backtrack it for the baby’s state before the age of accountability, but at the actual age of accountability say, “Well sure, of course it sins as all humans do, cause life is just so full of temptations and stuff.” We sin because we *are* sinners, we don’t sin to *become* sinners. And by definition, an inherent sinner, whether he has the chance to live that out in deeds or not, is not worthy of heaven.

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      1. You seem to have a problem with the term, “original sin.” However, it, like the trinity, is a short hand way of describing what the Bible says on an issue. As the term, “Trinity,” refers to God being described as God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, so the term, “original sin,” refers to all the effects of Adam’s sin on all people. Here are some effects of Adam’s sin.

        1. Spiritual death (whatever that means).
        2. Physical death.
        3. Expulsion from the garden.
        4. Corruption of the earth – thorns and thistles.
        5. Rather than God seeking out Adam in the garden, Adam (man) must seek out God from outside the garden.
        6. Loss of moral ability.

        You seem (I only briefly scanned your articles) to be caught up with whether people are now born “sinners” or whether thy become sinners only after they personally sin and what it means to sin and whether one sins if ignorant of sin (all of which you may have addressed).

        Can you bottom line your view in a few short statements?

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      2. Ok, my personal view is that we do not inherit sin (guilt) or a sin nature (driving us to sin inevitably). I believe we inherit physical depravity and physical death from Adam (since we do not have access to the tree of life, due to his sense). This however is, to us, a consequence and not a punishment, since it is not our fault that he took of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We do not inherit moral depravity (guilt) and spiritual death (separation from God – Romans 1 and having to go to the lake of fire).

        That is my view 🙂

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      3. If the wages of sin is death, should a baby inherit death from its parents given that the baby has not sinned? Should it not incur death only as a punishment for its own sin?

        Why would a baby inherit physical depravity rather than innocence and then become depraved once it sins? [Do you mean physical depravity as opposed to moral depravity or to be the same as moral depravity? If different, how do you define physical depravity?]

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      4. I think you make the same mistake as did the Manichaeans and Augustine. They could not diferentiate between both of them. Physical depravity (that is: our bodies die) is inherited, since we are descendants of Adam. This is therefore a consequence (no guilt on our side). Moral depravity is falling from innocence, after reaching the age of accountability (by our first sin). John Chrysostom wrote: “For the fact that when he [Adam] had sinned and become mortal, those who were of him should be so also, is nothing unlikely. But how would it follow that from his disobedience another would become a sinner?”
        – John Chrysostom, “Homily X.” Homilies on Romans, verse 19

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      5. The key question – “How would it follow that from his disobedience another would become a sinner?”

        We read, “God banished Adam from the Garden of Eden…After he drove Adam out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

        The way back to the garden was guarded so that none might enter. If Adam’s disobedience did not take innocence from His children, Adam would have thrown his new born children back into the garden knowing God would care for them and protect them from Satan and the cherubim would have allowed it – if the child were innocent. However, the cherubim was to reject even a child because even that child was no longer innocent. Adam’s disobedience had corrupted the child so that even it was conceived morally depraved and like Adam, was to be denied access to the garden.

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  3. Dizerner,

    From reading your response it appears that your thoughts are muddled as you are failing to distinguish two very different concepts/realities.

    “response:
    I’m not so sure it does though. You may be reading more into that Ezekiel passage then it actually says. It is talking about times and dispensations if you read closely.”

    Ezekiel talks about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, each is responsible for their own sins (the Father for their own sins, the son for their own sins, the Father is not responsible for the sins of the son and vice versa).

    Dizerner what you fail to distinguish is between PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for sins one has committed and the CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

    Ezekiel 18 discusses personal responsibility while other passages discuss the consequences of sin.
    To provide some examples to show the two are different. Say a mother chooses to get into some serious drugs, she also gets pregnant. If her child is born with some deficiencies caused by the mother’s drug use, the child experiences the consequences of the mother’s sins but is not personally responsible for the mother’s drug use (the mother is responsible for those wrongful choices). Or say you are a child born during the Israelites captivity. The child is again experiencing the consequences of sin, though it was earlier Israelites who had committed the sins that resulted in the captivity. There are lots of examples of parents or earlier persons doing wrongful things that have consequences for later generations. But these later persons are not personally responsible for the sins of these earlier persons. Ezekiel discusses personal responsibility, the other passages discuss the consequences of sin on later persons.

    [[“So was Ezekiel 18 meant to tell us that the only way God has ever worked or will ever work is to only and solo judge each person’s sins completely unrelated to any other person’s sins? We have many passages saying this is not the case at all:
    “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”]]

    See here you completely muddle the two separate categories. Ezekiel 18 does say, and says so explicitly that each person is personally responsible for their own sin, not the sins of others. The passage you quote refers to the consequences of sin, that do in fact sometimes effect later generations.

    “It seems to me your fallen sense of justice will never square with the morality described in this passage.”

    I do not have a “fallen sense of justice”, rather I am maintaining biblical categories that you are failing to properly distinguish.

    “The reason this becomes an even more important point is when the heart of the Gospel itself ends up violating our fallen sense of morality so that we desire to rewrite its truths in a more works oriented manner.”

    What I said had nothing to do with rewriting things in a works oriented manner.

    “There is no human innocence anywhere that circumvents the need for the Savior to take the wrath of God against sin, and this is the long and the short of it.”

    We only and always face the wrath of God for our own sins (again that is Ezekiel 18).

    “Because I’m as innocent of the circumstances that led up to my first sin, as a baby is of being born in the wrong place and the wrong time. There just really is no way you can possibly compare the sins we face in this fallen world with the life Adam had and the sin Adam committed.”

    And each is responsible for the sins they commit not the sins of others.

    “Without the grace of our Savior every human being will inevitably sin, and that can’t possibly be described as a works based righteousness, as people seem to want to take Ezekiel 18.”

    It is true that all have sinned as the scripture declares, but again each is responsible only for their own sins.

    “Ezekiel 18 was never meant to deny the fact that people do get punished for other’s sins and it never was meant to deny that fact that no human being can be righteous without grace.”

    People sometimes experience the consequences of sin, though they did not commit the sins themselves, again consider the baby of the drug taking Mother.

    “You’ve got to realize that if it was just the environment that was affected by sin, no matter the temptations in the world, some human being somewhere would be able to have the willpower to pull off righteousness and never sin, and they could stand before God and say “I don’t need Christ. I don’t need his blood. I don’t need his sacrifice. I don’t need him taking the wrath of God against my sin. I can stand fully clothed and spotless in the presence of God based on my own merit.””

    You present an irrelevant hypothetical here, because the Bible declares that all have sinned. There is no person who “would be able to have the willpower to pull off righteousness and never sin”. Part of the problem is that we are in a sinful environment, part of the problem is that God’s righteousness is a perfect righteousness that no one can attain by willpower alone.

    “And this is simply how you are going to have to describe any human who circumvents Christ somehow.”

    Even babies and the mentally disabled do not “circumvent Christ somehow” because while they may not be guilty of sin, they are born spiritually dead, which means they are separated from God. And even babies and the mentally disabled if they are to be saved it is only through Christ not their own efforts or works.

    “It doesn’t make sense to me that you say, “Okay a baby is innocent, until it grows a few years, and then will inevitably 100% sin.””

    Why doesn’t that makes sense?

    Because that **is** reality. A baby is born without guilt, not having sinned, but give him/her time and he/she will choose to sin.

    Do you have any children Dizerner?

    Do you know what scripture says about the proclivity of children to sin?

    “You want to take some standard of justice based on deeds and moral works,”

    Where did I do that? The standard is scripture and scripture presents BOTH that each person is responsible for their own sins and that there are consequences of sin that persons who did not commit the sins will nevertheless experience.

    “then backtrack it for the baby’s state before the age of accountability, but at the actual age of accountability say, “Well sure, of course it sins as all humans do, cause life is just so full of temptations and stuff.””

    You bring up the age of accountability here.

    Do you believe in it?

    If you do, you contradict yourself because the age of accountability if valid means there is a period in which babies and small children do not commit sin for which they can be held responsible. If this age of accountability truly exists then for some time period that person is innocent and is not committing sin.

    “We sin because we *are* sinners, we don’t sin to *become* sinners.”

    That is just a popular slogan, where in the Bible does it state that?

    It seems the Bible presents that we become sinners by sinning and we become very accomplished at it, so that it is correct to say that we **are** sinners! The Bible also seems to present an age of accountability which means that for some period of time individuals are innocent and are not committing sins for which they can be held personally responsible.

    “And by definition, an inherent sinner, whether he has the chance to live that out in deeds or not, is not worthy of heaven.’”

    No one who sins, which is all, given enough time, is WORTHY OF HEAVEN, because a single sin is sufficient to damn a person because God does not grade on a curve but by a pass/fail system (with “pass” equaling perfect righteousness, so all human persons, except Jesus during the incarnation, have all failed since we are neither sinless nor do we have perfect righteousness).
    One can believe (and should believe) the following things simultaneously: that each person is responsible for their own sins, that there are consequences to sin that sometimes impact later generations/individuals, that there is an age of accountability, and also that all people will eventually sin given enough time. This is what the Baptist statement is getting at and affirms, that people are not born guilty of Adam’s sin and yet given enough time they will commit sins for which they will be personally responsible for.

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    1. You said a lot of things that don’t add up logically, but I was particularly surprised by this:

      you say.
      I do not have a “fallen sense of justice”

      Are you claiming that you are free from the effects of the fall of Adam and never inherited a sin nature? Because were that so, I could see how you would always try to read into Scripture your own intuitive sense of justice. I mean if you admit this at the start, I don’t see how you think you can ever read Scripture honestly and lay aside that natural bias.

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      1. Dizerner you asked me this question:

        “Are you claiming that you are free from the effects of the fall of Adam and never inherited a sin nature?”

        But you completely ignored the questions I asked of you.

        If you genuinely want to dialogue on this, you answer my questions first, then I will be glad to answer your question.

        My questions for you were:

        1. Do you have any children Dizerner?

        2. Do you know what scripture says about the proclivity of children to sin?

        3. You bring up the age of accountability here. Do you believe in it?

        4. That is just a popular slogan, where in the Bible does it state that?

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      2. 1. no, i don’t want to make the same mistake my own parents made
        2. i’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to, sorry.
        3. i think it could only apply to children raised in the Christian faith, and would be the child’s free will choice to reject Christ.
        4. i think the case is overwhelmingly strong for a fundamental change in nature tied to a spiritual connection to Satan. i certainly don’t think it’s just a popular slogan.

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  4. Babies are born with a sin nature but not any guilt! When Paul said – “…sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom 5:13) could he have been implying that confrontation by the law is necessary for guilt to be imputed? When Paul testified – “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Rom 7:9) was he talking literally about his own pre-awakened conscience state in infancy, before he could be imputed with guilt and spiritual death? This is the view I lean towards, but not dogmatically.

    When God identified the infants offered up to Moloch as “My children” (Ezek 16:21), would there be a hint of their safe salvation position (based only in Christ’s redemptive work)?

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    1. Paul saying he was alive before the law, and saying this after Romans 6, indicates his born again experience up until encountering the principle and power of the Law, as he also describes in Galatians as “coming under a spell” when we lose sight of the fact that salvation doesn’t come through our flesh or its efforts, because that flesh is sold to sin as a slave in Adam. This “cuts us off from Christ” as Paul clearly says in Galatians because then we are obliged to “keep the entire Law” to obtain life by it. This is why Paul describes righteous living as “no longer I but Christ in me,” and then compares that to sin in Romans 7 with “no longer I, but sin in me.” There is a direct parallel there.

      What I think is being failed to be realized is that sin starts in the heart. Wow, do we have a lot of passages on that. “The heart is desperately wicked,” “foolishness is bound up in the heart” and Christ said we can sin in the heart before any action (Mt. 5), also God describes mere attitudes (a disposition of the heart) as sin, with no outward associated actions. Indeed one of the greatest sins, that of pride, is not only the first motivating factor that led to all subsequent sin, but a sin that can be completely invisible. Now if, as many pro lifers want to argue, a fetus has much of the maturation and capacities that we would describe as qualifying for a human being, why would we then speculate that their heart was somehow pure? Sure, in the womb, they’ve not much opportunity to sin—although perhaps twins “struggling” in the womb could be some indication these beings had some capacity for thought?—but either way why should I make the assumption, against the Bible, that their hearts are born pure and angelic? I could take the silly tack of saying “There’s no Scripture that says man is born pure!” but of course the Bible says what it says, not the say things in the clearest why possible, but to simply to make sure all is said somehow that needs to be. (Also Robert’s Scripture above “Man was created upright but they have sought out many schemes,” literally reads “Adam was created upright,” then ends with a plural depicting his race. I often use it to support original sin.)

      bless

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      1. Not sure your understood my take, Dizerner! Paul said “alive apart from the law”, not “alive before the law”, which I take as his being apart from any imputation of guilt since sin is not imputed where there is no law. Paul said – “I was” which could be before his personal salvation, which he does not discuss in chapter 6. And I agree that he goes on to discuss his sanctification in the later part of chapter 7.

        Infants having a sin nature does not equal being “pure and angelic” but neither does it require guilt at conception or before birth or before their consciences are confronted by God’s law (imbeciles also). And Paul saying “sin revived” indicates he had a sin nature, but it was not functioning before the commandment came. Paul saying “he died” must mean spiritual death if taken literally. So it is reasonable that those born with a sin nature are not guilty or separated (dead in trespasses and sins) until their conscience is confronted by the law and they rebel according to their nature against the law.

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      2. Thanks for your post Brian your insights are always valued and valuable.

        you say:
        Paul said “alive apart from the law”, not “alive before the law”

        There is obviously a chronological order to the passage even if Paul said “apart” instead of “before” because he immediately says “but when the commandment came sin sprang to life.”

        you say:
        which I take as his being apart from any imputation of guilt since sin is not imputed where there is no law.

        How can “every mouth” be stopped and “all the world” may become accountable to God, if some mouths can say “I never knew the law.” Paul said it was the *doers* of the Law who will be *justified* whether they know about the Law or *not*. This means that a person can be justified without knowing about the Law as long as they keep it. I don’t see any indication that there being no knowledge of the Law means automatic justification and no guilt for breaking it. Paul only presents two ways to be justified, and ignorance isn’t one of them.

        you say:
        Paul said – “I was” which could be before his personal salvation, which he does not discuss in chapter 6

        I didn’t mean to imply Paul only applied Romans 1-8 to his own personal salvation. Would you agree Romans 1-8 contains a logical progression of thought based in a generic outline of soteriology for all mankind? Or do you not see it that way.

        you say:
        Infants having a sin nature does not equal being “pure and angelic” but neither does it require guilt at conception or before birth or before their consciences are confronted by God’s law (imbeciles also).

        So there’s a middle ground between God’s infinite holy righteousness and man’s sin that is worthy of eternal hellfire? Sort of a muddy “okayness” that isn’t really perfect but that bad either?

        you say:
        And Paul saying “sin revived” indicates he had a sin nature, but it was not functioning before the commandment came.

        How can sin “RE-vive” if it never “vived” to begin with. I think the only logically consistent way to read the passage is that this is the second time sin became alive in Paul

        you say:
        Paul saying “he died” must mean spiritual death if taken literally.

        Of course, this is one among many verses in proof of death being often spiritually applied. Another among hundreds that clearly illustrate a spiritual death and loss of salvation.

        bless!

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      3. I can’t reply to the other sorry.

        you say:
        It should not be too hard to conceive of souls that never confirmed personally their ownership of a sin nature from Adam, getting a resurrected body for their soul that had never died spiritually!

        I couldn’t accept that someone never died spiritually. This would make the work of Christ unnecessary for them. To me, the parallel in meaning with all being made alive in Christ (through faith) is clearly linked to all dying in Adam (through the flesh). Adam’s flesh is our flesh, and in his nature when he sinned is logically the moment we all spiritually died. We died *as a race.* We thereafter became a race of walking dead men. That’s the way the passage reads for me—and thence after it is only the grace of God that makes up the difference for that “fall.” This kind of view puts all the power in the original sin and the act of Christ’s sacrifice, just the way I feel Romans puts the emphasis on.

        you say:
        You do agree that all mankind does get a resurrected physical body

        Yep, of course.

        you say:
        But Dizerner has Paul having spiritual life, and than losing it again in Rom 7:9 (at least, that is how I am reading it). It seems to me from Paul’s testimony in the rest of the chapter he loses it a lot!

        Well it’s the old classic idea of losing your salvation every time you sin I guess. Of course I don’t see it saying quite that, nor do I think that just because death has manifested through you it means you have lost your justification by faith. I should have been more clear on that. I do feel the Law is in incredibly serious principle often ignored among believers, and it easily has the potential to manifest your sin and seriously shipwreck your faith. I also don’t think you can argue that in Romans 7 Paul could have been anything but already saved, it just won’t apply anywhere. In Romans 7 Paul is addressing the believer, not the unbeliever: he is married to Christ, he delights in the Law in the inner man, he wishes to do good things, he hates the sin he does, and evil is “present with him” rather than he himself being the evil, he joyfully agrees with the Law of God in his inner man (name me a sinner that does that), and he can say at the end “thanks be to God he is under no condemnation,” which thing no unbeliever could ever say. To apply Romans 7 to an unsaved man seems to me to violate all basic hermeneutics.

        you say:
        Do you believe the millions, perhaps half of the souls ever conceived, that never made it out of infancy because of miscarriage, abortion, sickness, etc., are all in hell, are all in heaven, are in both places or somewhere else

        I believe you’ve got to get into Christ some way, let me be clear about that. Perhaps people can get into Christ some unorthodox way not clearly laid out in Scripture—I’m not God, I don’t know. But Scripture is what God gave me, you must understand, so that’s what I go by. Trust me when I say that I’ve seen what the fallen clouded natural mind does when it simply starts speculating on the Word of God, and more often than not it ends up contradicting a clear truth. Those who are found in Christ will be made alive, those who are in Christ will be saved, no exceptions anywhere, not babies nor mentally ill, no one. A soul can “not have sinned yet” but all souls are sinners and will eventually sin, so they’re “not having sinned yet” doesn’t give them a status of righteousness above what another other race of Adam has (nor true innocence in the sense of never having been touched by sin). The righteousness of Christ is an all or nothing proposition—we don’t all attain various levels of righteousness and then God saves everyone above a certain level. Absolute perfection is the only requirement. Then question then becomes, what puts a person in Christ; I admit serious and devout believers have discussed and debated that for hundreds of years. We see Scripture clearly instructing us that faith and humility does this as a work of grace, we also see Scripture telling us that our own faith can extend to our families and, as I see, those babies or mentally incapable people in our family who could not exercise faith for themselves. God may make exceptions to that somewhere and somehow, it’s his right—but I’m bound to simply stand by his Word and leave those secret things to him. As I read the Word, babies of all times are not in Christ and not saved merely by virtue of them being incapable of expressing their sin nature yet. In Adam all die, in Christ all are made alive—potentially and experientially one or the other is true for every person in the life right now, or at any given moment.

        you say:
        sin is not imputed when there is no law

        That would be true of course, but I don’t think Paul meant to say “if you don’t know about the law it’s virtually equivalent to the law not existing.” The Law of God stands forever for all people, until we die to it in Christ. In Christ alone is no more law. Ignorance does not make the law disappear.

        you say:
        The copy of divine law that was written on the newly formed, conceived, soul

        Paul makes it clear that the Holy Spirit writes the Law upon the heart at regeneration. Before that we are a child of wrath doing the will of Satan. Because Paul also says “apart from the law sin is dead.” Would you really use that to argue that everyone of all time who did have the Law of God, also were all dead to sin? That conclusion is preposterous with the clear statement that we are all sold to sin and Satan is the god of this world. Who is only class of people anywhere we can truly say sin is dead in? Only one: believers, those in Christ. And again we can argue this: if Paul says “I died” spiritually he has to be alive. But you seem to be positing a soteriology where people are alive without a faith in Christ. That’s where I have a real Biblical problem with your doctrine: becoming spiritually alive without a faith in Christ. No where do I read the unbeliever is spiritually alive. Now you can only die if you’re alive—it’s just another proof the Romans 7 Paul was born again before he met the power of the Law.

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      4. Thank you Dizerner! I really appreciate your love for the Word and your desire to be concise and consistent. We agree that much conjecture is going into this discussion on how and if God gives everlasting life to infants who never make a conscious personal faith decision. Your idea of proxy, household faith is certainly a popular one. My interpretation of Rom 7:9 is actually fairly popular! 🙂

        So if I am understanding you correctly, you hold to Paul saying “I died” as not physical death, and not spiritual death (losing salvation) but some other kind of spiritual death. Do you want to elaborate on that, and are there other passages in support to this other kind of death?

        When were OT saints placed into Christ, in your view, since you believe only those “in Christ” will be resurrected to everlasting life? And could “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb 12:23) be the souls from innocent children who have died? God deals with the spirits of angels in a different way, giving them access before Him, as you have proffered, He is free to deal with infants who die differently too. Did you see the Is 7:16 and Deut 1:39 passages? What do your think? Blessings!

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      5. you say:
        Your idea of proxy, household faith is certainly a popular one. My interpretation of Rom 7:9 is actually fairly popular! 🙂

        I don’t mind looking either at majority opinions or the opinions of ancient Christians, but in general people give that way too much stock. We should go to the Word again and again and again and try to respect it one more degree than we currently do.

        you say:
        So if I am understanding you correctly, you hold to Paul saying “I died” as not physical death, and not spiritual death (losing salvation) but some other kind of spiritual death. Do you want to elaborate on that, and are there other passages in support to this other kind of death?

        Well Brian Paul said to be fleshly minded was death. I think Christians can surely be carnally minded sometimes. Paul said if we sow to the flesh we reap corruption. I think Christians can sure sow to the flesh sometimes. All sin brings us a form of death in one way or another, judgment or missing out on something God has for us. I’ve seen a person saved, in my own view, only by the barest and nakedest of faith, all the while exhibiting a lack of love for the Lord and many bondages to unclean sins. I’m not trying to say we are saved by our works. I admit you caught me out in that, I don’t really think Paul’s “I died” means he lost his salvation in that sense, but rather that he was under the law of sin and death. It would go against the tenor of the passage of a struggling Christian being captured by Law, and I was hasty to throw it in as a proof against OSAS (although in my opinion it is still one, just not as strong—since I would say we can all manifest degrees of death, but the key point is that we are saved by faith not works).

        you say:
        When were OT saints placed into Christ, in your view, since you believe only those “in Christ” will be resurrected to everlasting life?

        Christ is the Word of God. Christ is the light of the world, and the Word is the light of the world (and we are if his word abides in us). If OT saints accepted the light of the Holy Spirit in God’s Word, they would be putting their faith in the Spirit of Christ.

        you say:
        (Heb 12:23) be the souls from innocent children who have died?

        I reject your claim that any descendant of Adam can be fundamentally innocent, and so no longer need the wrath of God levied against the soul of his Son Jesus Christ.

        you say:
        Did you see the Is 7:16 and Deut 1:39 passages?

        Well, let’s take a look:

        5 Curds and honey, shall he eat, by the time that he knoweth to refuse the bad and choose the good;
        16 for, before the boy knoweth to refuse the bad and choose the good, forsaken, shall be the land, at which, thou, art alarmed, of the presence of both her kings.

        Err, yea, I guess you could metaphorically take that in some way. The literal passage is simply saying before the child had the natural intelligence to pick out good or bad food. It’s a pretty big stretch but I’m not against metaphorical interpretations if the Spirit inspires that.

        39 And your little ones, of whom ye said they should become, a prey, and your sons, who today know not good and evil, they, shall enter in thither,–and, unto them, will I give it, and, they, shall possess it.

        This could simply be that the little ones haven’t experienced good or evil, they haven’t “known” experientially in their lives anything good or bad yet. That would make more sense in the light of Joshua talking about how the Israelites had complained and said their little ones would “become a prey.” If it’s speaking of morally neither knowing good or evil, the point would seem kinda odd that they would possess it merely for being morally nuetral—because those children could grow up to sin too. Again, it’s vaguely possible you could squeeze some kind of infant moral neutrality out of this passage if you took it in a highly metaphorical and non-literal sense.

        We can just apply a little common sense to say that it takes intelligence to sin at certain levels, we don’t need to tweak some passage to prove that. The real question here is, is our fundamental nature a sinful one from the point of creation and conception, and would God Almighty be perfectly and entirely just to condemn any baby anywhere at any time—would we bow to that truth or resist it?

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      6. Thanks again Dizerner. I do feel your unclear meaning for death of the believer, “I died”, may provide confusion to those who want also to believe in loss of salvation. Sin revived and Paul died, but he didn’t lose his salvation, in your view. Then how will one know when they died and lost their salvation?

        God’s revelation of His justice towards infants, who have Adam’s sin nature, that then die before personally, willfully sinning against God’s law is what we are trying to figure out. There is no clear Scripture on the matter. The clearest one I can come up with is Rom 7:9. So I lean towards God’s justice not condemning any infant created in His image whose conscience has not yet independently confirmed Adam’s nature. I hope this helps.

        Have a blessed day worshipping our wonderful Savior Jesus!

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      7. brianwagner writes, “God’s revelation of His justice towards infants, who have Adam’s sin nature, that then die before personally, willfully sinning against God’s law is what we are trying to figure out. There is no clear Scripture on the matter.”

        This issue seems to hinge on how one takes Romans 5.

        12-13 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned–for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.
        14 Nevertheless…
        14 …death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam…

        “Nevertheless” is the Greek, “alla,” and seems to set up a contrast with what was said before – “…sin is not taken into account when there is no law.” “Nevertheless” “death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses…” Paul seems to mean that there actually was no law between Adam and Moses but death still reigned. He emphasizes this saying, “…even over those who did not sin by breaking a command,…” So, how does death reign over those who do not sin by breaking the law?

        Later, we read:

        18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men,…
        19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners,…

        How do we understand Paul when he says, “as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men,…” and “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.” I think Paul uses “all men” to refer to Gentiles as well as Jews as he has been arguing that point earlier. When Paul says, “many,” I think he refers to individuals and means all those who belong to him which would be every person ever born. Paul’s point – both Jews and Gentiles were condemned when Adam sinned and every person thereafter born was born a sinner. Infants would be included.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Hi Roger. Thanks for the additional questions. I believe I addressed this one item above, but perhaps not to clearly. Paul was not implying there was no law before Moses, but just the opposite. Since there was certainly death, there must have be law, for death comes from sin and sin come from violating the law. He had already proven in chapter 2 that the divine law is placed on everyone’s heart at conception, and is recognized by their conscience.

        By Adam’s trespass, condemnation and the appointment to become a sinner was made available to all his offspring, in the same way by Christ’s obedience forgiveness and the appointment to become a saint was made available to all Adam’s offspring. That is how I understand the parallel thoughts of 5:18-19. I hope this helps.

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      9. you say:
        Then how will one know when they died and lost their salvation?

        I don’t know how we can know that except by the Holy Spirit. Paul does say to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. I don’t believe we should measure our works because we can’t see the work of the Spirit within ourselves only by the outward manifestations, nor should we trust in them. I think it comes down to faith, not just that Jesus punched your ticket, but trust that he is living and working in you. Those who preach grace have a strong point that we can’t even trust in a single thing in ourselves, and I believe that (no good thing dwells in our flesh), but I see a lot of people have difficulty with the concept of “faith in our faith,” that is somewhere ourselves becoming the weakest link in the chain so that we trust nothing in ourselves even our own trust—but this can lead someone logically to monergism and determinism, since autonomy *is* something of ourselves by definition. Does autonomy then violate grace, I ask myself? I’d like to believe and do believe that the grace of God is there for anyone that wants it—but I also believe it is applied through a synergistic process. All that is just to explore what keeps us in the faith, and the debate over so-called “lordship salvation” over against “sloppy agape.” But it’s a messy thing to think about spiritual death. Would someone know if they’re dead spiritually? I’m not sure. It’s of course clear in the case of someone who says “I don’t believe in Jesus” and in that case there is no Biblical case they are saved. But what of someone who says “Jesus is my Savior” but lives a deeply godless lifestyle? I have a problem with that, even though I’m a grace-man and feel like I can contribute nothing towards my sanctification. Just because it’s all by grace doesn’t mean you can’t receive grace in vain. I think you know if you are “pushing it” with God, because I believe God warns his children and disciplines them. But I’ve seen people cross the line of a sin that leads to death, and I’ve seen people who had a faith that was sincere lose it. But I’ve also seen even ministers that I know knew God still dance with the devil to a deep degree—and if you ask me can they lose their salvation, I have to say Biblically it seems so, but if you ask me *when* they lose it, you are asking me something no man can know except by the Spirit, and it’s between them and God. There has to be something sincere, some regeneration in their heart, some true relationship. But then I also see suicide as an unforgivable sin, because it’s abandoning all faith in God’s present grace. I’ve had this belief confirmed twice through personal visions.

        you say:
        die before personally, willfully sinning against God’s law is what we are trying to figure out.

        I have a problem with this line of thinking. I can generally get people that believe this to admit, that given the chance in this life, all babies everywhere will always sin. Always. Now you would think that would make people think. But it seems people rationalize it away as almost a coincidence that the Bible says all men sin. You have a creature that will inevitably, always sin, to a complete certainty. But you feel it’s unjust if God judges the being before it gets a chance to fulfill it’s completely certain fate of sinning. So, even though we could argue at this point that free will doesn’t matter in regard to whether the creature will sin or not (that is no amount of free willpower will “stop” the sin from happening, it is inevitable) you still argue this creature is fundamentally “innocent” while a creation that, by sole virtue of merely being forced to live out its life a short while and inescapably sinning, is no longer “innocent.” I’m going to have to say at that point that that system doesn’t seem any more fair to me, lol. I can say I’m as innocent as the baby, because it’s not my fault I was forced merely to live and inevitably sin. What argument can you give me that in this case the baby that dies and gets a free ticket to heaven is more “fair” than a person who is forced to live out their life and inevitably sin? The only “fair” system is if we all get our own garden of Edens and get to walk with God in paradise and have our own trees to choose from. Yet the Bible makes a very strong case for our fundamental nature being constitutionally sinful. Indeed the verse in Romans says:

        Just as by disobedience of the one the many were constituted sinners.

        That’s the real verse you’ll have to contend with. If you think we only become sinners after we actually sin, why are we made sinners by the disobedience of *one*, and not, as for example Robert wants Ezekiel 18 to say, when each of us ourselves disobey. I’d like to hear your way of getting around that if you have one.

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      10. Hi Dizerner… A little with tongue in cheek – “But I say, O man, who are you who reply against God?” If God wants to save infants before they actually commit personal sin, I will declare Him fair! In fact, I will declare Him merciful! But I understand your chosen reaction, and I wish the Lord would have clearly revealed what happens to infants when they die in infancy. But this is my chosen understanding and best guess, as I know you believe the same about yours. Yet our understandings are not a part of the gospel, necessary to believe to be saved, nor a part of sound doctrine, necessary for pastoral qualification (though pastors will have to have an answer on this matter to share with grieving parents, as I know from experience).

        As I answered Roger, I believe Rom 5:18 says that, because of Adam’s sin, his offspring were appointed to have the opportunity to become sinners, just like because of Christ’s obedience Adam’s offspring would receive the opportunity to become saints. I think the word “constituted” is not appropriate and leads to too strong of a theological implication, as if the newly conceived soul is already a “sinner”. In a proleptic sense that is true, for constituted with a sin nature they are appointed, bar any intervening grace by God, to become a sinner by there own personal participation in disobedience against God’s law. But if God graciously chooses to take that soul to be with Him before such a confirming act of their nature can take place, Praise be His Name, even in the midst of the grief from the physical and emotional loss of a small loved one!

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      11. I find your answer fascinating. So you admit that essentially babies getting a free ticket to heaven is fundamentally unfair, yet because you like the idea it is your “chosen” belief and you pull out the “who are you O man” appeal to fiat power. Then you say the original sin of Adam and redemptive sacrifice of Jesus just give us an “opportunity” to do a similar act of sin or righteousness; not only do I see no logical necessity for someone to sin before I can, that is sounding very much like a works-oriented righteousness.

        All I know to say in response to such things are:
        To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (Isa 8:20 NAS)

        blessings

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      12. His righteousness is my only plea! My personal active acceptance of it is no a meritorious work. I hope that helps. I agree with you, to the law and to the testimony! Amen!

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      13. Oh, also check the lexicons about κατασταθήσονται (Rom 5:19 NA28). I think you’ll find you were very wrong about constitute being “theologically biased.”

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      14. And, I am sure you are aware, Dizerner, that lexicons are just man-made word studies, not inerrant, and not void of theological bias. But even with the word “constituted,” the idea is constituted “to become” or have the opportunity to become, other wise the parallel expression in Rom 5:19 would mean that Christ’s obedience saves everyone! I know you don’t believe in universal salvation. Your friend always, even though I don’t know your name! 🙂

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      15. Thanks, Brian. My name is David. I think this truth that we are born sinners is not to hurt us, but to help us—to realize that grace is that great we don’t have to wonder when God might expose a depth of depravity in our own heart that surprises even us. This truth is a powerful truth that can truly set a man free from sin, so I don’t see it as a negative. If we are going to say there is a good thing us aside from Christ I think the devil can use that to fight against us. It is simply better to hide in Christ alone. And even under this doctrine, babies could still theoretically obtain salvation by vicariously imputed faith—it’s a possibility even if we can’t find a specific verse for it.

        bless

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      16. Thanks David! The vicarious faith idea is another reasonable option. So we all look forward to see how God has demonstrated His mercy for those lovely little ones who have died too soon (too soon – in my openness opinion :-)).

        Many would use the story of the paralytic carried by his friends as an example of “proxy faith” (cf. Mk. 2:5) – “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.'” I am not a big fan of proxy faith saving, and hold that Jesus saw the paralytic’s faith in this instance as the necessary component for his forgiveness. But if proxy faith is all that it takes for infants to be saved… I think the Lord Himself has enough faith for all of them! 🙂
        Blessings, my friend and brother!

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      17. Romans 7:9 – “Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.”

        Earlier Paul writes, “…I would not have known what sin was except through the law.”

        Joining these, we get, “Once I was alive apart from law having no knowledge of the law; but when the commandment came, I gained a knowledge of sin, with the result that sin sprang to life and I died.”

        I take Paul to mean that he considered himself a righteous and a good man until he came to know the law. Without the law, he did not take sin seriously, but with the knowledge of the law comes a knowledge of sin and the realization of death – one’s unworthiness of the kingdom of God.

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      18. Roger, I have seen that interpretation of 7:9. But the idea that “I was alive” means “I thought I was alive spiritually” and “I died” means “I realized I was dead spiritually” is a nonliteral interpretation. I have not yet found any comparable verse with similar meaning using a rhetorical device of literally saying one thing but actually meaning it was only a psychological reality and not a true reality. If you can find me such an example. That would help. Thanks.

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      19. brianwagner writes, “… the idea that “I was alive” means “I thought I was alive spiritually” and “I died” means “I realized I was dead spiritually” is a nonliteral interpretation.”

        What we have are two concepts: (1) apart from law, sin is dead, and (2) I was alive apart from law. So, “to be alive,” is tied to “sin is dead” in some manner as both occur “apart from the law.” The Paul adds, “when the commandment [the law] came, sin sprang to life and I died.” Thus, sin comes to life in the law in some manner – that being the knowledge of sin: “I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.”

        What are we to understand Paul to be saying? A knowledge of sin – for example, coveting – leads to the realization of death.

        We need only take Paul’s argument exactly as he states it. He was alive when he had no knowledge of the law and of sin. When Paul leaned the law, he learned of sin – “when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.”

        How do you think we should understand v7-10 with regard to Paul’s description of being alive and then dead and seemingly tying this to the law?

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      20. Uh oh… Roger, you better get memory check! I am sure you read earlier my interpretation of 7:9! See Alford and Meyer. I agree with them. And I asked if you could show a similar rhetorical use of verbal statements like “I was alive” and “I died” to mean, “I just thought I was alive spiritually but then I realized I was dead spiritually.” I desire to take things as literally as possible unless something in the passage, not theological preference, points to a metaphorical meaning.

        Your statement – “Thus, sin comes to life in the law in some manner – that being the knowledge of sin” is a little confusing. Do you mean “by the law” instead of “in the law”? Paul uses the noun “sin”, when it is the subject of a sentence, to consistently mean “the sin nature”, it comes alive, it produces, it reigns. The sin nature is brought into action in a child’s conscience when that conscience is able to be confronted by the law and understand it. The child then commits his/her first sin and becomes guilty before God. He/she dies, that is, is separated under condemnation for that first sin. This is the view I lean towards to answer the questions, where do infants go when they die, and is there an age of accountability? I hope this

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      21. brianwagner wrote, “When Paul testified – “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Rom 7:9) was he talking literally about his own pre-awakened conscience state in infancy, before he could be imputed with guilt and spiritual death? This is the view I lean towards, but not dogmatically.”

        Then, “Paul said “alive apart from the law”, not “alive before the law”, which I take as his being apart from any imputation of guilt since sin is not imputed where there is no law.”

        Then, “Do you mean “by the law” instead of “in the law”? Paul uses the noun “sin”, when it is the subject of a sentence, to consistently mean “the sin nature”, it comes alive, it produces, it reigns. The sin nature is brought into action in a child’s conscience when that conscience is able to be confronted by the law and understand it.”

        There is nothing in Romans 7 that should cause us to think Paul was speaking of “infancy.” I am not aware of anything in his other letters that would lead us to this concept. You say, “I desire to take things as literally as possible unless something in the passage, not theological preference, points to a metaphorical meaning.” So, If you are taking the passage “literally,” then you should not be applying it to children or only to children – it is more geneneral.

        You say that Paul’s use of “sin” refers to the “sin nature.” so, we would read, “Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, [my sin nature] sprang to life and I died.” I am not sure that fits – obviously, “before the commandment came,” Paul’s sin nature (even if only a nature inclined to sin) was active and he was sinning. So, why does Paul say, “sprang to life” when the commandment came? Your explanation that Paul speaks of his learning the commandment as a child is not necessarily taking the verse “literally.”

        We could take Paul, “I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet,'” to be referring to that point in his life when, as a child, he came to know the commandment. Before that time, “…apart from law, [the sin nature] is dead.” Your conclusion “The sin nature is brought into action in a child’s conscience when that conscience is able to be confronted by the law and understand it. The child then commits his/her first sin and becomes guilty before God. He/she dies, that is, is separated under condemnation for that first sin.”

        Paul says earlier, “when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.” We see that a person is “controlled by his sin nature” prior to being confronted by the law as existing passions are then aroused by the law. You should not conclude, “The sin nature is brought into action in a child’s conscience when that conscience is able to be confronted by the law ,” but only that the child is controlled by a sin nature and sinful passions are aroused within the child by the law.

        What conclusions can we draw from Romans 7?
        1. A person has a sin nature and is controlled by that sin nature apart from any knowledge of the law. Thus, children have sin natures before any awakening of conscience or any age of accountability.
        2. The awareness of the law, rather than helping a person to control sinful desires, seems to inflame those desires. There is an inherent hatred for God within the person and the law only excites that hatred.

        Can a person get into heaven by claiming a childish innocence? I can’t see it. It is not just the committing of sin that denies one entry into heaven; it is also a condition of unrighteousness (a sin nature) apart from the sins committed. Thus, in Romans 4, “Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

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      22. Hi Roger – You said – “So, if you are taking the passage [Rom 7:9] ‘literally,’ then you should not be applying it to children or only to children – it is more general.” Actually, the interpretation has to be very specific. Since Paul is talking specifically about his own life. The application can be more general, as in applying it to all who meet the same criteria that Paul is talking about concerning himself.

        Unfortunately Paul does not give us enough detail as to when he “was alive apart from the law” and when “he died”. He also does not clearly tell us what kind of death he experienced. But we can assume he was talking about spiritual death, since it doesn’t seem to fit any kind of out of body experience in this context, like 2Cor 12 may.

        He also does not say when or how “the commandment came” in his life, though that is when the sin nature sprang to life and he “died.” So, to keep a literal meaning for “died” to be spiritual death, the conjecture (I am not dogmatic) is that it is reasonable to see that he is talking about his pre-accountability state as a child.

        You’re pointing to 7:5, “when we were controlled by the sinful nature” (literally – “when we were in the flesh”) does not have to be prior to the time when Paul says in 7:9 that he “was alive apart from the law”. The whole point in 7:8 is that the sin nature is “dead” apart from the law, so before a child’s conscience is aroused by the law, they could not be “controlled by the sin nature” or literally “in the flesh” though the flesh was already in them, but dormant (“dead”).

        A person doesn’t claim “childish innocence” to get into heaven!  That is very funny sounding to me! A child that dies in innocence wakes up in heaven, knowing that the grace of God, from among the riches won on the cross of Christ, has made it possible for them to enter in! I hope this helps.

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    2. brianwagner writes, “When Paul said – “…sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom 5:13) could he have been implying that confrontation by the law is necessary for guilt to be imputed?”

      Paul writes immediately after this, “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam,…”

      If there was no law to transgress and guilt from sin could not be imputed, how does death reign? I don’t think this passage allows for the splitting of hairs between physical depravity and spiritual depravity as Tom Torbeyns argues elsewhere. Context dictates the the death in view is spiritual death and the assigning of guilt that produces this death. How can those who have not transgressed the law still be held guilty? One way is for them to have a sin nature which then is the basis for condemnation as Adam’s sin accrued to them.

      So, we find that in Christ’s death, our sins are imputed to Christ and His righteousness is imputed to us. Even those who have not transgressed the law, and therefore, have no sin to impute to Christ, must still be saved through Christ’s death by the necessary imputation of righteousness to them, without which they cannot enter God’s presence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent post. I’m surprised how often people want to make that death reigning only physical death. The wages of sin is not just physical death, or all sinners would find rest in a cessation of existence, but the Bible says “there is no rest for the wicked.” And when in Romans 8 Paul gives us the solution to death reigning it’s the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. I’ve seen people say that the real punishment of sin is physical death and Jesus fixes that by resurrecting us physically—skipping entirely the more real and powerful reality behind the physical. Death reigning means sin is reigning, and it is not the sins that bring the slavery, but the slavery that bring the sins. And Paul says life can reign *here and now* in this physical body. Nobody anywhere would argue that means we will never die. Yet they constantly confuse the two aspects of spiritual and physical death. Life reigns in this death-doomed body, just as death once reigned in it! On this point I must completely agree with the Calvinist.

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      2. Good morning Roger and Dizerner! I don’t think you really agree with one another in your disagreement with the meat of my interpretation of Rom 7:9! 🙂 And you are both making too much of Rom 5:13. We all agree that there was a “law” (Rom 2) before Moses’ law that confronted man from Adam to Moses, as evidenced by physical death reigning. That is Paul’s argument. But in the midst of his argument he makes the gnomic statement – Sin is not imputed where there is no law! In 7:9 sin and the law are both present in every child, and both the commandment has to “come” and sin has to “revive” for Paul to die spiritually. Only after those two events does Paul die spiritually.

        Both of you believe that spiritual death happened at conception (at least that is what I am picking up, so please correct me if not). But Dizerner has Paul having spiritual life, and than losing it again in Rom 7:9 (at least, that is how I am reading it). It seems to me from Paul’s testimony in the rest of the chapter he loses it a lot! 😉 Roger has not directly commented on the meaning of “I was alive… and I died”. But I know he does not believe one can lose salvation once received. At least it would really surprise me if he does! 🙂

        What I also would really like to know from you two… Do you believe the millions, perhaps half of the souls ever conceived, that never made it out of infancy because of miscarriage, abortion, sickness, etc., are all in hell, are all in heaven, are in both places or somewhere else? You don’t have to be dogmatic, but I would like to know your best reasoned guess! I’m thinking Roger is going to say that only the elect babies were placed into the super hot bronze arms of Moloch as well as the rest that died in infancy. That of course would make the saving of most of the elect by their never actually hearing a call to salvation.

        And in response to your view, Dizerner, concerning the word “revive”, I think it fits well with the idea of the sin nature that was inherited from Adam within the soul that was also inherited from him, that sin, which was very much alive in Adam, became dormant (dead if you will) within that inherited soul. The copy of divine law that was written on the newly formed, conceived, soul is also present but dormant. God then actively confronts the conscience of every soul at some point of the conscience’s maturity with that divine law. This causes the reviving of sin, and His allowing for disobedience (Rom 11:33) and spiritual death to take place. Those who physically die before their consciences reached that point of maturity (cf. Deut 1:39, Is 7:16) are resurrected physically and are joined with God through the grace and power of the redemption and resurrection of Jesus. You do agree that all mankind does get a resurrected physical body that lasts forever, even for some in hell, don’t you (cf. John 5:25-29)? It should not be too hard to conceive of souls that never confirmed personally their ownership of a sin nature from Adam, getting a resurrected body for their soul that had never died spiritually!

        I am not dogmatic, but that seems to comport well in my mind with the Scriptures and the character of God’s mercy revealed in it. I hope this helps.

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    3. “When God identified the infants offered up to Moloch as “My children” (Ezek 16:21), would there be a hint of their safe salvation position (based only in Christ’s redemptive work)?”

      A fine Calvinist take on the passage. It is God who saves and that unconditionally.

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      1. It would be hard for me to believe that God only chose “elect” babies to be burned alive on the hot molten arms of Moloch and that all the other infants, murdered other ways, He sent to hell!

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      2. rthutchin makes this false statement:

        “A fine Calvinist take on the passage. It is God who saves and that unconditionally.”

        God does not save unconditionally, both Romans and Galatians make it explicit and clear that salvation does have a condition: faith. It is through faith that a able minded person is saved. People may argue about how this faith arises (one arguing that it is through irresistible grace, another arguing that it is through a freely chosen response to the work of the Spirit in their life): but no one should deny that faith is the condition of salvation. A lot of confusion and useless debate follows from denying that faith is the condition of salvation. Even the Reformers had they heard such a claim would have argued against it: Luther was very strong on faith as the condition of salvation.

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  5. Dizerner thanks for answering my questions.

    What did you mean by you answer to number 1:

    “1. no, i don’t want to make the same mistake my own parents made”

    Are you saying it is a mistake to bring children into this world?

    What was your parent’s mistake?

    “2. i’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to, sorry.”

    Children’s “proclivity to sin” means that all people have a tendency to sin, many call this having a sin nature. In scripture it says that children have a strong tendency to sin and that is why parental discipline is so important (especially as presented in the book of Proverbs).

    “3. i think it could only apply to children raised in the Christian faith, and would be the child’s free will choice to reject Christ.”

    This is completely arbitrary and is a very idiosyncratic view of what the age of accountability means. For most of us it means up to a certain age a child is not considered to be guilty of sin. Once they reach this age (and it may even vary from person to person) they are accountable for their sin as they have sufficient understanding of right and wrong and their own actions to be held accountable for their own sins. I think you already know that is how most Baptists view it, however, your distinction that it only applies to children in a Christian home has no basis in scripture. There are no Bible verses that say that those in a believing home experience an age of accountability while those who do not do not have this experience.

    “4. i think the case is overwhelmingly strong for a fundamental change in nature tied to a spiritual connection to Satan. i certainly don’t think it’s just a popular slogan.”

    It **is** just a popular slogan as there is no Bible verse that explicitly says this. What we have is verses that say all have sinned, that people have a strong tendency to sin, analogies that people are “slaves to sin” etc. These all seem to convey that people do in fact have a strong tendency to sin, or what is often called a sin nature.

    Regarding children and a sin nature, my view is the same as Brian’s (i.e. they have a sin nature, they are not guilty of Adam’s sin, this should answer your question: ““Are you claiming that you are free from the effects of the fall of Adam and never inherited a sin nature?”, None of us is “free” from the effects of the fall and we all appear to have a strong tendency to sin, but scripture does not teach that we all are born with guilt from Adam’s sin).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you say:
      Are you saying it is a mistake to bring children into this world? What was your parent’s mistake?

      I’m saying it sure can be, if you bring children into the world without supplying them the necessary things that they need, either in a state of extreme immaturity or a bad family state of affairs. I don’t feel I should have to argue that point, and will not argue with you about it.

      you say:
      In scripture it says that children have a strong tendency to sin

      I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that the power of the Gospel can’t set children free from their sin, so that’s not necessarily the case.

      you say:
      This is completely arbitrary and is a very idiosyncratic view

      Eh. Says you? 😛 I don’t see how it can be arbitrary when I built it on logic and Scripture. You seem to imply that ignorance is a sufficient excuse for sin. That is, if you sin, but are ignorant that you sinned. this “gets you off the hook,” somehow. I don’t think that’s how law works. If we take away that fallacy we really don’t have a special case for babies anymore. And if we keep that fallacy, then many people never exposed to the Gospel could be considered just as ignorant of sin as a baby. It seems people just get all emotional about doctrine sometimes and don’t think about deriving it from the Bible. The Bible says Satan is the god of this world and blinds people’s spiritual eyes lest they be saved—but people start adding in random exceptions that just aren’t found in Scripture.

      you say:
      There are no Bible verses that say that those in a believing home experience an age of accountability while those who do not do not have this experience.

      People perish without the Gospel. I don’t see a Biblical case for some “other” way to the Father. If that isn’t Scripture, I really don’t know what is. This is the “default” Scriptural position. If you want to add people getting saved without the Gospel don’t tell me about “no Bible verses,” because I don’t think you can show me a single Scripture verse that says the unbelieving inherit the kingdom of God. How can you make that claim, and then tell me I’m the unbiblical one? It’s all upside down. And yes there are Bible verses that say “you and all your household shall be saved.” Now you show me the opposite, that the babies of the wicked are safely in paradise. Just one verse will do? Rather we again see God dealing with an entire household in the case of Nadab and Abihu. There are more cases from Scripture as well, so you going on claiming there is none is just dishonest, to be frank.

      you say:
      It **is** just a popular slogan as there is no Bible verse that explicitly says this. What we have is verses that say all have sinned, that people have a strong tendency to sin, analogies that people are “slaves to sin” etc. These all seem to convey that people do in fact have a strong tendency to sin, or what is often called a sin nature.

      Do they have a sin nature or don’t they? You can’t have it both ways. And what is this “strong tendency to sin” language? The Bible says two things: all have sinned and all are sinners. It doesn’t say “all have a strong tendency to sin” as if someone particularly strong-willed person could manage to overcome it.

      you say:
      It **is** just a popular slogan as there is no Bible verse that explicitly says this.

      You assertion is completely false. There is a reason the Holy Spirit has led many to this understanding, and it is because it is in the Bible. In fact I could hardly think of a more direct way for the Bible to say it:

      18 Hence then, as through one fault, [the sentence was] unto all men unto condemnation, so, also, through one recovery of righteousness, [the decree of favour] is unto all men for righteous acquittal unto life;
      19 For, just as, through the disobedience of the one man, sinners, the many were constituted, so, also, through the obedience of the one, righteous, the many shall be constituted–

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      1. Dizerner,

        You made an enigmatic statement about your parents making a “mistake” so I asked you to clarify, you responded with:

        “I’m saying it sure can be, if you bring children into the world without supplying them the necessary things that they need, either in a state of extreme immaturity or a bad family state of affairs. I don’t feel I should have to argue that point, and will not argue with you about it.”

        Regarding “a bad family state of affairs” that is a **relative notion**, and that is not the criteria by which we decide whether a child should come into the world. Your comment here opens the door for abortion/infanticide, if people think the child will be coming into a “bad family state of affairs” that is sufficient to end their life. For example, the Mom does not have the finances for the child, so why not eliminate him/her, so she does not have to deal with a difficult financial situation? Or what about Jochebed, Moses’ Mother, who knew babies were being killed by the Egyptians (that is a pretty “bad family state of affairs” to bring your child into). By your criteria she should not have brought him into the world.

        “you say:
        This is completely arbitrary and is a very idiosyncratic view”

        I said this in regard to your comments about the age of accountability (as if it only applies to the children of believers). There are no Bible verses that say that the age of accountability applies to the children of believers but not unbelievers. You responded with:

        “Eh. Says you? 😛 I don’t see how it can be arbitrary when I built it on logic and Scripture.”

        There is no scripture that says the age of accountability **only** applies to the children of believers. The statements in scripture that speak of an age of accountability are general statements about all younger persons, not isolating or limiting it to only the children of believers.

        “You seem to imply that ignorance is a sufficient excuse for sin. That is, if you sin, but are ignorant that you sinned. this “gets you off the hook,” somehow.”

        When did I ever say that? You are putting words in my mouth that were never stated.

        The age of accountability refers to the fact that babies and small children lack the mental capacity to understand right and wrong. If you do not understand right and wrong then you are not held accountable for your actions. This is a biblical concept and reflected in the English Common law which is based on biblical principles and which is the basis of our American judicial system (hence in legal settings they will speak of whether or not the person understood right and wrong, speak of diminished capacity, etc. when assessing guilt and responsibility).

        “If we take away that fallacy we really don’t have a special case for babies anymore.”

        What does taking away “a special case for babies” mean?

        That they all automatically go to hell since according to you they have the guilt of Adam and since they are incapable of having faith, therefore they automatically go to hell.

        And this thinking of yours would apply to the developmentally disabled as well.

        “And if we keep that fallacy, then many people never exposed to the Gospel could be considered just as ignorant of sin as a baby.”

        I think you are leaving a big puzzle piece out here, namely, that in the Bible people are condemned not because they are ignorant of their sinful actions/thoughts but because they knowingly and willfully sin.

        “It seems people just get all emotional about doctrine sometimes and don’t think about deriving it from the Bible. The Bible says Satan is the god of this world and blinds people’s spiritual eyes lest they be saved—but people start adding in random exceptions that just aren’t found in Scripture.”

        I don’t think the eternal destiny of babies, small children, developmentally disabled persons, and even those who never hear the gospel are “RANDOM” exceptions.

        Questions concerning the fate of these persons come up, because the Bible is clear that with able minded persons who hear the gospel, they either accept it and are saved or reject it and are damned. People then wonder about those with diminished capacities (developmentally disabled) lack of capacity to believe the gospel (babies and small children) and those who lack the opportunity to hear the gospel due to life circumstances beyond their control (those who never hear the gospel).

        I believe these are legitimate issues and concerns, they are not “random” or unimportant. Especially in contexts where there is a high rate of infant mortality (which until only recently was even true in the US). Dizerner you don’t appear to be a pastor or church leader so you probably have not had to deal with these issues in a ministry context (e.g. speaking to parents about what happened to their deceased child).

        “People perish without the Gospel. I don’t see a Biblical case for some “other” way to the Father. If that isn’t Scripture, I really don’t know what is. This is the “default” Scriptural position. If you want to add people getting saved without the Gospel don’t tell me about “no Bible verses,” because I don’t think you can show me a single Scripture verse that says the unbelieving inherit the kingdom of God.”

        You appear quite calloused about the fate of babies, children and the developmentally disabled who LACK the capacity to understand and then choose to believe the gospel. Your comment that “If you want to add people getting saved without the Gospel don’t tell me about “no Bible verses,” because I don’t think you can show me a single Scripture verse that says the unbelieving inherit the kingdom of God” seems heartless and cruel regarding those who lack the capacity to believe the gospel (whether they are babies or the developmentally disabled). Because if they are going to be saved then it has to be “without the Gospel” because they are incapable of understanding it and believing it.

        It is ironic that you completely forget that according to Romans 9 when it comes to salvation, that God has mercy on whomever he has mercy. This means that at the heart of salvation, it is due to the mercy of God. True the Lord has mercy through Christ and the atonement on the cross that He provided for the world. But the bottom line is that God can save whomever he wants and it is always an act of mercy. If this is so, then why can’t God have mercy on those who lack the capacity to believe the gospel? It is self-righteous humans who may complain that this is not fair. But who said salvation is an issue of fairness? Who says it is based on doing sufficient works to move the scale favorably in your direction? It is not, and never has been an issue of people saving themselves through their own efforts, it has instead always been an issue of God’s mercy. It is only through the mercy of God that anyone is saved. For the people I work with and train in ministry, mercy is one of our most important concepts.

        That makes me wonder dizerner: what ministry are you involved in?

        What practical ministry do you actually do?

        And isn’t mercy an important part of whatever ministry that you are involved in?

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      2. Robert I appreciate your tender heart towards those less fortunate or those who seem spiritually helpless. I would not presume to say I knew for sure how it all works, but in your post I did notice something. You started to include “those who never heard the Gospel.” Paul said how will they believe without a preacher, yet if these people will be saved simply by virtue of ignorance, it would do them better not to preach to them.

        It’s not a case of me having a hard heart. It’s not a case of me wanting it my way. I want everyone to be saved. I care about every human being. But two things: First do I care more about what the Word says? And second, am I going to be offended if God does something I don’t like?

        Those are serious and difficult issues, and I’m sorry my posts came across as a lack of compassion. The atheist could say I care more about people than God does if I would save everyone were it in my power, yet God does not. I’m not willing to cross that threshold, where I put requirements on who God has to be, for me to worship him.

        Brian wants me to believe God will be far more merciful than I could ever have imagined and many who never heard the Gospel will be in heaven. I am more duty bound to Scripture, whether I like what it says or not. I hope Brian and you are right, but I can’t in good conscious feel it is being a loyal soldier to the message of the cross.

        The question of whether a life should be brought into this world is a difficult one at times. I think, for all your talk of mercy, you are the one sounding hard-hearted at that point. I’m not trying to justify abortion, but if you have a choice—and shockingly enough, outside of rape, human beings do have a choice—people should take it far more seriously than they do.

        I don’t want to be a hard hearted person and it’s certainly not my natural disposition. It’s easy to talk about God being unfair when the unfairness works in people’s favor, but what of when it doesn’t? In that regard I think it’s a difficult thing to handle for each of us.

        I appreciate your ministry and pray God blesses you.

        Like

  6. Dizerner,

    “Robert I appreciate your tender heart towards those less fortunate or those who seem spiritually helpless.”

    Both my wife and I have lots of experience working with both developmentally disabled adults and children. At one time I was director of a Saturday program for developmentally disabled children. So I have a real concern about people with diminished capacities.

    “I would not presume to say I knew for sure how it all works, but in your post I did notice something. You started to include “those who never heard the Gospel.” Paul said how will they believe without a preacher, yet if these people will be saved simply by virtue of ignorance, it would do them better not to preach to them.”

    I brought them up because we are dealing with possible exceptions to the fact that for able minded persons who hear the gospel they must believe it to be saved. That is pretty straightforward and easy, what is not so easy is what to think of those with diminished capacities (the mentally disabled), lack of capacity (babies) and those who never actually hear the gospel message (they cannot believe nor reject what they have never heard). You make reference to a verse in Romans 10 and the context there is Jewish unbelief, that in fact they (the first century Jews that Paul is speaking of throughout Romans 9-11, who for the most part had rejected the gospel hence Paul bringing up this issue: if God’s Word is true and He keeps His promises then why have so many of the first century Jews rejected the gospel?) have heard, and yet they choose to reject the gospel.

    Contrary to your statement “yet if these people will be saved simply by virtue of ignorance”: no one is saved by virtue of ignorance. All are ultimately saved through God’s mercy. The issue becomes how does God have mercy on those who lack the capacity to understand and respond to the gospel or never hear the gospel. Everyone will be saved by God alone through mercy. But exactly how does this work out in the case of the possible exceptions, if there are any exceptions? We can put aside the fate of those who never hear the gospel, again I only brought them up because we are talking about possible exceptions to the standard way of salvation which is when able minded persons have faith.

    “It’s not a case of me having a hard heart. It’s not a case of me wanting it my way. I want everyone to be saved. I care about every human being. But two things: First do I care more about what the Word says? And second, am I going to be offended if God does something I don’t like?”

    Whatever our position is it has to be reflective of God’s character and His Word.

    He says his nature is love and that He desires to have mercy upon all (cf. Romans 11:32). His love and graciousness and kindness and compassion and mercy is spoken of throughout scripture and is **much greater than ours**. It seems if we desire to have mercy and compassion on the helpless, how much greater is his compassion, love, kindness, grace, mercy towards them?

    I have to say I am very concerned when I hear (not you) professing Christians make comments about the possible exceptions as if they don’t want these people to be saved (cf. God says explicitly that he desires for all to be saved). As if they want to limit the grace of God. This is one of my major problems with Calvinism because it intentionally limits the grace and love of God to ONLY some people, when in fact God is the ultimate grace extender!

    Regarding what the Word says, it does not explicitly say (regarding the exceptions) that they all will be damned nor does it say they will all be saved. So we are left with two things that scripture does reveal: principles that may apply to the exceptions (e.g. the principle that God desires for all to be saved, the principle that God saves whomever He wants, the principle that none are saved by their own efforts but only through God’s mercy, etc.) and the CHARACTER OF GOD (that He is love, compassionate, forgiving, merciful, kind, gracious, etc.). It seems to me that when we combine the principles and the character of God we have a good case to be very hopeful and optimistic about the exceptions.
    My observation is that those who argue that God damns the exceptions have to minimize and ignore the principles and downplay or even reject the character of God.

    Put another way, we could frame it this way: knowing the character of God, knowing what kind of person He is, what would we expect such a person to do with these exceptions?

    If you think that He gleefully damns them all because they did not believe the gospel when they lacked the capacity to believe the gospel, that sounds just like the way calvinists think of how God damns all the “reprobates” (they completely lack the capacity to believe the gospel, and God damns them supposedly to show off his mercy!). Non-Calvinists see this kind of thinking as bringing up serious questions about the character of God including how He could be loving if that is how He is: and again, we have to keep in mind that he much more loving and kind and merciful than we are.

    “Those are serious and difficult issues, and I’m sorry my posts came across as a lack of compassion. The atheist could say I care more about people than God does if I would save everyone were it in my power, yet God does not. I’m not willing to cross that threshold, where I put requirements on who God has to be, for me to worship him.”

    No one is claiming that we decide what God is like on our own. What some of us are suggesting is that we have to look at what the scripture reveals about the character of God and then take THAT and apply it to the issue of the exceptions.

    “Brian wants me to believe God will be far more merciful than I could ever have imagined and many who never heard the Gospel will be in heaven.”

    Brian is correct because Brian seems to be saying what I am saying: consider the character of God as revealed in scripture and apply THAT to the issue.

    “I am more duty bound to Scripture, whether I like what it says or not.”

    If you are really “duty bound to Scripture” then why don’t you take what scripture says about the character of God and apply that to the exceptions???

    “I hope Brian and you are right, but I can’t in good conscious feel it is being a loyal soldier to the message of the cross.”

    This appears to be a false dilemma here, logically speaking. I think we are “loyal soldiers of the cross” as well, and it is not an either/or (either you are a loyal soldier of the cross and do not apply the character of God to the exceptions, or you are not a loyal soldier of the cross and do apply the character of God to the exceptions): rather it is a both/and (you can be a loyal soldier of the cross AND apply the character of God to the exceptions).

    “The question of whether a life should be brought into this world is a difficult one at times. I think, for all your talk of mercy, you are the one sounding hard-hearted at that point. I’m not trying to justify abortion, but if you have a choice—and shockingly enough, outside of rape, human beings do have a choice—people should take it far more seriously than they do.”

    You seem to be opening the door for abortion by your comments here. I have opposed it and my approach has always been to provide alternatives to abortion for people (e.g. adoption) and to provide homes for those who are having children and have financial or personal difficulties. I have always believed it is not enough for Christians to merely oppose abortion, we have to provide alternatives (and that includes housing, etc.). We have to be compassionate towards both the babies and the mothers who are having those babies.

    “I don’t want to be a hard hearted person and it’s certainly not my natural disposition.”

    Then why not take the character of God as revealed in scripture and apply that to the issues?

    “It’s easy to talk about God being unfair when the unfairness works in people’s favor, but what of when it doesn’t?”

    I said this in my earlier post and you did not interact with my point: salvation is never an issue of fairness, because no one earns their salvation, no one merits their salvation, all are saved through the mercy of God. As one of my old mentors put it: “Don’t ask for strict justice, you will get hell, ask for mercy and you may be saved.”

    “I appreciate your ministry and pray God blesses you.”

    And I will ask you my earlier questions again:

    For the people I work with and train in ministry, mercy is one of our most important concepts.

    That makes me wonder dizerner: what ministry are you involved in?

    What practical ministry do you actually do?

    And isn’t mercy an important part of whatever ministry that you are involved in?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just one clarification, if you will let me… Dizerner said: “Brian wants me to believe God will be far more merciful than I could ever have imagined and many who never heard the Gospel will be in heaven.” This would only be true for those who die before reaching the age of accountability, for they never “heard” the law either and therefore never became guilty of sin. This is what I think, but not dogmatically. I know the God of all will be just and do right!

      But after the conscience is awaken by the law and the soul “dies” in guilt and separation from God, I believe that God gives each an opportunity to “hear” enough to lead them to a saving experience of repentance and faith, which they can freely accept or reject, making them responsible for their own judgment, should they reject.

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      1. you say:
        I know the God of all will be just and do right!

        Somehow I feel that thought should more scare us than comfort us. And I’d love if everyone could truly say they alone were responsible for their eternal destiny. Either way we know God is merciful and good, and we have been given an unspeakable gift that goes within the veil.

        bless

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    2. Robert, you gave me much to think about. Perhaps it’s too much emphasis on pondering the imponderables. I completely agree we have to trust God’s character personally, and frankly, even though my earnestness is only a desire to believe revealed truth, I wonder how much these particular areas of thought matter practically in day to day life. And maybe that’s what you are pointing out—and with that I can’t but wholeheartedly agree. Life has not afforded me the chance to any formal ministry, but I’ve tried to give love, prayer, kindness, wisdom and encouragement to anyone I could, and help physically in the small ways I’ve been able to. Aside from that I’m no one special, no titles or organizations or things.

      bless

      Like

  7. I am quite concerned about the calvinist resurgence within the SBC. The iseas, and philosophical wrangling has, and will continue to cause division in the body of Christ.
    As to children:
    13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. ESV

    And as to all of the straining of gnats by our calvinist brethren:
    8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ESV

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    1. “And as to all of the straining of gnats by our calvinist brethren:…”

      Calvinists do not see exalting God and giving glory to God rather than man as straining of gnats. Thus, a foundation for disagreement.

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  8. Here’s what we “inherited” from Adam’s fall: Awareness of the flesh (sin and death) coupled with ignorance of God (total inability). Adam was created just opposite. He knew God and was unaware of his flesh (nakedness) until he sinned. Man lives to his flesh from birth. God sends the gospel to, at an age that man can understand it, turn man around — back to Himself. The gospel is the ability (Ro 1:16) to do just that. Do you see why we MUST dismiss the ideas of “original sin,” “total depravity,” “born dead in sin,” etc.? They are ALL false narratives.

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