Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Theory of an Age of Accountability is...

Intro: Following are the problems with the theory of an age of accountability. Take note that I am not attacking the conclusion of an Age of Accountability (henceforth abbreviated as AOA) as much as its reasoning. An invalid argument can have a true conclusion; however it is still invalid due to faulty logic. Not that I claim that AOA’s conclusion (that children who die before a certain age end up in heaven) is true. I do not know for sure at this point about the eternal destination of all children, however that is not the topic of this article. Below this post you will find a DIFFERENT POST for you to comment about your ideas and opinions on children’s destination, so don’t comment here on it. Instead let’s discuss how AOA is a bad argument. Not all of these points invalidate AOA themselves, some just put chinks in its armor; some of the stronger criticisms, though, are forceful enough to nullify the AOA argument. The fact that there are several problems illustrates just how weak AOA really is.

(I believe that it is important that we specify what AOA is really about, in order to clearly criticize it. The following summary is my own, because as far as I can tell not even those who support AOA have an official definition. If you find one, send me the link/info please. I hope that you can see that the summary, nonetheless, captures the main ideas of the theory.)

AOA summary:
It is not hypothetical but fact that millions of babies and children die before adulthood or even adolescence. It seems that these children die before they reach a level of cognitive ability necessary to understand the salvation process. These children then cannot be held accountable to the requirements of salvation. Because of this, God does not condemn them. They are therefore admitted into heaven.

AOA is non-Biblical
This is one of the easiest problems (at least for me) to identify with AOA. I mean to show that the words, phrase, or concept of AOA is nowhere found within the Bible. Even some proponents of AOA openly admit there is no specific Scripture references. Conversely, ‘love one another’ is explicitly stated and commanded numerous times hence it is Biblical; the word Trinity is not found, but Scripture is ripe with the concept of the Trinity in both Old and New Testaments therefore it too is Biblical. No such luck for AOA; that is, there isn’t even the concept in Scripture. AOA exists only as a human invented ‘doctrine’. For sure, some AOAers use Bible verses, but out of misunderstanding or improper context, and then wrongly infer the concept of AOA. Now the fact that AOA is not mentioned in the Bible does make it non-Biblical (not addressed), but that is not the same as un-Biblical (opposed to). Don’t worry, the following criticisms, nonetheless will illustrate that AOA is opposed to Bible doctrine.

AOA is invalid
Here we see that the argument lacks the necessary evidence to reach part of its conclusion. Any argument that does not support its conclusion is invalid. How does AOA do this? Let’s notice that the conclusion calls for the admittance of children into heaven (implying their salvation). Unfortunately for AOA, there is only one means into heaven, that being faith through grace in Christ’s atoning work. No other key opens heaven’s door and provides salvation. The AOA argument concludes salvation, while nowhere addressing its sole source. It does not and cannot adequately justify its conclusion with its faulty reasoning.

AOA is heresy
This flows from the previous criticism. Instead of recognizing Christ in salvation, AOA proposes that salvation is obtained through a combination of ignorance and youth. Such an idea is heretical to Biblical doctrine. It is a complete perversion of the salvation process. You cannot leave Christ out of a discussion of salvation!

AOA is motive driven
I believe that those who propagate AOA do it mostly (if not solely) from motive instead of using any real facts. Let’s admit AOA is nice, it feels good. Who wants to think about babies going to hell? But just because we wish something to be the case does not actually make it true. Or we also see: I just can’t imagine God being so cruel. Mind you God IS NOT cruel, but He does send people to hell. It seems to follow that God not sending babies to hell in order to be kind would result in Him not sending anyone to hell. So why does God send people to hell? It is the judgment of sin. Who sins, adults only? No, everyone sins. We must surrender our opinions to the authority of God, His plans, and His declarations.

Biblical Evidence against AOA
My denial of AOA is based on several Biblical doctrines that I see as running contrary to AOA. The first of which is salvation through Christ alone.

John 14:6. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts 4:12. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

There’s probably not much need to emphasize this point, true Christians have no problem understanding and accepting this. The problem lies in the fact that AOA doesn’t propagate Christ as the only means to salvation. I haven’t seen nor can foresee how one could include ‘Christ alone’ into AOA without completely destroying the AOA line of reasoning.

The second Biblical doctrine that combats AOA is mankind’s depravity. I believe that all people are sinners regardless of age.

Romans 3:9-19 We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

Romans 6:17 & 19 …that you who were once slaves of sin…for just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness…

Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Psalm 58:3 Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

1 John 1:8 & 10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

There is enough verbiage in these verses to convince me that the spread of sin is universal. It’s not “some people sin or most people sin”, rather all have sinned. What’s worse is it is not just that we have done sinful actions, but that our very nature has become sinful. We are therefore enslaved/committed to a sinning process (one could say hell bound), until and unless God intervenes and covers our sins with the blood of Christ. Many AOAers for the most part, I assume, would also declare that all men are sinners, but they leave out a crucial next step.

The next doctrine is a necessary complement to the fact that all have sinned. The third Scriptural point I want to make is that people are held responsible or accountable for sin. Accountability is obviously the main point where AOA deviates from what I see in Scripture. Again, AOA could support the fact that all sin, but the theory contends that not all are held accountable to their sin (i.e. babies). But these verses indicate that we are held accountable for sins.

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.

Leviticus 4:2-3 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them: if the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering.

Matthew 12:36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

Hebrews 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

John 12:48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

John 16: 8-11 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Romans 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Romans 2:14-16 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

I don’t see any Scriptural evidence, any loop hole that frees anyone (but Christ) from the condition of sin and the following punishment. I would contend that the concept that men are accountable for their actions is a very important doctrine whether or not you are talking about children or adults. So, God is completely justified in condemning sinners regardless of age, education, race, or gender.

As I wrap up this discussion I would like to let you see into my motivation for writing this post. First, I realize that many people believe in AOA without really thinking about it. When I thought about AOA, I came to see more and more how terrible of a theory it is. I do have an interest when Christians think the wrong things; I want to fix that if I can. So this post is to help bring people’s views back to solid Biblical tenets. Additionally, the problems of AOA fall under the umbrella of soteriology (the study of salvation). And Salvation is a very, very, very important concept to understand correctly, but here I also see that many Christians have a weak understanding. I would hope that most, who didn’t realize the threat that AOA poses to the true method of salvation, would see that danger through this post. I would expect that when it’s boiled down to the obvious choice of (potentially) condemned babies or salvation through Christ alone, all would choose Christ. They just never saw before how AOA circumvented Christ. Also the correct view of salvation brings glory to God, because the true nature of that process inherently magnifies God’s character and works. So God’s glory is another motivation I had in mind.

Lastly, I want to conclude with 2 Timothy 2:19 “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His.’ ” And also John 6:39 “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Up to this point this post could have a negative feel, but I want to use this verse to reverse that idea. I don’t know that all babies, who die, go to hell. I don’t know that all babies, who die, go to heaven. I do know that (through these verses), God saves (through Christ somehow) however many were in His plan to save; and He loses none.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Discussion Post: AOA alternatives

If so moved, comment here on what you think may happen to babies/children/etc. who die.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Faith is not self produced: understanding Ephesians 2:8

That Faith is Not a Work
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

Misunderstood grammar can be tricky, but if explained it can bring expanded comprehension. ‘It’ is the subject of our inquiry; in the above verse we have the phrase: it is the gift of God. The word that begins that phrase needs explaining. ‘It’ is a pronoun, which means it takes the place of a noun. What noun does ‘it’ refer to? Well grace and faith both occur in the verse and function as nouns; they are our most likely candidates. So we could replace those words to create the phrases: grace is the gift of God, or faith is the gift of God. I contend that the correct choice is faith. Using grace in the place of ‘it’ is awkward and unnecessary; it actually doesn’t make sense. Inherent in the connotation of grace is that it is a gift. So to say that grace is a gift is redundant; equivalent to saying, the gift is a gift. The only logical result then is that FAITH is God’s gift. That is, faith is not self produced. No human generates saving faith. No one believes correctly or hard enough. Everyone knows this fact: that a gift comes from elsewhere. Not all faith saves! Only that faith which is God’s gift saves. Grace is a necessary addition to salvation.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Over our Heads, into our Hearts

What I am about to say you probably won't get. It will sound so simple and obvious. You may also think it's redundant, or even some kind of circular reasoning. The problem is I can't really explain it to you. It's something I realized a few months ago, and now believe to be an important spiritual truth. Some people may know this already either explicitly or sub-conciously, others suffer for their failure to accept this truth. So here it goes:

You won't be satisfied by God until you find Him satisfying.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Living in Babylon

Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good,
Propaganda if you ask me.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God,
that I can understand.

The problem is I'm living in Babylon,
but my home is in Jerusalem.

And here the Lord knows I got a million problems,
yet I heap on more.

And the difficulty of focus, is its narrowness,
cause I'm cursed with peripheral vision.

Jesus and every good general know,
divide and conquer and the house will fall.

For me caught inbetween, how long can my division hold up?
I know a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Never been on rough seas, but I've been tossed by waves,
its worse than a jerky driver on a bumpy road when you're car sick.

Christ incarnate was both human and Divine,
so He's twice the man I am.

I don't hate what's physical,
I just want to be more spiritual.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PoP: Laborers in the Vineyard

***I delayed the posting of this essay because I had second thoughts on its usefulness, let me know if this PoP series is worth continuing***

TEXT: Matt. 20:1-16 & Liberty of Contract Clause
Article 1, Section 10: No State shall...pass any bill...or law impairing the obligations of contacts.

I bring up the previous clause because in this parable liberty of contract is the first implication I noticed. The owner promises the first set of workers a certain wage and they agree (a contract). A third party, the later workers, do not change the terms of the first contract, nor does the first contract affect the payment of the later workers: the later workers do not have a pro-rated payment in relation to the wages of the others. In the Constitution we see a somewhat similar principle in the aforementioned clause, but in this case the third party is the state, whereas it is other workers in the parable. The Supreme Court had followed this principle to the degree that the minimum wage law had been ruled unconstitutional. In the decision of Adkins v. Children's Hospital an attempt at minimum wage was ruled unconstitutional (in 1923). In the ruling, Justice George Sutherland, speaking for the majority says, "freedom of contract is... the general rule."

Second principle from the parable: Equal pay for Unequal work. Note we normally hear Equal pay for Equal work, but in this parable we see a slight variation. Of course, all the workers received the same pay that day, regardless of how many hours they worked. I think from that principle we could logically state the converse: Unequal work for Equal pay, but from these alone I don't know if we could derive: Unequal pay for equal work. We might discuss this later.

Third principle: Some jobs aren't 9-5. If my understanding of the Biblical timing is correct, then the first set of workers hired at the first hour had a 12 hour day. Mind you this is labor intensive agricultural work. Do you think this would be allowed in present day America, with the laws limiting number of hours worked? I'm beginning to see that the implications of this parable would give OSHA terrible fits.

Wow, I am not done yet, but I will post now anyways and finish later.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parables on Politics

Starting a series where the political and socio-economic implications of parables are discussed. Don't fool yourself into thinking these ideas are the main thrust of Jesus' message. The spiritual implications (which I assume you have some familiarity) are of primary importance, but I want to see what other truths might be gleaned.

The title of this series will be Parables on Politics, and I'll use the abbreviation PoP for reference to which posts belong to this series. It is crucial that you the reader make comments. These are not to be stand alone posts but discussion catalysts. I don't know how many parables will be covered in all. Feel free to reference other sources like the Constitution (I do).