Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
What did you do that for? What is that there? How on Earth did you get that up there? These questions sometimes come up when loading freight. Sometimes they come up because something got damaged. Other times they come up because of a difficulty when unloading the freight on the other end. Then there are those times when these questions come up simply because there is no apparently good reason for how something got loaded into a particular trailer.
The Christian church is also in need of explaining things. There are many doctrines that are not necessarily understood, or even misunderstood. Interestingly, there are actually doctrines within the church that are accepted by one denomination, but rejected by another. One such doctrine is the rapture. However, that is not, necessarily, what this post is about.
Most of us can likely agree that we humans are sinners. Lets be honest, we have laws against murder, rape, theft, and other such things. We also have people who break these laws. Breaking the law is sin, especially when it is the law of God that we are breaking. God’s law are his absolute righteous standard for human behavior. These laws are, however, divided into two categories. These divisions are called the ceremonial law and the moral law. Christ Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law, but the moral law is still quite assuredly in effect.
What then is the origin of sin? Most of us would agree that humanity first sinned at the Garden of Eden. However, was that where sin was born? Truthfully, I don’t really know. Seems to me that Satan had sinned against God before humanity did. Such being the case, seems to me that sin was born before the fall of humanity. However, that fact that humanity sinned against God and was banished from the land of Eden is of no real dispute.
Some churches teach a doctrine known as “original sin”. This doctrine, in a nutshell, states that we are inherit a sin nature from our first father, Adam. It also states that we are all born sinful and need the gift of salvation granted to us from Christ Jesus. Other churches teach something else, something that might even be quite damning. They teach that we are NOT born sinful, rather we are born with an innate “isle of righteousness” within ourselves and we only become culpable of sin when we reach an age of accountability.
Wait! What? Age of accountability?
Hold up! Original sin? Born sinful?
We seem to have a paradox. One or the other of theses must be true and the other must be false, they can both possibly be true, can they? Thankfully, no, they are NOT both true. However, to really know which one is true, we need to look carefully at what the Bible states, and is very clear upon.
In Genesis 8, after Noah and his family have left the ark, and before God put his bow in the sky, promising to never again destroy the Earth by water, Noah made a sacrifice unto the Lord. God accepted the sacrifice and declared within himself “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth”.
WHAT? Did I read that right? Evil from youth? Yes, that is what the Bible says, and says very clearly. Human wickedness was the cause for God flooding the Earth. However, due to Noah’s faithfulness to God, the Earth will never again be flooded, but it is stated clearly that we are wicked with our youth.
It is only a few centuries later that Abraham and Lot would be born. Abraham was born in Ur. Lot was his nephew. The two had traveled together from Ur at the command of God to Abraham to leave his homeland. During that time, Abraham had become quite wealthy in terms of gold and livestock. It had gotten to a point where his herdsmen and Lot’s were arguing over resources. So Abraham and Lot sat down and made a deal.
In Genesis 13, Abraham tells Lot to choose the land that he wants, which ever he chooses, Abraham promises to go the other direction. Genesis 13:10 and 11 say “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other.”
Before we go too much further, consider what Lot just did. He chose the more fertile valley area, effectively forcing Abraham into the hill country. Lot’s entire choice was largely influenced by greed. This greed would ultimately be his undoing. It would result in his being abducted and needing rescue by Abraham after a particularly large and messy military showdown, after which Lot would then return, again, to the city of Sodom. It would also result in the Angel of the Lord rescuing Lot before destroying both Sodom and Gomorrah. Make no mistake, Lot was not one whom could be considered righteous by any stretch.
Let’s consider the issue of the destruction of Sodom. This brings up a very interesting point. Abraham had pleaded with the Lord not to destroy the city if only ten righteous are found in the whole of the city. Now considering that Lot and his daughters were moved forcefully from the city (Lot’s wife was there, but was turned to a pillar of salt because of her turning back) and it was destroyed, it should seem plain that there were not ten righteous in the city, and I would not call Lot and his daughters an example of righteousness, but that is later and of no importance here.
What about the children of the city? Certainly there must have been children in these cities. Now I know some might argue that the children were as depraved as the adults. What about infants? What of the doctrine of “age of accountability”? If God promised Abraham that he would not overthrow the city for the sake of ten righteous, should God not have been able to find ten righteous infants or children having not reached the age of accountability? Yes, and yet, no. It is quite possible that there were children in these cities. Such being the case, finding ten children or infants would not have been a big issue for God. Yet, there were not ten righteous in the whole of the city. If an infant has an “isle of righteousness” within them at birth, how is it that there were not ten righteous within the whole of the city?
Actually, King David can answer this best. Speaking of his sin with Bathsheba, he makes a very interesting statement. This statement, found in Psalm 51:5 reads “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” David makes is pretty clear that he was born into sin. David does not hold any illusion that he was born pure and sinless.
This leads to the answer of a very simple question. Why do Lutherans, and some others, baptize their infant children? Very plainly, we believe that God brings forgiveness of sins to our children through baptism. Yes, apart from faith, it is just water. However, it is faith and the word of God that makes it a baptism. In the Small Catechism, concerning baptism, it reads in the third part:
How can water do such great things?–Answer.
It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.”
For all practical purposes, there can be no doubt. We are all born in original sin. Ultimately, I would think that if you believe that children are without sin, you must not be a parent. Children are often greedy and base. You can be the most honest of people, not once lying about a single thing in front of your child, yet they will learn to lie and steal when they are quite young, even before the claimed “age of accountability”.
Let’s look, briefly, on this “age of accountability” thing. A Google search will provide many ideas, that is thoughts of men, about this topic. However, a thorough search of the Bible will reveal nothing. That is correct, there is nothing in the Bible about this doctrine. I know, there are those who will try to argue Joshua 24:15, which is opt truncated to say “choose this day whom you will serve, as me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. First, the verse is truncated. It is never good to truncate the verse, as you often miss something. However, it is equally back to twist a verse out of its initial context. Nothing in this verse or its context say anything about “age of accountability”. Worse, this verse was not spoken to men who did not know the power of God. It was spoken to a people who had seen the miracles of God and knew full well his might.
Make no mistake, the Bible is very clear that we are sinful from birth. However, the Bible is equally clear that we can be saved from an eternity Hell due to our sinful nature by believing in Christ Jesus, his sacrifice upon the cross, his resurrection, and following his teachings. Jesus says, of himself, very clearly “no man comes to the father, except through me”. There is no way around this.
I mentioned the rapture earlier. Those who teach “age of accountability” often teach the rapture as well. However, there seems, as it were, a kink in this doctrine. If there is no “age of accountability”, then it would seem that at the rapture, infants and children would be left behind if there were a rapture. This is a dilemma. However, for those who do not believe in the rapture, there is no such issue. Simply put “age of accountability” is a nice excuse to claim that infants and children will be caught up in the rapture rather than let them suffer the evil that will fall upon the Earth. Evil is already upon the Earth and children suffer daily with poverty, starvation, plague, and death. Nice try. Prove from the Bible, and keep the verses in context, that there is an age of accountability or a rapture, and I might give it consideration. Otherwise, repent and believe what Christ Jesus has said and done.
Yes, the Lutheran church does have answers for why we do what we do. Indeed, it was a Lutheran pastor who helped me when struggling with doubt about scripture and church teachings (he gave me a copy of the Large Catechism). Those answers stand squarely upon scripture, as it is written.
Yes, there are answers for how freight gets loaded. Sometimes it is as simple as it was the only way it would fit. Some may not like that answer, but it is an answer and often the only honest answer. Oddly, it is often the honest truth that should be accepted, even if it isn’t liked. Sometimes it might even better not to ask, and simply accept that it is.