Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pelagian Dualism

Beowulf2k writes:


I'm not an Arminian.

No, you're a Pelagian. The unborn and infants qua infants have no sin, so they are innocent. Ergo, universal infant salvation.

Tell us, when exactly do infants become sinners? What's the magic age? Where is the exegetical argument? If it varies from individual from individual, where's the exegetical argument for that?

I deny inheritance of Adam's sin for the soul outright, per Ezekiel 18:20.
One of the problems with this appeal is that the selected text doesn't deal with the imputation of Adam's sin to anybody. It addresses an altogether different situation. Like many anti-Calvinists, B2K doesn't exegete the Bible, he quotes selected verses as if they make his case for him.

More on this spooftexting later.

I might be willing to allow that the body does inherit Adam's sin and consequently physical death if you'd like me to, although I can conceive of physical death accruing to all men from Adam without any inheritance of his sin even by the flesh itself.

1. If the former, that's dualism and Gnosticism. The body is bad, it dies as a consequence of Adam's sin. The soul, however, is good. B2k likes to throw around the charge of heresy with respect to Augustine, but apparently he doesn't bother to consult the Bible or church history for other heresies - like Docetism and its children.

2. If the latter, then men were created in a perishable state.

But Ezekiel 18:20 specifically denies any possibility of the death of the soul (i.e. the second death) coming from inheritance.
Let's look at the context of Ezekiel 18. We have to ask ourselves what Ezekiel is discussing. What he's discussing the statements of his audience that they are being held responsible for the sins of their fathers. He tells them that they are responsible insofar as they agree with them.

Indeed, God specifically says He does hold other generations accountable for the sins of the fathers no less than 4 times within the Law itself:

(i) Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

(ii) Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

(iii) Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

(iv) Deuteronomy 5:9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,


So, rather than saying that infants are innocent, we should be asking how God can say what He says in Ezekiel as well as what He says in the Law. Ezekiel 18 doesn't represent a change in the Law. Indeed, we should ask ourselves what the recipients of Genesis would have thought, knowing the Law, when reading the Law and seeing that the father of us all fell into sin, and not just in any way, for he plunged the whole race into sin in the process.

The sort of namby pamby spooftexting that B2K offers is what you get when you divorce a verse of the Bible from the context. Ezekiel 18 is not a get out of jail free clause for people who have allegedly committed no sins. It doesn't address the concept of original sin, infant mortality, or the imputation of Adam's sin. Moreover, the argument that this text addresses runs like this:

My father sins. His sins are imputed to me. This occurs from one generation to the next, eg. each male from one generation to the next has his sins imputed to me.

But that's not the argument for the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity.

That argument runs this way:

Adam sins. We are born in his likeness. His sin is imputed directly to us. Further, Adam was the best of us. The fact that we sin is proof that, if we were Adam, we would do no better. So, we approve of his sin when we sin, and we would , in any other world, do no better. Thereby the imputation of Adam's sin to us is proven.

The point of Ezekiel 18 is simply this, men are not held to account for the sins of their father if they repent of their sins. This text would only apply to the situation at hand if infants could repent of their fathers' sins, but that's not B2K's argument. No, his argument is that infants are born in a state of innocence.

And traducianism is just plain stupid. Each soul is clearly a new production of God not a combo of shards of the parents' souls.
So what, Calvinism doesn't select for traducianism. There are Calvinists who believe God creates each soul - in the image of fallen Adam, as a penalty of the Fall. Further Adam and Eve were not created innocent by nature. Rather, they were created in a state of righteousness, though mutable.

In short, infants haven't sinned so they can't go to hell. It's that simple.
1. The Bible says that the wicked go astray from the womb and speak lies from birth.
2. The Bible says that people are conceived in sin and there is no soul that does not commit sin.
3. In short, you've just stated there are two ways of salvation, one for infants and one for everybody else. Do you even bother to think about what you write, or are your fingers divorced from your cortical matter?
4. You've also turned innocence into a form of merit. Thereby we can conclude you have no room for salvation by grace. You believe in salvation by merit, yet you criticize Romanists too. How ironic.
5. Let's assume infants are born "innocent." In that case, "innocence" must also equate to "holiness." "Innocence" and "holiness" are not convertible.

So, why does a person sin if he is born "innocent?" If he's born innocent, he should remain innocent. Where's the exegetical argument for libertarian freedom?



5 comments:

  1. "The Bible says that the wicked go astray from the womb and speak lies from birth."

    So in many (most?) cases, abortion is not a moral evil. We're just terminating more evil-doers.

    Just out of curiosity, what kind of lies does an infant tell before actual words can come from their lips? What kind of sins can be committed in the womb? Can you back up this up with Scriptural anecdotes about some wicked person doing some form of wrongdoing as an infant or in the womb?

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  2. So in many (most?) cases, abortion is not a moral evil. We're just terminating more evil-doers.

    That's a glaring nonsequitur. Murder is a moral evil. The death penalty as capital punishmnet is reserved for capital offenses against others according to Scripture. As usual, you don't bother to consult the Bible before asking questions. Tell you what, why don't you at least make some effort. I know you're not a simpleton...a mocker, yes, a simpleton, no. Oh, and you'll find that I'm not as accommodating as others here when it comes to the comboxes of my articles. You get 3 chances with me before I start deleting posts like your last one on a regular basis. This is your first warning.

    Just out of curiosity, what kind of lies does an infant tell before actual words can come from their lips?

    Since when does one have to speak in order to lie? I can see you are unfamiliar with infants. I also see you're unfamiliar with the latest information from the world of behavioral psychology:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/07/01/scibaby101.xml

    Whether lying about raiding the biscuit tin or denying they broke a toy, all children try to mislead their parents at some time. Yet it now appears that babies learn to deceive from a far younger age than anyone previously suspected.

    Behavioural experts have found that infants begin to lie from as young as six months. Simple fibs help to train them for more complex deceptions in later life.

    Until now, psychologists had thought the developing brains were not capable of the difficult art of lying until four years old.
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    Following studies of more than 50 children and interviews with parents, Dr Vasudevi Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth's psychology department, says she has identified seven categories of deception used between six months and three-years-old.

    Infants quickly learnt that using tactics such as fake crying and pretend laughing could win them attention. By eight months, more difficult deceptions became apparent, such as concealing forbidden activities or trying to distract parents' attention.

    By the age of two, toddlers could use far more devious techniques, such as bluffing when threatened with a punishment.

    Dr Reddy said: "Fake crying is one of the earliest forms of deception to emerge, and infants use it to get attention even though nothing is wrong. You can tell, as they will then pause while they wait to hear if their mother is responding, before crying again.

    "It demonstrates they're clearly able to distinguish that what they are doing will have an effect. This is essentially all adults do when they tell lies, except in adults it becomes more morally loaded."

    She added: "Later it becomes more sophisticated by saying, 'I don't care' when threatened with a punishment - when they clearly do."

    Dr Reddy thinks children use early fibs to discover what kinds of lie work in certain situations, and also learn the negative consequences of lying too much.


    What kind of sins can be committed in the womb?

    Good question, apparently God knows.

    Can you back up this up with Scriptural anecdotes about some wicked person doing some form of wrongdoing as an infant or in the womb?

    I don't have to, since I paraphrased Scripture. If B2K can do that, so can I. It's enough that the Bible declares we are born in sin. B2K needs to come up with a counterexegetical argument to defeat that proposition.

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  3. Is "fake crying" a sin? If it is, so is the use of persuasion (or kindness) in any circumstance since it requires a bit of dishonesty in a way, yes?

    Perhaps you really don't like me at all. Let's say you don't. If so, if you are acting towards me "with kindness" when you would really prefer to see harm done to me, isn't that "dishonest"?

    Actually, even the most sincere believers must admit that their actions don't often reflect their inner disposition. You would thus suggest that they are being "sinful" by not being forthright about their interior feelings of ill will?

    I think you're just stretching it a bit by suggesting that a fetus can "sin". If a fetus can sin, so can the severely developmentally disabled, those in comas and in other similar states of being. No denomination that I am aware would assert such a thing.

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  4. Is "fake crying" a sin? If it is, so is the use of persuasion (or kindness) in any circumstance since it requires a bit of dishonesty in a way, yes?

    That's a good question. Take a gander at Poythress and Frame on lying.

    Perhaps you really don't like me at all. Let's say you don't. If so, if you are acting towards me "with kindness" when you would really prefer to see harm done to me, isn't that "dishonest"?Perhaps you really don't like me at all. Let's say you don't. If so, if you are acting towards me "with kindness" when you would really prefer to see harm done to me, isn't that "dishonest"?

    Because I don't like you, doesn't mean I want to see harm done to you. I guess you missed that.

    Actually, even the most sincere believers must admit that their actions don't often reflect their inner disposition. You would thus suggest that they are being "sinful" by not being forthright about their interior feelings of ill will?

    Christianity has a healthy doctrine of the noetic effects of sin.

    It's possible to dislike you but not hold feelings of ill will toward you. You have an astounding ability to miss the obvious.

    I think you're just stretching it a bit by suggesting that a fetus can "sin".

    Really? Please provide an epistemic warrant for your position that a fetus cannot sin. If you're going to argue against original sin, it's not up to me to provide an argument for you.

    If a fetus can sin, so can the severely developmentally disabled, those in comas and in other similar states of being.

    1. All that's required to inculpate in these latter cases is a knowledge of what is morally right and wrong.

    2. Some Calvinists, for example John L. Dagg make allowances for such persons. As with universal infant damnation on B2K's part, it would help you to acquaint yourself with our theologians' writing before raising these objections.

    3. What a denomination "thinks" isn't our rule of faith. Try again.

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