Tag Archives: children

Salvation through ignorance?

The other day I was on a message board reading a thread about the special needs people and sinning. More specifically, it was in regards to people with mental disorders/conditions and if they are sinning because they are unable to help it. I think one of the comments summed up the general consensus of that thread.

“If they don’t know what they’re doing, then it isn’t sin”

Though no scripture was quoted to back this up, I suspect they probably got it from Romans 7.

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

I don’t think you can quite get to what that quote was saying from scripture, though. You see, if you follow the reasoning that if something isn’t sin if the person doesn’t understand that it’s sin, then there is no reason to ever for any reason to preach the Gospel to those who haven’t heard it. Why should we ever let anyone hear the gospel if they don’t know what they are doing is sin if they can be saved by lack of knowledge? I think it comes back to that age of accountability thing. If you claim children are saved until a certain age, then you have to explain why. And then if you have people who have mental deficiencies, you have to make allowances for them as well. They don’t know they are sinning so they are in fact sinless.

The road starts branching to many paths and as these paths branch off, Christ is needed less and less. We can ignore the command to preach to Gospel to all the world because now all the world doesn’t need it. They are saved in their dumbness.

This is not what the Gospel teaches. There is only one path to salvation. You’ll lack of understanding doesn’t make your sin any less sin. It’s still there. Roman 7 continues to show us that our sin is still there, even if we don’t know it.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

 

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A Self Defeating Doctrine

The other day, I was having a discussion with another Christian on how we are saved. He being Southern Baptist and I Lutheran, we had a bit of disagreement. Nothing heated, but he did bring out a list of things he believes, one of such being we are not born into salvation. Now, I wasn’t quite sure where that one came from as I am not sure of any denomination that believes we are born saved, but it did get my gears turning and brought me to realization about another doctrine Southern Baptists and other denominations hold. Age of Accountability.

The Age of Accountability is a self defeating doctrine because it’s very nature denies other doctrines. Let’s just ignore the fact that there is nothing Biblical about it whatsoever and examine the whopping contradiction that it is.

The Age of Accountability right off the bat automatically claims you are born into salvation for if you cannot go to Hell until age fourteen (or whatever age your denomination holds to), then you are by default saved. If children get a pass, they are literally born into salvation. In a strange and funny way, this turns Jesus into the parent who kicks their child out of the house when they become an adult. What’s the difference between , “Alright son, you’re an adult now. It’s time you got a job and found your own place to live” and “Alright my child, you’re old enough now to decide for yourself. If you want my continued protection, you’ve got to make a choice.” This, in turn, leads to the next two contradictions.

For one thing, it directly denies (for at least a few years, anyhow) the decision theology these denominations so cling to. You have to choose to follow Jesus? Not if you’re eight. Jesus has brought you into salvation by nothing that you do. In a strange and twisted way, this is actually closer to the Gospel than what they believe the adults have to go through because at least with the child, there is nothing that they can do to be saved. It rests entirely on Jesus. Until you’re old enough that is, then you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But at least for a brief time, it’s not about you; it’s about Jesus for you.

And finally, it denies their false doctrine of once saved always saved, because if children get a pass until they’re old enough to make a decision, than that means not only can they lose their salvation, but there’s a clear cut off date that it’s getting taken away unless they do something before it’s too late. If they miss the deadline, well, sucks to be them. They’re going to have to try harder to get back into God’s good graces. Thankfully, once they pass the arbitrary I Chose Jesus test, they’re set for life. I think they should really start calling it Once Saved Again, Always Saved. It’s much more honest that way. I don’t think they realize it, but the whole once saved (again) always saved doctrine is like a free pass to go all heretical. Age of Accountability technically gives children a free pass to be as heretical as they like for a limited time only.

In reality, there is no Gospel in the Age of Accountability. For the children, it gives them a false sense of security. As they get older, towards that age in which they shall be held accountable, it can potentially give them an unwarranted sense of anxiety. And then, beyond that, once they’re saved again, either a sense of self-righteousness or constant worry of if they’re good enough. The fact of the matter is, Jesus died for you sins on the cross and you are called to believe his promise that he will rescue you from sin, death, and the devil. How are you called to believe? Through faith and faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God. You don’t make a decision. You don’t invite Jesus into your heart. You don’t do anything except for hear the Word and believe.

If you can think of any other ways the Age of Accountability is self-defeating, I’d love to hear it in the comments below. There may be more, but these were the three examples that I could immediately think of.

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Your Baptism Now Saves You

The other day, I was listening to the 200proofgospel podcast and they were discussing baptism. They brought up a very interesting point on infant baptism that I would like to expand upon.

There are a lot of protestant Christians who disagree with the practice, despite it being around for roughly as long as the church has. They often claim that baptism is a work that they do and a such, is not salvific. The historic church, on the other hand, does claim that baptism does contain saving grace and is not a work of man, but of God. Listening to the discussion on 200proofgospel, they brought up a very good point. Let’s eliminate all the supernatural reasons for infant baptism and focus on just the tangible reasons. Primarily, death.

Sometimes, there will be a grandmother who was very faithful in the church and her daughter will be having a child. Now, the daughter fell out of the church and hasn’t attended since she was a little girl. Now, the grandmother and daughter want to have the child baptized in this church because of the family history. Mama was baptized there, and so was grandma, and so forth. So the pastor baptizes that baby knowing full well that it will not be raised in the faith and just as predicted, that baby never comes back to church. Fast forward some sixty years and that baby is now an old man dying of cancer. He starts thinking about his need for religion and then goes back to that church and explains to the pastor his troubles and that he was baptized there and develops a bond and is saved. For that man, his infant baptism saved him.

Why?

Personally, I think it has to do with knowledge of history. When death comes knocking at one’s door, the one who has been baptized, has something they can fall back on. Even if they never spent another moment in a church after that, they automatically have knowledge of a place they can go. They automatically have a place they can reach out to. Now, let’s contrast that to the baby who isn’t baptized. They’re sixty years old and dying of cancer. They start thinking about religion, but they really don’t have a place to go. To them, there are just a million different churches and beliefs. That, I imagine, would have to be overwhelming. Despairing. That infant that was baptized, they’ve got an immediate direction. They’re more likely to reach out.

So, ignoring all scriptural reasons to baptize infants, there is still a case to be made to do it. To not baptize infants is to do your fellow man a great disservice.

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Death

For about two and a half months now, the only thing I have been really able to think of is my inevitable death. Every single day. And if I went a time without thinking about it, I’d get happy for not thinking about it, and then that would cause me to think about it. It was a horrible daily cycle. Every time it came to mind, it was with a finality. No heaven or hell. Just nothing. Everything about me, gone. All my thoughts and actions for naught, never to exist further. It was quite depressing to say the least. I would do best to distract myself from my thoughts. Many times I found myself internally yelling at my brain to just “shut the fuck up!” I hate my brain sometimes.

Going to sleep was no fun. Some night I would just lie awake, pondering.

And then, a couple days ago, it just stopped. My daughter was sick with a fever. She was miserable and didn’t want to be alone, so I went up to lie in bed with her to help her sleep. I still had the depressing notion of death and it’s finality of nothing on my mind at the time. And yet as I lay with her trying to comfort her so she can get some much needed sleep, something happened. Just as she dozed off, she said something to me. Now, for what would seem like an epiphany moment, you’d think I could remember what she said, but I can’t. I don’t know why, but for the life of me I cannot remember what she said. I do remember there was nothing profound or even religious about what she said, only that my brain suddenly changed. With her words, I smiled. There is a God and everything is going to be okay.

I know. It sounds blazingly stupid and I acknowledge that. I don’t know what was wrong with me. Perhaps it was a midlife crisis. As I often tell my wife, “I’m half over.” I don’t know what’s changed and I’m smart enough not to trust my feelings, but it’s nice to be okay with death and my destination once again.

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Little Nudges

Sometimes we are presented with little nudges towards where we need to go or what we should be doing. At times, those nudges are for something we should be doing to begin with. We all stumble, often time more than we’d like to admit. My nudge comes in the form of my second child encouraging me to get back into regularly reading the scriptures.

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When my daughter was born, I held her in my arms and read chapter one of Genesis to her. It was a touching moment and something I had pledged to do long before she was born. It just somehow seemed appropriate.

WP_20130919_018 Genesis 1 on the day she was born.

Yet now with a second child a mere six or seven months away, I want to do the same thing but I have yet to figure out what I shall chose for him or her.

Ottheinrich_Folio296r_Rev13 Really hoping I don’t find some years down the road that the appropriate scripture should’ve been Revelation 13.

I suppose this presents me with a good opportunity to buckle down on scripture, something I’ve been neglecting a bit lately. It’s interesting to see how these little nudges come when they’re needed. Now, I’m not saying it’s some cosmic force that’s pushing me into immersing myself into…

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God is like Elmo or Jesus is a Salad

My daughter got to talk on the phone to Elmo today (it was me). I wish I could’ve seen her face. She sounded thrilled. When Elmo put me on the phone (again, me), she told me that, “I talked to Elmo!” Over and over again. Perhaps sometime down the road I shall buy a big terrifying adult sized Elmo costume have a Skype conversation with her. Perhaps I can make Elmo a little more dignified by giving him a fancy pipe and a nice hat as he sips on a glass of whiskey on the rocks. Something tells me that while Elmo would be much more redeemable in my eyes, my daughter would suspect something is up.

I’ve been to a few churches, listened to a lot of different preachers, and seen a fair amount of views on Christianity. Most of them, while they may have the basics down, always had something off about them with me. For Westboro Baptists, God carries a stick and a gun just in case the stick isn’t long enough. In some of the exceedingly liberal churches, Jesus just can’t stop giving hugs to the point of it being uncomfortable and creepy. In some churches, Jesus is a life skills coach. And yet in other still, he only shows up long enough to say because he’s got another church to go to.

Much in the same way a child will know something’s not right if Elmo is participating in stuffy old people stuff, the Christian who studies the scriptures will know something’s not right when Jesus is put into strange clothes.

Perhaps this is why I like the LCMS so much. Sure, it can appear stuffy and boring to some, but it’s not wearing a funny hat either. The gospel is simply presented as it is without any fluff or personal opinion. To put it another way, think of Jesus as a salad and the church/preacher as a chef. Some chefs will mask the flavor with a salad dressing, but a great chef can make an amazing salad without any dressing at all.

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Is Killing Children Merciful?

A lot of Christian churches claim children get a free pass. They refer to this as the age of accountability. Even though nowhere in scripture is this taught. I think a lot of this so-called age of accountability is the result of decision theology. If you have to make a decision for Jesus, than Jesus can’t save you without your help first. This creates a problem because babies and small children can’t make a decision for Christ. They’re too young to understand. So, if they can’t properly choose Jesus with understanding, then that dooms them to eternal hell just for being dumb. You can see where this wouldn’t sit well for many people. So somewhere along the line came this idea of an age of accountability where children get a free pass because they can’t choose. And then, once you throw this in there, you’ve created all sorts of other conundrums. What about the mentally retarded? Do they get a free pass? What about those who never heard the Gospel? Do they get a free pass? What about the crazy? Do they get a free pass?

So, this age of accountability creates all sorts of problems, but what I’d like to address is the most glaring one. The one no one seems comfortable with addressing. Should we murder the children?

Appalling is it not? The thing is, if you believe in an age of accountability, then the answer is a resounding YES! You absolutely should be murdering children. If children get a free pass until they reach a certain age, then killing them is the only merciful option. Some might counter and say that it would be sin to murder children. Well, yes, that would be true. It would be a sin, but it would be a much more merciful sin than allowing them to risk eternal damnation by letting them grow up. To not murder children to ensure they get to heaven makes you an absolute monster. By some accounts, Hitler and Stalin were better people than you because they made sure that many children achieved salvation because they had the good decency to execute them before the age of accountability. They made the decision for Jesus for them.

As I’ve said in the past, children don’t get a free pass. Scripture says that faith comes through hearing. It does not say faith comes through understanding. It does not say faith comes through choice. It says faith comes through hearing. So preach the gospel boldly and worry not if they understand because Christ will give them faith if he so wills it.

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Putting holidays in their place

What would you say if I told you that there was a Christian holiday in December that is celebrated by the giving of gifts? And what if I told you that it’s not Christmas? You’d probably give me a mildly confused look, but I’d be telling you the truth. Christmas, contrary to the culture, is not a holiday celebrated with the act of gift giving.  In fact, it’s not even a single day.  It’s twelve days.  And despite what The Twelve Days of Christmas may say, it’s more like twelve days of feasting rather than twelve days of gifts. So if that is the case, than what is the Christian holiday in December that is celebrated with the giving of gifts?

Why, that’d be St. Nicholas Day on December 6th named after none other than St. Nicholas.  He was a third century Christian who has become synonymous with generosity.  In fact, is what our tales of Santa Clause come from.  He’s also where we get the Christmas tradition of hanging stockings to be filled with presents from as well.  I’m not going to go into his story, many other sites have done that far better than I ever could.  While I doubt this will sway many Christians, I want to say that I really enjoy the thought of having St. Nicholas Day as the day of gift giving.  You can still have all of the fun family events that you would do on Christmas every year and a few weeks sooner to boot.  But then, something more magical happens because of this.  On the twelve days of Christmas, you’re not distracted by all the gifts and what have you because that happened a few weeks ago.  So Christmas becomes a more special time.  A time for Jesus Christ.  I appreciate Christmas a lot more than I used to and it’s wonderful.

So this Saturday, I want you all to have a very happy St. Nicholas Day.  My wife and I celebrate with our daughter by exchanging our gifts and watching a Nicholas Cage movie with homemade eggnog.  I’m thinking this year she may need to finally see Con-Air.  😉

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Children Do Not Get A Pass

One of the great lies in modern evangelicalism today is the age of accountability; that is, children who die before attaining a certain age get to go straight to heaven.  But that’s a straight up lie.  The fact of the matter is, children do not get a pass.  In fact, there is nowhere in scripture that states anything remotely even resembling an age of accountability.

So what does happen to the dead children?  The answer is simple.  The same as everyone else.  If they are in Christ, then they shall be in heaven with him and if not they shall go to the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Though the Bible doesn’t exactly say much on dead children, it’s overwhelmingly clear that all have sinned and fall short the glory of God and that apart from Jesus Christ you cannot be saved. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  If he makes an exception, than the whole gospel falls apart.

Now that’s not too say that scripture doesn’t offer comfort in such situations.  Faith comes through hearing.  Please note, scripture doesn’t say, “faith comes through hearing and understanding,” but only says, “faith comes through hearing.” How glorious are these words when but a small fetus in the womb can hear the gospel faithfully preached to it through its mother’s belly.

Also, it is Christ who gives us our faith, we don’t come to it on our own.  Alas, just as we adults don’t come to a decision for Jesus, neither does the child, but Christ through his own mercy will grant faith to whom he chooses.

My friends, scripture doesn’t say a lot about children who die and we dare not speak where scripture has not spoken, but with authority we can boldly proclaim on what scripture has clearly spoken.

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