Your Online Cup of Tea
Michael’s Statement: Totally just realized how the logical out workings of the heterodox doctrine “Age of accountability” are far more disturbing and sickening then any possible logical end that could result from the Calvinist view of Election.
Seriously, the teaching of this Age of Accountability (which is entirely unbiblical and illogical to begin with) is scary!
Me: What do you mean by this?
Michael: If there is an age of accountability, the most loving thing a Christian can do is kill all children before they reach it.
Michael: I mean sure, murder is a sin, but one can always repent.
Chuck: Help me out here…age of accountability?
Michael: The idea that a child has to reach an age where they have the capacity to understand the basics of sin and the gospel before they are held accountable to faith in Christ. Proponents affirm that all children under this age are automatically going to heaven.
David Jr: Michael has apparently never had a stillborn.
Me: Michael, even if God didn’t damn infants (and I don’t think he does), it would not follow that one then ought to murder their children. That’s an end justifies the means kind of thinking which is rather more akin to Calvinism. Now I don’t believe God would damn infants. I don’t think there is grounds to. Needless to say, even if He didn’t. Biblically, said action of murder would be contrary to the Christian worldview and wouldn’t refute the view (especially if one holds to a position where choice is important). But I don’t think Calvinism fairs better. Also under your Calvinist schema, even if those that died in infancy “automatically went to heaven”, it would simply mean that God ordained it. So even a Calvinist could hold to this and say that while abortion is wrong, God ordained it to save the elect.
But again, I don’t hold to infant damnation, Calvinism or really an A.O.A. [Age of Accountability]
Richard: Michael, will you do me a favor? Rather than saying “proponents,” say, “Jesus,” because Jesus affirmed it. Lodge your criticism by saying something like, “Jesus thinks that all children automatically go to heaven! Ridiculous!” Thanks.
Michael: I’m not saying that all children that die at a young age are necessarily going to hell. The Calvinist view of Election doesn’t suggest that all young children are damned either.
Michael: Do you mind citing this, Richard?
Also,David, I tend to build my doctrine off of what I find in scripture, not my feelings.
Michael: YScribes- I was pointing out the logical end result. I’m not saying that one ought to murder their children. It would just seem to be the logically most loving thing to do in that doctrinal stance.
Michael: Interesting how I mention the Calvinist view of election in relation to young children and infants, and automatically the synonymous description is stated to be that “God damns infants.”
Richard: The logical end result is that people could sin and abuse this reality? So what? That does not change it. You cannot indict a view for the way it is abused.
Me: Michael, I’m saying that the premise is flawed because it assumes that infant damnation is even a possibility. Also Given Calvinism, God could be using said means to save the elect. The Calvinist view of reprobation and election have bigger issues more so about the Character of God, than a moral dilemma of what humans should act out. They’re both Nominalist
Michael: David Jr – You’ve made false assumptions about me as a result of not having a stillborn. Biblical study is not restricted by life events.
Richard: Michael, with respect, your criticism was not a scriptural criticism. It was entirely based on feelings. You do not like that some people may abuse it. That is not a biblical argument. That is an emotional argument.
Me: Michael I’m not conflating infant damnation with the Reformed view of Election. But I am saying that
1) If you deny infant damnation, then you are cutting the legs off from under your argument. A Calvinist could make perfect sense of God using said AOA to save the elect.
2) The Notion of Infant Damnation and Reprobation both depend heavily on Nominalism, which I believe is contrary to scripture.
Richard: Let’s suppose a man is a universalist. He thinks that everyone goes to Heaven. His unbelieving son dies in a car accident.
A year later, the man encounters somebody who teaches him about the doctrine of Hell. He says that Hell really does exist. The man replies, “Show me from Scripture that my son is in Hell.”
All he has done is make an emotional argument. It seems like that is the same thing that you did. Of course, Michael’s argument was entirely emotional too. But I think yours might have been as well.
Michael: No, Richard, it was not. In fact, the vast majority of emotional content in this discussion has been the result of others. Not I. I think I may just delete this post, as it seems no one else is able to handle discussing the scriptural and theological stances from a logical perspective.
It is sad that so many of you assume that the reformed view holds that God damns infants to hell. What an incredible Strawman you have created.
Richard: Michael, you said “Age of accountability” are far more disturbing and sickening.” Disturbing and sickening.
These are emotional words.
Michael: By the way, Richard, my argument was based off logic, not emotion. The logical position was determined from my understanding of the positions.
Me: Who said here that reformed theology = infant damnation? We may disagree on the issue but nobody has made said equivocation
Michael: David didn’t make the statement, but made a clear implication as to my meaning that.
Richard: So what? Your point was still an emotional one. The logical consequences, in your mind, are immoral. But really, it is not the logical consequences so much as it is the way people may abuse a doctrine.
Me: Ok Michael, then rather than discuss an abstract theology. Do you believe that God can or does damn infants?
Richard: If I said that I was going to commit suicide because my sins, including suicide, are forgiven, then you would not impute the doctrine of repentance nor faith alone. You would impute my abuse of it. In exactly the same way, you are criticizing the abuse of a doctrine rather than the logical consequences of it.
Michael: God “can” do anything He wants. I don’t see it as consistent with his attributes to do that. My point is, scripture is silent on that, but speaks clearly as to the means of election.
I would want to hold to a position that suggests that infants who die(by His sovereign will) would be elect, but the relevant scriptures keep me from being able to be 100% certain, so I can only imply based on my understanding of His character.
That being said, I, as a man, have a very weak and limited understanding of His character. So in the end, I am left in the same place that I am left with many things when considering the mind of God: mystery.
This brings me to worship, hope, and love of the Almighty, as I find Him far wiser then I. But alas, the only biblical position, from what I can tell, is “I don’t 100% know. I need to trust God to do what is right.”
Michael: Richard, that doesn’t come up for me as a conflict, because of my position on the Sovereignty of God, and Perseverance of the Saints as well as the Great Commission. I have been saved to serve, brother, so logic would have to have been left by the way-side long ago in order to be suicidal.
Me: Michael you said: “God “can” do anything he wants. I don’t see it as consistent with his attributes.”
1) No one would deny that God can do what he wants. The Question is, “what would He want” which reflects on his Character. Which brings me to:
2) That statement either means that everything God wants is consistent with his character. Or that God can go against his character and still be right. If you believe the latter, then you affirm Voluntarism (which is Nominalist), whereby morality is only whatever the Divine will Wills is right by virtue of it being willed. Not because it’s consistent with His nature or even reason. Just sheer will.
If you don’t hold to that position, then the only way you could affirm infant damnation is to say that it is consistent with his character but God doesn’t actually do it (though he may).
So which is it? Is morality simply an arbitrary divine fiat?
Or is it about what is best for a Person given their nature? Or rephrased,
Can God damn infants simply because anything He wills is correct solely on it being willed.
Or does God will only consistent with his character, thus if infant Damnation is a *possibility*, is it consistent with God’s Character?
Chuck: Richard, JS, David, Michael, this is a new subject to me and you all seem like you have a pretty good handle on it so help me out…a one month old child passes away, what happens next? Are there scriptures that speak to this? I can’t think of any, but I’m no scholar. David sorry for your loss.
Jim: The flood was consistent with his character.
Patti: *shots fired*
Me: Jim, how is the flood equal to infant damnation?
Jim: I’m referring to what is consistent with Gods character JS.
Me: Yes and I’m saying how is the flood being consistent with God’s character comparable to infant damnation being consistent with it?
Jim: You don’t see any connection between Gods character in regards to his will (towards infants or anyone for that matter) and the flood ?
Michael: YScribes, To answer your question-
You suggested one of two possibilities, but both of these start from a presupposition that excludes total depravity. If man is totally depraved(and as such born in sin as David was), then God is just in any action he takes towards infants. It is entirely dependent on His nature, and not theirs. Your statements suggest that infants have some quality about them that demands that a just God must act in such a way, or at the very least your argument suggested a view of salvation that makes it seem that some(infants) have some quality within themselves that makes them deserving of God’s grace.
So, of God does damn infants (again, not saying that this is my position, because it is not), no matter the reason, He would be just in doing so as man is born with a radically depraved nature.
But God. He elects, redeems, restores, and saves. By His nature, and merit, in accordance with His own good pleasure, saves who He will.
Me: Jim, is there a difference between the evil actions of one person or groups, resulting in consequences that affect others (remember Nineveh was to be destroyed, Jonah 4:11 “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left.”)
And between eternally condemning those who have committed no evil?
Me: Michael the two options are actually independent from Total Depravity. For even if TD was correct, then God would either be acting purely by divine fiat *or* consistent with his nature. So you’ll either have to choose whether you believe in a deity that acts in the first way or second way no matter what. Hence you must say that Infant Damnation is simply arbitrary or it is consistent with his character regardless of *why* you say it is.
Second of all, I reject the notion of Total Depravity, at least how commonly understood, for it confuses the distinction between persons and natures. It mixes personal properties and natural properties.
So I’ll ask, does God ever damn people who aren’t evil? And if no, are you saying that the infants he damns are therefore evil? What do you think “born in sin means” that the natures of those born have the property of evil? Or that it is corrupt (not functioning as it should).
Michael: God always acts consistently with His character. All men are wicked, depraved, and in open rebellion to God. All men, from the time of conception, are deserving of the wrath of God(an implication of Total Depravity).
It is because you reject total depravity that you are in a state of cognitive dissonance with this. For me, there is no such tension.
God saves those whom He will, in accordance with His pleasure and grace. If he chooses to save all unborn, or newborn, infants(which the Bible is not clear on), it is consistent with His character. If He does not, then it is consistent with His character.
The difference here, YScribes, is that I am sticking with what is in scripture, and not fabricating a God of my own creation by saying that God “must” act in a certain way that is not explicitly or implicitly described in scripture.
Your rejection of the Biblical position of the notion of total depravity for the reasons you describe, hints that man must have some personal properties that God considers when electing some unto salvation, and as such, creates a synergistic view of God.
You should know by now that I hold to a monergistic view.
Me: Michael, Reformed teaching on Anthropology says that humanity’s nature had the property of righteousness. And that our wills are compelled by our natures. Hence the fall of humanity meant a change in nature and man now has an unrighteousness/evil nature, compelled by it. Hence why reformed theology is Monergistic. Man being only able of doing evil, cannot even co-operate with grace. God has to do it all.
The problem is that righteousness is a personal property. And if natures were “righteous” and compel the will, then Adam and Eve could not have sinned in the first place. If the *nature* at the fall underwent a radical change, then fallen man is a radically different being. No longer Man. Since they don’t share the same nature as the original man. Plus then if our natures are now evil, it means that Christ, in principle could not become like us in order to save us. Becoming like Adam too is no help, since if the fall meant a change in nature, Christ being like Adam would mean being of different nature to us.
“The difference here, YScribes, is that I am sticking with what is in scripture, and not fabricating a God of my own creation by saying that God “must” act in a certain way that is not explicitly or implicitly described in scripture.”
Saying that you’re sticking to what scripture says, while I’m not is just telling me that I don’t agree with your hermeneutic that you bring to the text. Scripture clearly makes a distinction between nature and person. And unless you want to teach that scripture says evil is a substance, you cannot say that man’s nature is evil. But rather corrupt. As scripture actually teaches. It is when man follows said corruptions that he sins.
I’ve never said that God must act in a certain way, but that He is consistent with his nature. And you’ve yet to show how the damnation of infants is such. Because if you say that God is consistent with his nature, then He is consistent in damning only what is evil. Since you think I’m being unbiblical, let’s look at some text then.
James 1:13-15 ” Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Scripture here does not attribute sin or the bare nature of man. The desire itself is separate from sin. But can go through the process of becoming sin. Just as a desire for sex isn’t wrong yet wrongly directed it is. I think the only thing that can explain the difference is the will, and human how react to such passions in conflict with God’s intent for it).
Jonah 4:11 “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (What was God’s point here in saying that He should have pity on Nineveh from destroying it with *righteous* judgement, because there are persons there that don’t know they’re left hand from they’re right? Simply to say they’re young children? On your view God is perfectly just if he wills to damn them. I think it’s supposed to show they’re not only young but ignorant. They are not culpable of Ninevehs sin. They’re put in the same category of animals who are unaware of right and wrong. God clearly doesn’t see them as having committed evil. But they are already evil from the get go, then this defence is irellevant. So now you’re left with saying that evil isn’t a personal attribute only but a natural one. Essentially saying that evil is a substance. Where will you find support for that in scripture?)
Romans 9:11″Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand.” (I know this is a reformed favourite. However I don’t believe that Romans 9 is about election unto salvation. But that’s not the point of this discussion. The point is, this verse is saying that the children had not done any evil. Nor any good. Here’s how it relates to what I posited. Unless you want to posit Voluntarism, you’ll have to say that God is consistent with his Character and only damns those who are evil. But scripture clearly teaches that infants and people aren’t evil until they commit evil. In order to remain consistent in your position that God damns infants, you’ll either have to say that God is Voluntaristic and that no matter who he damns, it’s okay, because his whatever his will decides goes, apart from having to be consistent or meet any standard (even his one character). Or you’ll have to say, “No, God is consistent because they are evil by virtue of having an evil substance. Even though they’ve committed no evil.” That’s not Christianity. Where will you find support for that? It conflates a personal property of good (moral) with the natural property (function). A good car works and a bad car doesn’t. None of which are of moral value. Human nature after Adam was cut off from sanctifying grace, let’s call it, no longer functioned as it should. The passions went out of order, not functioning as it should. Corrupt. And men following such corruptions, became evil.
So unless God is voluntaristic and acting by divine fiat, there is no reason to damn infants. Nor do I believe scripture teaches this nor that it is consistent with Scripture.
And I ask that you please not use the patronising language of “God of my own creation” and deal with the assumptions that both of us are bringing to the text. Such language also pressuposes the very thing you’re trying to prove. That you’re in fact correct. Let’s get to the meat of it. It all depends on what view one has on the relationship between natures and wills. Do natures compel (determine) actions. Or do they qualify or circumscribe what is possible for that person to do, but doesn’t actually determine what they will do. But one cannot transcend their own nature. One needs to make the nature/person distinction. Natures cannot be good or bad morally. Only persons are. Adam and Eve were not created with a moral nature, but a functioning one. United to God by grace. Evil comes about by the deliberate misuses of natural properties. All creatures from the moment of creation need to deliberate about what is good and how to go about that good. This state of willing involves deliberation and uncertainty. That’s what character is about. That’s why sanctification is important. And that’s why creatures are free. Since character is a personal property of a persons use of their will, God cannot make you have it without forfeiting freedom. Christ on the other hand, is an eternal person with omniscience, who always freely acted according to his essence as a divine being. And so character being a personal property, he kept it at the incarnation and lived as a man always willing what was good according to human nature. The Calvinist who conflate natures and persons by saying that Adam and Eve had a righteous nature, are in an even dire state, since natures on their view compel persons. How then could a righteously compelled person sin? (Can’t escape the notion that God Authors Sin can we? Hence why RC Sproul Jr is being a consistent Calvinist in saying so. At least I’ve heard and can remember reading such).
In fact, the Reformed and Pelagius both share the same anthropology.
For Pelagius, before the fall, mans nature already had grace intrinsic to it. His nature was righteous. All grace therefore was extrinsic, the Law. This only told man how to live but he had in and of himself the power to live that way. Hence Man was always under a Covenant of Works (sound familiar?). This is exactly the same thing the Reformed teach. The difference being that Pelagius saw that since man was made in God’s image, and God is immutable, then so must his image be. So the fall didn’t change it. So man doesn’t need internal grace after the fall, he just needs external grace, an example i.e Christ. The reformed bite the bullet and say that the image was changed. Therefore having had a righteous nature, the fall brought about an evil one. And since natures compell persons, man cannot do anything to go towards God at all. It has to be 100% the monergistic work of God. Both Pelagius and the Reformed are Monergists (Monergism = one energy). They just differ on who is doing the work. There’s much more I could say, especially about how the synergy model avoids errors on both sides. Man’s relationship with God was always synergistic because of the very nature of how persons relate to natures. I could give you blogposts that I’ve written on this if you wanted.
AD: The Apostle Paul certainly thinks certain children can go to hell: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” < children of believers are included in the covenant….children of unbelievers seem to have a very tenuous status according to Paul.
Me: Nothing in that passage says that children go to hell. Nor would you as a Reformed person say that by virtue if this covenant they are automatically saved. A lot of assumptions are being brought to that text. Many of which I’ve written about in the above comments.
AD: Actually as a reformed person I would absolutely say that by virtue of the covenant the infants of believers are saved. and that this passage directly teaches that and certainly implies a contrast. (why i said their status is tenuous and made no definitive statements) but hey thats cool.
Me: Ok, well I’d say you’re closer to Orthodoxy and Catholicism than you think 😉 but that’s fine.
Charlie: Awesome discussion. I like to think of it this way– clearly–there is a spectrum. orthodox/anglo catholic/roman catholic theology sees baptism as beginning the process of salvation, the first rung on the ladder. The reformers of the 15th and 16th centuries believed that baptism was official entrance into the covenant which resulted with a real union with Christ, thus shifting the focus of baptism to union with Christ. Therefore children didnt have to climb a ladder, they were to stay in union and be nurtured in their paedofaith. Anabaptist reformational theology teaches that baptism is a public profession of faith, which means the children of Christians are not fully Christians or saved until they make a profession publicly at a certain age. This is where we see age of accountability. But Presbyterian Westminsterian / confessional reformed theology (now and then) also adopts the age of accountability teaching, yet also practices paedobaptism. Some presume salvation of the child, some don’t. So there are a few different views on the spectrum, and I know this is very simplistic.. its much m ore complex but I think the bible is clear about household baptism, paedofaith, and paedobaptism. If that makes me ‘catholic’ than so be it. but i don’t think you can conclude that I pray to saints and believe salvation is by works etc.
YScribes: Charlie I liked your analysis (though may change the characterisation of the “Catholic Ladder”). Plus I wasn’t using the term Catholic negatively. As I myself agree a lot with Catholicism and Orthodoxy. And I’m currently examining both.
AD: YScribes, Charlie is a personal friend and one of those Federal Vision peeps Ive been telling you about
Me: Ah yes the good ole FV. I like where they’re heading. Was considering it for a while.
TJosiah: I think the common misconception occurs on the reformed side that believing in an “age of accountability” is synonymous with believing that babies (some or all) are elect.
And on the flip side, that those who hold to an AoA are merely giving those who”don’t have a chance” a path to salvation.
But both ignore the issue.
For the first, AoA *isn’t* an election issue. It is essentially denying justification in Christ, through Salvation by faith alone. When one affirms AoA they are *Necessarily* saying that one is saved +BY(Because of)+ their age. This is conditional salvation.
And likewise, those that affirm it are speaking Where scripture has not. A proper exegesis of the David-Bathsheba fiasco, renders their argument powerless. More so, as I have said in my aforementioned words, they are advocating for a means of salvation apart from the Biblical Precepts (Repentance and Faith in Christ).
Now, as a Reformed Baptist, I affirm that God pardons who He will, and reprobates who He will. I will say that The God of all the earth will do justly. I have my own personal opinions on how that plays out; but again, Scripture is silent, insomuch as not saying explicitly what happens to infants (but it sure as heck doesn’t say they are all saved because they’re only 4 weeks old or whatever age you think has salvific properties), but I will say this, original sin affects all, not some.
Michael: By the way YScribes, I will get to some of your earlier points in a bit YScribes. I disagree with your description of the reformed view of the nature of man from creation to fall.
Me: Come at me bro! Lol joking 🙂
Though I will say that I’ve written about this more clearly in this blog post. And I’ve linked my previous one in it as well as other sources that speak on this. I’m not just pulling these ideas out of thin air. Many I’m still learning about so I don’t know it all (though I may act like it lol)https://yoshuascribes.wordpress.com/…/natures-and…/
Michael: Now, YScribes I will need to address the verses you bring up in order, and one at a time, because I just don’t have the time to hit all of that at once.(married life carries quite a bit of responsibility, and does not afford me the time I used to have to post like this…)
This was their created nature.
Post fall, man is limited to being able to sin, but we are no longer able to NOT sin. Once we are regenerated in Christ, we are now again able to sin, and able to not sin. Once we become glorified, we are no longer able to sin, but are only able to NOT sin.
Adam and Eve, prior to the fall, had the ability to sin, and the ability to not sin. This is the state of our nature all throughout the process of salvation. So tell me, how were Adam and Eve not human? What, biblically, supports that? Also, how do you deal with the biblical evidence that Jesus was fully man?
Jonah, in reference to Nineveh, doubtfully was referring to children in that verse for several reasons. If they were children, then that puts the total population of Nineveh somewhere between 600-700k. From what the archaeological remains of the city show us, no more than 175k could have lived in that city at a given time. Secondly, Jonah speaks of God having mercy on the whole city, not just infants and children. The city as a whole was in view of God’s mercy, not just the children. The more reasonable understanding of this verse is that it is speaking those who do not know right from wrong. So this verse does nothing to assist your position.
Michael: Just realized that I skipped the James verse… That response will have to come at lunch. As a teaser, I will say this: you have loaded the terms by using the word “evil” in such a way as to misrepresent my position.
Me: “So tell me, how were Adam and Eve not human?”
I didn’t say that. What I said was that the Reformed doctrine of Total depravity confuses nature and person by mixing natural and personal properties. Meaning that total depravity = a change such that Adam post fall has a different ontology to Adam Pre-Fall. Because a change in nature has occurred. The incarnation then couldn’t be Christ taking on our current nature, because on TD it’s evil. But if he takes on different nature than ours then he wasn’t made like us and hence we couldn’t have been saved.
“Adam and Eve, prior to the fall, had the ability to sin, and the ability to not sin. This was their created nature.”
Well everyone agrees that they were able to sin or not sin. I’m saying that given reformed anthropology and compatibilism, that really isn’t possible. Not any way that I can see. The Reformed position is inconsistent on this matter.
Really the key is to make a distinction between nature and person. You need only ask answer two questions:
1) Do natures compel persons?
2) Is righteousness a natural property?
If you say yes to both, then you’re saying that Adam and Eve were compelled by their nature (compatibilism) and that it was a righteous nature. In which case you’re stuck now by trying to work out how one who is righteously compelled could sin? Not only that but since the Bible does teach a fall, this question is side stepped and Total Depravity now says that *nature has changed* from being righteousness to being wicked. That’s how you’re able to justify infant damnation (if God did it) by saying that they are in a state of wickedness. Because you’ve attributed a personal property to a nature. Essentially teaching that evil is a substance. In light of these two questions, the consistent Reformed position should require that no fall ever occur. Human or Angelic. But of course a fall has occurred, so the Reformed person consistent with Total Depravity and compatibilism would have to say that the nature itself is evil and thus evil is a substance.
Backing up one step further, saying yes to both questions would mean that there was nothing in Adam or Eve or even Lucifer, that should have brought sin into being. So the only other place one can look for is… God. In fact, if one takes the compatibilist view of the will’s relationship to nature and applies that to God. They would have to say that there is something in *God’s* nature that compels Him to cause evil to be. Since it can’t be in Adam or Eve or the Angels. Again this position to is inconsistent because if God’s righteous nature compels him, and he creates creatures whose righteous natures compel them, then how can evil even *be*? Unless of course… Righteousness and evil are intrinsically tied together somehow. A sort of eternal dualism. I don’t know why a Christian would defend that position or how Biblically they could.
But the fact is that there is evil in the world. But given Reformed Theology’s compatibilism, God could have created a world in which everyone freely (given the compatibilist view of freedom) did only good. Found satisfaction in God. As John Piper says “God is is most Glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” Then one has to ask why God would then choose to “freely determine” people to sin? Or that evil and suffering exist?
The common response is that God made it this way for his Glory. Not just for his Glory, but that in order to get the *maximum* Glory, he ordained that evil be. Problem is, that this makes God’s Glory contingent on evil. It again, ties evil and good together. It’s makes God, who is the source of all good, insufficient to be that *good* for His creatures, without evil having to be. One then has to ask if the Trinity were not able to enjoy or have said maximum Glory manifest to one another without evil having to exist? Without having a creation in order for evil to exist? This is akin to the argument that says that in order for God to be love, He has to be at least two persons. Otherwise God needs creation in order to love or Love is not an essential or defining characteristic of God.
Now, I’m not saying that God can’t be Glorified even when evil occurs. But there is a stark difference between saying He *can* get Glory out of evil and that he *needs* evil *in order to* get the *maximum* Glory.
So it comes back to this:
1) Do natures compel persons?
If yes, then how could a righteously compelled person sin? If no then posit Libertarian free will and Synergy (unless you want to say that people are directly controlled like the Sims or Puppets).
2) Is righteousness natural property? If yes, then good and evil are substances as well as characteristics of a person. Hence you can posit that people have a wicked nature. Are can be damned even before sinning. If No, then corrupt nature =/= wicked nature. Hence no Total Depravity. People who haven’t committed sin can’t be considered as wicked. So how can they be damned?
So not only do I find Reformed theology inconsistent but the implications of it are morally questionable in light of anything found either in human experience or in scripture.
In regards to Nineveh, I don’t know about the archaeology. One could always posit that it’s hyperbole or a Hebraism of some sort. Not only that, but I don’t see how positing that this passage makes sense if not referring to children. Because God is already indignant with this city and wants to bring judgement. They are culpable. This passage then is indicating a sort of ignorance on behalf of it’s subjects upon which God has pity. And the reference to animals seems to indicate a relationship between the two. Even so, this passage isn’t detrimental if proven false for my thesis because of Romans 9. Which clearly states that the children were in the womb, having yet committed sin. So unless you wish to posit that evil is a substance, I don’t see grounds for God to damn them and be consistent if you posit that he only condemns the wicked.
Michael: Sorry. This has been a busy weekend. Took part in a 2.5 hour podcast, took an assessment for a new job, and did setup/tear down at church, not to mention some porch culture time with deacons. I apologize for not getting back to you.
I still need to answer YScribes.
Me: It’s okay that it took long, these topics are heavy and touch of so many things that discussing them could go on ages and ages. I’m fine with continuing or reaching an agreed end. My goal is show that there is another way of looking at it. And that the typical Protestant/Reformed teaching on original sin/total depravity and such make certain assumptions which are being taken for granted. And taken to the text. And I think that they lead to implications which neither the Reformed or anyone in the Christian tradition really wants to affirm. That would be the jist of it. Plus I’ve put my cards on the table so I speak in the blog post I wrote and linked here. So if you wanted to know exactly where I’m coming from and on what grounds I reject the assumptions behind the OP, that would as good a place as any. Maybe you can point out something I’ve missed.