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I have seen this term used on this site again recently and have seen it used in the past and I am wondering when this theory was first declared in history, by whom, and what is the actual biblical support for it?

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I get your point, Cheryl.  I think it is culturally acceptable to say a lot of things when we console others that we don't really believe or have much theological support for.  And it typically involves the "gone" person being in heaven looking down on us.  When my wife and I were going through the tough times, I was smart enough not to be callous enough to mention that it might not have been a person yet.  There is a time and place for theological and philosophical discussion on these things. That wasn't the time for it.  

As far as where I personally "draw the line" or assign personhood goes, I don't know.  And I'm fine with not knowing.  God knows the outcome of every fetus.  He knows which fetus will survive through birth and which won't.  Does He impart a soul to those that He knows are so mal-formed that they would never survive?  I don't know.  And I don't know that anyone CAN know the mind of God on this.  It's just not something that can be physically measured and isn't clearly revealed to us in Scripture.  But this "I don't know" conclusion doesn't come from a lack of interest or study in the topic.  As an identical twin, the timing of "personhood" and when we get our soul is of particular interest to me.  Before my twin and I split, were we two people with two souls sharing the same "body"?  I don't know. And if you ever figure that one out, I'd love to hear it. :)

Cherylu said:


Well that may be true, I don't know.  I haven't seen it happening myself.  And I am sorry for the grief you guys have experienced.

 

But, oh dear, that is another can of worms you bring up there Daniel.  A baby is still a baby to me from conception onward.  Obviously not accountable for any actions.  But still a baby, a person.  How are you going to tell a mother (or a father) that has just lost a "pregnancy" that it was not really a person yet and so you don't even need to wonder about if "it" went to heaven or hell or not?  And where are you going to draw the line?  First trimester, second trimester, third, half way through the pregancy, at birth, or even as some have proposed some time well after birth?

I think that is the beauty of Joanne's assertion. We know God is loving, just and righteous. We know He is utterly trustworthy. We can with all honesty state the obvious - He does what is right. I personally believe that those children that are miscarried or murdered via abortion are with Jesus. I do not have an iron-clad series of proof texts but I do think Mark 10:14 & Mt 18:10, 14 show God's viewpoint of little ones. I make the plain inferences. And I won't debate them here with anyone; there is no need or profit in it. 

 

Now read what she wrote again in that light.

 

Isn't it better to trust that in His eternal, infinite attributes of love, compassion, justice and mercy, every judgment of His will be so right that once we get it, we will simply fall to our knees in frank worship and adoration at the sheer perfection of His choices?



Cherylu said:

Does any one have any idea how many people that have miscarried, had a still born infant, or in some other way lost a child at a very young age, that have been comforted by this very belief?  Of course that doesn't mean it is correct.  But from personal experience (miscarriage) I know how very painful something like this is.  And believe me, I also know how much more painful it would of been to think that child that died before birth may have gone directly to an eternity in hell. 

 

This belief has been used to comfort many down through the years.  If people don't believe in it's validity, as Dave said, there is a problem here.  And from a very practical standpoint, there needs to be something done to help those that are in the midst of such grief and pain if we do come to the conclusion that there is no basis for this belief.

Cherylu; I, too, would find it comforting, to believe this, as do two of my daughters, who have miscarried, more than once. And I don't get on my Bully Pulpit, and demand that they show me proof, in Scripture!

 But, neither do I think that it is proper to preach from the pulpit, that it is true. And I do hope that it is true, despite the lack of scriptural backing.

 


Cherylu said:

Does any one have any idea how many people that have miscarried, had a still born infant, or in some other way lost a child at a very young age, that have been comforted by this very belief?  Of course that doesn't mean it is correct.  But from personal experience (miscarriage) I know how very painful something like this is.  And believe me, I also know how much more painful it would of been to think that child that died before birth may have gone directly to an eternity in hell. 

 

This belief has been used to comfort many down through the years.  If people don't believe in it's validity, as Dave said, there is a problem here.  And from a very practical standpoint, there needs to be something done to help those that are in the midst of such grief and pain if we do come to the conclusion that there is no basis for this belief.

The Age or Point of Accountability is a doctrinal conclusion based on the Great White Throne judgment where men are called to account for their choice to reject Christ as their Advocate and act as their own Advocate and in doing so attempt to provide evidence before God that they merit salvation. Hence, at some point this decision is made by all able humans based on their capacity to exercise their volition.

From this it is understood that in order for someone to account to God they must have decision making capacity in order to account for decisions.  Not all humans have this capacity, infants and/or those of certain mental inability do not possess this capacity. Hence, an Age or Point of accountability is observed and accepting as existing but existing differently with each person seeing that each person is different with this capacity coming to fruition at different points.

Some have attempted to place a specific age, but this is tenuous at best and to me impossible since, just as stated, it is based on personal capacity and no two people are the same.

Infants and the *Mentally Incapable are Automatically Saved (*Mentally incapable may be those with retardation or simply non-mentally handicapped who are beyond infancy but not to the point of ability yet)

So at some point a person develops capacity to make choices (as noted earlier about the ability to choose evil and good) but some do not. Some die before this or never come to this point. They are automatically saved, all of them without exception.

The Calvinist/Reformed response to this is ridiculous at best and filled with unnecessary doubt. The answer lies in 1 John 2. The ONLY Advocate recognized by the Divine Court is Jesus Christ. This Advocacy carries with it all of the understood properties from the day this was written as Scripture until now which is that if a person is unable to represent themselves because of a lack of capacity to do so (their mind is not mature enough) and just as we still do today, the Court appoints an Advocate for them. Well guess who happens to be the ONLY ONE available that the Court of Heaven automatically appoints? That is right, Jesus our Lord.

So, because infants and the mentally incapacitated cannot choose, the Court of Heaven acts on their behalf and assigns the Advocate, Christ, to them and they are automatically saved, without doubt.

Some might complain that this is a construct but it is not merely a construct, it is a conclusive construct based on doctrinal conclusions derived from doctrinal contexts. Just as we may understand that God the Divine Judge has with His office certain properties we may rightly and certainly assume that the Advocacy of Christ has its appropriate and consistent properties.

So to evey person who has lost an child or one who is mentally incapable of exercising their volition to respond to the Gospel, Christ the Advocate is automatically assigned to them (Court appointed Advocate) and they are saved. And understand, Christ is not appointed to them because they are sinless, innocent or deserve it but because this is what an Advocate does for those who cannot make the choice themselves. Rest assured you will see them one day.

Alex,

 

That is the best explanation I have heard so far.  And I thank you.

Alex Guggenheim said:

The Age or Point of Accountability is a doctrinal conclusion based on the Great White Throne judgment where men are called to account for their choice to reject Christ as their Advocate and act as their own Advocate and in doing so attempt to provide evidence before God that they merit salvation. Hence, at some point this decision is made by all able humans based on their capacity to exercise their volition.

From this it is understood that in order for someone to account to God they must have decision making capacity in order to account for decisions.  Not all humans have this capacity, infants and/or those of certain mental inability do not possess this capacity. Hence, an Age or Point of accountability is observed and accepting as existing but existing differently with each person seeing that each person is different with this capacity coming to fruition at different points.

Some have attempted to place a specific age, but this is tenuous at best and to me impossible since, just as stated, it is based on personal capacity and no two people are the same.

Infants and the *Mentally Incapable are Automatically Saved (*Mentally incapable may be those with retardation or simply non-mentally handicapped who are beyond infancy but not to the point of ability yet)

So at some point a person develops capacity to make choices (as noted earlier about the ability to choose evil and good) but some do not. Some die before this or never come to this point. They are automatically saved, all of them without exception.

The Calvinist/Reformed response to this is ridiculous at best and filled with unnecessary doubt. The answer lies in 1 John 2. The ONLY Advocate recognized by the Divine Court is Jesus Christ. This Advocacy carries with it all of the understood properties from the day this was written as Scripture until now which is that if a person is unable to represent themselves because of a lack of capacity to do so (their mind is not mature enough) and just as we still do today, the Court appoints an Advocate for them. Well guess who happens to be the ONLY ONE available that the Court of Heaven automatically appoints? That is right, Jesus our Lord.

So, because infants and the mentally incapacitated cannot choose, the Court of Heaven acts on their behalf and assigns the Advocate, Christ, to them and they are automatically saved, without doubt.

Some might complain that this is a construct but it is not merely a construct, it is a conclusive construct based on doctrinal conclusions derived from doctrinal contexts. Just as we may understand that God the Divine Judge has with His office certain properties we may rightly and certainly assume that the Advocacy of Christ has its appropriate and consistent properties.

So to evey person who has lost an child or one who is mentally incapable of exercising their volition to respond to the Gospel, Christ the Advocate is automatically assigned to them (Court appointed Advocate) and they are saved. And understand, Christ is not appointed to them because they are sinless, innocent or deserve it but because this is what an Advocate does for those who cannot make the choice themselves. Rest assured you will see them one day.

Since Alex mentioned the Calvinist aspect of this, there is a thought that has been running around in my mind here too that I am wondering about from the Calvinist perspective.

 

It seems that a good share of the Calvinists that interact here make a point of saying that if a person is saved it is because of God's election.  On the other hand, if they are not saved it is because they have sinned and deserve judgment.  How does that work with this whole idea?  Is a baby that is not even yet born capable of sin and thus deserving of hell?  It seems to me that the very doctrine of Calvinism itself as expressed by most here would require an age of accountability of some sort.  Unless of course you believe a baby in the womb sins.



Hello Cherylu,
Interestingly, I have heard that it is Jewish tradition, at least at the time of the writing of Scripture that babies in the womb could sin using John 9:1-3 looking back to Genesis 25:25-26 as if that was a struggle in the womb between them. I cannot confirm this but have only heard this. I began this thread because I was and am looking for any scripture that would give support to the doctrine of the age of accountability. I have used the passage concerning King David and his child that was taken by God because of Davids sin as a source of comfort for a woman who lost her infant child and was struggling with her belief in a merciful God. In that passage, the reason the child was taken was because of the sin of David and the Lord afflicted the child and took him on the seventh day. This passage is tough to swallow that the Lord did this to punish David and much more after that. Of course I did not say this to the woman but used the verse to try to bring some hope for her future in seeing her child again with the Lord. As I believe in the sovereignty of God and depravity of man, and that the scripture has much to say about Gods elect, I am at a loss on this. No theological system is perfect. I used it but admittedly didn't really have confidence in it theologically. I hope it brought comfort to her. It seemed to at the time. God is perfect and so is his plan for those who are not at the point of reason concerning Christ. We just have to trust that without any absolute proof text it seems.
Cherylu said:

Since Alex mentioned the Calvinist aspect of this, there is a thought that has been running around in my mind here too that I am wondering about from the Calvinist perspective.

 

It seems that a good share of the Calvinists that interact here make a point of saying that if a person is saved it is because of God's election.  On the other hand, if they are not saved it is because they have sinned and deserve judgment.  How does that work with this whole idea?  Is a baby that is not even yet born capable of sin and thus deserving of hell?  It seems to me that the very doctrine of Calvinism itself as expressed by most here would require an age of accountability of some sort.  Unless of course you believe a baby in the womb sins.



Joanne,
This is the passage that imputation is taught because of the sin of Adam. Humanity dies because of his sin. Yet, sin was in the world but is not counted where there is no law. Yet, death reigned from Adam to Moses. Verse 15 says many died through one man's trespass. Romans Ch 2:1-16 says the works of the law are written on their hearts concerning gentiles which I would assume is from birth. I am a gentile believer and not Jewish and never under the law either but yet am accountable for my sin as are all men. How would you define the work of our consciences concerning Gods moral laws? It seems man has always had one from the beginning. How would you apply this to the Romans 5 passage?
joanne guarnieri said:

It's an intriguing verse, isn't it? But within the context of that chapter, I don't think Paul is saying that sin is absent when there's no specific law to break.  Here's why:

Somehow all humanity was in union with Adam. Every human being sinned in Adam’s sin, because all of humankind was in Adam when he sinned. There is an illustration of this concept in Hebrews 7 which refers back to a story about Abraham in Genesis 14. In that story Abraham meets up with a priest of God named Melchizedek, where Abraham honors Melchizedek with reverence and a tenth of his belongings. The writer of Hebrews explains that this proves the superiority of the Melchizedek priesthood over Aaron’s priesthood, because Abraham was carrying Aaron inside him when he gave honor and a tithe to Melchizedek, so Aaron was also honoring Melchizedek, in a manner of speaking.

In the same way think of all humanity in Adam, so that when he sinned, all of us sinned. Then, as each person is born, that same sin is imputed to each person, along with the penalty of death and condemnation, the wrath of God. Adam was like a lump of dough that had yeast introduced into it. From then on, every time a small piece of dough was pinched off the original ball, it had yeast in it, and everyone born has that yeast in them, from the original yeast of sin in Adam.

Now read Romans 5:13-14 "for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come."

For you and me thinking through this is no academic exercise. The presence and power of sin in our lives is all too real. Like Eve, we see some luscious fruit hanging there, in all its fascination and mystery, it looks good, it’s desirable, and we don’t resist picking it, and having a bite. You and I know exactly how she felt, because all of us have been there, too.

We know all about the shame of Adam and Eve after their temptation, and their desire to hide from God. How often have we felt disgusted with ourselves, wishing we could find a hole, crawl in, and pull it in after us. All of us know what it’s like to feel Cain’s jealousy, what it means to be envious, or angry at something someone says, the burning resentment, wanting to avenge ourselves in some way. You and I know what it’s like to want to build our own tower of Babel, take care of ourselves, be happy without God or be equal with God, masters of our own fate.

This is human life without Jesus Christ. It is evil at the core. We’re not sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners. You and I can make it look good and respectable for awhile, but ultimately life without God ends in futility and death. Like the law of entropy in physics, which says that all things are gradually deteriorating (the universe is slowly running down), so also, as you and I read in Romans chapter 1, life without God gradually deteriorates and ends in death.

It’s true that Eve sinned, but she was deceived. Adam sinned knowingly, without deception; God held him responsible. But what about after Adam? The only "law" God had given was to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Once humankind had been banished from the Garden of Eden, there was no longer an opportunity to break that particular command. There was, in fact, no recorded law given by God by which to document sin until Moses’ time.

 

Yet death is the direct consequence of sin and people still died after Adam and Eve. The conclusion, in these two verses, is that though there was no revealed law of God to break, though no one sinned in exactly the way Adam did, with a knowing rebellion against God’s direct command, death still had dominion over human life, no one was able to stop it or to escape its power, proving that everyone who died was still a sinner.

Dave Z said:

Then again, maybe Romans 5:13 could factor in?  Sin, it seems, is not always taken into account.
We all are mentally incapable of understanding fully God's salvation for us. There is no age nor is there a level of comprehension that is adaquate. Salvation is not an intellectual pursuits, Lord have mercy, but rather a choice of the heart.

Otsukafan,

It is interesting that you say this because that is what the Calvinist would say in general. Man is totally depraved and needs a new heart (regeneration) before they will be able to choose Christ. But doesn't man still have to understand the message before he can believe it. In considering this topic of the age of accountability I seem to want to put away the thought of age and instead define it as the point of the individual to reason and choose. If an individual at whatever stage of life is unable to reason then it is simply up to God and since I believe that salvation is a gift in every aspect concerning eternal life then God can give that gift to whomever he chooses to have mercy upon. I still can't get past the passage in 2 Samuel where God inflicted Davids new born son for a week before he died because of anothers sin. Was David first tempted by Bathsheba while she was bathing  in his sight somehow? Takes me back to the garden but maybe that is a stretch. Still, God chose to do what he did and is always righteous. He took physical life from Davids infant son but did not necessarily send the infant to hell. At least I don't believe he did. It is in the end up tp God. He is sovereign.   

Otsukafan said:

We all are mentally incapable of understanding fully God's salvation for us. There is no age nor is there a level of comprehension that is adaquate. Salvation is not an intellectual pursuits, Lord have mercy, but rather a choice of the heart.

As I understand it, Adam was not created with conscience (discernment of moral right and wrong), but he obtained it from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Following him, we are not born with it, but it develops within us as we see evidence of good and evil around us.

We needn't worry about little children: Jesus says they are in heaven (Mark 10:14). Election isn't involved in that..

Where our conscience comes from is probably good fodder for a new topic.  Not sure I've ever heard it described like that before.

Rayner Markley said:

As I understand it, Adam was not created with conscience (discernment of moral right and wrong), but he obtained it from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Following him, we are not born with it, but it develops within us as we see evidence of good and evil around us.

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