Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I had to do it...

Hey everyone, I couldn't resist posting this entry I found on another blog. It's a theoretical point obviously, but I would like to see what you people want to say about it. Read more posts of this kind at www.allpossibleworlds.blogspot.com


Sotereology and the Kill All the Babies Problem
By Daniel
Who is saved and how are they saved? What needs to be true in order for a certain person to be saved? These are the central questions that need by answered by any soteriology--that is, questions that need to be answered by a doctrine of salvation.

One of the most significant differences between soteriological systems is how they deal with the salvation of children. One common position is that children who have not reached the "age of accountability'' are not capable of doing either right or wrong--they simply don't have the cognitive machinery necessary for either immoral or moral action. As such, they have no sin and there is nothing that they need to be saved from.

Another similar position is that while young children are sinful and need to be saved, they are incapable of making the decision to accepting God's gift of forgiveness. As such, they are exempt from the requirement of accepting this gift and are saved automatically.

The problem is that on both of these views, killing babies turns out to be an enormously effective way of saving souls. I refer to this as the Kill All the Babies Problem. If Billy dies before the age of accountability, then he is guaranteed to spend eternity in heaven. However, if Billy survives to the age of accountability, then there is a reasonable chance that he will fail to accept God's gift of forgiveness and will consequently spend eternity in hell experiencing suffering of the worst kind. Since spending an eternity in hell is far worse than missing out on a few decades of earthly existence, it is a good thing if Billy dies in childhood before he reaches the age of accountability.

One odd implication is that abortion--a practice opposed by most conservative Christians--turns out to be an incredibly effective way of saving souls. Suppose that a woman who is a devout atheist has an abortion. If she would have given birth to the child, he very likely would have grown past the age of accountability and failed to accept God's gift of forgiveness. But since the child was aborted before he reached the age of accountability, he is safe from the fires of hell and will spend eternity in heaven. Thus, legalized abortion has had the wonderful effect of saving millions of people who otherwise would not have been saved.

Soteriological systems in which infant baptism is a means of saving children are not in a much better position than the other views we have looked at. Suppose that infant baptism does in fact guarantee that Billy will spend eternity in heaven unless he later decides to reject his faith. Then it turns out to be a really good thing if Billy dies after his baptism but before he is old enough to reject his faith. After all, if Billy had grown up, he might have decided to reject his baptism and the salvation that comes with it. And that would have led to spending an eternity in hell.

What is the best way to deal with the Kill All the Babies Problem?

Two systems that clearly avoid the problem are universalism and traditional Calvinism. Suppose that some form of Christian universalism is true. Then there is no danger that child who grows up will do something to endanger her salvation. She may at some point reject her faith, but God will eventually find a way to bring her back to faith (if not in this life, then the next).

Similarly, suppose that traditional Calvinism is true. Then a child will be saved regardless of what she does when she grows up. If she is elect, then nothing she will do in the future will endanger her salvation. And if she is not elect, then nothing she will do in the future will bring about her salvation.

4 Comments:

Blogger Penny Lane said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's so interesting....

9:26 AM

 
Blogger Mandalynn said...

this isn't even about this post. this is about the one before where you called lou dobbs cute...haha oh wow. amazing. i think you should start a blog where all you do is dub prominent media men with condescending adjectives that one would normally associate with kittens. just an idea.

10:53 AM

 
Blogger Melanie said...

I actually think he is choosing between two extreme positions neither of which I am sure I hold. The whole age of accountability is based on Paul's comment and I am not entirely sure it means that kids are automatically saved. It may, or it may not. I'm sure not going to take that hope away from any parent that's lost a child. What I believe (from reading scripture and my thoughts on it right or wrong) is that God judges rightly. I have no idea the exact process in regards to children. I'm not God, and I really don't think he tells us. Maybe there is good reason for that.

Killing babies creates other problems, however. For instance, God is clearly against us taking it upons ourselves to kill babies.
So knowingly and willingly choosing to ignore God always has consequences attached. It rather reminds me of the arguments Paul makes against sinning so that grace may abound in Romans.

-Melanie

10:29 AM

 

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