Jefferson David Tant
A popular doctrine among some denominations is the belief that we are born in sin, that we have inherited sin from our forefathers all the way back to Adam and Eve, and thus babies are guilty of sin from the moment of their birth. This is the reason why various religious groups “baptize” (sprinkle or pour water on) babies, in order to rid them of sin.
There are various problems with this doctrine, and we want to examine some of them in this article.
One obvious problem with this doctrine is that if babies are born sinners, and that baby dies in birth or soon after birth, and before water can be sprinkled on it, that baby goes to hell. Who can believe such a doctrine? If there is anyone in the world who is innocent, it is a baby. Do the denominations that teach original sin believe that these babies go to hell? I wonder.
We remember the conversation Christ had with his disciples when they asked Him a question.
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18:1-3).
Obviously, Jesus is citing the pure hearts and innocence of little children, indicating that they are not sinners.
Another problem with the doctrine is that goes against the right of freedom of choice. As Israel’s leader Joshua is nearing the end of his life, he called the people together and gave an admonition to them.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Josh. 24:15).
The people were given a choice to serve God or to serve idols. What choice does a baby have if it is born in sin, born a sinner?
Consider a significant statement in Ezekiel 18:20: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” According to this statement, Cain and Abel did not inherit the guilt of sin from their parents. Adam sinned, but Cain and Abel were not punished with being guilty of sin because of their father’s sin. Could the Scripture be plainer?
Another consideration has to do with God’s foreknowledge. Does God have the power to choose to know, or choose not to know? If babies have inherited sin, and thus are born in sin, then God obviously already knows that babies bear the guilt of sin. But the scriptures tell us that God has the power to know, as well as the power to choose not to know.
In Genesis 22, we read about Abraham being told to take his son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Faithful Abraham must have been puzzled, but he did follow God’s instruction, and having placed Isaac on the altar was about to strike him when God said “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Gen. 22:12).
The original sin doctrine removes God’s ability to choose “not to know,” because if all babies are automatically sinners from the moment of birth, God would already be aware of that.
A denominational doctrine that accompanies the “original sin” doctrine is that of “Predestination.” This doctrine claims that God foreknew all events before the foundation of the world, and that our destiny was predetermined before we were even born. Some are born destined for heaven, and some for hell. And there is nothing we can do to change our eternal destiny. This goes along with the doctrine of Original Sin.
This doctrine contradicts the afore mentioned passage about Abraham and Isaac, and also contradicts what we read in Jeremiah 7:31 where God speaks against the sins of Israel. “And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.”
Question: If everything is predestined, how is it that God didn’t know beforehand that the people were going to practice idol worship? Evidently God has the power to choose to know, or to choose not to know.
Furthermore, what kind of a God would preordain certain ones to hell even before they were born? “OK, I’m going to create you and determine before you are born that I’m going to send you to hell, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Is that a just and loving God? That’s not the kind of God I read about in the Bible.
A final thought has to do with baptism. The Bible clearly teaches that baptism washes away sins. Saul of Tarsus was told: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
Bible baptism is clearly an immersion in water, and all Bible scholars agree that “immersion” is the proper translation of the Biblical Greek word baptizo. Thus, if babies are born in sin, they need to be immersed in water to remove sin. I don’t know of single denomination that holds the doctrine of original sin that immerses babies. Sprinkling or pouring water is not following Bible instruction. Furthermore, just what do babies “believe” before they are “baptized?” Note Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
And there are other conditions that those who are baptized must meet, including repentance and confession (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:37).