December 3, 2020

The Council

A modern day council!

Only punish the innocent!

The position contrary to Inherited Guilt usually operates with the understanding that we are not guilty of Adam’s transgression, but only our own and that we only receive the curse of the fall as a punishment. It seems to me a bit counterintuitive and runs into some problems.

Let’s follow the logic:

P1. We are punished because we are guilty or because we are innocent.
P2. It doesn’t make sense for us to be punished if we are innocent.
C. We are punished because we are guilty.

P1. Moral Agents are punished if they are guilty or if they are innocent.
P2. It is unjust to punish the innocent.
P3. God does that which is always just.
C. God punishes Moral Agents on the fact they are guilty.

Semi-Pelagians and the reformed agree about the validity and soundness of this argument. But we disagree when it comes to infants. They simply add the caveat that it is that we are only guilty for actions we do. The issue is often this isn’t biblical and is contrary to fact. But if they accept the previous argument that it is unjust to punish the innocent, then they must explain why infants suffer both spiritual and physical Death.

P1. God either punishes us with death (physical and spiritual) because we are culpable for it or we are not culpable for it.
P2. Babies are not morally culpable and they do die.
P3. (Contradiction) God cannot punish people for that which they are not culpable of (Death).
P4. Babies are culpable.
P5. If babies are not culpable and have not been able of their own volition to break any moral norms, then they are not guilty based on what they have done.
C. They are culpable for an act they didn’t commit.

P1. God doesn’t punish people for sins they have not committed. (assumption)
P2. Various places in the OT Law the iniquity (or sins) of the ancestors fell upon their descendants to the fourth generation. They were either guilty of the sins of their fathers, personal sins they committed, or they were innocent and received the punishment and not the guilt.
P3. If they were merely punished for the deeds of their fathers and not actually guilty of those same deeds, then they were innocent and received punishment from God.
P4. The options are either they committed a sinful act(O1), they are innocent and punished of the deeds of an ancestor(O2), or they are both guilty and punished for the deed of an ancestor(O3).

(O1) The act was committed by an ancestor before the descendant even existed. It wasn’t the action of the descendant that brings about the curses, but the ancestor.

(O2) It doesn’t make sense for God to punish those who are innocent. If they are innocent, then why are they punished? They either must have committed a sin or are punished without being guilty of a crime.

P5. Divine circumstances do not constrain God to inflict punishment upon the innocent. It, therefore, isn’t necessary that he punish the innocent.
P6. Punishing the innocent is both avoidable and preventable.
P7. God never punishes the innocent when it is both avoidable and preventable.
P8.It is morally wrong to punish innocent people and it is morally evil for the unjust not to be punished.
P9. God is morally perfect and incapable of evil.
P10. God does not punish the innocent, but rather punishes the guilty. (P7 and P8 contradict P1 and P3)
P11. The descendants were not punished for what they did, but what their ancestors did.
P12. We know that options O1 and O2 are false.
C. Therefore, they are guilty of their ancestor’s deeds.

Which to give an analogy might help. We will not use the Leighton Flowers’ “Crack Baby” illustration. I think don’t think it is analogous of the Bible’s doctrine of Original Sin. The Bible usually gives us forensic (legal) or financial analogies to explain sin. Colossians 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Acts 20:28
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

Romans 6:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, let’s use the financial story to illustrate Original Sin.
Let’s say we had a father that lived on the expensive side of life and racked up a debt to some loan shark. Your father lived a licentious life and drops dead of a heart attack. You were only a young child and you were taken from him. Later, he has become a wealthy young man and the loan shark finds out and wants him to pay off his father’s debts. He explains to them that it wasn’t him that took out those debts and therefore he’s not guilty of them. They kindly explain to him “You’re not inheriting your father’s guilt, you’ll only receive the punishments that your father would’ve received.” He asked them “What’s the punishment?” They laughingly respond, “Do you enjoy eating without the assistance of a tube?” He responds, “But you said I wasn’t guilty of the debt!” They reply, “Of course you aren’t, but you still will get the punishment if you don’t pay us the money”

My conclusion is that the necessary and sufficient condition for just punishment is that the punished are in fact guilty of a morally wrong action.

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