Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 3, 1958
NUMBER 47, PAGE 13a-14a

Foolish Preaching On Infant Damnation

James E. Cooper, Campbellsville, Ky.

In a previous article, we were talking about the subject of depravity, and pointed out that one of the consequences of the theory is the doctrine of infant damnation. In this article, we shall consider further the consequences of the theory of inherited depravity concerning infant damnation.

The theory of inherited depravity says that every child born into the world comes here with the stain and guilt of Adam's sin. Thus, it calls for the damnation of every child born. In the book, Faith of Our Fathers, James Cardinal Gibbons says that original sin is "universal. Every child is, therefore, defiled at its birth with the taint of Adam's disobedience. Now, the Scripture says that nothing defiled can enter the kingdom of heaven." (page 223.) Hence, the doctrine of infant damnation is the logical consequences of the doctrine of inherited depravity.

The Roman Catholic Church is more consistent than Protestant denominations because they accept this consequence of the doctrine of inherited depravity, which the Protestants reject. The Roman Church provides for these infant sinners by providing "baptism" for them. Continuing the quotation from Gibbons: "Hence, Baptism, which washes away original sin, is as essential for the infant as for the full grown man, in order to attain the kingdom of heaven." Thus, the doctrine of inherited depravity produced the doctrine of infant damnation, and in turn produced the doctrine of infant baptism. The Protestant denominations that continue to practice infant baptism repudiate the doctrine of infant damnation, but they continue to "baptize" babies. They don't want the doctrine, but they continue the practice brought about by the doctrine. As recent as 1910 one of the major Protestant denominations changed its creed book to eliminate the doctrine of infant damnation. Before 1910 the Methodist Discipline taught that little babies are born in sin, but now it teaches that they are born in Christ. It was changed to repudiate the doctrine of infant damnation.

I would repudiate the doctrine too, but I would not continue a false practice that was founded upon the false doctrine. The entire system came about as a result of inherited depravity, which we have conclusively shown to be a false doctrine. Sin cannot be inherited. Sin is an act of transgressing God's Will, and thus cannot be inherited. The Bible teaches that we shall be held accountable for our own sins and not for the sins of Adam. Ezekiel 18:20 says: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father."

While I am writing about this doctrine, I want to point out that it is the mother of still another false doctrine — the idea of the immaculate conception. The question is propounded to those who believe inherited guilt, "Why was Jesus not depraved?" Those among the Protestants who hold the doctrine of inherited depravity do not believe that Jesus was depraved. But it is the logical outcome of their doctrine. Jesus was born of Mary, and his lineage is traced by the books of Matthew and Luke all the way back to Adam. If Adam's sin was inherited by his descendents, Mary was guilty of inherited sin because she was a descendent of Adam, and Jesus inherited it from Mary. If every child born is guilty of inherited depravity, why was Jesus not guilty of it? What made him different from other children?

Our Roman Catholic friends think they have the answer. In 1854 they defined the dogma of the "Immaculate Conception." Cardinal Gibbons says: "Mary is exalted above all other women, not only because she united a mother's love with maiden purity,' but also because she was conceived without original sin. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception is thus expressed by the Church: 'We define that the Blessed Virgin Mary in the first moment of her conception, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin' " (page 140.) On page 220, he said: "The church, however, declares that the Blessed Virgin Mary was exempted from the stain of original sin by the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ; and that, consequently, she was never for an instant subject to the dominion of Satan. That is what is meant by the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception." So, the Roman Church tells us that Jesus was not born depraved because Mary was not guilty of original sin. They tell us Mary was not guilty of original sin because of the Lord Jesus Christ. Cardinal Gibbons said: "Unlike the rest of the children of Adam, the soul of Mary was never subject to sin, even in the first moment of its infusion into the body. She alone was exempt from the original taint. This immunity of Mary from original sin is exclusively due to the merits of Christ, as the Church expressly declares. She needed a Redeemer as well as the rest of the human race and therefore was redeemed, but in a more sublime manner.' Mary is as much indebted to the precious blood of Jesus for having been preserved as we are for having been cleansed from original sin." (Pages 140-141.)

If the doctrine of inherited sin be true, Jesus was either born guilty of it like the rest of mankind, or he was not. If the doctrine is true, the Protestant churches that hold to it are inconsistent in claiming that Jesus was born free from that inherited guilt. If we reject the idea of the depravity of Jesus, we must either give up the idea of inherited guilt or accept the Roman dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Frankly, I am not willing to accept the theory of inherited depravity because of this, as well as the other reasons we suggested. I do not believe that my Lord was born a depraved little sinner. I do not believe Mary was born a depraved little sinner. I do not believe that Mary's mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, or great-great-grandmother were born guilty of "original sin." In fact, I don't believe that any child comes into this world guilty of "original sin." Those who twist the Scriptures to try to sustain this doctrine are clinging to the blackest doctrine this side of the pits of darkness. A doctrine that necessarily infers that our Savior was born a totally depraved little sinner surely must be a false doctrine.

A doctrine that necessarily infers that every child comes into the world a depraved little sinner, and thus damned in infancy, is surely a black doctrine. It surely is a foolish teaching. Can't you see how senseless it is? Why don't you give it up ? You should either give it up, or accept its natural consequences.

If I were to cling to the false doctrine of inherited depravity, I would just go all the way and say that every little baby is born a depraved little sinner and is damned to go to Hell, unless God miraculously operates on him. I'd be consistent and preach like some have done that there will be babies in hell "not a span long." I'd be consistent and preach that Jesus Christ came into the world a depraved little sinner. I'd feel foolish to try to explain that he was not a depraved little sinner because his mother was not guilty of original sin, but that his grandmother was, and his brothers and sisters were. I'd be afraid to take some man's word for it. I'd be afraid to believe a doctrine that was never taught until 1854, some 1800 years and more after our Savior was born. In fact, if I were to accept the doctrine of inherited depravity, I'd just go "whole-hog." I'd say that predestination is true, because without a miracle a person couldn't be saved; and that miracle would not be received by any except the ones God selected to receive it. I'd accept the doctrine of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, because nothing short of a direct operation would have a totally depraved person. Then, I'd accept the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy. I would be consistent and accept the doctrine of infant damnation, infant baptism, and the Immaculate Conception. If a person accepts the root, he might as well accept the whole tree.

But, friends, I cannot accept the root for it is from false doctrine and foolish preaching. The doctrine is rotten to the core, and I cannot accept it and believe the Bible. And, I must believe the Bible for it came by revelation of God. If you believe the Bible, give up this foolish preaching of false doctrine. Believe the truth; obey the truth; and live the truth, and enjoy the hope of heaven.