Vol. 6, No. 5
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David's inspired words, "Indeed, in iniquity I was born and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5), have caused some people to say that babies have inborn sin. Other verses, however, show that the meaning is, "Indeed, into a world [of iniquity] I was born and my mother was a sinner when she conceived me." In parallel, one could say, "I was born in a potato patch, and on a farm my mother conceived me, but I am not full of potatoes." Becoming a mother in itself is not sinful (Genesis 1:28; 1 Timothy 2:15). But all people as they grow up do sin (Romans 3:23), Jesus being the only exception. And each person does his own sinning (Isaiah 53:6).
They who say that babies have inborn sin need to address the fate of children who die in childbirth, or die as little children; is heaven refused to them?
Other words from David are misused to prove that babies have inborn sin: "The wicked go astray from the womb; they turn aside at birth, speaking lies" (Psalm 58:3). David knew that the literal meaning is false, as shown by another statement from him: "But you [God] brought me from the womb, and caused me to trust on my mother's breast. ... From my birth you have been my God" (Psalm 22:9-10). This latter statement likewise is false literally, for babies do not trust God on their mothers' breasts. And another psalmist wrote impossible words about babies: "Upon you [God] I have leaned from my birth" (Psalm 71:6).
Before 1910 Methodist pastors were instructed by their Discipline to say, when sprinkling babies: "Forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin, I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." We rejoice that the Discipline in 1910 renounced inborn sin, but it is sad that their amended Discipline has introduced another error: "Forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in Christ, I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." Only children who are old enough to have "faith in Christ Jesus" biblically are "baptized into Christ" (Galatians 3:26).
What Ezekiel said about a certain "king of Tyre" (about 586 B.C.), concerning his "unrighteousness," is the Bible teaching about all babies: "You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created" (18:15).
What Jesus said about children is worth remembering: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for, I assure you, their angels in heaven always look at the face of my Father" (Matthew 18:10). "So is the desire of your heavenly Father that not one of these little ones should be lost" (Matthew 18:14). "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for of such is the heavenly kingdom" (Matthew 19:14).