Depravity or Infantile Purity?
“Total depravity” is not a term found in scripture, but one
coined to consolidate the devastation of Adam’s fall and his
impact upon the entire family of human beings since that time.
The two words encompass the whole of the position that man is
depraved and inherits sin from Adam, and that all of mankind are
born with and inherit that depraved nature.
On the other side of the fence is the doctrine of “infantile
purity,” which teaches man is born pure and innocent, but falls
into sin of his own effort and by doing so, becomes a sinner.
The foundation of this position is that God does not hold man
accountable for any one else’s sins, therefore Adam’s sin is not
Supporting the doctrine of innocence leads to the necessity of a
second error, “the age of accountability, or the age of
reason,” that is, God doesn’t hold one responsible for sin until
they are of an age to comprehend the consequences of their
actions and decisions. It’s a noble idea, concocted to place
children dying at a young age in the portals of heaven’s glory
world. It’s comforting to parents suffering loss, suggesting a
child is pure and sinless until he learns to sin, but it’s in
stark contrast with sound biblical teaching. Proponents are
forced to pick an arbitrary age of reason (twelve, thirteen,
eighteen, twenty-one?) upon which to declare that the child is
‘aware’ or awake and capable of making eternal decisions, and
having somehow learned to sin, assuming responsibility for his
actions in this world.
Age at Death Doesn’t
Determine Your Destination
We don’t preach infants into hell. The scriptures provide
sufficient evidence suggesting those who die at an early age are
more likely to be children of God, elect before the foundation
of the world, covered by the blood of Christ and likely included
in the eternal covenant. But infant purity is not what saves
them. The simplicity of the matter is Christ died for sinners,
and you are either among that group for whom He died, or you are
not. Age at the time of death is irrelevant.
We come into this
world in a condition the bible calls dead in trespasses and in
Eph 2:1 And you
hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; :2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this
world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the
spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: :3
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the
lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of
the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as
others. :4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love
wherewith he loved us, :5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath
quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
One would think the verses above would be sufficient to discard
the erroneous doctrine of infantile purity.
…and were by nature the children of wrath, even
New Birth Unnecessary
for the Pure and Sinless?
We have a need to be born again, and Jesus taught clearly that
it was necessary that one be born from above, (born of the
spirit, regenerated or born again).
Jhn 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Even the requirement of the new birth is a revelation that life
needs to be restored. That clear sense, coupled with Eph 2:1
reveals that the new birth is life from the dead. We refer to
it as the first resurrection.
King David knew depravity started at the earliest stages of
existence: Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in
sin did my mother conceive me. He describes the condition in
the womb as being in iniquity. We’ll gaze into the eyes of a
newborn and feel the joy that new life brings, perhaps even
describing him as innocent, pure, and untouched by the world’s
filth. And outwardly, it appears so. Yet David says the wicked
– and that’s all of us at first – the
wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as
they be born, speaking lies.
Psa 58: 3
Defenders of purity will discard this verse and those similar
with the wave of the hand calling it Hebrew
“Why babies can’t speak for several months, years even. That
tells us it’s metaphorical language.”
Truthfully though, a baby knows that crying, even when it has no
pain or needs, brings mother running, and before long, baby is
in charge. They lie, expressing pain or discomfort to get
attention. A child
doesn’t have to be taught to do the wrong thing, (put two
children in one room with one toy).
Those things are instinctive, and automatic. They do have to be
taught how to behave, tell the truth, share and be kind. Why
would a pure child without sin need such correction?
Adam’s Fall as Our Federal Representative
Adam was given one rule, one simple instruction. He was not to
eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Gen 2:17
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt
not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou
shalt surely die. The consequences were clear and severe.
In the day that ye eat thereof, thou shall surely die. The
margin notes of the KJ translation tell us ‘in dying, thou shalt
die.’ He not only died, he began a death process that his
entire progeny would inherit. (The Hebrew word translated as
‘surely’ means death, punishment, to die or slay. “Thou
shalt die die.”)
And he did. He died to the fellowship of God, fell under the
condemnation of sin, came under bondage to sin and was lifelong
susceptible to it; he became subject to the corruption of sin
and except there was intervention, was under the curse of
eternal death. Adam’s nature fell to a sin-cursed condition,
and we begin as sinners in Adam, receiving the same sin-cursed
Other Curses From the
The serpent was cursed ‘above all cattle,’ telling us that all
animals were cursed. The ground was cursed for Adam’s sake, and
the woman was cursed to experience great sorrow in conception
and in childbirth and become subject to her husband. No
believing Christian doubts these curses passed from Adam, yet
Adam’s fall didn’t take us all.
Gen 8:21 And the
LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I
will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the
imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth…
“Evil from his youth” seems to belie purity and innocence.
Adam, as our head, or first parent, would pass this death and
corrupt nature to his entire family, and that meant everyone
living. The sin of Adam is passed by the father to the child.
Christ, the ‘last Adam,” avoided that curse by not having an
The infant purity crowd would say an earthly
father would be okay since sin is not passed down.
The number of changes one must make to scripture and sound
doctrine once a heretical position is accepted grows and grows.
Man is a sinner by his relationship with Adam. He’s born a
sinner, so he’s a sinner by nature, and quickly a sinner by
practice. Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the
offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even
so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men
unto justification of life. :19 For as by one man's
disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one
shall many be made righteous.
The purist camp must reject this verse – but in doing so, they
must come up with a substitute explanation for how Adam’s
offense brought judgment upon all men.
Because of the fall
and resulting condemnation, man is unable to do anything good.
Gen 6:5; Job 15:14-16;
Psa 130:3; Psa 143:2; Pro 20:9; Ecc 7:20; Isa 64:6; Jer 13:23;
John 3:19; Rom 3:9-12; Jam 3:8; 1John 1:8
believe in God or come to him on his own.
John 6:44; John 6:65; John 8:43-45; John 10:26; John 12:37-41
He cannot understand the truth: John 14:17;
1Cor 2:14 He cannot seek God. Rom
He is dead in sins. Gen
2:16-17; John 3:5-7; Eph 2:1-3; Col 2:13
He is blinded and corrupt in his heart. Gen
6:5; Gen 8:21; Ecc 9:3; Jer 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; John 3:19-21;
Rom 8:7-8; Eph 4:17-19; Eph 5:8
He is captive to sin and Satan.
8:34; John 8:44; Rom 6:20; 2Tim 2:25-26; Tit 3:3; 1John
while he may perform actions
freely according to his nature, his nature is wholly evil.
Job 14:4; Mat 7:16-18;
Mat 12:33; Mark 7:21-23; Jam 1:13-14
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times
past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the
flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath,
even as others.
God is not to blame.
God’s wrath is not directed
towards the innocent, nor did God create the human race to be
sinful, but rather He created Adam upright. Adam could have
denied the temptation and kept from sinning. We sometimes use
this phrase to describe Adam’s capacity: Able to stand,
liable to fall. Much nonsense can be expressed by man’s
attempt to define Adam’s capabilities. “Adam’s fall is evidence
he was not capable of standing.” You can’t build a cohesive
doctrinal position on straw arguments or nonsense. The truth
is: God did not put Adam in a situation where he had no
choice, nor did he test Adam or tempt him with sin. Adam’s free
will was not violated, nor was he pre-determined to sin and
fall. But Adam did fall in disobedience, and brought us all
with him, and we are sinners by nature and practice due to
That this depravity or propensity to sin in
inherent in one born of a woman is sprinkled throughout
Pro 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of
a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a
woman, that he should be righteous?
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed
remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
The rules of language allow that if one born of God cannot sin,
that one who is not born of God does commit sin. There
is no age restriction here, and the verse would include all of
us at our entrance to this world.
The purists declare
children do not inherit the guilt or sin of the parent, citing
such verses as Deut 24:16, 2Kings 14:6, 2Chron 25:4, Jer
31:29-30, Eze 18: 2-4 and 19-20.
All these in context teach a personal responsibility, a biblical
truth, but it’s not evidence for innocence or purity.
of infantile purity claim the doctrine of depravity to be an
Augustine invention, long after scripture was completed.
For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are
sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are
wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?
then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
a) they have no
understanding – surely purity would give them a head start
b) they are wise
(skillful, crafty, cunning, wily, shrewd, subtle) to do evil-
how came such skill if they have not learned the law or been
taught one way or another?
c) they have no
knowledge to do good – seems like sinless purity would instill
that somehow, whether by nature (sinless nature) or sinless
nature they have, be it sinless purity or depravity, they cannot
change, but it says strongly here that they are already
accustomed to doing evil.
How is it
men have the capacity to sin if born pure? Would that not be a
flaw in God’s design?
total depravity try to include Adam by saying that through
Adam’s leading, influence and example men choose to become
sinners. But how can Adam lead or influence me if I am born
pure and sinless and never study or learn of Adam or the law?
Osmosis? (They insist sin eventually enters into one’s life, by
the knowledge of the law.) How is Adam able to pass death and
the curse of sorrow in childbirth but not sin? If he didn’t
pass sin and the corrupt nature, neither did he pass death or
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death
by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
men – not babies! How is that possible???
Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made
sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made
righteous. Note it doesn’t
say we were made likely to sin or given the propensity to sin,
it clearly says, we WERE MADE SINNERS. Adam’s disobedience made
us sinners. That disobedience is answered in Christ. If you
reject the concept of Adam and original sin, then must you not
also reject the positioning of imputed righteousness on the
reverse side of the coin?
obedience of one (Christ) making many righteous is necessary
because the contrary action (Adam’s fall) made many sinners.
“ Men are not born dead in sins, they become dead in sins [“dead
in sin” means morally depraved and relationally separated from
God] when they voluntarily choose to sin: Isa. 59:2, Lk. 15:24,
Rom. 5:12-14, Rom. 7:9,11, Col. 2:13.
innocent at birth, but sometime before the age of accountability
they degrade to ‘becoming’ dead in sins. Eph 2:1 says sins,
plural, in addition to trespasses. That’s Paul’s way of
establishing your own personal sin in addition to what you
inherited in nature.
their position on Col 2:13 And you,
being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all
How can a
man ‘born pure’ be dead in sins? Does he die in sin after being
born physically? If so, we must increase the number of ‘deaths’
and resurrections he must experience. Such would outnumber what
the scripture describes. And what of the uncircumcision of the
flesh, which the context reveals is a horrible condition prior
to being quickened to life? Does the pure infant somehow on his
own fall and become uncircumcised as he dies in sin?
as a text proof doesn’t help their position either.
Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the
world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for
that all have sinned: Who was that one man? Claude, in
accounting? No, it was Adam. But if he brought sin into the
world and it stopped with him –which they insist – then he
really didn’t bring sin into the world, he just brought it upon
himself. And it should go no further than Adam, so his children
have no worries – oh wait, this just in:
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us,
to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and
take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
experienced a change. Not just death, and dying, but knowledge
of good and evil. Will he pass that knowledge down to his
progeny? Let’s find out. Gen 4:8 And
Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when
they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his
brother, and slew him.
difference? Here are the first two born on the earth by natural
parents. One slew the other. Were they not both born pure and
sinless? Who taught Cain sin and murder? By what law did he
acquire this skill? We see the evidences of depravity in Cain’s
sin slaying his brother. Adam passed his disobedience in sin to
his children, who passed it to theirs and so it is to this day.
But it gets
deeper. They say man is pure until
the law is imparted to him, teaching him he’s a sinner,
misunderstanding the context of Romans 5:13-14 For until the
law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is
no law :14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even
over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's
transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
How is sin
in the world from Adam to Moses with all these pure, innocent,
sinless children being born? Innocent and purity should begat
more of the same, yet we find by the time of the flood, death
(which is the penalty for sin) reigned. So much so in the days
before the flood there was only innocence and purity continually
– wait, sorry, Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that
the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every
imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil
insist all men have voluntarily chosen to become sinners: Gen.
6:12, Ex. 32:7, Deut. 9:12, Deut. 32:5, Jdg. 2:19, Hos. 9:9, Ps.
14:2-3, Isa. 53:6, Ecc. 7:29, Rom. 3:23.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
All, but not babies, not pure,
incorrect usage: Each individual
originates their own sin: Mat 12:35A good man out of
the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and
an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
12:35 doesn’t say a ‘pure man or innocent man’ nor does it
explain how one is pure and the other not. Their position fails
to differentiate between one born pure or born evil or explain
how one comes to the state where they have a good heart or an
evil heart. Perhaps by the knowledge of the law? The truth is,
all are born sinful, enemies of God, and until the Spirit works
within them, granting them a “circumcision of the heart” and
giving them the capacity to do good, they will not. Even with
the new birth, (new heart) Paul still struggled to do good and
was fearful he would become a castaway.
“Infant children are
morally innocent.” (2 Kng. 21:16;
24:4; Joel 3:19) Innocent
blood doesn’t mean purity and sinless. Context is available for
those scriptures if one will just read.
this jump to claim children have not yet
“done anything” morally “good or
evil” (Rom. 9:11) Twins
in the womb? Not having done any good or evil, that the
supposition of Arminians might stand, but no – wait - it’s for
the purpose of election. That’s a bad example because no one
performs a moral act of any kind in the womb.
until the age of
accountability, which is the age of reason, when they know right
from wrong (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16), and choose to do wrong
(Jas. 4:17), which all do because all fall short.
fall short? Shouldn’t infant purity and innocence prevent that
The age of
accountability is a Christian heresy with roots in the Jewish
bar mitzvah, (age 13, where he will learn the law as a man, and
no longer be taught as a child.) Folks unskilled in scripture
attempt to assuage their conscience by declaring all dying young
before “accepting Christ” or being born again end up in heaven’s
glory world. You can’t be
responsible for what you haven’t been taught.
The age of
accountability forces man to ascribe different ways or
conditions to classes of people: young/infants; Old Testament
saints; the mentally incapable; folks who don’t hear the gospel;
people hearing the wrong gospel!; sinners that missionaries
never reach; Jews in the modern age; those who fail to keep the
gospel in memory; those who hear and don’t respond the first or
God has one
method of saving His children. That method redeemed Adam (if
he’s included) David, Noah, John the Baptist, Paul, Timothy, Job
and Abraham in the exact same manner.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Conversely, he that is alive is in
bondage to sin.