I Love Gellies

Mormonism, Evangelicism and Chaos Theory

Historical Collapse, Mormons, and Original Sin

Recently, I read some of the differences between the septuagint and the masoretic text from Job re: original sin. Furthermore, there have been some comments at some blogs that have perplexed and worried me. Jack wrote that it appears that Mormons have the viewpoint that children are ” born innocent with a free ride to heaven should they die young.” I’m not sure how accurate this is in describing Mormonism scripturally. While this viewpoint may describe mainstream Mormon understandings or Original Sin, I think THIS understanding, is incorrect, at least when compared to the LDS standard works and historical readings.

The canonical basis for the LDS understanding of the lack of original sin is synthesized from several places.

Article of Faith #2.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

The baptism of little children is a gross error, a solemn mockery that should not be had among the people of God.  Christ himself declares to the Book of Mormon prophets that “little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin.” That doesn’t mean they can do no wrong, for they obviously do wrong, but Paul obviously taught that “where there is no law, there is no sin”, yet wrongs can still be committed.  Therefore, God’s servants are to teach repentance and baptism for those who are accountable, and therefore capable of committing sin.  But as children need no repentance nor baptism, and adults need to repent and baptized so they can be saved with their children! (Moroni 8:5-10)


Mosiah 3:18 specifically teaches that infants who die in their infancy are NOT lost, but only men who are humble in believe in the “atoning blood of Christ” are saved. 


Now here comes the problem.  Most Mormons have extracted and committed to memory the end effect, where we currently are.  Not that I can blame them, I mean, how often do I like to learn about incomplete models of the atom that were described in the very early 1900’s?  No, I’d rather read about the statistical probability of a wavefunction developed some decades later.  I’m suggesting, however, that this is a historical collapse, one that requires us to neglect scriptural data in building our understanding of “original sin” or the lack thereof.

I continue with the historical record of a meeting in the early restored church.

AMASA LYMAN, Prest. James C. Snow, Clerk.
Minutes of a conference held in Pleasant Garden, Putnam county, Ia., June 1844.
The house was called to order, and on motion of elder Richard Anderson, elder G. P. Dykes was called to the chair, and Alfred Hall chosen secretary.
After the conference was duly opened by singing and prayer, by brother Anderson, the chairman arose and in a conclusive manner set forth the necessity of order in the house of God; after which he addressed the assembly from the 5th chapter and 18th verse of Romans; and in an able and elegant manner set forth the atonement through Jesus Christ, and universal salvation from original sin, and a full and complete salvation from actual sins, by an obedience to the principles of the gospel; after which meeting adjourned till 2 o’clock, P. M.

Whoa, did you all see that? A Mormon leader taught how Jesus had brought about a universal salvation from original sin, and a full and complete salvation from actual sins. This is different than saying “original sin never existed” which is the stereotypical extraction of the doctrine, which isn’t in line with some scriptural data:

Let’s look at Jacob 7:12.
And this is not all—it has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; and it also has been made manifest unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost. I am willing to interpret all mankind as all men, women and children in this verse.

Further in Mosiah 8:3 and 8:12.
wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me,
But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!

That is, if there had been a fall, and there hadn’t been an atonement, all mankind, every man, women, and child would have been lost. But there was an atonement, an infinite atonement of our Very God, such that the curse of Adam is taken away IN CHRIST, and therefore, children are alive in Christ, and He planned this from the very foundation of the world!

Finally, and most convincingly for my argument, is Moses 5:54. After the Father explains the Gospel of repentance and baptism to Adam, the narrorator concludes: “Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.”

So I hope instead of just saying, “children are innocent and pure” I would hope Mormons would start to say, “Children are innocent and pure because of Christ and His atonement.” Then we can further explain to our Evangelical friends that we understand the phrase “conceived in sin” to mean that as soon as they begin to grow up, they conceive sins in their hearts and they taste the bitter so that they know to prize the good (Moses 5:55-56).

This explains why Jack’s daughter (inappropriately) spanked her father, as she grew up, she learned to sin (from her DEPRAVED MOTHER no less). They (children under 8 ) may do wrong, but they still do wrong innocently because of God’s grace. They are not damned, and will receive a celestial glory as long as they are not so arrogant as to reject the gift. I don’t have any scripture to back me up on this next point, but I believe it anyway. Although I believe all children who die before the age of accountability would naturally be saved, I still think they could deny it, if they were arrogant enough to do so. I just think that practically, that’ll never happen.

Finally, I think it’s just stupid to assume that just because children start to scream, tear, grab, or act possessively when they learn to talk, grab, or move that they are depraved sinners the day they’re born. Especially since it doesn’t matter because Christ redeems all from Adams transgression.

So, it comes down to, I think the statement needs a little more nuance, coming both from Mormons, and from Evangelicals trying to understand Mormons.  While the statement isn’t incorrect, I think it could mislead Evangelicals into believing that Mormons don’t think that even little children are saved by Christ’s atonement, and that’s why it needed more nuance.


June 1, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


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  2. A couple of points, PC:

    Infant baptism isn’t always done because it is believed that the child is sinful and needs cleansing. Many families do it as a symbol that the child is a part of the covenant community, or because they believe baptism has replaced circumcision as the ritual act by which God’s people are to identify themselves. It’s no different than what Latter-day Saints often do by baptizing mentally ill children and adults: they don’t actually think the mentally ill need cleansing from sin, but they do it to bring them into the covenant and let them be part of the community (especially if they’re male so they won’t be left out on things like passing the sacrament with the other deacons).

    I’m a firm credobaptist, but I don’t like seeing all paedobaptism broad-brushed as a “solemn mockery” of the things of God when Latter-day Saints do the exact same thing to the mentally ill for the exact same reasons.

    Now, I don’t really see how exactly I’m misrepresenting the LDS position on childhood innocence. I didn’t say why Mormons believe my daughter is born innocent; I didn’t say she was born innocent of her own merits. This very blog post affirms that what I said was correct: if my daughter died today (or any time between now and the next 5 years and 27 days), most Mormons would tell me that she’s going to the celestial kingdom—or if you like, she’s given the choice to go to the celestial kingdom.

    And honestly? I don’t like that. Here’s why I don’t like that:

    Finally, I think it’s just stupid to assume that just because children start to scream, tear, grab, or act possessively when they learn to talk, grab, or move that they are depraved sinners the day they’re born.

    I agree. I think it’s equally stupid to think that children are going to heaven/the celestial kingdom just because they look soooo sweet with their rosy pink skin and chubby cherub cheeks—and that is the line of reasoning folks who hate infant baptism always give me. “You think a child is sinful??? Children are sweet and pure and innocent, there’s nothing more innocent than a child, how can you think that?” It’s pure argument from emotion. The death of a child is hard and I think “your baby is in heaven” is exactly what the grieving parents of these lost children want to hear to be comforted, but I just don’t buy it. I refuse to be ruled by emotions on this.

    I don’t have a solid answer on the fate of children who die young. Here is what I do think though:

    1) Telling me that my daughter is covered by the atonement from now until she is 7 years, 364 days old, then saying she’s accountable for her sins on day 1 of year 8 is absurd.
    2) I know that I was aware that some things were right and wrong long before the age of 8. There were other things which I didn’t understand as being wrong until long after age 8. This has led me to believe that God judges us according to whatever knowledge and understanding we have, regardless of age.

    So do I think my daughter has committed any sins yet? Probably not, but it’s possible.

    BTW, I’m not the only person who thinks the doctrine of automatic child salvation/exaltation is problematic; Jacob J. and Geoff J. from New Cool Thang expressed concerns with it here.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers | May 31, 2009 | Reply

    • Jack,
      I can accept that not all who practice infant baptism do so for the reasons that are condemned by the Book of Mormon. I can agree that Mormons need to be reminded of that. However, specifically on that blog there were people who believe new-borns are depraved.

      I also agree that believing God is incredibly legalistic about the exact age is absurd. However, I have no problem with setting guidelines. Have you actually met Mormons who believed God was incredibly legalistic about the age? I have always interepreted age 8 as the upper limit, that is, for those with the normal brain developement, by the age of eight they will understand the difference between right and wrong.

      Thanks for the link, and for the thoughts.

      Comment by psychochemiker | May 31, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi PC,

    Good post.

    I agree with the concept of an age of accountability. Isa. 7:16 alludes to this. But I don’t think there’s a specific age. I think it depends on the person’s level of knowledge.

    I definitely knew I was a rotten little sinner before age 8 and that’s why I knew I needed a Savior and invited Christ into my life at age 6.

    The whole age of accountability at age 8 worries me. Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. If a child is given the impression that they don’t need a Savior because they are already covered by the atonement – that’s extremely problematic in my view. The only way someone is going to respond to the gospel is if they first see their need.

    As for the 1844 interpretation of Rom. 5:18, the chairman should have read v. 17 first. “they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ…

    There IS a free gift offered to all, but it’s not forced on anyone. It must be received.

    I don’t know when I’ll get to my post on this. It might be a few days. I’ve had a very busy weekend.

    Have a great evening,


    Comment by Jessica | May 31, 2009 | Reply

  4. […] As I’ve been thinking about ‘historical collapse’ and how it relates to religion, .  I was surprised to find this topic finding so much space in my thoughts while watching the […]

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