Famous internet troll, John Piper, recently quipped,
God does not punish innocent children for the sins of guilty parents. There are no innocent children. (Deuteronomy 5:9; Ezekiel 18:20)
— John Piper (@JohnPiper) June 7, 2016
When he does this sort of thing, making these proclamations, I am reminded why I am not a Neo-Calvinist. In doing so, I turn East:
First of all, it must be stressed that the Orthodox position is that guilt before God and condemnation are indeed an individual matter. If one is judged guilty before God or damned, it will only be for sins one has knowingly and deliberately committed oneself. Unlike St. Augustine (who interpreted this passage to mean that all men were born guilty before God by virtue of Adam’s sin, so that babies dying unbaptized were damned), the Orthodox Church teaches that only a willful rejection of God and His light brings damnation. One will not be damned for what another does (see Ware, The Orthodox Church, p. 229).
I found the discovery of how Orthodox Christianity views original sin refreshing. Orthodox Judaism also rejects the Western Christian understanding of original sin. Judaism teaches that children are born innocent, and though our general condition reflects the results of the Fall, each person retains free will and is personally responsible for his/her sins. This view is based on such scriptures as, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16); and “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20, emphasis mine).
Hence it is evident that all who are baptised and fall asleep while babes are undoubtedly saved, being predestinated through the death of Christ. Forasmuch as they are without any sin;—without that common , because delivered therefrom by the Divine laver, and without any of their own, because as babes they are incapable of committing sin;—and consequently are saved.
Nor indeed is it possible for a soul, torn away from the body, to wander here any more. For “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God;” and if of the righteous, then those children’s souls also; for neither are they wicked: and the souls too of sinners are straightway led away hence.
This last quote… From St John Chrysostom… With “original sin” we can say that children are born into corruption, that is, separated from God, but they are not guilty. They are rather innocent until they come of age to reject God themselves.
When John Piper speaks, stand up, turn around and face East.
And just for fun, as pointed out by UTS professor, Dr. Luther Oconer, here is a quote from Wesley,
“That, ‘by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men’ (all born into the world) ‘ unto condemnation,’ is an undoubted truth, and affects every infant as well as every adult person. But it is equally true that, ‘ by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men’ (all born into the world, infant or adult) ‘unto justification.’ Therefore no infant ever was or ever will be ‘ sent to hell for the guilt of Adam’s sin,’ seeing it is cancelled by the righteousness of Christ as soon as they are sent into the world.” – Ltr to John Mason, 1776