Thinking through the Campbellite Denial of Original Sin

If you are a Campbellite, a former Campbellite, or otherwise knowledgable about the nuances of Campbellite doctrine and logic, please critique the following syllogism I have devised in my attempt to think through the reason Campbellites would deny the doctrine of original sin.

Alexander Campbell

Alexander Campbell

It is my understanding that Campbellism does affirm that Adam’s posterity inherited a natural predisposition to commit sins, so the only distinction between Augustinians and Campbellites with which I’m dealing lies in the Campbellite denial of the imputation of the guilt of Adam’s sin to his posterity.

Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo

I am also prepared for the possibility that Campbellites might object to my assertion in the first proposition “that baptism literally washes away sin.” It would also be good if anyone could help me articulate this proposition more precisely.

Here is my working syllogism:
Campbellites agree with Augustine that baptism literally washes away sin;
Campbellites disagree with Augustine that baptism is for infants;
Therefore, Campbellites conclude that infants are not affected by original sin, but are rather born innocent.


5 responses

  1. I, as a Christian Church preacher, do not accept that the water of baptism “literally” washes away sin. It is in the waters of baptism that we are buried with Christ and HIS blood is applied to us and covers our sins that they be remembered against us no more. Adam’s sin is his own and is not imputed to anybody else. What we receive because of his sin is “death” for our own sins. Infants are sinless and incapable of making a free will decision to believe Jesus is the Christ as well as repenting of something they have not yet been capable of doing (sinning), nor “confessing” since they can not yet speak nor acknowledge sins they have not committed nor that Jesus Christ died for them, nor deciding to be immersed into Christ as they cannot come of their own free will to a place of water and enter it to be baptized by immersion (which is what baptism is – not sprinkling). I can point to all the conversions recorded in the book of acts and see that people were baptized of their own free will and not on infant is ever mentioned as needing to be baptized nor that one ever was.

    1. Thanks for your input. I will consider your comments and respond in more detail at a later date.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I know this is an old thread, but I was wondering if you ever came to any conclusions. The one reply you received was the typical “American Evangelical” response. Adam was accountable for his own sins, that is true. Adam’s punishment was death, true as well.

    Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”

    The NT confirms the same consequence of sin for us that was given to Adam. Or, was he talking about eternal death which is equivalent to not being ‘saved’? After all, the flip side of the same passage is that the gift of God (righteousness that means sins forgiven) is eternal life.

    Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

    Romans 3:10-11 “As it is written:“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands

    Who has has sinned? All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Who is righteous? No one. Not even infants because they are included in “all” and “no one”. As any good Campbellite would say, “we cannot speak where the Bible is silent.”

    John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit

    Who chose who? Jesus chose you, not the other way around.

    2 Timothy 2:25 “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

    Repentance is granted, not an act that a human performs because they are of a certain age or level of knowledge.

    It seems to me that the American Christian heritage (especially the Campbellite church of Christ) demands in it’s prooftexting that we find salvation ultimately by looking within for the things needed for salvation. The synergistic approach makes the power of the Gospel only efficacious if a human makes it so. Interestingly, Campbellites also believe that no one gets to heaven at all without ‘submitting’ (yet another act) to water baptism. So then, what happens to infant one might ask? Well, they have to bridge the conflict with another man made doctrine called “age of accountability”. The prooftexting they will use is usually out of Deuteronomy or Ezekiel, which in another conversation they will deny your ability to use because it is found in the Old Testament and they are a New Testament church only.

    Romans 14:12…we will “all” have to give an account

    2 Corinthians 5:10…would Paul have said “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”…if “all” which inlcudes infant, children and adults weren’t capable of doing good or bad?

    Ephesians 2:1-10 there’s a lot here that talks about how we are saved and our condition before Christ made us alive. Wouldn’t this have been a great place to clarify that children are not dead in their transgressions, but saved by a different Gospel message of grace?

    A lot of what I write forces my hand to be tipped. It is probably very easy to see that I subscribe to a view of Scripture that is very “Lutheran” in nature. However, I do think it is important to realize that there is a very obvious theme in the NT that should give us all peace that God is the worker of faith, repentance, confession and baptism. I would recommend that others look to Jesus and His promises rather than looking inward for human results.

  3. Acts 22:16 ‘Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’

  4. Argument 1: Scripture depicts children as being without sin (1st Corinthians 14:20,
    Psalm 131:2, Romans 9:11, Deuteronomy 1:39).

    Major Premise: All those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs are persons without

    Minor Premise: All little children are those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs.

    Conclusion: Therefore, all little children are persons without sin.

    Argument 2: Total hereditary depravity necessitates that the son bear the iniquity of the
    father, this is a direct contradiction of Ezekiel 18:20.

    Major Premise: If all men are born totally depraved, then the children
    of Adam bear the sin of their father.

    Minor Premise: But Scripture records that the child will not bear the sin
    of their father.

    Conclusion: Therefore, all men are not born totally depraved.

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