August 20, 2007
Women will occasionally talk about the importance of protecting the "innocence" of their children -particularly their younger children. I've talked to Allen about this, and we both agree that theologically it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If we want to locate this philosophy in the history of ideas we would shelve it near Rousseau and Blake and at least half a dozen rows to the left of Augustine. The Apostle Paul would be in an entirely separate wing. Delve into any number of writers from the Romantic Era and you'll see blithe depictions of innocent man in his infancy. The varying shades in which their souls are painted may vary from the innocuous gray of a blank slate having no original bent or aim and guided solely by impressions and experiences, or their souls might be covered in the glittering white of primeval innocence whose pristine surface is smudged only by the black soot of civilization. In either case man is felt to arrive in a state of innocence or at least neutrality regarding moral issues. Contrast this with Ps. 58:3. "The wicked are estranged from the womb;they go astray from birth, speaking lies." Consider also Roman 5:12. "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." There are other verses of course, but these two make it pretty plain to me that, since we are sinful from birth, when we talk about the innocence of children we're really talking about something different than literal moral innocence. One of the things that emerged from my conversation with Allen is the idea that instead of protecting innocence we are training in innocence. How's that? Well indulge me a minute while I line up my axioms. 1. Christ being the perfect Son of God was innocent of all the charges brought against Him. 2. We have been clothed with Christ's righteousness, and 3. we are growing daily in the image of Christ (eg sanctification). Add to this a fourth premise that (4) we arrived on this earth already possessed of a fully functioning sin nature. The conclusion I draw from this is that it's the nature of the Gospel and the Christian life to grow more fully innocent the longer you live. Of course this is a different kind of innocence than the chasing after rainbows and puppy dogs sort that we associate with children, but I believe it's a Biblical definition.