‘Hell House,’ abortion, and the mute zombie children of Heaven

George Ratliff’s 2001 documentary Hell House can be watched in its entirety on YouTube. It’s a fascinating, disturbing look at one large Texas church’s “Hell House” — a Christian-ish version of the haunted house that aims to scare sinners into salvation. (The documentary is unrated, but I’d rate it T for “triggering,” since it shows scenes from the church’s “attraction” and those scenes are designed and intended to be triggering for anyone who’s ever encountered abuse, violence, addiction or tragedy.)

Colorado church New Destiny Christian Center runs a big Hell House every Halloween and encourages other evangelical churches to do so as well. They sell a Hell House “kit” — a kind of how-to manual for running one of these — for $299. Marc Herman of Pacific Standard shares some of the advertising for this manual and its various “modules,” including “Domestic Abuse,” “Rave Scene,” “Mother’s Womb Abortion,” “Teen Suicide,” “Drunk Driving,” “Gay Wedding,” and, of course, “Hell” and “Heaven.”

Here’s how New Destiny summarizes that “Mother’s Womb Abortion” scene:

A young mother is miraculously given the opportunity to learn from her mistake upon being blessed with a visit by her aborted daughter at four different ages of life.

And then later in the show, in “Heaven”:

This particular heaven scene also has an angelic rescue which brings all the attention to glorious eternity. A wonderful connection also occurs between this scene and the abortion scene with a surprise reunion in heaven! Jesus explains restoration and gives everyone the chance to pray the prayer of salvation.

This “surprise reunion” is a necessary consequence, given the premises of New Destiny’s ideas about “salvation,” Heaven, and abortion. But it is not the only necessary consequence of those premises, and it points toward some other dazzlingly strange implications that seem absurd, but that must be true given all that New Destiny claims about abortion.

The “aborted daughter” is in Heaven even though she never had a “chance to pray the prayer of salvation.” How can this be? The whole point of the entire Hell House is to emphasize to visitors in the starkest possible terms that no one will go to Heaven unless they pray that prayer. If you don’t pray that prayer — now, before it’s too late — you will go to Hell with the drunk drivers, the kids at the rave party and the boy who kills himself.

But the “aborted daughter” is exempt from this rule for two reasons. The first has to do with the church’s mythology of abortion, which regards every zygote, blastocyst, embryo and fetus as an “unborn child” and — this is important — an innocent unborn child. These “unborn children” are untouched by the original sin that damns everyone else unless and until they pray that prayer of salvation. That mythology ensures that the church embraces some notion of an “age of accountability” before which very young children are deemed unaccountable for their sinful, fallen nature because they’re too young to know what they’re doing.

This idea of an “age of accountability” really can’t be squared with the doctrine of “original sin” the church also claims to believe. That doctrine holds that damned sinfulness is essential and intrinsic to human nature. If you are human, you are a sinner and you are condemned. It’s not a matter of tallying up a series of discreet, deliberate sins, but an unavoidable, inescapable part of being a human person.

And New Destiny emphatically insists that the “aborted daughter” is indistinguishable from any other human person. From the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg, they say, a new human person is present, equal in every way to every other human person.

So here’s the first weird contradiction arising from New Destiny’s premises about abortion and Hell. Their doctrines of original sin and Hell require that every human person is damned unless they pray the prayer of salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” For evangelicals like the folks at New Destiny, Romans 10:9 is an ironclad law. Paul’s “if” they read as “if and only if” — if there is no confession with the mouth and belief in the heart, then there can be no salvation.

But that seems unfair to small children who are not yet capable of understanding death, and therefore are incapable of believing in their hearts that God hath raised Jesus from the dead. And it seems even more unfair to even younger children who have not yet learned to talk and who are, therefore, not yet able to confess with their mouths unto salvation. For God to condemn such small children to Hell for an eternity of conscious torment seems monstrously cruel. It’s required by their doctrine, but they refuse to accept it. The doctrine says it must be so, but if that’s what God is like then God doesn’t seem to deserve worship, love or obedience. The character of God is supposed to be revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, and it seems impossible to imagine Jesus Christ tormenting an innocent baby too young to speak.

That line of argument leads them to believe in an age of accountability, beneath which young children are exempt from the automatic eternal damnation awaiting their parents and older siblings. That line of argument, followed a bit further, would also completely destroy their extra-biblical idea of Hell as a place of eternal conscious torment, but sadly these folks balk at that and refuse to follow the trajectory of their own argument any further.

So New Destiny believes in an “age of accountability”: all babies go to Heaven. This also applies, of course, to “unborn babies.” Thus the “aborted daughter” from the Hell House is in Heaven even though she neither confessed with her mouth nor believed in her heart. (That would have been impossible, since in all likelihood — most abortions are performed in the first trimester — she does not yet have either a mouth or a heart. The folks at New Destiny don’t think of it that way, however, since in their abortion mythology, an embryo is just an HO scale model of an infant.)

So, then, all “unborn children” go to Heaven. Here’s where things get really, really weird. Because here’s where we have to start thinking about the population of Heaven.

It’s mostly “unborn children.”

We’re not just talking about all those “unborn children” who are aborted. We’re talking about every fertilized egg — every pregnancy that failed to come to term in a live birth. Abortions make up only a small fraction of those. Another small fraction would be from miscarriages, which occur in at least 10 to 20 percent of all known pregnancies. But that phrase “known pregnancies” is important, because most pregnancies end well before anyone is ever aware of them. Here’s an overview of part of what that means, from the UCSF Medical Center:

In nature, 50 percent of all fertilized eggs are lost before a woman’s missed menses. In the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process as well, an embryo may begin to develop but not make it to the blastocyst stage — the first stage where those cells destined to become the fetus separate from those that will become the placenta. The blastocyst may implant but not grow, or the blastocyst may grow but stop developing before the two week time at which a pregnancy can be detected. The receptivity of the uterus and the health of the embryo are important for the implantation process.

All of these lost fertilized eggs are, according the abortion mythology of New Destiny, human persons who go to Heaven. Most of the “people” in Heaven are people who never had a mouth, or a heart, or a brain, limbs, lungs. These people never had names, never even had any other person aware of their existence.

In what state, then, are these “people” when they arrive in Heaven? Orthodox Christian doctrine insists on a bodily resurrection. Heaven is not a place for disembodied souls, but for corporeal believers in the flesh. What does a bodily resurrection mean for a “person” who consists of only a small cluster of cells? What does it mean to believe in a Heaven in which the overwhelming majority of the redeemed cannot walk upon the streets of gold because they do not have feet? Will there be some separate region of Heaven just for them — some kind of celestial womb?

New Destiny escapes the absurdity of this with a bit of science fiction — a scenario that comes from movies about alternate realities and multiple timelines rather than from the sola scriptura on which they claim to base all their doctrine:

A young mother is miraculously given the opportunity to learn from her mistake upon being blessed with a visit by her aborted daughter at four different ages of life.

Note that this is a “visit,” not a “vision.” It’s not some dream of what the fetus/”unborn child” might otherwise have become had she carried the pregnancy to term in perfect health, but an actual visit from a grown daughter who never actually grew. This visitor is beaming in from some alternate timeline in which she had such a daughter and that daughter was born, grew up, learned and thought and did things in the world.

This is a leap into pure fantasy, but that fantasy is necessary to distract from what the logic of New Destiny’s abortion mythology requires for anyone willing to think it through. This fantasy is the only way to reinvent this “aborted daughter” as someone who is recognizably and defensibly referred to as a person. It’s the only way to make this “surprise reunion” in Heaven something other than terrifying and grotesque.

Well, maybe not the only way. I suppose such a “reunion” could be imagined as a resumption of the woman’s pregnancy from the point just before the abortion. The “daughter,” after all, is not “at four different ages of life,” but at one very specific stage of life — a stage in which she is wholly unable to survive apart from her direct attachment inside of the woman. That would be the only way for her bodily resurrection to occur. This raises a different set of puzzles and absurdities — what if this was not this woman’s only pregnancy? — but it’s a somewhat less disturbing set.

New Destiny’s abortion mythology posits that every fertilized egg is a fully human person, and also that every fertilized egg that dies before reaching an “age of accountability” ascends to Heaven. Without some kind of fantastic intervention from alternative timelines and imaginary alternate universes, that presents an unnerving picture of Heaven. Let’s assume, as New Destiny seems to, that all these unborn children arrive in Heaven in some more mature form. (Where would such mature bodies come from? They never existed in reality. Would they have belly buttons? Would they all be female? Never mind all that for now, just go with the assumption because the assumption is what the abortion mythology requires.)

What are these people like? Can they speak? Can they think? They have no experiences, no memories, no relationships. They have never inhaled. They have never cried, never laughed, never fallen, never gotten back up. I suppose the same inexplicable miraculous process that gives them the bodies they never actually possessed could also be invoked to give them the power of speech, but what would they have to say?

And keep in mind that this will be the majority of Heaven’s population. Those of us with lives and memories of those lives will be the minority, and all around us will be these odd, silent, isolated children that never were, inhabiting their unearthly bodies.

The “Hell House” vision of Hell is scary, but their vision of Heaven is far creepier.

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  • banancat

    I’d rather be 21 forever. Isn’t Heaven supposed to be paradise? I just wanna drink alcohol on Saturday without being hungover at work on Monday.

  • Dan Silverman

    Some churches believe that the sacrifice of Jesus paid for the original sin for all men, past, present, and future, but that all men must ‘pray that prayer’ in order to be forgiven for THEIR OWN personal sin. Thus, the unborn child, according to this teaching, has had the original sin paid for, but has no personal sin of their own since they have not been able to make a choice to sin. This is how many of them come up with the age of accountability. They have to ask, if the original sin is paid for and one must now be atoned for their own personal sin, then when is a child accountable?

    The answer to this question varies from church to church. Some have an age (such as 13). Some say it is a ‘mental’ age (i.e. when someone’s mental ability is such that they can understand the Gospel message). People who believe this allow for adults who are severely mentally challenged to go to heaven even if they have never ‘prayed that prayer’ because they’ve never possessed a mind capable of understanding the Gospel.

    It’s all nonsense, of course, but these are some of the explanations given in some church circles.

  • Anton_Mates

    But he would equally raise the question: what does resurrection and
    eternal life mean for someone whose mortal life was five days of lying
    in a crib and no more?

    Yup. Suppose the soul doesn’t show up until birth. Historical child mortality rates being what they were, about half the population of Heaven must still have gotten there under 15. Including hundreds of thousands of newborn babies, who may have taken a few breaths and cried once or twice, but otherwise have no more experience with human life and society than a fetus does.

    Then there are people with long-term mental conditions that make life very unpleasant for them–depression, anxiety, psychosis, certain developmental disabilities. And people who suffered from brain damage or dementia before dying. (Really, almost nobody is at their mental best just before death.) And people whose lives were filled with trauma and dysfunctional relationships, such that they can barely remember what it’s like to exchange affection with someone.

    None of these people should spend eternity in the state they were in at death, should they? Some will need to be aged, some will need to be de-aged, some will need to be altered to a mental condition that they would never have achieved in a lifetime on earth. Either God reaches in and remodels their brains directly, or Heaven must have a rehab program where they can undergo years of therapy, medication and new positive life experiences. Whichever solution it is, that ought to work for the ex-fetuses as well.

    Fred objects that:

    I suppose the same inexplicable miraculous process that gives them the bodies they never actually possessed could also be invoked to give them the power of speech, but what would they have to say?

    Well, what did Adam and Eve have to say? I know Fred doesn’t believe in a pair of First Humans that were mentally functional adults despite being created a few minutes ago, but many Christians hold that belief. It shouldn’t be hard for them to accommodate ex-fetuses that got miracled into mental maturity. Either the fetuses are permitted to age normally and have their own experiences–in a heavenly womb and then a heavenly nursery, sure–or God just downloads a package of necessary knowledge and practical skills into them, then turns them loose at Level 1.

  • Anton_Mates

    Would they be expected to love these children to the same extent that they love the children they might have actually met in life, or would it be ok to just love these strangers to the extent you normally try to love your neighbor?

    Well, I would think that the saved would be particularly talented at loving their neighbor, either through practice or by divine influence. Perhaps they can love anybody, including alien fetus people, as much as we love our children on Earth.

    If you say that in Heaven those will not be different, I think we are looking at a Heaven that even more fundamentally alters who we are in order to integrate us with this strange majority we find ourselves amongst.

    Maybe we wouldn’t be expected to integrate with them, but to serve as exemplars. Each of us observed by a flock of Datas or Pinocchios, trying to learn how best to be human. Their gradual development into sophisticated, unique individuals could be more inspiring than creepy.

  • Lunch Meat

    Sure, it’ll be an actual place, but the whole idea of heaven is that all of those things that make earth earth…the things we paint paintings and sculpt sculptures and write epics about…won’t be there. No love triangles. No heartbreak. No loss. No wars. No valiant last stands. No sacrifices. No turning from the dark side to the light side at the very last minute. No nostalgia. No fear. No monsters in the dark or the unknown. No pain or loss at all. And I would almost go so far as to say there isn’t a person in the world, that I would consider a person, who hasn’t felt pain. “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

  • Jen

    You know, I have to wonder how much of this limiting of sex was due to religious devotion, and how much was trying to reduce the amount of pregnancies that women would have to endure by giving them “time off” from their wifely duties.

  • auroramere

    I think this is well said. But category error is human, as you also said.

  • Lori

    In which case God could also leave embryos that are not going to be born soulless so there would be no issue of what happens to them when their physical development ceases to progress.

  • auroramere

    Nope, it’s not a mitzvah if you do it wrong. According to some views, at least.

  • Lori

    Yes, Shakers were chaste and added to their group only through adoption or conversion, and yes that’s the main reason there are no longer any Shakers.

  • auroramere

    They don’t know each other, and he’s a living human while she is of heaven. She can’t share the mysteries of heaven with him, and she has no earthly life to share with him. They remind me a little of Arwen and Elrond, a parting that can’t be undone. (I know Tolkien translated Pearl, but I don’t know when.) With the best will on both sides, it’s a parting beyond the end of the world. The sweet child he misses can never be found again, even in heaven.

  • Anton_Mates

    And I would almost go so far as to say there isn’t a person in the world, that I would consider a person, who hasn’t felt pain.

    I’m not sure it follows that a person who grew up without pain wouldn’t be a person. Every person we know has felt pain, because that’s the kind of world we live in; the options are pain or nonexistence. But Heaven, if it’s somewhere most of us would want to spend eternity, would still provide endlessly rich and interesting experiences, challenges and opportunities for choice–they just wouldn’t involve suffering. Who knows if a person who matured in that environment wouldn’t be stronger, kinder and more confident than any of us?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Supposing someone had some kind of birth defect that left them unable to feel pain, would that preclude them growing up to be human?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I did a lot of traveling in Paradise, since it was possible to fly without machinations or fear of the elements. I saw it as a world removed from time, where the past and future were one and the same and quaint villages could be located in remote places while still having access to any modern amenity one could imagine… or even conceive of.

    I think she’s enjoying it there.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I keep wanting to read that as Lea & Perrins.

  • Baby_Raptor

    “Refuse to believe” is some pretty dangerous wording. It implies the common fundie belief that everyone actually knows god exists, but we all just want to be “horrible sinners” so we pretend we don’t and go live our lives flaunting him.

    That’s not exactly how it works.

  • Lorehead

    If the majority of all “human beings” who have ever lived (by a definition that includes all fertilized eggs ever) had absolutely no experiences, perceptions, thoughts or emotions during their brief lifetimes, but God Saves them anyway and just lets them experience eternal bliss in Heaven for the entirety of their aware existences, what is the point of any lifetime on Earth? It’s all so unnecessary. Particularly if God knows exactly what any human would have been like growing up in any situation.

  • Jenny Islander

    Quoting someone whose name I can’t recall here: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

  • Lorehead

    Suppose the Messiah (or someone with read-access to the backups of the Matrix, or aliens who have been closely monitoring the Earth for the last million years with very fine brain-scanning telescopes and who have now decided to let us use their records) was able to convince people to create a utopian world, then tell them exactly how to recreate all people who had died, or even idealized versions who had never existed, such as, for instance, a Ludwig von Beethoven in perfect health who remembered writing the Ninth Symphony but was not deaf. Build the replicator, and the Messiah will solve the problem of our not knowing the exact layout of Beethoven’s brain.

    Would the information revealed in order to accomplish this form of reincarnation, which does not involve any sort of dualism, constitute a “soul” to you?

  • Jenny Islander

    Huh? Where are you getting this?

    Paul counsels his readers that in his opinion, it’s better not to marry due to the extra responsibilities of marriage. But he also says that if you just can’t stand celibacy, you should get married. And he refers approvingly to a multi-generational Christian family, in which the grandmother and mother taught their grand/son the faith. Anyway, that’s the closest I can find to “lifetime chastity as the ideal.”

    Also, “chastity” means “not fornicating,” not “not having sex at all.”

  • Lorehead

    Some North American colonists used to baptize native infants, then murder them immediately, justifying their actions precisely that way. I’m very glad that pro-Lifers don’t take their symbolic beliefs to their logical conclusion.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Well, both premise A and B are (arguably) true. Not necessarily related, but true.

  • Lorehead

    This is another thing that “everybody knows.” Angels in Genesis eat curds, milk and veal. (The Talmud comments that they appeared to be eating, because one should never depart from custom.) Another wrestles with Jacob.

  • Lorehead

    Or light aasimon, if this be second edition.

  • Diona the Lurker

    Didn’t medieval Catholicism have a similar belief, the Harrowing of Hell? When Jesus died, he was supposed to have descended into Hell and rescued Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses etc from Hell and taken them up to Heaven, according to this idea.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    That’s a very gnostic position. One of those gnostic things which weirdly became very standard folk Christianity, despite the fact that the early church explicitly rejected it as heretical. The traditional position of christian scholarship is that a body without a soul and a soul without a body are both similarly incomplete.

    Of course, it was wandering off on that premise that led to Humanae Vitae

  • Lunch Meat

    That’s why I said almost–I didn’t want to make that claim strongly without thinking about it more. I think what I meant is that I, with my current understanding and experiences, can’t imagine a human who hasn’t felt pain. I might change my mind if I met one, but I have no idea what that would look like.

  • Lorehead

    Were they Chinese, Japanese or Korean? It’s traditional in those countries to add a year to people’s ages.

  • Lorehead

    Actually, there are three.

  • Lori

    Huh. I wonder when they converted. I would have sworn that the Shakers had run out of adherents a while back.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, there IS an Asimov story premised on that, actually, where all the electromagnetic properties of a person’s brain are recorded so that upon death, God can reconstitute them into bodiless entities at will.

    But this sort of exact recording of the properties of a human brain and reconstituting it in a different location upon death would seem to be qualitatively different from asserting the existence of souls, since they are supposed to be immaterial add-ons to humans that can’t be seen or felt. By contrast one can in principle record, given the right technological apparatus, the electrical and chemical properties of a person’s brain.

  • Lorehead

    Well, the other half of this is what the alternative is to being conceived at all. If it’s nonexistence, then being born creates the possibility both of infinite torture and of infinite bliss, and the analysis breaks down entirely. (The way artificial intelligence programmers handle this problem on a practical level is to introduce exponential time discounting, which assigns a finite cumulative value to even eternal reward and punishment.) But in this case there’s still a compelling argument to murder children below the age of accountability who would probably become nonbelievers. This was the basis for “Better Dead than Red!”

    On the other hand, if personhood has nothing to do with the brain, and there is a pre-existent soul that can get put into a body with no brain (and then one wonders, why only a human body—surely it would not be beyond the power of God to Save a sunflower plant and turn it into a talking sunflower in Heaven), that raises the question of what would happen if two people don’t conceive when they could. Did God create one fewer soul, in anticipation of just this? Does the soul just go into some other body instead? Does the soul go directly to Heaven with no detour to Earth at all? In any of those cases, there’s no harm done.

  • Lorehead

    That’s another thing that everybody knows, but isn’t in the Christian Bible unless you choose to resolve the ambiguities that way.

  • Lorehead

    Nah, she’ll just be good with knives.

  • Lorehead

    Wouldn’t that argument make sense only to a pacifist who opposes the death penalty? If only God can take a life, and my justification doesn’t matter, only God can take a life.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m a pacifist who opposes the death penalty and that argument makes no sense to me.

  • Lorehead

    Necessary but not sufficient conditions, then?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Nope. The argument includes the phrase “it is impossible, of course, for a murderer to ‘kill’ someone” and that renders the entire argument nonsensical.

  • Lorehead

    I guess I was subconsciously rescuing it from the solecism of trying to say that to cause people to die sooner rather than later is different than “to kill” them.

  • J_Enigma32

    If they did, there’d be a lot less of them on the street. They’d be viewed as child killing terrorists (which is sort of what most are anyway; that and woman killing). Of course, in order to become a child killing terrorist, you have to kill children, and like you, I’m rather glad they don’t openly advocate for it.

  • Lorehead
  • esmerelda_ogg

    That’s a very good point! After all, back then it was a world where the only certain way to avoid pregnancy was to avoid sex.

  • Eric Boersma

    Oh goodness, you’re correct. I wish I could say that was the only ridiculous mistake like that I made yesterday.

  • Sheila Warner

    True. There is a whole section in Levticus on how to deal with a spot of mold found in a house. Very archaic and hard to understand. I think we can’t really use all of the instructions and all of the Law to any good use today.

  • Sheila Warner

    But that kind of reaction is a result of the “fall” not the reason for it. What you are describing is distrust in the reasons given. (You think those who are telling you why you should not do something are inventing reasons.) “Adam” and “Eve” had trust in God. If they had no sin before eating the fruit, why would their curiosity about the tree move from trust to distrust to doing what they wanted? Which is why I believe that whole story is only a fable. It just is a way of the ancient writer of the text to tell a story as to how we ended up being perfectly good humans who do bad things. I do not believe that Genesis is historical–it was a fable, just like any civilization’s folklore and fables handed down through the ages. It’s a morality tale, but not factually true.

  • Sheila Warner

    Now you’re into my reality. I was raised a Fundie. Fundie’s believe Catholics are doomed to hell because Catholics do not believe in sola Fide. Catholics, as soon as they do one good deed for God, are automatically “working” for their salvation, which dooms them to hell. I converted to Catholicism, and my “once save always saved” mother has no idea what to do about my conversion. If I am truly “saved”, then I’m not working for my salvation. If I am working for it, then I can’t be saved. Therefore, I must never have been saved in the first place. The last time I was there, she was actually crying over the peril my soul is in. I keep my visits to my parents very limited, only a few times a year. They’re both 85 years old and will die in their doctrines. It’s frustrating as hell.

  • Sheila Warner

    Well, actually I didn’t know other sects do not believe in original sin. I have only been in contact with those that do. I was raised a non-denominational Fundie, not IFB, and I do not ascribe to that type of Christianity. I do believe in some sort of wounded human spirit–we all do wrong things in our lives. We see a spirit of selfishness, out of which springs bad things like gossip and hate and oppression and breaking the law, very early on. We have to raise our children on purpose to teach them right from wrong. You don’t have to teach someone to do wrong, but you sure have to correct them and show them what is right. “Original sin” is a religious explanation for that. I left Protestantism for Catholicism, which tons of Protestants see as a counterfeit faith, so I am judged no matter where I go or what I do. Original sin works for me. That doesn’t stop me from seeing inherent dignity and worth in every other human being, whether or not they are religious. Kindness, compassion, love, understanding, empathy–all of these great parts of the human being exist apart from any religion. We are hard wired to have morality, while at the same time we battle the selfish parts of our nature. You really can’t plug me into any type of religious way of thinking. Catholicism is the closest thing to what I expect for my own way of seeking God. That I believe in God sets me apart from atheists, but it does not separate me from them as my fellow human beings, just trying to get through life the best way we know how. I find atheists reject me more than I reject them, because they hear “I believe in God” and therefore I am some kind of moronic hater.

  • Ursula L

    It doesn’t strike me as too different from how the law (ideally) handles matters. A young child might do something that kills someone, but because they are very young, it is not treated as a crime, but perhaps as a case of the child being neglected and not properly supervised, because proper adult supervision would have stopped the child from innocent but deadly act. Then there is a time when someone would be charged in juvenile court, as a minor, and after that you get charged as adult.

    Of course, at lest in the US, you see the age at which children can be charged as adults getting younger and younger. People believing that if the consequence of an act is bad enough, it means that the child must have been acting with adult knowledge and intent.

    But the basic idea of accountability being different with different levels of maturity is straightforward, and if you grant a god the same amount of understanding of human nature as humans have, then you’d expect similar accommodations.

  • Chris

    Recent studies suggest that it’s not nearly as rare as previously assumed.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Although it has been suggested that the stranger who wrestled with Jacob was actually God in the flesh.