Why I am not an Evangelical - Part 2

First off, go here to read part 1. And now that you've read that, here's the first reason I am not an Evangelical.

1. Jamie Bulger and the Bible Study Group

While living in Criccieth, North Wales, and attending the Criccieth Family Church (an independent evangelical church run by some Scripture Union Beach Mission staff) I went along to their evening Bible Study group for almost a year, which was held in a hotel owned by the church. I rather enjoyed it, and I learned a lot and took part in some interesting discussions.

One one occasion we were having a discussion about the recent (then) news that the teenage killers of toddler Jamie Bulger had been released from prison. One of the ladies present remarked how sad it all was but that the poor little boy was now in heaven. The pastor corrected her, saying that since Jamie Bulger had not been old enough to make a confession of faith in Jesus, he was therefore in hell.

The ensuing debate made it quite clear that Evangelical theology is that children are not innocent of sin and go to hell if they die before being able to “accept Jesus”.  My second daughter was about Jamie Bulger’s age at the time and I left that meeting swearing that I would never worship any god who could be so cruel and unjust.

Many Evangelicals have since protested to me that there surely is something, somewhere, which means that this isn't the case, that little children who die are automatically saved. Unfortunately there really isn't anything in any Evangelical doctrinal statement I've ever seen, or the Bible itself, which allows for this. The Bible is completely silent on the matter; it merely states, quite clearly, that to be saved one must profess belief in Christ and be baptised. Children can't do that. The doctrine of original sin (the belief that we are all born with the guilt of Adam and Eve's sin) is generally believed by mainstream Christian denominations. It states that children are born sinful, and they will remain sinful until they are old enough to repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness. Those who die in a state of sin (evangelical doctrines states) go to hell.

The Book of Mormon isn't silent on this issue. In fact, Moroni devotes an entire chapter (chapter 8) to explaining that little children are innocent of sin and don't require baptism. Mormons believe that children are born innocent and remain so until the age of accountability when they are liable for any sins they commit. The second article of faith states, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” They also believe that all will have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ either in this life or the next. Not only that, but anyone, adult or child, who dies never having heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus never having had the opportunity to repent, will have that chance in the spirit world. (See this link for a list of scriptures and more information about this issue.) By LDS theology, Jamie Bulger is in heaven.

Some time later the Criccieth Bible Study Group was taken over by another church leader who, knowing that I was an inactive Mormon, told me that I would no longer be permitted to attend the group because it might “send out the wrong message”. I was never able to establish what message that might be. I’d still like to know. Alistair, if you're reading this, please tell me why I wasn't allowed to study the Bible with your group?


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