I am quite puzzled by your reply to the question about the eternal state of retarded people. The bible does say in Romans that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (and this is after Jesus' death), and Hebrews states that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus.
Why would Paul write that all have sinned if the children and mentally handicapped cannot sin? Isn't original sin passed from parent to child even today? Jesus states that He is the way, the truth and the life. He died for everyone. Everyone needs Jesus' salvation, even children right?
Isn't original sin the reason why Jesus had to come to earth? Simply because we cannot eradicate original sin by ourselves? Original sin is only eradicated through accepting Jesus right?
I do think that God has a special plan for the children and mentally handicapped who cannot decide for themselves, but I don't think that they are free from original sin which entered all man through Adam.
I'm not going to debate or argue with you, I just hope to know the truth according to God's Word. Thanks and God bless!
I appreciate that you are not asking your question to debate, but to learn. I assure you that that is my intent as well. In fact, your question has caused me to learn already.
At first I wondered why nobody had ever quoted Rom 3:23 to me in support of the idea that even infants and the retarded are guilty of sin. I have often heard "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" to assert that every individual needs to obey Christ, but had never thought of it applying to the very young. You have made me look at what Paul was saying, and for that I thank you.
Because of that I will start by addressing that scripture. In looking at Romans 3:23-24 which you quote we need to look at the context to see what Paul is really saying. Essentially, Romans 1 is saying that the Gentiles who did not have the Law of Moses should still have recognized and obeyed God. Chapter 2 turns the tables and says the Jews, who had the Law, chose not to obey that law, and so were, as a people, guilty of disobedience. Chapter 3, then combines the two. Verse 9 says, "We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin." Then in verses 21-25, which includes the passage in question, he says,
But now the righteousness of God without law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
Then in verse 29 he concludes, "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also."
Who is Paul talking about in these chapters? He is not talking about individuals, but about Jews and Gentiles. To the Jews who considered themselves to be superior because of the law, he says "All (Jews and Gentiles) have sinned." It is true that there has only been one who has led a sinless life when He could have chosen otherwise, and it is because of that He is the perfect sacrifice for our sin. But that is not what Paul is talking about here. The "all" in verse 23 is the same as the "all" in verse 9; both Jews and Gentiles as a group have sinned. To apply it to individuals is to take it out of context.
You quote Romans 6:23 (although attributing it to Hebrews), that "the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life." This is true. But the eternal life he is talking about is the life of the spirit, so the death he is comparing it to must also be a spiritual death rather than physical.
You ask if everyone needs salvation, including children. I am not sure of that. I believe the scripture teaches that children are "safe, not saved" (not a biblical phrase). That is, having nothing to be saved from, they do not need salvation.
That addresses the rest of your question, that of "original sin." Jesus came to earth to provide forgiveness for sins, which came into earth as a result of Adam's sin. All sin is eradicated by obedient faith in Jesus.
Eve, and then Adam, committed the original sin--that is, the first sin. Through that, sin (not "original sin") entered the world (Rom 5:12). But to say that I, or my son, or anyone is guilty of that original sin is to fly in the face of scripture. The doctrine of "original sin" which you appear to be espousing is that when a child is born they bear the guilt of Adam's (actually Eve's) sin, as if they had committed that sin. Thus a child, retarded or not, is in need of the salvation offered by Jesus from the moment of birth (if not before). There are two scriptural arguments that I see as denying that doctrine.
The first argument is that God says he does not hold a child guilty for the sins of his father, but only for those he personally and actually commits himself. This argument is most clearly presented in Ezekiel 18. It is summarized in verse 20. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." (I ask that you read the whole chapter to see that I am not taking this verse out of context.) God clearly states that a son does not inherit any sin from the father, or the father of fathers, Adam. I do not bear any guilt for Adam's sin, just for my own. Either that or God lied through Ezekiel.
The second argument relates to immersion (baptism). Baptism is for the purpose of remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It is at that point that one's sins are washed away (Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21). The prerequisites for salvation are faith and immersion (Mark 16:16--"He who believes and is baptized will be saved."). They also include repentance and immersion (Acts 2:38--"Repent and be immersed, every one of you, for remission of your sins."). Since infants (and some retarded people) can neither believe nor repent and so are not subject to immersion, because those are acts of individual will beyond their capability, then they can not receive remission of sins if they have any. If an infant can not receive remission of sin, then, if they have sin, God must reject them. There are only two options, then. Infants are sinless or God is unjust in making requirements beyond their ability. Since I do not believe God is unjust I must believe that infants are not guilty of sin.
I thank you for your questions and hope I have given you something to think about.