A Difficult Discussion . . . About Sin

In my Junior Bible classes this last week we were learning about St. Augustine and his contributions to Christian theology. We compared Augustine’s view on man’s sinfulness to Pelagius’ view (Pelagius was a monk around the time of Augustine who had a very different view of sin yet his view is quite common in our contemporary world).
Pelagius was convinced that all men are born morally neutral and not condemned by God for sinning until that person (indeed all people) do their first sin. They are in essence ‘sinners because they sin’.
Augustine, on the other hand, said the Bible teaches that all people are condemned by sin even before that first act because of the sin passed down by Adam to ALL of the human race. Augustine in essence said humans ‘sin because they are sinners’. He believed that all are under the penalty of sin even before the first sin.
To spur a little heated discussion among my High School Juniors I decided to play the Devil’s Advocate and put forth this question, “if ALL people are condemned by sin even before their first act of rebellion, what happens to unborn children or those humans who have not the mental capacity to know right from wrong????” “Does the Bible teach that all unborn babies (aborted, miscarried) go to heaven????”
I want to start off by stating that I see one of the purposes as a Bible teacher is to assist the students in thinking through their theology and knowing not only WHAT they believe but WHY they believe it. One other thing I encourage them to do is use Biblical support for all assertions. A question I will ALWAYS ask them is “where in the Bible does it say that?” I don’t want them to just go on what they have been taught without being able to support their beliefs. I also do not want them to just think emotionally, but biblically. In other words sometimes we have ideas that are make us ‘feel’ good or right but may not be Biblical.
So needless to say I got A LOT of push back from the students (which I expected). I forced them to wrestle with their ‘assumed’ theology. I assumed most of them believed (as most of America does) that babies have done no sin therefore they should not be and are not sinners. Most of them would confess the belief that all unborn babies go to heaven. Yet the Bible says ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ and ‘there is none righteous, no not one’. I wanted them to wrestle with the idea they believe that says babies are innocent (because they have done nothing to be punished by God) yet that is not what the Bible says. They have NO scriptural support for what they believe. In fact what they believe is very close to semi-Pelagianism (we are not sinners until we sin).
So I must confess this idea does baffle me but the best I can do (and I am more than willing to change my mind given enough BIBLICAL evidence) is say I believe God is fully good and everything he does is good so the decision about who goes to heaven and who does not is left up to Him. This is true for both the born and the unborn. Everyone’s eternal state is in the hands of God. So all people who are saved, are saved because they are predestined by God. I leave these details in His hands and totally trust he will do the right thing.
I hope my students have grown just a little by these discussions. My point was not to frighten them nor to get them to reject all they believe but to understand the Christian life is full of theological tension that will be uncomfortable. I want them most of all to be biblical in their thinking.