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Is there an 'age of accountability?'

Submitted: 10/4/2007
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Question: I have heard several Apostolics (as well as trinitarians) talk about how 12 years of age is the age of accountability. They are adamant about it, even when I point out that the Scriptures do not say anything about 12 years of age, or 20 years of age, being an 'age of accountability.' My questions are 1) Is there an age of acoountability, according to Scripture, and 2) If not, why do so many insist on clinging to the concept, even when the truth is pointed out to them? (I suppose the second question could apply to any unscriptural tradition or belief system.) Thank you, and God bless you.

Answer: The Scriptures do not state a specific age at which point a human being suddenly becomes accountable to God for his or her sins. In fact, we do not believe the Scriptures endorse the whole concept of an age of accountability. Every human being comes into this world separated from the life of God. To live for eternity with Jesus, a person must have a new birth experience (see John 3:1-6). To have such an experience, a person must be old enough to be able to recognize that he is dead in trespasses and sins. He must then be mature enough to repent, believe, and submit himself to Jesus Christ. We have known children who did this at the age of five.

The doctrine of the age of accounability seems to suggest that all children start out life in a saved condition, then at some point cease to be saved and must then become saved again. Some believe that only the children of the saved are saved. But there is no biblical basis for any of this nonsense. To be saved, a person must beleve in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way to be saved.