Does God punish the innocent for the sins of others?

I suggest a new perspective on the passage used by a webmaster at the link http://www.religioustolerance.org/sin_trans.htm:

“Yes, God can personally take an active role in transferring punishment among generations from the guilty to the innocent:

…for which you quoted:  “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them (idols), nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”

My comment to the writer follows here (comments are not accepted at the web pages there).

Spiritually speaking, especially after the universally expiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of the world for all those who believe in him, I do not know of any Christian theology or Christian teacher that says that the sins of the unbeliever can be laid at the feet of another. Jesus is THE Sacrificial Lamb, period.

As to consequences in the world, the quoted scripture is best understood in its context. The very next verse shows that it is not set in stone, so to speak:

“And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:6

It is also best to take this in the context of even the laws of Moses it’s in. I doubt you know how much it’s mentioned, your tolerance theme does not seem to reach into much Biblical scholarship. Many pastors may not have satisfactory answers, but that’s true about many, many things, in some groups more than others.

Rahab, Ruth, Naaman, even Abraham himself were raised in wicked cultures and renounced the sins of their pagan upbringing, so Exodus 20:5 cannot mean that there is an inescapable scapegoating of the children in the sense implied by your quote. It’s illogical for one who believes the Bible, whether they see it or not, no matter.

The passage is true, though, in this physical world, as a general spiritual truth as good as gravity. The children suffer for the sins of the parents and grandparents, as a natural consequence. Those raised in a culture that practices child sacrifice is more likely to follow suit. Those raised by abusive parents are more likely to have problems that affect children and grandchildren. We now have fourth generation welfare babies who are suffering for the sins of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. We have even great-grandchildren suffering for the sins of the evil American Congress of 1913, who inflict us to this day with the evil oppressions of the Federal Reserve Bank so-called, fiat currency, and the income tax, and the sins of our own antecedents that accepted this.

The God of the Bible is a God of love and of perfect justice.

“And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:6

It is also best to take this in the context of even the laws of Moses it’s in. I doubt you know how much it’s mentioned, your tolerance theme does not seem to reach into much Biblical scholarship. Many pastors may not have satisfactory answers, but that’s true about many, many things, in some groups more than others.
Rahab, Ruth, Naaman, even Abraham himself were raised in wicked cultures and renounced the sins of their pagan upbringing, so Exodus 20:5 cannot mean that there is an inescapable scapegoating of the children in the sense implied by your quote. It’s illogical for one who believes the Bible, whether they see it or not, no matter.

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One Response to “Does God punish the innocent for the sins of others?”

  1. trutherator Says:

    Also note, though, that God also blesses those who repent and follow him and the effects that some people call “generational curses” can be nullified immediately and the effects neutralized in repentance with evidence in the fruits of good works.

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