Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Truth about the "Age of Accountability"

In the midst of the brouhaha about Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins, a number of questions have resurfaced, such as the concept of the Age of Accountability: The age at which God holds people accountable for their response to him. So, infants and small children are usually exempt from the ravages of hell since they are considered too young to be accountable for their faith. But what is that age?

Historically, those who subscribe to this concept suggest somewhere around age 13.

Age 13. Really? REALLY?!?!? I've been 13. I know people who are 13. Age 13 is when human beings lose their minds. Age 13 is when mind and body crash into each other, screaming with contradictory voices and violating every normal standard of human behavior. I wouldn't trust me as a 13-year-old to mail a letter, let alone be accountable for my eternal destiny. People who are 13 don't even have fully-formed brains.

People become mature adults later than in years past. I know of people in their 30's who still live with their parents or are trying to accomplish things that prior generations did 10 years earlier. Maybe the real age of accountability is somewhere around 37.

Imagine this scenario: A man, recently killed when driving his parents' 2009 Toyota Prius, stands before God, trembling at God's verdict that is about to be declared. God is clearly angry.


"Nothing, sir. Except that it wasn't my fault," stutters the man.

"What—your LIFE wasn't your fault? Give me a break."

"I just couldn't get it together. Plus the economy . . ."

"ENOUGH!" The heavens shake at God's voice. "Give me your driver's license."

The man hands over his wallet and God angrily pulls out the license, reading it carefully.

"Hmmm," God hums. "Born in 1977. That makes you 34, right?"


"Okay," says God. "You clearly can't be held accountable for much of anything. Good thing you haven't yet turned 37, or I would have held you responsible for that night in Las Vegas."

"But I was really drunk . . ."

"Don't push your luck, son. Come on in."

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