Sins of our Fathers

One of the results of our individualism is that we have come to believe that each generation starts from scratch. We believe that no one is in any way accountable for the deeds of their fathers.

This neglects, of course, what we know about the entry of sin into the world in the first place. We live in a broken world, not because of anything we did individually, but rather because of what we did in and through our father Adam. And we enjoy forgiveness because of the full atonement offered by the second Adam, our Lord Jesus.

But what is operative on a world-historical scale is also operative on a smaller scale. Daniel confesses the sin of the people in not heeding the word of the prophets that was spoken to their fathers. We need to realize that we are responsible for what our people used to know, but do not know now. Ignorance is not always innocent—ignorance of a particular kind is culpable, blameworthy.


When we shrink from learning new things, it is sometimes because we don’t want the additional responsibility that would come with that knowledge. But what if we are responsible for it now? What if the knowledge that was given to our fathers would not increase our responsibility—for we are already responsible for it—but would increase our ability to understand what we were supposed to do, how we are being called to repent?

If we want to know, all we have to do is ask.