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Some Thoughts on Ignorance and Moral Culpability Before God

by Hiram R. Diaz III 

[Read: Romans 1:18-32]

One is always culpable before God, even if he is unable to understand the verbal revelation given by God. For while he may not understand the Scriptures, he understands that he is ignorant of their meaning. He is culpable in such a case for not having sought out understanding of that text, either by means of a human teacher who can help him along the way or by means of supernatural assistance.

The man who doesn't understand the word of God, understands that he is ignorant of its meaning, and yet doesn't seek to remedy this situation reveals he has a hardened heart that is satisfied with its wayward and ignorant meanderings. He is proud, unsubmissive to the law of God written on his heart that demands he think not more highly of himself than he ought (which violates the first commandment), and that he bear witness to the truth regarding his condition (which violates the eighth commandment).

It also follows from this that he is a liar, for he identifies himself, albeit implicitly, as one who is not ignorant, who is not in need of divine assistance, and who is not morally culpable for gaining understanding.

Pure ignorance is not a real condition. Men always know one thing or another. Moreover, these things are all related in one way or another. Therefore, if a man knows x then he can discover truth about y in itself and well as in it's relation to himself.

We ought not confuse the sinful practices of ignorant fallen men with the kinds of practices unfallen men would have engaged in if they lacked understanding. Scripture identifies the righteous as those who seek understanding and treasure her above rubies and gold (See Proverbs 4:1-9 & 8:10-36). It teaches us that if we lack understanding then the proper thing for us to do is to ask God who gives to all liberally (See James 1:5). The fact that fallen men don't understand x or y in revelation isn't an excuse for their failure to worship and honor the one true God. Their ignorance is a demonstration of their fallen condition. And their perpetual ignorance is a demonstration of their seared conscience in operation.