It is written:
“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)
“But the children of the murderers he did not execute, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, in which the LORD commanded, saying, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” (2 Kings 14:6)
“However he did not execute their children, but did as it is written in the Law in the Book of Moses, where the LORD commanded, saying, “The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall die for his own sin.” (2 Chronicles 25:4)
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ezekiel 18:20)
In studying the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity, these passages of Scripture demonstrate clearly that sin is not something which is passed down from parent to child. Sin is not hereditary: it is a personal offense which one commits against God.
We find here in Deuteronomy (and in all of the aforementioned passages) proof positive that children are born sinless and without the taint of original sin. Indeed, our Jewish friends and neighbors have thus understood the facts. One Jewish author has written of the topic:
“If baptism were needed to redeem the effects of original sin, what about infants who die without such rites? According to Augustine, such infants, with the stain of original sin still apparent, would be doomed to eternal damnation…“During the wave of Jewish–Christian polemics of the Middle Ages, original sin became a frequent target of Jewish criticism. Much like the Pelagian objection, Jewish polemicists objected to the implications that those who did not receive baptism—included in which are the Forefathers—would suffer damnation. This objection was coupled with the legal difficulty based upon Deuteronomy 24: 16 that “Fathers will not be put to death for their children, nor children for their fathers; a man shall be put to death only for his own sins.” Surely, the doctrine of original sin contradicted the Torah’s assurance of no ancestral punishment.” (David Bashevkin, Sin•a•gogue: Sin and Failure in Jewish Thought, 22-23 (Kindle Edition); Boston; Cherry Orchard Books)
One former nun who (became a member of the church of Christ after months of agonizing spiritual searching and Bible study) has written of her amazement at the Bible teaching found in Ezekiel regarding original sin:
“Paul seemed confused by this lengthy explanation of sin, especially original sin. He then referred me to Ezekiel 18: 20, where I read in the Catholic Bible: “Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. The virtuous man’s virtue shall be his own, as the wicked man’s wickedness shall be his.” The words startled me, a conflict arose in my mind. I had always understood that every person enters this world with both sinful nature and inherited original sin. As a descendant of Adam, I not only was born a sinner, but was personally guilty and under condemnation before God. Before I read Ezekiel, I was unaware that I had not inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin or the guilt of my parents, but had inherited both the ability to learn good and evil.” (Joanne Howe, A Change of Habit: The Autobiography Of A Former Catholic Nun, 1538-1542 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company)
The Bible teaches that children do not inherit the sins of their ancestors. The doctrine of original sin is simply not true.