Age of Accountability
A term used by church members to refer to the age at which someone has the ability to know right from wrong and has the agency to do so. Formally, this 8 years old. The term is most used to refer to the age that one can choose whether they wish to be baptized into the Church. It is the age where a person can discern between good and evil, and the age where he has the ability to understand the process of repentance.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rejects the idea of the need for infant baptism:
- ...I speak unto you concerning that which grieveth me exceedingly; for it grieveth me that there should disputations rise among you.
- For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children.
- ...I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle.
- For immediately after I had learned these things of you I inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the Holy Ghost, saying:
- Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me.
- And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.
- Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
- And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.
- But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!
- Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.
- Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.
- For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.
- Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.
- Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy (Moroni 8:4-16, 19).
Latter-day Saints baptize at age 8. Individuals who never attain this age mentally, due to mental retardation or other disabilities, will be "saved in innocence" through the atonement of Christ, just as little children are.