One of Bill Watterson’s wry Calvin and Hobbes comic strips opens with six-year-old Calvin asking "Do you think babies are born sinful? That they come into the world as sinners?" (See above.) The reply from Hobbes the tiger (which Calvin finds insulting) is, "No, I think they're just quick studies."
Precocious though he is, it’s not likely that Calvin would have come up on his own with the question he puts to Hobbes. Somehow, it seems, he has got hold of one corner of the Christian doctrine known as original sin. It is a contentious doctrine, not least because of the grim verdict that some versions of it pronounce on newborn babies. Hobbes is not the first to take a dissenting view in that regard.
Charles Hefling is an instructor in the diaconal formation program of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and an adjunct member of the faculty at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. He was formerly a professor of systematic theology at Boston College.