Calvinism's Total Depravity verses Scriptural Hardening

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by William C, Apr 12, 2003.

  1. William C

    William C
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    Total Depravity as defined by Calvinists: Confession of Faith, Chapter IX, Section iii. -- "Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto."

    Hardening as defined in Scripture:

    Self Hardening-- the unwilling stubbornness of man that leads to a calloused and unresponsive heart so that they cannot see, hear, understand and be converted. (Matt. 23:37; Acts 28:26-27; John 12:37-41)

    Zech. 7:11-13: "Your ancestors would not listen to this message. They turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the law or the messages that the LORD Almighty had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the LORD Almighty was so angry with them. 13 "Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the LORD Almighty.

    Other examples (Ex. 9:34-35; 2 Chron. 36:13; Zech. 7:12; Dan. 5:20; Eph. 4:18; Heb. 3:12-15)

    Judicial Hardening -- God's sealing of people in their own rebellion in order to accomplish His Soveriegn purpose through them.
     
    Ro 11:8 -
    Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day."

    John 12:39-40
    Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them."

    Other examples of Judical hardening (Ex. 7:3; 9:12; Deut. 2:30; Josh 11:19-20). Is God unjust in this, for if God hardens who can resist his will? Romans 9:18-21 answers this objection. It doesn't answer the objection, "If we are all born Total Depraved how can God still blame us," as many Calvinists think. Romans 9-11 is dealing with the issue of Hardening, not Total Depravity, therefore the objections to Total Depravity still stand.

    Therefore the objection stands:

    How can God judge his creation for not following a command that he has not enabled them to follow?

    If all are born Totally depraved and unable to respond to the call of the gospel by God's imputing the sin of Adam upon all man, then God would be unjust in condemning those he disabled by that imputation while arbitrarely granting the ability to others.
     
  2. Frogman

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    Brother Bill,
    I would love to accomodate you here, but I am working transcribing Leonard Verduin's book The Reformers and their Stepchildren online for a Russian brother. I am busy trying to complete this so I have not been able to visit the BB much today. Sorry to disappoint you and didn't want anyone to think Frogman had bailed. I will be checking in once in a while just keep the ball rolling...See ya'll later when my work is finished.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  3. npetreley

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    Examples of total depravity that are not from God hardening, or from self- hardening, but because God has not given unto the people in question what they need in order to respond.

    Prerequisite for the doctrine that total depravity is actually hardening: the stubbornness of man that leads to a calloused and unresponsive heart so that they cannot see, hear, or understand the plain meaning of scripture that contradicts this doctrine.
     
  4. William C

    William C
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  5. BobRyan

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    Bill,

    As an Arminian, I have enjoyed reading your pro-Arminian posts and your testimony that you turned from Calvinism to the light of God's sovereign choice - choosing free will for mankind.

    So this may come as a surprise to you - but the Calvinist view of "Total depravity" is easily accomodated in BOTH the Arminian and Calvinist model.

    Romans 3, Romans 8:5-8, 1Cor 2 last 6 verses etc make it clear that mankind of itself is totally depraved and not only "Will it not choose to submit to God - it CAN not".

    While you were a Calvinist - you were taught that "God ENABLES what total depravity DISABLES by the divine supernatural DRAWING of Christ".

    And guess what? They were right again!

    God does ENABLE what total depravity DISABLES by His supernatural, sovereign choice to "DRAW ALL MANKIND unto Him".

    The Arminian position says that "ALL MANKIND" is DRAWN and "ENABLED" to choose. It does not need to refute/deny total depravity to observe that this drawing of ALL MANKIND is "Sufficient" and "effective" in ENABLING that choice that total depravity "disabled".

    Basically - I am urging that you not throw out the baby with the bath water.

    -----------------------------

    As for the principle of "hardening", it is not the same as "total depravity".

    #1. You can not "harden" that which is dead and unnable to respond - and there is no "need to".

    #2. ONCE the ENABLING power of God - "Drawing ALL mankind to Himself" by "Convicting the WORLD of SIN and Righteousness and Judgment" -- is in play - then mankind by his CHOICE may become HARDENED or may become broken and submitted to the Gospel. Consistent rejecting of that Gospel call - will HARDEN the heart of the unsaved so that the "DRAWING of Christ" as He "Stands at the door and knocks" is less "effective".

    For GOD has soveriengly chosen that instead of "BREAKING down the DOOR" He will "STAND outside the door of the heart and KNOCK - having ENABLED the man on the inside to both HEAR and OPEN the door - if he so chooses".

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  6. KenH

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    Then why, according to your viewpoint, does God fail to actually draw all mankind unto Him in an effectual way. How can omnipotent God fail? What power is stronger than Him to cause Him to fail?
     
  7. Frogman

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    Most definitely the position of anyone believing the will of man can either reject, refuse, deny, disobey, or otherwise prove stronger than the Will of the Creator; or that man's will can perform any of the above aganist the Will of the Creator apart from the effectual calling.

    God Bless.
    Bro.Dallas [​IMG]
     
  8. ScottEmerson

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    Then why, according to your viewpoint, does God fail to actually draw all mankind unto Him in an effectual way. How can omnipotent God fail? What power is stronger than Him to cause Him to fail? </font>[/QUOTE]He does draw all men. He has not failed in this regard. What he does not do is force man to choose him. Part of his master plan is to allow man the choice to choose or reject him. He has not failed!
     
  9. William C

    William C
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    I agree. They are not the same, one of them is a figment of Augustine's imagination. ;)

    Seriously, I hear what you are saying. And I think there is some validity to your arguments. The scripture says that no one can come unless they are drawn, and it also says all men are drawn when he is lifted up, therefore it can be said that he has enabled all man to come to him. This is a good argument, but I don't think Jesus had Total Depravity in mind when he was teaching these things in John 6. I think he had two concepts in mind:

    1. Not everyone has been given to be an apostle and learn directly from the Incarnate Word (God in flesh).

    2. Not everyone in this audience can believe the signs and teachings because their hearts have been hardened (this is clearly seen in John 12:37-41).

    Calvinistic influences beginning with Augustine that have affected our western conception of this passage makes even Arminians think they need to provide an answer for Total Depravity when the concept is never expressed in the scriptures.

    Don't get me wrong, I believe we are born sinful and in need of a savior. I believe if left to ourselves we will become hardened in our sin and rebellion. I just don't believe that we are born hardened. In other words, I reject the part of Total Depravity that teaches man is born totally unable to respond to the gospel's call which comes by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's this part of the Calvinistic teaching that makes the effectual call necessary, which in turn makes the unconditional election necessary etc. Its the foundation for the entire Calvinistic system of thought and its not found in scripture.

    The stongest argument in favor of Total Depravity is the fact that the bible teaches we are spiritually dead. Calvinists link spiritual death to complete inability of the human heart, conscience, or will to respond to the call of the gospel. I don't see that supported in the text anywhere. The bible says that we are dead to sin once we become believers but that doesn't mean we are totally unable to sin, to assume the reverse is true is a link that the scripture doesn't provide.

    If Israel of the OT was totally depraved in the way Calvinist teach why does God grow angry with them?

    Zech. 7:11-13: "Your ancestors would not listen to this message. They turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the law or the messages that the LORD Almighty had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the LORD Almighty was so angry with them. 13 "Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the LORD Almighty.

    If God's sovereign imputation of Adam's sin caused the complete inablity of mankind to hear, understand, and respond to God's revelations, then how can He grow angry with them for doing that which He caused through that imputation?

    This would be like breaking someones legs and then getting mad at them because they can't walk. It is nonsense!

    And as you pointed out, why would God harden someone who is born Totally depraved? Seems redudant, don't you think? Was God talking with the heavenly host and saying, "Hey, let's make the deaf person deafer or this blind person blinder. Let's veil the gospel from people who were born unable to understand it. It is just not consistant with the teachings concerning hardening. Acts 28:25-28 clearly teaches that if not for the hardening the Isrealites may have seen, heard, understood and been converted. How can this be if they were born Totally depraved?

    This is might point exactly. Why would God harden Israel if they were born Totally depraved?

    If your arguing that God only hardens those who have already been enabled, you need to rethink that. Hardening is spoken of long before Christ was raised up to "draw" all men to himself. In other words, long before your "enabling" take place there was hardening, both judicial and self hardeing is recorded in the OT, so this arguement doesn't stand.

    Thank you for your comments Bob.
     
  10. KenH

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    If He draws all men, then all men come to Him and are saved. To say otherwise is just so much Arminian semantical nonsensical mumbo jumbo to defend an unBiblical position.
     
  11. William C

    William C
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    Then why, according to your viewpoint, does God fail to actually draw all mankind unto Him in an effectual way. How can omnipotent God fail? What power is stronger than Him to cause Him to fail? </font>[/QUOTE]Matt. 23:37
    "O Jerusalem! Jerusalem that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing!

    God wanted to gather them but they were not gathered because they were unwilling.

    To explain this passage you have to do one of two things:

    1. Teach that God's "want" or "desire" to gather Israel was not sincere.

    OR

    2. Accept that God has Sovereignly willed that man makes the choice to respond to his geniune and sincere calling.

    Let's see what you will do: Make God out to be unsincere or accept the truth of scripture as plainly seen in this text. :rolleyes:
     
  12. tyndale1946

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    I have one question and hear me out... The scripture states Romans 9:[18] Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

    Is the one that he hardeneth being hardened because of his total depravity or is it separate from it?... Since it is God that is doing the hardening and not the man hardening himself... Why is he hardening him?

    If God did not harden Pharoahs' heart would he not with a mighty hand... Let the children of Israel go?... In fact did not God harden Pharoahs' heart many times until the last plague which was the death of the first born of Egypt... Yet the children of Israel with the blood of the lamb applied to the lintel post protected them from the death angel... Which I know something about this Sunday morning.

    Those of us in the Total Depravity camp see a beautiful picture in the death of the first born as we must all lay down unless Christ comes again the first born of Egypt. To compare the two is not even biblical because one cannot be compared to the other.

    The one totally depraved can be hardened only because the one hardened is already totally depraved. Can scripture be proven it is the other way around?... Show me one?... Brother Glen [​IMG] & Sister Charlotte [​IMG]
     
  13. William C

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    Glenn, You have made my point. Why would God harden (which means to make someone unable to respond to the revelation of God) someone who was born already unable to respond to God's revelation? It makes no sense. It's like making a blind man blinder. It is absurd.

    But your question leads to a good discussion of this issue:

    Let's use Pharoah as an example:
    He was unwilling to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt before God ever intervened. The hardening was to assure that Pharoah did'nt change his mind and decide to let the people go after just a couple of the plagues and twart God's revelation of his power through all the plagues and the lessons they each taught (especially the passover). Apparently, if Pharoah had not been hardened by God he may have allowed the Israelites to go after just 5 plaques, or who knows maybe 1 or 2 would have convinced him, but that was not God's plan.

    So, yes Pharoah's heart was in a sense already hardened by his own stubbornness but that can be broken by such mighty revelations as these plagues, so God sealed him in that hardened state and made it to where he blinded to the obvious reality that God was on Moses' side.

    Take this a apply it to the Israelites of Paul's day. They too had continually rebelled against God and had become hardened by their own stubbornness. But, the mighty acts of Christ and his teaching apparently could have caused these Israelites to see the error of their ways and repent, but that is not what God wanted. He only wanted 12 men from Israel to learn directly from the Incarnate Word, he wanted the rest of Israel to continue in rebellion so that they would reject Christ and crucifiy him. He also wanted them to be hardened so that the Gentiles could be grafted in thus provoking them hardened Israel to jealousy so that once the hardening was removed they might also believe and be saved (Rom. 11).

    If Total Depravity is true the doctrine of hardening is senseless, as you have pointed out.

    Your assuming that one is totally depraved before he is hardened which makes no sense. Let's look at this from another perspective by changing a few words around of your quote here:

    The one born blind can be made blind by God only because the one made blind by God is already born totally blinded. Is that what you intended to say?

    How can I find the reverse of that when I don't believe in Total Depravity. I don't believe people are born blind, I believe they become that way when they are hardened in sin.

    Why would God make anyone blind who is born blind? Your assuming that we are born blind. The scripture says people are blinded because of hardening not because of the Fall as Totally depravity teaches.
     
  14. Frogman

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    It makes more sense to state it as Tyndale1946 has done because if the truth were as you declare it would be unjust of God to harden one or any, or many, or all, who have a portion of morality in whatever degree. The fact that men are totally depraved is such that they care not for the good things of God, they are satisfied to be where they are at and they are just as satisfied to sink deeper into the mire.

    If God hardened man in the way you assume he would be unjust as you presume the God of Grace is so now.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas [​IMG]
     
  15. tyndale1946

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    Brother Bill... Well I guess Brother Dallas took the words right out of my mouth... I believe someone can be born naturally blind... My son was born naturally deaf... But I also believe all that are born of Adams loins are born spiritually dead and totally depraved.

    I feel God HAD to harden Pharoahs' heart to carry out his will and purpose... Because if he didn't Pharoah would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes!... There is a great lesson here for all Gods children who are not blinded by their own strength... Brother Glen [​IMG] & Sister Charlotte [​IMG]
     
  16. William C

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    It might seem that way, but that is exactly why Paul gives us an explaination of why it is not unjust for God to harden some and have mercy on others in Romans 9. The reasons that God is not unjust in doing this:

    1. Who are you to question him
    2. God is the creator and can do anything he wants with his creation
    3. God "bore with great patience" these people who he has "fitted for destruction." He longed to gather them together but they were unwilling to come to him (Matt. 23:37). He held out his hands to these obstanite people for years. But according to your doctrine this "longing" of God could not have been genuine because he imputed them all with total inability and knew full well that they could not come.

    The very reason God is not unjust in hardening Israel is because they had already rebelled to his, "patient longsuffering," his "longing to gather them" and his "holding out his hands to them." You take that away by teaching that they were never able to do any of these things because in essence you say God has hardened them from birth due to the fall. You make God unjust.
     
  17. William C

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    If He draws all men, then all men come to Him and are saved. To say otherwise is just so much Arminian semantical nonsensical mumbo jumbo to defend an unBiblical position. </font>[/QUOTE]Ken, notice that you say, "IF he draws all men."

    The scripture clearly says that he does draw all men to himself, therefore you are the ones who have to pull out the semantical nonsensical mumbo jumbo to defend your pet dogma.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Frogman

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    Still drawing from Calvin trying to support non-total depravity.

    But it is just to accuse God of unjust behavior in effectual calling of the elect, but not of all men?

    You again do err.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  19. William C

    William C
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    Drawing from Calvin? How am I drawing from Calvin?

    Uh? I don't follow your question. Please explain.
     
  20. BobRyan

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    When God Draws ALL men unto Him - and in so doing He "enables" the choice that total depravity disabled - then the Calvinist calls this "God failing" if the one who can not "choose" does not "choose Life".

    Although God ENABLES the choice that was NOT possible before - the Calvinist STILL declares this to be "failure" unless mankind is ALSO forced to choose "life" when he is ENABLED to choose.

    When Adam and Eve were ENABLED to CHOOSE - and then chose DEATH after having been given LIFE - one could argue the Calvinist point "God FAILED to effectually create them as ALIVE since they eventually chose death".

    Only Calvinism would resort to such circular logic.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     

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