Doctrinal Downgrade of Man's Depravity

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by markwaltermd, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. markwaltermd

    markwaltermd
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    As a member of this forum, you'd have to be living with your head under a rock if you haven't noticed the recent escalation in the baseless rants and "hit-and-run" attacks against those Biblical truths generally referred to as Calvinism. It seems those handful of members who launch these assaults were emboldened to do so after the release of the now infamous anti-Calvinist doctrinal statement made by a group within the SBC.

    One of the arguments that continues to arise is either a case of some being misinformed, or else willing to compromise truth, if they feel that it might steer someone away from an understanding of the implications of God's grace and His sovereignty. That is, specifically, a historical argument against the doctrines of grace. They say, in other words, that the non-Calvinistic understanding of Scripture is the historical Baptist position. Mohler's response to the recent SBC document was very gracious, yet not critical enough. When one takes a cursory look at the change in Baptist doctrines since the early 17th century, especially those changes translated into the 3 major revisions of the Baptist Faith & Message (1925, 1963 and 2000), one can see that there has been a staggering doctrinal downgrade. It leads me to ask, as an American Baptist, what have American Baptists done, and why is there this apparent mishandling (and rejection) of key points of doctrine?

    As a case in point, I have traced the doctrinal de-evolution of the subject of inherited sin, through 400 years of Baptist confessions...



    Smyth's Short Confession of Faith (1610)

    "This only God bath created man good, according to his image and likeness, to a good and happy estate, and in him all men to the same blessed end. The first man was fallen into sin and wrath and was again by God, through a sweet comfortable promise, restored and affirmed to everlasting life, with all those that were guilty through him so that none of his posterity (by reason of this institution) are guilty, sinful, or born in original sin. Man being created good, and continuing in goodness, had the ability, the spirit of wickedness tempting him, freely to obey, assent, or reject the propounded evil: man being fallen and consisting (sic) in evil, had the ability, the t...himself moving freely to obey, assent or reject the propounded good; for as he through free power to the choice of evil, obeyed and affirmed that evil; so did he through free power to the choice of good, obey and reassent that propounded good. This last power or ability remaineth in all his posterity.God bath before all time foreseen and foreknown all things, both good and evil, whether past, present, or to come. Now, as he is the only perfect goodness, and the very fountain of life itself, so is he the only author, original, and maker of such good things as are good, holy, pure, and of nature like unto him; but not of sin, or dagnabitable uncleanness. He forbiddeth the evil, he forewarneth to obey evil, and threateneth the evil doer: he is the permitter and punisher. But evil men, through free choice of all sin and wickedness, together with the spirit of wickedness which ruleth in them, are the authors, Interlined. originals, and makers of all sin, and so worthy the punishment. The causes and ground, therefore, of man’s destruction and dagnabitation, are the man’s free choice of darkness or sin, and living therein. Destruction, therefore, cometh out of himself, but not from the good Creator. For being perfect goodness and love itself (following the nature of love and perfect goodness) he willeth the health, good, and happiness of his creatures; therefore hath he predestinated that none of them should be condemned, nor ordained, or will the sinner, or means whereby they should be brought to dagnabitation: yea, much more (seeing he hath no delight in any man’s destruction, nor willing that any man perish, but that all men should be saved or blessed) hath he created them all to a happy end in Christ, hath foreseen and ordained in him a medicine of life for all their sins, and hath willed that all people or creatures, through the preaching of the gospel, should have these tidings published and declared unto them; now all they that with penitence and faithful hearts receive and embrace the gracious benefits of God, manifested in Christ, for the reconciliation of the world, they are and continue the elect which God hath ordained before the foundation of the world, to make partakers of his kingdom and glory. But they which despise and co~itemn this proffered grace of God, which love the darkness more than the light, persevere in inipenitence and unbelief, they make themselves unworthy of blessedness, and are rejected, excluded from the end whereto they were created and ordained in Christ, and shall not taste forever of the Supper of the Lord, to which they were invited."

    Not only does Smyth's confession not support inherited sin or original sin. Clearly this confession does not support the Calvinist position. But examine a more Scripturally informed confession from his contemporary, Helwys...



    Helwys' Declaration of Faith (1611)

    "That this God in the beginning created all things of nothing, and made man of the dust of the earth, in his own image, in righteousness and true holiness; yet being tempted, fell in disobedience. Through whose disobedience, all men sinned: his sin being imputed to all; and so death went over all men. That by the promised seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, [and by] his obedience, all are made righteous, all are made alive: his righteousness being imputed unto all. That notwithstanding this, men are by nature the children of wrath, born in iniquity, and in sin conceived; wise to all evil, but to good they have no knowledge. The naturalman receives not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14. And therefore man is not restored unto his former estate. But that as man, in his estate of innocency, having in himself all disposition unto good, and no disposition unto evil, yet being tempted might yield, or might resist; even so now being fallen, and having all disposition unto evil, and no disposition or will unto any good..."

    Helwys, then was right on the money, and his confession stands alongside that of Smyth in Baptist infancy. Man was born with a sin nature, inherited from the first Adam. That the truth of the Helwys' Declaration was accepted is evidenced by the recognition in two later, major Baptist confessions of the 17th century...



    Baptist Confession of 1646

    IN the beginning God made all things very good; created man after His own Image, filled with all meet perfection of nature, and free from all sin; but long he abode not in this honor; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to seduce first Eve, then by her seducing Adam; who without any compulsion, in eating the forbidden fruit, transgressed the command of God, and fell, whereby death came upon all his posterity; who now are conceived in sin, and by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and other miseries in this world, and for ever, unless the Lord Jesus Christ set them free.



    The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)

    "Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them. For from this, death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and their corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. Their descendants are therefore conceived in sin, and are by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, and the subjects of death and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus sets them free. All actual transgressions proceed from this original corruption, by which we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil. During this life the corruption of nature remains in those who are regenerated, and although it is pardoned and mortified through Christ, yet this corrupt nature and all its motions are truly and properly sinful."

    The LBC 1689, as with the Helwys Declaration, unequivocally states the source of the problem of man, inherited sin. The Philadelphia Confession of 1742 is no different...

    [Continued]
     
  2. markwaltermd

    markwaltermd
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    Part 2

    Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742)

    "Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin."

    and almost verbatim. Now let's leap ahead to 20th century America, examining the doctrinal statements put forward by the SBC.



    Baptist Faith & Message (1925)

    "He [man] was created in a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors."

    So, here, we see the first downgrade, which is conditioning guilt before God on the development of moral ability and the first instance of personal sin.



    Baptist Faith & Message (1963, with 1998 Amendment)

    "Man was created by the special act of God, in His own image, and is the crowning work of His creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfil the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore every man possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love."

    It appears that the BFM needed a revision to make the language of the downgrade more clear.



    Baptist Faith & Messge (2000)

    "Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love."

    And now there is no mention of inherited sin but of a nature that is inclined toward sin. The doctrine of Human Depravity/Man's Inability, then, is done great damage. Examining just those relevant portions of 4 centuries worth of Baptist confessions, one can make the argument that Man's Inability was a foundational Baptist belief, and somewhere between the late 18th and the early 20th century, American Baptists became derailed doctrinally.
     
    #2 markwaltermd, Jun 11, 2012
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  3. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    I'm going to have to re-read your posts, but at first glance, I thank you for doing a valuable service for us. The differences you outline are somewhat subtle, but differences nonetheless.
     
  4. markwaltermd

    markwaltermd
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    John Dagg's Manual of Theology (1857)

    I wanted to supplement this with a few passages from Chapter III of John Dagg's Manual of Theology (1857), providing another point on our Baptist timeline.

    "The evils consequent on the disobedience of our first parents were not confined to them personally, but have fallen on their descendants also. Adam had been created in the image of God; but when that image had been lost by transgression, he begat a son in his own likeness. So all his descendants since have borne the image of the earthly, fallen progenitor, and have been like him, not only in character, but in condition."

    "From this universal corruption no man is exempt. 'There is no man which sinneth not.' All whom the Spirit of God brings to a knowledge of themselves confess, 'In many things we offend all;' and they pray, 'Forgive us our sins.' If others make no confessions of sin, and no petitions for pardon, it is because of the blindness and hardness of their hearts."

    "The love of God is dethroned from the heart, and therefore the grand principle of morality is wanting, and no true morality exists. A total absence of that by which the actions should be controlled and directed, is total depravity. Hence the strong language of Scripture, already quoted, is properly descriptive of human nature in its fallen state; 'Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.'"

    "Depravity is natural to man; it is born with him, and not acquired in the progress of life. It is not to be ascribed to evil habit, or evil example. Evil habits are formed by evil doing; and evil doing would not be, if there were no evil propensity. Evil example would not everywhere exist, if human nature were not everywhere corrupt; and the tendency to follow evil example would not be so common, and so much to be guarded against, if it were not natural to man. The Scriptures clearly teach this doctrine. 'Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.'

    "As every individual of our race is born of depraved parents, and brings depravity with him into the world, we are led to conceive of it as propagated from parent to child. This accords with the representations of Scripture; 'Adam begat a son in his own likeness.' It accords also with analogies to which we are familiar."

    "Vain it will be, to receive the doctrine of human depravity into our creed, if it is not received into our hearts. A thorough conviction of our total depravity is necessary to humble us before God, and drive us to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. No genuine Christian experience can exist, where this is not felt and operative."


    Again, and speaking to the importance of this doctrine.
     
    #4 markwaltermd, Jun 11, 2012
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  5. HankD

    HankD
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    And yet our evil inclination has progressively manifested itself to the highest expression of our depravity:

    Abortion and eugenics (Legalization of assisted suicide in WA and OR).

    HankD
     
  6. markwaltermd

    markwaltermd
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    Agreed. We wear it well.
     
  7. convicted1

    convicted1
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    Well, The Bib....err Mark, all you have done is post those who support, or rather you, support their views. We can all do that with enough google research.


    The bible states that we are seperated from God by our sins.

    Isa. 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.


    Now, if original sin is correct in how RCC, and namely, St. Augustus of Hippo, and John Calvin(who apparently idolized him) see it, then our sins could not have seperated us from God, seeing that we were already seperated from God at conception.
     
  8. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1
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    Augustine might have 'rediscovered' the truth, high lighted it, as reformers did saved by grace/faith alone, but the concept is from the Bible!
     
  9. markwaltermd

    markwaltermd
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    Actuallly, the post was to demonstrate the historicity of inherited sin in Baptist belief, as demonstrated in confessional statements. Those who support this view are those who drafted and ratified and stood by these historical documents, through centuries. Please don't confuse this with merely my beliefs, nor those of Augustine or Calvin (notice that they were not invoked in the opener). I was careful to not do that. The problem, I believe, is that people do not research their beliefs adequately.

    Our sins do interrupt the believer's communion with God, as your verse points out.

    Here the matter is inherited sin...

    "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
    Psalm 51:4-6
     
    #9 markwaltermd, Jun 11, 2012
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  10. HeirofSalvation

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    NO, didn't happen like that, not at all. Just wrong.
     
  11. HeirofSalvation

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    Slam-dunk Systematic Theology...........from Psalms.
     
  12. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1
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    So you be going against jeremiah stating we are wicked and receitful within ourselves, as comfirmed by both messiah and Paul?

    that the bible makes it clear that God viewed Adam as standing in place for physical humanity, that sinners are linked and judged thru his act of sinning, while god views saints in christ, benefitting his work on the Cross as standing for those in him?
     
  13. HeirofSalvation

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    So............no, I wouldn't.............I would be going against the historical notion you posed, which, I think, should NOT have been overly confusing, as I quoted you directly....I will supply here:

    I then said:
    Subject 1.) History
    Subject 2.) Theology


    When I was in the 1st through the 5th grades, I was unnecessarily required to endlessly consult something called "McGuffey's eclectic Reader"......this was in what was presumably an unnecessary class we generically called "Reading".
     
  14. markwaltermd

    markwaltermd
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    Or reading, for those unaccustomed.
     
  15. HeirofSalvation

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    WHAT???..........there is something tacitly implied here, it escapes me. An MD such as yourself (and Rebecca Brown I assume)should be the world's foremost authority on matters of Theology no?

    I will show you really quickly how to defeat my limited post...........quote something more than a Psalm......and you will win, by default even!!!:thumbsup:
     
  16. markwaltermd

    markwaltermd
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    You seem to be making wild assumptions.

    I was commenting on your reference to the McGuffey reader, when you addressed the other poster.
     
  17. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    Of course the OP has it absolutely correct.Some accept the biblical teaching as it is.Others want to apologize and explain it away.:thumbsup:
     
  18. HeirofSalvation

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    Quite possibly I was, and that is my error...:tonofbricks:
     

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