Is Calvinism's "Total Inability" and Biblical Hardening Compatible?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    Here is a very well written article by former Calvinistic scholar, Steve Jones describing the problem of the Reformed view of Total Inability as it relates to the Biblical doctrine of hardening:

    Total Inability seems to oppose the Bible teaching concerning hardness of heart. The Scriptures warn us that those who repeatedly trifle with sin may sear their consciences (1 Tim. 4:2), render themselves "past feeling" (Eph. 4:19) and enter into a hardening of the heart toward God and His truth. This is not a condition of birth, but seems to be a consequence of repeated sin.

    Isaiah speaks of this condition: "Why, O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?" (Isa. 63:17) The hardening of the heart which precludes reverence of God is here described as a condition that has come upon these people, probably as a judgment for rebellion. But Calvinists tell us that this condition - an invincible anti-God bent - is the birth-condition of all human beings.

    In Romans 1, Paul writes of men who are "without excuse" because of the manifest presence of God in the creation. He says, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Rom. 1:21). Here we see men who became futile in their thinking and were given over to a darkened state of the heart. The apostle is not speaking of a condition of birth, but a judgment that came upon them because of willful refusal to acknowledge the Creator.

    The Calvinist is hard-pressed to show how this judgment condition of darkness differs from their notions of Total Inability - a state they deem universal. Their doctrine states that everyone is born hardened toward God, unable to believe or take the slightest step toward Him. But if this is true, why do the Scriptures seem to say this only about some people?

    Again, Zechariah says of rebellious Zion, "They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty has sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets" (Zech. 7:12). Here, people made themselves insensible to the truth of God, indicating that they were not in this condition from the womb.

    There is no denying that all people are born with sinful tendencies and are apt to go astray. This can be established by Scripture and experience. But it is one thing to say that all men have such tendencies and quite another that they are unable to respond to God. General human sinfulness differs from Total Inability. To prove the first is not necessarily to prove the second. - Steve Jones
     
  2. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    You or somebody closed the other thread right after you made your last post- whether it was so you could have the last word or not, I do not know- I typed this statement and tried to submit it only to find out that it was closed before I could respond to your last statement.

    It fits here so here it is:

    Well, at least you have abandoned that tired old erroneous argument that me saying "God DID IT" puts me out of the mainstream of Calvinism.

    Bruce Ware reresents the mainstream ON THIS ISSUE- he is CERTAINLY not to the RIGHT of MOST of us.

    And he says EXACTLY what I and Calvin and Edwards and Piper and Sproul and Pink, etc.... say about it.

    Now that you've come to terms with the fact that I am in the mainstream and that you did not really know this whole time what the mainstream of Calvinism says now and historically- now we can have some fruitful exchanges.

    Ask me what you will- I will answer it to the best of my ability.
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    No one says that everyone is as evil acting as possible. I was an evil sinner, an enemy of God, but not a Hitler or Stalin.

    The doctrine of total inability simply states that man has no innate (in our fallen Adamic sin nature) to repent and believe - both crucial parts of the whole package we call "salvation". If we are going to do either, there must be a heart-change, from dead to alive, from stone to living flesh, etc (lots of metaphors in the Word).

    Without that change in nature, there can be no change in will or action. We hear the Gospel call, we hear the pleading to repent and are utterly unable to respond correctly. All the righteous things we do are, in reality, filthy rags to God.

    No, I'm no Hitler. But in me, that is in my flesh, there is nothing good. Rom 3 described ol' self-righteous Bob's condition to a 't'. Every part of me ("t" = totality) is captive of Satan. Now some may "harden" their will even further - like Pharaoh or like my example of Hitler. I was not there.

    But still without hope. Not a Romans 1 reprobate sinner, but a Romans 2 rational sinner and Romans 3 religious sinner. But a sinner. And all sinners are completely unable to do any good (concerning salvation)
     
  4. Winman

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    Dr. Bob said;

    I highlighted the part of your quote I have an issue with. Is this really true? Is it true that a sinner is utterly unable to do any good concerning salvation?

    I think the story of Cornelius completely refutes your view.

    First, we KNOW from scripture that Cornelius was not saved until Peter preached the gospel to him.

    Acts 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

    Peter spoke this in chapter 11 after Cornelius had been saved. He clearly shows that Cornelius was not saved until Peter came and preached the gospel to him. But was Cornelius able to do spiritual good before this? Yes, the scriptures show this without a doubt in chapter 10.

    Acts 10: 1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
    2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
    3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
    4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
    5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
    6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
    7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
    8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

    If Cornelius was a God-hater you could sure fool me. The scriptures say he was devout and that he feared God. He prayed "always". And the scriptures say his prayers and alms are come up for a memorial before God.

    I gotta say, Cornelius sounds pretty good for an unregenerate God-hater!

    And Peter confirmed that Cornelius feared God before he preached the gospel to him. Peter knew very well he was sent by God to preach to Cornelius.

    Acts 10:29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
    30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
    31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
    32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.
    33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
    34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
    35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

    So, here Peter confirms that Cornelius was a God fearing man. He worked righteousness, and he was ACCEPTED with God.

    But again, Cornelius was not saved until after he heard and believed the gospel from Peter and received the Holy Spirit.

    Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
    45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
    47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

    Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
    16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
    17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

    So, the story of Cornelius clearly refutes your view.
     
  5. preacher4truth

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    He wasn't an un-regenerate God-hater. Why? Because he wasn't unregenerate.
     
  6. Luke2427

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    Exactly.

    We are not cut off from God because God's kryptonite is sin and he cannot come around us now.

    Sin is no threat to the Almighty. He hates sin. He figuratively cannot look upon sin because he despises it. But sin does not limit the omnipresence of God. God is not driven from a location because he cannot bear to be in its vicinity. In order for sin to exist God must vacate his MORAL GOODNESS from a "place"- but we are not cut off from God because he cannot be in a place where sin is.

    We are cut off from God because in the day that sin entered the world we died- SPIRITUALLY.

    The spirit of man is that part of man with which he can commune with God and by which God communes with man.

    Our spirit is the conduit upon which the signnal between man and God travels.

    Sin killed the line. It cut us off from God.

    Man cannot hear the spiritual nature of the word of God because he is dead spiritually.

    God must regenerate the Spirit. It must be transformed from a "dead line" to a "live line".

    The natural man cannot RECEIVE the things of the Spirit of God. His receiver is dead. His receiver must be regenerated.

    This is not just an issue of the perfect wickedness of unregenerate man.

    It is also an issue of the inability of man due to his spiritual deadness.
     
  7. Luke2427

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    You are exactly right.

    Cornelius must have been regenerate but the process of his salvation was not complete (in time that is) until he heard the words of Peter.
     
  8. preacher4truth

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    Thanks.

    These types of things happened in Acts.

    Also receiving the Holy Ghost was later for some, though already regenerate, Acts 19:2.
     
  9. Robert Snow

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    I love the way you and Preacher4truch conveniently come up with a totally man-made idea about the "process of salvation" which is not found in scripture.

    When compared with scripture, all five points of Calvinism fail miserably!
     
  10. Rippon

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    Thanks for that in-depth observation. You spend a great deal of time and energy in exegetics.
     
  11. jbh28

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    Because, as been said many times, the doctrine of Total Depravity doesn't mean you are as evil as you can be. So, you are not as hardened as you could be.
     
  12. jbh28

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    Cornelius was already saved.
    as you quoted...
    If Cornelius was a God-hater you could sure fool me. The scriptures say he was devout and that he feared God. He prayed "always". And the scriptures say his prayers and alms are come up for a memorial before God. [/quote]Yep, he was saved.
    It doesn't say the Cornelius wasn't saved.

    the problem with using Acts this way is because it's very different situation. We have 3 places where the Holy Spirit comes to people. The first was a very familiar one at Pentecost (Acts 2), and then here to Cornelius (Acts 10) and the other is to those at Ephesus (Acts 19).
     
  13. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Yes but give it 54 yrs of depravity jack....put over 1/2 century into sinning & your hard as granite & as deviant as a bush waker piking off Sunday School Teachers :smilewinkgrin:
     
  14. Winman

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    What? How can you be regenerate without the Holy Spirit, Jesus said it is the Spirit that quickens! (Jn 6:63)

    Cornelius did not receive the Spirit until AFTER Peter preached the gospel to him and he believed. (Acts 11:15-17)

    Yet Cornelius was devout (religious), feared God, and prayed always, so much so that God sent an angel to him to send for Peter and hear the gospel.

    The story of Cornelius refutes the Calvinist concept of Total Inability, as also does the story of the Philipian jailer in Acts 16, and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.
     
  15. Luke2427

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    You don't have to "have" the Holy Spirit in order for the Holy Spirit to do something to you.
     
  16. Winman

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    Oh, I agree, the Holy Spirit convicts a man, it enlightens (teaches) him so that he is able to believe. But no man is quickened or saved until he receives the Spirit.

    It is obvious Cornelius had faith, but he was told by the angel that he must must hear the words of Peter to be saved. (Acts 11:13-14)

    John 20:31 says you must believe to have life, but you teach a person must have life to believe. Your doctrine contradicts scripture.

    And Acts 11:18 refutes your view, it says "God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life"

    Which comes first, repentance or life? And in vs. 21 it says a great number believed, and turned (repentance) unto the Lord. So we see this order;

    Hear the word of God ---> Believe/Repent ---> Life

    Whatever your definition of regeneration is, it cannot be defined as life, because the scriptures repeatedly say you must first believe to have life.
    Your view on the other hand does not have one single verse to support it.
     
  17. Luke2427

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    Yes, you must believe to have life just like a new born baby must breathe to have life.

    But we believe life begins at conception.

    Breath is necessary for life but life precedes breath.

    So even though one must breath so he can have life, life still precedes breath.

    Just so, one must believe (breathe) to have life. But life still precedes belief (breath).
     
  18. Iconoclast

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    No...Cornelius was already a proselyte to Judaism.

    exactly backwards


    Inability and hardening are two seperate issues completely..
     
    #18 Iconoclast, Jul 31, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2011
  19. Don

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    Sir - I'm not here to support Winman; but I have to point out that babies receive oxygen while in the womb. They don't breath using their lungs; but at some point during gestation, they do "breath" in amniotic fluid, which exercises the lungs, encouraging lung growth and preparing the fetus for eventual use of the lungs outside of the womb. Oxygen and other functions are carried through the placenta. So the reason for breathing--oxygen--exists.

    While I understand what you're trying to tell Winman, I'm not agreeing with the particular example used.
     
  20. Luke2427

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    They live before they even have lungs.

    The illustration is fine.

    I don't care how you slice it, there is life before breath.

    Not only is your point nitpicking, it is erroneous as well.
     

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