Total Depravity

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Timtoolman, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. Timtoolman

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    Total Depravity
    As we begin to unravel the doctrinal confusion adopted by those who embrace Calvinism, we need to remember one thing: God has always been a God who provides choices. For example, Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."

    After reading this verse, it becomes apparent that mankind has the ability to make the proper choice with respect to salvation. Even after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:22 described them as follows:

    "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil, etc."

    Genesis 3:22 reveals that, after Adam and Eve sinned, they knew both good and evil. And Deuteronomy 30:19 indicates that mankind still had the ability to choose either life or death. This proves one thing: even though mankind is considered spiritually depraved, this doesn't necessarily mean that we are totally incapable of making the correct choice with respect to our own personal salvation.

    Keeping this in mind, let's take a look at Calvinism's misconception of mankind's total depravity:

    According to them, mankind's spiritual downfall prevents everyone and anyone from making the proper choice regarding salvation. They believe that it is impossible for us to come to God on our own. However, this position seems to be in clear contradiction to the Scriptures. Once again, Deuteronomy 30:19 provides the evidence because, if man was totally incapable of making the correct decision to choose life, why would God say to choose? It doesn't make any sense, does it?

    In summary, it all begins with God. He has instilled a conscience in every single one of us. Based on our consciences, we make the choice. Since God has foreknowledge, He just happens to know the decisions we will make before we make them. It's that simple!


    http://www.kingmessiahproject.com/calv_main.html
     
  2. Timtoolman

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    The Total Inability passed to us makes it impossible for us to comply with the command to believe in Christ. The most obvious fault with this doctrine is that it makes the gospel an unreasonable demand. How can God, who is perfectly just, "command all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30), knowing the command is impossible to obey?

    This is a vexing problem for Calvinists. They will often assert that a command does not necessarily imply the ability to keep it. But the statement is certainly not self-evident. If God gives a command and threatens to punish as responsible agents those who do not comply, it certainly does imply the ability to obey. Orville Dewey writes: "...it would follow that men are commanded, on peril and pain of all future woes, to love a holiness and a moral perfection of God, which they are not merely unable to love, but of which, according to the supposition, they have no conception."9

    That puts the Calvinist in a conundrum. Man is so corrupt, he will not and cannot obey even the slightest spiritual command - nor can he appreciate or even understand it. Yet, God orders him to believe; He punishes him for not believing. As Judge of the Universe, he justly condemns the sinner for not doing what he from birth cannot do. This seems to many of us to be at loggerheads with God's revealed character.

    The Old Testament demands never seemed to be presented as impossibilities for the hearers. Moses said, "Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach" (Deut. 30:11). What of Total Inability here? Are we to assume that all of the hearers had received the miracle of Efficacious Grace? Moses adds, "See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways and the commands, decrees and laws..." (v.19).

    Moses sets life and death before the Israelites for their consideration. There is no intimation there that he was speaking to people utterly incapable of complying with the commands. He presents the prospects of life and death as genuine options for them to ponder.

    Joshua urged the Israelites, "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15). There is nothing in Joshua's entreaty that suggests the Israelites were all unable to choose the Lord unless they first experienced an inward miracle.

    Joshua did say that the people were "not able to serve the Lord" in their present sinful state (v.19). Repentance was in order. They were called upon to make a choice of the heart and turn from their evil ways. Joshua said, "throw away your foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel" (v.23). Nowhere are we left with the impression that these people were all in a state of Total Inability from birth, innately incapable of yielding as Joshua commanded. Such an idea must be read into the text.

    The New Testament uses the same language. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached before thousands who had gathered in Jerusalem. Luke writes, "With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation'" (Acts 2:40). Was Peter "pleading" with these people to do something they were impotent to do? He certainly gives no hint of it. Furthermore, Peter's admonition "save yourselves" would probably be viewed as less than orthodox by many Calvinists.

    Jesus himself did not seem to have been a believer in Total Inability. We read in Mark 4:11,12 that he spoke in parables as a judgment against the obstinate Jews. The purpose of parables was to keep his message from entering their ears, "otherwise they might turn and be forgiven" (v.12). Had those stiff-necked people been allowed to hear the truth straight out, they might have turned to receive it. But how? Calvinism tells us that no one can turn and receive the forgiveness of sins because of Total Inability passed from Adam. There must first be an inward miracle of the heart, an "effectual call."

    Calvinist preachers will sometimes say that they can never persuade natural men of the gospel no matter how openly, clearly and earnestly they may preach it. It is like presenting a sermon to a corpse - there is no response. Jesus, however, felt it necessary to obscure his message in parables to keep certain people from responding to it. Had he preached the truth openly they would have turned and been forgiven. This fact alone is fatal to the Calvinist dogma, for it contradicts the notion that all men have a native inability to believe.

    Jesus sometimes "marvelled" at the unbelief of his hearers (Mark 6:6). But if he subscribed to and taught Total Inability, it would have been no marvel at all that men would disbelieve God.

    http://www.auburn.edu/%7Eallenkc/openhse/calvinism.html#Inability
     
  3. Timtoolman

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    The Hardened Heart

    Total Inability also 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.
     
  4. Timtoolman

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    1. Total Depravity. Calvinists believe that man’s nature and will is absolutely fixed and determined against all godliness. He is so depraved he has no ability whatsoever to even have faith. Man cannot even come to Christ.

    The concept is easily refuted by Ezekiel 16:47: You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. If depravity is “total” than how could one person be more depraved than the others? “More” speaks of quantity. If one can have “more” than someone else, then the others cannot have “total”. Yet, Calvin believed that all of humanity was “totally depraved.”

    This depravity was so grave to Calvin that he believed man could do “nothing” to be saved, including “believing” the gospel. I agree that man cannot work his way to salvation. No amount of good works could save anyone. That is true. But to say that man cannot even “believe” is going too far.

    One day Jesus taught the disciples that, instead of working for food which perishes, they should “work” for food that is eternal. Obviously the disciples wanted to be employed in this kind of labor, so they asked Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

    Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29) The disciples were thinking plural “works” but Jesus made it simple, there is only one “work” they could do, and that was to “believe.”

    If Jesus did not think it was possible for man to believe, then He had a royal opportunity to expand on Calvin’s idea of total depravity, but instead, He revealed to us that there is one thing that man can do to get saved, and that is to “believe in the one God has sent.” This is within man’s reach.

    Saint Paul said it a different way: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) Notice the subject matter is “grace”. Grace by nature is not from us. It is a gift of God. Right of entry into this grace is “through faith.” Faith is our responsibility. God will not make us believe.

    (Some have construed Paul’s words to mean that even our faith is not from ourselves. However, he was referring to grace as not from ourselves. Sure there is an element where faith is a gift of God too, however, it is gift only in the sense that man cannot believe unless he “hears the Word of God.” Without God speaking, man cannot believe anything about God. But God has spoken and is still speaking through His Spirit.)

    Here is another passage which confirms the Apostle’s concept of the role of Faith and Grace: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Rom 5:1-2)

    How do we gain access into this grace? Paul says we gain access by faith into this grace. Grace is God’s doing, Faith is man’s doing. Grace is God’s Work, Faith is Man’s Work.

    Calvin was wrong. Mankind has the ability to “believe.” He is not so depraved that he lost his ability to have faith.
     
  5. whatever

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    Hi Tim,

    There's a flaw in your logic here:

    The New Testament makes it clear that no one can be saved by keeping the Law. According to your reasoning then, there would be no reason for God to give the Law. However, the NT says that there is a purpose in God giving the Law - not to save those who keep it, since no one can, but to drive people to Christ.

    Passages like Deut. 30:19 (and there are many others) do show that God has laid out the choice for us all, but the clear testimony of Scripture is that we all choose poorly. None of us choose life on our own. These commands serve to highlight the problem, and to point us to the only real solution, which is Christ.

    Most people, Calvinists and Arminians and all in between, agree that no one will repent and believe on his own apart from the influence of God. The disagreement is on what the nature and extent of God's involvement is. I say that if God had only given commandments like Deut. 30:19 then no one would be saved, just as if He had only given the Law and then left it at that. But He has done more, and that "more" that He has done is where Calvinism starts. I hope this is helpful.


    P.S. - I will reply to your PM later - got to get to work.
     
  6. Andy T.

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    I'm curious about the third post on the hardened heart. The author believes that some people are hardened and some are not. For those who are hardened - is it impossible for them to be saved? Or does God need to give them an extra amount of grace to save them, as compared to a non-hardened person?
     
  7. Robert J Hutton

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    The book "Debating Calvinism" which has James White (Calvinist) and Dave Hunt debating various aspects of Calvinist theology covers this subject. Mr Hunt demolishes Calvinism by firing verse after verse from the Bible at it. The response by Mr White is often to quote from the various confessions of faith and, of course, from Calvin himself.

    Kind regards to all (including Calvinists whom I esteem highly for love's sake!)

    Bob
     
  8. reformedbeliever

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    Tim correct me if I'm wrong... but I think you are saying that it would be unfair for God to put a button that man could choose to push and be saved, but then build a glass cage around it so that they couldn't push it and be saved? That would be unfair. Why tell men to push the button and have it in sight but not be able to get to it? How unfair and unreasonable!
    It would be unfair and unreasonable if God had built the glass cage... but it was men who created the barrier. Now if God knowing that man could not choose to be saved on his own ability, chose to save some, would that be unfair?
     
  9. Brother James

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    The total depravity of man is so settled in the scripture that to deny it is to deny your sanity.
    As for Dave Hunt, he's one of the best apologists that ROME has.
     
  10. Brother James

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    From C.H. Spurgeon, A defence of Calvinism:

    I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing. If God enters into covenant with unfallen man, man is so insignificant a creature that it must be an act of gracious condescension on the Lord's part; but if God enters into covenant with sinful man, he is then so offensive a creature that it must be, on God's part, an act of pure, free, rich, sovereign grace. When the Lord entered into covenant with me, I am sure that it was all of grace, nothing else but grace. When I remember what a den of unclean beasts and birds my heart was, and how strong was my unrenewed will, how obstinate and rebellious against the sovereignty of the Divine rule, I always feel inclined to take the very lowest room in my Father's house, and when I enter Heaven, it will be to go among the less than the least of all saints, and with the chief of sinners.
    The late lamented Mr. Denham has put, at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, "Salvation is of the Lord." That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, "He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord." I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. "He only is my rock and my salvation." Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, "God is my rock and my salvation." What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

    "If ever it should come to pass,
    That sheep of Christ might fall away,
    My fickle, feeble soul, alas!
    Would fall a thousand times a day."
     
  11. Timtoolman

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    I believe there is a pt of rejecting the conviction of the Holy Spirit to the pt where your heart is harden to the pt of not being able.
    What the author is trying to pt out however is that if man, according to calvinism's belief,is born unable to repent or recieve salvation. Then why the hardening of hearts. If man is already born totally unable then what difference is hardening making.
    So with all due respect (I don't want this thread to turn out like the last one) it appears the Word of God is too baffling or confusing to read or know. We have God doing things that don't seem needed. God commanding us to do things that we can't, telling us to do things, like pray or wittnes, that make no difference. That is what is so perplexing to me. However I am sure there are some who will jump in and say I am mis-representing them. I want to remind everyone that I am trying to key into one single topic and term. Which is....does the bible teach total inability? I believe it teaches total depravity but not inablility.
    Hope that helps.
     
  12. Timtoolman

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    We know he disagrees with you BJ. No need for the attack. Lets try to keep this above board and civil.
     
  13. Timtoolman

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    Thats a good illustration. I think that works. However...he he, knew there would be one of those didn't yeah. However I would still feel the same. Even though man made the barrier God knows that man cannot break it. So too command him to does so when HE knows man cannot do it but only HIM seems too be at least a waste of time.
    And too me personally, yes unfair. I feel that the bible does not show that man is unable though. Seems, at least too me to be plenty of evidence for it.
     
  14. Scott J

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    Still arguing for man's ability to contribute to his salvation? But probably still won't admit that this necessarily makes an individual's personal goodness the critical difference between those who believe and those who don't.
     
  15. Timtoolman

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    The New Testament makes it clear that no one can be saved by keeping the Law. According to your reasoning then, there would be no reason for God to give the Law. However, the NT says that there is a purpose in God giving the Law - not to save those who keep it, since no one can, but to drive people to Christ.

    Passages like Deut. 30:19 (and there are many others) do show that God has laid out the choice for us all, but the clear testimony of Scripture is that we all choose poorly. None of us choose life on our own. These commands serve to highlight the problem, and to point us to the only real solution, which is Christ.

    Most people, Calvinists and Arminians and all in between, agree that no one will repent and believe on his own apart from the influence of God. The disagreement is on what the nature and extent of God's involvement is. I say that if God had only given commandments like Deut. 30:19 then no one would be saved, just as if He had only given the Law and then left it at that. But He has done more, and that "more" that He has done is where Calvinism starts. I hope this is helpful.


    P.S. - I will reply to your PM later - got to get to work.
    </font>[/QUOTE]You said what is the purpose of giving the law if man cannot obey it. And then you gave the answer which is too pt us too Christ. It shows us our sinful nature. Now what would be the pt of God telling man to repent or choose when he cannot? To show man he can't be saved unless God has picked him?
    I said earlier (In Andy T's Post) that calvinism makes trying to read and follow the scriptures to me, impossiable. We are told to repent, we can't. Told to pray, yet all is settled, told to witness yet all is settled and done. It seems at times from that perspective as a very cruel joke or something.
     
  16. Brother James

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    And therin lies his error Brother Scott.
     
  17. Timtoolman

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    Actually I am not Scott, and didn't realize it earlier. I am arguing that man is not totally unable. So I am saying that man has some kind of ability to respond to God.
     
  18. reformedbeliever

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    That is the problem Tim. If one man has "some kind of good or ability to respond" and another doesn't... then the one that has "some kind of Good" has something to boast about.
     
  19. Timtoolman

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    And therin lies his error Brother Scott. </font>[/QUOTE]I am sure you have carefully read my posts. Feel free to correct any error. Lets just keep it civil. Respond to the errors as you see them.
     
  20. Timtoolman

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    Reformer, I think as stated in the start of the thread all men have the same ability to respond. Not just some. Now I guess we go back too is one wiser then the other. No, I think they all face the same truth, and have their conscious that tells them there is a God. Seems to be many reasons why some reject Christ.
     

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