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Friday, February 22, 2008

Wondering out loud (Why do you believe…?)

If we are born totally depraved then what’s the point in having our mind renewed? Why do you believe we are born totally depraved?

34 Comments:

Blogger Missy said...

I don't know that I think I was, but I know that I am. I was born as God created me - without knowledge of good and evil. And when He did that the first time, He said it was good, right? I always think that Adam and Eve ate the fruit at about 4 or 5 years old since that's about the time I began to know the difference.

2/22/2008 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy you never fail to challenge my perspective! There’s no box to put your theology in, is there? (hehe)

Four or five, huh? I really have to struggle to argue against your logic on that one and even then I can find a credible refutation. I never considered Adam or Eve anything less than adults. I’d be anxious to hear a truly credible argument against the possibility that your perception is at least plausible.

Regarding depravity I believe we are born with a depraved nature with our flesh under the curse of sin and death but I find too much evidence to suggest that it is anything less than our own sin that leaves our mind in need of renewal.

2/22/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, I don't literally mean as 4 or 5 year old children, but 4 or 5 years after they were created. Scripture seems rather clear they were both a man and a woman - I think? Now I've got us both looking into wild theories. Never take anything for granted, eh?

I must admit I was happy to see you have not been able to box me in. hehe

I guess by a certain definition I would agree with your last paragraph. What is your definition of "depraved?"

2/22/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Ah I see, four or five years after creation. (grin)

I understand that to be depraved is to have no intrinsic “good”. It would seem to me that if we then rightly credit the miracle of life to God that the doctrine of total depravity is at best a paradox and at worst blasphemy.

Oh and hey! I don't want to box you in! ;-)

2/22/2008 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Not altogether sure that I buy into total depravity anymore. However, by saying that, I do not believe that I have anything to offer in regards to my own salvation, aside from my cooperation in the process.

I am also not sure that I'm prepared to fully defend my thinking on this (or whether it matters). Still working through it.

2/22/2008 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

"I am also not sure that I'm prepared to fully defend my thinking on this (or whether it matters)."

Dorse, must you always cut to the chase so quickly? ;-)

I admit that, as usual, there's a reason for my posting such questions as this. This one was motivated by my thoughts on several articles I've recently read including Bobby's current article titled, "The History of Jesus of Nazareth as Theology" and Glen's current article titled, "Faith is not a thing". I won't jump through all the hoops again but eventually I landed on the concept that even in order to know ourselves we must begin with Christ, let alone in order to know God. I find this in great contrast to the theology of the TULIP, which begins with a philosophical presupposition on man. Can you say anthropocentric? (grin) I think that for many of us the first step toward changing our focus to Christ is to question our presuppositions.

One argument toward that end that I think you would find appealing concerns gifts, sin and “proper use”. If we say that the gifts that God gives to the Church are inherent to the individual even prior to conversion then we could not say they are “totally” depraved for at the very least the gift they posses is good. I think it could even be argued that God might use an individual that is gifted even prior to, or apart from their conversion, however, it would be utter foolishness to perceive that gift as having any redemptive quality. I think that corresponds with our scriptural understanding that “nothing good have I to bring, simply to Thy cross I cling”.

2/23/2008 02:30:00 AM  
Anonymous ron said...

Morning KC,

I appreciate all the comments and thanks to ya'll. KC thanks for your last comment I agree. I had to look up depravity to see what it meant ? To me it means the same thing I have heard all my life !

You are neither good or bad as you are growing up , but as you advance in life you learn that to get to heaven you have to get God's approval. Seek and you will find !

Blessings and wishing ya'll a blessed Lords Day.
grandpa.

2/23/2008 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

KC, I was trying to comment last night, but me new laptop is a tad unforgiving. Touchpads are totally depraved! Here's another attempt:

I am finding that the more I am applying God's love and forgiveness directly to my heart - trusting this instead of simply intellectualizing it - I find that it becomes more difficult for me not to do the same with others. It is a fruit of a good and truthful thing, so I am hesitant to throw that out based on any theology.

To say that the ability to sin makes a man depraved mocks God. It is claiming that God created man to be depraved! If Adam and Eve were not created with ability to sin, well... they never would have, right? To say that man is now created depraved, IMO, seems to mock Him as well. Do we have the weighty consequences of a ka-dubba-billion accumulated sins now on our shoulders? You betcha! And I think that makes it nigh to impossible to even have "good" options in many of the choices we must make...

Okay, I'm getting high-strung on my own Power Ranger Theology. I'm pretty good at "wondering out loud." :)

2/23/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

Oops, was logged into t'other identity. This is Missy. :)

2/23/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Thanks for linking to those articles. I particularly like the idea that faith is not a thing.

For me, one of the simplest challenges to total depravity is in Genesis 1: "And God saw EVERY thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (v. 31).

2/23/2008 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

We get the idea that we are born as Tabula Rasa from John Locke, not scripture. In other words we are not "clean slates" or "white boards" waiting for external stimuli (i.e. pelagianism and behaviorism)to "determine" who we are. Rather we are born with a hole in our hearts toward God, a vacuum which is filled with "self-love". Better, that hole in the heart is the "absence" or "negation" of God's life (or grace donum gratiae)or righteousness in our life. That's why it takes something as radical as the incarnation, Christ's assumption of flesh (asumptio carnis) to eclipse our self-love, with His life and love. This is what makes salvation God's work . . . and not ours. It is His LIFE and His action which creates space for us to "respond" to Him (i.e. vs. cooperate)by faith (and faith in this framework is actually personified in Christ and worked by the Holy Spirit).

Anyway, that's my two cents . . . good one, Kc.

2/23/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Ron it’s great to read your thoughts here again! Where have you been?! ;-)

I’m glad we agree on that one. I suspect the realization that we could never merit salvation is by grace and common to all believers. I know we also both agree that we can only find God’s approval if we are found in Jesus. ;-)

Missy I think it is impossible to experience God’s love without somehow reflecting it. ;-)

I think the Determinist would argue that you have no choice at all and that they (Adam and Eve) were created to sin for the glory of God.

Dorse, first you’re welcome. Second, that’s way too simple! ;-)

Bobby your two cents always look more like a twenty dollar gold piece to me! ;-)

I greatly value your understanding on this, as always. I suppose I find some scriptural support for both sides of the nature vs. nurture debate so I don’t tend to view it as an “either-or” situation and I also tend to consider the outcome inconsequential with respect to soteriology. Regardless of where evil is, grace abounds all the more. We are ultimately responsible to God for our sin and only God can provide us relief.

I am very anxious to know your position on a few points, given your understanding. What bearing, if any, does the knowledge of sin have on condemnation or salvation? Would you consider infants as being born apart from the life that is in Christ? In other words are we born eternally damned?

2/24/2008 05:59:00 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Kc,

this will be a quick, to brief of a response . . . I will try to elaborate more later. I think we are born eternally condemned, I think Jn 3:18 makes this point. As far as the "age of accountability", I simply believe that children are covered by God's grace in Christ--until they become "accountable"---which is presupposed by the idea that there is some sort of cognitive component to appropriating salvation. In other words, I believe children who die within that age where they aren't accountable, would be "elect in Christ"--based upon God's loving, yet unknown, reasons.

Let me think further on this, and I will post over at my site . . . some time down the road.

2/24/2008 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bobby thanks. I look forward to your article.

2/24/2008 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Jon Lee said...

KC -

I only have a problem with "total depravity" when it equals "total inability". We are born into a fallen world and without God - none of us would seek him. We are born into a world in which God the Holy Spirit is at work, convicting men and drawing them through the cross of Christ to be believe in Him - something everyone is ABLE to do because of Him.

In Christ,

JL

2/27/2008 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi KC,
Just wanted to say "hi." I would chime in, but I just never know where to start. :)
Blessings

2/27/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jon thanks for adding your thoughts! I suppose the proposition (total depravity) is debatable but would you say that the Gospel or theology should begin with a philosophical presupposition on the value of man or with the Word (John 1:1)?

Hi Pastor! Maybe one day we can get together and sharpen our swords over a hot cup of coffee and some tasty treats! ;-) (Our love to you all!)

2/27/2008 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi KC,
Would love to. BTW, I have found that using a wire-mesh coffee filter gives the best cup of coffee in the world! The coffee is much richer than what you get using the paper filters. Yes, a bit of a hassle to clean it, but well worth the effort.

I have also found that my love bride makes the BEST chocolate-chip cookies in the world. She loves tweaking the recipe and has stumbled onto an absolutely delicious recipe using butter scotch chips along with chocolate chips, and different extracts in the recipe. They are sooo good with coffee as well.
Blessings

2/28/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Hello KC!

I have been sitting here after reading your post and the comments and just don't know what or how to comment.

So I will just ask this question; Isn't there a significant difference between depraved and "totally" depraved?

I have no problem believing man is inherently depraved but I have great doubts that man is born "totally" depraved.

2/28/2008 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/28/2008 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger jefe said...

is 'depravity' even an issue when God calls us 'righteous'?

just curious...

2/29/2008 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Total Depravity:
Because of the Fall, sin taints every bit of our lives, certainly before we are redeemed with the sin-stench of death around us, and even after as we struggle in our sanctification and wait so eagerly for glory.

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were sinless, not depraved. God created man and said it was good. When Adam and Eve sinned, that curse has passed on to all of us, save Christ, the Son of God. Even in the womb. (I don't think little ones are fully capable of carrying out so much sin as we, but it is in their hearts, even though they are so sweet, little and precious to us. Just because they don't carry out sin like we do, it doesn't mean that it isn't there.)

The Bible said that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord. Ephesians says that we are dead in our trespasses and sins until we are reborn by the Spirit and hearts made new. Our natures are changed and we are made righteous because of Christ in us, not because of anything in our selves, lest we should boast and take away Christ's glory for saving us by His perfect life and sacrifice. Romans goes into detail about man's depravity and Christ's role in redemption.
Though we are redeemed, and seen as righteous before the Lord, forgive because of Christ's work (And not ours) we still sin this side of glory. We are still at war with our flesh (Ephesians). Paul, even says "a wicked man that I am" with regards to his sin. So, we are saint and sinner at the same time.
The good news is that though we continue to sin, hopefully maturing and "putting to death the flesh" as time goes by, we are completely forgiven and covered by Christ's blood and righteousness when we become believers.

Elisa

3/01/2008 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Do tainted, cursed, sinful or even dead in trespasses necessarily translate to total depravity (in the C*lvinistic sense)? How can you account for good that is carried out by those who are not in Christ?

3/01/2008 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Elisa said...

"How can you account for good that is carried out by those who are not in Christ?"

Three reasons right off the top of my head:
1. God grants the non-believer common graces.
2. God's restraining Hand keeps them from being as wicked as their hearts would let them in order to protect His children.
3. God uses non-believers to help His children.

There are two types of grace:Special and Common.
Special Grace/Saving Grace is that which is given to God's children through belief in His Son, Jesus Christ, for salvation, eternal life.
Common grace is good things which God gives to non-believers because they are a part of His creation.

Remember, the Pharisees performed "good" works in their eyes. However, we know that many were corrupt and wicked in their hearts, from the things Christ said. They would have been seen as "good men" to those in the community. But in reality, all the "good" they did was an affront to God because of the depravity of their hearts; unbelief and sin.

The other thing we must remember is who judges the "good." Man. God. How different is what we judge in our fallen humanity/sin from what God sees as good?
For instance, a man and woman fall in love and have a romantic, intimate relationship, and live together outside of marriage. We/Society see that it is good that they love each other, get along, make a great couple, do neat things together, have a wonderful relationship, and are tickled that there is even romance. But what does God say about sexual relationships outside of marriage? What would God say about this relationship? Would He see it as "good" as we do? No. He'd see it as adultery.

Our sin taints all aspects of our lives, even what we deem as "good."
Yes, tainted, cursed, sinful or even dead in trespasses (dead in trespasses as non-believers) does translate to total depravity (in the Calvinistic sense).
With this said, I thank God for the Special Grace He has given to this sinful woman. Through the blood of Christ, I have been washed clean in the sight of God, forgiven, and even my "filthy rags" are viewed by God as acceptable through the lens of Christ's work on the cross. Believers are totally depraved, tainted by sin, but God sees His beautiful Son, rather than the sinner at judgement because of the Special Grace that Christ has given to them. Hopefully, the Christian matures by the Spirit, will sin less and less in his life, as he (with much Help) works to be more like Christ.

3/02/2008 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Two things:
1. Your example is a bit of a straw man. I don't think all of society would necessarily call living together good.

Try this one. A person who does not profess Christ sees a widow who cannot make ends meet and an orphan who is hungry and homeless. He helps the widow in her distress and provides food and shelter to the orphan. Pretty much everyone would consider those acts of goodness. Are they not of God?

2. Can you show me where scripture differentiates between the different flavors of grace to which you refer? To my thinking, grace is grace. I don't see the distinction.

3/02/2008 07:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Elisa said...

Have I truly set up a false argument here? Hm.

1. I wouldn't call living together good either at all. It seems that it is growing in acceptance, however. It seems to be overlooked due to the favorability of being "in love" and happy together. That's why I used it as an example. Sin has tainted an otherwise "good" relationship.

"Are they not of God?" How about Luke 18 and the Parable of the persistent widow. The judge feared neither man nor God, yet he did the right thing by the widow. Because God used him for the good of his child the widow, that doesn't mean that the judge is "of God" but used by God. What about the Egyptians giving gold, riches, clothing, food, and things to the escaping Israelites in Exodus? Were they of God? No. They were not believers, but they were used to help His children. In Rom. 13: 1-6 the ungodly rulers are called "God's servants." They are not a part of His Kingdom, but are used in someway for His Kingdom.

Also take a look at Isa. 43:3-5, 14, Rom. 8:28, 2 John 9-11

2. Grace is "unmerited favor."

Common Grace:
My Reformation Study Bible also uses the phrase "God's kindly providence" which might help things better. Rain, life, anything that is a natural gift from God, food, flowers, etc. are examples of common grace shown to all men.
Matt. 7:21-23 is a good example. They did great things in their eyes and undoubtedly in the eyes of others around them, however good works doesn't merit salvation. Belief in Christ does. The note for those verses says "It is not claims or feelings of intimacy with Jesus that matter, nor is it simply good works, even miraculous ones; only doing the will of the Father matters. Genuine intimacy with the Father means knowing God and being known by Him."
Psalm 19 is another classic example of God's Common Grace.

Special Grace is saving grace that only believers have. It is the grace that Jesus gives us believers for eternal life, salvation.
Eph. 1 is an example of this special grace that only goes to believers.

That's all we're saying. Common grace goes to all men, but does not save, like special grace. Common man has been given to common grace, good gifts from the Lord that help in life. There is not one verse in the Bible that compares the two, but is just a means of understanding.

3/03/2008 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor I’ve been drinking instant for so long that a fresh brewed cup will really be appreciated and I’d love to have one of those cookies! ;-)

Kris I think we have a similar perspective on this (as usual hehe). Given this approach to theology I think it’s impossible to take a holistic perspective on anything. More to come on that… ;-)

Jeff, good point (as usual) ;-)

Sis. Beth I don’t want to interfere with the conversation between you and Dorsey but I do want you to know I really appreciate your thoughts and effort in this. ;-)

Dorse many thanks for always sticking with the conversation. ;-)

3/03/2008 04:01:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Elisa,
I didn't mean to accuse you of a false argument, only that I thought you chose an example that was too easy to topple. And you sort of twisted my question, "Are they not of God?" I asked whether the acts of goodness were of God, not the person performing them. In the example I offered, those were acts performed out of genuine compassion and kindness, not with prideful motives, like the pharisees. Were not those good works of God?

3/03/2008 06:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Elisa said...

It's probably because I was reading your response after midnight. :) I'm trying to honestly answer your question, not argue. I don't care if my example can be pulled apart on close scrutiny. It was what I thought of at the time. It is an example of many situations I am seeing in this area. Living together is seen by most in this community as good, since the relationship is good and the couple is "in love".(I certainly don't agree as well as some other Christians... )But then again the example fits the situation. What is seen as "good" varies so from person to person. How much more so between God and man?

God uses unbelievers to do good things. That is His providential care for His children. Do you believe that if an non-believer does good deeds he goes to heaven or that God is inhabiting their bodies to get them to do good? It might be that the Holy Spirit is restraining them from their wickedness and they end up doing good. We also know that their good deeds are not acceptable for salvation to the Father or to please Him, because they are tainted by sin, though they may help His children somehow.
Baby calling- gotta go. Have a great day! :)

3/03/2008 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

No, I don't believe that good deeds send anyone to heaven, nor am I saying that anyone is in any way justified by acts of righteousness.

But I do believe that everything that is good comes from God. I believe that a good deed is a godly deed, without regard to who performs it. I don't have a reason to believe that the Holy Spirit accomplishes good merely by restraining wickedness.

I became acquainted with the story of the former Sony Pictures executive who left a seven figure salary, gave up all that he had, and moved to Viet Nam (I think), to live in a garbage dump among the poor of that country. He helped them to build a shelter and set up a school. Whatever his motives, he accomplished astounding goodness. I have a hard time believing that this is merely the result of the Spirit restraining this man's wickedness (for the rest of his life? Why not just go ahead and elect the guy, Lord?). And this is where I struggle with the idea of Total Depravity. We are all tainted, but grace, like rain, falls on the just and the unjust.

Clearly, we're coming at this from different systems of belief, but I hope we can agree that, whether depravity is total or otherwise, we are both justified by God's grace through the work of the cross.

3/03/2008 07:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Elisa said...

Dorsey,
"Clearly, we're coming at this from different systems of belief, but I hope we can agree that, whether depravity is total or otherwise, we are both justified by God's grace through the work of the cross."

I think we can absolutely agree on that!! :)

I echo this statement "Why not just go ahead and elect the guy, Lord?" My dad has a colleague who's brother won the Nobel Peace Prize with Mother Teressa. They built hospitals in India for the untouchables. He's not a believer, but did something awesome, and worked hand-in-hand with a devout Christian. Was God's Hand involved? Absolutely. But the man remains in his old religion, as far as I know. (I hope I'm totally wrong.) Why isn't he a believer, only the Holy Spirit knows. He's done so much good. How many will come to faith in the Lord Jesus because of the witness in that hospital? How many believers will benefit from the medical care that they will receive there?
It is astounding.

3/04/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger sofyst said...

I believe we were born totally depraved because you do not. :D

3/05/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Elisa said...

Adam!
Where have you been?!

3/05/2008 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam that is precisely what makes your friendship invaluable to me! ;-) (missed you brother!)

Sis. Beth I really appreciate the conversation between you and Dorsey here. ;-)

3/06/2008 02:18:00 AM  

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