TULIP … I often find myself asking in frustration, “Why do I care about this subject?” But I know why. It is, because, to me, it goes to the very heart of the character of God. One blogger said that he felt the Calvinist view of God was like that of a mad scientist (he was intensly mocked). I wouldn’t put it quite his way, but it is disturbing the portrait I percieve they paint of Him …disturbing to me. (That is why I want to view more clearly this portrait - thus this blogging excercise). Now, I hear some say, “Repent and accept God for who He is, not for who you wish Him to be.” Well, what if they are not right about how He operates? Are they willing to repent? I am not trying to rebel against God by questioning the so-called “doctrines of Grace.” I just want to analyze these doctrines according to the Bible and see if the eternal God is really so easily defined like they say He is.
Here’s a personal note: I was regenerated at the age of 20. God bestowed mercy on me and gave me a new life as a result of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. Nothing in me caused me to deserve this mercy, but I cried out to Him and He saved me. He has been so merciful to me. However, I am concerned about others in humanity besides just myself. If God procured my salvation by electing me as an individual from the foundation of the world for no other reason than just because He chose me … because He wanted to, that would work out OK for me, wouldn’t it? I’m saved. But what about the rest of humanity? They all must find salvation through Jesus Christ's atoning death on the cross by grace through faith. What about someone He didn’t “elect”? They were born in sin, utterly corrupted. God became a man and died for the sins of a group they were not part of, and they will burn in Hell for eternity for God’s glory. No matter what, whether the gospel is presented to them, they will not and cannot EVER believe and be saved. Huh? This seems to be the Calvinist version of God's dealings with the less fortunate of humanity (those going to hell). How does this glorify God? That’s just my human reasoning, and I need to go to the Bible for answers.
Total: Of, relating to, or constituting the whole; entire. Complete; utter; absolute.
Depravity: Moral corruption or degradation, the state of being hopelessly bad, crooked.
The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. (Genesis 6)
You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against [your ways], you were angry. How, then, can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. (Isaiah 64)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17)
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3)
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned … (Romans 5)
…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (Romans 7)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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. (Ephesians 2)
If the definition of the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity means that we are sinful to the core, then I believe it. In fact, I have said that I am a two point Calvinist (a ridiculous label) because of this … and one other point. There is nothing in me or any of the Christians I know that would merit salvation. Selfish, proud, wicked, prone to sin ... that’s us in the flesh. If the Calvinists mean this by Total Depravity, then AMEN! It is the first step of the gospel … seeing that we are utterly helpless in respect to righteousness. We can’t do enough good deeds to make up for the bad ones … and our thoughts and ways are always degrading.
Before salvation, when I really knew nothing about the true Bible, I used to ponder what it would be like if there were such a thing as judgment after I died. I figured, if God knew everything, He would be able to see into my mind and He would understand how I became the way I was and that I was a product of all those things I had been exposed to ... He would understand. The thing I wasn’t admitting or not realizing, was that even if I had the best of circumstances … the perfect mother … a completely loving and safe environment … if my father hadn’t died when I was twelve … I still would have wicked selfishness and all the other sin in my heart! Certain schools of thought like to say that babies are born as a clean slate, perfect, and only become bad as they receive input from the outer world. (Nurture, not Nature) Rubbish! We come out kicking, screaming mad and headed for a life of depravity! Apart from a provision for this depravity, a cleansing of the filth, we could never enter into God’s presence … we would be like rags soaked in gasoline thrown into a forest fire! Even that which is nice about us, is tainted with sin. Amen. Here is a post on this subject that I really appreciated.
If the Calvinist really means that the ordinary person is unable to believe and receive the provision for sin wrought by Christ on our behalf, then I can't say amen, because I don’t believe it to be biblical. Here's why: The people of this world are invited, encouraged, and, in some passages, commanded to believe in the Son of God and be saved.
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)
If ordinary people were not able to believe the gospel, or receive the Lord Jesus Christ, wouldn’t it be a disingenuous offer that God is making in the Bible?
In John 7:37, was Jesus standing there, making what seems like an open invitation, yet keeping the secret that no one was able to come to Him, unless he selected them out of the bunch and gave them a special power to do so? Are only the elect thirsty? If this was His thinking, why doesn't John 3:16 say, "For God so loved the certain people, that he gave his one and only Son, that when they believe in him, they shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Many other examples could be given of these types of open invitations, and commands.
Many Calvinists employ the doctrine of regeneration preceding faith. I think the need for this doctrine is because these particular Calvinists see this first point, Total Depravity in this second way. It is stated that since man is unable to believe, God must first birth him or give Him a new mind, and then He WILL Believe. I really don’t see one passage that says the ordinary sinner is unable to believe the gospel, except for possibly John 6 (although it is a hard passage to grasp).
Let me quote a fellow blogger ... Dyspraxic Fundamentalist (aka Matthew) says:
… [there is not] convincing Scriptural data to conclude that man is incapable of believing when under the influence of the power of the Holy Spirit, that accompanies the preaching of the Gospel. Otherwise how would the Gospel be the power of God unto salvation? If Regeneration were necessary to believe, then Regeneration would be the power of God unto salvation.
Now, I would not say that we don’t need the grace of God to come to Him ... of course we do. If left to ourselves, man ends up with Babel. We don’t seek Him. We are His enemies. But He has sought us!!! This is the GOSPEL. He sent His prophets to foretell of His plan, He has come and taken on the wrath of God for our iniquity, He has given us a sure, written account of Himself, He has sent His Holy Spirit to make His acts known and to convict “the World” of righteousness and judgment. His Holy Spirit is there in the preaching of the cross, drawing all men unto Himself. (John 12:32) We are unable, on our own, to come to God, but God has done all of this.
… Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (John 6:65)
… God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)
The people of this world are not on their own! God has done all that is necessary, opened the door to salvation, but we must spread the gospel and insist that men walk through that door … Simply put, they must receive Christ’s forgiveness and imputed righteousness, which they CAN DO. They are not unable, but sadly, many are unwilling. They don’t want to believe for reasons as innumerable as there are fingerprints, all stemming from their own individual brand of sin … and that is why they will be held responsible for their sins … because they WILL not!
So, can I say T is biblical? I don’t know. I guess it depends on what is meant by it.