On total depravity and election, written in response to my friend Teoh:
If i understand right, Total depravity is the basis of the doctrine of unconditional election – because none would seek God (at all) on his own accord because of his sinful nature. Understanding Hyperbole in the Bible is the basis for understanding the rest of the article and it is paramount to read it first. Refer to the article below:
Understanding Hyperbole in the Bible:
My personal discourse:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one:”
where is it written?
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.
There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge.
Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
Understand the context of Romans 3:11. There is none that doeth good. Who? the fool. the corrupt, the evil. Or everyone? Notice in v5 what does it say? Understand hyperbole, and everything falls into the picture.
Let’s start at the very beginning. If Total Depravity was true, the following cannot be true:
Adam and Eve were created sinless, and therefore had no sinful nature. (No Total Depravity) yet they chose to disobey and sin against God. The original sin. (The same goes for lucifer). The evidence of free-will.
Having the knowledge of good and evil, mankind knew between right and wrong. Bear in mind that without Christ and the Holy Spirit the OT saints’ spirits was not regenerated, very definition of total depravity man would then choose God by the evil inclination of his sinful nature, do sinful things in rebellion to God. Yet,
Cain and Abel were born in sin. In their sinful nature, Cain sinned, Abel CHOSE to sought after God.
Born in sin, Job also walked close to God. (…and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.)
Born in sin, Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord – Genesis.)
Most notably Abram, who in a pagan land was indeed chosen by God, but in his state of ‘total depravity’ he should in no wise have responded. God didn’t force him with a stick, but he chose to obey.
Enoch, Elijah too, are born in sin – but they too chose to follow after God.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:“
If it is not man’s choice of rejection of evil, or choice of good (life), God is a very cynical God indeed.
Cornelius the Centurion:
In the New Testament, the account of the righteous Centurion whose deeds are seen by God (Acts. Obviously, this centurion is not yet ‘regenerated’, yet God saw his deeds. What was Peter’s reply?
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”
How than can Total Deprivity be true? One thing I that maintain, that ALL man have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
So while these man were considered “accepted” by God, even by faith and deed, the OT saints perish and go to Paradise (another topic another time). They all do not deserve Heaven. Which is why Jesus when he died he went to the depths of the earth to preach to the spirits in captivity (1 Peter 3:18), the OT saints. Likewise the deeds of the centurion in the NT AFTER the crucifixion cannot save him, God no doubt saw him and sent Peter to preach Jesus to him.
Nothing but the blood of Jesus cleanses us of all sins. Nothing but Jesus’ sacrifice. It is not equivalent to saying man by his merit obtained salvation, but God does indeed draw all men to him. Hence, the doctrine of salvation of Grace alone still stands. It does not diminish the glory of God’s salvation in any way.
Next, the doctrine of election for salvation, of which the doctrine of total depravity is the basis of “the need for election”. I must contend that I do not know the mysteries of freewill and predestination altogether, but from my limited understanding, I shall try to bring forth a few examples.
Firstly, we established that God is no respecter of persons: if some were chosen, others were not. By implying that God chose some for salvation, God chose others for hell. That goes against the character of God of Love. Neither is God the author of sin or evil (James 1 : 13). What about Romans 9 then? Read the article on Jacob and Esau. Likewise Pharoah – when the Bible says God hardened his heart, if taken literally, God is cause of sin. Obviously this cannot be true, it would contradict His character. As a non “hyper-calvanist” rightly put, God merely allowed the natural cause of sin in Pharoah’s heart to progress to completion.
“Finally, sin could not have occurred without God’s permissive will. It was a matter both of God’s permission and of His will. God permitted it to happen, yet also through its occurrence He purposed to make it an instrument to manifest His grace and glory” (229).
“There is undoubtedly a strange paradox here. God surely did not will the sin of man, else He would have been the author of evil; yet He did will that through sin and the fall His purpose should be fulfilled” – J. Rodman Williams
Exactly that, the choices resulting from the freewill of man exists in the domain of God’s permissive will. Which is a paradox.
Jonah the “False Prophet”
(As an after thought, I would like to touch on this topic in another article on a later date. While relevant to the discussion, it bears merit to talk about it separately. Meanwhile, think about the qualifications of a true prophet laid out by God in Deuteronomy. Obviously I’m not saying he really is a false prophet.)
Election : the Nation of Israel
Understanding the election of the Nation of Israel. Truly if anything was any clearer it was God’s choice of the nation of Israel. This is what Romans 8 and 9 is all about: If there is any election, it is Israel, the apple of God’s eye. In the parable of the Wedding Banquet, I dare say the Jews were the primary recipient of invitation. Obviously, they rejected the call, which was eventually (and also originally intended to be) extended to ALL.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Are all men saved? No. What then? Clearly God was willing, but who was not willing? Men. Saying otherwise would mean God is either not able to save, or God is not willing to save. Both are false. The fault of man’s eternal damnation then falls squarely on man’s rejection of Jesus Christ (John 3 : 18) – by his own freewill (since total depravity is not true.) not by the will of God. This choosing of Jesus does not merit man any part in glory or salvation since he plays no part (and no matter what he does falls short of the glory) in the redemptive work of Jesus. It does not take the glory of God away, or lessen the glory of Salvation one bit. If this is the square peg that is trying to be forced into the round hole. (2 Peter 3:16)
I have done many studies on NDE’s and visions and they purportedly support the fact that men by their own volition and sin find themselves in hell. More than a couple of NDE’s and visions have touched on Jesus’ weeping and sorrow over mankind falling to damnation despite the great sacrifice and atonement he has already provided for anyone who believes. Sure, one might say Sola Scriptura – but TULIP contradicts the Bible in so many points already, what more if anecdotal evidence that suggest otherwise?
Now, the flip-side to the argument.
I believe that God is Sovereign, and God does indeed predestine the way Armenians believe.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
I wholehearted agree with the statement above too, commonly quoted evidence for election. What then? There is no contradiction in the Bible. Is God the Father then selective of whom is drawn to him? I came across an article on this topic of drawing to Jesus. Yet, in my course of studying visions, many people have been receiving visions and visitations from Jesus without prior knowledge of Him, such as in the middle-east. Would this imply He chose these people? Maybe, depending on how you look at it – What can I, just a clay, say to the Potter what he can or cannot do?
Free-will DOES exist. Sovereignty of God also stand true. Yet like I said earlier, the fault of man’s eternal damnation then falls squarely on man which Calvinists so wrongly attribute to God election quoting Romans 9. While I’m inclined to conclude toward free-will acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ, it doesn’t mean that God CANNOT elect, because he IS Sovereign. (yet in my opinion, the evidence and theology, the character of God to my understanding as established in the article, stands against it.)
Ultimately This is a paradox neither Calvinists or Reformed Theology can explain, neither can the Armenians through free-will. Neither system of theology can explain God correctly or fully, and neither will know the full truth until we see Him face to face.
God is Omnipotent
God is Omniscient
God is Omnipresent
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”