Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Total Depravity

You may have heard of the doctrine of “Total Depravity”. If you haven’t heard of it, essentially it states that all human beings have no goodness in them at all and are incapable of doing anything good.

I was just reading a recent article published by Matthiasmedia, written by David Starling in support of this teaching. What struck me were these words:

“While the doctrine of total depravity is not at all a denial that fallen human culture is capable of accomplishing magnificent works of beauty, truth and wisdom, it does remind us that on all these works of human hands—even the most magnificent—there will be the stains and smudges of human sin.”

The above paragraph is not what the doctrine of total depravity; rather it is more in line with another teaching known as Arminianism that was accepted by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church.

Arminius rejected Calvinism because of the view that Jesus died only for the elect and not for all people. Calvin, of course, was so arrogant that he barbecued the Spanish Physician, Michael Servetus, at the stake outside Geneva without any compunction. (Evidently, in his shortsightedness, Calvin thought he would save God the hassle of having to do it at the great judgment of all mankind.)

Paul the Apostle also signed his name to murder and the pangs of his conscience were causing him much grief; so much so, that the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to him and asked him why did he try to fight them.

Now, let’s get back to the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity: it never ceases to amaze me how much people will go to support a position, even when it is obviously wrong, incorrect and erroneous.

The truth is that human beings are capable of doing good deeds. Even David Starling recognizes this. However, this contradicts the concept of total depravity. Since this is the case: Why support the doctrine?

It is very hard for people to admit they might be wrong because this sometimes means they will lose favor with friends or their position in society or cost them money or, as in the case of Michael Servetus, being barbecued at the stake.

While it is true that only God is good, what is meant by goodness here is more than what we think of being good means. However, man does do good deeds, even if they are only temporary and do not have eternal worth.

What I have found over the years is that a majority of people do not really want to know the truth; they tend to want to be accepted by their peers. Those who rebel against the status quo are often doing so for reasons other than seeking the truth.

If you want to know the truth, you have to admit that you did not ask to be born. I have yet to meet anybody who actually asked their parents if they could come into this world.

Since you did not ask anybody whether you could come into this world: How could you be totally depraved from birth? It just does not make sense. Yet there are those who will fight to the death in defense of the doctrine that you were born totally depraved.

David Starling further asserts: “Our children do not enter the family pristine, waiting to be messed up by the excesses of our parenting.”

Try telling that to a loving mother and father.

According to David Starling then, we can assume that every little child is damned to hell and doomed to eternal punishment; unless, of course, the child grows up a Calvinist.

Yet, oddly enough, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, for unto such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

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