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Total Depravity: Is it biblical?

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#61
justaname

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I agree that humans are helplessly wicked and are condemned in their sinful state.  I believe that all humans are born with the marring of sin.  I think these verses all testify to this and I agree with them.
 
What I do not agree with is that human beings are incapable of understanding good or accepting grace of their own volition.  These verses do not teach this.  In fact, the context makes it very clear that Paul (and God) expect that those who are lost and condemned in their sin to understand and accept God's grace in Christ.  Consider how those verses continue:
 
 
The point Paul is making is that our sinful state does not allow us to find righteousness through legalistic observance. That ship has sailed and we all fail that test.  Yet in our failing to uphold the law we become "conscious of sin."  Moreover, righteousness can be found to all those who trust in Jesus Christ.  
 
Notice it doesn't say that we cannot be conscious of our sin because we are dead in sin.  Nor does it say that we obtain righteousness only through God's quickening initiative that permits us to put our trust in Jesus Christ.  Rather, the law makes us "all" conscious of our sin and just as "all have sinned and fallen short" so too "(all) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that game by Christ Jesus."  The clear implication is that just as all are condemned in sin, so all can find righteousness through faith.  This is not the case if most of humanity cannot find righteousness through faith because God will not allow them to see,  hear or understand His grace in Jesus.
 
In sum, yes, all humans are hopelessly and helplessly lost in their sin.  Their lives are full of wickedness and corruption and they cannot, by any means save themselves.  Yet they CAN recognize what is good and they can understand the Gospel message and cry out for God's mercy in their lost state.  To say they are so "dead" that they cannot even respond to the Gospel is to take that metaphor far beyond Paul's intent.  This has nothing to do with "arrogance."  It has to do with believing what the Bible says when it teaches that God desires all to be saved, that Jesus died for the entire world or that "anyone" could come to Jesus and find freedom and rest.


Being this is away from the 1 John 3:9 subject I want to comment.

The OP concedes that both major streams of the Protestant movement held to the concept.  So then it is the culmination of Scriptural evidence, the working of the Holy Spirit in the development of the reformation, along with my personal prayer and study that directs my position. Yet you do make valid arguments:
 
1. God desires all to be saved.
2. Jesus died not only for the sins of those being saved but for the sins of the world.
3. Jesus died so anyone could come to Him.
4. People can recognize what is good and understand the Gospel message and cry out for mercy.
 
Let me first agree with both points one and two.  God does desire all to be saved.  I think we both agree man with his desire to remain in sin and darkness is the hinderance.  Jesus' atonement is applied to all of humanity, yet His justification is applied only to those who believe.  I find these two concepts to be Scriptural.        
 
Point #1 has a deeper element though that you did not explicitly express that if God allows some to receive the Gospel the He cannot desire all to be saved rather just some.  Ultimately God is pictured as being unfair if He selects some for salvation.  I see Romans 9 speaking to this argument, although I know you disagree.  Similar to our other discussion in this thread you look to the broader argument where I see other theological implications within that argument.  The doctrine of the Trinity is similar that there is not explicit scriptural teaching.  No NT or OT author set out to make that exact argument.  
 
Yet does that really make God unfair?  Does that truly cancel God's desire for all to be saved if He only selects some?  Are we to discard or seek theological go arounds for the plain reading of so much other Scripture to make a fair God?  If God selects all for salvation where is justice?  How does your view of God creating the world knowing some would perish due to their own volition differ; why not just create a world where all do come to Him?  Why is God's desire for all to be saved the controlling factor for so much Scriptural interpretation? Why do you accept a plain reading for that verse and not for the mountain of other verses that speak to men being dead, men being slaves, men being blind and deaf from the Devil, God not opening the ears and eyes of men, men being unwilling to come to God, men not being able to understand spiritual things, men not being able to come to Him unless granted, God granting faith, God granting repentance, God granting belief, and so on?
 
(This volume of questions are not meant to be specifically and individually answered.)
 
Points 3 and 4 I simply disagree with.  There is a vast amount of Scriptural evidence that contextually speak against these arguments.
 
There is another argument I have witnessed.  {If God says believe it must be assumed people can come to belief.}  I argue people have the ability just not the desire nor the will.  They have the potential but their sinful nature is the hinderance.  Their desires are wicked and reprobate and their minds are depraved.  In a word they are in rebellion.  Those who are rebelling against God are in league with Satan and have no inclination to obey any message from God let alone the Gospel.  This does not mean men are not capable of moral actions, just that they are not driven from a desire to obey God. This then brings about judgement and condemnation.
 
Romans 1
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.


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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#62
Wormwood

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You said, “Yet they CAN recognize what is good and they can understand the Gospel message and cry out for God’s mercy in their lost state.”

You understood the thrust of Romans 3 to be true yet with the wave of a hand, you have completely dismissed the entire meaning of verse 11. Or, have you forgotten that there is none that understands and that there is none that seeks after God? If anyone cry out to God for mercy it is because God is drawing him (Jo.6:44), and of his own volition he will not seek God.

 

You said, “This has nothing to do with "arrogance." It has to do with believing what the Bible says when it teaches that God desires all to be saved, that Jesus died for the entire world or that "anyone" could come to Jesus and find freedom and rest.”

 

The Bible does NOT teach that God desires all (each and every) to be saved. Our understanding of 1 Ti 2:4 is very faulty. Imagine what would happen if the word “all” mean “each and every?’ That’s right, the Bible will no longer be trustworthy for scriptures teach that hell will heavily be populated. In fact, 1 Ti 2:4 is teaching that God desires “all” ‘whom He elected to salvation’ to become saved before the foundation of the world! He will accomplish this on the last day and will lose only one...the man of perdition.

 

You said, “Jesus died for the entire world”

Is a false statement.  We read in Mt 1:21:

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The reason people say Jesus died for the entire world is because they have a “free will” gospel that they can feel good about that somehow they can contribute to their salvation.

 

You said, “That ‘anyone’ could come to Jesus.”

Another false statement as Romans 3 teaches there is none that seek after God no not one! As already alluded to above, if anyone do seek after God it is because God is drawing him. There is also a fundamental principle, ‘a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.’

 

Yes, arrogance! Man who is a dirty rotten sinner have the gall to say he can have a part in his salvation.

 

 

To God Be The Glory

 

Jun2u,

 

I am sorry you are taking this discussion so personally.  I am simply sharing my views on the Scriptures and I assure you, they are based on a genuine desire to honor God and stay true to His Word, not arrogance.  I hope you can provide toward me the same respect I am giving you.  I know you are genuine and love the Lord.  We just disagree.  Now let me address your comments.

 

1). I am not waving my hand and "dismissing" verse 11.  Yes, men do not understand or seek God.  Just look at human history and we see all kinds of paganism and idol worship.  However, The NT teaches that God sought us and taught us words that were Spirit and life.  I believe humans can respond to that call.  This is very different than saying human beings seek and find God in and of themselves (which is the point of those verses).  These verses do not teach that men cannot respond to the Gospel.  I think I showed clearly in the following context that this is precisely what Paul believes.

 

2) I find that your qualification of the word "all" is much more theologically driven than simply accepting the Scripture for what it says.  I think the context is clear that Paul is speaking of God's love for all people.  

 

 

   “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4, NIV84)  

 

So, according to your exposition of the word, "all," does that mean we should not pray for everyone, not pray for all those in authority and that we shouldn't really live in "all" godliness and holiness?  Surely you don't believe that.

 

3) Jesus did die for the entire world.  "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son..."  

  “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” (Romans 5:18, NIV84)  

Seems to me that its pretty clear that the grace of God is as far reaching as the sin of Adam.  Or are. you arguing that not "all" are condemned by Adam's sin?  

The verse you quoted is referring to Jesus coming as the Jewish Messiah to save the Jews.  It is not until Jesus' resurrection that he lets the disciples know that his grace is to be share to "all nations."  Your argument with this verse would only make sense if you were claiming that only the Jews were the elect, because clearly that is what it is referring to with the "his people" statement.

 

I do agree that God does not despise a broken and contrite heart.  I just don't agree with you that it is God that makes the heart broken and contrite so that he will no longer despise that person.


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#63
Wormwood

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justaname,

 

I agree with you, that even if Calvinistic tenets are correct, that God could not be labeled "unfair."  Certainly God is Almighty and can do whatever He wants.  He owes man nothing and all have sinned and deserve wrath.  If He were to choose some and condemn the rest, He would be justified in doing so.  Surely he would be justified in condemning the whole world.  

 

Yet, my issue is that this is not how the Bible portrays the character of God.  Everything in the OT and NT, to me, implies that God gives humanity freedom to choose and holds them accountable for their choices.  He blesses those who choose to have faith in Him, even though they stumble in sin.  I think David is a prime example.  God loved David because David was a man of faith, even though he was deeply sinful.  David turned to God in the depths of his sin and would repent and seek grace.  God responded to his repentance with grace and love (although he still suffered the consequences of some of his poor choices).  

 

Yes, God could just pick and choose some apart from any decision of their own and predetermine those he wants to save for his own pleasure and purposes and condemn the whole lot of the rest of us.  But that is not how the Bible portrays the story.  God is continually calling people to choose and to turn.  This just seems silly to me if God is asking people to do things they cannot do and then condemns them for not doing it.  If God really wanted them to repent and cry for mercy...and he alone could empower them to do so, then He certainly would initiate the process, would he not?  Over and over again in Scripture we see God grieving over the sins of his people and their refusal to trust him.  We see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, longing for his people to turn to him, but THEY would not.  Its not that God would not, but they would not.  It seems clear to me that God grieves over our choices.  The picture you paint makes it seem as though God knows we cannot make any other choice and he alone can make us repent....so why would he grieve?  Why would he mourn?  Why would he long for people to turn from their stubbornness if they cannot and he has chosen not to let them?  It would be like me chaining 100 criminals to a wall and telling them all to run for freedom, but only unlocking 2.  Why would I grieve that the other 98 do not respond?  Do they deserve to be locked up?  Yes.  They are criminals.  But why would I call them to run to me and be free if they have no capability to do so?  

 

So, yes, what you propose is within the bounds of justice.  However, I find it is not within the bounds of the narrative that flows continuously throughout the whole of Scripture.

 

And yes, I agree men are without understanding.  But Jesus came as a light into a dark world.  He brought understanding and truth and life.  I just reject the idea that men are incapable of understanding the Good News of Jesus. 


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#64
justaname

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Wormwood,

I appreciate your dialogue and if we never get to meet face to face this side of glory I pray that God grants that we meet on the other side.

I do not believe we disagree on the character of God, rather on the condition of humanity. God does continually reach out to humanity, yet humanity continually responds in the same manner. The parable of the landowner describes this well. (Matthew 21:33-44; Luke 20:9-18) Stephen gives a great description:

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”

Paul makes a similar reference but speaking of the believer he says: and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; Col 2:11.

Just something to ponder on.

Your arguments:

1. "This just seems silly to me if God is asking people to do things they cannot do and then condemns them for not doing it."
Not if they are able but simply have no desire to obey. I do not believe people are unable. Maybe I do not posses a classical or traditional stance. I believe people choose in accordance with their greatest desire. Man's greatest desire is to serve his own desires. God is calling man to serve Him yet man rejects God in favor to serve themselves. Men rebel from God to save their perceived autonomy. (Genesis 11:4)

2. "If God really wanted them to repent and cry for mercy...and he alone could empower them to do so, then He certainly would initiate the process, would he not?"

​Again here God would no longer be just, He would only be merciful if He did this for everyone. Then those who are believers today are like the prophets of old, being lights to the peoples, a holy nation set apart wholly for God's purposes, convicting men of their unwillingness to repent. God has initiated the process all along through the patriarchs, through the prophets, through His Son, through the apostles, and now through believers. Then we could speak of how God selecting only some shapes the believer's character. The believer is willing to leave this world behind with all those in it and all it has to offer to be with God. Who knows all the conditions and effects God has in mind concerning His eternal plan for those He saves?

3. "so why would he grieve?"
Because He cares. God knew Adam would fall in the garden. God knew Israel would fail in terms of the Law. God knew the Jew and Gentiles would kill His Son. Still He mourns. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus knowing He would raise him from the dead. It is not that we cannot make any other choice, rather we will not make any other choice. Do you believe Adam would have ever chosen anything different given Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world? Yet I think we both believe God did not force Adam to sin. God cares for His creation, so much so that He has proven Himself to be long-suffering, but He will not deny His justice. He waited 400 years for the sins of the Amorites to be too great!

4. "It would be like me chaining 100 criminals to a wall and telling them all to run for freedom, but only unlocking 2."
​I disagree here as this analogy does not reflect my view. I prefer this allegory:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=ZVN5PRpM_1Y


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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#65
justaname

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John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. - John 3:27

This speaks to the sovereignty of God. His role in salvation is primary. Concerning man he acts as an active recipient. He is passive in that God opens his heart to receive the gospel yet he is active in that he believes.

προσέχω prosechō take care; pay attention to

BDAG be concerned about, care for, take care; pay attention to, give heed to, follow; occupy oneself with, devote; apply oneself to

It is used in this verse:

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to (προσέχω) what was said by Paul. - Acts 16:14

So it is within the semantic range to say , the Lord opened her heart to devote herself to what was said by Paul.
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#66
Wormwood

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justaname, 

 

Yes, I am sure we will spend time together at least on that side of eternity, no doubt.  I look forward to that day.

 

I agree with you that many have hardened hearts.  They are proud, arrogant and they rebel against grace and the call to humility and repentance.  Pharaoh saw God's working and rather than repenting, he hardened his heart, and, in turn, God hardened his heart.  These men who were "uncircumcised" in heart, simply means that though they bore the mark of God's people on their bodies in circumcision, they were more like the uncircumcised in the manner in which they were responding to the message of God in Jesus.  I don't think this has anything to do with Total Depravity.

 

In a different context, Paul is speaking about how we are "circumcised" through faith and baptism.  The point here is not that God had to do a work of regeneration before they could believe but that their conversion marked them as God's covenant people.  The defining mark of God's covenant people was no longer physical circumcision (as seen before many of these physically circumcised were not obedient to the revelation of God in Christ) but rather faith in Jesus.  

 

In sum, these verses are simply teaching that physical circumcision no longer has any value in identifying God's covenant people.  Those who believe in Jesus and are baptized reveal they are God's children in their repentance and acceptance of God's new revealed work in Christ.  Those who hate the believers are "uncircumcised" in heart, showing they are no different than the Gentiles (or wicked Jews that persecuted the prophets) due to their hardened response to God's saving work.  

 

Every Jew reading these verses would have recognized that this is about identifying who belongs to God and who doesn't.  It has nothing to do with whether or not God has to initiate a work of regeneration in order for a person to believe.  I don't think such ideas were anywhere close to Paul or Stephen's mind (or their hearers).

 

1.  You said, "I do not believe people are unable."  So does that mean that a person could actually repent and accept the Gospel in their current state? If that is what you really believe, then you agree with me and reject Total Depravity.  Total Depravity teaches a person is so depraved they are unable to respond without God allowing them to respond through a work of regeneration.  The Calvinistic side of Total Depravity teaches that regeneration precedes faith.  It must, they teach, because a person cannot have faith in their spiritually dead state.  I guess you will need to explain your side of things in greater detail.  Based on the above statement, you do not adhere to Total Depravity.

 

2.  I strongly disagree with your view here.  God could have mercy on the whole world and still be "just."  God's wrath was poured out on the cross which was sufficient for the whole world.  The idea that God still has to condemn the majority of the world implies that the blood of Jesus was not sufficient for us all, but only a small group.  I think that is a very unhealthy view of the significance and power of the cross of Christ.  Moreover, I believe the Bible clearly teaches that God WANTS to be merciful to all people.  Its not just that he wants to show a little mercy, but has to have justice by condemning the bulk of humanity.  No, the scriptures teach that God loves the entire world and desires all people to be saved.  God grieves over every lost child and abandons the 99 to find the 1.  There is no sinner that Jesus did not die for and longs to have his grace cover their sin so he can lavish them with love and mercy.  At least that is what I believe the Bible teaches.  I don't think a person who holds to the basic tenants of Calvinism can honestly make such a claim, and yet I feel it is a fundamental teaching of the NT.

 

3.  Yes God cares and I agree he sees the future.  I also agree that he is long suffering with the wicked, giving them ample opportunity to repent.  Yet knowing the future, that some will not repent, and determining the future by mandating who is permitted to repent are two very different things.  I don't think the Bible teaches the latter in any fashion.

 

4.  Ill try to look at the video soon.  Gotta get to bed.

 

A.  I agree we cannot receive anything unless God gives it to us.  We could not receive redemption if God had not given us his Son.  I do not believe this teaches that we have to receive the ability to receive.  Again, I think a simple beggar analogy illustrates this sufficiently.  A beggar has no food unless he receives it from another.  So, I can say, "A beggar cannot receive one ounce of food unless it is given to him from another."  But that cannot be interpreted to mean, "A beggar cannot beg unless he receives the ability to want to receive food."  The simple point to this verse is just to say that we add nothing to our salvation.  

 

B.  I believe God moves on our hearts when we hear the Gospel.  I believe God can clarify our minds and even organize circumstances to help us to hear his Word.  I believe God can put us at the end of our ropes an that he can spark in our hearts and minds the reality that the message of the Gospel is true and of God.  I believe the Spirit works in us as we preach and in our hearers as they listen.  Yet, I do not believe this is teaching that regeneration precedes faith.  That is not what this is saying.  In fact, Colossians 2:12 tells us explicitly the process...

 

  “having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12, NIV84)  

 

Notice how it says we are "raised with him" through "faith."  It does not say we are raised so we can have faith.  Rather we are raised through our faith.  Faith is the wire through with the resurrection power of Christ is channeled.  Yes, the Spirit can move on our hearts and we can be convicted, reminded and opened up to the truth of the message.  But that does not mean we were incapable of understanding it previously or that when the Spirit did move, that we were incapable of resisting since we had been predetermined by God's unilateral decree.

 

  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:18–20, NIV84)  

 

There comes a day when a person finds themselves laid bare before God when the truth of Christ shines down on them. That is a powerful moment.  They are exposed.  The light is revealed and the sinner recognize it (as Lydia did).  Yet that person still has the ability to choose.  They can choose to stay in the light and trust, or they can choose to slink back into the darkness in their love for evil.  Even the evil person can recognize the light...they just choose to reject it.  Those who stay in the light are declared to be "circumcised of heart" because they have embraced the truth.  They belong to God.  Those who scurry into the dark like cockroaches when the light hits them and the Holy Spirit convicts their hearts reveal that they are uncircumcised of heart (regardless of what their flesh looks like).  

At least that's how I see it.  Have a blessed night.


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#67
OzSpen

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John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. - John 3:27

This speaks to the sovereignty of God. His role in salvation is primary. Concerning man he acts as an active recipient. He is passive in that God opens his heart to receive the gospel yet he is active in that he believes.

 

 

That's not what John 1:12 (ESV) states: 'But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God'.

 

Human beings have to receive Jesus and believe in his name. God is not a dictator who forces his will of salvation on a select number. God's will is what 'whosoever believes' is saved (John 3:16 ESV). Human whoevers are the ones who believe.

 

Of course, salvation is provided by God and initiated by Him, but forcing people to accept salvation sovereignly is not the biblical way (see Rom 2:6-8 ESV).

 

Oz


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#68
justaname

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That's not what John 1:12 (ESV) states: 'But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God'.

 

Human beings have to receive Jesus and believe in his name. God is not a dictator who forces his will of salvation on a select number. God's will is what 'whosoever believes' is saved (John 3:16 ESV). Human whoevers are the ones who believe.

 

Of course, salvation is provided by God and initiated by Him, but forcing people to accept salvation sovereignly is not the biblical way (see Rom 2:6-8 ESV).

 

Oz

 

If we take the "receiving" to be referring to "believing" in this context then what I state makes sense.  IOW the "receiving Him" is another way of stating "believing" not that these two are different.  By believing we are receiving Him, thus the requirement for salvation is faith alone.  There is not some mysterious act of receiving Jesus separate from believing the gospel message.  As we continue the author's thought in the very next verse my case is strengthened even further in that it states that we become His children through His will not our own.  The Bible conveys faith as a gift from God.  Faith is not something we muster on our own or that we will into existence.  Belief in something will not happen if we think it to be folly.  

 

13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 
Now I am not stating God "forces" people to accept salvation, rather that He opens the eyes of the blind and unstops the ears of the deaf.  He softens the hearts of the unwilling and quickens the dead to life that they recognize the truth.  All of creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God so this quickening is received with joy.  Without this working of the Holy Spirit men stay in their deprived state.  As we all know not all hear the gospel message so by default the Holy Spirit is unable work in this way for every person.  It is my contention that the Holy Spirit only quickens some, those who are called by His name, those who are called according to His purpose.      
 
As to the Romans passage I do not believe you are stating we earn salvation.  This is contrasting believers against nonbelievers in the context of impending judgement.  I do not see this as explaining how one came to belief.  Perhaps you have a different view?

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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#69
justaname

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justaname, 

 

Yes, I am sure we will spend time together at least on that side of eternity, no doubt.  I look forward to that day.

 

I agree with you that many have hardened hearts.  They are proud, arrogant and they rebel against grace and the call to humility and repentance.  Pharaoh saw God's working and rather than repenting, he hardened his heart, and, in turn, God hardened his heart.  These men who were "uncircumcised" in heart, simply means that though they bore the mark of God's people on their bodies in circumcision, they were more like the uncircumcised in the manner in which they were responding to the message of God in Jesus.  I don't think this has anything to do with Total Depravity.

 

In a different context, Paul is speaking about how we are "circumcised" through faith and baptism.  The point here is not that God had to do a work of regeneration before they could believe but that their conversion marked them as God's covenant people.  The defining mark of God's covenant people was no longer physical circumcision (as seen before many of these physically circumcised were not obedient to the revelation of God in Christ) but rather faith in Jesus.  

 

In sum, these verses are simply teaching that physical circumcision no longer has any value in identifying God's covenant people.  Those who believe in Jesus and are baptized reveal they are God's children in their repentance and acceptance of God's new revealed work in Christ.  Those who hate the believers are "uncircumcised" in heart, showing they are no different than the Gentiles (or wicked Jews that persecuted the prophets) due to their hardened response to God's saving work.  

 

Every Jew reading these verses would have recognized that this is about identifying who belongs to God and who doesn't.  It has nothing to do with whether or not God has to initiate a work of regeneration in order for a person to believe.  I don't think such ideas were anywhere close to Paul or Stephen's mind (or their hearers).

 

1.  You said, "I do not believe people are unable."  So does that mean that a person could actually repent and accept the Gospel in their current state? If that is what you really believe, then you agree with me and reject Total Depravity.  Total Depravity teaches a person is so depraved they are unable to respond without God allowing them to respond through a work of regeneration.  The Calvinistic side of Total Depravity teaches that regeneration precedes faith.  It must, they teach, because a person cannot have faith in their spiritually dead state.  I guess you will need to explain your side of things in greater detail.  Based on the above statement, you do not adhere to Total Depravity.

 

2.  I strongly disagree with your view here.  God could have mercy on the whole world and still be "just."  God's wrath was poured out on the cross which was sufficient for the whole world.  The idea that God still has to condemn the majority of the world implies that the blood of Jesus was not sufficient for us all, but only a small group.  I think that is a very unhealthy view of the significance and power of the cross of Christ.  Moreover, I believe the Bible clearly teaches that God WANTS to be merciful to all people.  Its not just that he wants to show a little mercy, but has to have justice by condemning the bulk of humanity.  No, the scriptures teach that God loves the entire world and desires all people to be saved.  God grieves over every lost child and abandons the 99 to find the 1.  There is no sinner that Jesus did not die for and longs to have his grace cover their sin so he can lavish them with love and mercy.  At least that is what I believe the Bible teaches.  I don't think a person who holds to the basic tenants of Calvinism can honestly make such a claim, and yet I feel it is a fundamental teaching of the NT.

 

3.  Yes God cares and I agree he sees the future.  I also agree that he is long suffering with the wicked, giving them ample opportunity to repent.  Yet knowing the future, that some will not repent, and determining the future by mandating who is permitted to repent are two very different things.  I don't think the Bible teaches the latter in any fashion.

 

4.  Ill try to look at the video soon.  Gotta get to bed.

 

A.  I agree we cannot receive anything unless God gives it to us.  We could not receive redemption if God had not given us his Son.  I do not believe this teaches that we have to receive the ability to receive.  Again, I think a simple beggar analogy illustrates this sufficiently.  A beggar has no food unless he receives it from another.  So, I can say, "A beggar cannot receive one ounce of food unless it is given to him from another."  But that cannot be interpreted to mean, "A beggar cannot beg unless he receives the ability to want to receive food."  The simple point to this verse is just to say that we add nothing to our salvation.  

 

B.  I believe God moves on our hearts when we hear the Gospel.  I believe God can clarify our minds and even organize circumstances to help us to hear his Word.  I believe God can put us at the end of our ropes an that he can spark in our hearts and minds the reality that the message of the Gospel is true and of God.  I believe the Spirit works in us as we preach and in our hearers as they listen.  Yet, I do not believe this is teaching that regeneration precedes faith.  That is not what this is saying.  In fact, Colossians 2:12 tells us explicitly the process...

 

  “having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12, NIV84)  

 

Notice how it says we are "raised with him" through "faith."  It does not say we are raised so we can have faith.  Rather we are raised through our faith.  Faith is the wire through with the resurrection power of Christ is channeled.  Yes, the Spirit can move on our hearts and we can be convicted, reminded and opened up to the truth of the message.  But that does not mean we were incapable of understanding it previously or that when the Spirit did move, that we were incapable of resisting since we had been predetermined by God's unilateral decree.

 

  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:18–20, NIV84)  

 

There comes a day when a person finds themselves laid bare before God when the truth of Christ shines down on them. That is a powerful moment.  They are exposed.  The light is revealed and the sinner recognize it (as Lydia did).  Yet that person still has the ability to choose.  They can choose to stay in the light and trust, or they can choose to slink back into the darkness in their love for evil.  Even the evil person can recognize the light...they just choose to reject it.  Those who stay in the light are declared to be "circumcised of heart" because they have embraced the truth.  They belong to God.  Those who scurry into the dark like cockroaches when the light hits them and the Holy Spirit convicts their hearts reveal that they are uncircumcised of heart (regardless of what their flesh looks like).  

At least that's how I see it.  Have a blessed night.

 

It is my contention that all, not many, have hardened hearts and this is the Total Depravity.

 

Romans 1:21

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

 

Romans 8:20-21 

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  

 

These speak to all, not just some.  Romans 3 also speaks to all, not just some.  

 

Your basic argument in partial depravity is that some people are better than others.  Most people are blinded by the devil, but some are smarter than that, or have a better heart than the rest.  And this smartness or goodness is through their own strength, not that God designed them this way, otherwise God actually elected them to have a innate goodness.  Scripture shuts the whole of creation up in futility.  Scripture describes the vanity of the human pursuit.  Scripture states none seek God.  Scripture states none understand.  Partial depravity states, well most but not all.    

 

To the circumcision discussion it is now the recognized mark, circumcision of the heart, rather than the old physical one in the flesh.  (John 13:35)  I am not attempting to make this the crux of my argument, only a bit of depth.  We do not circumcise our own hearts.  Scripture is not clear when this occurs or if it is only a metaphor.  I tend to believe God does this to enact belief as in the case of Lydia. (Acts 16:14)

 

1.  I tried to explain this in my point #1 also in the beginning of this post.  Could you give some leading questions?  My view is similar in Adam's act of sin.  It is not that Adam could not chose any other way or was forced to sin, rather that it is through God's design that he would sin though his own volition.  God could have designed a universe that Adam did not sin, yet He chose this design.  Thus it is by God's decree that Adam sinned though his (Adam's) free choice.  Likewise men are beholden to their choices both by decree and by volition.  In their deprived state men freely choose to serve themselves, making themselves god, rather than serving the true God.  This condition continues for every individual unless God directly intervenes.  The first way God intervenes is by sending the Gospel that they might hear.  In this only those elected to hear will hear.  It is my further contention that it takes an act of God to break the desire of man to serve himself that he might desire to serve God and actually listen to and obey the Gospel.  These are also elected. (Acts 13:48)  Being subjected to futility, God must release these from bondage, opening their eyes that they see the truth.  In this the decisions of men have potential just as Adam had the potential to reject Eve.  Men are not robbed of potential and unable per se' rather they are given to their own desires; they are blinded.  They seek self-attainment or self-actualization, seeking to place themselves on the throne of God. Thus the god of this world has blinded them. (You will be like God) Again I may not have a traditional or classical stance of total depravity.   

 

2.  I stand corrected.  Jesus' atonement satisfies God's justice.

 

3.  The Bible does teach God grants repentance (Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25).  To the Jew first then to the Gentile by mandate.  Until God opened the message to the Gentiles they were in darkness.  Such is the case for all believers.  All things are in accordance with His sovereign authority and approval.

 

4.  Please take the time, it is a short video. (Under 3 mins)

 

A.  Grace is unmerited favor.  Faith is a gift.  All things are given by God, even that we believe.  (Philippians 1:29)  Receiving Christ is believing.  Believing is having faith.  The faith is given as a gift because of God's grace.  Receiving the gift is believing.

 

B.  If you believe some people in and of themselves they are receptive to the gospel while other are not then I understand your reasoning.  But I disagree as I believe we are all on the same ground concerning our propensity to the Gospel outside the grace of God.  That propensity is to reject serving God in favor to serve ourselves.  I think you are having difficulty because of your understanding of the Calvinistic position and you painting me in that light.  I believe regeneration and possessing faith are synchronized.  God gives some ears to hear and eyes to see.  

 

Not everyone will have that "powerful moment" you speak of unless you include when we die.  Those who do are elected by God to have that moment.  Those who respond positively in that moment owe everything to God that they did not shrink back and nothing to themselves.  We would all be cockroaches if it were not for the grace of God.  Your explanation truly describes meriting salvation through superior choices.


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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#70
OzSpen

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If we take the "receiving" to be referring to "believing" in this context then what I state makes sense.  IOW the "receiving Him" is another way of stating "believing" not that these two are different.  By believing we are receiving Him, thus the requirement for salvation is faith alone.  There is not some mysterious act of receiving Jesus separate from believing the gospel message.  As we continue the author's thought in the very next verse my case is strengthened even further in that it states that we become His children through His will not our own.  The Bible conveys faith as a gift from God.  Faith is not something we muster on our own or that we will into existence.  Belief in something will not happen if we think it to be folly. 

 

 

We know that John 1:12 (ESV) is referring to receiving as believing because:

 

  • 'who believed in his name' is in apposition to 'who did receive him', and
  • 'he gave the right to become children of God' is the outcome, i.e. salvation

Oz


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#71
justaname

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We know that John 1:12 (ESV) is referring to receiving as believing because:

 

  • 'who believed in his name' is in apposition to 'who did receive him', and
  • 'he gave the right to become children of God' is the outcome, i.e. salvation

Oz

 

So here we are in agreement.  Please then because I am at a loss to understand your contention.  If we both concede John 1:12 is speaking about the active role of believing on man's behalf how does this verse speak against God's active role in penetrating the rebellious unbeliever's heart?


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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#72
Wormwood

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Your basic argument in partial depravity is that some people are better than others.  Most people are blinded by the devil, but some are smarter than that, or have a better heart than the rest.  And this smartness or goodness is through their own strength, not that God designed them this way, otherwise God actually elected them to have a innate goodness.  Scripture shuts the whole of creation up in futility.  Scripture describes the vanity of the human pursuit.  Scripture states none seek God.  Scripture states none understand.  Partial depravity states, well most but not all.  

 

 

No, that is not my argument.  That is a common Calvanistic misrepresentation.  Accepting grace does not make a person "better' or less sinful than another person.  We are all completely condemned and utterly sinful.  If two men are condemned for their wicked acts and stand before the jury to be sentenced to death..both are offered mercy and one believes and accepts the offer, does this make him less guilty of his evil acts?  Does his criminal record shorten because he recognizes grace?  Does this make him "better" than the other convicted felon next to him?  Of course not.  Actually, the fact of the matter is that Jesus went to the MORE sinful people because they were more apt to recognize their need for grace than the supposedly "righteous" folk.  It is pure nonsense to suggest that the idea that a person can recognize and accept God's gift in Jesus makes them somehow earning righteousness or "better" than others.  Rather, I would think the notion that some are "better" than others is more of a problem for Calvinism!  I mean, after all, some were hand selected by God before the foundation of the world to be saved, apart from their own decision making.  Wouldn't this make them "better" than their lost counterparts because they were uniquely "chosen" by God for this special work of grace?

 

 I tend to believe God does this to enact belief as in the case of Lydia. (Acts 16:14)

 

 

In my view, "enacting" someones belief pretty much goes against the entire concept of "trust" and "faith."  If someone is made to "trust" are they really trusting at all?  Think of it this way:  A little boy is peering down from the edge of a diving board.  He is scared.  His dad treads water below him with his arms stretched out.  "Jump, son.  I will catch you.  Trust me."  The boy shuffles his feet but eventually looks down at his dad in love and takes a big flying leap of faith as his jumps off the board towards his dad.  That is trust.  Now lets suppose the dad "enacts" the boys jump and causes the boy to jump off the board.  Perhaps he has someone push the boy or lunges up and grabs the boy's hand and pulls him off the board into his arms.  Is the boy really "trusting" his dad if the dad has to initiate the work to make the boy respond in faith?  To me, this isn't faith at all.  It just comes across as smoke and mirrors.  Yes, the boy flew off the board, and maybe the boy even thinks he took the leap of faith...but in reality, it wasn't him at all.  His "faith" was nothing but an illusion.

 

1.  I tried to explain this in my point #1 also in the beginning of this post.  Could you give some leading questions?  My view is similar in Adam's act of sin.  It is not that Adam could not chose any other way or was forced to sin, rather that it is through God's design that he would sin though his own volition.  God could have designed a universe that Adam did not sin, yet He chose this design.  Thus it is by God's decree that Adam sinned though his (Adam's) free choice.

 

 

Ok, well I have three issues with your proposition here:  First, this depiction of things portrays Adam even prior to his sin as essentially "Totally Depraved" since he was essentially destines to do evil.  Second, I reject this notion of "freedom."  Free will suggests someone has the freedom to choose between opposites on their own accord.  If God has decreed me to drink too much and get killed in a drunk driving accident, then I don't know how it can be said I have any sort of freedom at all.  Writing a program that will execute  thousands of commands after I hit "enter" may look like the computer is doing its own thing while I sit back and twiddle my thumbs.  But we all know that the computer is not making decisions.  It is executing a pre-written program.  Simply because the programmer is not hand jamming each command one by one doesn't mean the computer has freedom or that the programmer is not the only one making all the decisions.  IN my mind, your depiction of things is no different than God writing a program and human beings are simply executing the program.  I cannot ascribe the word "freedom" to such a depiction of God's sovereignty.  Third, this view argues that God has "two wills."  God's revealed will that he wants all to be saved, and God's hidden will that he desires most to be condemned (since he programmed it so).  These two wills contradict each other in their practical outworking and therefore I find them unacceptable.  If we cannot accept what God says at face value, how can we trust anything he has revealed to us?

 

The Bible does teach God grants repentance (Acts 11:182 Timothy 2:25).

 

 

Yes, it does use this language.  However, I think it is wrong to see this as irresistible and foreordained.  Rather, I see it as God granting certain people the opportunity and means to believe and repent.  

 

 

I don't know what Plato's allegory of the cave has to do with free will as it relates to our discussion.  You may have to help me here.  

 

I don't think Phil 1:29 is teaching that we are given the ability to believe.  Are we also given the ability to suffer?  Does suffering take a special act of grace to embrace?  No, I think this is teaching that some Christians have been given the privilege and opportunity to believe and suffer for Christ.

 

Again, I think labeling the acceptance of Christ's sinless life, sacrifice and resurrection from the grave as "meriting" ones own righteousness is a head scratcher.  Christ lived the sinless life.  Not me.  Christ died for my sins, not me.  Christ rose for my justification.  Not me.  I deserve nothing but condemnation.  My accepting Christ's love and sacrifice isn't "merit."  When Paul speaks of "works" he is referring to someone trying to earn their own right standing before God by adherence to the laws requirements.  When he speaks of grace, he speaks of someone accepting Christ's work on their behalf.  Accepting and believing is NEVER equated with "merit" or "works."  Rather, these things are the opposite of legalistic righteousness and merit.  


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#73
OzSpen

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So here we are in agreement.  Please then because I am at a loss to understand your contention.  If we both concede John 1:12 is speaking about the active role of believing on man's behalf how does this verse speak against God's active role in penetrating the rebellious unbeliever's heart?

 

justaname,

 

God's role is active in prompting the heart to respond (drawing people to salvation). So is that by human beings of actively receiving and believing (putting trust in) Christ for salvation.

 

What I oppose is ULI (unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace) in the Calvinistic system.

 

Oz


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#74
Wormwood

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Oz,

 

You don't oppose the P?  The entire concept of "once saved always saved" was developed as the fruit of the Calvinistic system.  Personally, it seems to me that if the root of the acronym is flawed, why keep the fruit?  Maybe this is a different discussion.  Feel free to start a new thread if you want to discuss it.  :)


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#75
OzSpen

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Oz,

 

You don't oppose the P?  The entire concept of "once saved always saved" was developed as the fruit of the Calvinistic system.  Personally, it seems to me that if the root of the acronym is flawed, why keep the fruit?  Maybe this is a different discussion.  Feel free to start a new thread if you want to discuss it.   :)

 

Wormwood,

 

I don't find 'once saved always saved' to be helpful, biblical theology (even though it's frequently used in evangelical circles). However, 'perseverance of the saints' has a biblical mandate. James Arminius believed in perseverance of the saints.

 

The topic in this thread is total depravity. Perhaps you'd like to start a thread that tries to differentiate between the teaching on once saved always saved vs perseverance of the saints.

 

Oz


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#76
Born_Again

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Wormwood,

 

I don't find 'once saved always saved' to be helpful, biblical theology (even though it's frequently used in evangelical circles). However, 'perseverance of the saints' has a biblical mandate. James Arminius believed in perseverance of the saints.

 

The topic in this thread is total depravity. Perhaps you'd like to start a thread that tries to differentiate between the teaching on once saved always saved vs perseverance of the saints.

 

Oz

 

Please no! No more OSAS threads LOL 


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#77
OzSpen

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Please no! No more OSAS threads LOL 

 

How about some biblical teaching on perseverance of the saints?

 

We see this taught by Jesus in John 5:24 (ESV): 'Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears [continues hearing] My word, and believes [continues believing] Him who sent Me, has [continues to have] eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life'. What is in [square brackets] is the emphasis of the Greek verb.

 

Oz


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#78
justaname

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No, that is not my argument. That is a common Calvanistic misrepresentation. Accepting grace does not make a person "better' or less sinful than another person. We are all completely condemned and utterly sinful.


You have built a straw man argument here. I know we are in agreement that man is sinful. My argument is partial depravity contends some men are "better" because they can recognize the truth of the gospel where most do not. Partial depravity contends not all men are hostile to God only some, thus better. Partial depravity contends some men do understand when Scripture shuts everyone up in futility, thus better. Partial depravity contends some men are spiritually discerning, thus better. I find this to be contrary to the Scriptural evidence.

Romans 7:18
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

Semi-Pelagianism must contend the good of going against what we think is folly is in the flesh for some. You can not agree with the Apostle and must amend Scripture to suggest that we have the good of believing the testimony of God, which is no small good at all, in fact it is the greatest good a man can posses. Adam did not portray this good through his decision in the garden. Israel did not receive the testimony. (Hebrews 4:2) All along men have rejected God's prophets and they hung His Son to a tree rejecting the testimony of God. So then we have the testimony as given by Peter acknowledging the Messiah and the response given by Jesus:

Matther 16:17
And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

It was given by God that Peter recognize the truth of the Christ. You think men come to this recognition on their own?

Then here is another major dilemma in your argument. If I chose to give you favor over another it is not up to you to accept it or not. I am the active person in bestowing favor. You would be completely passive. Grace is unmerited favor. There are no decisions required for the party that receives favor in fact they are not a part of the equation at all. They are simply favored by an outside party. Grace does not need to be accepted in fact that is a twisting of what grace really is. Belief and recognizing truth is something different. There is much more packed into the concept of what you try to trivialize as simply "accepting grace"; it is a loaded statement. I am speaking about accepting the testimony given by God concerning His Son.

If two men are condemned for their wicked acts and stand before the jury to be sentenced to death..both are offered mercy and one believes and accepts the offer, does this make him less guilty of his evil acts? Does his criminal record shorten because he recognizes grace? Does this make him "better" than the other convicted felon next to him? Of course not. Actually, the fact of the matter is that Jesus went to the MORE sinful people because they were more apt to recognize their need for grace than the supposedly "righteous" folk. It is pure nonsense to suggest that the idea that a person can recognize and accept God's gift in Jesus makes them somehow earning righteousness or "better" than others. Rather, I would think the notion that some are "better" than others is more of a problem for Calvinism! I mean, after all, some were hand selected by God before the foundation of the world to be saved, apart from their own decision making. Wouldn't this make them "better" than their lost counterparts because they were uniquely "chosen" by God for this special work of grace?


The issue is Scripture states men are in rebellion to God, hostile to Him. Scripture states the message of the gospel is folly to those perishing. All outside the grace of God are perishing. The earning or meriting in your theology comes by those who throw off this hostility by trusting God, and discerning truth from folly. So then how is it some men come to understand their own sense of pride, humble themselves to trust and obey the God they are hostile to, and discern the truth of the gospel? Why is it some men do this and others don't?

Romans 9:21 speaks to your argument.

In my view, "enacting" someones belief pretty much goes against the entire concept of "trust" and "faith." If someone is made to "trust" are they really trusting at all? Think of it this way: A little boy is peering down from the edge of a diving board. He is scared. His dad treads water below him with his arms stretched out. "Jump, son. I will catch you. Trust me." The boy shuffles his feet but eventually looks down at his dad in love and takes a big flying leap of faith as his jumps off the board towards his dad. That is trust. Now lets suppose the dad "enacts" the boys jump and causes the boy to jump off the board. Perhaps he has someone push the boy or lunges up and grabs the boy's hand and pulls him off the board into his arms. Is the boy really "trusting" his dad if the dad has to initiate the work to make the boy respond in faith? To me, this isn't faith at all. It just comes across as smoke and mirrors. Yes, the boy flew off the board, and maybe the boy even thinks he took the leap of faith...but in reality, it wasn't him at all. His "faith" was nothing but an illusion.


If the Dad initializes the initial leap then continues to work with the child until they eventually are able to jump on their own, trust is being established and built. God helps us in our weakness.

Ok, well I have three issues with your proposition here: First, this depiction of things portrays Adam even prior to his sin as essentially "Totally Depraved" since he was essentially destines to do evil.


The concept of foreknowledge does nothing to help your case. If God is omniscient then God knew Adam would sin and Adam was destined to sin. Unless God did not know what He was creating before He created it Adam was under God's decree to willfully sin.

Second, I reject this notion of "freedom." Free will suggests someone has the freedom to choose between opposites on their own accord. If God has decreed me to drink too much and get killed in a drunk driving accident, then I don't know how it can be said I have any sort of freedom at all. Writing a program that will execute thousands of commands after I hit "enter" may look like the computer is doing its own thing while I sit back and twiddle my thumbs. But we all know that the computer is not making decisions. It is executing a pre-written program. Simply because the programmer is not hand jamming each command one by one doesn't mean the computer has freedom or that the programmer is not the only one making all the decisions. IN my mind, your depiction of things is no different than God writing a program and human beings are simply executing the program. I cannot ascribe the word "freedom" to such a depiction of God's sovereignty.


Here then is a discussion on the matter of the bondage of will and the depths of the depravity therein. I side with Augustine and Luther.
"Humanism, in all its subtle forms, recapitulates the unvarnished Pelagianism against which Augustine struggled. Though Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by Rome, and its modified form, Semi-Pelagianism was likewise condemned by the Council of Orange in 529, the basic assumptions of this view persisted throughout church history to reappear in Medieval Catholicism, Renaissance Humanism, Socinianism, Arminianism, and modern Liberalism." R. C. Sproul

Third, this view argues that God has "two wills." God's revealed will that he wants all to be saved, and God's hidden will that he desires most to be condemned (since he programmed it so). These two wills contradict each other in their practical outworking and therefore I find them unacceptable. If we cannot accept what God says at face value, how can we trust anything he has revealed to us?



This creates a false dilemma. God has no hidden will that He desires most to be condemned. By quickening some He is not desiring others to perish. God gave prophets in the past to proclaim His decrees concerning the people before, and He gives believers now. God did not make everyone in Israel a prophet. Jeremiah speaks of the condition of the prophet. (Jeremiah 20:9)

This is all I can speak to for now.
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#79
Wormwood

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You have built a straw man argument here. I know we are in agreement that man is sinful. My argument is partial depravity contends some men are "better" because they can recognize the truth of the gospel where most do not. Partial depravity contends not all men are hostile to God only some, thus better. Partial depravity contends some men do understand when Scripture shuts everyone up in futility, thus better. Partial depravity contends some men are spiritually discerning, thus better. I find this to be contrary to the Scriptural evidence.

 

 

First, that is not what partial depravity teaches.  The fact is, everyone who is confronted with the Gospel recognizes its truth and is forced to accept or reject it.  Jesus' anger toward the Pharisees was not that they couldn't recognize the truth, but that they did see it and rejected it.  They should have known better.  They saw the signs and saw the light.  They rejected the light because their works were evil...not because they didn't know any better.  

 

This is the primary problem I have with Calvinism.  It supposes that all men are basically incapable of knowing any better.  After all, a dead man cannot respond.  So it seems God is upset about people rejecting his Son, when they could do nothing but reject him.  It's like being mad that a blind man can't see how many fingers you are holding up.  No, the problem with the world is that light came into the darkness, but the darkness "did not receive him."  Yet "to those who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be called children of God."  Notice, they were not predetermined children before they were born. They were children because they chose to receive him when most of the world would not.  The problem is not that man is born spiritually dead and therefore incapable of good because he has no other option.  No, the problem is that man does know better, and still chooses evil...and even when the Son of God came to proclaim the light, most chose darkness.  This is what brings the wrath of God on the world.

 

Semi-Pelagianism must contend the good of going against what we think is folly is in the flesh for some. You can not agree with the Apostle and must amend Scripture to suggest that we have the good of believing the testimony of God, which is no small good at all, in fact it is the greatest good a man can posses.

 

 

No, I do agree with the Apostle here and these texts prove my point.  If you are contending that Paul is speaking about his sinful state in Romans 7, consider the following...

 

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ro 7:15–18.

 
You see, this text proves my assertion.  Paul here is saying that he knew what was right and good.  He knew the Law was good.  The problem was not his inability to recognize what was good or comprehend the goodness of the Law.  The problem was with the weakness of the flesh to live according to the Law.  Grace came to bring forgiveness and spiritual transformation to overcome the flesh so our spirits could act in line with what we already know to be good.  Paul, even as a sinful man, knew what was good and knew the Law was holy.  His problem was not that he was so dead in sin that he couldn't recognize good from evil...if that was the case, what is the point of the Law?  
 
Again, people can tell good from evil.  They problem is not their ability to recognize what is good, the problem is that they follow the misdeeds of their flesh.  The wonderful thing about grace is that you don't have to earn it through the flesh.  You can just accept it, and the Spirit then gives us the power to overcome the misdeeds of the flesh..which was formerly impossible for us. (i.e. partial depravity.  Mind recognizes the good...flesh incapable of adhering to the perfect Law).
 
If the Dad initializes the initial leap then continues to work with the child until they eventually are able to jump on their own, trust is being established and built. God helps us in our weakness.

 

 

Again, I think you are reorganizing the scenario.  The act of faith is the leap.  If the child is forced, then it wasn't the child's decision and therefore wasn't faith.  Saying faith develops later after the child has made the leap and is saved kinda transforms the entire soteriology of the Bible (i.e. salvation precedes faith...when all Scripture teaches faith precedes salvation (cf. Luke 7:50; Rom 3:28; Eph. 2:8; Col. 2:12).

 

The concept of foreknowledge does nothing to help your case. If God is omniscient then God knew Adam would sin and Adam was destined to sin. Unless God did not know what He was creating before He created it Adam was under God's decree to willfully sin.

 

 

Actually, I think I have a pretty good theological viewpoint of how God's foreknowledge interacts with free-will.  I believe God's foreknowledge was established after God had determined to create the world with free-will creatures.  I think the notion that God has foreknowledge of potential realities that do not yet exist is a faulty viewpoint, and is actually not at all what foreknowledge means.  How can one have prior knowledge of a non-real reality?  Thus, in my view, God determined to make humanity as free-will beings.  Once that determination was set in his mind to create in this way, he foresaw human history and decisions and integrated his own will to accomplish saving plan as the creation process was initiated.  I have an excellent paper on the issue of divine foreknowledge from a scholar I admire.  If you would like to read it, I will try to get you a copy.

 

"Humanism, in all its subtle forms, recapitulates the unvarnished Pelagianism against which Augustine struggled. Though Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by Rome, and its modified form, Semi-Pelagianism was likewise condemned by the Council of Orange in 529, the basic assumptions of this view persisted throughout church history to reappear in Medieval Catholicism, Renaissance Humanism, Socinianism, Arminianism, and modern Liberalism." R. C. Sproul

 

 

Well, I think RC Sproul is way off track here.  Comparing Partial Depravity doctrines with "humanism" shows a great deal of theological naïveté on his part, Imo.  

 

This creates a false dilemma. God has no hidden will that He desires most to be condemned. By quickening some He is not desiring others to perish. God gave prophets in the past to proclaim His decrees concerning the people before, and He gives believers now. God did not make everyone in Israel a prophet. Jeremiah speaks of the condition of the prophet. (Jeremiah 20:9)

 

 

This sounds like double-talk to me.  Look, the progression is very simple.  According to your view...

 

1) God chose to create a world where men would sin against him.

2) God chose to create few would be enabled to accept grace and be saved. (God's hidden will)

3) God desires all to be saved. (God's revealed will)

 

I think it is pretty simple.  If 3 is correct, then either 1 or 2 have to be wrong.  If 3 is true, 2 should read, "God chose to create all to be enabled to accept grace and be saved."  Or, 1 should read, "God chose to create a world where man would not sin against Him."  So, you can't say God loves all people if he alone has the ability to save them but chooses not to.  The fact is, if God really wanted all people saved (as scripture indicates), then he would have enabled them to accept the Gospel (or, in your example, made them all prophets).  I just reject this, flat out.  Scripture is clear that God desires all to be saved.  I think any theology that suggests that God has any desire BUT the salvation of all people is bad theology....regardless of whether or not Sproul wants to make it sound like humanistic arrogance or rebellion against God.  I think I am being true to God and his word by believing that God does want all to be saved and that Jesus died for the whole world.  It is humanity's fault for rejecting Jesus, not Gods' fault for creating a scenario where they could do nothing other than reject him.


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#80
justaname

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Wormwood,

I disagree that everyone recognizes the truth of the gospel. Do you have Scripture to support your claim? I have a ton of Scripture refuting this concept. Let's look at this one for example.

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;
7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
9 but just as it is written,
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

Focus in on verse 8...
Moving on, Paul in Romans 7 is discussing his dilemma from a redeemed position. He exclaims:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. - Romans 7:25

And here:

in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:4

Those outside the grace of God are in the flesh and walk according to it.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14

Next discussing point. I am not speaking to God's foreknowledge rather His omniscience. You ask how can a person have knowledge of a non-real reality? Have you ever dealt with hypothetical situations? God is omnscient and He easily posses this ability. Your argument teaches God can not know the future of potentialities. You are not seeking to limit God are you? Then do you realize in your theology God has subjected Himself to free will. Now free-will is the sovereign over all of the creation and the Creator. This is where I believe Sproul sees humanism. God is dependent on man's good judgement to bring about salvation.

Finally please explain how your theology differs from mine concerning your numbered argument.

1. If God created with foreknowledge then He knowingly created the world with man sinning.

2. God also created the world knowing most men would reject His testimony concerning His Son.

3. God wants all to be saved but He did not create the world that way and only He could have done things differently according to His foreknowledge.
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#81
Wormwood

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Hey justaname,

 

Thanks for your response.  Yes, I have many Scriptures that support my claim.  First, let me address your passages:

 

I want to quote the entire context of 1 Cor. 2 and the beginning of 1 Cor. 3.  I will color code the pronouns so you can follow the flow of what Paul is saying.  I will comment directly after to try to explain how I understand this text...

 

 

 

   “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?” (1 Corinthians 2:1–3:4, ESV)  

 

So, the first personal pronouns (I, we, our) are referring to the messengers of the Gospel (Paul, Apollos, Peter, etc.). These are the teachers who received revelation from the Holy Spirit and were sharing it with these people in Corinth.

 

The second person pronouns (you) are referring to the people in Corinth.

 

So, you see, this is a contrast.  Paul is contrasting the heavenly message given by God's spokesmen to these Corinthians that have carnally turned it into a reason for division and factions.  So, the contrast looks like this...

 

I came to you.  

I preached Christ.

My message was not of worldly wisdom.

We impart spiritual wisdom.

God revealed this message to us through the Spirit.

We have the Spirit of God, not of this world.

We understand what has been given to us.

We impart what has been given to us with spiritual words taught by the Spirit.

 

Your faith should not rest in man's wisdom but God's

I cannot address you as spiritual.

I fed you milk

You aren't ready for milk

You are mere infants in Christ

There is still strife among you

You are of the flesh.

You are acting merely human.

 

So, whats the point?  The point here is that this passage is not talking about believers vs non believers. This isn't about needing the Spirit to quicken them before they can understand the Gospel.  No, it is saying that the messengers of God are men of the Spirit and they proclaim spiritual wisdom taught by the Spirit.  They are not men seeking a following or their own glory.  Yet, these Corinthians are infants in Christ (not non believers) who are unspiritual and worldly and therefore they have twisted the message to make it a reason for creating factions and fights (i.e. "I follow Paul, I follow Apollos, I follow Cephas").  That is a worldly way of thinking and is not the mentality of these spiritual men who have proclaimed the Gospel.

 

As you can see, this passage has nothing to do with Total Depravity.  It has to do with the messengers of the Gospel being very unlike the teachers of the ancient world who were carnal and only interested in debates and creating a bigger following than the other guy.  Paul says, "NO!  We are all servants of the Spirit and we are not preaching worldly wisdom that seeks our own following or glory!  Yet because you are thinking carnally, you are missing the basics of the message we are sharing!"

 

I hope that clarifies things.  Now, let me share a few passages (not an exhaustive list by any means) that I believe teaches that all people can see the light when it shines on them and are held accountable for rejecting what they knew to be good.

 

  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”” (John 3:18–21, ESV)  
   “If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.” (John 15:24, ESV)  

   “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18, ESV)  

 

 

 “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:25, ESV)  

 

 

“For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” (Romans 7:22–23, ESV)  

 

 

 

  “And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”” (Acts 18:6, ESV)  

 

 

 

 

   “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:15, ESV)  

 

 

Anyway, that's just a few verses off the top of my head.  Yet, beyond that, I think the overall context of Scripture assumes that people are responsible when they hear and reject the Gospel.  I think the point of both the OT Law and the NT Gospel presupposes that they are good and holy...and God's wrath falls, not because people are incapable of understanding or accepting God's truth and holy standard, but because in their wickedness they reject it and desire to follow their own evil desires rather than what they know to be true.  In fact Paul writes concerning the wicked...

 

  “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32, ESV)  

 

So the picture here is not one of human ignorance due to being dead in sin, but human obstinance...knowing God's decrees and what is good and bowing their backs against Him.  


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#82
justaname

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Hey justaname,

Thanks for your response. Yes, I have many Scriptures that support my claim. First, let me address your passages:

I want to quote the entire context of 1 Cor. 2 and the beginning of 1 Cor. 3. I will color code the pronouns so you can follow the flow of what Paul is saying. I will comment directly after to try to explain how I understand this text...



“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?” (1 Corinthians 2:1–3:4, ESV)

So, the first personal pronouns (I, we, our) are referring to the messengers of the Gospel (Paul, Apollos, Peter, etc.). These are the teachers who received revelation from the Holy Spirit and were sharing it with these people in Corinth.

The second person pronouns (you) are referring to the people in Corinth.

So, you see, this is a contrast. Paul is contrasting the heavenly message given by God's spokesmen to these Corinthians that have carnally turned it into a reason for division and factions. So, the contrast looks like this...

I came to you.
I preached Christ.
My message was not of worldly wisdom.
We impart spiritual wisdom.
God revealed this message to us through the Spirit.
We have the Spirit of God, not of this world.
We understand what has been given to us.
We impart what has been given to us with spiritual words taught by the Spirit.

Your faith should not rest in man's wisdom but God's
I cannot address you as spiritual.
I fed you milk
You aren't ready for milk
You are mere infants in Christ
There is still strife among you
You are of the flesh.
You are acting merely human.

So, whats the point? The point here is that this passage is not talking about believers vs non believers. This isn't about needing the Spirit to quicken them before they can understand the Gospel. No, it is saying that the messengers of God are men of the Spirit and they proclaim spiritual wisdom taught by the Spirit. They are not men seeking a following or their own glory. Yet, these Corinthians are infants in Christ (not non believers) who are unspiritual and worldly and therefore they have twisted the message to make it a reason for creating factions and fights (i.e. "I follow Paul, I follow Apollos, I follow Cephas"). That is a worldly way of thinking and is not the mentality of these spiritual men who have proclaimed the Gospel.

As you can see, this passage has nothing to do with Total Depravity. It has to do with the messengers of the Gospel being very unlike the teachers of the ancient world who were carnal and only interested in debates and creating a bigger following than the other guy. Paul says, "NO! We are all servants of the Spirit and we are not preaching worldly wisdom that seeks our own following or glory! Yet because you are thinking carnally, you are missing the basics of the message we are sharing!"

I hope that clarifies things. Now, let me share a few passages (not an exhaustive list by any means) that I believe teaches that all people can see the light when it shines on them and are held accountable for rejecting what they knew to be good.















Anyway, that's just a few verses off the top of my head. Yet, beyond that, I think the overall context of Scripture assumes that people are responsible when they hear and reject the Gospel. I think the point of both the OT Law and the NT Gospel presupposes that they are good and holy...and God's wrath falls, not because people are incapable of understanding or accepting God's truth and holy standard, but because in their wickedness they reject it and desire to follow their own evil desires rather than what they know to be true. In fact Paul writes concerning the wicked...

“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32, ESV)

So the picture here is not one of human ignorance due to being dead in sin, but human obstinance...knowing God's decrees and what is good and bowing their backs against Him.

Justa quickly...you never spoke a word to verse 8. What is Paul talking about there? You say everyone faced with the gospel recognizes the truth. How does this verse fit within your theology?

Also I do not see any verse you presented stating that when faced with the gospel the unbeliever recognizes the truth therein. Do you have anything in plain language like I have presented in 1Cor 2:8?
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#83
Wormwood

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Hey justaname,  Thanks for responding.

 

Let me focus on those specific verses so you can see how I understand them...

 

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

 

Paul is saying that the Apostles/messengers of God impart a secret/hidden wisdom that worldly thinking doesn't grasp.  In fact, this kind of carnal thinking led to the crucifixion of Christ.  Yet, Paul says, God has now made known this secret wisdom that was previously beyond human, carnal comprehension.  God has prepared something for human beings that they could never even begin to fathom or conceive...and this is what Paul and these messengers are revealing.

 

​So, the point here is not that carnal people are completely incapable of recognizing the Gospel.  Rather, the point is that God is now revealing to the world something that was so hidden/secret and wonderful....something altogether foreign to carnal ways of thought, that it has to be revealed through the Spirit.  Carnal minds could never imagine such a beautiful thing God has done.  

 

So, the point is, stop thinking carnally!  That kind of thinking is what led to the killing of Jesus.  That kind of thinking never made sense of the things of God.  Rather, now you need to think Spiritually and understand what has been revealed to us and what God is doing for us.  If you keep thinking like worldly, carnal people, the beauty and wisdom of the Gospel will always be out of reach.  Remember, the carnal people here are the Corinthians!  This isn't comparing the believer..who knows the things of the Spirit vs. the unbeliever who cannot possibly know them.  No, its comparing worldly wisdom (which is what caused the death of Jesus and is causing factions in Corinth) vs Spiritual wisdom, which is being proclaimed by these messengers (Paul, Cephas, Apollos, etc).  Make sense?

 

As for your second point...

 

The verses I quoted shows that even carnal and sinful people can recognize what is good and are held accountable for their rejection of it.  The wicked KNOW Gods righteous decree and understand what they are doing DESERVES death.  Yet they persist.  The wicked SUPRESS the truth in their wickedness.  Its not that they don't know it, but they choose to suppress it.  The Gentiles conscience bears witness to the truth, Paul says.  The Law is written on their hearts.  Paul says he "delighted" in the law of God, but simply was unable to follow it in his flesh.  Jesus said those Pharisees would have been innocent had they not seen him.  Yet because they saw him and his signs, and chose to hate him, they had become guilty.

 

So, the point I am trying to make is that these are not the images of people who are dead in sin and incapable of recognizing good when it smacks them in the face.  No, these are descriptions of people who understand very well what is good.  They saw the signs.  They heard the message.  They understood what was right and some even "delighted" in what was good.  The problem is that they chose to do evil.  They chose to suppress what they knew was right.  They rejected the light when it appeared because they loved darkness...and not because they were blind to the light in the first place.  No, they saw it and many turned their back to it...but not all.  Some both recognized the light and chose to stay in it so that God could do a work in their lives that they could not do on their own.  

 

So again, the point here is that humans are partially depraved.  It is not that they are incapable of recognizing what is good.  Even our own basic civil laws show we know truth is good and lying is evil.  Kindness and love is good and murder and abuse are evil.  We know these things.  The problem is that our flesh is depraved and we don't DO them.  So its clear that humans can recognize the what is right and good (including the truth of the Gospel) without some special divine interaction spiritually raises them from the dead in order to recognize it..and then mandates they accept it by virtue of them being spiritually raised.  So let me conclude by a simple visual of the differences...

 

TOTAL DEPRAVITY TEACHES

 

-Man is incapable of recognizing what is good.

-Man is depraved and cannot keep the good law of God.

 

PARTIAL DEPRAVITY TEACHES

 

-Man is capable of recognizing what is good

-Man is depraved and cannot keep the good law of God

 

Both teach man is not good.  I just believe that Scripture teaches that man can recognize what is good and can recognize their need for grace...because they are incapable of living righteously in the flesh.  I think Paul clearly teaches this was the case with him.  He knew he needed to be rescued from his body of death.  And wicked people know the righteous decree and that they deserve death.  Its not lack of knowing, its lack of doing that plagues us.  


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#84
justaname

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Wormwood,

Personally I have never argued men cannot recognize good, rather that they do not recognize the truth of the gospel message. Men are able to make moral choices as I know agnostics that are very moral people yet they do not recognize the truth of the gospel one bit. Some people even believe in God (Jews) yet have refused the gospel message. This is not a matter of choosing between good and bad rather it is a matter of believing the testimony of God concerning His Son. Perhaps this is the disconnect we are having in this conversation.

So then back to my 1 Corinthians passage. As I appreciate your interpretive approach of taking the body as a whole to understand the author's overall argument, it is also prudent to look at the author's individual supporting arguments and discern what is being conveyed. Such is the case in 1 Cor 2:8. Your blanket statement is everyone recognizes the truth of the gospel. Yet this verse does not fit your theology.

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. - 1 Corinthians 2:8

Then what about:
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14

Truly we know Paul is not set out to teach the particular doctrine of total depravity as most doctrine is dirived from inferring from the Scripture. Yet these two Scriptures use rather plain language directly against your statement.

(Added Edit). So then I did read what you posted yet I need you to explain a bit further. What I gather is you are arguing Paul is speaking to believers (where I agree), yet clearly Paul is describing the condition of the carnal minded (where I think we agree). Without question the rulers were not believers nor were they Corinthians. So then the rulers of the age did not understand God's testimony concerning His Son and carnal minded individuals do not understand. When do/did non-believers become spiritually minded so they understand? When did they receive the Spirit of God and dispel the spirit of the world? (2:12). Without question there is much more going on in this section than what you are conveying.

Let's then go to one more supporting context drawn from the OT.

2 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,
3 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders.
4 But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. - Deuteronomy 29:2-4

Now this OT section describes the need for the Lord to grant understanding of this miraculous dilevery out of Egypt that Israel experienced. These people were directed by the hand of God and they did not understand the gravity of this dileverance. Truly there is a correlation here dealing with man's ability to recognize spiritual truths!

To the second point. This is not a discussion of recognizing good, rather about recognizing the truth concerning God's only begotten Son.

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#85
Wormwood

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justaname,

 

Thanks for responding.  Im tired tonight so Ill try to make this brief and hopefully coherent.   :)

 

Well, as I understand it, Total Depravity goes beyond just recognizing the Gospel or not.  I believe it has to do wether or not there is any shred of goodness in man such that they can even recognize it when they see it...and obviously the Gospel is good....it is Good News!  We may need to explore this more, but I don think the traditional view of TD is limited to recognizing the Gospel.  I may be wrong.

 

Such is the case in 1 Cor 2:8. Your blanket statement is everyone recognizes the truth of the gospel. Yet this verse does not fit your theology.

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. - 1 Corinthians 2:8

 

 

Im a bit confused here...may be because Im sleepy.  But how can this verse be referring to not recognizing the Gospel when the Gospel didn't even exist before Jesus was crucified?  The crucifixion and resurrection are central to the Gospel.  And again, Paul makes it pretty clear that the "carnal" folk who aren't getting it are the "babes in Christ" in Corinth.  He's not referring to unbelievers here as the carnal ones, but the Corinthian church!

 

 

Then what about:
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Again, I think the point here is that these Corinthians are acting like natural, carnal people.  They are thinking and behaving like "mere men."  Paul's point is that they are not understanding the Gospel properly because they see it as an occasion to argue and split up about which teacher they like best...Paul, Apollos, Cephas, etc.  This context has nothing to do with divine quickening...if anything, its the opposite.  These baby Christians aren't getting it...they are not discerning the things of the Spirit but are thinking like carnal men.

 

(Added Edit). So then I did read what you posted yet I need you to explain a bit further. What I gather is you are arguing Paul is speaking to believers (where I agree), yet clearly Paul is describing the condition of the carnal minded (where I think we agree). Without question the rulers were not believers nor were they Corinthians. So then the rulers of the age did not understand God's testimony concerning His Son and carnal minded individuals do not understand. When do/did non-believers become spiritually minded so they understand? When did they receive the Spirit of God and dispel the spirit of the world? (2:12). Without question there is much more going on in this section than what you are conveying.

 

 

This is precisely my point.  Paul is not proclaiming a silver bullet here.  He's not saying, "Yep, the Spirit quickens a person and then they understand all things spiritual."  No, even saved people can think carnally.  There is such a thing as "carnal Christians."  A person does not become a Christian and suddenly discard the flesh and have only spiritual thoughts...right?  I mean, that isn't your experience, is it?  Paul's point is simply this...  When we think like the world and follow the rudiments of this world, we act and behave like foolish, carnal people who ended up killing the Son of God.  We are called to think spiritually and follow a wisdom that is not of this world.  That is what Paul is calling these believers (and us) to.  We will never live out the beauty of the Gospel and understand it in its fullness if we live and think as the world does.  If we remain babes in Christ, barely choking down milk, we will never be able to handle the real meat of the things of the Spirit.  That is what this ENTIRE letter is about.  Christians who are sexually immoral rather than seeing t heir bodies as Temples of the Holy Spirit.  Believers who use Spiritual gifts as a means of vain self glory rather than love, etc.  People can have the Spirit and walk in the flesh....I refer you to Galatians 4-5 for even more detailed discussion on such possibilities.  This is one of the things I so dislike about TD and the Calvinistic theological framework.  It pictures salvation as this silver bullet where God chooses you and suddenly you are saved and the sinful man is gone and now you are all Spirit (if you are "truly" saved, that is....they say).  Thats not how I see the Bible referring to process of either justification or sanctification.  

 

We recognize the Gospel (with the assistance of the Spirit...which is not forced), we accept the Gospel, God justifies us and frees us from the penalty of our sin, God begins a work of sanctification in our life through the indwelling Spirit...who is empowered by our faith (or quenched by the lack thereof).  Our salvation is fully relalized when we finish the race, it is not a one and done thing.  There is the possibility of falling away.

 

Ok, way too much writing..Im losing even myself now...haha .sorry.  Gotta get to bed.


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#86
justaname

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Wormwood,

This is why I find it productive to discuss these issues. I think continually at times Christians talk past each other through terms. Allow me to affirm once again. I am not a Calvinist. I may not hold to a traditional view of Total Depravity. In fact I cannot positively affirm I completely understand the doctrine as I have never been officially taught it, though I believe I have a working view of it.

1. I agree Christians can think carnally.
2. The rulers that crucified Christ had the testimony He had given concerning Himself coupled with the work of the Spirit (signs and miracles). We agree the crucifixion and resurrection are crucial to the gospel message this side of the cross, but the rulers were doubly guilty because they should have recognized the time of His coming.
3. This then is the core of our discussion. Please describe to me how you view unbelievers. Are all unbelievers "natural men"? Are all unbelievers "in the flesh"? Are all unbelievers "carnal thinkers"? Are all unbelievers "blinded by the god of this world"?
4. Number 3 I believe will begin to bridge our communication, yet can you speak to the role of the Holy Spirit in regards to belief. Due to time I must be brief yet it is my contention that the Holy Spirit only works on the hearts of those He knows will accept the gospel. Why would God waste His time opening the hearts of those He knows will still refuse the gospel message?
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#87
Wormwood

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justaname, 

 

Yes, I agree these discussions are helpful and is hopefully also edifying for you as I know it is for me.  I think Total Depravity as a foundational element of the Calvinistic system often gets lumped into Calvinism....although I know there are many shades of such a view.  Here is one of my favorite theological works.  The author gives a brief description of Total Depravity and its connection with Calvinism.  Maybe we can use this as a baseline for our discussion on the topic.

 

According to Augustinians (including Calvinists), total depravity does not mean that a sinner is 100% corrupt, or as depraved as he can possibly be. Nor does it mean that every act of the sinner is both internally and externally evil. Even a totally depraved person can do things that are outwardly good.

What total depravity does mean is that the total person is corrupted by sin; every aspect of human nature is depraved, including the intellect and the will. Because the intellect has been corrupted, a sinner cannot truly under­stand the things of God, including the Bible. Because the will is sinful, a sinner cannot do anything that is inward­ly good and acceptable to God. The latter is the key element of total depravity. It is called the bondage of the will.

The most significant implication of this bondage is that sinners are totally unable to respond to the gospel and turn to God in faith and repentance. As Berkhof says, the sinner “cannot change his fundamental preference for sin and self to love for God, nor even make an approach to such a change” (247). This total inability is thus the heart of total depravity. Because the sinner is unable to believe the gospel by his own choice, regeneration must precede faith, with both regeneration and faith being the unilateral and unconditional gifts of God, and with God himself unconditionally choosing those to whom he will give them.

In other words, the doctrine of total depravity is the foundation for the “five points” of Calvinism, designated as TULIP. The T in TULIP is total depravity, with the entire human race being totally depraved as a result of Adam’s sin. This means that God must decide whom he will save, and he does this prior to the creation itself. This is the U in TULIP, unconditional election or unconditional predestination. Then, knowing the exact number of those who would be saved, God determined to limit the suffering of the Savior to the exact amount needed by the chosen ones. This is the L in TULIP, limited atonement. The I in TULIP is irresistible grace. It follows logically from the T and the U. If sinners are totally unable to believe on their own, then God must bestow the gift of faith upon those prechosen to receive it, in an act that cannot be resisted. The P in TULIP is perseverance (or preservation) of the saints, in which God guarantees that those who receive the gift of faith will never lose it. This “once saved, always saved” status is thus the final necessary result of total depravity.

It is obvious, then, that total depravity is a pivotal doctrine. If it is true, it necessitates the entire Calvinist system. If it is false, it negates the entire system. In my judgment it is false. The Bible does not teach that sinners are totally depraved, either at birth or by their own sin. In particular, it does not teach that a sinner is totally unable to believe the gospel and turn to God for salvation.

 

 Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for All: Bible Doctrine for Today (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub., 2002), 198.

 


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#88
justaname

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Wormwood,

I appreciate the Cottrell excerpt. Where I disagree is where he describes a total inability to respond to the gospel and turn in faith to God. This is not to say Cottrell is wrong in his assessment of the doctrine, rather that I disagree with the statement. Wether or not he is correct in his assessment would take ample research on my behalf that I am not at liberty to pursue at this juncture.

My personal biblical assessment concerning the condition (not the doctrine) is men have the potential for belief but are devoid of the desire. Sin did not remove the intellect and/or will nor hinder it so that it does not function. Yet as I understand the will, men make decisions based upon their greatest desires. (Johanathon Edwards). Men in their depraived state are self-serving, in rebellion with and even hostile to God. Men are better described as being "totally" unwilling rather than being unable.

Then we have the issue of understanding. This is a completely different condition where Scripture shuts all people up in futility.

Please though if you could go back to my previous post and reflect on points 3 and 4 and kindly speak to those.
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#89
Wormwood

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Hey justaname,

 

I would say Dr. Cottrell is correct in his assessment.  I know he has read and written a great deal on the topic.  So, I would say you would likely disagree with the traditional view of Total Depravity if you don't like the description of it.  A great book to read in which Dr. Cottrell is a contributing author is...

 

Perspectives on Election

 

Id highly recommend to you this book, as it deals specifically with the concepts we are discussion.  It will give you a better feel of the different views and how proponents of those views present and defend them.

 

Ok, so I'll try to address your comments...

 

3. This then is the core of our discussion. Please describe to me how you view unbelievers. Are all unbelievers "natural men"? Are all unbelievers "in the flesh"? Are all unbelievers "carnal thinkers"? Are all unbelievers "blinded by the god of this world"?

 

 

I would say all believers are sinful and corrupt in both body and mind.  Sin has stained the human soul and has created in men a longing for what is perverse and wicked.  Human beings have evil hearts.  Jesus uses the analogy of a tree....a bad tree produces bad fruit.  Human beings are corrupt in their hearts and minds which leads to the fruit of their lives being filled with greed, selfishness, envy, strife, etc.  Yes, I would say humans are blinded both by their own sin AND by the god of this world.  Moreover, our bodies are corrupted by sin which leads to all kinds of disease and death.  Yes, all unbelievers are natural and "in the flesh" (although some believers are also walking in this way).  

 

So when I say "partial depravity" it does not mean that humans aren't entirely sin-stained and wicked.  No, they are completely guilty and wicked.  They do not seek God and they produce only rotten fruit.

 

4. Number 3 I believe will begin to bridge our communication, yet can you speak to the role of the Holy Spirit in regards to belief. Due to time I must be brief yet it is my contention that the Holy Spirit only works on the hearts of those He knows will accept the gospel. Why would God waste His time opening the hearts of those He knows will still refuse the gospel message?

 

 

I believe the Holy Spirit does work on people's hearts.  I think He especially works through prayer and the preaching and proclamation of the Gospel.  The message of the Gospel is Spirit and life.  The Spirit uses the power of the preached Word to bring conviction and a recognition of the truth.  I think they Holy Spirit can also remind us of the truth and bring about circumstances in our lives that make us thirsty for truth and life.  Maybe a good way to say it is the Holy Spirit, through his work on our hearts and our circumstances, is like salt on the popcorn that makes us thirsty for the life God longs to give us in Christ.  

 

I do believe the Spirit works on the hearts of people who ultimately reject him.  I mean, Jesus forgave those who were crucifying him...and certainly not all of them repented or put faith in him.  Why would he forgive people who would never repent?  I think that speaks to the amazing love of God.  God still loves and pursues a people who, for the most part, only hate and despise Him in return.  I think the OT is a running history of this.  How many times did God send prophets to plead with the people to repent (even through he knew they would not)?  He still loved and called out to them even though they were stiff-necked and obstinate.  God's love is unconditional.  It is not based on how we respond.  Of course, if we do not respond, we will not be covered by the grace that only comes through faith.  Yet that does not mean that God is not grieved for the lost or that Jesus didn't die for those who would never accept his sacrifice.  

 

I think Hebrews 3-5 paints a perfect illustration of this.  The author uses the Exodus as an example for Christians today.  God freed all those Israelites from Egypt, yet almost all of them died in the desert.  Why would God free people from slavery that he knew would rebel against Moses or create calves of gold and worship them?  Because he loved them.  And so it is with the world and with Christians.  Jesus died for the whole world, but that does not mean all of the world will enter the promised land.  I also believe that not all who put faith in Christ will end up in the promised land.  Many shrink back and turn away from the faith, even though they had started a good race...they did not finish.  That is the story of much of Israel and that should teach us today about the importance of walking faithfully through the desert of this life all the way to the end.  

 

I hope I didn't ramble too much.  Let me know if this does or does not clarify things regarding my position.


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#90
justaname

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Wormwood,

In the above quote you say all "believers are sinful...", I assume a typo in this since my question was about unbelievers?

Where I am at an impass in understanding your argument is where I see explicit language in Scripture describing the total unwillingness of man to seek God coupled with the total darkening of the understanding and futility of the mind. How do individuals overcome this on their own? Please re

Then if it is the Holy Spirit helps some to overcome this condition by working on people's hearts are you stating God is unable or ineffective in the cases of those who remain in unbelief? Truly we know not all hear the message, is God desiring yet unable in these also? I wonder if you comprehend the god of free-will you are arguing for that is sovereign over and more powerful than the biblical God in your theology.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:4

Your argument is God works on the heart of every unbeliever that hears the gospel so they recognize it as truth in turn placeing God at the heart of their desires, and God enlightens the mind so unbelievers are not blinded and fully understand the gospel including a future demise without Him contrasted to the greater reality of God's eternal love through faith. God gives man a clean state unhindered by sin from which to make a choice. But some reject this quickening and awakening thus overcoming God's work in their hearts and minds. Here God wants all to come to Him but in the case of most He is doing everything He can but He is unable to overcome the sinful desire of man's heart. This is irrational and unbelievable and describes a weak god.

Here we must concede man views the treasure of God he receives through faith and understands the foulness of sin and then chooses dung over treasure. Man understands the eternal torment awaiting him and weighs that more valuable than the eternal love God has in store. What enlightened man would choose such an outcome? What man that has his heart set on God would seek to desire something else? No it must be conceded that God was unsuccessful in bringing this type of man to rationality because no rational man would decide in such a way. This type of man is still irrational and futile in their thinking. God must have been unsuccessful in clearing this man's heart of sin and instilling the fear of Him in it not able to fulfill the promise given through His prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 32:40) This type of man never was fully clear from the veil Satan has over their eyes and God is unable to bring true clarity. Here God has failed in fulfilling His desire and purpose, His word has gone out in vain, and Satan is the victor.

Then I do not see how Jesus' forgiveness of others applies to total depravity. By forgiving others we release ourselves from the spiritual bondage of unforgiveness and pride. Certainly this is true in the case of Jesus also.
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.




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