So, I may regret opening this can of worms but I can’t resist. Let’s talk about a very well known flower: Calvin’s T.U.L.I.P. If you are unfamiliar with this I will give a little definition, at least of the acronym.
T= TOTAL DEPRAVITY
U= UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
L= LIMITED ATONEMENT
I= IRRESISTABLE GRACE
P= PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
So, for now, let’s talk about Total Depravity. I will use some material by Matthew J. Slick, apparently a Calvinist, and respond to his words http://www.calvinist corner.com/tulip.htm
First, Matthew says:
SIN HAS AFFECTED ALL PARTS OF MAN. THE HEART, EMOTIONS, WILL, MIND, AND BODY ARE ALL AFFECTED BY SIN. WE ARE COMPLETELY SINFUL. WE ARE NOT AS SINFUL AS WE COULD BE, BUT WE ARE COMPLETELY AFFECTED BY SIN.
Well, first of all it’s hard to reconcile the idea that we are completely sinful and yet not as sinful as we could be, but let’s plant a little peace. I understand what he’s saying. Romans 3:10: No one is righteous.
Matthew goes on to say that MAN’S HEART IS EVIL AND SICK. HE’S A SLAVE OF SIN, DOES NOT SEEK FOR GOD, CAN’T UNDERSTAND SPIRITUAL THINGS, IS AT ENMITY WITH GOD, AND BY NATURE A CHILD OF WRATH.
OK, Matthew. I don’t know Matthew, so let’s not make this personal. He is expressing Calvinism, and as far as I can tell, doing it adequately. Anyway, I am in agreement so far. But here’s where, as was wont to be said in Abraham Lincoln’s time, “the bottom falls out of the tub.”
Mike says: THE CALVINIST ASKS THE QUESTION, "IN LIGHT OF THE SCRIPTURES THAT DECLARE MAN’S TRUE NATURE AS BEING UTTERLY LOST AND INCAPABLE, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ANYONE TO CHOOSE OR DESIRE GOD?" THE ANSWER IS, "HE CANNOT. THEREFORE GOD MUST PREDESTINE."
So, since man is evil, the only way God could ever get us to accept Him was to program us to accept Him, bypassing any ability to choose on our part. That’s interesting, but of course I completely disagree.
The whole point behind the inspired Word of God is that it is powerful. Powerful enough to break through our sinful nature. To say otherwise is to denigrate the Word of God.
“The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).”
Further, God wants REAL relationship: not robotic acceptance that cannot be resisted. The call of God in the prophets is "Return to me and I will return to you."
Now, the Calvinist will read my words and say that I am claiming that we have some part in saving ourselves. I have not said that at all. I am saying that the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is powerful to save. Paul wrote:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16).”
Of course, the Calvinist will say that the word “everyone” doesn’t really mean everyone. We’ll discuss that chestnut some other time.