Part II The Crystallization of the Theology of Grace
The Canons of Dort (1618-1619) were the response of the Synod of Dort to the Five Points of the Remonstrants. They formed an extended Statement of Faith under the following headings: Divine Election and reprobation; the Death of Christ and the redemption of man thereby; the Corruption of man, his conversion to God, and the manner thereof; and the Perseverance of the saints. Each of these headings was treated by a series of Articles numbering fifty-nine in all with additional comments on errors which were to be rejected. This statement of faith has since been greatly simplified for ordinary teaching purposes into five points which correspond in substance but not in the order of presentation to the Five Points of the Remonstrants. These are now widely known under the acronym T U L I P, each letter standing for a simple descriptive phrase. These five descriptive phrases together summarize the Calvinist position. They are spelled out as follows:
T Total DepravityEach of these requires a word of explanation and clarification.
U Unconditional Election
L Limited Atonement
I Irresistible Grace
P Perseverance of the Saints
Total Depravity is not intended to signify that unregenerate man is wholly evil in everything he does, but rather that nothing he does is ever wholly good. In so far as motive determines the moral character and spiritual significance of an act, every deed has something of sinfulness about it because man's will is fatally corrupted by his fallen nature. Not all motives are equally sinful, but no motive is wholly pure. Hence, from a moral and spiritual point of view, human activity is always poisoned as to its motive, to a greater or lesser extent. This fundamental impurity of motive is the reason for saying that man is totally depraved. This depravity is reflected in man's entire impotence towards any spiritual good; in this respect unregenerate man is not merely sick but dead. Consequently the salvation of man is altogether a work of God, initiated and carried through by Him without the help of man, man being able neither effectively to resist nor to assist the elective purposes of God directed towards his salvation.
Unconditional Election means that the Election of an individual to salvation in no way hinges upon foreseen merit in that individual. The Election of one as opposed to the by-passing of another rests entirely with God, and is according to his own good pleasure. Moreover, this choice was made before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). It is a sovereign act, predetermined without respect to the merit or demerit of the individual either before or after regeneration.
Limited Atonement signifies that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, though sufficient for all men, is efficacious only for the elect. In the purposes of God, a full, perfect, and sufficient penal satisfaction for sin was provided and will be effectively applied only against the sins of those elected to a saving faith. The sufferings of Christ were not needlessly expended on behalf of those who the Father foresaw would not avail themselves of their benefits.
Irresistible Grace indicates that because the grace of God in electing some to salvation is sovereign, it is not possible that the elect will effectively resist his grace. Nevertheless, for reasons known only to Himself, God may sometimes allow this work of grace seemingly to be delayed.
Perseverance of the Saints denotes what today is commonly referred to as the eternal security of the believer. A more suitable expression might be the "Preservation of the Saints" since this is more precisely what is involved. The security of the believer is bound in with the sovereignty of God, the unchangeableness of his purpose, and the constancy of his good pleasure. It is the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ and not the faithfulness of the believer that guarantees this security.
Now these Five Points form an organic unity, a single body of truth. They are based on two presuppositions which Scripture abundantly supports. The first presupposition is the complete impotence of man, and the second is the absolute sovereignty of the grace of God. Everything else follows. The meeting place of these two foundation truths is the heart of the Gospel, for it follows that if man is totally depraved, the grace of God in saving him must of necessity be sovereign. Otherwise, man will inevitably refuse it in his depravity, and will remain unredeemed.
That man is wholly impotent to save himself does not signify, however, that he cannot be redeemed. He is redeemable: he has a capacity for salvation. Man is a redeemable creature such as no other creature appears to be, whether animal or angel. He was designed for this. He was fashioned of the dust of the ground in human form as an appropriate vessel for the housing of a redeemable human spirit.
It is clear that as man's body lay on the ground, awaiting the infusion of a spirit when God would breathe into his nostrils the breath of life, his body was wholly unconscious of any need of any such infusion and quite incapable of either preparing itself to receive it or refuse it. His inanimate body had an aptitude for spiritual animation but it was a passive not an active aptitude. This also is the position of the spiritually dead who thus await the infusion of new life by a process of re-creation. The spiritually dead are recipients of a process of reanimation which must be as wholly a work of God as the infusion of spirit into Adam's body was. Adam's body could no more prepare itself to become the receptacle of an animating spirit than the man who is dead in trespasses and sins can prepare himself as a receptacle for the grace of God in salvation.
Thus in man's fallen state he is truly without strength (Rom. 5:6), and in no position to prepare himself for the grace of God. The Westminster Confession (XI.2-5) describes man's situation thus:
Man, in his state of innocence, has freedom of power to will and to do that which is well pleasing to God...Here we see four stages. Unfallen man was free to choose either good or evil. Fallen man's will has become free in one direction only, unidirectionally towards evil. By his grace, God undoes this unidirectionality of the will and sets it free again to choose either good or evil. This is the third stage. But it is not the final stage, for in heaven we shall have a will constitutionally equipped with the capacity only of willing good. The human will therefore is capable of operating under four different conditions: bidirectionally to good or evil as unfallen, unidirectionally to evil as fallen but unredeemed, bidirectionally to good or evil as redeemed, and unidirectionally to good only as glorified.
Man, by his fall into a state of sin, wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so that a natural man is dead in sin and is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself hereunto [my emphasis].
When God converteth a sinner and translateth him into the state of grace he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enableth him freely to will...that which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state of glory only.
None of us can recover Adam's innocence even in our redeemed state, for the bidirectionality of our will is not the same as the bidirectionality of Adam's unfallen nature. We, the redeemed, still have a bent towards evil in spite of the liberating effect of our redemption, a bent which Adam did not have to begin with. So profoundly has Adam's Fall affected human nature that even regeneration does not entirely undo it. Not until these mortal bodies are laid aside, and we are rehoused in a new and glorious body like the Lord's resurrection body (Phil. 3:21), shall we be finally free. As Paul said in Romans 8:23: "Ourselves also which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies." And Paul has already in chapter 7 of Romans made it clear how much of our spiritual defeat originates through this defective housing.
We may suppose therefore that the transmission of the effects of the Fall in Eden has resulted primarily through the acquisition by natural generation of a defective, corrupted, mortal body which early in life infects the spirit which it was designed to house.
Now one's view of the nature of Original Sin determines one's view of the nature and extent of man's depravity. For if sin is an inherited disease which is inescapable and which inevitably bears fruit in the form of sins, then man is lost indeed so long as he is naturally born. There is no natural way in which the course of events can be circumvented. By his disobedience one man, Adam, made human nature sinful; thereafter human nature has made every man a sinner. We do not inherit an active sinfulness but we inherit a fatal disease, the morbid symptoms of which inevitably find expression if we survive childhood. On the other hand, if, as Pelagius held, sin is not an inheritable disease but an alien condition acquired sometime later in life in the process of growing up and as a result of yielding to temptation, then some men will not be sinful as soon as others are, because they have been hedged in during the growing-up process and protected against some of the temptations which have brought about the downfall of other men. Pelagius believed that man could be educated into a highly cultured being, and thus so preserved against failure that, with God's help, human nature could be humanly perfected. He admitted that God's help was needed, but he did not mean that this help came by divine intervention. It came by the illumination of the mind by which a man would be enabled to emulate the example of Christ and obey his instructions for living. For this purpose, God had sent his Son into the world as an example and not as a sacrifice for sin. Pelagius' thesis was in effect a Christianized humanism. Sin was thus to be kept out, not merely kept down.
Pelagius viewed each child that was born as being like unfallen Adam, and that child's subsequent growth in experience as being like Adam's subsequent temptation and fall. As Adam might have turned innocence into virtue but failed to do so by yielding to temptation, so every newborn child faces the same possibility. Education and culture are the means whereby innocence might become righteousness. In this sense the child that sins and fails to achieve this desirable goal has sinned "after the similitude of Adam." It is to combat this vain hope implicit in Pelagianism that Calvinists are careful to include a statement to the effect that each man becomes a sinner but not after the similitude of Adam. We become sinners because we inherit a fatal disease which inevitably exhibits its characteristic symptoms. We are born with the disease, or, to put it slightly differently, we are born in SIN (singular). But we are not born in SINS--an accusation which the Pharisees wrongly made against a certain man (John 9:34). On the other hand, the Lord spoke with precision when He told these same Pharisees that they would die in their SINS (John 8:21). The difference between these two terms, though they look so similar, is really profound, and it is a difference which is consistently recognized throughout the New Testament and emphasized in Paul's epistles. Calvin put the matter this way:
We are not corrupted by an acquired wickedness but do bring an inborn corruption from the very womb...All of us, therefore, descending from an impure seed come into the world tainted with the contagion of sin. (Inst. II.i.5).It is noteworthy that Augustine in his Anti-Pelagian Writings said, "Original Sin is derived from the faulty condition of the human seed" (On Marriage and Concupiscence, chap. 20). It is even more remarkable that Luther himself attached this inheritable factor to the male seed, when he wrote: "Through the fall of Adam SIN entered into the world and all men have as a result sinned. For the paternal sperm conveys the corruption from generation to generation" (Luther's Writing, Erlangen ea., 10, 304; 11, 246; 19, 15). It is interesting also to find that Karl Barth in his Credo claimed that the "sin-inheritance is transmitted through the male parent only." (1)
My object in this introduction has been to show that human nature has been corrupted at its source in such a way that it is incapable of any kind of self-help. Man is not merely lost and searching consciously for a way out of his predicament: he is lost so completely that he can no longer recognize the nature of his lost condition for what it is.
There are only two basic positions that one can take in this matter. The first is that man's lost condition, though severe, is nevertheless only partial leaving him with some hope of self-redemption. This self-help may take the form of active good works, or it may take the form merely of an earnest desire to be helped, or it may take the form only of a spirit of non-resistance towards the help that is provided. But always there is some supposed faint glow in the embers of man's heart which God uses to fan into a new flame. In the other view the fire has simply gone out. There is nothing which can be fanned alight. Which of these two positions one takes determines virtually all else in one's theology. Do we start with man and some imagined potential for goodness or do we start with God who must be the author of salvation in its entirety? Do we start with the effectiveness of evangelism in generating a responsiveness in man's heart which then becomes the entree for the grace of God, or do we start with the sovereign grace of God as the only basis for man's hope? The Arminian view, and also the view of much modern evangelism, takes as its starting point the ability of man to respond, making the assumption that he has at least this much goodness upon which God can then act. The Calvinist position is that man is completely dead spiritually and all the initiative must be of God. This position, I believe, is the biblical one.
It is in this light
that we must consider how and why the Five Points of the Remonstrance were
ordered and arranged as they were, and how the order of the Calvinist reply
differed in its emphasis. The difference reflects the contrasting importance
attached to the starting point, which in turn reveals much about the attitude
of the two parties in their view of the potential of human nature. The
Arminian Remonstrance attaches prime importance to man's freedom of will,
and insists that he is only partially debased in his nature. There is a
contribution which man must make and can make before God will act. The
Calvinists saw this as a basic fallacy: man is not free to make such a
contribution, being spiritually dead. Hence while Election was freely admitted
by both parties, it was given first place in the Remonstrance and was presumed
to be based upon God's foreknowledge of man's ability to respond out of
the residual goodness of his heart. For the Calvinist the starting point
for man must always be recognition of his own total spiritual impotence.
The rest of the Points in each statement are ordered accordingly. In the
tabulation which follows the arrows indicate which Points on each side
are actually in counterbalance.
1. Quoted in R. G. Gromacki, The Virgin Birth. Doctrine of Deity, p. 119.
The tremendous optimism which characterized the period immediately prior to World War I, reflected in the writings of H. G. Wells and many others, and which originated in the Age of Enlightenment when Rousseau wrote imaginatively about the noble savages of North America living without the encumbrance of debasing civilization, has disappeared almost entirely. Man is no longer seen as perfectible. Despair has overtaken the humanist idealism of those days, and sin has come to be recognized as a depressing fact of life. The depravity of man is no longer questioned except by a few blithe spirits whose feet are in the clouds and whose dreams for society are about as unrealistic as it is possible to imagine. Nevertheless we still have among us a few ministers of the "Gospel" who have high expectations for the supposed innate goodness of man, but the children of this world are wiser in their own generation.
On the other hand, psychiatrists like Karl Menninger tell us that man is sick and that the root of his sickness is a basic depravity of human nature that has to be reckoned with. T. H. Huxley, Darwin's great defender, was wiser than those who followed him when he said:
It is the secret of the superiority of the best theological teachers to the majority of their opponents that they substantially recognize these realities...The doctrines of original sin, of the innate depravity of man...appear to me to be vastly nearer the truth than the literal, popular illusions that babies are all born good, and that the example of a corrupt society is responsible for their failure to remain so, that it is given to everybody to reach the ethic ideal if he will only try...and other optimistic figments.Would that we heard this today from the pulpit! Louis Berkhof in his Systematic Theology (p. 227) speaks eloquently on this issue:
Sin is one of the saddest but also one of the most common phenomena of human life. It is a part of the common experience of mankind, and therefore forces itself upon the attention of all those who do not deliberately close their eyes to the realities of human life. Some may for a time dream of the essential goodness of man and speak indulgently of those separate words and actions that do not measure up to the ethical standards of good society as mere foibles and weaknesses, for which man is not responsible, and which readily yield to corrective measures; but as time goes on, and all measures of external reform fail, and the suppression of one evil merely serves to release another, such persons are inevitably disillusionedIt needs only one kind of circumstance to bring this deeply rooted malady in human nature to the surface. That circumstance is the acquisition of power over others. Most men have very little power over others which is absolute. We all have some power, but it is so circumscribed and hedged about by social restraints of one kind or another that very few have the opportunity to learn what would happen to themselves if these restraints were removed. But recent history has amply demonstrated what people are capable of in their treatment of fellow men when they are given absolute power to do with them what they will. People who seemed cultured, restrained, law-abiding, and considerate of others have been converted into beasts to the surprise of the civilized world--and perhaps to their own surprise, if the truth were known. The Nazi concentration camps were often administered by people who spent their spare time listening to classical music or surrounding themselves with great works of art. But any disappointment they may have felt in themselves seems to have been short-lived as they took increasing delight in the infliction of pain and injury upon others. Dostoyevsky, in his Brothers Karamazov, tells how at one period in Russian history, girls whose social behaviour was considered immoral in the extreme were punished by severe flogging. He points out a curious fact the authorities had discovered, that when young unmarried men were given the responsibility for inflicting the punishment upon these outcasts of society, they almost always ended up by marrying their victims. It is as though some deep-seated satisfaction came to them in the fulfillment of their "duty," so deep-seated that it led to permanent attachment to their victim. More recent history under Stalin in particular has shown that if man's power over his fellows extends far enough to allow him the privilege not merely of punishing severely but of utterly destroying, then he will utterly destroy both them and himself in the process. It is because we are externally restrained in our self-expression that the power to do some good remains with us, even as it did with Dostoyevsky's young men. Since then, we have seen ample evidence that when there are no restraints, human behaviour becomes altogether evil and degraded. Solzhenitsyn observed this and wrote about it eloquently in his description of the Russian detention camps under Stalin. The cruelty of men seems to have been directly proportional to their power.
They become conscious of the fact that they have merely been fighting the symptoms of some deep-seated malady, and that they are confronted not merely with the problem of sins, that is, of separate sinful deeds, but with the much greater and deeper problem of sin, of an evil that is inherent in human nature. This is exactly what we are beginning to witness at the present time.
Recent Russian history, and Nazi history before that, abundantly justifies the statement made by Lord John Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." And D. R. Davies in his masterful study of raw human nature under the title Down Peacock's Feathers points out that in America before the introduction of slavery, there were many high-minded people who protested against it. But once it had become a fait accompli these same people not infrequently became the most inhumane among slave owners. Given power over their fellow men, they discovered within themselves evil impulses of which they had been previously unaware.
Perhaps one of the most profound evidences of the sinlessness and incorruptibility of the Lord Jesus Christ lies in the fact that although his power was absolute, He remained absolutely uncorrupted by it. He had power over life (He cursed the fig tree and it died--Matt. 21:19), and He had power over death (He called Lazarus forth from the grave--John 11:43, 44). He had power to heal every conceivable kind of sickness, and He had power over men who would have taken Him and murdered Him because of their hatred. He merely walked untouched through their midst (John 8:59). He had authority, that "something" which seems to be essentially rooted in the morality of man, which enabled Him to challenge the evil institutions of his day (as when He cleansed the temple--Mark 11:15-18); and no man lifted a hand against Him. He had power to forgive sins and He had power to condemn. He had moral, physical, social, and intellectual authority over men, such as has never been observed in any single individual before or since that time. He towered above mankind, and still does. This is not literary fiction: such a figure cannot be invented. Yet He remained totally uncorrupted. The absolute power which elevated Him to the very heights of heaven degrades fallen man to the very depths of hell.
Herbert Butterfield, the Oxford historian, adds his warning to those who attempt to understand human history while ignoring the effects of the Fall. He says, "What history does is to uncover man's universal sin." And subsequently, "We create tragedy after tragedy for ourselves by a lazy unexamined doctrine of man which is current amongst us and which the study of history does not support." (1) He points out that it is the restraints of culture that prevent human nature from showing itself as it really is, or at least prevent some men from appearing as bad as they really are. Other men are not so prevented, and increasingly more and more people are showing their true colors as the restraints of society break down. "In some cases," Butterfield writes, "human nature looks better than in others because it can go through life without being subjected to the same test." And he remarks by way of illustration that if we had no rules of the road, a nasty side of human nature would make its appearance among motorists more often than it does at the moment. Human nature needs only opportunity to declare itself for what it is.
So it is widely agreed that man is depraved. But how depraved? Totally, or only very seriously? Was human nature merely injured by the Fall, as Roman Catholic theologians would say, or completely ruined, as the Reformers would say? Has this fatal injury been communicated to every individual by inheritance, or does each individual start with a clean sheet, as Pelagius argued, becoming sinful only by example? Has human nature been severely corrupted but not so severely that the grace of God cannot cooperate with the spark of human goodness which has not quite died, as Arminians believe? Or is man hopelessly, totally depraved, his nature so corrupted through the Fall that the whole motivation of his life is evil, being self-centered and rebellious against God? Is man truly a total moral catastrophe?
Is man then only sick but in a humanly curable way; is he injured by the sad example of society but capable of being good if given the opportunity; or is he spiritually dead--his nature utterly ruined, his will free only to sin, his understanding darkened, and his heart a heart of stone?
Then what of all the evidence in history of human kindness, restraint, mercy, self-sacrifice and nobility? And what of human creativeness, of beauty in handiwork, of truth in thought, of success in the harnessing of Nature? Are all these illusory? What does "Total" Depravity mean in this context? Isaiah 1:5 and 6 tells us, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it." And Jeremiah 17:9 warns us: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" How sick is man: how desperate is his situation? When Paul said, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Rom. 3:12), was he inspired to write the plain truth or was he merely reflecting upon the appalling corruption"of Roman society at its lowest ebb under the frightful tyranny of Nero? In short, what precisely did the Fall do to human nature: how deeply has man been wounded, and how is the effect transmitted?
Definition of Total
First, then, what did Calvin himself mean when he spoke of man's Total Depravity? To begin with, he was dealing essentially with motivation rather than with action. He never denied that men do good deeds, and Scripture supports him in this. For example, the Lord Himself spoke of those who "being evil, know how to give good gifts" (Matt. 7:11). There is nothing incompatible between Calvin's conception of the Total Depravity of man and man's performance of deeds which, by the most rigid standards of judgment, would have to be characterized as good. The ability of man to do good deeds in no way challenges his basic depravity. For what is corrupt in human nature is motivation, the inability of man to be good. But what do we mean when we speak of man being able to do good but not being able to be good?
Henri Fabre once spoke of animal instinct as inspired wisdom. This is a beautiful thought and worthy of reflection. In Nature one observes this inspired wisdom in animals at every level in the scale of complexity. Man alone seems to be without instinct.
Yet unregenerate man is not without inspired wisdom; we simply have not recognized it for what it is. In spite of the Fall he has tremendous creative capacities, and these capacities are usually most successfully demonstrated when his work springs from something akin to inspiration. A great deal of creative activity is simply a form of ingenuity, but there is a creative activity observed most clearly in artistic effort of all kinds which appears to arise as the result of inspiration. No one knows where this inspiration comes from. Those who are inspired in the creation of music, or art, or literature, or architecture, or in any other field of human endeavor whether it is strictly practical in objective or purely ornamental, have acknowledged the part played by the strange and little understood phenomenon of inspiration. Such inspiration is often described and experienced as a form of tyranny. It seems to spring from some source other than the will itself, for the will becomes captive.
When we add to these circumstances the confusing fact that some of the most creative individuals have also been some of the most wicked, immoral, selfish, cruel, and egocentric individuals known to history, we are not only baffled by the nature of this inspiration but by its choice of victims. It could even be said as a general rule, to which there are nevertheless many exceptions, that the more inspired a man's work is the less inspiring that man is apt to be.
We have to ask, then, Whence comes this inspiration? We know from Scripture that it may come directly from God, though this does not guarantee that it always does. For example, in Exodus 31:2-11 and 35:30-35 we are told that a certain man named Bezaleel was an inspired craftsman appointed by God to oversee the beautification of the Tabernacle whose furnishings were to reflect the perfection of God's handiwork. Naturally, we assume he was a godly man. But history shows that many ungodly men have created things which in their way contributed to the glory of God, like the architects and stonemasons of many of the cathedrals whose wages were paid out of money received in exchange for indulgences to sin with impunity. Furthermore, some of the most beautiful artifacts in the world (such as ancient Egyptian jewelry) and some of the most beautiful buildings in the world (such as the Taj Mahal) owed nothing to Christian inspiration. I think it would be true to say that the poetry of people like Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, Percy Shelley, William Shakespeare, and hundreds of others who, while not anti-Christian, seem personally to have been largely indifferent to the Lord's claim upon their lives, was nevertheless inspired in this sense.
It may well be that the inspiration which produces such masterpieces of man's creative ability is part and parcel of the Common Grace of God by which the special aptitudes of men are appointed to ameliorate human life and to give pleasure and satisfaction in a world cursed by sin. And within the orbit of this Common Grace would surely also have to be counted the inspired hunches and guesses and ventures in faith which have led men throughout the ages to dedicate their lives to fruitful research towards alleviating human suffering. Thus have been produced new preventatives that have slowly eliminated, or show great promise of doing so, some of man's most terrible scourges in the form of communicable diseases like smallpox. And we would have to add the inspiration which has produced many great humanitarian reform movements. All of these, I suggest, invite us to equate this kind of inspiration with Common Grace, for many of the moving spirits in these ventures feel, inspired.
That this capacity for inspired activity in man should all too frequently be turned to frightful ends is not surprising. If this is a capacity divinely ordered for man at his creation and surviving the Fall, it can obviously be used by Satan, whose design is to counteract the Common Grace of God. The stimulation in both cases is supernatural. And there is this that can also be said of both kinds of inspiration: Satan does not always find his most effective servants among wicked men as we might suppose, nor God his most effective servants among the saints. It is sad, but true. There seems to be no apparent connection between the character of the individual and the degree and object of his inspiration. As with Election to salvation, God's choice is solely according to his good pleasure.
God has often displayed his Common Grace without regard to the stature of the chosen vessel. Some of the most notably successful and sought-after evangelists, conference speakers, and Christian leaders, have been personally the most proud, unforgiving, self-centered individuals imaginable. It is sometimes better not to know too well those from whom one receives the greatest help and inspiration along the way. What a man can do under God's inspiration and what he can be under his own, are very different things.
Now the fact that animals are so beautifully equipped for the ordering of their lives by the inspired wisdom of which Fabre wrote so eloquently suggests that Common Grace may apply in our world on a far larger scale than we have recognized. In their "interpersonal" relationships animals show a wonderful constraint which is only now being sufficiently acknowledged. The authenticated stories of animal cooperation in the wild are legion, and they include insects, fishes, birds, and of course the higher animals. One possible exception, curiously enough, may be the whole order of snakes which seem to lack even a semblance of maternal spirit, a fact which make the snake a peculiarly appropriate symbol of Satan. The apparent cruelty of animals, of which Darwin made so much, is increasingly being viewed in a rather different light as we discover more about the pain reflexes of the preyed upon and the killing instincts of the predators. Where we do find wanton destruction by predators, it can almost always be shown to be the result of man's interference upsetting the behaviour of either the prey or the predator. As Professor Ronald Good of England has been saying for some years, Nature is not a battlefield with all the combatants red in tooth and claw but an ordered and beautifully harmonious cooperative society whose behaviour ultimately tends towards the benefit of every member.
Man by contrast seems alien to this whole cooperative scheme of things. His instincts, if he has any at all beyond swallowing, are fundamentally suicidal in nature. No other creature is persistently so destructive of his own well-being. The Roman author Cicero said, "Man is a disaster." He is not so much diseased, as himself the disease. But for the Common Grace of God man's life would be unbearable and his suicidal tendencies would probably lead to the total destruction of the human race. Operating through the merits of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, this Common Grace truly constitutes Him the Savior of the "world."
Apart from man, the rest of the natural order operates as an expression of the Kingdom of God. The laws of Nature are his laws, "written in" as they are written once again into the heart of every man who newly becomes a member of that Kingdom (Heb. 8:10). Animals are obedient to the law of God as appointed for them and by their obedience live out their lives under divine protection. It must be for this reason that Satan and his emissaries have to ask permission of the Lord to invade this Kingdom where animals are concerned, as the demons did before entering the swine on that Gadarean mountainside in Matthew 8:31.
God rules these creatures from within, but He also overrules them when necessary, and so they are always obedient to his will. Thus He stops the mouths of lions (Heb. 11:33), and exceptionally orders the behaviour of other animals wherever necessary as in the case of the tribute money needed by the disciples on one occasion (Matt. 17:27). It is just such a belief in this obedience of the animal world to the divine will that prompted a medieval traveler who had taken refuge in a cave during a storm only to find himself face-to-face with a deadly snake, to address this creature with the words, "If thou hast leave to strike me, I do not say thee nay."
And we have one extraordinary record of just such an occasion in 1 Kings 13:24-28 where both a lion and an ass unite in serving the Lord's purposes in a very special circumstance. The story is worth recording. A certain prophet who had obediently fulfilled the Lord's mission was later tempted, on the strength of his success, to disobey the Lord's further express command that he must go straight home without tarrying. Unfortunately he allowed himself to be detained on the way with the result that when he resumed his journey again to go home, riding his ass, he was attacked by a lion and killed. As the text says cryptically:
A lion met him by the way, and slew him and his carcass was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcass.Note particularly in the last verse how carefully the Word of God explains the circumstance that the lion did not attack the ass nor did the ass flee from the lion, both creatures being divinely inspired to behave contrary to their inborn nature. These two witnesses stood obediently by, as a rebuke to the disobedience on the part of the now dead prophet: "In the mouth of two...witnesses it shall be established" (Matt. 18:16).
And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcass cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcass: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof he said; It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake unto him.
And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him.
And he went and found his carcass cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcass: the lion had not eaten the carcass, nor torn the ass.
When God is about to bring judgment upon a city, He has respect to such lower creatures just as He has respect to those of humankind who have not yet reached the age of moral accountability. Thereby He acknowledges that both animals and children alike are still part of his Kingdom (Jonah 4:11 and Mark 10:14). Satan's emissaries are permitted to possess only those who are not members of God's Kingdom (Luke 22:3), but not those who like Peter are his children (Luke 22:31, 32).
To re-enter the Kingdom of God a man must be reborn (John 3:3) and adopted back into it (Gal. 4:5, 6). Then, and only then, is something akin to the God-given instincts which guide animals implanted in the soul of the believer as a like form of inspired wisdom. And thus is exhibited the Special Grace of God. But meanwhile his Common Grace generates in the world that which is beautiful and which contributes to man's well-being both in animal and human behaviour. This Common Grace is perhaps little more then the expression of God's great goodness towards all his creatures, a great goodness which would quickly turn this blessed vale of tears back into the Paradise it was intended to be if (and when) his dominion is wholly restored as it one day will be.
And is it any more anomalous that God should Himself inspire even the wickedest of men to create things of great beauty according to his own plan and as an expression of his Common Grace, than that He should reach down to even the chiefest of sinners and redeem them and turn them into saints as an expression of his Special Grace?
Thus the statement that the Common Grace of God results in some measure of goodness in human society is not intended to demonstrate that man is basically good, but only that by divine restraint of evil the way is left open for men to do better than they otherwise would. Common Grace is a reflection of the benevolent sovereignty of God whereby He maintains in fallen man his ability to do good, while Special Grace is a reflection of the same sovereignty whereby He creates in man the ability to be good. Common Grace acts generally in the world; Special Grace is at work only in the elect. The acts of men and the motives of men must be considered separately, for they are clearly separable. As Kuyper said: in view of man's Total Depravity, "the world goes better than expected," and in view of the fact of its redemption, "the Church goes worse than expected." This is certainly true, for if man is totally depraved, the world is a remarkably good place to live in. But why does the Church fail so badly?
Why does the community of the redeemed fail so badly? This is an important question for a proper understanding of what God does with his people. We are accustomed to thinking that the first thing He undertakes to do with us is to eliminate, or at least to restrain, the evil that is in our nature, what is sometimes referred to as the bad "old man." We suppose that He will leave the good "old man" and perhaps make use of it. But if this good is basically evil in its motivation, it is no more worthy to be encouraged than the bad. If the whole of human motivation in the natural man is evil whether it finds expression in good deeds or bad, it cannot find any favour in the sight of God, who is of purer eyes than to countenance evil in any form, even under the guise of good works. Consequently when God begins a new creation in the redeemed individual He also begins to remove all the evil and the good that is rooted in the old nature. The natural goodness of man is not the promise of a new life but the remnant of a dying Adam. By the providence of God, man's natural capacities can be used for the general welfare of society but only on a horizontal and temporal plane--in their vertical and moral context the same actions must be viewed as sinful. Thus they can be allowed in the unredeemed but they cannot be allowed in the redeemed. Consequently the world may seem to do better on a horizontal plane than does the Church of God, which must operate on a different principle.
It should be recognized that a distinction must be made, in speaking about the natural goodness of man, between those endowments which enable a man to contribute to society by the work of his hands or the creativeness of his mind, and what he can contribute to the moral fabric of society; that is to say, what he can contribute on a social level as opposed to what he can contribute on a spiritual level. It is in the latter that the child of God must normally expect to make a unique contribution, and it is towards this contribution that the specific work of redemption is by the Special Grace of God uniquely directed. This is why God's chief concern with his people has to do with motivation. And in order to correct this in our fallen state, it is often necessary to sacrifice, at least for a time, some of our natural endowments which might otherwise seem to have such promise. Thus it is not merely the bad old nature which must be changed but the good old nature as well, for the whole natural man is depraved in his being though still remarkably capable in his creative endowment. This is what Total Depravity really means: not total inability but total spiritual inability.
It often happens that a man who has a certain natural ability and is filled with high ideals and is known for his good works, will, when he is converted, become for a season a far less admirable and effective individual. The good old man is slowly undermined because it is good only in an accidental way. This form of natural goodness has to be replaced by a supernatural goodness. It is the work of Special Grace to convert natural goodness, which is counterfeit in the sight of God, into supernatural goodness that is genuine because the motivation has been freed from the bondage of sin, and brought into conformity to the will of God (Rom. 6:18). In a real sense, all goodness in the natural man is simple self-indulgence.
Common Grace deals with man's doings; Special Grace concerns his being. It is quite possible in the Judgment for a man to claim truthfully, "Lord, Lord, in thy name have I done many wonderful works" (Matt. 7:22). The claim is not unjustified because it has reference only to deeds themselves and nothing more. The Judge can say with equal truth, "Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (v. 23), for a deed, no matter how good it is in itself, is really a work of iniquity when the motivation behind it is wrong. Article XIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles states this very carefully:
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God for as much as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace...yea rather, in that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but that they have the nature of sin.It sounds extraordinary that good deeds which accrue to the benefit of society as a whole should nevertheless partake of the nature of sin, yet in the light of what has been said above, there is no doubt that they do. It is not the deeds but motives that count, and herein is man altogether sinful. A man may therefore be full of good works and outwardly have the appearance of a beautiful marble building, spotlessly clean. Yet the building itself may be only a sepulchre painted white on the outside (Matt. 23:27), while inside is a rotting spiritual corpse. This is a saddening truth. The spiritual depravity of man is total. The totality has reference to his motive, not to his works.
How has this disparity between the good that man can do and the evil that man can be come about? Judging by the good that man can do, we must assume that he was formed with enormous potential for creativity in art, literature, music, technology, and so forth; but he has been fatally corrupted in his nature. His mind can serve him well enough (in mathematics, for example) for the discernment of truth as perfectly as God can know such truth; but his heart is self-deceived and self-deceiving and utterly incapable of genuine purity of motive.
This brings us to the problem of the constitution of man, and the question of whether he is a composite of all kinds of elements--physical, spiritual, intellectual, and so on--or of only two, a physical and a spiritual. We know whence comes his physical body. It is derived ultimately from the body of Adam and Eve who had poisoned themselves into a state of mortality by eating the forbidden fruit. But what is the origin of man's soul, or his spirit, of that part of his being which is non-material? And is this spiritual component itself single or cornposite?
It has traditionally been the view of believers throughout the Christian era that man is a dichotomy, a creature composed of body and spirit. This was a view held by the early Church Fathers for the most part, and the view held by Augustine and consequently by the Reformers and by Roman Catholic theologians, both of whom drew much of their inspiration from Augustine in this. The view that man is a trichotomy composed of body, soul, and spirit is comparatively recent, and is largely inspired by Greek philosophy. Only two passages of Scripture seem in any way to demand the trichotomy view. The balance of Scripture, particularly in the New Testament, forms in general a harmonious picture of man as being constituted of body and spirit, each of which he has, uniting$to form a soul which he is. In the following discussion, the view of man as a dichotomy is assumed to be the correct one.
The origin of man's soul has presented far greater problems than has the origin of his body. It is clear enough that if man derives his body by natural generation there is no problem in understanding how it has come about that his body is defective in so many ways. This kind of inheritance is familiar. The question is, How does his spirit or his soul come to be corrupted also?
There are essentially two views on this matter. (The concept of preexistence, which was favoured by Origen and a few other early Church Fathers, never gained wide acceptance and is today rejected by Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians alike.) One view holds that we derive our soul from our parents by some kind of process of division and recombination even as we derive our body from them. This view is referred to as Traducianism. It is favoured by Arminians generally, and officially by the Lutherans as a body. It is believed that it accounts most effectively for the inheritance of a fallen nature. One of the most common arguments in favor of it is the fact that in the account of the formation of Eve out of Adam there is no mention made of the creation of her soul. However it is of interest to note that when Adam was presented with Eve, he exclaimed "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gen. 2:23), omitting any reference to the derivation of her spirit from himself. A further objection which is raised against Traducianism is that it makes the soul divisible. The souls of the mother and the father are in some way fragmented and the fragments combined to form the soul of their child. It is also difficult to account for the fact that Jesus Christ did not share the corruption of our nature even though He was born of a human mother.
The other view is that God creates a new spirit or soul for each individual. This view of direct creation assumes that the soul is perfect as it comes from the hand of God but is in some way corrupted by its introduction into the body which carries the defect of fallen Adam. This view is termed Creationism. The only serious challenge to it seems to be the argument that God supposedly ceased creating after the six days' work (Gen. 2:2, 3). But in the light of 2 Corinthians 5:17 this cannot be true, since every regenerate child of God is here said to be "a new creation."
Now whether the soul is thus acquired by inheritance or by direct creation, the problem of its present corruptedness remains an issue of debate. Precisely how man becomes a sinner as he matures is not clear. The light of Scripture on this matter is capable of more than one interpretation. That all men do become sinners is unquestionable, both Scripture and personal experience bearing abundant testimony to the fact. But how this universal process of deterioration is initiated in the individual soul is still an open question, and when this process begins remains equally uncertain.
It seems likely that we cannot do much more than reach an approximation as to how and when this physical corruption which we inherit is transmuted into a spiritual one also. For Scripture is not entirely clear. The transmission of inheritable corruption from generation to generation through some genetic mechanism no longer presents the kind of problems that it did to the Reformers. The difficulty which remains to be elucidated is how a physical corruption can damage the spirit of man, which is a direct creation of God. It is the old problem of the interaction between body and spirit, or as Descartes spoke of it, between matter and mind.
We have certain facts regarding the Fall of man which are reasonably assured if we assume that the story of Eden is truly historical. By eating a forbidden fruit Adam and Eve introduced into their bodies some mortogenic factor, perhaps in the nature of a poison, which destroyed their original created perfection and the physical immortality which characterized it. And this was brought about in such a way that physical death became the lot of mankind so universally as now to be termed "natural." But it was not natural at first. By their disobedience, Adam and Eve did not merely shorten their lives, but introduced death as an entirely new experience. As Romans 5:12 says, "By one man sin entered into the world and by sin death"--and death passed upon all men.
We know that all men have inherited this disease, not only because all men die but also because all men become sinners. As F. W. Farrar noted, ...volumes have been written upon the precise meaning of Paul's statement, "for all have sinned." A substantial number of modern authorities would interpret the Greek at this point to mean "in view of the fact that all men have sinned." Another group of scholars would interpret these same words to mean "upon which account all men have sinned." Whichever is the correct rendering of the crucial words eph' ho, the universality of sinfulness is a clear demonstration of the universality of the disease.
It is therefore apparent that there is some causal connection between this inherited mortogenic factor resident in the body and man's corrupted spirit. The factor itself is passed from generation to generation. It was not identified by the early Church Fathers as something in the nature of a poison, but it was recognized as having real physical existence. Terming it Original Sin, Augustine said it is derived from faulty condition of human seed. (2) Five hundred years later Peter Lombard, as we have seen, concluded that the male seed is the chief offender, it being stained in the act of procreation by concupiscence--which he assumed to be something evil. Calvin (Inst. II.i.5) indicated his belief that the corrupting factor is essentially physical by saying, "We are not corrupted by acquired wickedness but do bring an innate corruptness from the very womb.... All of us, descending from an impure seed, come into the world tainted with the contagion of sin." Luther, as we have also noted, was even more specific, stating his belief that the "paternal sperm" conveys the corruption from generation to generation. Franz V. Reinhard (1753-1812) in his System of Christian Morals explained the Fall as a kind of poisoning and hereditary sin as the inheritance of a poisoned constitution. The Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (1545-1563) sought to state its position on this issue by declaring that the corruption which passes from generation to generation is not in itself a moral defect but rather something which inclines to moral defect, a "fuel of sin" which was technically termed fomes peccati. (3)
Whatever the nature of this contagion, it was foreign to man as originally created, it was introduced in Eden, and it is inherited by every natural born child of Adam. Its effect is to mortalize man's body and corrupt man's spirit. It is capable of transmission from body to body by the mere fact of procreation, and from body to spirit as the individual matures. Man inevitably returns to the dust and he unfailingly becomes a sinner if he lives to maturity. In Original Sin we therefore have a case of an acquired character which has been inherited. Physiologically this no longer presents the serious problem that it might have presented a few years ago. For we now know that certain types of acquired characters can indeed be transmitted by inheritance, not via the nuclear genes, however, but by what are called plasmagenes, certain bodies resident in the cytoplasm rather than in the nucleoplasm, which, by a process of dauermodifications, can be permanently modified by factors outside the cell wall in such a way that the daughter cells which arise with each division are changed even in the absence of the factor which caused the modification in the parent cells. Today we not only have much evidence that such a mechanism exists but we have a fairly clear idea of how it operates.
Man's first act of disobedience introduced not only physical death to himself and his descendants but also spiritual death so that all men naturally born of Adam's seed have since that time turned the innocence of infancy into the sinfulness of adolescence and manhood as they matured. Somehow the defect of the body becomes the ruination of the spirit, even though that spirit is perfect when first created and implanted by God in the body.
The question is, How does the body corrupt the spirit? Does Scripture actually encourage belief that such an interaction, such a transmission of contagion from body to spirit, really occurs? It all depends upon how we interpret the use of the term flesh in the New Testament. Does the word normally mean actual flesh and only occasionally mean carnal desire, or does the word normally mean carnal desire in the physiological sense and only occasionally mean the actual body tissue, tangible, physical in the corporeal sense?
We do not need to ask the how of such a mechanism unless we are first satisfied that this is what Scripture says actually does happen. If we once establish this, then we can perhaps usefully ask what the nature of the mechanism is; and although at the moment there is no clear picture here, we do begin to discern some of the somato-psychic (body-psyche) mechanisms behind the interactions that we experience in daily life. This new area of inquiry may shed light for us on a very ancient problem that puzzled Augustine, as it has puzzled all who have sought to elucidate the matter since his time. It was this aspect of the problem--the interaction between body and Spirit--that led inevitably to the debate between the Traducianists and the Creationists, a debate to which Augustine contributed only his own uncertainty. If Traducianism is true, the spirit derives its impurity by a kind of spiritual procreation process in which the fallen nature of Adam and Eve is directly transmitted to every descendant. If Creationism is true, then the spirit begins its personal existence pure, and is corrupted by the body. We have already considered some of the difficulties of Traducianism: the divisibility of the soul and the problem of the perfection of the soul of Jesus Christ. But Creationism presents us with a difficulty of its own, the fatal interaction between body and spirit, between "flesh" and "soul."
That such an interaction does occur is intimated in Romans 8:3, where Paul speaks of what the law could not do, in that it was "weak" (asthenei: ineffective, without sufficient force) on account of the flesh. This, he says, is why the law is so impotent in regulating conduct. It is not that the spirit is unwilling but rather that the flesh is "weak" (asthenes: Matt. 26:41). The law sets the standard which every individual is called upon to meet. But why does a child with a pure created spirit not meet it? Because the law of itself is impotent in the face of the contrary urgings of the body. Because the eager desire of the flesh must have its own way. In the innocence of childhood, how else could we suppose temptation to come at first except through some appetite of the body?
How early, then, does the fatal contagion perform its deadly spiritual function? It is difficult to establish this from Scripture. Some of the Reformers dearly viewed even prenatal life as sinful and morally corrupt, even if only by imputation. In Isaiah 48:8, for example, they read the words "from the womb" as meaning from within the womb. But it is not required of the Hebrew that from should be read as within. "From the womb" is a common enough expression meaning only "from the very beginning"; and it need not signify more than it would if we were to say of someone, "He was always a happy child."
We have seen how some of the Confessions viewed the matter and we observed that in regard to human sinfulness they considered the neonate not merely as corrupted in nature and as already guilty, but even as actually sinful. Perhaps the earliest possible time marker in the Old Testament is to be found in the regulations regarding circumcision, which was to be performed on the eighth day. It is possible that this indicates the arrival of some kind of moral accountability--though that seems rather unlikely. It is more likely that the timing is important for physiological reasons since it happens to be an almost ideal time for such an operation. It avoids potential excess loss of blood due to insufficient development of the anticoagulating mechanism on the one hand, and on the other hand it avoids too gross an assault on the infant nervous system because the operation is performed before that system has matured and become too highly sensitive. We do know that when David's first son by Bathsheba died on the seventh day it had not yet been circumcised, yet David by implication was quite certain that he would meet his child again in heaven. In 2 Samuel 12:23 he said, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." At the age of seven days a child therefore, though uncircumcised ("unbaptized"?), may be assumed to be fit for heaven.
In Deuteronomy 1:39 there is an indication that those children who had not yet learned the difference between good and evil were in a state of innocence and would inherit the Promised Land, though their parents who had halted at the entrance through unbelief would not do so. Presumably this would include children at least up to a year old.
In Matthew 19:14 children are said by the Lord to be "the stuff of heaven." We do not know how old these children were, but while Matthew says only that He laid his hands upon them, Mark (10:16) tells us that He actually took them up in his arms. This may indicate something about their size and age. If these children were two or three years old, they were evidently still "of such" as is the Kingdom of heaven.
Jonah 4:11 tells us that God respected the repentance of the people of Nineveh and spared their city for a season. But He also took into account the many children in it who, we are told, had not yet learned to discern the right hand from the left. These children were, of course, strangers to the covenant of Israel and in no sense children of believers. Yet apparently they were accounted worthy of sparing.
Genesis 8:21, with some precision, tells that "the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth." But how old is a youth? Beyond childhood surely! Yet we do not know where the line of demarcation between childhood and youth is to be drawn, though if we are guided by the time at which a Jewish boy traditionally becomes a man we have reason to believe that the line of demarcation from youth to manhood is somewhere in the early teens.
There is a transitional period in here, and about all we can say on the basis of what is written in Scripture is that the time at which a child first discovers there is a difference between right and wrong seems to mark the age of accountability. When the time comes to make an actual choice between the two, a previous age of innocence becomes an age of virtue if the choice is made correctly, but an age of culpability if the choice is wrongly made. This may not, of course, actually occur at the same time of life for each individual. Samuel was an obedient and godly child--yet just how obedient we cannot be sure, for when the Lord called him by name he did not respond as Eli had instructed him to do. In 1 Samuel 3:9 the aging High Priest advised him to answer, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." But in verse 10 we observe that Samuel said only, "Speak, for thy servant heareth." And in verse 7 we are told why: "Samuel did not yet know the Lord nor had his word yet been revealed to him." This observation seems about the clearest possible indication that he had not been converted up till then. Admittedly the Old Testament does not give us a dear picture of the steps that led to conversion in those days, nor precisely what such a conversion meant in the life of the individual. For while Saul was given a new heart and turned into another man, and anointed with the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 10:6, 9), he seems clearly to have departed from the faith shortly afterwards (1 Sam. 16:14).
We are therefore somewhat in the dark except in so far as we have two brackets, the first being David's uncircumcised seven-day-old son who was clearly innocent, and secondly, the statement in Genesis 8:21 which tells us that man is corrupted by sin from his youth. Somewhere between the two, the process of corruption is initiated and the spirit becomes dead towards God, Yet I do not think we need to assume that the stage of innocence passes in one stroke into a stage of guilt. There may well be an interim during which the child resists temptation for a while, passing from innocence into virtue of a sort. But it is probably a brief interlude and for many children may not exist as an interlude at all. So many grow up in an environment of selfishness and violence. Samuel was perhaps especially sheltered--and there must still be "Samuels" among us, though sadly their destiny is to mature as we all do. It is only a matter of time before all flesh corrupts its way and every man falls short of the perfect righteousness which God requires. The corruption of the spirit by the body, the "spotting" of the garment by the flesh (Jude 23), comes about inexorably with the passage of time as we mature.
But does the word flesh really mean the physical tissue of the body or only some kind of psychological impulse that, though it operates through the body, originates in the soul? A study of this word flesh (sarx) is revealing because it does not bear out the meaning which is often attached to it by those who habitually conceive of man as a spirit who happens incidentally to inhabit a body, rather than (as Scripture sees him) as a body/spirit entity.
To begin with, there are many passages in which only the physical sense of the word can be intended. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14) is unequivocal--and because of the nature of its context is a powerful witness. Another such reference is John 6:51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, and 63, where the Lord hammers home to the Pharisees that He really means his body, for his sacrifice was to be a physical as well as a spiritual one. It was in his body that He bore our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). In Acts 2:26 it is clearly the physical body that rests in hope of the resurrection, and in verse 31 it is his physical body that did not see corruption.
In Romans 9:3 Paul speaks of physical relationship to his Jewish brethren as a thing of the flesh, and in verse 8 those born of the flesh are natural kin, as also in Romans 11:14. In 1 Corinthians 5:5, where the reference is to a grossly disobedient brother in the Lord whose presence is an offense to the Body of Christ, "the destruction of the flesh" clearly means the putting to death of the body, as many similar passages indicate. In 1 Corinthians 15:39 all flesh is rightly said not to be the same kind of flesh. The meaning is only that fish, fowl, and other animal foods differ in texture, taste, and value. In short, flesh is equivalent to meat. Paul suffered from some as yet unidentified bodily ailment which left him physically depleted, his real trial being an actual disease of some sort (Gal. 4:14). He spoke of this as being "a thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7).
In such recurrent phrases as "flesh and blood" (Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 15:50; Eph. 6:12) and "flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39) the reference is clearly to the body, which demonstrates that when Scripture means physical tissue it is not limited to the use of the word body (soma). Such a compound phrase as "the body of his flesh" (Col. 1:22) is a Hebraism translated into Greek and means simply "his fleshly body." This is a common circumlocution in Hebrew, as when David speaks of "the mountain of his holiness" (so the original Hebrew of Ps. 48:1), meaning simply "his holy mountain." Similarly Paul speaks of the "body of this death" (Rom. 7:24), meaning "this mortal body" whence arose so many of his trials, for, physically speaking, he was a frail man (2 Cor. 10:10).
To "live in the flesh" (Phil. 1:22) meant, for Paul, to remain in the body, though he desired rather to leave it and go to be with the Lord. To see his friends face to face was to meet them "in the flesh," personally, physiologically (Col. 2:1), while to be absent in the flesh meant only to be physically absent.
In 1 Timothy 3:16 God is described as manifest in the flesh, that is to say, He was physically incarnate, to be seen and heard--indeed, to be handled (1 John 1:1). These were "the days of his flesh" (Heb. 5:7), of his embodiment. When John wrote that a test of true spiritual understanding is frank acknowledgment of the fact that Messiah has indeed appeared in the flesh, he is talking about the incarnation and he sees no reason not to use the term flesh where the word body might have been more appropriate (1 John 4:2).
When Peter says, "All flesh is grass" (1 Peter 1:24), he is speaking of living tissue, not of some psychological impulse; and his simple observation expresses a profound physiological truth, for in the final analysis, if the word grass is allowed to stand for any type of plant life, all flesh is grass.
Now depending exactly on how the count is made, the word flesh is to be found approximately 120 times in the New Testament. Of these, only eleven cases seem to be clearly used metaphorically, while another five may also be so used though they are equivocal. But at the most, sixteen cases can be pointed to which do not seem to be synonymous for "the body." The balance, 104 out of 120, are almost certainly to be taken literally. Even allowing for some differences of opinion in matters of this sort where personal bias may affect the outcome, it is clear the view held in some circles that the word flesh has primarily a psychological connotation rather than a physical one is not supported by the evidence of the majority of cases in the text.
Charles Hodge, in presenting the case for Creationism, refers to a classic "proof text" which is found in Hebrews 12:9, where it is said that we have derived our flesh by descent from our fathers and have received our spirit directly from the Father in heaven. He notes the obvious antithesis here between body and spirit, and between the source of each, and he adds: "This is in accordance with the familiar use of the word flesh, where it is contrasted, either expressly or by implication, with the soul." (4) He then lists some of the passages to which reference has been already made above, where the word flesh is used in a literal sense, and observes: "In all these, and in a multitude of similar passages, flesh means body and 'fathers of our flesh' means fathers of our bodies.'"
When Paul therefore speaks of "the works of the flesh" (Gal. 5:19), he is really only saying that the symptoms of the disease which afflicts our bodies are these unhappy expressions of our fallen nature. So also when he speaks of "the sins of the flesh" (Col. 2:11), and "the lusts of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). He is not really using the word flesh in some symbolic sense. These symptoms of a fallen nature are rooted in this body of death from which we, like Paul, desire so earnestly to be delivered (Rom. 7:24). * For he discovered, as we all do, that in us, that is, in our bodies, dwelleth no good thing (Rom. 7:18).
* When Paul speaks of the conflict within, he speaks of it as a conflict between the intentions of his mind and the demands of his body, the "members of his body" being the source of his defeats. For this reason he cries out "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?" The phrase "this body of death" is a familiar Hebraism, such as is to be observed in a different context but in the same form in Psalm 47:8 and 48:1.It may seem that we are viewing the body as inherently evil, as something we might be better without. It is inherently diseased, corrupt, defective; but we could not do without it, for God has constituted man as a composite of body and spirit, more like a centaur of classical antiquity than simply a rider on a horse. Paul says rightly that we do not want to be disembodied, but re-embodied with a perfect body as was originally planned for our spirit to animate. "For in this [body] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our new house [new body] which is from heaven....For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened by its defectiveness!: not that we would be unclothed [disembodied] but clothed upon in order that mortality might be swallowed up of life" (2 Cor. 5:2-4). And in verse 5 he adds significantly: "He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God."
So we have perhaps a clue here to the etiology of our problem, how the body interacts with the spirit to communicate its own defectiveness to something which comes perfect from the hand of God. Our body inherits a disease. In due course this disease, acting from within, infects the created spirit by imposing upon it temptations to disobedience to which it ultimately yields. Some yield very early in life; some a little later. But all yield in the end, save He who did not have this disease within his flesh; for though He also was tempted, his temptations always came to Him from outside. If we are right in applying the word sin to the disease itself, then it would clearly be more correct to translate Hebrews 4:15: "[He] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet apart from sin." The Greek word choris translated "without" in most versions is elsewhere frequently rendered "apart from." There is no doubt that this is the more corrupt rendering as most lexicons bear out. And indeed some modern translations have observed this fact (Young's Literal Translation, Rotherham and Williams), though a great many have not done so.
Smith and Goodspeed have rendered the phrase "without committing any sin," but it is almost certain that if this had been the intention of the author he would not have employed this construction at all. This kind of sinlessness is unequivocally intended in John 8:7, where we find the words "Let him that is without sin," etc., represented in the original by the single Greek word anamartetos. That is not what Hebrews 4:15 is telling us. What we are being told here is that when the Lord Jesus was tempted there was nothing in Him which would provide a foothold for Satan to weaken his defenses. He said, "The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me" (John 14:30). Both the first and the last Adam were alike in this that the first temptation came to them entirely from outside. Unlike ourselves, their bodies were not corrupted in such a way as to pressure the spirit towards evil, in the sense that our bodies do. The Lord's hunger in the desert was not in any way a corrupted appetite. "In Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5), no disease.
We know now that there are strange and formerly unrecognized interactions between the chemistry of the body and the behaviour of the spirit. If the chemistry of the body has been deranged, it is obvious that the spirit must suffer some damage also. We know that this chemistry is deranged in some types of people whose spirit is disturbed. There is growing evidence in certain forms of depression that the lithium level is responsible. We also know from personal experience that spiritual depression is characteristic of physical fatigue, a fact which should have been apparent enough in the light of the disciples' sleepiness at the time of the Lord's special need (Mark 14:37). But we also recognize today that coronary insufficiency (a purely physical defect) can cause a similar depression that may be quite profound and seems to be unmanageable unless the physical root cause is corrected somewhat.
Aberrant forms of behavior are known to arise from certain environmental contaminations such as lead in the air, and from dietary deficiencies (lack of salt for example), and from unwanted chemicals ingested or inhaled, or even admitted percutaneously from salves or lotions or dressings of one kind or another. This is a whole new area of modern research and even the present findings should give us cause to rethink the theological problems involved in the relationship between Original Sin and our individual response to it.
The reverse reaction is also true. An outflow of spiritual energy can leave the body physically depressed. Ministers often face Monday morning with physical energies severely depleted. Elijah won a tremendous spiritual victory on Mount Carmel, only to find himself so exhausted that the proper divinely appointed therapy was purely physical in nature: sleep and food, sleep and food (1 Kings 19:4-8). Searching within his own soul Elijah mistakenly saw himself as spiritually depleted, and despaired for the spiritual welfare not only of himself but of his people (verse 4). But God knew better where the trouble really lay. Some of us have not yet learned to apply this truth in our own lives. It is obvious that there is a continuous interaction between body and spirit and between spirit and body, and all too frequently it is to the detriment of the spirit. It is not too difficult to see how a diseased body could infect a spirit which, though perfect at first, is so closely engaged in its processes and so intimately dependent upon its operation.
Augustine held that we each inherit from Adam by natural generation the corruption of his body, and by imputation the guilt of his sin by which that corruption was introduced. Pelagius, his contemporary, entirely rejected this view. Each individual starts, he held, as a perfect being free from defect of spirit or body, as Adam was when first created. It is by active sin, imitating as it were Adam's history, that each man becomes a sinner and subject to death. It ought therefore to be possible by the right environment and correct training, education, and example, for a man to grow up sinless.
Calvin and the Reformers followed Augustine and held that man inherits a defective body and assumes by imputation the guilt of Adam's sin. Between the two, man's nature is wholly corrupted from the very beginning of his individual existence and is under just condemnation. Arminians have held a view midway between the Augustinian and the Pelagian views. We indeed inherit Adam's corrupted nature, but not his guilt. Infants are therefore innocent by nature, whether baptized or not, until they become guilty when they commit actual sins. That they inherit their souls from their parents does not make them guilty, though it does inevitably lead to guilt when voluntary expression is given to the inherent fallen nature by yielding to temptation. Thus Original Sin is transmitted and in due time erupts into sinful action which results in actual guilt, no child needs to be taught to sin.
Midway in time between Augustine and the Reformers (and Arminius, of course) we have Peter Lombard and his contemporaries at the school of St. Victor (Hugo and Abelard among them) attempting to formulate a more precise doctrine. Peter himself was not so sure about the inheritance of guilt, but he concluded that we certainly inherit the injury itself, and with this injury we inherit the inevitable penalty of becoming a sinner.
Infant baptism was predicated by Augustine on the presumption of inherited guilt. By baptism in the name of Jesus Christ this inherent guilt is removed and a kind of righteousness (perhaps innocence would be a more appropriate word) replaces the imputed guilt of Original Sin until the time of accountability is reached. Baptism does not remove the corruption itself, but does cover the inherited guilt. Although Lutherans believe that the soul is derived from the parents by a process akin to spiritual generation, they believe that the corruption that is inherited is strictly physical. According to Luther the propagation of sin is exclusively physical. Augustine held a somewhat similar view, though he inclined towards Creationism in the matter of the origin of the soul. Nevertheless he believed that the corruption of human nature was propagated by "bad seed." But he does not seem to have been able to crystallize his own thinking completely. Perhaps the problem he had as a creationist was to account for the corruption of a pure spirit created by God merely by its introduction into an impure body procreated by the parents. How did the flesh corrupt the spirit?
Peter Lombard struggled with this problem and concluded that the male seed is somehow stained: in the act of procreation by concupiscence ("eager desire") which he, like Augustine, assumed to be something evil. Yet in Scripture concupiscence is not necessarily evil. In Luke 22:15 it is applied to the Lord's eager desire to share a certain Passover with the disciples. In 1 Peter 1:12 it is used of the angels' eager desire to understand the purposes of God in the matter of man's salvation. In Hebrews 6:11 it refers to the genuine concern that the Lord's people may have for one another's spiritual welfare. Peter Lombard presumably shared a rather widespread feeling that the act of procreation had something inherently sinful about it.
In whatever way the factor is inherited, the factor itself is by Calvin and in Scripture frequently designated by the word SIN (in the singular). This sin is the root of all physical evil (sickness and death) and all spiritual evil. It is a disease, transmissible from body to body by procreation, and in the individual from body to spirit--where the symptoms appear as SINS. These sins are not merely like boils that erupt at the surface as a deeper infection runs its course. They are willed expressions of a corrupt nature for which the individual is not merely pitied as a sick man but held responsible as a guilty one. The disease itself cannot be treated or cured by being forgiven or punished, but must be healed. The symptoms which are expressions of it must be either punished, or forgiven on the grounds of penalty borne by someone else. To ignore these symptoms is not only to encourage their expression but to conceal the disease, and this has been habitually man's unfruitful method of dealing with the ills of human society. But in order to prevent the total corruption of the individual from becoming the total corruption of society itself, God has exercised the Common Grace of restraint. And part of this restraint has been the creation of the true Church, that body of the redeemed who are placed in the world not to redeem it by saving all men but to preserve it from total corruption by acting as a light to dispel the darkness and as salt to preserve against its total self-destruction.
This, then, is the background of the concept of the Total Depravity of man, how it may have come about, how the roots of it are transmitted from generation to generation in every natural born individual, and what it has meant in human history. It is a depravity of the most profound kind because it has made human behaviour fundamentally suicidal, and it is Total Depravity because in every individual naturally born the motivation of all behaviour has been poisoned at the source. While the individual may, by the restraining Common Grace of God, be kept from actions which might otherwise be more evil, only the transforming experience of spiritual rebirth, amounting to a re-creation of the image of God in the heart of the individual, can fundamentally change this motivation and consciously bring it into conformity with the will of God.
Definition Of Depravity
Now, the Belgic Confession (XV. 1) holds that "sin is a corruption of the whole nature and a hereditary disease wherein even infants in their mother's womb are infected, and which produces in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof." Calvin saw sin as the definitive term for the root, and sins as the fruits of this root (Inst. II.i.8). Calvin recognized that while we have an inherited defect we do not actually inherit the wickedness which results from it. The defect and what results from the defect are causally related (Inst. II.i.5), but we cannot blame upon our parents the fruits of the defect which we ourselves exhibit by allowing or encouraging them. Every man is to bear the guilt of his own sin. Calvin wrote on this matter thus:
Pelagius [rose up] with the profane fiction that Adam sinned only to his own loss without harming his posterity. Through this subtlety Satan attempted to cover up the disease and thus to render it incurable. But when it was shown by the clear testimony of Scripture that sin was transmitted from the first man to all his posterity (Rom. 5 12), Pelagius quibbled that it was transmitted through imitation, not propagation. Therefore, good men (and Augustine above the rest) labored to show us that we are corrupted not by derived wickedness, but that we bear inborn defect from our mother's womb. (my emphasis)And Augustine had expounded the same view when he wrote (City of God, XVI.xxvii): "Infants are...born in sin not actual but original" (my emphasis). The Lutherans likewise interpreted the relationship between SIN and SINS (Formula of Concord, 1.5):
It is an established truth that Christians must regard and recognize as sin not only the actual transgression of God's commandments but also, and primarily, the abominable and dreadful inherited disease which has corrupted our entire nature....And so we have this basic pattern of relationships:
Dr. Luther calls this sin "natural-sin" or "person-sin" in order to indicate that even though a (natural) man were to think no evil, speak no evil, or do no evil--which after the Fall of our first parents is of course impossible for human nature in this life--nevertheless man's nature and person would still be sinful. This means that in the sight of God original sin, like a spiritual leprosy has thoroughly and entirely poisoned and corrupted human nature. (emphasis mine)
|Merely "repugnant"||Under moral judgment, or morally reprehensible|
Although this defect or disease called SIN is the direct cause of SINS, we nevertheless are not held morally accountable for the root itself. God has taken upon Himself the responsibility of dealing with it and therefore of dealing with the physical mortality which it causes. * SIN, being a disease, is accordingly not forgiven, but in the Old Testament is "covered" (Ps. 32:1), and in the New Testament it is to be "cleansed" (1 John 1:7) until it will be taken away" (John 1:29) or "put away" (Heb. 9:26). Hence the Lamb of God became in respect to this aspect of the Fall "a ransom [from death] for all men to be proven in due time" (1 Tim. 2:6), when as "in Adam all die, so in Christ will all men be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22)--not merely resurrected like Lazarus who later must have returned to the grave, but placed beyond the power of physical death. It is in this sense that by the grace of God the Lord Jesus Christ "tasted death for every man" (Heb. 2:9).
* This view was shared by Semi-Pelagians and the earlier Arminians. Wesleyan Arminians hold that this inborn corruption also involves guilt. See Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 241.Thus Original Sin is not itself to be identified with Total Depravity. Yet it is the root cause of it. The newborn babe bears the defect of Original Sin but is not yet totally depraved. We are conceived and born in SIN (Ps. 51:5) but not born in SINS, though we die in them (John 8:21). The Pharisees entirely misquoted the passage from Psalm 51 because they did not understand its significance (John 9:34). Adult Total Depravity results from the fact that the spirit is pervasively influenced by the flesh and so weakened by it that the law becomes powerless to convert our initial innocence into demonstrated righteousness (Rom. 8:3). The Lord Jesus became a Savior by escaping this poisonous stream through the circumstances of the virgin conception. Whereas Paul, speaking for all of us, could say categorically, "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18); of the Lord Jesus Christ, John could say with equal justification, "In Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5).
Original Sin is the cause of man's Total Depravity, and this Total Depravity manifests itself spiritually in man's natural refusal of God's salvation. He is not forced to this position by anything external to himself. When he refuses, he is merely exercising his freedom; but it is clear that this freedom, real as it is in the consciousness of the individual who exercises it, is actually a bondage. Luther said that man's freedom was in his slavery to sin. Augustine explained what happens when a man does will to salvation by saying, "Man is not converted because he wills: he wills because he is converted." The turning of the will necessarily precedes the willing acceptance, and this turning is a work of God, not of man.
Man is free to choose salvation if he wills it. Whosoever will may come (Rev. 22:17). But by nature he does not so will. It is not that any man is denied salvation though he wills it; it is simply that no man wills it unless God turns his will around. Furthermore, the elect are not saved whether they will or not. They are saved by the grace of God, because they will it by the grace of God. As Luther put it, "When God works in us, the will, being changed and sweetly breathed upon by the Spirit of God, desires and acts, not from compulsion, but responsively" (his emphasis).
The Westminster Confession deals with this matter (XII.1, 2) under the heading Of Effectual Calling as follows:
All those whom God has predestined unto life, and those only He is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by his word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ: enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as [i.e.,.. in such a way that] they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.A. H. Strong in his Systematic Theology (p. 640) has this statement regarding the nature of man's impotence resulting from Original Sin:
This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until being quickened, and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it. (emphasis mine)
In opposition to the plenary [i.e., complete] ability taught by the Pelagians, the gracious ability taught by the Arminians, and the natural ability of the [Liberal] theologians, the Scriptures declare the total inability of the sinner to turn himself to God, or to do that which is truly good in God's sight.Strong goes on to point out that this is not to deny man has a range of freedom in acting out his nature, even as there is a range of freedom in slavery though that slavery is inescapable. The freedom which man lacks towards God is supplied by God. He is "made willing in the day of God's power" (Ps. 110:3). John Owen in Volume X of his Works (p. 127) underscores the fact that there is not only impotency towards God which might be considered negative but enmity towards God which can be highly active. Berkouwer spoke of this as the "dynamism of sin."
Such enmity towards God is like enmity towards life itself. And enmity towards life is by definition suicidal. James Gall (Primeval Man Unveiled, p. 91) considered that one of the most profound differences between animal nature and human nature lies in this, that human nature is suicidal in its tendency. And SIN is the suicidal powerhouse of the human will.
One of the most profound questions to occur in the mind of man is the extent of his freedom. The right to make free choices has been battled for throughout history. It has been fought for even by those whose outright materialism forces them to admit that they themselves are merely bundles of electrochemical activity, the course of whose doings are absolutely predetermined by all that has gone before. Pure materialism reduces all willed activity to mere mechanism and locks all behaviour into a chain reaction from which there is no escape. Mind is reduced to brain, soul to central nervous system. Freedom becomes an illusion. Yet the most ardent of materialists, like Bertrand Russell, spoke eloquently in defense of man's right to self-determination as an individual!
Moralists are likewise on the horns of a dilemma. We recognize in ourselves and in others, as a universal part of experience, that we have a sense of making decisions where alternative choices are open to us. We are aware of exercising volition. And the whole concept of moral responsibility deeply embedded in the culture patterns of every human society is predicated on the freedom of choice, on the ability, and therefore the responsibility, to choose what is right and reject what is wrong. Even if cultures define right and wrong differently, they still recognize these two categories of human behaviour which tend in opposite directions.
Some theologians, convinced of the Total Depravity of man, perceive as a corollary of this depravity total absolvement from all moral accountability. If a man cannot do good, is he then culpable for failing to do it? Can God judge man for not obeying his commands if man is constitutionally unable to obey them even if he wants to? Is not ability to perform the test of duty?
This was Pelagius' argument: "Ability is always the measure of responsibility." (5) It was also the argument of Arminius. Their followers have therefore said: If God commands man to repent and believe, it must be assumed that he is capable of repenting and believing, otherwise God is unjust in his demands. But it was observed by the Reformers that both Pelagians and Arminians were mistaken in their assumptions because a logical extension of this argument leads to an absurd and manifestly erroneous conclusion. If a man's responsibility to obey is to be gauged by his ability to perform, then as his behaviour degenerates and his ability is progressively reduced, he has less and less duty. The wholly evil man thus ends up by having no responsibility whatever, and must be accounted blameless! In point of fact, the measure of our duty is not our capability to perform but God's requirement of us whether we can perform it or not. That we cannot perform it is our hurt, not his; and there is no injustice in his refusal to lower his standard of requirement on account of our failure.
So it is apparent that man's total incapacity does not absolve him from full responsibility. The reason that he is culpable is that he has willingly allowed himself to degenerate to the point of total incapacity. Man now takes pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:12). He is not incapacitated against his will. His bondage to sin is embraced willingly. Man finds his freedom in this way. Being a bondslave of corruption man promises himself liberty by accepting this corruption as normal (2 Peter 2:19). Thus when man sins he is acting as a truly free agent, though he is in bondage. As Dostoyevsky says in his Letters from the Underworld, "Man commits sin simply to remind himself that he is free." The most abject slave who willingly embraces his slavery is no longer a slave perforce: he has found freedom in bondage.
Now the Reformers never denied that man is morally free, in spite of his total moral depravity. He is not a puppet, for a puppet cannot choose to be a puppet. Man not only chooses to be a sinner, but by nature prefers to remain one. As originally created, Adam was free in the absolute sense that he could choose either way, to obey or to disobey the command of God. The important thing is that he had freedom of choice in either direction, upwards or downwards. As Augustine put it: "It was possible for him not to sin but not impossible for him to sin." But when man made his fatal decision he destroyed this absolute freedom and left himself thereafter with freedom in only one direction. This is still freedom but it is unidirectional. When man finally reaches heaven he will still have freedom only in one direction, but this time it will be in the opposite direction. He will be constitutionally unable to sin, even as now he is constitutionally unable not to sin. That one should be free and yet not free is a difficult concept until we realize what it means. We know from Scripture that God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18), but this does not mean that God is not free; it means that God is free from the possibility of sin. At the present moment in our fallen state we ourselves are, as Paul said, "free from righteousness" (Rom. 6:20). Thus whereas in his innocence Adam need not have sinned, now in his fallen state, so long as he is acting freely--so long as he is acting according to his nature--man can do nothing else.
This tendency towards sin and unrighteousness is like gravity. We fall freely. No doubt if stones had consciousness, they would claim to be falling without compulsion. It is only when the free-falling man attempts to go in the opposite direction that he realizes his freedom is unidirectional and downward only. As such, it is in fact an absolute bondage within which, so long as he does not attempt to resist it, he lives with a sense of complete freedom. Total bondage therefore is a kind of total freedom, and it is only when the bondage is not total that a man may discover he is not wholly free. Every time a man says, "I will be free and do as I please," he accelerates his degeneration. In this natural state we are conscious of making choices, but most of the time we do not ask why we make the choices we do. As Strong says, we never know the force of any evil passion or principle within us until we begin to resist it. (6)
Then why does God command of us what we cannot possibly do? He does so because his requirement, not our capacity or our preference, is the true measure of our duty. His command is not his expectation but his judgment of our fallen nature, the condemnation of our unrighteousness.
Now God undertakes to convert this unidirectionality of will into a bidirectionality, thus setting it free. He does this by a gracious severing of the bondage which we have allowed our inherent corruption to impose upon us. Man redeemed has once again freedom to choose in either direction, to disobey or obey the will of God. But something more than this is accomplished in us by the Holy Spirit. We are not merely given alternatives where we formerly had no alternative, but preference for righteousness. We are not merely transformed from a negative to a neutral position, but from a negative to a positive one. If we walk in his light and allow his grace to work in our hearts, we may increasingly tend upwards by choice, for it is God who thereafter works in us not merely to do but also to will his will (Phil. 2:13). We are turned around, converted, as to the direction of our will. The law of God instead of the bondage of self is written in both our minds and hearts (Heb. 8:10). That is, it is written in both our understanding of his will (mind) and our willingness to do it (heart). This is the new covenant which God makes with us. Yet the downward will remains, though it is no longer representative of our true selves (Rom. 7:1-20). Not until we reach heaven shall we be truly free, in such total bondage to righteousness that to will downwardly will be constitutionally impossible. We could perhaps set forth this sequence of events diagrammatically as shown in the accompanying chart.
Thus man unredeemed is able only to sin, though various restraints which are both internal and external and which may or may not be part of the Common Grace of God have placed limitations even on"this form of freedom which remains to him. But whatever freedom he is permitted, its direction is always downwards whether he goes only a little way along the road of sin, or plumbs the depths of sin.
Luther was very clear on this matter and one of his most famous and earliest works dealt with the subject. In his essay On the Bondage of the Will (Section XXV) he wrote:
If it be proved that our salvation is apart from our own strength and counsel, and depends on the working of God alone (which I hope I shall clearly prove hereafter, in the course of this discussion), does it not evidently follow, that when God is not present with us to work in us, everything that we do is evil, and that we of necessity do those things which are of no avail unto salvation? For if it is not we ourselves, but God only, that works salvation in us, it must follow, whether or not, that we do nothing unto salvation before the working of God in us.Salvation means not merely the payment of penalty as the basis for forgiveness, but also the breaking of the bondage of the will towards sin. In the Fall, man ruined his spiritual life absolutely. But the ruin was not quite as complete with respect to other elements of his nature. Because of the interaction of his spiritual life and his relationship to other men, he severely crippled his social life. Because of the poisoning of his body and therefore of his brain also, he made his intellectual life defective in certain areas, but not in all. And because of this same poison ingested from the forbidden fruit he robbed himself of an original physical immortality and has become a dying creature from the moment of his birth. Physically we are but rubbish compared to Adam as created. We thus suffer from spiritual death, social malaise, the darkening of our understanding, and physical mortality. When we are born again, the new birth restores our spiritual life (John 10:10); revitalizes our ability to relate to our fellow men (Rom. 15:5); renews our mind (2 Tim. 1:7): and gives us promise of physical resurrection in a new and glorious body (1 Cor. 15:52, 53 and Phil. 3:21). This regenerative process which touches every aspect of our being is entirely the work of God; without it man's condition is hopeless.
But by necessity, I do not mean compulsion; but (as they term it) the necessity of immutability, not of compulsion: that is, a man void of the Spirit of God, does not evil against this will as by violence, or as if he were taken by the neck and forced to it, in the same way as a thief or a cutthroat is dragged to punishment against his will; but he does it spontaneously, and with a desirous willingness. And this willingness and desire of doing evil he cannot, by his own power, leave off, restrain, or change...
When God works in us, the will, being changed and sweetly breathed on by the Spirit of God, desires and acts, not from compulsion, but responsively...
The hopelessness of man's unredeemed condition is, however, not always apparent because the Common Grace of God acts to mask the fatal consequences of the Fall. Remove these restraints and the appalling evil which lies barely suppressed in man's heart is revealed in all its terrible reality. Potentially we are all capable of being a Nero or a Hitler. It is largely a question of lack of opportunity for self-expression. The simple act of coveting (which we have euphemistically renamed ambition) is stealing but for lack of opportunity. Lust is adultery but for lack of opportunity. Hatred is murder but for lack of opportunity. There is no moral distinction between men in their potential for wickedness: only the accidents of life place different kinds of restraint upon each of us. In spite of man's tremendous creative energy, human nature is totally depraved at the source and any other view of man is dangerous in the extreme. This sad fact is recognized very clearly by the formulators of the Westminster Confession (XVIII.7):
Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and to others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith: nor are done in a right manner, according to the word: nor to a right end, the glory of God: they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.There is perhaps no better way to state the matter truthfully--man is essentially reduced only to the choice of evils. Of course, man may do some good by choosing the lesser of possible evils. Those who consistently manage to do this benefit mankind. But this is a deception. For a lesser evil is not in fact a positive good.
In the New Testament Jesus Christ expressly states that men do good to one another. On a horizontal plane and in man-to-man relationships there is this kind of goodness. Luke 6:33 records the Lord's words as follows: "If you do good to them that do good to you, what reward do you have? For even sinners do the same." That there should be no reward for this kind of goodness implies that it is not meritorious, but expedience only. Seen in the light of hidden motivation, man's goodness is destitute of true virtue because it springs from a poisoned source and is indeed fundamentally self-serving. We have only to observe in ourselves our reaction when some supposedly genuine deed of kindness is credited to someone other than ourselves. We are at once offended, hurt, aggressive or withdrawing. We resent being robbed of that ministry.
In the process of conversion there are several discernible steps, each of which is divinely initiated. Man is purely the recipient, making no more contribution towards his spiritual birth than he did towards his natural birth, or than inanimate Adam did towards his own animation when God turned him into a living soul. Whatever the circumstances surrounding any particular conversion, we normally view the process as being one of repentance followed by saving faith.
Repentance may or may not mean "sorrow for sins." It often does, but not always. Sometimes there is no very great sense of guilt at the time of conversion, as I know from personal experience. Some tremble with an overwhelming apprehension of the terrors of the judgment to come, and casting themselves before God they cry aloud for mercy. Others experience a kind of emptiness and meaninglessness and say, "Oh, that I might find Him!" And then there are those who are suddenly stopped in their tracks as Paul was, and immediately exclaim, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" People who experience little sense of personal wickedness at the time often become increasingly conscious of unworthiness as they mature in their Christian life. It is a growing experience. Paul began as the "least of the apostles," though an important individual because an apostle (1 Cor. 15:9). Later he described himself as the "least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8), yet, as a saint, enormously privileged. But finally he had to confess himself the "chiefest of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15).
Unbelievable as it may seem, this was progress! It was progress in truth, progress in integrity, progress towards the Lord. The closer we come to his glory the more clearly must we see our own unworthiness and shame, and our own darkness of soul. I am persuaded that when we are truly ready to go home to be with the Lord we shall hate sin with a perfect hatred, and be able to identify it in ourselves where we had been previously quite unaware of it.
Repentance really means "change of mind." This is the root meaning of the Greek word metanoia: a turn-around in attitude and point of view. We begin to look towards eternity with a new longing--and hence sometimes also with new apprehension lest we prove unworthy of it. This change is brought about by the renewing of the mind by the Holy Spirit, who in some mysterious way unlocks a deep-rooted mental barrier, making a new kind of thinking possible. Things that were unreasonable previously suddenly begin to appear as reasonable, and the unbelievable begins to become believable.
Repentance is thus a multidimensional word that signifies change in a number of directions. It is filled with the seeds of a new liberty of understanding. It is filled with promise of a new kind of spiritual vitality divinely engendered. It is above all the first step towards light and life and salvation. It is in no way self-generated, nor is it argued into being by the use of reason. It is supernatural. It is a gift of God. Scripture is very explicit on this subject, and rightly so because it is the first step towards eternal life.
Consider Romans 2:4: "Despiseth thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" It is the goodness of God and not the goodness of man that effects this fundamental reorientation. For this reason we are to be patient with those who seem unable or unwilling to understand. They are only acting according to their nature as we too acted according to ours until the Lord intervened. "In meekness instructing them that place themselves in opposition; lest God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:25).
So in Acts 5:31: "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." Not only to Israel is this gift given but to Gentiles also. Thus Peter rejoiced greatly when he witnessed the rebirth of Gentiles so that he and his coworkers glorified God, saying, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18).
The Old Testament reflects the same gracious truth. Psalm 65:4 reads: "Blessed is the man whom Thou chooses and causest to approach unto Thee that he may dwell in thy courts." And so likewise Lamentations 5:21: "Turn Thou us unto Thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned." It is the Lord Himself who gives a new heart (Jer. 24:7; Ezek. 11:19) and the Lord who opens the closed doors of the heart, making our response possible (Acts 16:14).
That such repentance unto life comes before saving faith is clear from many Scriptures. We do not live because we believe: we believe because we are made alive. The dead know not anything. "Whosoever liveth and believeth..." (John 11:26)--in that order. When Jesus said, "Ye do not believe because ye are not my sheep" (John 10:26), He was not saying, "Ye are not my sheep because ye do not believe." Similarly He said, "Ye therefore hear not [God's Word] because ye are not of God" (John 8:47); He did not say, "Ye are not God's children because ye will not hear his Word." Until the Spirit of God awakens the soul we cannot hear, for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). Acts 13:48 illustrates the hedge that is set around the outcome of all preaching when it tells us that only as many as are "ordained to eternal life" actually respond believingly. Like the case of Lazarus, who must first have been animated before he could respond to the command to come forth from the tomb, so life precedes faith. "Whosoever believeth [present active participle, i.e., is believing] that Jesus is the Christ is born [Perfect indicative passive, i.e., has been born] of God" (1 John 5:1).
It would be foolish to preach in a cemetery, trusting that some of the interred dead would hear the Gospel and come to life; and yet this is what many ministers are doing. Their congregations are cemeteries of spiritually dead people. Unless God makes some of them alive, they cannot possibly respond with saving faith and be redeemed. This is why Paul in writing to the Ephesians says that when we were dead in sins, we were quickened first and then raised up (Eph. 2:5, 6).
Moreover, it is not even our own faith but a faith given to us from the Father, channeled through the Son, and made effective through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is "by Him" (Jesus Christ) that we believe in God (1 Peter 1:21), a truth perceived by Peter from the very beginning of his ministry: "The faith which is by Him" (Acts 3:16). In both these instances the Greek is dia autou, through Him. Saving faith is not the human contribution of a sinner seeking salvation but the divine contribution of the gracious God seeking a sinner (Acts 18:27). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) and that not of ourselves. It is through faith as a channel that we are saved and not because of a faith of our own which is taken as a kind of guarantee of our earnestness. So also in 1 Corinthians 3:5, where Paul speaks of himself and Apollos as those by whom the Corinthians had believed. He does not speak of either of them as the originators of their faith but as the channels of it (dia with the genitive). To indicate the actual originator of this faith in the sense that a painter is the originator of his painting, the Greek word dia would have to be followed by the accusative, not by the genitive as it is in these instances. As Paul said to the Philippians (1:29), it had been given them to exercise saving faith. It was a gift.
The Canons of Dort rightly say: "That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, precedes from God's eternal decree...According to which decree He graciously softens the heart of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe" (Chap. I, Art. 6). Calvin was even more specific when he wrote:
But here we must beware of two errors for some make man God's co-worker, to ratify election by his consent. Thus according to them, man's will is superior to God's plan. As if Scripture taught that we are merely given the ability to believe, and not, rather, faith itself! Others...make election depend upon faith as if [that election] were both in doubt and ineffectual until confirmed by faith. (Inst. III.xiv.3)As Warfield put it, justification is through faith not on account of faith. (7) Augustine said, "We are not numbered among the elect because of foreseen faith but because of foreseen unbelief." It is man's natural inability to exercise saving faith while he is yet unsaved that makes Election so necessary. It is not an Election because of faith but an Election to faith. The Lord Jesus Christ is truly the "author of faith" (Heb. 12:2), the word our (preceding "faith") in the King James Version not being part of the original text. Thus it is really his salvation (Ps. 8:9; Luke 2:30: 3:6); it becomes our own only after we have received it as a gift (Phil. 2:12).
Although repentance and faith are both gifts, it is perfectly proper that God should command men everywhere to repent and believe (Acts 17:30). Such commands exhibit only what God requires of us, not what are his actual expectations. It is most important to realize this fact. God commands men to repent and believe though He knows perfectly that man has no power in himself to initiate such repentance or saving faith. They must be given to man from above. God commands men to love Him and to love their neighbor as themselves, though He knows that this is impossible for fallen man. Then why does He command impossibilities?
There are two answers. The first is in order to show man what are his requirements if man should demand the right to earn his own passage into heaven. God sets these standards of perfection as a man sets a plumb line against a wall (Amos 7:8) in order that the judgment may be just when the time comes. Man can never say, "I did not know what was required of me."
But there is also another reason. The law of God was given with the promise that if any man should fulfill it perfectly he would be declared not guilty of any offense, not worthy of any punishment, and under no sentence of death. As Moses said (Lev. 18:5): "Ye shall therefore do my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live." This was a serious promise, and not as hypothetical as it sounds. It is repeated in the New Testament with emphasis, for example in Romans 10:5 and Galatians 3:12. It is a valid promise, not a mockery. If a man never broke the commandment of God in any point, God would declare him righteous and worthy of heaven. He would enter heaven by right, needing no Savior for sins. His name would never have been blotted out from the Book of Life.
One day a young man came to the Lord, seeking to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17). In classical Greek this word was used with the meaning of "acquiring as a right." "How can I achieve this?" he asked. The Lord said, "Keep the commandments." Deceived by the simplicity of this, the young man asked, "Which?" And Jesus began to enumerate those commandments which He knew the young man had kept, and which the young man assured Him he had kept. But then the Lord said, "If thou wilt be perfect..." (Matt. 19:21), and here is the problem. Heaven is for those made perfect.
To a certain lawyer who asked how he might earn eternal life (Luke 10:25-28) the Lord said, "What does the law say?" When the lawyer repeated the Great Commandment about loving God with all one's being, Jesus said, 'This do, and thou shalt live.' This was a promise--the covenant of law that God had made with man. As it had been God's promise through Moses in Leviticus 18:5, so it had been the promise of God renewed through Ezekiel 20:11: "I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them." It was in effect when the Lord was present with us on earth, and so it is today. If a man fulfills the whole law, in its great summation of Luke 10:27 which combines Leviticus 19:18 with Deuteronomy 6:5, he has kept unbroken the old covenant of God with man.
Is perfection possible by this route? The answer must be Yes for unfallen man, but No for fallen man. It is no longer possible for us, but it was possible and was realized by the Lord Jesus Christ who fulfilled all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). The requirement is to fulfill all or nothing. As James 2:10 tells us: "Whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point is guilty of all." While it is true that "he that doeth the law shall live," it is also true that one offense kills. If spiritual death is the consequence of sin in any form, whether great or small, there can be no half successes. "The soul that sinneth shall die" (Ezek. 18:4) is the corollary of "he that doeth the law shall live." Death is terribly once-for-all. As Ezekiel 33:13 states it so clearly: "When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live; if he trust in his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it." What could be plainer: many righteousnesses (plural) cannot compensate for one iniquity (singular). If the penalty of one offense is death it makes little difference whether a man commits one offense or hundreds of them. When hanging was the penalty for stealing, it was perfectly logical for a man to say, "One might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, so why not steal a sheep?"
But is this principle really worth setting forth in Scripture if it is so hypothetical? Yes, indeed. God is assuring us that righteousness is possible for man and that any man who has never departed from the law will be truly without spot or blemish and therefore not worthy of death on his own account. And one Man did indeed perfectly fulfill it! The Lord Jesus Christ, having satisfied all the demands of the law (even the ritual ones) was without spot or blemish or sin of any kind, and was not therefore on his own account worthy of death. That is why He could be a Savior of sinners by substituting for them. "God made Him who knew no sin to be a sin offering for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Thus He proved that the law was just and proper and capable of serving to demonstrate the sinlessness of the One who was to become a Savior of men.
As for the rest of men, conceived in sin and born defective, there is no hope by this route. "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). And what is this "glory of God"? It is none other than the Lord Himself (John 1:14), who is to be the plumb line, the standard by which we shall be judged (Amos 7:8), "because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
Were human behavior to be judged by our own defective standards, there could be no infallible standard of justice, for righteousness is absolute and relates equally to both action and motive. And the human heart is desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Man is potentially an appallingly evil creature and only by accident do some men appear less evil than others. But we are all spiritually dead, and there is not in any of us an impulse towards good in spiritual matters. When his mercy overwhelms us and clothes our nakedness, only then can we stand before Him without shame or fear. Otherwise, like Adam, we flee from Him and hide unless He intervenes.
So the initiative must rest with God and the first step has to be his, not ours. This first step is the infusion of life. It is truly a spiritual resurrection. The source of action is God's. This is an essential part of the meaning of Total Depravity.
There is nothing new about all this. It has been said in many different ways with equal force in every one of the great Confessions of churches with a Reformation faith. Thus in 1561 the Belgic Confession (Article XV: "Original Sin") made the following statement:
We believe that through the disobedience of Adam original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature and a hereditary disease, wherewith even infants in their mother's womb are infected, and which in man produces all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof, and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind. Nor is it altogether abolished or wholly eradicated even by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by His grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest surely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death.So also in the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England in 1562 (Article IX: "Of Original or Birth-Sin"):
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of the nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated...Likewise the Westminster Confession of 1647 (Chap. VI: "Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of Punishment"):
By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.And the Baptist Confession of 1689 (Chap. 2: "Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of Punishment Thereof"):
From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated...
Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them, whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.The Reformers recognized that while man is able to reason about temporal matters correctly (mathematics, for example), in all spiritual matters his understanding is darkened and his will is impotent towards righteousness and towards God. The Fall wholly corrupted his will, but only partially damaged his intellect.
Then when an act is sinful and not merely a mistake, it is an expression of our will, of our fallen nature, just as when Satan lies "he speaketh of his own" (John 8:44), for he was and is a liar by nature. The New American Standard Version renders this: "He speaketh from his own nature." So likewise the Revised Standard Version: "He speaks according to his own nature." Man, too, is willfully sinful in heart and mind. "The heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccles. 8:11). "Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil" (Gen. 6:5).
We see men performing good deeds towards their neighbors, as I have often experienced at the hands of my neighbors; and one cannot but be grateful both to them and to the Lord for their kindnesses. Nevertheless long experience teaches that it is the secret motive, the motive often never even consciously recognized by the doer himself, that God judges. For He judges the thoughts and intents of the heart and looks not on the outward man (1 Sam. 16:7). We would recognize that even such kindnesses as these are poisoned at the source if we could only see them as God sees them. In a real sense man's inhumanity to man, to use Shakespeare's famous phrase, is no worse than his humanity to man. Both are fundamentally self-serving, though the one has all the appearance of evil and the other all the appearance of good.
The Augsburg Confession (XVIII.1) says:
It is also taught among us that man possesses some measure of freedom of the will which enables him to live an outwardly honourable life and to make choices among things that reason comprehends. But without the grace, help, and activity of the Holy Spirit, man is not capable of making himself acceptable to God.To act acceptably before men is not beyond most of us for much of our lives, because outward conformity to the cultural standards of our society is usually advantageous and does not require that we be inwardly what we seem to be outwardly. But to act acceptably before God is quite a different thing for He demands inward conformity. Concealment is proper in social relationships and is largely covered by the word courtesy. In many aspects of social intercourse, human behaviour is acceptable and the exchange of service, ideas, and materials proceeds smoothly and without the effects of the Fall creating any serious disruptions. Thus subsequently there were added to this statement from the Augsburg Confession the following words: "We are not denying freedom to the human will. The human will has freedom to choose among the works and things which reason by itself can grasp." Yet so many human relations depend upon the integrity of the contracting parties that in the Formula of Concord (1.3) the true inner situation is spelled out more darkly: "Original Sin is not a slight corruption of human nature, but is so deep a corruption that nothing sound or uncorrupted has survived in man's body or soul, in the inward or the outward powers." Indeed, "this damage is so unspeakable that it may not (even) be recognized by a rational process, but only from God's Word."
This is a grim picture indeed. Oddly it is a picture that is being increasingly admitted by the more perceptive psychiatrists of our time--as it was by Freud.
When an unregenerate man by the grace of God begins to truly despair of his own nature, he is often, as Luther put it, "near akin to divine grace." To preach that man need not despair of himself is to challenge God's design to bring men near to grace by this means. It is also a demonstration of the damage done to the powers of reason by the very defect which is being denied.
What then does man have in his unredeemed, totally depraved state upon which God can act? He has eyes, but is blind. God can restore his vision. He has ears that are deaf. God can open his ears. He has a heart, but it is of stone. God can convert it to a heart of flesh. He has a spirit, but it is dead. God can make it live. So God has made man with the capacity to see, hear, and act responsively to his inspiring, but he cannot act until he is made alive. He cannot come forth from the tomb until he has been given a new life. Only then does he hear the voice of God saying, "Come forth."
When the Lord knocks at the door of a man's heart he cannot hear for he is deaf. Only when God opens his ears does he hear. And even then when he hears he is likely at first to say, "I am in no convenient position to open. My children are in bed, the door is locked, we are 'closed for the night,' please don't bother me now" (Luke 11:5-8). Only the caller's persistence, not the householder's desire to entertain the caller, drives him in the end to open the door; the Spirit of God acting upon his heart makes him a willing host. It is God's persistent knocking at the door of man's heart and not man's persistent knocking at the gates of heaven that brings the elect finally to salvation.
Such, then, is the nature of the Total Depravity of man.
1. Butterfield, Herbert,
and History, p. 45f
2. Anti-Pelagian Writings: On Marriage, 11.20.
3. Concupiscence in A Catholic Dictionary, p. 214.
4. Charles A. Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. II, p. 71.
5. Quoted in A. W. Pink, Gleanings from Scripture: Man's Total Depravity, p. 227.
6. Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 577.
7. Benjamin B Warfield, Calvin and Augustine, p. 292.