102. Lutheran Theology Part 5

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Luther and the Solas

Andy continues the series on Lutheran Theology. This time Wes is back and together they discuss the formal principle of Lutheran theology and the nature of Law and Gospel.

49. Is Total Depravity in Scripture Alone?

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Total Depravity

Frank Frazetta Painting – Pretty good depiction of what it means to be enslaved to sin and unable to do anything about it.

Total depravity is a divisive doctrine within the Christian Church. This doctrine teaches that since the Fall of Man, all of mankind is in a state of complete corruption by sin. Our minds, bodies, spirit, emotions, desires, will, relationships – OUR EVERYTHING – is ruined by sin. The wreckage is so great that we can do nothing whatsoever to please God, draw near to him, or to please him. We are truly dead in our sin.

If we can do nothing to accept God, then that must mean our salvation is purely a gift. Scripture teaches that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8) Most Christians recognize that grace is pure gift, but total depravity necessitates that the faith of believers must also be solely a gift, the work of God alone.

If faith is a gift of God, then why are some saved and the multitudes damned? Did God not love them? Did Christ not die for them? Did God not choose to save them?

These questions and many more rightly flow from a proper understanding of the doctrine of total depravity. Before addressing these questions, we must ask, “Does the Bible teach total depravity?” If this teaching can’t be found in Scripture alone, we should reject the doctrine. But if total depravity is in Scripture, we must address the questions of predestination, and we must do so from Scripture alone.

Show Links:

Travis Carden’s “Total Depravity Verse List”

Got Questions’ “Total Depravity – Is it Biblical?”

Theopedia’s Total Depravity Entry

Norman Geisler – Science and Scripture? Nooooooooooooo!!!!

Norman Geisler – this bright, strong advocate for the Christian faith.  One of the greatest apologists, defenders of Scripture, in our age.  I just saw an article posted on his website… entitled, “Does Believing in Inerrancy Require One to Believe in Young Earth Creationism.”

In this article, he claims numerous times that it is possible to have gaps between the days of the Genesis accounts of creation (Alternating Day-Age Theory).  He claims it is possible to have a HUGE gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 (Gap-Theory).  He claims it is possible that each day is lengthy epochs of time (Day Age Theory).  All of this is true.  Anything is possible.  He then rips all the arguments of a 24-Hour Day interpretation of Genesis 1.  He then provides arguments for all of the other theories.  He concludes by saying that the age of the earth doesn’t matter – it’s not important to salvation – it’s never been an essential doctrine or creed in church history – UNTIL NOW, of course.

What Geisler doesn’t do a great job of mentioning is that all of the views besides the “Young Earth” view have death reigning in the world before the fall of man into sin!  He also fails to mention that these other views (as of today) are arising not from Scripture Alone, but from the process of inserting prior beliefs into the reading of Scripture and performing interpretative gymnastics to pull out of Scripture the beliefs that were inserted into the text.

Please, read the article linked above, and then read my response.

I think we should note his hermeneutic – his formal principle. Norman Geisler writes near the end of this article, “If the Young Earth view is true, then so be it. Let the biblical and scientific evidence be mustered to demonstrate it.” This is not Reformation sola scriptura at work! That is my biggest complaint against the Old Earth crew. Members of this growing elite, such as Hugh Ross, claim that God has given us two books! Ross actually says “two books.” By this he means natural knowledge (general revelation) and revealed knowledge (special revelation). Since when does God’s revelation of himself through what he has created become on par with Scripture? I think that the Old Earth Creationists are starting with their conclusion that the world is very old based on their interpretation of what they see in the physical world and then interpreting Scripture in light of that presupposition.

From strictly reading the Bible, why would we suspect that there are gaps between the days in Genesis or that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2? From strictly reading the Bible, why would I suspect that there were millions of years of death in the animal kingdom with entire species being wiped off the face of the planet before the creation of Adam and Eve and before their fall into sin?

I agree with Geisler that one does not have to believe the earth is a certain age to be a follower of Christ – to trust in the salvation that comes through Christ’s work alone, but using “science” to interpret scripture is a bad hermeneutic and teaching death before the fall does not sit well with a very good world created by God. Many of the leading Christian apologists today are making claims that death in the animal kingdom was in the world before the fall of man and that there is where the huge problem lies! Death without sin is not Scriptural. God did not create a world of death. Teaching this as the Old Earth Creationists teach can very easily lead people away from Scripture and therefore away from God.

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