original sin, part 2

about a month ago, I posted on Original Sin. Specifically, one of the leaders of the emerging church had decided that he didn’t believe this doctrine and Kevin DeYoung called him out on it with scripture.

yesterday, I received this comment to moderate:

Bkingr,

There’s a huge difference between “inclined toward evil” that you quoted above and blackened and deader than dead. Maybe not in Calvinism, but Biblically, there’s a huge difference.

Paul in Romans 3 is drawing from Psalm 14, one written by David, which states, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

One would think in reading Psalm 14 alone that the words stand alone. No one does good.

Yet four Psalms later, in Psalm 18, David says, “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him, and have kept myself from sin.”

Same author. Is David confused? Or in both Psalms, is David using black/white imagery (“no one does good” and “”I am not guilty”) to make the rhetorical point that this sinful inclination is powerful yet God calls for our obedience? Viewed in this light, we can read Psalm 14 (and then Romans 3) with fresh eyes, where God is looking down to see if any will have the courage to stand up and be obedient. He laments that humans, by and large, have turned away, but David proclaims in Psalm 18 that God rewards those who pursue righteousness.

Kevin also uses rebellion (not total depravity) language in quoting Jeremiah 17 (deceitful, desperately sick), Titus 3 (hating on another), and Romans 5 (corrupt nature). The Bible uses extreme imagery both ways; to celebrate human righteousness (obedience) and decry human rebellion (depravity). There’s no easy way to clean this up, as much as the system of Calvin would like to do so. Let the Bible speak for itself.

Nathan Myers

you would think from this that Paul’s quote of Romans 3:10 was the main thing that Kevin DeYoung cited. It wasn’t.

Assume for a minute that it was. What is Nathan’s refutation? Paul was relying on David. David said something else somewhere else and therefore Paul didn’t mean it the way it sounds, and that some of the other verses that Kevin cited were simply “extreme imagery” to “decry human rebellion.”

And then Nathan has the nerve/temerity/audacity/hutzpah/guts to tell me that I should let the Bible speak for itself. Just wow.

Ok, I will. Here is the “extreme imagery” supporting the idea that humans are born into sin and bear the sin nature by nature:

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

and here is the “extreme imagery” that says that apart from Christ we are all DEAD in our sins (not some kind of “mostly dead” or “a bit sluggish.”)

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Do you get that? the Bible, speaking for itself, says plainly that we were all dead and caught up in sin by our nature. that we were naturally objects of God’s wrath. That God then made us alive in Him, by His glorious grace. God through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus, made a way for us to be rescued from our sinful nature. That is why Romans 6 is such good news. We have been made alive and are no longer enslaved to our natural sinful nature. We now have a true choice to reject the opportunity to offer our members up as instruments of unrighteousness for the first time. For the first time, we have the opportunity to offer ourselves up as servants to righteousness.

That news wouldn’t be so good if there were no such thing as original sin. That would mean that Pelagius was correct and that any person can decide on their own to pursue God. That concept just won’t fly if you let the words above from the Bible “speak for themselves.” It only works if you explain away what Paul told the Ephesian church in chapter 2:1-10.

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One Response

  1. […] like Pelagius without any pretense, then your movement is going nowhere fast. When your followers snarkily encourage critics to “let the Bible speak for itself” while they call its language with which they […]

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