Friday, March 28, 2008

Armchair Synergism: Don't Try This at Home

Edit: Matt Shultz has given me permission to link back to the post in question below. He wanted me to remember that he is not the author of the list I'm looking at, but did post it because he agrees with it.

The synergist in question has arranged his Core Beliefs under the familiar TULIP acrostic. This is helpful in one sense (ease of evaluation and comparison) and very unhelpful in another. That is, one of the biggest problems with the whole Calvinistic Resurgence in the SBC is the fact that many on the non-Calvinist side seem to arrogate to themselves willy-nilly the right to re-define theological terms as they please, with no reference to the way those terms have historically been used. That happens here.

Here is his first statement:

"1.Total Depravity

Man is totally depraved. Every facet of man’s nature and faculties is corrupted by the sin nature. There is nothing in man that can enable him to earn or deserve eternal life. God, in grace, draws all men (John 12:32; Titus 2:11), Man is able to receive and respond to the grace of God (Mt 23:37;John 5:24-25; Eph. 2:8-9). Man is a free moral agent with responsibility to respond to God’s grace (John 1:1-9; 3:16-17). Man can respond to God’s grace and come to Christ and he is called to do so (Rev. 22: 17)!"

Calvinists would agree with much in the first three sentences. I would demur and say that it’s not the sin nature that corrupts man’s faculties: it is the judgment upon the Fall of Adam that both corrupts our faculties and gives us a sin nature. One could argue that the sum total of our corrupted faculties is, in fact, our sin nature.

I don’t want this to turn into a huge thing, but let me simply assert that not a single one of his referenced texts actually supports the ideas he has referenced them for. Just as an example, nothing in John 1:1-9 or 3:16-17 teaches that man is a “free moral agent,” especially if by that phrase something like Libertarian Free Will is meant. Those texts simply show some people having faith in Jesus and some rejecting Him. They do not speak at all to the issue of man’s ability to choose righteousness in his fallen condition, or where faith comes from, etc.

But there is in this short statement a very glaring contradiction, apart from the spoof-texting.

After affirming that “There is nothing in man that can enable him to earn or deserve eternal life,” our author then states (three times) that totally depraved man does in fact have the ability to do the one thing that is needful for him to receive eternal life.

He may want to quibble about words like “earn” and “deserve,” but the bottom line is that he has man in his natural state possessing the ability to procure salvation for himself, by making the right choice. This is neither Calvinism, nor Arminianism; it is semi-Pelagianism. Pelagius was a heretic, for those keeping score.

Somewhere, apparently, within this totally depraved man, there still resides the ability to weigh the claims of the Gospel and come to the righteous decision. This is, of course, in direct contradiction to the apostolic teaching.

At the end of his extended discussion of how the Gospel is viewed by the world, in 1 Corinthians 1-2, Paul brings it all to a sum with this statement:

But 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. (2:14)

This is a pretty fundamental truth of Scripture: the natural, or fallen man is completely and utterly opposed to the righteousness of God, so the idea that a man in this state could give the glorious Gospel of Christ a fair hearing is frankly laughable.

I hope that is not what our erstwhile author is trying to teach, even though, if he did he’d merely be joining our denomination’s President: that wouldn’t make it right, though.

I am hopeful that I've merely misread some things.


kelly jack said...

He does hold the views of the majority,Is'nt that all that counts? NOT!

Robert said...

I had an exchange or two with Matt over on my blog and I found him to be evasive, ill-informed, and obtuse (which is; hard to follow his points)

Commenting back and forth with him was a waste of time, as he never interacted with any comment directly but red herringed and rabbit trailed me to death.

He was obviously not interested in finding out what the word says.

Gordan Runyan said...

Yeah, I got that impression as well, when he suggested that the fact that the thief on the cross got saved, somehow disproves Calvinism....???