Sunday, July 13, 2008

What's Depraved? (Reprise)

Continuing the discussion from the previous thread and post I thought it might be ripe to reference Edwards more completely concerning the imputation of Adam's guilt as congruent with the depraved nature.

What is evident, as Edwards points out, is the condition of man is that of unrighteousness at conception. Unrighteousness he posits is the negative principle. That is, when God removed the constraining influence of the positive, the righteousness of the will of God, man was then left to his own natural propensity to self-love but without the highest regard in self-love which is the love of God. It then is resolved that evil is no positive influence created by God in man but is rather the result of the negation of righteousness.

Evil in man is still, as Edwards would confirm, a reality, a thing which is created, but through negation. God does not need to place in man evil created ex nihilo, but merely to withhold his favor and evil is without the will of God that which wills its own. His favor is that constraint which is called the righteousness of God, or his will. It is not the will of his creatures, firstly, as derived from them, for what is the clay? Man's nature is as a river, the heart of a king in the hands of God, and water by its nature flows according to the constraint of the course set by the banks. Can man make God to see? Who has been God's counselor? None. It is God who has made man and the eye and given it sight to see. And more than that, he has given all that can be seen. All things, purposes, plans and means are from his hand. The negative principle does not mean that the nature itself is evil created, rather, that by the negation of the positive influence of righteousness in both nature and mind, that which was created good, and fit, does by its own tendency bend toward its own destruction being left without the unifying principle of the law of righteousness. Further, the whole creation was subjected to sin and the like principle known in physics, according to its natural bent, finds its terminus via the law of entropy in chaos.

Adam's action is not alone, nor at first where guilt resides. It cannot be, for even the "good" acts of fallen man are accounted as evil. Guilt was by imputation. It is the judgement of the righteous God who cannot abide with unrighteousness. Indeed, guilt as Edwards describes, is congruent with the nature of unrighteousness. By imputation of guilt, then, we have a legal decree, the finding of God which is assigned, not to the act, but to the individual who acted and that because man who acts is one with his nature which acts in the totality of the being. Adam's sin then is not like ours seeing as he had the righteousness of God constraining his actions and was innocent in the beginning. What we know is that he was deceived into believing that the action that he would take was righteous.

Our first exposure is in Genesis 3, and Paul tells us in Timothy as confirmation that the woman is not allowed to teach the man to reflect the original order of creation, and, to remind us of the deception that was first in Eve, who being in transgression taught her husband. Further, that he was cursed because he both listened to his wife and ate. Genesis says that Adam listened and that it was the woman's voice he heard. Adam was made first and from him is derived the woman whose position is not the dominance of her will over his, but is to be in submission to his headship, i.e., his will as a help fit for the purpose. Adam reversed the order by submitting himself to her in violation of the type which is the order of creation, itself the reflection of God's headship and his will as the primary source of will in man. When Eve fell, the conclusion is that Adam also, being one flesh, fell with her. Even though she ate first, the guilt is imputed to Adam as her head. That is the reality, for in Adam, all sinned, including Eve even though it was she and not he who first sinned. The offense Godward is to make God over into the creatures image, reversing the order or creation, now corrupted by that which opposes the will of God, exalts the will of man, and supresses the truth in unrighteousness. It is to do what Satan intimated, to make God to be unrighteous and ascend to equality with him, even above him.

One must consider that the evil tendency (the negation of righteousness) was not in Adam, nor in Eve from the creation, contrasted to James who locates it in fallen man, and not external. Rather, they were created in holiness in the image of God. The evil resided outside of them in an influential spirit called the Serpent of Old, or Satan, who Scripture declares as being what he was from the beginning. His influence was directed toward the mind and not the nature of man which was righteous. The mind operates under the influence of the nature unless some other influence impinges upon it. Unlike we who have inherited both the guilt and corruption, the faculties of Adam's mind had not yet been infected with thoughts directed only toward self-love to the negation of love of God resulting in chaos. Theirs was a righteous nature and beside it was given a righteous commandment, another influence, to guide the mind. So we have the statement that Adam's sin was not in the similitude of the many sins of his posterity. We sin because the corruption that was introduced into Adam by deception (a contradiction of the commandment) is passed along to us and resides in us. To that effect, God has assigned to man the stature of unrighteousness, removing from him the constraints of God's will which is righteous. The effect of Adam's guilt was sealed to him by God's imputation of guilt and the removal of righteousness which leads to life, simultaneously. The result was that Adam became the condemned according to his nature. We then have the history of Scripture and of all mankind, that the likeness of Adam is now transferred to his posterity rather than the likeness of God. Such that, the unrighteousness that was imaged by Satan in the Garden, Jesus assigns to man. To that end, man is continually attempting to make others over into him own image just as his father the devil did.

I will add this paper also.

As Shedd says, the reality of sin is far deeper than the superficial reality that guilt inheres in actions alone as the Arminian would propose. Guilt inheres in the nature. Nature permeates the entirety of our being. But some will say, then how was Adam accounted guilty? Was it not in the action? Again, I say, no. Guilt has to do with the declaration of God as Judge, just as righteousness has to do with God's declaration of righteousness which is foreign to man, an action outside of himself given to him. Man was not in the beginning neutral having both tendencies, therefore guilt was external to him for unrighteousness was not in him. Guilt inheres in nature precisely because God has declared the nature to be unrighteousness, not merely in an abstract way, but in truth, man has been "unrighteoussed." So also, the guilt is imputed congruently with depravity. "In the day you eat you will die." Not, in the day you eat you will become guilty, then later die. But, at once, simultaneous. "In the day" is colloquial meaning at the point of time. So later, we have Scripture using the term judgement to connote both the passing of the sentence and the execution of it as simultaneous though temporally expressed. To our feeble minds we see things from a temporally bounded perspective. But, the reality is that though man is born with an unrighteous nature and will proceed to actual sins, those sins are nothing more than the expression of one thing, sin. And sin is guilty of offense toward the nature of God by its very nature, whether it acts or not.

Man was created in innocence, but not in moral neutrality. He was created righteous. As righteous he could not sin, but God had left the will to its native freedom, being that which chooses according to the highest regard of the mind (in this sense it means volition where Shedd rightly uses Will to mean essential being or nature and all the attributes of it including its actions). It was there, in the mind, that deception entered,

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."
To this Jesus adds, what a man desires in his heart, that is what he is. So that, a man lusting after a woman has already committed adultery. It does not become sin in action but in conception (the woman saw), and conception is accomplished in the inmost place where no one knows. The entrance of the deception was below perception, precisely the definition of deception. Then, it was at the point that Eve saw, that it was concluded that she had already eaten. The corruption though entered in disguised as a beautiful creature. This does not take genius, just attention to the texts. It was by imputation, in other words, by the introduction of the lie, beyond the view of consciousness, that she was corrupted, and obviously that without her consent for no true consent is given to a lie.

The text tells us that their eyes were opened, but what it means is that their eyes were closed, blinded by the darkness that had entered and they had chosen over the light. They saw themselves as naked, where God saw them as he had clothed them. Who said they were naked? Not God. Nakedness to them became shame but it was not so, God had clothed with righteousness and nakedness was what he had clothed them with. As we can see, the doctrine of imputation is demonstrated in Satan's very actions. For it was he who introduced deprivation into Eve and she into Adam. The deception itself is guilty. The corruption itself, at once the judgement, death sentence and execution. Through Adam we have, as Scripture declares, received God's curse, he having concluded that we were all in Adam, the whole of creation, subject to sin. Which is of course the truth even though the action of our birth had not yet occurred. Therefore David says he was conceived in sin. Not his, but his by imputation and that by the negation of righteousness as a result of the curse upon Adam's kind.

Guilt then is at once congruent with and consequent of depravity. That depravity is primarily the deprivation of righteousness. It is deprivation of righteousness in nature, nature being that which permeates the entire being, body, soul and mind. Righteousness itself cannot abide with any kind of sin, whether of nature, or of the actions of mind or body. In the entrance of sin into the world, God withdrew himself by removing the righteousness which constrains the will to love of God alone. Later we see this in the veil. It is not man who has placed the barrier to entrance between God and man, (see the Garden event), but God. In fact by God's action God prevents man from doing so by the unrighteousness of man's own will. In the reconciliation that is in Christ, that veil is removed to the glory of God, through Christ's flesh, through the imputation of Christ's righteousness, effectually securing regeneration in the elect so that they can enter. Christ, who has put to death sin in his flesh has reconciled them to God in himself for the benefit of the elect and secured them forever by the vital union of the Spirit. But, no sinful choice can enter and no sin nature would will itself to, either.

As Shedd concludes, this is the great rift between one set of theologians and the other. What was begun in the Reformation was a return to the doctrine of original sin and clearer understanding than that which was held by the Pelagians of all types who rejected the doctrines of the Protestation both before and after Luther. This is what separates us, today. Misunderstanding the doctrines of the fall is the seminal beginning of all errors and offense against the doctrines of grace. The Arminian faction would contend against Shedd's statement:
"The prayer of David is the proper prayer for us to the lay of our death:
"Search me, O Lord, and try me, and see what evil ways are within me; cleanse Thou me from secret faults."
A prayer, it may be remarked, that is utterly unintelligible on the hypothesis that there is no sin deeper than consciousness."
Far then from being that it is only the conscious sin that it under the guilt of condemnation, David is repeating what he had learned by the Law, as well from his own innate sense. We must remember that the Law was added because of transgression not transgression because of the law, even though the law would produce the effect of making sin recognizably, exceedingly sinful through the unavoidable violation of it.

Let's not forget that we wage our war not against flesh and blood but against every lofty thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (my compilation). It is not individual Arminians, or Romanists, or any other people of Pelagian persuasions who are the real enemy. And each of us shall give an account of himself to God. Our challenge is to declare the truth and let the sword of his word divide that which is his from that which is not. It is not a new battle and all of the elect at first fight against the kingdom of God until they finally hear, "Do you kick against the goads?" I did, for I did not begin completed with this knowledge, nor have I yet arrived at a full understanding of it. Like the disciples we all believe ourselves the possessors of our own destinies at first self-assured that we have found the way until we hear the Lord say, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."

With Isaiah let's us declare as we come into the presence of God, "Woe to me, for I am undone," recognizing that sin is the un-doing of God's will in man, of which we are all guilty. Humanistic concepts of will as mere volitions of single choices do not go deep enough into the soul well of depravity. Instead, rightly defined, Will is the entire being according to Shedd's usage as expressed by Isaiah's totally coming apart in the presence of the Lord, peirced to the deepest part, divided soul and spirit, searched in the inmost being, where secrets of the hearts of men so desperately wicked that no man can know it, reside. That depravity is not found just in the foaming of the surface waters, nor in the merky deep and darkness below, but issues forth from the very sping of its existence. A Reformation understanding then, is not that of the will as a ready instrument wielded distinct from self, but Will is the wielder, himself. Will is what Shedd says, in concert with Edwards, man is, and man is born bound by a creature's nature, a child of wrath, exhaustively unrighteous, thoroughly.

So we do not speak a common language when speaking of will. For we do not mean mere volition as the Arminian formula would have it. Rather, we speak of that which is reflective of the whole image of God into which we were created. It follows then, we also have a greater appreciation of what it means to love the Lord God with the whole mind, the whole soul, the whole spirit, the entire substance of our being and not just our volitions, and then why it is that total depravity is the only other reality, and being sin, stands guilty of hating God with its entire being and not just the actions that flow from it. Knowing this, we also gain a deeper appreciation for repentance, and forgiveness, for those who love much have been forgiven much by he who has become sin for us. With Isaiah we know our native state, but also who it is that has given us the righteous confession of the lips that comes from the throne of God.

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