life, Light

Totally Depraved?

Your idea of Saturday morning fun may not include reading up on total depravity, but that’s what I did this snowy April morn. (By “reading up” I mean I read the Wikipedia entry.)

Why on earth?

Because I got up at 5 am, fed my friends and then headed to leaders meeting where leader after leader affirmed the doctrine of the total depravity of man. One wonderful leader, a friend, supposed that even during the 1,000 year reign of Jesus (Revelation 20), even with Satan’s lying lips silenced, the behavior of people will spiral out of control.

But where in Scripture does it say that?

When God created mankind, He declared His work, “very good.”

Adam and Eve showed no signs of depravity until the deceiver showed up and, well, deceived them.

There is no mention in Scripture of any sort of rebellion during the 1,000 year reign of Christ. It isn’t until the serpent is released from the Abyss and starts deceiving people again that an army forms and marches against God. I agree that sin is present in every man, but in the beginning (Genesis 3) and in the end (Revelation 20) rebellion needed to be coaxed by deception.

Rebellions need a leader. An instigator.

That’s why who your child hangs out with is important.

That’s why who you listen to is important.

That’s why most – probably all – people have to be radicalized before they commit terrorist atrocities.

I know Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure,” (17:9) but back up your Bible reading bus and look what he said just before that: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man…” (v. 5) “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord…” (v. 7)

So here’s what I want us Christians to do: Check the Scriptures before we promulgate a man made doctrine. See if it’s written in red by Jesus, or in stone by the prophets.

Maybe even check Wikipedia to see where it originated.

And speaking of Saint Augustine, I cannot read or hear his name without being warmed by the memories of my many visits to St. George Street, Flagler College, Castillo de San Marcos, the Alligator Farm and even Fort Matanzas. I’m way past due for a return trip.


St. George St., Saint Augustine, FL photo credit: Evangelio Gonzalez, Creative Commons

Bottom line:  If the doctrine you hold so dear originated with man, take it with a grain of salt. air.

Ahhhh, salt air.


2 thoughts on “Totally Depraved?

  1. theancients says:

    “Rebellions need a leader. An instigator. That’s why who your child hangs out with is important. That’s why who you listen to is important…”

    Some great words of wisdom there! Thank you so much!

    It’s very puzzling that we know we do not know everything, yet when confronted with truths that challenge our man-centered doctrines, we’d rather hold on to them than search & discover for ourselves. [i.e. some do not allow the word of God to come between them and their doctrines of man].
    It’s strange because the goal is to grow in wisdom, knowledge, understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “some do not allow the word of God to come between them and their doctrines of man” Great way to put it.

      It’s puzzling to me, too. I guess there is security in having things locked down in neat, unchanging packages.

      Monday night I pointed out to a group of high school students that, contrary to popular belief, Scripture doesn’t specifically say that unrepentant people burn eternally. (As I explained in a recent post.) One young man was eager to mention Matthew 25:41.

      If we hadn’t been on such a tight schedule, I would have had him read it to the group:

      “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

      And I would have asked, “For whom does it say the fire was prepared?” The fact that some people will be thrown into the same eternal fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels – who are eternal creatures and, therefore, require an eternal fire – doesn’t necessarily mean that un-redeemed people – who are not eternal – will burn eternally. Perhaps they will be immediately incinerated in that fire, perhaps they will burn forever, Scripture doesn’t actually say.

      I applauded the young man – who is heading off to college in the fall to prepare to become a pastor – for speaking up, but how much better it would be if that future pastor would, as you said, make his goal to grow in wisdom, knowledge and understanding rather than having the goal of defending what he thinks he already knows.

      Liked by 1 person

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