04 November, 2006

Predestination: TULIP - Total Depravity

This is the first of six posts regarding TULIP. If you are not familar with that acronym, Wikipedia has a number of articles on the subject. This one is probably the most succinct and provides links to the counter positions of Arminians.

1) Total Depravity

Calvinists hold that man is shot through with sin. They don't believe that man is as sinful as he can be, but that there is no part of him that is not sinful. He is so sinful that he cannot muster up a saving faith in Christ without God doing it for him. Man is truly dead in his sins, and like any dead man, he cannot help himself at all. Man cannot have the faith it takes to be saved.

Arminians also believe that man is dead in his sins, and that he cannot come to God without divine help.

Codepoke believes that man is dead in his sins, but that this is not the most significant point. Man died in the garden, the day he ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. He died, and was shot through with sin completely, so I agree with the Calvinists and Arminians on the point they make. I just believe that they miss the point that needs to be made.

Even before he ate that fruit, man was not alive.

1 Cor 15:45 So it is written: "The first Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

Adam had only a living soul, not a living spirit. He was supposed to take Life into himself, and did not.

Gen 2:9 The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Had Adam eaten of that Tree, it would have made him alive as surely as eating of the other tree made him dead.

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

The Life God talks about here is not clearly defined. We find that often in scripture, upon the first mention of a thing. It is more fully explained as the scripture goes on, though. Let me fast forward to the gospels.

John 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all people.

John 4:14 but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

John 6:33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

John 6:53 Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

I see two things in the Garden of Eden. There is a Tree of Life, and there is Fruit on that Tree. Then I look at the rest of scripture, and I see Jesus as a Vine Tree, and Jesus as Bread. Jesus commands us to eat to gain eternal life, to eat Bread and to eat His Flesh.

If we look at the Garden of Eden as a one-dimensional experience for Adam and Eve, merely as a chance for them to not sin, then it is easy to overlook the other Tree. Adam's and Eve's experience was not a simple choice between "obey" and "disobey," though. They had to choose between "Life" and "Knowledge."

Knowledge, the serpent correctly told them, would make them like God. (Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.) Life, though, would have made them one with God. (John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us ...)

The question is not whether man is totally depraved - he is - but whether he was ever even a little bit alive.

So, on the first point, the one on which the Calvinists and Arminians agree, I believe they have spoken far short of the truth.

So, while not completely disagreeing with Total Depravity, I have to say that I believe in Empty Humanity. Adam and Eve were empty vessels, waiting to be filled with either life or knowledge. They chose knowledge. That choice was a rebellion and a sin that led to their immediate spiritual death, and eventual physical death.

Now man needs not only to be filled, but also to be restored.

Christ has done this for us.

Plenus EMPTOR

8 comments:

Milly said...

I enjoyed reading this

Kansas Bob said...

I recently came across a new thought - Original Glory! When I read ...

"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27)

... I think about how mankind was originally gloriously created in God's image ... we were originally gloriously alive. If we were not originally alive then we could not have died ... we would have been already spiritually dead.

Just a few thoughts from Kansas. Blessings to you CP!

codepoke said...

Thank you, Milly. The crickets were beginning to worry me. :-)

codepoke said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, KB. (And for saying anything!)

If we were not originally alive then we could not have died

This is a reasonable perspective, and I agree at the human level.

Adam and Eve were gloriously living humans, but they were not yet living spirits, or 1 Cor 15:45 would not make the two different. Adam was a living soul before He ate of knowledge, but he was not yet a living spirit.

There was a glorious humanity to his and Eve's existence, but not yet the divinity with which they were meant to be filled. Eating of the Tree of Life would have made them more than they were.

Kansas Bob said...

Good stuff CP. Here is a question that popped into my head:

Could Adam and/or Eve eat of the knowledge tree after they ate of the tree of life?

If the answer is no then why do we eat of that tree after we are born anew?

codepoke said...

KB,

Could Adam and/or Eve eat of the knowledge tree after they ate of the tree of life?

Me too!

Here's my best guess. Knowledge vanishes away, according to 1 Cor 13:8, so I don't think we would have needed knowledge had Adam eaten of the right Tree. But (and it's a big but...) had God's Life been ingrafted into us first, knowledge could not have hurt us. God would have lifted the prohibition, laughed at Satan, and sent him to hell forthwith.

Who could possibly have been tempted to be like God, when he was already one with God?

karen said...

So, what was God's plan for mankind?
What was life supposed to be like for Adam and Eve, had they NOT partaken? If they were created in His image, were they not "living"?
As my friend says, "sounds like a set-up!"
If they were "set up" then they were "predestined" to fall.
If they were "set up" that doesn't sound very nice of God, now, does it?
Interesting stuff, CP.

codepoke said...

WooHoo! Great questions. :-)

So, what was God's plan for mankind?
We are living it, right? Do you believe God's plan was frustrated? I cannot.

What was life supposed to be like for Adam and Eve, had they NOT partaken?
There would have been many fewer humans ever born, and they all would have been saved. They would never have had to die, and they would have subdued the whole earth until everything was Eden-like.

If they were created in His image, were they not "living"?
Adam was created as a living soul, but he needed to be a life-giving spirit. Only the Second Adam was able to do that. Only that which is born of Spirit is spirit. Adam was only half-living, human living.

You, as a daughter of God, are more alive than Adam ever was.

As my friend says, "sounds like a set-up!" If they were "set up" then they were "predestined" to fall. If they were "set up" that doesn't sound very nice of God, now, does it?
Hmmm.

If God knows the end from the beginning, then it is difficult to answer this question. It sounds like God's choice was between, "Let them live and fail," or, "Don't create. Don't let them fail by not letting them try."

I prefer to see God "setting up" a way for Adam and Eve to succeed, even in light of their foreknown failure. He made a Way.