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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

More on "total depravity"

The U.K. government’s Schools Secretary, Ed Balls (who, in my opinion, every time he opens his mouth, proves that he is one of the most accurately-named politicians in Westminster!) has come out with the statement that what the killers of Jamie Bulger “… did to James Bulger was evil, but I'm not willing to say the children were intrinsically evil”

This, of course, takes me back to a couple of days ago and Calvin’s doctrine of the total depravity of mankind. This doctrine does NOT teach that all of mankind is ‘totally depraved’; it teaches that ALL mankind (the totality thereof) is sinful.

This teaching comes straight from the written Word of God, the Bible. In Ps.51:5, David confesses that “Surely I was sinful at birth; sinful from the time my mother conceived me”, while in Ps.14:2-3 (repeated in 53:2-30) is the statement that “YHWH looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand; any who seek God. All have turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one.”

This theme is picked up in the New Testament – most clearly in Paul’s Letter to the disciples of Jesus, living in Rome, where he makes the simple, but profound, claim that “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23)

The simple fact of the matter is that I am not a sinner because I sin – I sin because I am a sinner! The sinfulness of Adam is inherited by all of his descendants. I have always found it interesting that one of the first words a small child uses is the word “No” – and disobedience is only a small step away from rebelliousness!

So, sorry Mr Balls, but you are talking a load of …! (you may insert your own name!).

However, the good news is that all is not lost. Paul continues, in v.24 of that 3rd chapter of Romans: “…and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” This is simply making the point that salvation/justification is a work of God’s grace. Every single one of us needs it; not one of us can ever earn it; purchase it; deserve it.

Doubtless, Mr Balls, like me, has never been charged with, or found guilty of, a criminal offence. But we are both sinners from the moment of our conception – it’s in our genes – and we both need that salvation that comes only through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, at Calvary.

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