Snoeberger on sanctification, take two: "God regenerated us so that we are no longer totally depraved."

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Huw's picture

''So that we are no longer ''totally'' depraved''.

 

10 being perfect and 0 being ''totally'' depraved, where exactly or even approximately are we after conversion? I'm well aware that added self righteousness would send a person into the top three, but aside from that how un-depraved are we?

 

 

 

 

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

We are new creatures in Christ; old things are passed away. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

 

We are partakers of the Divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4.

 

Notice these verse (and many others) are past tense; this is already completed at the moment of salvation. This is one of the problems with using "sin nature" terminology. It is not in the nature of the believer to sin any longer; indeed, it is contrary to his new nature.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Huw's picture

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ( John)

 

 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. (Paul)

 

 

2 Cor 5:17 Yes we are new creatures, but we are not, in the flesh, made perfect.

 

2 Peter 1:4 We may be partakers of the Divine nature, but we are not Divine in the sense that in us there is no darkness, no sin or the remnants of corruption.

 

The old rule of thumb used to be; The man who thinks he is perfect is corrupt. The man who thinks he is corrupt and can see no good thing in himself, but is, in the face of the Eternal Father, perfected in Messiah.

handerson's picture

What does this all mean in terms of the concept of progressive sanctification? Has it become simply an issue of stated reality vs. actualization? What's left for glorification when we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is? Would love suggestions for reading in this respect too. Thanks.

Mitchell_Killian's picture

I think the sense in which the Christian is not totally depraved can be understood when we see the essence of what total depravity is. The core of the lost person's depravity is that he loves darkness rather than light because his deeds are evil. He doesn't understand. He doesn't seek after God. He has turned aside from the law of God, is worthless, and there is no fear of God in his eyes. Down to the very innermost areas of the lost man's heart is a hatred and rebellion toward God. This is why he refuses to believe the Gospel, it's his very nature.

When someone is born again, God miraculously makes the man a new creature as Chip said above. Yet this regeneration happens inwardly. The Spirit of Christ comes to dwell within the heart of man and creates a love for God and a desire to serve Him. Since this is the case, we cannot say that we are totally depraved any longer. Those who are totally depraved do not love God. Those who are Christians do.

Now surely we do have significant sin problems as Huw pointed out above. In our flesh, there is no good thing. If we try to say that we're not sinners, we're lying. Yet I think we can say that the sin in the Christian originates from the flesh rather than our innermost spiritual core or our nature, if you will. (Rom. 7:22-23) As we are led by the Spirit, crying "Abba, Father" we actively put to death the deeds of the flesh.

The wonder of glorification will be that we are no longer hampered by our flesh. It too will be changed into a glorious body just as our inner man was changed at conversion and for this the Christian longs eagerly.

In sum, the lost is totally depraved because he thoroughly hates God in his innermost being. The Christian's natured is regenerated so that he desires God (so he cannot be said to be totally depraved), yet he is hampered, hindered, and tripped up by the sinfulness of his flesh. At glorification, the flesh too will be changed like unto Christ's body and our sinfulness will forever be extirpated.

Mitchell Killian
II Corinthians 12:9

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Tullian Tchividjian was not hired because of his sound theology. He passed minimal examinations with regard to the prominent position he fills (with its prominent voice). He was hired for other reasons.

What you are seeing now is the result of such poor vetting of a Pastor, particularly one in such a heightened role.

Tchividjian's theology is not aggressively or substantially constrained by hermeneutics or exegesis, it is led about by rationalism. This is modeled, often, by those in the circles in which he functions.

There should be no out cry toward Snoeberger, rather it should be quite the opposite It should be that the objections of a fundamental misunderstanding and articulations by Tchividjian are the loud sound being heard and intense concern over this prominent Pastor and Teacher saying such things (I say this while making clear Snoeberger remains Neo-Calvinisticly wrong about regeneration preceding faith and his exegesis and theology on the matter easily rebutted so Snoeberger's concern for Tchividjian's departure from soundness out to be pointed his own way on that point).

Tchividjian is a relativist, not a theologian. He is a warm, affable surfer Pastor who offers Billy Graham genetics, sincerity and Joel Osteen-like affirmation while making sure most of what he says stays within the Presbyterian circles. This is not to say he is not bound by theology to some degree or that he cannot be edifying but  here nothing like you would anticipate with regard to his high-profile role and its voice.

Unlike his predecessor, it is highly unlikely you will discover the remarkable or exceptional with Tchividjian. That is, you will not find it in the positive but you may, as here, find it in the negative due to his lack of employing a rigorous hermeneutic stemming, possibly, from failing to see the need for it in the first place and appreciating its fruit.

Tchividjian may learn, here, to stand down from trying to offer novel or philosophically based theological conclusions. He isn't at the John Piper stage yet where he is an idol for many thus, a Teacher who can utter gross error and it (along with its implications) simply be tolerated or ignored. But if The Gospel Coalition has any say, Tchividjian will be rewarded (which is one of his major circles) with praise and encouragement for daring to exalt Christ all the while not realizing that such error is actually a rejection of Christ's doctrine and exalts no one but its author.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin
  1. You don't have to know the remaining "degree of depravity" to know that it is no longer total.
  2. Since believers "grow" (2 Pet. 3.18, Eph. 4:12-13) isn't it sort of obvious that everybody's in a different place on the remaining sinfulness scale?
  3. No matter how far along the transformation goes, there has to be a huge leap to "glorification." The reason is that the distance between the best of sinners and a person who is not a sinner is... immeasurable.
  4. Why Tchividjian was hired or what he "is" (pick any label you like) is not relevant to whether he is right or wrong. The way to deal with him is as Snoeberger does in the linked piece (and as Rick Phillips does here)--deal with his assertions arguments.
  5. Total depravity is seen by many as basically total inability: the unbeliever cannot do anything to move a single millimeter closer to the standard of righteousness God requires. Regenerate people are not unable because the Spirit indwells us and is bringing us into conformity with God's law in fact (after already bringing us there in standing). This is a big part of the argument of Romans 8.

(NIV) What the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-4)

The point of the gospel (along with displaying the glory of His grace) is to produce obedient people.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Why Tchividjian was hired or what he "is" (pick any label you like) is not relevant to whether he is right or wrong. The way to deal with him is as Snoeberger does in the linked piece (and as Rick Phillips does here)--deal with his assertions

Correct it is not germane to the issue itself, rather it was meant to be informative with regard to the phenomenon of why someone like TT is prone to such elementary error being in his position. I could have qualified my observation and its intent but I did not think the obvious needed explaining. Some people appreciate peripherally related information while it does not address an issue itself, still its value is recognized.

handerson's picture

This whole conversation is interesting to me as it relates to our original state as image bearers. If we believe that human beings retain certain image bearing capacities despite being totally depraved, is it accurate to say that through the process of union with Christ and on-going sanctification, believers are being transformed more and more into His likeness and thus returning to a state of being able to accurately "image" God? (This of course being fulfilled in glorification.) 

I'm wrestling with the reality that being human is not in itself sinful--we were created to be human. But through the Fall, our humanity has become depraved and Christ (as the perfect union of God and man) is the only One capable of restoring us to all that we were originally created to be. In a sense, Christ is reversing the curse that plagues our very humanity and making us more fully human and thus capable of reflecting His divine nature (which is what we were always intended to do in the first place). I suppose to be more Biblically accurate, Christ is not reversing the curse so much as creating us anew, the way He first created Adam.

Any thoughts or correctives?

Don Johnson's picture

handerson wrote:

Any thoughts or correctives?

"Image" is not a verb.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Paul J. Scharf's picture

The concept that the Christian is no longer totally depraved, in the technical sense of being completely affected by sin, is a new one to me.

I think, however, this is basically a matter of semantics and definitions, thus making it difficult at points to even sort through what is being discussed.

Three thoughts:

1) There is a great deal of discussion and even disagreement about what total depravity is.

2) Perhaps the idea that the believer is no longer totally depraved would fit nicely with the concept taught within Reformed Theology that the believer's nature is changed, as opposed to the idea (taught by Traditional Dispensationalists, Lutherans and others) that the believer receives a new nature while also retaining his old nature.

3) Tied to number two, this discussion would also be impacted by whether you believe (as I do) that justification precedes regeneration (i.e., Christ for us), or vice versa (i.e., Reformed Theology; Christ in us).

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

handerson's picture

"Image" is not a verb.

I guess it is now. Smile

Seriously, though, I've seen this word used in writing specific to the concept of human being's capacity to both reflect and represent God on this earth--i.e. being made in the image of God means that we "image" Him. I believe Anthony Hoekema uses it this way in his Created in God's Image.

 

and Paul

2.  Perhaps the idea that the believer is no longer totally depraved would fit nicely with the concept taught within Reformed Theology that the believer's nature is changed, as opposed to the idea (taught by Traditional Dispensationalists, Lutherans and others) that the believer receives a new nature while also retaining his old.

This is a helpful observation--like all discussions, this one is happening within established theological frameworks and rests on many other initial presuppositions.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm sure someone passionately Reformed can help me with this one, but so far I haven't been able to find any difference in consequence between saying "believers have a new nature along with the old" and "believers are new creatures but a strong tendency to sin remains."

I'm suggesting that we have a distinction without a difference there.

If we say that a real struggle with sin continues--and biblically we must--then in some sense we are not entirely new. Whatever oldness remains we might call "a sin principle" or "the flesh" or any number of things.

I'll stop just shy of saying it doesn't matter at all, because we should try to use the sort of language Scripture does. But I haven't seen how it really has any impact on one's view of sanctification as a whole, especially the question of whether believers are called to work hard at it or cease striving and passively watch it be done to them.

Where depravity comes in is the ability question. Whatever else it might mean, a TD person can do nothing. A regenerated person can participate. (Not independently or instead of God's work, but with it.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Charlie's picture

Aaron, 

I concur that the difference is often overblown, but there is some difference. A Reformed view stresses continuity and progressive growth more, including the building of virtuous habits. A strong Keswick view, for instance, is more dialectical. One is in more absolute terms either filled with the Spirit or under the control of the flesh. There is no real progress to be made in a dialectical framework; it's just one more day of "surrender."  I find the Reformed view more realistic.

When you say there is little difference, I think what is actually going on is that people in real life are more eclectic than their professed positions, so the gap between the ideal positions gets diminished in real life. 

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Aaron,

The reason I avoid the "nature" language is because something that is part of my nature is unavoidable. Yet, scripture is clear that as a new creature I am no longer enslaved to sin. While I do and will continue to struggle with sin, I never am in a place where I cannot help sinning. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Chip: agree with all that. I was just trying to think "what language do I use?" I can't think of any time in recent memory that "old nature" was in my pulpit language. Mostly I talk about sin and God's agenda to make us new and what He uses to do it.

Came across this at CT... Yes Holiness Does Require Effort. K. DeYoung responds to Galli, who seems to hold to some kind of let-go-let-Godism. 

(Note to self: read more DeYoung... boy can he turn a phrase.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.