jefe left a comment on the last post. I'm going to quote it at length and interact with it to help clarify my position.
i think i mostly agree with you here, but i'd like to offer some further clarification. thing is, there are different claims that could go by the name "total depravity": all christians agree to some of them, and only some agree to others. i'm going to lay them out here (and make up some catchy names) in the hope that they'll contribute to the discussion.
Mere Depravity (MD): humanity is sinful.
Global Depravity (GD): all of humanity is sinful. (this is the version that gets the most play in the new testament, especially with respect to the fact that neither jews nor gentiles are exempt. e.g. romans 3)
Universal Depravity (UD): every person is sinful. (note that this is stronger than GD: for instance, if all of a blanket is checkered, that doesn't mean every piece of it is checkered--some pieces are solid. i think some of the passages often invoked to support UD really only support GD.)
Total Depravity (TD): every aspect of every person is sinful. (By "aspect" I have in mind faculties like the will, mind, emotions, body, etc.)
Total Total Depravity (TTD): every aspect of every person is entirely sinful. I.e. there is nothing good in anyone.
Extreme Depravity (XD): every person is as sinful as they possibly could be.
these are in order from weakest to strongest: each one is implied by the ones below it, but not the other way around.
i'm pretty sure all christians agree that Mere Depravity and Global Depravity are true, and just about all of them agree that Universal Depravity is true. similarly, just about everybody will agree that Extreme Depravity is false (we're not all mass murderers, as you say). that leaves Total Depravity and Total Total Depravity in contention.
i think i'd affirm something close to TD, but not TTD.
These distinctions are excellent. I am arguing for TTD and not ED.
if you take romans 8 in context with the end of romans 7, it doesn't look to me like it supports some of the claims you're pulling out of it. when paul describes the situation that god saves him from through christ, he says this:
"When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." (Romans 7.21-23)
he wants to do good--and in fact his "inner man" is a "slave to God's law" (v. 25). but his "inner man" is captured by the flesh (i prefer to stick to this translation, with the qualifications that you pointed out), which works out sin through him. and so, because his mind is "set on the flesh" (8.7) his life is opposed to god, and he is unable to please god.
but this doesn't sound to me like TTD--in fact, it doesn't even sound quite like TD! paul's description isn't that there is no good inclination in him at all: it's that his good inclinations are entirely overridden by the sin at work in him.
it's a tricky passage, and there's room for disagreement on the interpretation, but i think this is a faithful reading. what say you?
I think you're very right that it's a tricky passage, and I will acknowledge that there are people with more education than I that would affirm that Paul is speaking of his former unbelieving life in Romans 7. Fortunately (or un), that doesn't stop me from disagreeing with them here. I think that Paul is speaking of his wrestling with his flesh as a Christian.
Notice Romans 7:22-23, which reads (ESV):
22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.Paul is saying that in his inner being he delights in the law of God. Yet in his members there's another law that wages war against the law of his mind. Notice the identification of law of mind here with delighting in the law of God in the “inner being.” To put the concepts together, in his mind he delights in the law of God. (Note, I would also use this text to argue for a dichotomy of man, mind/soul/spirit/intellect and body, against a trichotomy of soul, spirit, and body)
But if we look at Romans 8:5-8
For those who live according to the flesh, their minds are set on the things of the flesh. If we read Paul as saying he was living according to the flesh in Romans 7, then that means his mind was set on the things of the flesh. But if we go and apply that to 7:22-23, it would seem that Paul's mind “delighting in the law of God” was setting the mind on the flesh.
6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Reading on, we see that Paul is saying that the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit. But that's not compatible with Paul claiming:
7:25“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
We simply cannot read Paul saying that he serves the law of God with his mind (7:25), yet his mind does not submit to God's law. (8:7)So yes, I would affirm a genuine contradiction between those two interpretations. If we affirm that Paul is speaking of his time in the flesh in Romans 7, then at one point he would be serving the law of God with his mind, and at the same point he would be hostile and not submitting to God's law. I submit that a more plausible interpretation is to understand Romans 7 as speaking from the perspective of a regenerate Christian, with Paul in Romans 8:5-9 reflecting upon non-Christians. They are hostile to God, unable to please him.But for the grace of God, there go us.