Drinking Deeply

Friday, November 10, 2006 at 11:43 AM

TULIP (4) - Radical Depravity

Radical - 1 : of, relating to, or proceeding from a root:

Why is it that a person who's mind is set on the flesh cannot please God and cannot do good? Because they are compelled by their inner being (which is opposed to God) into outward actions (which are opposed to God).

Jesus, in rebuking the Pharisees for their words against his casting out of demons said this:

Matthew 12:
33"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Notice what Jesus says here. Our acts come out of our nature. If a tree is good, it bears good fruit. If a tree is bad, it bears bad fruit. If you have good treasure (heart) then you bear forth good and so on.

What does this mean for our man who lacks the spirit and has his mind set on the flesh of Romans 8? He is unable to please God. Out of his heart, which is set on the flesh, he brings forth evil treasures.

Notice that this amounts to pretty much a complete denial of the popular conception of free will as man having some autonomous choice. Instead of being free, our wills are bound by our nature. We were "dead in our transgressions." We were slaves to sin. Given the choice to serve God or serve Baal, we choose Baal, every time, because that's what our hearts were set upon. Thus we're unable to please God in thought (minds set upon flesh) and in deed.

Some previous posts on this/related topic:

Defining free 1, 2, 3

More on free will

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Blogger jefe said...

That sounds like a non sequitur to me. The conclusion we can draw directly from the passage is something like "Our actions are bound (determined) by our heart". Right? (Still a little stronger than what I think the passage shows, but closer.) That's a very different claim from "Our wills are bound by our nature." The first is almost a truism; the second is a bold metaphysical claim. (It isn't a claim I necessarily disagree with, but it doesn't follow from the evidence here.)

Still disagree with you on Romans interpretation; did you have anything to say to my last comment, or have you moved on?

But I do substantially agree with you on the main claim of "radical depravity": sin isn't just on the surface, but runs all the way down--or rather, runs all the way up. That sounds right.  

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Anonymous theocentric522 said...

"our actions are bound by our heart"..."our wills are bound by our nature." Explain actions apart from the will and explain one's heart apart from one's nature. I'm confused...also explain "will" in relation to "nature." Explain biblically please. I feel like there's a tautology somewhere. Again, I'm confused. Thanks.  

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Blogger mxu said...

1. heart == nature

This is seen by "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" being set alongside our good tree/treasure and our evil tree/treasure.

From that analogy, good being the "nature" of the tree is analogous of the heart of a man.

2. fruit ==> will .

Instead of "mouth speaks" we could just as easily said "the brain works" or "actions and thoughts occur" in the man, since these are all fruits of the heart (contrasted with fruits of a tree and treasures of the box).

We could even discard the whole word "will" here and affirm that since our hearts are evil and set upon the flesh, there is no good that comes out of that, and leave it at that. My point would still be the same.

But, if I were to biblically define "will," I'd have to use the word "desire," and say that one's "will" is what he/she wants to do. It may not be what they end up doing (they may be constrained by exterior forces), and it is certainly possible for someone to desire two things at once (aka, Paul in Philippians wanting to die and continue serving). But boil it down, I see "the desires of your heart" as the same as "your will."

A person's "wants" are determined by their nature. Good nature => Righteous desires. Evil nature => evil desires.

And yes jefe, I'm going to respond to your latest comment, Lord willing (if the Lord so desires me to do so by providentially allowing me the time and energy, by sovereignly controlling my thoughts and mind so that I may coherently think, my fingers movements so that I may type, then I will respond). I'll probably have one final response and leave you with the last word on that. I'll post it as a comment in the same post.  

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