Grace Revealed: Total Depravity
You disagree? Consider these: The Killing Fields. The Gulags. The Holocaust. The torture of American POWs in Viet Nam. The rack. Chinese water torture. Do those sound like the actions of basically good people? Germany was a bastion of liberal Christianity just prior to the Nazi takeover. That wasn't an isolated few - it was the refusal of the many to oppose the bad - lazy and selfish. Just like me.
If we are basically good, why in the world do we need laws with associated punishments? Why do I need to hammer one of my employees before the rest do their jobs as instructed? Because people are bad in nature.
However, the doctrine of Total Depravity does not merely state that men are basically bad - it states that men are ENTIRELY bad. So bad, in fact, that they are incapable of performing a truly good act. While I would not deny that acts that appear good are certainly capable of being performed, the measure of whether an act is truly good is measured not just by the act, but by the motivation.
Any one who has had the (unpleasant) opportunity to study social psychology have seen that the unabashedly secular who study the behavior of men have come to the very same conclusion. Social psychologists hold that there are no altruisitc acts, and that all acts are motivated by a sense of gain for the individual - whether external or internal. The Bible concurs:
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. Jer 13:23
They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Psalms 14:1-3
heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer 17:9
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned Romans 5:12
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Eph 2:1-3
Thus, man is by nature a sinner and unable to do any good on his own. Considering that the requirement for entrance into the kingdom, absent Christ, was perfection (Matthew 5:20, 5:48), no one could enter the kingdom of God and all were, instead, condemned to eternal damnation, where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched (Matt. 9:44,46,48).
How then could a man be saved? So asked the disciples, and Christ told them what the answer was - with men salvation is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matt. 9:26, Mk. 10:27, Lk. 18:27). Thus I shall describe the method of salvation in the next post, Unconditional Election.