Pastor Tullian Responds to Rick Phillips.
But once God regenerates us by his Spirit, draws us to himself, unites us to Christ, raises us from the dead, and grants us status as adopted sons and daughters, is there any sense in which we can speak of Christian’s being totally depraved? Yes.
Theologians speak of total depravity, not only in terms of “total inability” to come to God on our own because we’re spiritually dead, but also in terms of sin’s effect: sin corrupts us in the “totality” of our being. Our minds are affected by sin. Our hearts are affected by sin. Our wills are affected by sin. Our bodies are affected by sin. This is at the heart of Paul’s internal struggle that he articulates in Romans 7:
The terminology is incorrect and you can’t stop at Romans 7 and sit. The same guy who wrote Romans 7 wrote Romans 8. I read his response and found it lacking. Sorry guys. Which theologian uses the words total depravity together? I understand that there may be some deprivation in things but we are not deprived of things we need to be Godly. That is what is missing here. We all go hungry. That is why we pray that the Lord give us our Daily Bread. We depend upon Him for all sustenance. Total depravity is incorrect. We are complete in Christ as Colosians 2:10 states. . We are to pray to know how to walk in the Spirit. We will always depend on him. All things are unclean before Him. No one is being Pharisaical here. We just aren’t seeing Romans 8 and we are also seeing a confusion concerning justification and sanctification as they pertain to the Gospel.
Pastor Tullian wrote….
While it is gloriously true for the Christian that there is nowhere Christ has not arrived by his Spirit, it is equally true that there is no part of any Christian in this life that is free of sin.
The above was addressed by Rick. Pastor Tullian really didn’t address this. Also note Dr. David Murray’s critique on Tullian’s book. Does Jesus + Nothing = Everything? | HeadHeartHand Blog
Tullian really didn’t answer the charges by Rick when Rick mentioned Freedom and why the term Total Depravity is incorrect. BTW, I have heard Christians say that we are totally depraved Christians. It has always made me cringe.
But this is really about what the first paragraph of Rick’s blog stated. It is about the Gospel. I know that many have truncated the Gospel by claiming it is only an outward declaration of Good News. Dr. Michael Horton does the same thing in a three minute video he has posted on You Tube.
But for now I will allow some of Dr. David Murray’s comments about Sanctification speak and then in the next part or blog I will address the Gospel and antinomianism.
Pastor Tullian’s quote from his book ‘Jesus Nothing Everything’…
“I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on. Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an advocate, mediator, and friend. But what we need most is a substitute—someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves. (94, Kindle Edition)”
Dr. David Murray writes…
I agree that the Gospel is certainly a message about Christ’s external substitution. But it does not stop there. The Gospel is also a message about internal transformation (a major part of sanctification). Christ saves us from our sins objectively and subjectively, from the penalty of sin and the presence of sin.
In this next excerpt, Tullian says that Christian growth (sanctification) is looking away from self and looking to Jesus and His performance for us. But is that the whole of sanctification? It’s certainly the essence of justifying faith, and the beginning of sanctifying growth. But it’s not the whole of growth, it’s not the sum of sanctification.:
“The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better, we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective. (95)”
In this next paragraph, the confusing overlapping is even more obvious:
Again, think of it this way: sanctification is the daily hard work of going back to the reality of our justification. It’s going back to the certainty of our objectively secured pardon in Christ and hitting the refresh button a thousand times a day. (95)
If all he is saying is that sanctification begins with our appropriating justification, and is fueled by it, then yes, I agree. But I think he’s going further than that, by suggesting that the totality of sanctification involves going back to our justification. This seems to be confirmed by what he writes in the same context:
Think of what Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We’ve got work to do—but what exactly is it? Get better? Try harder? Pray more? Get more involved in church? Read the Bible longer? What precisely is Paul exhorting us to do? He goes on to explain: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (v. 13). God works his work in you, which is the work already accomplished by Christ. Our hard work, therefore, means coming to a greater understanding of his work. And so it is that we move further into the gospel, into a deeper, bigger, brighter understanding of all that God has already achieved for us in Christ. (95-96)
Is it correct to say that the “work” that we are called to, and that results from God’s work in us, is simply understanding more, believing more, trusting more? Sure, this is the core of justification, and the foundation and cement of sanctification. But it’s not the whole of sanctification. It’s not every brick of it.
Here are some further quotes that only heightened my anxiety about Tullian’s emphasis:
Growth in the Christian life is the process of receiving Christ’s “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of our being every day, and it happens as the Holy Spirit daily carries God’s good word of justification into our regions of unbelief—what one writer calls our “unevangelized territories.” (78)
In this definition of growth (sanctification), where is the “being enabled to die to sin, and live to righteousness” as described by the Westminster Catechism? Where is the doing and not doing?
I like to remind myself and others that the only thing you contribute to your salvation and to your sanctification is the sin that makes them necessary. (104)
Contribution to salvation = nil! Yes. Contribution to sanctification = nil! No. We are enabled to die to sin and live to righteousness. We are enabled to do and not do. Our (enabled) doing and not doing is part of our sanctification. For example, when Peter protested his love to Jesus, Jesus told him to start feeding his lambs, which involved stopping doing one thing and starting to do another (John 21).
Please read the rest of Dr. David Murray’s critique here..