I'm trying to get an understanding on the doctrine of Total Depravity:
Total depravity is the fallen state of man as a result of original sin. The doctrine of total depravity asserts that people are by nature not inclined to love God wholly with heart, mind, and strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Even religion and philanthropy are destructive to the extent that these originate from a human imagination, passions, and will. Therefore, in Reformed Theology, God must predestine individuals into salvation since man is incapable of choosing God.I've always thought this Calvinist doctrine was a bit extreme... but hadn't considered how it could negatively impact one's view of God.
It is related to the concept of predestination:
- "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death."
So, the way I read it... those who are not predestined to love God, those who are not part of the elect, are not capable of choosing God on their own free will. So God punishes (eternally?) those who he does not choose to love Him.
Yes, this view of God keeps his elect humble... there is nothing for the elect to boast about (and that is good). But is this a healthy way to view God? Did God create billions of people who have no ability to choose him, and then does he punish them for nothing they've done but because He didn't choose them to be His elect?
If we say we are saved by grace alone, that it is all God's doing and not our own...
Do we also say the wicked are doomed by God's lack of grace alone, that it is all God's doing and not their own???
This doesn't seem like a great way to view God... or maybe I'm missing something.
I know there are a lot of passages that describe how sinful we are, and that our best efforts are like dirty rags... but is there Scripture that says we are incapable of loving God on our own? If so, why is the Bible full of commands that tell us to love God... would God command us to do something we are not capable of doing? If He's just going to make some of us love Him, then why would he command us.
Consider a family, which often is a shadow of how our relationship with God should be. Children often act selfishly, but there are other times that they do have the ability to love unselfishly. I've witnessed many unselfish moments from my children where they are willing to give anything to help someone in need, or show their affection to someone they love.
Yes, our human tendency is to be selfish and full of sin... but I think it's a bit extreme to say that we lack the ability to choose to be unselfish and choose love. I think a healthier way to view our relationship with God our father would be one where He gives us the freedom to choose to love Him.