Browse Worthy: Depravity and the Christian

Here’s a question to sharpen your mind before the weekend:  Are Christians totally depraved?   Now trace along the following links to discover the answer.

Tullian Tchividjian – This article on the Gospel Coalition website first raises the question.  To his credit, a careful reading shows that Pastor Tchividjian acknowledges that the answer has both “No” and “Yes” components.  But I believe his development of the “Yes” component basically negates the “No” sense of his answer and leads to trouble, as is well pointed out by…

Rick Phillips – This response on Reformation 21 is superb in both answering the original question accurately and clarifying the problems with Tchividjian’s answer.  He also reminds us that traces of this incorrect theology are found in Tchividjian’s popular new book Jesus + Nothing = Everything, where he also links to a gracious and good review of the book by…

David Murray – With precision, one of the problems Murray highlights about this book is the confusion that exists in Tchividjian’s thinking between justification and sanctification, which is at the heart of his answer regarding the question under consideration.  He quotes this sentence from the book: “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.”  Tchividjian fails to acknowledge fully with this statement and in the book that upon regeneration and belief there is an immediate, inner, constitutional transformation in the heart of the believer, often termed “definitive sanctification.”

Revisiting this makes me long for the gravelly voice days of…

Jonathan Gerstner - Ahhh!  Nothing like the light of theological clarity to chase away the fogginess of doctrinal confusion!

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Update:  Rick Phillips responds here with follow-up clarifications regarding the relationship (or lack thereof) between total depravity and the Christian, and here to concerns often raised in internet forums about dealing publicly with another man’s teaching.  For yet another distillation of this issue, read Ligon Duncan’s post.

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