Journal Article Critique, James McCord’s “The Biblical Doctrine of Human Depravity”

JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

of

McCord, James I. “The Biblical Doctrine of Human Depravity.” Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Interpretations Article (April 1947): 142 – 153.

  THEO 525 LUO (fall 2011)

Systematic Theology I

 Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

 Anthony D. Padgett

 August 24, 2011

            The topic of this article is the doctrine of human depravity or “total depravity” as view by the author and as seen in the bible. The author believes that total depravity “refers to the consequences of a severed relationship rather than to a substantial defacement. Not something in man but man’s being itself is twisted.”[1]  His view is all men are not “as bad as they can be, but that all men are sinful and that their sin extends to the whole of their very being.”[2] The author views the sin in man as being a “misuse of our highest endowment,” the ability to companionship with God.[3]

            The author points out that there are two difficulties when one turns to the Bible for the doctrine of man as a sinner. First, God is the subject of the Bible, not man. So why would one look to the Bible for the doctrine of man when it is simply a message to man. Secondly, one should not look to Adam as the key figure in the biblical doctrine of man, but to Jesus Christ. Jesus conquered sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” McCord rightly states “the biblical understanding of man begins and ends in God.”[4]

The author continues with sin being a central problem of the Gospel account, and even though sin is in both the Old and New Testaments it does not mean that sin originated from nature only a byproduct.  Sin is not native to man’s nature but comes second to the relationship that has been broken between God and man. McCord uses both the story of Eden in Genesis and the parable of the prodigal son in Luke to show that sin in both stories presupposes communion and the ending results where alienation.[5]

The author makes it clear that in no way does the Bible attempt to explain the origin of sin, only that Adam was the first recorded occasion of man’s sin. The author continues to explain that the Bible does not point the origin of evil to any specific supreme source in opposition to God, nor does it point to God himself. Sin is not from God; sin enters into goodness and quickly digs to the very core of one’s being by free will and personality.  God’s work was beautiful, pure, and full of good as seen in Genesis 1:31. Man’s sinful nature cannot be explained and remains one of the most unfounded facts about man in the world God created.[6]

The author explained in great detail how sin is not from God nor was it made by God. He illustrated very clearly that all men are sinful by our very nature and that it is not only on the surface but to one’s very being. No statement by the author clearly expresses his feelings more so than, “total depravity, therefore, refers to the consequences of a severed relationship rather than to a substantial defacement. Not something in man but man’s being itself is twisted.”[7]

From this article the reader should have a clearer understanding or view of total depravity and man’s sinful nature. God did not create sin in man, for what God created was good, man created sin by not having that relationship with God.

 


[1]  McCord, James I. “The Biblical Doctrine of Human Depravity.” Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Interpretations Article (April 1947) 152.

 

[2] Ibid.

 

[3] Ibid. 144.

 

[4] Ibid. 143.

 

[5] Ibid, 144.

 

[6] Ibid, 151.

 

[7] Ibid, 152.

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