JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE
Hall, N. “Total Depravity” The Western Luminary Volume II, Issue 5 (August 13, 1834)
THEO 525 LUO (fall 2011)
Systematic Theology I
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
Anthony D. Padgett
September 20, 2011
The topic of this article is on original sin and in the authors’ opinion the connection between that and the doctrine of “total depravity.” The author is quick to point out Isaiah 1:5-6 “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. The author believes by this passage that it is clear that the head and heart of man is “diseased and faint.”[i] That from the very sole of his feet to the very top of his head, moral corruption reigns and that his “heart is a cage unclean and filthy bids, full of deceit, and every evil work.”[ii]
The author believes according to Paul in Rom 7:18, which the term “flesh” means, “man’s unregenerate, or natural state, or, that sinful nature derived from Adam.”[iii] That from this corrupt nature all other things precede including adultery, uncleanness, wrath, murder, as well as other acts that are too many to list. The author believes that this depravity is so deep and interwoven and mixed completely with our very nature that it is very difficult to understand even our own hearts. The author continues with his belief that the total depravity and enmity of the human heart may be learned from man’s great unwillingness to believe in the being and perfections of our great God. The author uses the words of David to clarify “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge” of Him.[iv]
He continues to explain that man is made from two substances, body and soul, or spirit; “your body you know must die, and got to dust, but your spirit can never die, it will live forever. You can see your body, but you cannot see your spirit, and you do not know that you have such a substance except by feeling it within you.”[v] It is by this spirit that your body acts and when it leaves the body it is how you know the person is dead. The body becomes of no use when the spirit is no longer within it. The author continues to explain that God differs from our own being by Him not having a body or form such as man does, however He does have a spirit like man’s soul or spirit. It is because God has no human form and is a spirit that He can be in all things. “If I ascend into heaven, thou art there, if I descend into hell, thou art there, if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, there shall thy hand lead me, and they right hand shall hold me.”[vi] The author then proposes the question how can God be present in all parts of earth and heaven yet He can’t be seen? The author states clearly that He is The Spirit and a spirit has no form. He suggests that when man prays to Him that it should not be to a being in the shape of a man, but to God the spirit. As God is a Spirit, the Bible tells man to worship him as a spirit and in truth that is, must worship Him with the entire heart.
The author expresses clearly that with man’s head and hearts so diseased and full of corruption, man cannot clearly understand the complete being and perfection of the “Great Jehovah.” That He is not like man who has a body and a spirit and is limited in our abilities. That He is God and has no form and can be at all places if He so desires. The author clearly explains his thoughts and uses biblical references in a clear way of supporting his conclusions. From the review no weakness were found and the article seems to be biblically correct and supported.
[i] Hall, N. “Total Depravity” The Western Luminary Volume II, Issue 5 (August 13, 1834)