Journal Article Critique; Hall, N. “Total Depravity”

JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

of

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)

 

[ii] Ibid.

 

[iii] Ibid.

 

[iv] Ibid.

 

[v] Ibid.

 

[vi] Ibid.

Survey on why people leave the church, the top 3 reasons according to Lifeway

In 2006, LifeWay Research conducted a survey of formerly churched adults in America, hoping to uncover certain trends about the de-churched. Lifeway admitted that they found the results shocking and cause for concern. Below are the highlights of the study.

Change in life situation
The number 1 reason for leaving church is a life change that prompted people to stop attending worship. In fact, almost 60% of de-churched people said that some adjustment to their lives is the primary reason why they no longer attend church.

Specifically, one-third of the formerly churched believe they are simply too busy for church. To them, life changes—often family or home needs—are as important as or more important than attending a local church. Several people reported that family responsibilities were causing them to feel too busy to attend church. And women (64%) are more likely than men (51%) to feel this increased pressure from home responsibilities.

One of the more surprising results about the formerly churched was the tendency to blame a physical move away from their home church as a reason for not returning to any church. About 28% of those reporting lifestyle changes said that a move to a new location caused them to stay away from the Church. Such a reason for leaving the Church demonstrates a great need for more outwardly focused churches. When a person or family moves to a new place and feels no motivation to join another church, it’s up to congregations within that community to reach out to them.

Disenchantment with the church
A number of the de-churched claim they’re disenchanted with the current state of their church. And 37% say this disillusionment is one of the primary reasons for leaving. Perhaps even more surprising than this percentage are the reasons for their cynicism. Several that were listed are as follows; the top 3 are in order, the pastor seeming above his preaching, clicks, and favoritism.

However, it must be noted that it was found interesting to note that only 15% of those who feel displeasure with the church say it’s due to a moral or ethical failure of the church leadership. While the local and national press often have a field day with moral breakdowns of pastors, that’s not a major contributing factor to people deciding to leave the Church.

The unloving church
Not only is the pastor a contributing factor to discontentment within the church, the way the formerly churched perceived the people within the church also motivated their leaving. Of the formerly churched who expressed dissatisfaction with those in the church, 45% said the other members were judgmental and hypocritical. Did you get that, judgmental and hypocritical!

In 1 Cor. 1:10, the Apostle Paul urged the church to preserve unity, having “no divisions” within the body. Our research shows that unity is key in the success of a church maintaining a healthy percentage of its members. If church members hold grudges against each other and don’t seek to sustain harmony within the body, people will leave. In fact, of those who said the church is unloving, many left because they didn’t believe God was at work within it. Clearly, for God to use a local body for His glory, it must keep a balance of unity and love.

Not Christians
One of the biggest mission fields may be the people sitting in your church every week. While no one will ever know exactly how many attending worship are believers, many are leaving the Church because they were never Christians in the first place. Our survey found that about a quarter of people leaving the Church expressed a change in beliefs or simply lost interest in religion. Of that group of people, 62% stated that they had stopped believing in organized religion altogether.

Don’t miss the enormity of this issue. Not only are people leaving the Church, but many are coming in and out your doors without meeting Christ. Inevitably, some will simply refuse to accept Christ no matter how evangelistically healthy a church becomes. But a large group of people, possibly tens of thousands who could be reached for Christ, are leaving the Church.

So what does this mean in my opinion? First, we need to be reaching out to those with families and who as many of us know struggle early on in our marriages with the juggling of kids, work, and other responsibilities. We need to make a special effort to let them know, at least while in the doors of the church if that is all we have, that they do not stand alone. Many of us have been where they are and in many cases still are.

Second, and for me and big one, stop the clicks and favoritism. For new people it is easily seen and observed and for the season member it just simply gets old. We must be mindful of the little things we do and say. Example: I once attended a gathering for a guest speaker, during this gathering several tables had been set up with only one being clearly marked as the speakers table. A couple whom it later was found out that had just visited the church that morning came to hear the speaker later that week at this gathering. Not knowing really anyone they came in and sat at the first table they found. No one had obviously been setting there so they took off their coats and sat down. After a short time one of the organizers of the event came by and told them that, “this table is saved, could you please find another seat.” The look in the people’s eyes said it all, shocked! They moved quietly to another table, listen to the speaker, and then quickly got out and have yet to be seen again. Now the sad thing is the organizers all sat at that table together. What was the big deal about them sitting there? Nothing, it came down to the click wanting to be together not about what was right or what Jesus would have done.

Third, we need to reach out more to the non-Christians in our churches. If like me you find it hard at times to know who is and who isn’t, ask someone who might have been there longer than you or simply go up to someone and introduce yourself. You don’t have to find out at that moment if they are a Christian or not, but began to build a relationship with them and soon you will know. We need to get the new Christians or even the non-Christians involved as soon as we can. Yes, I said non-Christians involved. Andy Stanley so clearly points out in his book Deep & Wide that getting the non-Christians involved in simple things can make a big impact on their growth towards Jesus. Yet, most churches use the same people for most of what they do. Branch out and get these people involved, they are searching that is why they are there, find a place for them to fit in!

As you may have noted the first reason was to do with the preacher. I intentionally skipped that one and saved it for last. There is so much I could say here but I will leave it to this. People want a God fearing, Christ centered, loving man to lead them. However, they want someone approachable, not unlike them in many ways, and who can relate to their feelings, needs, and struggles. It is in my humble opinion that more often than not our well educated pastors miss that mark. Do they know the bible, yes! Can they preach the most amazing sermons you have ever heard, yes! Are they Godly men, yes! Do they relate to the people they are preaching too, in many cases, no! Just my two cents worth!