[This is the second post in a short series that I wrote in 2005 regarding an interview with Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, shown on Good Morning America on September 7, 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Today's post will probably be much easier to understand if you begin by reading yesterday's post
The Doctrine of Radical Depravity as Essential to the Christian's Understanding of the Human Condition
The "doctine of radical depravity" is the technical term for the Bible teaching that all people have been corrupted by sin to the very core of their being.
The Bible teaches that due to the Fall of the first people into sin as recorded in Genesis chapter 3 every part of every person is now utterly sinful.
For the Lord has commanded that we should love God with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our soul, and all of our strength (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 22:37-40), but the Bible firmly declares:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV)
And you were once alienated and hostile in mind because of your evil actions. (Colossians 1:21 HCSB) ["You were once" indicates each of the Apostle's readers, before they became believers in Jesus.]
The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14 KJV)
This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19 KJV)
Every part of our being has been infected with an overwhelming tendency to disobey the Lord's commandments. We have each become lawbreakers in every aspect of our being. This truth is crucial if we are to rightly understand and proclaim the Good News of God's grace, as made clear in the way that the Apostle summarizes the Gospel in passages such as the following:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to this worldly age, according to the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and by nature we were children under wrath, as the others were also.
But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift-- not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His making, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 HCSB emphasis added)
And you were once alienated and hostile in mind because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him-- (Colossians 1:21-22 HCSB emphasis added)
For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. But when the goodness and love for man appeared from God our Savior, He saved us-- not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7 HCSB emphasis added)
In each of the passages listed above, the fact that all people without Christ are utterly sinful- that they are "dead in trespasses and sins," "alienated and hostile in mind," and "captives of various passions and pleasures"- is given to emphasize that God alone through Christ alone receives glory for our salvation, for it was His grace alone, and not anything good within us at all that made the difference in our lives.
That the Doctrine of Radical Depravity Overthrows 'Free-Will' Philosophy
That there is no real value to the term 'free-will' should be clear from the statements above. For if "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" and the mind is alienated from and hostile toward God, then what faculty within a person can be left to make a 'free' decision to choose God? These truths drive us to the conclusions that the Lord Jesus Himself makes, that "everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34)- and therefore obviously not 'free'- and that "no one can come to [Jesus] unless the Father enables him" (John 6:65).
That Rick Warren's Statement Contradicts Clear Biblical Teaching about the Condition of Man
Rick Warren said,
"Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will. I have a will, you have a will, we have a free will… And so, we have a lot of things that go bad… But what God wants to do is he wants to comfort us."
By this statement, Warren has affirmed the doctrine of 'free-will', as he also does by his promotion of the 'seeker-sensitive' church. For the idea that there are some people outside of Christ who are seeking God also contradicts the Bible doctrine of Radical Depravity as expressed by the clear wording of Scripture, "there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God" (Romans 3:11 HCSB, emphasis added).
Again, by espousing 'free-will' and 'seeker-sensitive' ideas that clearly contradict God's Word, Warren has helped to further establish a system of thought that would allow sinful individuals to believe that they have been made right with God without ever having understood the biblical diagnosis of their condition. They come to grasp certain truths from the Bible through Warren's ministry, but without consistently biblical teaching- teaching that would eventually contradict statements Warren has made- their sinful pride will be left intact. For this reason I urge everyone reading this blog to equip yourself to answer the doctrine put out by the Purpose-Driven Movement (with resources such as the book Fool's Gold
, edited by John MacArthur) and to pray that God would grant Rick Warren true repentance from his unbiblical teachings.
Labels: evangelism, Reformation Theology