|Status of Topics Touching the Message of Salvation|
|The Bondage of the Will: An Introduction|
Capter 1 is a restatement of Article VI of the Doctrinal Statement of Clear Gospel Campaign.
Article VI -- ANTHROPOLOGY (The Study of Man) and
HAMARTIOLOGY (The Study of Sin)
Section 1 The Imago Dei We believe that Adam and Eve were a literal man and woman, and that Adam was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We believe that this is not a mere physical image, but reference to intellect, will, emotions, with the capacity for self reflection and reasoning, particularly in the area of their capacity to understand something of the existence and attributes of the invisible God by the evidence of His creation, and their capacity to recognize themselves as owing a duty to their Creator (Romans 1:19-20). We believe that man's capacity to know and worship his Creator, and to recognize his responsibility and duty to that Creator, sets man above the other animals.
Section 2 The Fall We believe that, although man was originally created in the image and after the likeness of God, Adam knowingly transgressed God's command (Genesis 3:67). We believe that as a result of Adam's sin, a fallen nature has been transmitted not only to the entire human race (Romans 5:12-14), but to the whole of nature as well (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 8:18-23), Jesus Christ being the only descendent of Adam to be preserved of the stain of Adam's sin. As a consequence of man's fallen nature, man is inherently disposed to sin (Romans 7:17-20), and every motive of man's heart and every work of man's hands is therefore, in some degree, tainted by sin (Isaiah 64:6; Haggai 2:12-14; Genesis 2:17; 6:5; Romans 3:10-19). We believe that, in his fallen and unholy estate, man is become offensive to the holy nature of God and separated from God as a result (Isaiah 59:2, 64:6; Romans 3:23), spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and without any spark of divine life (Genesis 2:17; Ephesians 2:5), and subject to futility, sickness and death (Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 5:12-14; 8:18-23), and eternal damnation (Revelation 20:11-15).
We believe that man was created to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28-30; 2:19-20), but that, as a result of the fall, man lost his dominion over the earth (Genesis 3:17-19).
Section 3 Total Depravity The term "total depravity" means different things to different Christians. By it, we do not believe that every thought and motive of man is totally wicked. Scripture, by the use of such terms as "innocent" (Proverbs 1:11; 6:17) and "wicked" (Genesis 3:13) in a relative sense, plainly bears witness to varying degrees of realized sin in different persons. Indeed, a cursory view of history bears blunt witness to profound acts of wickedness to which few men fully sink. However, we believe that, as red paint dropped into a bucket of white paint will turn some shade of pink, so likewise, sin permeates the human condition, including every motive and every act of man. Accordingly, every act of man is, in some measure, tainted by sin, and therefore, unacceptable to God, and worse, every deed of the lost, however good and pure in a relative sense, does, by virtue of the taint of sin, offend God's holy nature. Thus, a man without Christ falls deeper into the debt of sin with every passing second. We further believe that man is incapable of earning God's favor unto forgiveness and eternal life through obedience to the Ten Commandments, or any other work of man (Galatians 5:1-4; Romans 4:4). Accordingly, we do not believe that all men are as bad as they can be, but we believe that all men are as "bad-off" as they can be, in that all men, regardless of their relative measure of innocence or wickedness in human terms, are subject to the same futilities and consequences for sin, both in this life, and, apart from the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, in the life to come.
Section 4 The Bondage of the Will We believe that no man, left alone in his lost estate, will seek after God in truth (Romans 3:11), but will corrupt the knowledge of God for a lie (Romans 1:21-25). Accordingly, we believe that no man will therefore ever come to saving faith in Jesus Christ apart from the activity of the Triune God in drawing the unbeliever to Christ, (John 3:8; 6:44; 9:1-41). We believe, however, that in His infinite grace and mercy, our Triune God does, in fact, draw all men unto Jesus Christ (John 16:7-11; John 12:32), and that His offer of salvation to all men is authentic (John 3:16; 1st Timothy 2:4; 2nd Peter 3:9; 1st John 2:2).
We reject the doctrine of "sovereign grace," that God infuses in certain elect persons some divine empowering substance that will "irresistibly" impel them to faith in Christ, and that apart from this infusion, men are incapable of faith. Faith is an act of the creature, not an imposition of the Creator. And the drawing of men to faith Christ is an act of the personal Triune God, not a product of an impersonal Aristotelian substance.
The fact that all men, even those dead in their sins, have the capacity to believe, is evidenced by the activity of Satan, who "has blinded the minds of them which believe not," and "takes the Word out of their heart" . . . "lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" . . . "lest they should believe and be saved," (Luke 8:4-5,12; 2nd Corinthians 4:4). The plain meaning of the term "lest they believe," demands that those who are lost have the actual capacity to believe on Christ without some magical infusion of "sovereign grace" or "irresistible grace." The fact that not all men respond to Christ is evidence that they are endowed with a free will to resist the drawing of the Father, and to reject the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, thereby calling the Holy Spirit a liar. The failure of men to respond by faith in Jesus Christ has nothing to do with their failure to receive a divine infusion of some ethereal empowering substance.
5 The Image of God After the Fall We believe that, even in his fallen estate, man retains, in his nature, the image of God (James 3:9), and that all men must be accorded the respect and dignity consistent with that image, whether Jew or Gentile (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 3:6), young or old (1st Timothy 4:12; 5:1), male or female (John 4:7), born or unborn (Exodus 21:22; Job 31:15; Psalm 22:10, 127:3, 139:14; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:41), rich or poor (James 2:1-3; 5:1-6), the believer and the unbeliever (Matthew 13:25-40), the healthy, the infirm (Mark 1:40, 2:12) and even the dying (Proverbs 31:6).
The Bondage of the Will: An Introduction