Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wesley on human depravity

Sometimes people think that it is only Calvinists that hold to "total depravity".  Yet this is a biblical doctrine, held also by classic Arminians, too.  It is only in Pelagius (in the 4th century) and later in the Enlightenment and some branches of modern evangelicalism that believe there is some good spark in humanity that is able to respond to the knowledge and goodness of God.  


Case in point is this excerpt from John Wesley's sermon on "Original Sin."


"...we can have no love of God: We cannot love him we know not. Most men talk indeed of loving God, and perhaps imagine they do; at least, few will acknowledge they do not love him: But the fact is too plain to be denied. No man loves God by nature, any more than he does a stone, or the earth he treads upon. What we love we delight in: But no man has naturally any delight in God. In our natural state we cannot conceive how any one should delight in him. We take no pleasure in him at all; he is utterly tasteless to us. To love God! it is far above, out of our sight. We cannot, naturally, attain unto it...Thus are all men atheists in the world...”  
"They knew not that all men were empty of all good, and filled with all manner of evil. They were wholly ignorant of the entire depravation of the whole human nature, of every man born into the world, in every faculty of his soul, not so much by those particular vices which reign in particular persons, as by the general flood of Atheism and idolatry, of pride, self-will, and love of the world. This, therefore, is the first grand distinguishing point between Heathenism and Christianity. The one acknowledges that many men are infected with many vices, and even born with a proneness to them; but supposes withal, that in some the natural good much over-balances the evil: The other declares that all men are conceived in sin, and shapen in wickedness; -- that hence there is in every man a carnal mind, which is at enmity against God, which is not, cannot be, subject to his law; and which so infects the whole soul, that there dwelleth in him, in his flesh, in his natural state, no good thing; but every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is evil, only evil, and that continually."  
(John Wesley, Sermon on Original Sin, #44)

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