One difficult thing within the doctrines of strict Calvinist Reformed adherents is found largely in the implications.
Among the points:
all men everywhere are under the penalty of sin and death -given.
man cannot save himself -given.
All saving faith comes as a gift from God- given.
but in the idea that man cannot long for good, or desire God- that is an implication that I cannot accept and it is refuted everywhere.
I think what ought to be recognized is the state of goodness versus the desire for goodness. I believe Jesus plainly taught that God, only, is good. If we look at the state of anything we might deem good, we recognize how that is compromised as soon as it is tainted with bad.
This is the state of man. But that man can desire and long for good- this is evident everywhere you have men who love their families, who sacrifice for their communities, who strive for the worthwhile. This is found among men who are separated from God and even among those who defy Him.
There is something residual within man, and we get our conceptions of the dignity of mankind as we seek to compile this into a general premise.
Man is marred, predisposed to evil, but man is still made in the image of God, and still reflects- however poorly- that image, including some of the goodness. But reflecting pieces of goodness is not the same as being Good, intrinsically. I think that is the point that Jesus drove home when He said “Why call me good? Only God is Good”. He was forcing the issue.
And you thought Josh McDowell was so ingenious?!
No man is all good, nor can he be, even if he completely wills it. Another saying of Jesus on this point: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.
I think that adamant positions can get Christians into trouble if they are not careful to base them solely on what the scripture is actually, unequivocally, saying. I think this is what happens with some of the Calvinist positions, but that is only because that is what I am looking at right now. It happens with many of our positions when we extrapolate them into generalized platforms of thinking.
And that causes us to misbehave. And rationalize our misbehavior.
The fact is that man can long for goodness and appreciate it, he can desire to know God. This is not taken from him, and is not gone, but it is something that can be withered and killed. I personally feel that happens through time and circumstance… and choice.
We would be well to remember this in our dealings with our fellow man. I think it would make us more humble, more circumspect, and more effective in sharing the gospel.
It promotes godly alignment with how God would have us view our fellow man and in no way detracts from our dependence on Him. We all ought to have little trouble seeing the difference between desiring to do good and actually doing it. We would be more unlikely to have diminishing attitudes towards those outside Christ, and be less likely to give up on the hard cases.
How did God say He drew Ephraim to Himself?
See. That is the Lord’s attitude. There is still an open door for men, and God desires to see men turn from their destructions. He offers it as a choice, and enables with gentle drawing and with continued loving kindness. How can we continue with that sort of attitude if we determine some men doomed from the start? Is this what God indicates throughout His Word?
We continually see possibilities in God’s expression to us. Possibility. It is a great hope to look into the possibilities within Christ. That possibility preserves the dignity of man. It is the intrinsic worth of every man that is more than what he does or what he has, he is more than what others think of him. All that is resident within the person quite apart from any actions or even thoughts. Man cannot escape that he reflects the Creator…. and he cannot conjure it from within himself.
The more’s the pity that there will be many who will refuse God’s invitation. And increasingly destroy the residual good of the image. The pathway to loss is inexorablewithout a Savior. It ought to make us weep rather than argue.