TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 1: Total Depravity -- By: Anthony B. Badger

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 16:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 1: Total Depravity
Author: Anthony B. Badger

TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective
Part 1: Total Depravity

Anthony B. Badger

Associate Professor of Bible and Theology
Grace Evangelical School of Theology
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

I. Introduction

The evolution of doctrine due to continued hybridization has produced a myriad of theological persuasions. The only way to purify ourselves from the possible defects of such “theological genetics” is, first, to recognize that we have them and then, as much as possible, to set them aside and disassociate ourselves from the systems which have come to dominate our thinking. In other words, we should simply strive for truth and an objective understanding of biblical teaching.

This series of articles is intended to do just that. We will carefully consider the truth claims of both Calvinists and Arminians and arrive at some conclusions that may not suit either.1 Our purpose here is not to defend a system, but to understand the truth. The conflicting “isms” in this study (Calvinism and Arminianism) are often considered “sacred cows” and, as a result, seem to be solidified and in need of defense. They have become impediments in the search for truth and “barriers to learning.” Perhaps the emphatic dogmatism and defense of the paradoxical views of Calvinism and Arminianism have impeded the theological search for truth much more than we realize. Bauman reflects,

I doubt that theology, as God sees it, entails unresolvable paradox. That is another way of saying that any theology that sees it [paradox] or includes it is mistaken. If God does not see theological endeavor as innately or irremediably paradoxical,

that is because it is not. Paradox is not a phenomenon natural to theology. Theological paradox is a mirage.2

As an example of theological “paradox,” some see God’s sovereignty over all things and man’s ability to make free choices to be a paradox which cannot be explained, only accepted and lived-with. They conclude that either God is sovereign or man is free, but not both. “It’s a mystery, my son” is not an acceptable explanation in the mentality of man. In no other realm are we satisfied to be put off by such “take-it-by-faith” extenuations. Only three conclusions are logically possible: 1) either one or the other is correct, 2) neither one nor the other view is correct, or 3) both are correct (true) but have not, heretofore, been understood adequately, expressed properly, or defined in such a way as to avoid contradiction. It seems that the latter alternative represents the r...

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