Have you ever noticed how much time Calvinists spend trying to convince you that TOTAL depravity really doesn’t mean TOTAL at all?
Their “explanation” is really nothing more than nonsense and doublespeak used to clarify and qualify more nonsense and double speak. Either something is TOTAL or its not, and if it is not, why call it TOTAL depravity in the first place?
Why? Because TOTAL is precisely what they mean. They are lying when they declare TOTAL does not mean TOTAL. Because if they defined TOTAL as TOTAL then they understand that the flock (usually more qualified, better educated, and more astute than many of their “teachers and preachers”) will quickly realize that they have been subdued by mysticism propagated by gnostic overlords who think that the “sheep” are mindless, wicked barbarians that are to be beaten, cajoled, blackmailed, threatened, pushed, shoved, or even tricked, coddled, wooed into “right position” with God; whom they alone have real access to.
And that is precisely why they use and mean TOTAL when they are formally labeling the doctrine (complete, utter, absolute, a whole quantity, an entirety…unless my dictionary is lying). When they say TOTAL, they mean TOTAL.
But if they seek to “clarify” it for you when you logically and rightly discern that the practical implications of TOTAL depravity are desperately wicked and destructive, they do not really mean what they are telling you TOTAL really means. They are either ignorant of the logical inconsistency of what they are arguing, or they are deliberately trying to mislead you. It is always one of the two. It cannot rationally be anything else. Like, for example, TOTALITY cannot rationally be “inclined”. Why? Well…
“Inclined: Having a preference, disposition, tendency”
Two different words; different meanings altogether. Think of it this way. Suppose you are going to have lung cancer surgery. Do you want a doctor who is TOTALLY qualified, or a doctor who is inclined to be qualified? One who is completely and utterly qualified to cut you open with a long sharp object, or even better, a LASER, or do you want one who tends to be qualified?
Yeah. Me too.
Why do I mention “inclined”? Because that is the Calvinist spin-word for TOTAL. They say this means that you can choose Christ, but you never will. Now the key word is NEVER…they do not even claim an exception to “prove” the rule that humans are really “inclined” towards sin as opposed to wholly devoted to it unto blindness which is what TOTAL means (e.g., an exception could be: I’m inclined to like chocolate, but on occasion I have picked vanilla for this or that reason). For if a human NEVER will choose, and NEVER has chosen Christ of their own free will, then there is no sense at all—no reasonable purpose—to claim that what they, the Calvinists, mean by TOTAL is “inclined”. The word inclined presumes that at some point, the inclination can a be overcome by the wholly separate faculty of WILLPOWER, or self-will, that man is on some level a separate entity from whatever he might be “inclined” towards, and this is what is meant by the exception that proves the rule. To prove an “inclination” rather than a resolute, innate disposition, it must be reasonably shown that there are exceptions to a behavior that warrants the use of a lighter term like “inclined” instead of “indefatigably restricted by”. In the case of free will/choice/moral action, the only reasonable way one can use “inclined” is by seeing an exception. By seeing someone make a “free choice” for GOOD. And if they do that, well then man is obviously not totally depraved. Man, in general, must have free will. And if man is free to choose Christ, by the exception shown to indicate that man is indeed “inclined” towards sin, rather than imprisoned by it TOTALLY, then man cannot be said EVER to be TOTALLY depraved…that is, having no separation between himself and sin. And if man is not totally depraved, but truly merely inclined, then men and women in general are free to choose (for if ALL men are “inclined”, then NONE are bound), and rather, are actually quite culpable for their OWN moral behavior. And if we concede that, then we must concede that the moral law is something that is outside of man, and is something that he must SEE and APPREHEND of his own ability. And if the moral law is outside of man that he should use his faculties given by God to know it, see it, and do it, according to his ability, then we must admit that man, as a created being of God is GOOD in and off himself; and that this GOOD is what is redeemed by Christ. That he is free to walk in his INNATE GOODNESS (innate by very definition of his EXISTING; man’s existence is GOOD) because God has, by Christ’s sacrifice, redeemed man to a place of moral purity, or in a sense, an a-moral absolutism, where his existence is once again defined as a creature of God, and thus is GOOD, and is not longer defined by the knowledge of Good and Evil; that is, the understanding that when man is separated from God, his morality is not a function of his innate GOOD existence as a created thing by God, but is a function of the dualistic nature implied and imputed, a combination of good AND evil, by a self-aware consciousness that has freely decided to recognize a moral existence APART from God. Thus, no matter how much GOOD a person does, the GOOD is only defined by the EVIL which constitutes the inexorable reciprocal meaning of that GOOD. Put simply, Christ removes the EVIL part of the equation so that man’s fundamental moral definition is simply: IS, or EXITS. And THIS is GOOD.
So, with that said, there can then be only one practical reason to use the word “inclined” to describe TOTAL depravity. And this should be obvious by now:
They want to have their metaphysical cake and eat it, too. They want to be able to play both of the free will/totally-enslaved-to-sin sides of the coin when it suits them. The want to declare total depravity when they demand your submission or your property, or loyalty or your propaganda on their behalf; or when they get caught in their own sin or abuse or criminal activities…oh yes, then it’s all “but for the grace of God go I; we are ALL just sinners saved by grace, so don’t judge me, don’t leave my church, don’t stop giving your money to me; you are TOO DEPRAVED to even see your own evil, let alone judge me, take the log out of your own eye, sinner!” But if there is some kind of direct fallout in their churches from the heretical and abusive doctrines they teach; some child is abused by a man in the congregation, some wife beaten, some blackmail covered up, then they looooooove to point and say “He did it! It was him, ALLLLLL the way! It’s not us! We never taught that…we only counseled that they not go to the police, we only counseled that they not go see a real psychiatrist, so don’t accuse US; he made HIS OWN CHOICE; HE HAS FREE WILL; HE IS ONLY INCLINED TOWARDS SIN!”
Case in point: All the self-righteous churches leaving Sovereign Grace Ministries. They are hypocrites. Exactly what I am talking about. They are playing the free-will trump card on CJ now that it looks like too many rodents are jumping ship, or one loud first officer (Brent Detwiler) decides to commit the seminal act of doctrinal hypocrisy and dump a thousand pages of sin sniffing all over the internet. CJ is guilty because he “freely” acted in a way that the HE should not have acted in. According to their own belief in total depravity, they can ONLY forgive CJ and let him continue to do whatever he wants until the Lord “allows him to see”. CJ’s sins can never be his fault, by definition. They use the free-will trump aspect of “inclined” to accuse him and jump from one sinking doctrinal ship to another. And why?
I’ll leave that up to you. Is it because it is the right thing to do; are they convicted? Or, is it something more convenient?
In the end, Calvinist despots define TOTAL just like I do, except they need people confused about the truth of this carefully and purposefully selected word of Calvin’s–TOTAL. But the fact is that if you can choose, but never will, because you are inclined to sin, then “inclination” simply becomes a euphemism for being totally bound to your innate nature so that you can never, ever resist it because it is impossible for you to find anything in your very being by which to resist it; and even more, you could never even WANT to resist it because it is YOU that would have to resist it. And you ARE sin. So, you are irrefutably and helplessly bound to follow the dictates of your “inclination”
In other words……you’re totally depraved.