Mark did a runner. He agreed to debate Hereditary Total Depravity but then tried to change it to the depravity of the total man. Mark did not even attempt to answer Kieran's first paper. Mark you signed up to debating Hereditary Total Depravity but you failed to discharge your duty. Shame on you!
Kieran accused Mark of believing that "Infants possess a nature identical to that of Satan himself." Mark's reply was "So what if that is the case? … Scripture makes no differentiation between the nature of children, and the nature of anyone else." Let us see. Scripture calls God, "The Father of spirits" (Heb 12:9). He formed our spirit within us (Zech 12:1b). If as Calvinists teach, the soul is spiritually corrupt, then it stands to reason, God is responsible for it's corruption. How repulsive! Jesus called a child to Himself and set him before them and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:2-3). Mark, you could never say, "unless you are converted and become like children" (Mt 19:14). The Scripture also says, "For though the twins (Rebekah's) were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad" (Rom 9:11). HTD is a denial of that passage. "Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil (Gr. KAKIA, stands for whatever is evil in character, badness in quality) be infants" (1 Cor 14:20). Think about it! No difference in the nature of a child and an adult, rubbish! The Holy Spirit assures us that small children do not know enough to refuse evil and choose good (Isa 7:16). Mark thinks all these Scriptures are "an anecdotal appeal to emotion." How sad!
When Mark affirms about Christ "If sin cannot be imputed then salvation is impossible," he is also implying the imputation of Adam's sin to his descendants in that statement. But when he talks about Ezekiel 18 he contradicts himself by saying, "Total Depravity does not mean that each person bears the sins of their father and so on." Well Mark, Adam is our father so we cannot bear his sin! Your Westminster Confession of Faith teaches, that the guilt of this transgression was also imputed to their children, "and the same death in sin … conveyed to all their posterity" (chap VI, Art. 3). Mark you are contradicting the WCF as well as yourself! The legs of the lame are not equal!
Micah gave a number of verses to try to prove Hereditary Total Depravity. Romans 3:10-18 is typical of the passages used. The passage teaches, "all have turned aside, together they have become useless." This verse does not say, "all were conceived astray and were born useless." So, Micah, this passage (and the others) do not prove your THD doctrine. The truth is we cannot sin by proxy because sin is something we do ourselves, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death" (Js 1:14-15). "Sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn 3:4). A newborn infant has not broken God's law. S/he is not guilty of any sin.
M&M say, "There is nothing in Scripture to suggest Adam was inherently righteous." Yet the Scripture says, "Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices" (Eccl 7:29). "For you were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created until unrighteousness was found in you" (Ezk 28:15). Adam was made upright in God’s image (Isa 26:7; Ps 25:8; 92:15). The word upright means, "honest, honourable or just." Adam bore the image of God. He was blameless, upright and without unrighteousness. He was therefore inherently righteous. Yet, M&M said, “There is nothing in Scripture to suggest Adam was inherently righteous.” Who do you believe M&M or Scripture?
Mark conveniently overlooks so much in Ezekiel 18. Mark does not say anything about the wicked becoming righteous or the righteous man losing his salvation by turning to wickedness. It is very revealing to substitute (natural man) for wicked, and (Spirit led man) for righteous. Try it and see. Mark also turns a blind eye to God's confirmation of man's ability to "turn from his ways and live" (Vss 23, 30-32). Note this chapter by itself answers his "inability of man" argument!
Verse 20 says, God's way is to treat each person individually so the sinner alone will bear the guilt and/or the punishment for his own sin. Incredibly M&M quote "The wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself," to prove the very opposite, namely, we all bear the guilt and the punishment of Adam's sin. I am reminded of a sign over an ironmonger's shop, "All sorts of fancy twisting and turning done here."
Throughout this debate Kieran and I have given a detailed commentary on each verse in Romans 5:12-21. Reader please take note, we have not been afforded the same courtesy from Mark and Micah. Our position is abundantly clear and consistent (re-read note 1 on the Questions and Answers paper).
This is a summation of note 1. The "free gift" (V 15) is not like the transgression (Adam's), in that the "free gift" (life, temporal and eternal) arose because of many transgressions (all human transgressions including Adam's). By implication the effects of Christ's obedience is "much more" comprehensive because the resulting justification covers the "one transgression" and the "many transgressions."
By the transgression of the one (Adam) death reigned through the one (unconditionally). "Much more," (although all men have been reconciled to God unconditionally, they have to receive the reconciliation through Christ, for eternal life (2 Cor 5:18-20). So only those who receive (conditionally) the abundance of grace (the reconciliation) and the gift of righteousness (forgiveness and being counted righteous by God) will reign in life through One, Jesus Christ (V 17).
Verses 18-19 returns to what happened in Adam and how the death of Christ counteracts (unconditionally) the curse of physical death that befell all of us because of Adam's sin.
Vss 20-21 shows how the proliferation of personal sins (under the Law) is covered along with the sin of Adam, in the free gift. By implication "the justification to life" of verse 19 leaves room to incorporate those who (conditionally) receive the abundance of grace.
So the reign of sin in death (both temporal and eternal) is broken. Grace now reigns through righteousness to eternal life, for those who (conditionally) receive the abundance of grace.
I have noticed when we have exposed a problem in Mark's position; he uses a decoy tactic. By finding what he perceives to be a flaw and exaggerating it, he diverts the eye of the reader away from himself and on to his opponents. The reader then thinks we have the problem, when all the while he is the one with the problem. He pretends he had no difficulties with his interpretation of these verses. Let us see if that is true.
They say, V12 teaches that death (both physical and spiritual) entered the world through Adam. In keeping with this, Calvinism teaches we all sinned in Adam and the sin was imputed to his descendants.
However, Paul argues in V's 13-14, that death reigned even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's offence. Friends, M&M denies this, they believe like Roman Catholics, that we are guilty of Adam's sin and we died spiritually and physically because we actually sinned in Adam. They affirm what Paul denies! Is Paul right or are M&M and the Catholics right?
When Vss 15-16 say, "But the free gift is not like the transgression." Mark & Micah again say the opposite. They say the judgment arose from "one transgression" resulting in condemnation to all men. And the free gift arose from "many transgressions" resulting in justification (spiritual life) to the many (the elect). This reductionism makes the contrast in V16 between the "one transgression" and the "many transgressions" null and void. Friends, Calvinists have the problem with the ‘alls’ in these verses. They teach “justification of life” applies only to the elect not to all men. So they contract and expand the ‘alls’ in these verses to suit their doctrine. No, Mark, we do not have a problem with the ‘alls.’ You do!
The "much more" of V 17 becomes "much less" in their interpretation because according to Calvin Christ's justification to life only covers the elect.
Micah's comment on Vss 18-19 is revealing, "Adam's fall," he said, "brought 'condemnation to all men,' … and the second Adam brings 'justification of life,'" but he deliberately left out, "to all men" (v 18). Why did he do that? Because Calvinists have a problem with "all men" in these verses. Although they see, "the condemnation" (spiritual and physical death) is to all men, when it comes to "the justification of life," they do not want it to be to all but to many. Since the verse says "to all men," then all men are saved. If this does not add up to universal salvation then 1+1=3.
I would like to know since all men are condemned (spiritually and physically) in Adam, could individual transgressions make them any more condemned? If not then the idea of grace abounding (V 20-21) is nonsense.
Good reader none of these monumental problems were tackled. No explanation offered. So don't be fooled by Mark's decoy.
M&M are going to poke fun at my description of the natural man. Please re-read point 3 on my Questions and Answers paper. Their elucidation of the natural man makes him nothing more than a robot preprogrammed by God for failure. He cannot change unless the Programmer installs a program for change. However God will not do that because God wants the natural man to fail. He must fail because God destined him for hell.
The Scriptures teach that Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden (Job 31:33). They were driven away from the tree of life so they could not eat and live forever (Gen 3:24). Because their descendants had no access to the tree of life, they also were doomed to die physically (Rom 5:12). When a child is conceived God forms the spirit in each one (Zech 12:1). Although born into a sinful world, each child is pure and sinless in the image of God (Eccl 7:29). However, in their youth they go astray by sinning against God (Gen 8:21). They are then (spiritually) dead in their transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1-3). God makes them aware of the imminent danger they are in through the Gospel (Mk 16:15-16). He points out Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. That no one comes to the Father but by Him (Jn 14:6). God demands a freewill response from us. We must believe (Jn 8:24), repent (Lk 24:47), and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Being born again of water and the Spirit makes us children of God (Jn 3:3,5). Christians must then co-operate with God by setting their minds on the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:5-7) for eternal life. Through repentance, God continues to justify us (forgive our sins and count us righteous) in this way our eternal life is secured (1 Jn 1:5-10).
The reader will see that Kieran and myself answered the arguments and Scripture presented. We take seriously "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ has not God. He who abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son" (2 Jn 9). For our part, we were deeply concerned to explain every Scripture in its context, and to have it harmonize with all other Scriptures. It seems Mark and Micah were more concerned about their theology than word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Hereditary Total Depravity is unscriptural, and it has not been proved Scriptural in this debate.