Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Depravity

A piece of traditional Christianity: Christianity believes that Jesus came to seek that which is lost, not that which has been destroyed.

The authentic Christian tradition has always condemned the doctrine that man (sic) is totally depraved as a heresy and a blasphemy. (E. L. Mascall)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suppose that begs the question of just what Mascall means by 'total depravity' - and, of course, also what you mean by it. It's also worth noting that Mascall's hardly a representative Anglican voice here. He comes at this from a neo-thomist perspective.

Warren Huffa said...

From memory he has in his sights those that deny that all people remain in the image of God. He does not mean by this, however, that there is a 'bit' of us that doe not need saving grace.

Anonymous said...

The notion of total depravity comes from Calvin. But he is able to hold together (quite comfortably) total depravity and the fact that humans are made in the image and likeness of God. When Calvin spoke of the depravity of nature, he didn't mean that there was no good in the world or in humanity, but simply that there was no unalloyed good in the world, no part or capacity or desire untouched by the fall. There is no residual image to which one can appeal as purely good. In Barthian terms, it's the repudiation of the efficacy of autnomous human reason. This becomes evident once it's understood that Calvin uses the word 'nature' in two different ways. Firstly, as created perfection and secondly, as in the state of humanity after having fallen from perfection. To illustrate: 'Therefore we declare that man is corrupted through natural vitiation, but a vitiation that did not flow from nature.' Institutes, Bk.II,1,11.

Warren Huffa said...

Thanks, this is helpful. Perhaps Mascall had in his sights less able Protestants than Calvin?