This week’s feedback is in response to the post Jeremiah 13:23 – Proof of Man’s Inability?, wherein I argued that Jeremiah 13:23 is not universally applicable as proof of mankind’s total depravity, despite it typically being used as a ‘golden bullet’ proof-text by most Calvinists.
This week’s respondent asserts that Jeremiah 13:23 is universally applicable, and that by disagreeing with him, I am denying the Lord.
Question: “You said: “The context of the passage as a whole makes it clear that only Israel and Judah are in view.” How does it make it clear that ONLY israel is in view?What about the pagan nations convinces you that they could choose in and of themselves to turn and do good? When did they do so? On human terms, in human wisdom, by human reasoning it is completely impossible for even the best human being on the planet to be saved. God has to act to change you. That is your only hope. Yet to combat “calvinism,” you flatly deny the Lord. Amazing…
But Hebrews 11:6 would tell you that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” These verses don’t leave much room for behavior that qualifies as “good” in the eyes of God either:
Gen 6:5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that EVERY INCLINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL ALL THE TIME.
Gen 8:21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though EVERY INCLINATION OF HIS HEART IS EVIL FROM CHILDHOOD.”
Answer: Thanks for taking the time to respond, but I can’t help but think that it is you who has failed to grasp the context and scope of Jeremiah 13. You said:
“How does it make it clear that ONLY israel [sic] is in view?”
“Thus says the LORD to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water.” So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the LORD, and put it around my waist. And the word of the LORD came to me a second time, “Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. And after many days the LORD said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “Thus says the LORD: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen. “You shall speak to them this word: ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Every jar shall be filled with wine.”’ And they will say to you, ‘Do we not indeed know that every jar will be filled with wine?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, declares the LORD. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.’” (Jeremiah 13:1-14, ESV; emphasis added)
As I said in the original post, Israel and Judah hadn’t simply “fallen” into sin. They were reveling in sin, continuing in steadfast rebellion to God, continuing in a steadfast refusal to hear God’s words, and continuing in steadfast idolatry. And then comes the question regarding the Ethiopian and the leopard. What is being illustrated is just how far Israel and Judah had departed from God. Considering how far they’ve gone, and how unwilling they are to repent and turn back to God, it would be just as easy for an Ethiopian to change his skin colour, or a leopard to change its spots, than it would be for the houses of Israel and Judah to turn from their wickedness and do well. God (through Jeremiah) was illustrating what continued wilful rebellion and apostasy will do to a man’s heart.
The burden of proof is on you to show where, in the context of the threat in Jeremiah 13, anyone but Israel and Judah are included.
“What about the pagan nations convinces you that they could choose in and of themselves to turn and do good? When did they do so?”
Where in the original post did I say, or even imply, that pagan nations “could choose in and of themselves to turn and do good”?
It does not follow that since Jeremiah 13 has specific reference to Israel and Judah, that pagan nations have more moral ability to do good. That’s a massive leap of logic.
What you don’t seem to grasp is that I have no argument with the doctrine of ‘Total Depravity’, per se. In fact, no informed Arminian has a problem with the doctrine. See for instance, Do Arminians Believe in Total Depravity? and A Puritan’s (Deluded) Mind
The essence of the original post was not about ‘Total Depravity’, per se, but about whether or not Jeremiah 13:23 is a legitimate proof-text for the doctrine. The question of whether pagan nations “could choose in and of themselves to turn and do good” is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand.
“On human terms, in human wisdom, by human reasoning it is completely impossible for even the best human being on the planet to be saved. God has to act to change you. That is your only hope.”
You won’t get any argument from Arminians on this point. No Arminian denies that salvation is of the Lord, nor that the decisive factor in salvation is the grace of God.
“Yet to combat “calvinism,” [sic] you flatly deny the Lord. Amazing…”
And yet to combat an Arminian, you flatly ignore the context of Scripture, you flatly ignore the context of my original post, and now you make a wild assertion without the slightest bit of evidence to back it up. Amazing…
“But Hebrews 11:6 would tell you that “without faith it is impossible to please God.””
Yes, but how exactly is this relevant to the context of Jeremiah 13?
“These verses don’t leave much room for behavior that qualifies as “good” in the eyes of God either:
Gen 8:21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though EVERY INCLINATION OF HIS HEART IS EVIL FROM CHILDHOOD.””
Again, as an Arminian, I have no issue with the doctrine of Total Depravity, nor do these verses have any relevance to the question of whether Jeremiah 13:23 is a legitimate proof-text for the doctrine.
Thanks again for the reply, but nothing you’ve said has caused me to reconsider the conclusion of my original post – Jeremiah 13:23 is specifically referring to Israel and Judah, and should not be used as a proof-text for Total Depravity. Also, and I mentioned this in the original post, I find it ironic that Calvinists take a text that is quite obviously speaking of a particular group of people (Israel and Judah) and give it a universal application, given their usual tendency to restrict and limit the meaning of passages that use universal language, such as John 3:16, 1 Tim. 2:4, 1 Tim. 4:10, 1 John 2:2, and Heb. 2:9.