Old Doxoblogy

Friday, May 12, 2006

How Is 1 Ti 4:4 Related To Total Depravity?

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1Ti 4:1-5)
Pardon me while I wax philosophical...

There are basically two ways of thinking about the world. They both include good and evil. One view says that Good and Evil are both eternally at war with one another. Usually this view works itself out through ideas that relate Good to the spiritual realm and Evil to the physical realm.

The Biblical view of the world, however, says that God created everything. And when He created everything it was all good. Evil comes to be because of disobedience to the Creator by the created beings. Evil and our sinful natures do not change the substance of what God has created. Trees are still trees even after the fall. Humans are still human. In that much we are said to be good, because God said that His creation was good.
When we receive what God has made with thanksgiving, then we are receiving it properly. Contrast thanksgiving with Eve's sin in the garden. Thanksgiving implies contentment. Eve was not contented with all of the fruit of the other trees, but there arose in here a desire for the fruit of the tree that God had prohibited her from eating. The same with Adam. So there is a fundamental difference between self-indulgent lusts taking what does not belong to us and thankfully receiving what God has given to us.

The relationship between this verse and 'Total Depravity' is a contrast. Since we are 'new creations' we have been given the ability to receive what God has created in the way it was intended to be received and to serve it's original purpose, which is to glorify God.


kec said...

Thanks for tackling this one for me, but I'm still fighting with understanding.

The questions, as raised to me, go like this:

* Am I a created being?

* If so, 1 Ti 4:4 says that I'm "good."

* If I'm good, how come you're telling me that I'm not, and that I'm sinful?

For my part, as I've (briefly, I'll admit) looked to answer the question:

-- Of 16 translations I looked at, including the NASB, NIV, ESV and KJV, all use "is" good, not "was" good. That certainly implies a current state of being

-- I know He doesn't (Luke 18:19), but it could read as if God considers something "sinful" as good. Perhaps this lies in the deeper meaning of kalos, which is translated here as "good"?

G2570 (Strong's)
Of uncertain affinity; properly
beautiful, but chiefly (figuratively) good (literally or morally), that is, valuable or virtuous (for appearance or use, and thus distinguished from G18, which is properly intrinsic): - X better, fair, good (-ly), honest, meet, well, worthy.

Jeremy Weaver said...

This verse doesn't say what you want it to say. It does not say that humans are intrinsically good. Humans are not being included in the 'everything' per se, because humans are the ones who are to receive 'everything' with thanksgiving.

I do however believe that humanity is good in the sense that we were created by God. Redemption is part of God's act of making us intrinsically good, but we are not there yet.

kec said...

Don't get me wrong, I don't WANT the text to say that, and from the rest of the Bible, I don't believe it does. My quandry though is in clearly illustrating to friends that it does not.

I'm also not trying to be in the least bit difficult.

If I reply with "'everything' doesn't apply to people", even backing it up with something like Luke 18:19, then the response will be "you say that because you don't believe that it does, but the text says 'everything' not 'everything but you'."

What makes this worse is that some translations make a "everything but you" interpretation more difficult:

ASV: "For every creature of God is good"
Darby: "For every creature of God is good"
KJV: "For every creature of God is good"
YLT: "because every creature of God is good"

It seems that the focus of rebuting this should be on the meaning of "good", not "everything", but I don't have the experience with Greek to do that effectively. That thought brings me to "intrinsic" goodness and exactly what that means.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Greek isn't going to help with this. The text clearly specifies what Paul is telling Timothy is good; marriage and food. That's why I'm Baptist.:-)

God created these things for our enjoyment and these things are lawful as long as they can be received as God has given them with thanksgiving.

Dennis Clough said...

How about Christians as "new creations"? We ARE good because now recreated in Christ.

Our born again natures are perfect in God's sight, without sin. Such purity is the only place and the only way the Holy Spirit could ever indwell us.

Our born-again natures are pure and can receive the truth of God's Word to enjoy and to grow.
Our new pure natures lack only one thing, growth.

Part of growth is realizing the enenmy within, the old nature, which is constantly trying to gain back control of the mind and body of the believer.

Blessedly, he is a dead man, having died with Christ on the cross in God's sight. However, he is very real in experience, and only by staying firmly planted in the true vine, the Risen Christ, can we find the sustinance to truly live and grow.

At the end of his description of the inner struggle every Christian experiences (Romans 7) Paul finds victory in the Person of the Risen Christ. He who gave the new life is now seen to be the sustainer of same.

Dennis Clough