Contend Earnestly: Refutation of Dr. John Goetsch - Total Depravity

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Refutation of Dr. John Goetsch - Total Depravity

If you did not read the introduction to this series please make sure you do so that you can see the reason for this series and also the temperment going into this article written by Dr. Goetsch. The first doctrine, in order of the TULIP is "Total Depravity." I will credit Dr. Goetsch with giving a good quick introduction to the topic but I believe that Dr. Goetsch misses the point of the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity. He agrees and shows in Scripture that we are born sinners through Psalm 51:5 and tells why Calvinists believe that one must be regenerated before being justified. The place that he misses is when he states:
We are children of wrath even as others, according to Ephesians 2:2
He was only one verse off, but that makes the whole difference here when speaking of total depravity.

The verse he misses is Ephesians 2:1 and this is why it is imperative to read in context and not allow for this misrepresentation. Ephesians 2:1 states:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

The word for "death" here in the Greek is the term "nekros" and is exactly what it sounds like, it means lifeless. Eph 2:2 then states that not only were we dead in our sins but we were, "walking according to the course of this world." Some try and say that if a person is truly dead then he cannot do good or evil. But, it is Paul's intent to show that the person is dead (also see Colossians Col 2:13) to righteousness but alive for evil. We see this same concept in Jesus and Paul using the term "slaves to sin" many times (John 8:34, Rom 6:6,16,17,20) and we actually get a definition of what this means in Romans 6:16

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

Notice that if you are a slave to sin that is who you obey, you are one or the other, not both. If you are evil's slave and you must obey your master. We could continue to show this but I want to keep to the article at hand.

Dr. Goetsch then goes on to say that he believes what John 6:63 states:
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
and he also states that he believes John 6:44:

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day

But this is where he makes a grave error. Dr. Goetsch says that there "must be a cooperation on the part of the individual with the Holy Spirit's conviction." The question I have for Dr. Goetsch is, "How is this cooperation accomplished in the life of someone who is a slave to sin, dead in their transgressions, an enemy of God (James 4:4), a hater of God (Romans 1:30) and who doesn't search for God or understand the things of God (Romans 3:11)?" And more so, "Where is this stated in Scripture according to these verses?" The term "draw" in John 6:44 is a strong word meaning "to drag" and is placed only on God's work, not man's.

This is why we need regeneration by the Holy Spirit to believe. Notice that in Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 8:21 both say that the thoughts of man are continually evil from the days of their youth. Romans 3:10 states that no one does good, no not one. Is not responding to the call of God good? So the question is, if man is born into sin, dead and slaves to sin, continually evil, not righteous, their good deeds are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6) then how can the sinner ever "come" to God when they don't even search for God? The answer is only by the drawing and regeneration of the perfect God to the depraved sinner. Further, Romans 8:8 states that no one in the flesh can please God. There has to be something that happens before one is able to believe, it cannot "just click" nor can someone just suddenly "get it." They must be quickened by the Spirit.

After this Dr. Goetsch brings up a huge straw men that has been brought up many times before, "What about the person who doesn't want to be saved?" Sorry to say, but before the Creator quickeneth us, no one searches for God and our thoughts are continually evil. But, when God regenerates us and opens our eyes to His Gospel we want Him more than ever. Must we repent and believe? Yes, of course, but this only comes by the drawing of the perfect God not the cooperation of man and God or what is widely called, synergism.

For an example look to Acts 16:14

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Notice when Lydia responded...only when God opened her heart. Did she want to respond before that? The Scriptures give us no such indication. Did she want to respond to God after He opened her heart? Of course, so much so that it then tells us that her whole household was saved.

Another example of this is Acts 13:47,48 that actually ties into Unconditional Election but we'll hit it here as well:

For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a blight for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’ ”When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Notice who does the responding...only those who were appointed to believe. These people didn't respond because they were more joyful, it indicates that all rejoiced but only those appointed to eternal life believed.

Dr. Goetsch ends this part of his article acting as though we, the Calvinist, do not believe that the Lord calls for all to repent. We understand that God calls all to repent (called the general call) and this is why the SINNER'S rejection sends them to hell, not double predestination. Dr. Goetsch then states:

The Bible gives ample evidence that God speaks to the heart, but man has to cooperate with the Holy Spirit's pleading.

First, I don't know about your God, but the God of Scripture is not up in heaven just sitting around "hoping and pleading" that sinners will come to Him. He is omnipotent and completely sovereign not some beggar. Just because God commands an action doesn't mean that it is possible. God also calls us to be holy as He is holy (Lev 19:2) and to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48). We are also told to pray unceasingly in 1 Thess 5:17. These are all commands that we cannot obey perfectly because we are still in the flesh, just as a sinner, without regeneration, cannot respond to God's command to repent.

I would like to see this ample evidence that Dr. Goetsch states is in the Bible. There is only one way that man can cooperate with God's commands and that is by the Spirit of God regenerating the person. John 3:3

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
One must be born again with the Spirit for them to see heaven, this is regeneration.

Only the faith given by God can cause the sinner that is totally depraved to respond in that faith:

For to you ait has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Phil 1:29

Notice that our faith was granted, which means to graciously give to another, by Christ so that we could believe in Him. Without this faith we will remain dead in our sins.

If Dr. Goetsch truly believed in John 6:63 and John 6:44 he would notice that both of those verses only point to God's grace and nothing about us cooperating.

I will end with this verse pointing again to our Father who is the one who does all the action towards us:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phil 1:6

It is He who began it and it is He who will perfect it, not the sinner.


Gomarus said...

Preach it, brother. You are rightly aguing for a monergistic salvation versus a synergistic salvation. This is historically the Calvinist understanding versus the Arminian understanding. I look forward to your coming posts.

Seth McBee said...

Been a while since we have conversed...hope all is well and thanks for the encouragement...on a side that book in the mail by Mastricht yesterday...thanks for the recommendation

Barry Dean said...


Keep fighting the good fight man. Some folks just don't see the truth even when it is right in front of them. Folks that deny total depravity say that their salvation is a cooperative effort between the HS and themselves and will also agree with verses like those in Ephesians they we were dead in our trespasses. I have to ask, how can a dead man cooperate? It is a pride issue, pure and simple.

BTW, pay no attention to javaguy. He hasn't posted anything on his blog site for a long time. I guess he is cruising the blogosphere venting within the comments. I have been reading your series so far and don't see the attacking he commented on in

Rock On!

Kymanika said...

I always liked Sproul's analogy, can a dead man give himself the medicine he needs to live?

I also used the analogy of freedom of will WITHIN our nature is not total freedom. Its like being on house arrest. You can do whatever you want within the house (depraved human nature) but you are not free to do anything outside those 4 walls.

It helps explain how our will is "free" yet restrained by our nature.

Anonymous said...

Angels had a choice and so do we. God is not willing that any should perish. But that all should come to repentance. Not all the elect. Sorry but my God does not choose who goes to hell and who doesn't!

Seth McBee said...


Not sure if you will even read this, but you make some weird comments...

The reason I say this is because you say, "my God does not choose who goes to hell and who doesn't!"

So, you must believe that I believe in a false god?

Interesting to say the least. But, I will have to ask you to then exegete all the passages that use the term "choose" and "elect" or the term "church" which literally means, "called out ones."

And if God doesn't choose then who does? Man? Because we find that if it was left to us that none seek God. So, then, if it was truly just left to us then everyone is in hell...

I don't think you are going to like that scenario either.

Would you care to respond?

Conner said...

you are absolutely correct that Jesus does say in John 6:44 that the father must draw him, but flip forward a few chapters to John 12:32, "And I, if i be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." so yes the father must draw them, but he draws all men.

Anonymous said...

I'll probably never be on here again, just passing through. Thought I would mention though, that it seems like a lot of time has been spent on here arguing over Bible instead of using it to impact a lost world. God does command us to preach the Gospel to every creature, whether we believe that we will be doing any good or not. Please don't take my comments as argument, or harassment. I am honestly just hoping this will help in some way. God bless.

Seth McBee said...

Defense of biblical doctrines is part of our calling and does impact our understanding and practice in a lost world. I hope that you would take the totality of what this blog is about, instead of not liking the posts that deal with defense of biblical doctrines...which is still very important.

Thanks for stopping by, even if it is the last time.

If you want to read other stuff, click on the topics of "Christian Living" and "Evangelism"

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