Listening to John MacArthur’s second sermon this morning, on “Why The World Hates Christians, part 2” he mentioned an 11-month-old survey done by Ligonier and LifeWay Research. The research involved identifying the biggest heresy in America. Before MacArthur revealed what it was, I’d thought it might be Prosperity Gospel, or Charismatic errors. Nope.
Here is what Ligonier/LifeWay found: The biggest heresy in America was a denial of human depravity. Human depravity is the concept that after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, all humans from that point on are completely unable to see the things of God, to do any righteous deeds pleasing to God, or to respond in any way to God. We are completely unable. Our inability renders us dead in our sins, and being dead in our sins renders us unable. We need God to draw us to Him, to make us see Him, and to be able to respond to Him. This doctrine means, we as humans prior to repentance and justification, cannot “choose God.” As John MacArthur explains complete inability:
This doctrine has been called “Total Depravity,” but I feel that the “total depravity” is a misleading term. If you look up “depravity” in the dictionary, it’s a synonym for viciousness. It’s a synonym for being vile. In fact, to be depraved, according to the dictionary, is to be degraded, debased, immoral to a dangerous degree like rapists and serial killers. The word “depraved” sort of connotes a level of evil that’s just not applicable to everybody. To say someone is totally depraved, you know, you think of Jeffrey Dahmers, or Charles Manson, or somebody who has not a vestige of human goodness, and void of all normal affection and restraint. To call someone “totally depraved” would set them outside normal people as vicious perverts.
That is not what is meant when theologians refer to total depravity because not everybody is as bad as they could be, and not everybody is as bad as everybody else. What we’re talking about here is what I’ve chosen to call “absolute inability.” What is true of everybody is we have no ability to respond to the gospel. We are completely unable to raise ourselves out of a state of death. We are completely unable to give our blind hearts sight. We are completely unable to free ourselves from slavery to sin. We are completely unable to turn from ignorance to truth. We are completely unable to stop rebelling against God, stop being hostile to His Word.
We are not only unable but we are unwilling to do that, unwilling to repent, unwilling to believe. And if we are to repent and to believe, then it must be like it was for Lazarus, where God who commands the dead to rise has to also give them the power.
The church I used to attend is just such a church, participating in promoting the biggest heresy in America. From the pulpit and in Sunday School the Calvinist-hating pastor used to promote the notion of “free will” and our ability to choose Jesus as Savior. He would talk about our minds having just a ”flawed rationale’ and ‘clouded thinking’, not the fact that the Bible states we are completely blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) and totally unable to do anything for God. (Romans 3:10). Five minutes into one Sunday School lesson he explained free will and on that same Sunday in a 20 minute sermon he mentioned it again 5 more times. Talk about indoctrination. And this was just a dinky little Southern Baptist Church in a rural county.
Here is a web page listing all the verses which explain man’s incapability to choose God.
With such indoctrination about the false concept from churches from east to west, and on television and in books and in movies that we have freedom to choose Jesus, it’s no wonder that this heresy has grown so monstrously pervasive. I’m glad Ligonier/LifeWay named it a heresy.
Here is an excerpt from their research conclusions-
Thanks to a recent survey by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research we now know the biggest heresy in America. Pushing errors regarding the trinity and the church into second and third place is the denial of the Bible’s teaching about the doctrine of sin, especially in the related areas of human depravity and human inability. I say “related” because what we believe about human depravity impacts what we believe about human ability; what we are determines what we can or cannot do.
Regarding human depravity, the research showed:
- 67% agree “Everyone sins at least a little, but most people are by nature good.”
- 40% agree “God loves me because of the good I do or have done.”
Regarding human inability, the statistics were:
- Only 16% agree with the doctrine that says “people do not have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative.
- 71% of Americans agree that “an individual must contribute his/her own effort for personal salvation.”
- 64% of Americans agree “a person obtains peace with God by first taking the initiative to seek God and then God responds with grace.”
In summary, the vast majority believe that:
- Though we sin a little, by nature we are good.
- We can do good and God rewards our good deeds by loving us.
- We have the ability to turn to God on our own initiative.
- Salvation involves us taking the initiative that God then responds to.
Go to the link above for more information and Ligonier’s infographic. Their conclusion was this:
“The future belongs to Christians with conviction.”
Is that you? Do you stand by what you believe? Are you strong on biblical knowledge and exhibiting a practical holiness? Because now is the time to know what you believe, why you believe it, and be ready to defend it- at all costs. Luke 14:28.