Vol.X No.V Pg.4
July 1973

Fundamental Principles

Robert F. Turner

In a tract on "Grace" a brother introduces his argument with what he calls "Two Fundamental Principles". Apparently he considers these almost axiomatic, self-evident, but I have serious doubt about one of them.

"God, because He is God, must both hate and punish sin." Yes, God is light (lJO.1:5), and the works of darkness are contrary to His essential nature (DEU.32:3-4). He is JUST and because He is Just He must punish sin. Such justice is inherent in God.

But the second "principle" placed on a par with this is "Man, because he s man, sins". The writer offers ROM.3:23 as text, but the proof does not fit the proposition. "All have sinned" -- even all do sin -- is far from saying that man sins "because he is man". Men have "turned aside" and have "become unprofitable" (3:12) but that implies a better condition from which to "turn". We must remember that God made man, in His own image, and said that His creation was good. God made man "but little lower than God" and "crownest him with glory and honor" (PSA.8). Despite the universality of sin, I must deny that "man sins because he is man".

There is more involved here than meets the casual eye, and surely more than the tract writer intended. This second "fundamental principle" even casts a doubt upon the first, for how could a Just God condemn man for doing what his inherent nature demands? The writer later says that God does not make man sin, and "God did not create him so that he had to sin"; so I conclude he is unaware of the implications of his "principle" and is swimming on the surface of a pool whose depths he has not plumbed. The nature of man -- his God-given inherent capabilities; his freedom to think and act; to examine his past course and determine to change it; his spirit which may be responsive to God's Spirit and yet retain individuality; capable of conforming to the Divine image, or turning again to "wallow in the mire;" -- the nature of man is one of the most basic and fundamental factors in understanding the scheme of eternal redemption.

The early Protestant swing from Catholic concepts of "works" to an antithetical concept of "grace" gave rise to the theology of our fathers. Man was viewed as incapable of understanding God's word, except it be seen through "Spirit" glasses which God must give him. The "call" of the gospel, The Lord's invitation, the message of the Spirit (in the Word) -- were powerless. Man waited passively at the altar, or cried in agony, for something God had freely offered, and pleaded with man to accept.

Man trusted his feelings, purely subjective, for proof that God had "come into his heart," and then proposed a mystical concept of the "new creature" with a directly in-dwelling Holy Spirit to further guide him (More subjectivism!). And the whole erroneous package was labeled "Grace".

Do you see why I am concerned when a tract on "Grace" begins with a concept of man which, unintentionally or otherwise, is so dangerously loaded?