Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
the leading pantheistic philosophers of the nineteenth century, like Fichte, Schelling, Jacobi, Hegel, etc., were idealists, i.e., those who held that not real entities but only ideas exist, e.g., what we see about us are not realities but figments of our minds. Finally, the denial of man's personality and his liberty to choose cannot explain man in his nature, structure, qualities and activities toward himself, his fellows, the universe and God. Accordingly, pantheism is a stupendous failure as an explanation of the problem of God, the universe and man. Hence it is a discredible and discredited theory that soon will be cast away onto the rubbish pile of outgrown and outworn speculations.
Thus reason and facts are in most violent opposition to pantheism. To the true Christian, steeped in the Spirit of God and having intimate union and communion with God, not only in prayer and contemplation, but in the varied experiences and providences of his life, pantheism has not only the above considerations against it, but the facts of his personal and intimate life are to him a most striking contradiction of it. The marvelous enlightenment that he receives from God and that satisfies his head and heart refutes for him this theory. His experiences in justification deepen this refutation. His experiences in sanctification, especially his new-creaturely experiences in the developing of God's Spirit in Him and in its contacts with God heighten to him this refutation. And finally, his experiences in deliverance composed of his rescues by the Lord from Satanic traps and of his victories over sin, error, selfishness and worldliness in his battles under God's directions against the devil, the world and the flesh, widen this refutation, so that to him pantheism appears in the light of Scriptures, reason and fact to be a demonstrated false view of God, in proof of whose falsity everything within him, about him and connected with him, others and the world, prevails with unanswerable power and demonstration.
Our previous examination of false views of God has brought before our view: atheism, materialism, agnosticism and pantheism, all of which deny the existence of a personal God. In this particular deism differs from them in that it accepts the idea of a personal God. Deism stands for three views that are opposed to Christianity, each one of which we should examine in these discussions. Deism stands for a false view of God, of man and of the hereafter; that is to say, those who hold to the false view of God that is espoused by deists also entertain as a part of their view of God a false view of man and of the hereafter. It is because the errors on these two subjects are derived from the deist's false view of God that properly to understand the deist's view of God we must also understand his related view of man and the hereafter. Accordingly, these three phases of deism call for a review, if the deistic system is to be understood and properly appraised. We will discuss these three in the order named.
First, then, a study of deism's view of God and a refutation of it will engage our attention. The deist confidently asserts the personality of God and to his claim on this head we respond with a hearty amen. He by preference refers to this great Person as the Great First Cause; and on this point we can also grasp his hand in harmony. And by that appellation he properly asserts God's eternity and His separateness from creation; and on these points we also agree. He loves to expatiate on the numerous evidences of design, wisdom, power and beneficence as these are manifest on all hands in nature. And in this we are glad to own him as right. Accordingly, the deist believes in God as a great, mighty, wise and loving personal Creator, who, they say (here we must begin to dissent), made everything perfect and subjected everything to the sway of perfect laws and then left His creative work as a perfect thing to take care of itself without any further
interposition from Him. According to deism it would be wholly superfluous for God to occupy Himself any more with His creation; for, they allege, having made it perfect and subjected it to the reign of the perfect laws of nature, it no more needs, and therefore no more receives, any attention from Him. He has, according to deism, shut Himself off from His works, not only as something distinct from Himself, but also as something with which He is forever done, and therefore as something with which He neither needs, nor does concern Himself. He is like the watchmaker who, having made a good watch out of good materials and in workmanship manner, on selling it, winds it up and says to it, Good-bye forever. This is in brief the deist's view of God, who therefore is not only absolutely separate, but also absolutely separated from the world in the fullest sense of the word.
As we contemplate this view of God, we find it quite good up to the place where creation is claimed to be perfect and therefore is no more a concern of God. From there on we find it lacking. Our first objection to it, then, is this: It teaches that creation is perfect, while the Bible, reason and facts are to the contrary. This earth is a part of creation; but while the Bible teaches it will sometime be perfect—when the whole earth will be a paradise (Ezek. 36: 30, 34-36; Is. 35: 1, 2; 65: 21-35)—it distinctly teaches that both the earth and its animate beings are imperfect (Gen. 3: 17-19; Rom. 8: 19-22). A little consideration will show that facts are in harmony with these Scriptures. Certainly, the vast barren parts of the earth, like the deserts of Sahara, Gobi, Arabia, America, etc., are far from perfection. The vast ice fields of Arctica and Antarctica present a very imperfect part of the earth to our view. The vast swamps and marshes of the tropics and of some sections of the temperate zone do not strike the thinking mind as parts of perfection. The prevalence of disease-creating conditions in a
large part of the earth, directly due to the condition of the pertinent parts of the earth, their climate, and their atmosphere, do not agree with the thought of nature being perfect. Then, when we see the vast evidence of physical, mental, moral and religious imperfection among mankind, and the still greater evidence of imperfection in beast, fowl, insect, reptile and fish, we must concede to nature's being far from perfect in these respects. The earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, famines, explosions, pests, blights, diseases, pestilences, tornadoes and tidal waves are another indictment of the doctrine of nature's perfection. Certainly, the monstrosities of some births, the selfish struggle for existence and the rule of might prevalent throughout nature, justify our questioning this doctrine. So far as we know, by reasoning from analogy, apart from God's and the angels' abode, the planets of our solar system and the planets of all other solar systems are, like ours, far from perfect.
To the objection that our understanding implies that the Creator's work is imperfect, we answer: Yes and no. That part of His creative work which is completed is doubtless without flaw (Deut. 32: 4). But, so far as our knowledge goes, there is as yet but one star in the universe wherein the Creator's work is completed—that star on which God and the angels dwell, and which God has promised, as heaven, to the Faithful. It would be as foolish to demand that we believe that God's incomplete work is perfect as it would be to require us to believe that a watchmaker's incompleted watch, an automobile-manufacturer's incompleted machine, or an electrician's incompleted dynamo, were perfect. No incomplete invention or creation can be perfect. The imperfections above pointed out in the earth and doubtless similar ones prevailing in other planets are present because the Creator's creative process is not yet complete in them. When such processes are complete this earth and they will be perfect,
as the Scriptures teach they will become. And there are hints in the Bible that Jesus and the saints will have as their eternal work the task of bringing one planet after another in the universe, with their inhabitants, to perfection (Rom. 8: 17; Is. 9: 7). This is quite a different prospect as to how the Faithful will spend eternity from that held out to us in hymn-book theology—"loafing about the Throne, killing time and playing on golden harps!"
But with matters viewed as above, we see at once on the one hand the unfactualness and unscriptualness of the deist's view of nature's perfection and on the other hand the factualness and Scriptualness of the Christian's view of nature and the appropriateness of Jesus' statement: Hitherto My Father worketh (John 5: 17), i.e., the Father was working right along, even if He had temporarily ceased His creative work with the earth and man from the entrance of the curse up to the present, a cessation which will end with the Millennium. Consequently we say to the deist, Friend, "God's creative work with the universe and man is not yet complete; hence He cannot have withdrawn Himself from His work but partially done. His perfection argues that He must continue with His work until it is complete." If this be so, the entire viewpoint of the deist, both as to God's present relation to the universe and man and nature's perfection must be erroneous.
As the deist's view of God cuts Him off from all providential care of His creatures, we must also on this ground take issue with him. The very fact of an incomplete universe implies providential preservation exercised over its incompleted parts, that the past gains of the creative processes be not lost and that they may be maintained as a foundation for the remaining advancing stages of the creative processes. Furthermore, such preservation of past gains in the creative processes cannot be left solely in the hands of nature's laws, because nature's laws like all other laws are not
self-enforcing. There must be a ruler to order and enforce these; so that they are kept continually adjusted and readjusted in proper coordination and super-ordination and subordination to one another for the harmonious attainment of predesigned results. Even man does to an extent manipulate laws of nature so as to bring about certain beneficial results, e.g., electrical laws to produce light, heat, sound (in telephone and telegraph), etc., and radio laws to send us music and messages through the ether; and he can also manipulate these to produce disaster, e.g., explosions, electrocutions, etc. And just as there is a continual adjustment on man's part of various natural laws required to insure such results, and a preservation of the operation of just such laws of nature as man desires to use; so the Creator must also act as the preserver and manipulator of nature's laws to keep them at work to produce His various designs throughout the universe. These facts further undermine the deist's view of God, according to which He is an absentee and unconcerned God. As little as it is possible for various laws of nature producing uniformly the beneficial or harmful results above indicated without man's manipulation of them, so little and much less is it possible for the laws of the universe to operate with their designed objects without the manipulation of a King, who must be infinitely more powerful and wise than the men who in very limited fields manipulate the laws of nature above referred to. Therefore, the Christian's view of God's providential preservation and control of nature's laws for the preservation and government of the universe, is seen to be reasonable, and this refutes deism from another standpoint of its creed.
The condition of the curse, in which both Scripture and facts prove man to be, creates the necessity of the intervention of a wise, just, loving and powerful Creator, lest man become utterly and eternally ruined. Hence the necessity of God's intervening, in order
both to show man a way out of his ruined condition and to help him avail himself of that way out. The former implies a Divine revelation, which the Christian believes he has in the Bible; and the latter implies a Divinely ordained and efficient Savior, whom the Christian believes God arranged for him to have in Jesus Christ, "the fairest of the children of men." But deism's absentee and unconcerned God in the nature of the case can give no Divine revelation nor send a Divinely appointed and efficient Savior, just because He can have nothing more to do with the works of His hand after bringing them into existence. Accordingly the deist denies the possibility of a Divine revelation on God's part, and as we shall see when we consider deism's view of man, he denies the necessity of such a revelation on man's part, claiming that man within himself has all the possibilities of saving himself. This consideration bares the inherent infidelistic character of deism. To his position we have several objections. A God like his who is so impotent as to be unable to communicate with His creatures surely must be too weak to have brought the universe into existence and to have put it under the reign of law. But if He was powerful enough to do the harder thing—create the universe and give it effective laws—certainly He must be powerful enough to be able to do an easier thing—to communicate with His intelligent beings. Again, if He was wise enough to plan and to produce the universe and work out laws for its preservation and government, He must be wise enough to plan and produce a communication of His Will to His creatures; for the latter is a less intricate thing than the former. Further, if He was beneficent enough to create man for man's happiness and well-being, as the deist claims, He must be beneficent enough to help man by a communication of ways and means to attain that happiness and well-being; for evidently the former was the more beneficent of the two. Accordingly,
from the nature of the Divine attributes that the deist claims that his God in creation had, we must conclude that the deist's idea of an absentee and unconcerned God is incompatible with his view of that God's attributes as these are displayed in His creative work. These considerations at once prove the reasonableness of a Divine revelation and the unreasonableness of the deist's denial of its possibility, viewed from the standpoint of his position on the attributes of God as displayed in creation.
A further consideration connected with the necessity of God's communicating His Will to man is found in man's evident inability to attain such needed knowledge as a Divine revelation could impart. We may as much as we please expatiate and that at great lengths on man's wonderful abilities, as the deist loves to do, and that even to excess; the stubborn fact yet remains that such knowledge is beyond man to attain by his own unaided powers. This is manifest from a number of considerations. The prevalence of so many mutually contradictory religions and of so many self-contradictory religions, each teaching a different theory of man's relation to God and of the securing of harmony with God, proves man's inability of his own powers to reason out a correct diagnosis of the condition of the race in relation to God and the way of salvation from his condition physically, mentally, morally and religiously. Not only so, but this is proven by the further fact that even with a Divine revelation—the Bible—in their hands, the vast majority of those who look upon that Bible as the Divine revelation misunderstand it, as is evident from the clashing creeds of Christendom, parts of which, like the creedal trinity, the God-man, etc., etc., etc., their adherents frankly admit they cannot understand. Man's inability to solve the problem of his relations to God and to amend them, makes necessary a Divine revelation, if such needed knowledge and accompanying help are to come
to man. But deism's God cannot give man this sorely needed knowledge, much less this sorely needed help. It cannot, therefore, be a view of God that can satisfy our head's exactions and our heart's needs as to a worth-while God.
Deism's absentee and unconcerned God makes the deist deny the possibility of the miraculous. His view of the laws of nature as being unchangeable because perfect, and his God's leaving everything to these laws of nature for management, make him deny the possibility of the miraculous. With this view the deist sweeps aside with one stroke the possibility of a Divine revelation and, therefore, also denies anything to be a Divine revelation that has the miraculous connected with it. This, of course, implies the deist's rejection of Christianity, which has much of the miraculous connected with it. We think this position of the deist is as untenable as his position on the perfection of the universe, on God as the Preserver and Governor of the universe that He has created and on the untenability of a possible Divine revelation. Having proven the possibility and necessity of a Divine revelation from the operations of the Divine power, wisdom and love and from the inability of men's heads and hearts, we have advanced a considerable distance on the journey in proof of the possibility of the miraculous. Against the claim of the deist we desire to state that miracles are not to be regarded as violations of the laws of nature. Their operation is along the lines of nature's laws controlled by knowledge. A hundred years ago it would have been said that it is contrary to the laws of nature for a man in New York to carry on a conversation with a man at Moscow and the defender of that proposition would refer to the curvature of the earth, the resistance of the atmosphere, etc., etc., as manifesting laws of nature contrary to the procedure. Now, we are able to do this both by telephone and by radio. We have learned to manipulate
certain laws of nature so as to supersede the operation of other laws of nature that were supposed to make impossible, as against the laws of nature, a man in New York conversing with a man in Moscow. The chemist and physicist are constantly using one law of nature to accomplish a thing that is under other conditions opposed by some other law of nature. And, thus, we have learned of a co-ordination, a super-ordination and a subordination among the laws of nature. And in this fact lies the possibility of the miraculous. God knows all about the working of the laws of nature in their co-ordination, super-ordination and subordination, and works the miraculous by acting along the lines of these three facts.
A few examples will suffice. Peter's mother-in-law had a fever. Fever in ultimate analysis is due to insufficiency of iron in the blood to resist some intruder. If that deficiency can be supplied to a sufficient degree the fever subsides. Jesus, whose miracles of healing were wrought by His taking out of His own body the thing that was deficient in the patient and putting that into the patient's body, thereby effecting the cure (Mark 5: 30; Luke 6: 19; 8: 46) in a way unknown to us, but known and enacted by Him, wrought the cure of the fever in Peter's mother-in-law, by giving her some of the iron in His body. The laws of nature turn the moisture and certain ingredients of the earth into sap. Other laws of nature produce therefrom grape blossoms, which in due course, by nature's laws, turn into luscious grapes. Their compressed juice is by other laws of nature turned into wine. But Jesus turned water into wine, not by violating these laws of nature, but by using certain of these in a way we do not understand to accomplish by one act what various laws of nature produce by a series of acts stretching over a considerable length of time. Again, it is a law of nature that each structure has its rate of vibration. It is another law of nature that if that same rate of
vibration acts sufficiently from the outside on that structure, the latter will break down. This accounts for many bridges in Switzerland breaking down when Napoleon's armies, while passing over them, kept step at a speed that produced the same rate of vibration as that of the bridges, which experiences resulted in a general order requiring the French soldiers to break step when crossing bridges. As a result no more bridges fell, though crossed by the same or larger numbers of men.
This fact enables us to understand several of the strangest miracles of the Bible—the fall of Jericho's walls by trumpet blasts and shouts, and the confounding of the host of Jehoshaphat's enemies by the songs of the temple singers. God, knowing the rate of vibration of Jericho's walls, had the priests blow the trumpets and the people shout at that same rate of vibration, which caused Jericho's walls to fall. Human brains under excitement of the war spirit have a certain rate of vibrations. God knew this rate as it existed in the host of Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites (2 Chron. 20: 14-25) and by having the temple singers produce sound of the same rate, the crazing of the opposing hosts set in; and in their insanity they destroyed one another. Scientists are just beginning to see the immense power shut up in an atom and are beginning to accomplish gigantic works of destruction by the concentrated application of the electrons of but one atom. God always knew this, and used this knowledge in the working of miracles. To those ignorant of the method, at times His miracles seemed to violate nature's laws. We feel confident that when science has sufficiently advanced in its knowledge of manipulating certain of nature's laws we will learn to explain every Biblical miracle along the lines of higher laws of nature displacing lower laws of nature and thus accomplishing the miracle. A miracle—the word means wonder—is such, not to God, but to man in his ignorance of the
process, which, though wrought by supernatural agents, worked along perfectly natural lines. We venture to say that there is scarcely a miracle set forth in the Bible that would have surprised its witnesses more than a man in New York conversing with a man in Moscow, or than a man by television seeing another man at a great distance with walls and other obstacles intervening. Why people living in the twentieth century, with all its scientific miracles, some of them as wonderful as many recorded in the Bible, should think Bible miracles impossible is one of the wonders, but not one of the miracles, of our times! Surely, we of all generations, seeing the wonders operated by manipulating certain laws of nature in the displacement of others, should not object to the miraculous.
On the contrary, as experience and observation prove, the co-ordination of some laws of nature to others, and the super-ordination and subordination of some laws of nature to others, with the result that usually the super-ordinated ones displace subordinated ones, so under manipulation subordinated ones at times overrule super-ordinated ones. We may be sure that man's manipulating such laws to secure the miracles of electricity, radio, steam and various rays, implies God's ability to perform more than such miracles. In the balloon and heavier-than-air planes we have splendid illustrations of how certain laws of nature under manipulation overcome the laws of gravity enough to allow man to attain immense heights. In diving suits and submarines, we see the manipulation of certain laws in ways to set aside the operation of other laws of nature. This principle is also manifest in the shooting of projectiles high into the air, yea, even in the lifting of a foot. If man in a variety of ways can thus manipulate the laws of nature so as to displace the operation of others for the purpose at hand, how much more could the Infinite Author of nature and nature's laws so manipulate them! Surely,
these considerations abundantly and satisfactorily dispose of the position of the deist on his absentee and unconcerned God being tied hand and foot by the laws of nature, when it comes to the miraculous. Let us, therefore, set aside the silly twaddle that superficially conjures up the supposed invariability of the laws of nature as a sure disproof of the miracles of the Bible.
This absentee and unconcerned deistical God certainly comes far short as a character developer and a piety producer in us. Such a God can arouse belief in His existence; but certainly not the kind of faith that trusts God as an unfailing Friend and Father, reliable Helper and Deliverer and steadfast Stay and Comforter. In the nature of such a God, tied hand and foot by nature's alleged unchangeable laws, we could not exercise hope in His interposing on our behalf in the changing and evil conditions that accompany more or less of our experiences; for He is a God who most leaves us in the lurch when we most need Him. The matter is still worse when we contemplate the inability of this God to draw out and develop our love. While He can elicit some of the minor features of duty-love from the standpoint of gratitude for His creative blessings, He is helpless to do this from the standpoint of providential, redemptive, instructional, justifying, sanctifying and delivering blessings, which develop duty-love to higher degrees than creative blessings can. But such a God can barely call forth even the lowest degrees of disinterested love and is helpless to do so in its higher degrees. Thus, He can fall forth very little of appreciation toward Himself, no sympathetic oneness and sacrifice. He is powerless to elicit from us whole-hearted consecration of ourselves to Him as a reasonable, wise, just and energetic service. As He is incapable to elicit such responses in us toward Himself, He cannot do it in us toward our Lord Jesus. Moreover, He is almost helpless to empower us out of devotion to Him to exercise duty-love, not to mention
disinterested love to the brethren, the world of mankind and our enemies. These are only the four main things in the truly godly life, wherein the deist's God breaks down as a real God. What shall we say as to His inequality to the task of developing in us other graces, like self-control, patience, humility, modesty, peace, joy, industry, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, sincerity, liberality, self-denial, sacrifice, etc.? Here He suffers a darker eclipse than on the graces before considered. How could such a God draw out such a devotion toward Him as enlists all our time, strength, health, talents, means, position and influence, to enhance His Name? Surely, here is an utter breakdown in Him. And how could He strengthen us to suffer and die in His service? In all candor we would have to answer: Not at all! Hence, the deist's God is not the kind that we need, to live, serve and suffer aright; and hence He is not the kind of a God that fills the requirements of a satisfactory God for the Church or World.
Such a God is one who is not a prayer-heeding and prayer-answering God. This lies in the nature of an absentee and unconcerned God, as well as in the nature of a God who is tied hand and foot by alleged invariable laws of nature. Do our hearts crave and cry out for fellowship with Him as by their constitution they naturally do? The deist's God deigns not, nay, is incapable of entering into a relation with us, wherein He might heed and answer our prayers. Furthermore, His aloofness estranges us from Him so that we do not feel drawn toward Him in prayer; for a prayer-eliciting God must be powerful, approachable, sympathetic, kind, winsome—in a word He must be one who has the good will and the ability to help us. He must be gracious enough to invite us to approach Him for help, good enough to promise to give us a favorable hearing, kind enough to respond according to our needs, and wise enough to supply them aright and to
deny our whims, whose satisfaction would prove to the injury of others as well as ourselves. Such the deist's God cannot be. As a result deists do not pray; and why should they? Is their God not tied hand and foot by alleged perfect and invariable laws of nature? Assuredly they so teach and as a result do not come in prayer with petitions, believing Him too indifferent, far away and circumscribed to make favorable response. In other words, considered from every standpoint in which we look for God to be, the deist's God breaks down. He cannot be the God that corresponds to the deepest physical, mental, moral and religious needs of mankind; and therefore He cannot be mankind's God. As an all-around God He is a failure for human needs and aspirations, a misfit.
Contrast with such a God the God of the Bible, and the incomparable superiority of the true God as able to fulfill all man's needs is apparent. As a progressive, not a prestochango Creator, He stands forth, and that in harmony with all observed facts that the condition of the universe requires. He is the Preserver and Governor in His domain, though He temporarily permits, because of ultimate good coming therefrom, a rebellious and evil condition in a part of it. He made the laws of nature, but not so that they all work mechanically without the interrelations of co— ordination, super-ordination and subordination and not so that He is their ignorant slave, but that He is their intelligent Manipulator and Regulator. He has the power to communicate with man and does so through the Bible, His revelation. He is wise and powerful to use the laws of nature to accomplish His good will toward man. He is such a Being as elicits the good in mankind for character development, supplies the good mankind lacks and prompts Him to reformation. Moreover, He is so gracious as to invite man to approach Him in prayer, is able to supply his needs, promises to supply them and keeps His word of promise so to do. Hence
He is the kind of a God that we need and that all the universe needs. This proves His incomparable superiority to the deist's conceptions of a God.
Next in order let us consider the unsatisfactoriness of deism's view of Man and the Hereafter. This will dispose of the three tenets of deism which its advocates usually put as: God, Virtue and Immortality.
Foregoing we set forth deism's view of God and then refuted it from Scripture, reason and facts, and came to the conclusion from all three of these standpoints that the deist's God is a failure as a God for human needs. On every hand His deficiencies as a God stand out, and that to a degree that makes both head and heart turn from Him as unsatisfactory to both. His unsuitableness for the purposes of a God further becomes apparent when we consider deism's view of man as a creature of God; for man in his creation is perfect, according to deism; but this claim is as false as the deist's other claim that nature is perfect. This latter thought we sufficiently refuted above. As superficiality marks this latter thought, so does it also mark the thought that man is perfect. The deist has a too optimistic view of man. According to deism man is really good, both in head and heart. He intends well. There is really no root fault in man; at worst he lacks some in knowledge and is in some cases weak in good; but he is not really evil and corrupt, since his intentions are good and always would be realized had he in every case the necessary knowledge. Give him time enough, and he will develop into the highest heights of character. In the meantime, like a good-natured father, God looks upon his deficiencies as negligible, his ignorance as excusable and his faults, if he have any, as trivial, and therefore to be good-naturedly ignored. Therefore He does not hold him strictly to account, blaming not him, but his environment and training, for these blemishes, if they are such. But as to man's being radically evil—evil in
nature—the deist will have none of such a thought. The above brief sketch of deism's view of man is unscriptural, unreasonable and unfactual; accordingly it implies a gross defect in God, especially in justice, though also in power; and it is because of this defect that we discuss deism's view of man as a thing implying a defect in its view of God, and as therefore fathering a false view of God.
But before pointing out the erroneousness of this view of man, and thus of God, we would say something in extenuation of deism's view of man. This view of man was undoubtedly elaborated in antithesis to the view of total depravity, which especially Calvinism has championed. In these two views we meet two extremes, both of which are incorrect. Man by nature is neither so bad as Calvinism makes him out, nor so good as deism sets him forth. Neither the expression nor the thought of the total depravity of fallen man is Biblical, reasonable or factual. If fallen man were totally depraved, he would not have one vestige of God's image remaining in him. Hence he would have no conscience Godward nor manward, nor any proper feeling and quality Godward and manward; hence he would not only lack all faith, hope, justice, love, etc., but would have their opposites. He would have no conjugal, parental, nor neighborly love. Such a condition the Bible clearly denies. How completely does Jesus overthrow this thought when He says, "If ye, being evil [fallen], know how to give good gifts to your children" (Matt. 7: 11; Luke 11: 13). Hence to say that man is totally depraved in his faculties, feelings and qualities, is unbiblical, unfactual and unreasonable. The Bible, reason and facts teach that there is depravity in all of these, not that they are totally depraved. Such depravity varies in degree in various people. Only in actual death can total depravity exist. Even Satan is not totally depraved; for his faculties are yet perfect, though his moral and religious character
may be called totally depraved—irreformably fixed in sin. The character of the second death class may be called totally depraved Godward, but not necessarily manward. But such exceptions, in which total depravity exists within certain limits, but not throughout the entire being, do not touch the question of the race's alleged total depravity; for the vast bulk of the race is outside of the second death class—the irreformably wicked—and often do good things.
Above we pointed out the fact that deism's view of man is the natural revulsion to the extreme view of present human nature as being totally depraved, held especially by Calvinism. Man, as a rule, is a creature of extremes; few indeed are they who, opposing an extreme of error, keep the golden middle between it and the opposite extreme. Deists are no exception to this general rule. Avoiding the error of total depravity, they have jumped to the opposite extreme and, theoretically at least, predicate man's perfection as a creature of God, a perfection that they hold, despite ignorances and weaknesses that they concede to exist in man. Too superficial to see a contradiction between man's alleged perfection and his acknowledged ignorances and weaknesses, they let their optimism blind them to realities, losing themselves in the delusions of such optimism. Like the ostrich, they cover their eyes of understanding with the sands of oblivion. The falseness of this view is apparent in the light of Scripture, reason and fact. As Calvinism fixes its eyes on some exceptional human monsters and from them concludes that human nature as now existing under the fall is totally depraved; so deism fixes its eyes on a few exceptionally fine specimens of human nature and from them concludes that present human nature is good—perfect. It must be conceded that the deist is right in claiming that there are some very fine specimens of human nature and that in all generations there have been such. But it is fallacious to conclude
that these are perfect, and more fallacious to conclude that all others are more or less like them. All are imperfect: some more so, some less so.
In harmony with facts and reason the Bible recognizes this variety in mankind. Indeed the Bible, roughly speaking, divides the race into two classes—the faith class and the unbelief class. Some are born so depraved that under the untoward conditions of the curse they cannot exercise the faith now needed to come to God. Moreover, these have been under such environment and training as to increase their natural incapacity to come to God. On the other hand, some are born so as to make them capable of exercising the faith now needed to come to God; and their good heredity is reinforced by favorable environment and training. These two classes are brought to our attention by Jesus in Mark 4: 11, 12, and Matt. 13: 10-13, where also their different treatment from the Lord is set forth. And in each one of these two classes there are variations of faith or unbelief. So in other good qualities there are naturally great differences between people. But under the limitations of the curse there is depravity in all, but total depravity in none. It is by superficially fixing his eyes on the good qualities in people, and optimistically shutting his eyes to the bad qualities in people that the deist takes his seat on the opposite side of the question from that where the Calvinist has seated himself. The truth is midway between them: All humans under the curse are varyingly depraved in all their faculties, but none are therein totally depraved; all have some of the vestiges of God's image in all their faculties; some have very much of these in them; others have very little of these; and between these extremes in mankind as at present constituted are all sorts of variations in the degree of such vestiges.
Certainly the Bible teaches the depravity of all mankind in all its faculties under the curse. "The imagination
of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. 8: 21). Surely "all flesh had corrupted his way" (Gen. 6: 12). The claim to be perfect is a proof of perversity, depravity (Job 9: 20). This depravity is transmitted by heredity (Job 14: 4). "There is none that doeth good [perfection]" (Ps. 14: 1). All have gone astray and become filthy, without exception (Ps. 14: 3; Is. 55: 6). Even the best have been conceived and born in sin (Ps. 51: 5), let alone the wicked, who are estranged from God before birth (Ps. 58: 3). Men's thoughts are vain (Ps. 94: 11). There are no exceptions to such depravity and its effects (Ps. 130: 3; Eccl. 7: 20). In God's sight no living person can justify himself as sinless (Ps. 143: 2). Even the delay in executing punishment incites the fallen race to sin (Eccl. 8: 11). Even the heart is filled with evil (Eccl. 9: 3). "The whole head is sick; and the whole heart is faint. From the soles of the feet even unto the head there is no soundness [perfection] in it; but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores" (Is. 1: 5, 6). All of us are unclean and all our righteousness more or less polluted (Is. 64: 6). All have transgressed against the Lord (Jer. 2: 29). The Ethiopian's inability to change his skin and the leopard's inability to change his spots illustrates man's inability to do perfectly, since he by nature and practice is sinful (Jer. 13: 23). "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17: 9). Fallen man as prone to all sorts of evils is graphically described by the Lord (Mic. 7: 2-4).
The above are some Old Testament teachings on this subject. Now for some witnesses thereon from the New Testament. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matt. 15: 19). Sin made the world incapable of recognizing Jesus (John 1: 10). It is depravity that makes men love evil rather than good (John 3: 19). Certainly the Apostle Paul gives