Monday, August 25, 2003

Total Depravity and Free Will by Ira Benjamin Hezekiah

King and Associates, 0974173002, $12.99

There is an old joke my father used to tell, that if you asked people of six different Christian denominations what one particular Bible passage meant, you would get seven different answers. Name a topic related to Christianity, and more than likely it has been supported and refuted in the same books, if not the same passages, of the Old or New Testaments.

No joke, Ira Benjamin Hezekiah of the non-denominational website tackles one such topic of debate - the question of depravity - in Total Depravity and Free Will; more specifically, is man doomed to be deprived of salvation because of the inability to come to God on his own? Did God create us specifically to have us come to Him at His leisure, as Hezekiah says is a belief held by many Christians?

Hezekiah, a supporter of the concept of free will, says no, turning directly to the Bible to support his thesis. In Total Depravity, the question of the existence of total depravity is dissected into four parts: man's nature after the Fall; man's role in his own salvation; God role in man's salvation; and man's will as it interacts with God's. Using examples from Genesis (in particular the stories of Abraham, Enoch, and the Great Flood), Hezekiah succintly illustrates the ability of man to control his own destiny with regards not only to sin, but to seeking God's mercy and love. New Testament passages cited serve to bolster Hezekiah's arguement for free will. In preparation for detractors, Hezekiah devotes a section of Total Depravity to refuting proponents of this theory, explaining in particular Paul's letter to the Ephesians (when he speaks of people "dead in their sins") in a chapter that may please those who do not hold belief in sola scriptura.

Regardless of your beliefs in total depravity, Hezekiah's work offers a thought-provoking, straightforward study of the subject, suitable for scholarly discussion or friendly Biblical debate.

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