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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Crash, Total Depravity and Other Stuff

I haven't posted much lately in large part because I've been terribly sick with some virus. It's been three weeks and I think I am only now starting to turn the corner.

But here are a couple of things going on:

  • Work in recruitment for the seminary is fun and challenging. I really enjoyed a conference in Indianapolis which focused on recruitment for theological schools. I have a wonderful staff and it's been rewarding to learn to know and utilize their respective gifts.
  • Next week, I'm going to meet with three focus groups. I'm getting three sets of five first year students and their wives to meet with me for 30-40 minutes. I'm going to interview them to find out why they chose to come to CTS, what the chief issues were, and to get their ideas for how my team can better serve future prospective students.
  • We're still putting up our daily audio advent devotions which you can get by going to our seminary website. I have another one of mine going up tomorrow. Excuse how hoarse I sound.
  • I re-watched the movie, Crash, the other night. I really think that's a great flick. It's a very clever commentary on all different aspects of racial stereotyping. Everyone does it and the movie is good about showing the flaws and strengths of each character. Everybody is bad but nobody is all bad. I liked that about the movie. We talk in Lutheranism sometimes about "total depravity" but that really is a Calvinist category. I don't know that I accept it. Certainly, before God I have nothing to offer but my sin. But even the vilest person does nice things for his neighbor. When we speak of the fallen nature of man, we should distinguish between righteousness before God and righteousness before man. I don't have any righteousness of my own to offer God for salvation. But toward my neighbor, I may do all sorts of right things, even as I do a lot of wicked things mixed in. Lutherans must not talk about the fallen-ness of man as if to say everything he ever does or thinks or says is worthless in every way. I think we do that sometimes.

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VirginiaLutherans said...

While it is true that men do good things for other men, I think we need to always be careful to clarify it, as you have, with "righteousness before man" and "righteousness before God." I would contend, though, that the vilest man does no good thing for his neighbor. What little "good" he may do, he does so only for his benefit alone. I can only think of SS death camps, Stalin, any genocidal purge, etc to see that "natural" man is solely focused on his percieved gain. I think we only truely see what "righteousness before man" humans are capable of when you observe Christians. I think we can equally errant in giving men too much or too little credit for what good he does. It is a fine line drawn between the two kingdoms. Thank you for treading it correctly (it is so easy to fall to one side or another).

Moving always exposes you to new germ strains, and they usually knock you out. Glad to hear you are on the mend.

Carl said...

RE: "Crash". I bought it a while ago and looked at the "extras," and found something surprising. If you listen to the director's cmty
along with the film, (I think it's
at the part where the officer visits the black social worker) Haggis comments of his intentinpally putting in cross images throughout the film in various backgrounds.
True, unless someone was alerted to this, I suppose we could say,
"So what?" Still, perhaps it his attempt to get us to look at the answer to not only racism but to all of humanity's problems, chief of and source of is original sin which has been answered for in Christ's death on the cross.

CPA said...

A useful distinction is total depravity (which is to be believed) vs. utter depravity (which is wrong). Total depravity referes to the extent, meaning that every part of our nature is so tainted by sin that it falls under God's law. Since God's law demands perfection, this amounts to saying no part of our nature is perfect.

Utter depravity means every part of our nature is as bad as it possibly could be. This is ridiculous, but like you said, sometimes Christians give the impression of actually believing it.

If we were to portray our nature as a circle with parts colored according to depravity, total depravity would mean that every part is at least light grey. Utter depravity would mean every part is jet black. Neither is free from God's law, but their's a big distinction.

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