I plan to complete a series of books outlining what I think are the Biblical alternatives to the five points of Calvinism (and Arminianism). Chosen to Serve: Why Election Is to Service, Not to Eternal Life, was my answer to Unconditional Election. I have two more manuscripts in the works—one on Limited Atonement (The Cross: Different Benefits, for Different People, Under Different Conditions), and one on Total Depravity (called Able to Believe: A Biblical Doctrine of Human Ability and Inability).
Regarding Total Depravity, Calvinists say that human beings are born without the ability to believe, hence regeneration must precede faith. Arminians/Wesleyans agree, but qualify that God’s prevenient grace enables everyone to believe through a partial regeneration.
I think a Free Grace view would be somewhat different. I think we should set aside the whole debate over whether people must be completely or partially regenerated before they can believe. I simply do not see that in the Bible at all.
Instead, the issue is not about regeneration, but God’s drawing (John 6:44). And the Bible is clear that God not only loves all (John 3:16) but is also drawing all to Himself (John 12:32). He especially draws people through signs (John 20:30), evidence, and preaching (Rom 10:14), so they will be persuaded of the truth and be saved.
But there’s a flipside to God’s drawing, namely, Satan’s resisting. That’s not something I usually see in Calvinist or Arminian treatments of Total Depravity, but I don’t think I can write Able to Believe without exploring Satan’s activity in the world and the war waging between him and God.
For example, how does Satan work to prevent people from believing?
“These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them” (Mark 4:15).
Here you see that Satan is working to take away the seed of the gospel from the minds of hearts of unbelievers. God draws by sowing the seed, and Satan resists by snatching it away. It’s something he has become quite good at. But his strategies can be recognized for what they are:
But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor 2:10-11).
Here we see that Satan has “schemes” to take “advantage” of us, such as capitalizing on unforgiveness between brethren. I can’t help but think of C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters as a modern portrayal of Satan’s typical devices to thwart Christians.
Another way that Satan attacks the mind is with his own signs and wonders:
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24; cf. Rev 19:20).
Elsewhere we read that Satan attacks by actively blinding people to the gospel:
in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor 4:4).
A question I have is this: why would Satan be so active in preventing God’s drawing if people are born totally unable to believe?
The evidence doesn’t fit the Calvinist doctrine of total inability. I wonder why Calvinists seem so blind to that inconsistency? Oh, right.