The Error of Total Depravity & Inability in Acts 17

April 11, 2014

by Bob Hadley, pastor
Westside Baptist Church
Daytona Beach, Fla.

In Acts 17 the Apostle Paul addresses the philosophers at Mars Hill. I want to look at a couple comments that I find very interesting concerning the issue of total depravity and inability as trumped by Calvinism. I will also make a comment concerning the emphasis on God’s sovereignty and omniscience that drive the Calvinist tenets.

In verse 22 we read, “Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:”

It is interesting that Paul is here addressing a group of educated pagans but are still “religious folk.” In the courtyard, they had erected statues to all kinds of gods and even had one to “the unknown god” to appease one they may have not known about. This is an interesting comment seeing that apart from God’s effectual calling, no one will seek God. These educated men knew that there was a god. Unlike the educated folk today, they made a place for gods in their lives. I will leave that statement at that. Paul says, this unknown God is the One I want to “proclaim to you.” In Paul’s mind, there is no idea of effectual calling or special grace that enables any of them to be miraculously saved; he believes that the proclamation of the Word can save them all if they will respond in repentance and believing faith.

He introduces this unknown God as the Creator of the world and everything in it. This God does not live in statues or manmade edifices like the temple. He made every person from one blood; one family and God has the boundaries of their being for one reason; verse 27, “that they should seek THE LORD (not some pagan god) in hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any of us.”

This statement is more than interesting because Paul is clearly saying in this message…

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