I appreciate the humor of this MEME enriched generation, I really do. I have even chuckled at several that were aimed directly at me. I guess I can thank my two older brothers for my relatively thick skin.
(They still to this day call me “LP” which is short for “Little Pig.” Apparently, my first name is similar to the word “piglet” in Portuguese, which my Great Aunt Roberta kindly shared with us when she was back in the States on furlough from her missionary work in Brazil. Thanks Aunt Roberta!)
The MEMEs above are a common theme we see from our Calvinistic friends, but this is nothing new. Long before MEMEs I recall illustrations and jokes being employed to belittle anyone who suggested man was merely metaphorically sick when it came to their inherited nature from the Fall of Adam.
Back when I was a Calvinist I often used the old illustration about the Lifeguard. I recall preaching, “He doesn’t merely throw you a life preserver and allow you to grab on, but he dives in and drags your lifeless body off the bottom to breathe new life in you.” I’d conclude with something like, “We weren’t just drowning, we were dead! We were born corpses, not merely sick!” That’ll preach, won’t it!? I certainly thought so.
But is this what the Bible actually says? Or is this just a popularized catch phrase use to propagate a systematic dogma?
Hear me when I say this… When I mocked the metaphor of sinners being sick, I was mocking the inspired word of God and so are all Calvinists today who continue to propagate this misnomer.
The fact is that the scriptures metaphorically address our condition as a sickness far more than as deadness. (Jer 17:9, 23; Mk 2:17; Lk 5:31; Mt 9:12; Ps 38:3; Is 64:6; etc) And when speaking metaphorically of deadness it’s never described as a morally incapacitated condition from birth due to the Fall, but instead as a condition of being separated from God by our own rebellion. For instance, the Prodigal was “DEAD/lost” then “alive/found” demonstrating that the term “DEAD” is idiomatic for “separated by rebellion” not “innate moral inability” (Luke 15:24). Just as our soul is separated from our body when we die so too sinful humanity is separated from God by his rebellion.
Look what James taught,
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” – James 1:13-15
Are we born “DEAD” according to James? Or is DEATH birthed in those who sin after its “full grown?” What did Paul say?
“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” – Romans 7:7-11
Are we born “DEAD” according to Paul? Or was it through the commandment, after “sin sprang to life” that DEATH came?
In contrast, the metaphor of illness is quite prevalent throughout the scriptures:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” -Rom 5:6
“The heart is more deceitful than all else. And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” -Jer 17:9
“And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” -Mark 2:17
“There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin.” -Ps 38:3
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” -Is 64:6
We are sick and in need of a Physician.
We are cursed and in need of His cure.
His life-giving truth is sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which He sent it — “…so that you may believe…and by believing may have life in His name.” (Jn 20:31)
So, I will unashamedly declare to my unsaved friends that I hope they come to know the Great Physician who can heal their illness. Great well soon, indeed!
For more on the metaphorical use of the word dead in scripture please CLICK HERE.