By Eusebio Tanicala
This article is another study about Calvinism. It is claimed by adherents of Calvinism that sinners are “dead” and since dead people are insensitive to his surroundings, a “dead sinner” could not make any decision.
Calvinists’ definition of the “dead sinner” is the same that is medically given to the physical person which today is based on the deadness of the brain. A brain-dead person, medically speaking, has no ability at all. This is the comparison submitted by Calvinists. But it is a wrong comparison. It is not supported by the Bible.
Since our study is biblically oriented, let the Bible give the definition. Are the “dead in sin” completely and absolutely insensitive to the world around them? Are they unable to exercise free will and personal choices? Let’s analyze several “dead” people in the Bible.
Genesis 2:17 and 3:2-4 use the term “die.” Is it true that Adam and Eve died on the very day both ate of the forbidden fruit in the garden? Yes, I believe they died. Not physically but spiritually. But were they completely insensitive to their surroundings? Did they not decide to cover themselves and hide? Did they not reason out and justify themselves when confronted by God? Yes, they did. Which means that the “deadness” of Adam and Eve is not equated to the medical deadness of a brain-dead person today that has not ability to think and move.
Luke 15:24 and 32. The Prodigal Son is said to be “dead,” but he exercised reason and choices while he was away into the world of sin wandering aimlessly. He exercised his reasoning power and chose to return to the house where his father lived. He confessed his sins and unworthiness. He participated in the celebration of his coming back to life. Again it is clear that the “deadness” of this prodigal son is not the same as the “deadness” of a biologically brain-dead person today that has no ability to think and move.
Matthew 8:22. Christ said “let the dead bury their dead.” The “dead” who could go around to bury the physically dead people are not completely insensitive. They are active but only insensitive to the spiritual world. They are able to exercise free will and make choices.
Romans 11:15. The nation of Israel was considered “dead” because of unbelief (v.20). Who decided that the nation of Israel became dead? Not God. Not Satan. It is most logical that the individual Jews collectively led by their spiritual teachers decided to take certain directions that led them to the path of death. They were dead spiritually but still retained the ability to make choices. So we learn that many sincerely heeded the call of John the Baptist unto repentance. Many also heeded the preaching of Christ and his disciples that led them to confess their sins and were baptized as part of John’s preparatory ministry. And later on only a handful believed in the person and claims of Jesus Christ. But the majority of Israel as a nation was dead. Those who responded to the call of John and Jesus came from the pile of “dead” Israel.
Isaiah 26:16-19. In prophecy when Israel became dead and were chastised they cried for help. A biologically dead body could not be chastised. A biologically dead body, a corpse, could not cry for help. So those “dead in sin” should not be counted as lacking in reason and choices. This passage teaches that they called for the help of God which is a sign of the presence of moral life.
Conclusion: In view of the above passages, it is clear that the spiritually “dead” are not totally depraved of reason and ability to make choices contrary to the claims of Calvinism. The term “dead” should therefore be considered relative. There remains in man a tiny spark of reason and ability to make moral choices. That tiny embeIs there Personal Responsibility? or in the soul would glow into a burning ember if fanned by the good news of Christ’s suffering, death, burial and resurrection for the lost sinners.