Monday, August 21, 2006

Chip Stam - on Wretches

My friend Chip Stam prepares a great resource called Worship Quote of the Week (WQOTW) - click here and sign up!. His blurb this week got me thinking. Remember when Robert Schuller protested the original words of "Amazing Grace" saying that John Newton was a wretch (because he was a former slave trader) but that singing negative words like "wretch"gives Christians low self-esteem?!

Or maybe you've heard someone accuse Newton and Watts of "worm" theology (because we sing in Watt's great hymn "Alas and did My Savior Bleed" - "would he devote his sacred head, for such a worm as I?" Well, of course, Watts and Newton aren't guilty as charged! They are simply reminding us of the Bible's teaching on total depravity.

Chip explains in this weeks WQOTW, with a nice quote from John Stott:

Have you ever come across an altered version of "Amazing Grace" that used the phrase, "Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a soul like me"? [Instead of that saved a wretch like me, as John Newton originally wrote.] It is easy to understand why people would want to take some of the "wretched" offense out of our confession of sin. I am sure that I am a part of the for-all-have-sinned group that the apostle Paul references; but just how sinful am I? Am I totally depraved? What does that mean, anyway?

The biblical doctrine of "total depravity" means neither that all humans are equally depraved, nor that nobody is capable of any good, but rather that no part of any human person (mind, emotions, conscience, will, etc.) has remained untainted by the fall.
—John Stott, THE MESSAGE OF EPHESIANS. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1980, p. 79.

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