Horrible accident on the PCH (Protestant Coast Highway): sola fide and total depravity smashed into Psalm 15. Psalm 15 came out of the calamitous scene unscathed, but the two Protestant doctrines are on life support.
1 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy mountain?
2 He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right,
and speaks truth from his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue,
and does no evil to his friend,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
4 in whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest,
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
Sola fide was obviously critically wounded by the psalm’s sole appeal to righteous deeds to describe those who will “dwell on [God’s] holy mountain.” Of course, this might not be a problem for dispensationalists but for the Reformed and others who insist that Israel was saved by faith just like they themselves are, it poses a bit of a problem. Once again, it doesn’t rule out the necessity of faith, but the psalm makes it flatly absurd to suppose that one’s deeds have nothing to do with his salvation.
The Reformed doctrine of total depravity was similarly damaged in the collision. Those who hold it insist that there is not one single person who does good, but this psalm repeatedly and in detail describes the lives of the righteous. On the Reformed understanding it would seem that the psalm is talking about…nobody whatsoever. The empty set. But that is entirely silly. This isn’t Seinfeld, and this is not a psalm about nothing.