Total Depravity

“Negatively, it does not imply: (1) that every man is as thoroughly deprave as he can possibly become; (2) that the sinner has no innate knowledge of the will of God, nor a conscience that discriminates between good and evil; (3) that sinful man does not often admire virtuous character and actions in others, or is incapable of disinterested affections and actions on his relations with his fellow-men; nor (4) that every unregenerate man will, in virtue of his inherent sinfulness, indulge in every form of sin; it often happens that one form excludes the other. Positively, it does indicate: (1) that the inherent corruption extends to every part of man’s nature. To all the faculties and powers of both soul and body; and (2) that there is no spiritual good in relation to god, in the sinner at all, but only perversion. This total depravity is denied by Pelagians, Socinians, and seventeenth century Arminians, but is clearly taught in Scripture, John 5:42; Rom. 7:18.23; 8:7; Eph. 4:18; II Tim. 3:2-4; Tit. 1:15; Heb. 3:12.

Total inability…Reformed theologians generally say that he is still able to perform: (1) natural good; (2) civil good or civil righteousness; and (3) external religious good…. When we speak of man’s corruption as total inability, we mean two things: (1) that the un-renewed cannot do any act, however insignificant, which fundamentally meets with God’s approval and answers to the demands of God’s holy law; and (2) that he cannot change his fundamental preference for sin ad self to love for God, nor even make an approach to such a change. In a word, he is unable to do any spiritual good. There is abundant Scriptural support for this doctrine: John 1:13; 3:5; 6:44; 8:34; 15:4,5; Rom. 7:18,24; 8:7,8; 1 Cor. 2:14; II Cor. 3:5; Eph. 2:1,8-10; Heb. 11:6.”

–Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pg. 246-247. (Emphasis mine)


1 Comment

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One response to “Total Depravity

  1. I ieard a rfcent sermon in which Paul Settle summarized Total Depravity: its not that a man is as bad as he could be, just that he’s never as good as he should be. I like that.

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