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What is Total Depravity or Total Inability?


Let us see what it means to say that Man is Totally Depraved or Man is Totally Unable.

Adam disobeyed God by eating of the forbidden fruit. This was the original sin.

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as:

"the utter depravity of man which Calvinists regard as due to original sin and as persisting until regeneration through the Spirit of God."

To Calvin and most theologians the consequence was not the result of eating that fruit, but in the rebellion of the person of Adam against God. This rebellion corrupted the mankind so that :

'as an indubitable truth, which no engines can shake, that the mind of man is so entirely alienated from the righteousness of God, that he cannot conceive, desire, or design anything but what is wicked, distorted, foul, impure and iniquitous; that his heart is so thoroughly envenomed by sin, that it can breathe out nothing but corruption and rottenness; that if some men occasionally make a show of goodness, their mind is ever interwoven with hypocrisy and deceit, their soul inwardly bound with fetters of wickedness."

"...the corruption by which we are held bound as with chains originated in the first man's revolt against his Maker." (Calvin)

ELouis Berkhof
Summary of Christian Doctrine

"(1) Original sin. This includes both guilt and pollution. The guilt of Adam's sin is imputed to us. Because he sinned as our representative, we are guilty in him. Moreover, we also inherit his pollution, and now have a positive disposition toward sin. Man is by nature totally depraved."

  • The Belgic Confession of Faith

"We believe that through the disobedience of Adam original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature and a hereditary disease, wherewith even infants in their mother's womb are infected, and which produces in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof, and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind."

ECharles Hodge Systematic Theology:

"8. _The Effects of Adam's Sin upon his Posterity. " That the sin of Adam injured not himself only but also all descending from him by ordinary generation, is part of the faith of the whole Christian world."..."As to the ground of these evils, we are taught that 'the covenant being made with Adam not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression.' Or, as is expressed in the Confession, 'Our first parents, being the root of all mankind, the guilt of their sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature were conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation." (Vol. II, Part II-Anthropology)

  • Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion:Book II, Chap. I: 8:

But lest the thing itself of which we speak be unknown or doubtful, it will be proper to define original sin (Calvin, in Conc. Trident. I., Dec. Sess. v.). I have no intention, however, to discuss all the definitions which different writers have adopted, but only to adduce the one which seems to me most accordant with truth. Original sin, then, may be defined a hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature, extending to all parts of the soul, which first makes us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which in Scripture are termed works of the flesh. This corruption is repeatedly designated by Paul by the term sin (Gal. v.19)....

"... born wicked and depraved... corruption of our nature... the whole of man is corrupted - 'mind and heart' - and to contend that only a part of the soul is corrupted is opposed to supernatural grace." (Institutes., Vol. 1, p. 262). "Original sin, therefore, seems to be a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature..." (Institu., Vol. 1., pg. 251).

ELoraine Boettner

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

"Adam was made not only the father but also the representative of the whole human race. And if we fully understood the closeness of the relation between him and them we would fully realize the justice of the transmission of his sin to them."

EPresbyterian:

Confession of Faith: "Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of the soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions."

The Presbyterian Confession of Faith, as quoted by T. W. Brents, The Gospel Plan of Salvation, p. 109-110

"By this sin (eating the forbidden fruit) they (our first parents) fell from their original righteousness and communion with God,and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions."

 

ERoman Catholic:

Council of Trent 1545-1563: "Adam's first sin has been transmitted to all his descendants". Questions of Catholics Answered by W. Hebst: "Yes, every child born into this world has the guilt of original sin upon his soul. Original sin is the sin that we inherit from our first parents. Original sin excludes us from heaven unless forgiven. It is forgiven only by baptism, hence when an unbaptized baby dies, it can not enter the kingdom of God.

 

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  • Lutheran:

Augsburg confession Article 2: "It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclination from their mother's womb and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all whose who are not born again through baptism and the Holy Spirit."

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  • Methodist

Methodist Discipline: (Since) "infants are guilty of original sin, then they are proper subjects of baptism, seeing in the ordinary way, they cannot be saved unless this be washed away by baptism. It has already been proved that this original sin cleaves to every child of man, and hereby they are children of wrath and liable to eternal damnation."

"Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually." (Doctrine and Discipline of the Methodist Church, Nashville: The Methodist Pub. House, 1952, p. 27).

 

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  • Anglican:

Common Book of Prayer, Articles of Religion IX & X: "Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every mAn, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek... which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin." "The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will."

EChurch of the Nazarene :


Manual, Article 5: "We believe that sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin. We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin. We believe that original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from the original righteousness or the pure state of our first parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually. We further believe that original sin continues to exist with the new life of the regenerate, until eradicated by the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We believe that original sin differs from actual sin in that it constitutes an inherited propensity to actual sin for which no one is accountable until its divinely provided remedy is neglected or rejected."

E Christian and Missionary Alliance:

Manual, Statement of faith Article III # 5: "Man was Originally created in the image and likeness of God; he fell through disobedience, incurring thereby both physical and spiritual death. All men are born with a sinful nature, are separated from the life of God, and can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

EPentecostal:
 

Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths: Article IV: "Man was Originally created in the image and likeness of God. He fell through sin, and as a consequence, incurred both spiritual and physical death. Spiritual death and the depravity of human nature have been transmitted to the entire human race with the exception of the Man Jesus. Man can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

EBaptist:

Philadelphia Confession of Faith: "Our first parents by this sin fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them, whereby death came upon all, all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of the souls and body. The guilt of sin was imputed (and corrupt nature conveyed) to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, the subjects of death and all other spiritual miseries, temporal and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free. From the original corruption-whereby we are utterly indisposed disabled, and made opposite to all good and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions."

 

E (Second London (or Assembly) Confession, Baptist,


chap. VI "From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.)

EJohn Wesley

Wesley's Works, Miscellaneous, Vol. 2, pg. 16. as quoted by C. R. Nichol and R. L. Whiteside, Sound Doctrine, Vol. 5, pg. 69

"If infants are guilty of original sin, then they are proper subjects of baptism, seeing, in the ordinary way, they cannot be saved, unless this is washed away by baptism. It has been already proved, that this original stain cleaves to every child of man; and that thereby they are children of wrath, and liable to eternal damnation ... Infants need to be washed from original sin; therefore, they are proper subjects of baptism."

"All mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse." (J. M. Pendleton, Missionary Baptist, 'Church Manual Designed for the use of Baptist Churches, as quoted by C. R. Nichol and R. L. Whiteside, Sound Doctrine, Vol. 4., pg. 98).

EAssociated Gospel Churches "AGC"

Articles of Faith and Doctrine V & VI: "We believe that man, originally created in the image and after the likeness of God, fell from his high and holy estate through disobedience, by eating the forbidden fruit, and in consequence, the threatened penalty of death was then and there inflicted, so that he totally lost all spiritual life, becoming dead in trespasses and sins, and subject to the power of the devil." "We believe that this spiritual death, or total corruption of human nature, has been transmitted to the entire race of man, the man Christ Jesus alone excepted, and hence that every child of Adam is born into the world with a sinful nature."

Ewing's Lectures, as quoted by T. W. Brents, The Gospel Plan of Salvation, p. 124

"The whole soul of man is entirely depraved, corrupt, and alienated from God --- a child of wrath, an heir of hell, going astray from the womb, conceived in sin, an enemy to God, having a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; the understanding darkened, the affections earthly, and the whole man sensual and devilish."