Total Inability or Total Depravity
Statement of Doctrine

"Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether adverse from good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto." Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. IX, Sec. III

Scriptural Support

1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-3; Jeremiah 13:23; Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:10-12

Extent and Effects of Original Sin

  1. What it does not mean?

    • All men are equally bad.

    • Any man is as bad as he could be.

    • Men are entirely destitute of virtue.

    • Human nature is evil in itself.

    • Man's spirit is inactive.

    • The body is dead.

  2. What it does mean?

    • Man is under the curse of sin.

    • Man is actuated by wrong principles.

    • Man is wholly unable to love God or do anything meriting salvation.

    • Corruption is extensive but not necessarily intensive.

  3. Fallen man is so morally blind that he uniformly prefers and chooses evil instead of good.

    • His "free" will is not controlled by any force outside himself, but sin is man's natural element and is "preferred."

    • Man is never compelled to sin. Man is free to act according to his nature.

    • Man possesses virtues common to all, but "faith is the foundation of all the virtues and nothing is acceptable to God which does not flow from right feelings."

  4. Fallen man lacks the power of spiritual discernment.

The Fall of Man

Adam was placed in a covenant of works within the Garden of Eden. He directly disobeyed God and took of the forbidden fruit. Spiritual death followed for him and his posterity, humankind.

The Representative Principle

"Adam was made not only the father but also the representative of the whole human race." The human race is liable for his punishment although not personally guilty of Adam's sin. Guilt of Adam's sin is charged to the account of each and every descendant. Human nature is spiritually dead, although it retains its constitutional faculties (i.e. reason, conscience, and free agency) and so man remains morally responsible.

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