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Are We Born In Sin?

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Article Index
Are We Born In Sin?
Bible Teaches Infants Are Sinless
Man Has Free Will To Choose
The Bible Does Not Teach Total Heritary Depravity
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Calvinism is a system of theology developed by John Calvin (1509-1564) which has greatly influenced denominational teaching since the days of the Reformation. Actually, much of this doctrine finds its origin in the writings of Augustine (354-430) who lived during a period when religious leaders were debating the sovereignty of God and its relation to the free will of man. Pelagius (350-425) was a British monk who challenged the position held by Augustine. When the question was formally debated in Rome, the "church council" favored Augustine and condemned the teaching of Pelagius as heretical. All religious historians refer to this event as a crucial decision that changed the course of religion.

When the Protestant Reformation occurred 1100 years later, many of the doctrines of Catholicism were brought over to the new denominations being formed. Most of the early reformers were not trying to birth "new" churches. They were attempting to "reform" the Catholic Church by correcting errors which they believed had crept into the church. Such was true of the early work of John Calvin who made an attempt to bring Catholicism back to the old Augustinian principles emphasizing the sovereignty of God which he felt had been abandoned. Needless to say, he was rejected and had to flee for his life. Though his work was not received by the Catholic Church it has been indelibly stamped into the religious thought of the denominational world.

The most important facet for our study, however, is not the significance of this historical perspective but rather whether or not Calvinism correctly represents the teaching of the Bible. Calvin formulated five points in his system of theology which are commonly represented by the acrostic: TULIP. (l) Total Hereditary Depravity; (2) Unconditional Election; (3) Limited Atonement; (4) Irresistible Grace; and (5) Perseverance of the Saints.

I. Total Hereditary Depravity Explained By Calvinist

A. Man's Nature Is Corrupt Throughout.

"When Calvinists speak of man as being totally depraved, they mean that man's nature is corrupt, perverse, and sinful throughout. The adjective 'total' does not mean that each sinner is as totally or completely corrupt in his actions and thought as it is possible for him to be. Instead, the word 'total' is used to indicate that the WHOLE of man's being has been affected by sin. The corruption extends to EVERY PART of man, his body and soul; sin has affected all (the totality) of man's faculties-his mind, his will, etc." (THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM, by Steele & Thomas, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., p. 25)

B. Man Does Not Have The Ability To Choose Spiritual Good Over Evil.

"Man did not come from the hands of his Creator in this depraved, corrupt condition. God made Adam upright: there was no evil whatsoever in his nature. Originally, Adam's will was free from the dominion of sin; he was under no natural compulsion to choose evil, but through his fall he brought spiritual death upon himself and all his posterity. He thereby plunged himself and the entire race into spiritual ruin and lost for himself and his descendants the ability to make right choices in the spiritual realm. His descendants are still free to choose-every man makes choices throughout his life-but inasmuch as Adam's offspring are born with sinful natures, they do not have the ABILITY to choose spiritual good over evil. Consequently, man's will is no longer free (i.e., free from the dominion of sin) as Adam's will was free before the fall. Instead, man's will, as the result of inherited depravity, is in bondage to his sinful nature." (IBID.)


What Must I Do To Be Saved?

No question is more important than this. We make many important decisions in life regarding matters such as education, marriage, and occupation. But none is as transcending as that which affects our soul's eternity (Matt. 16:26).


"Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?"

Luke 9:23-25