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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Hereditary Total Depravity

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs
I.  Introduction.
    A.  Some say that the guilt of Adam's sin passed inherently to all 
        mankind; that all inherit the guilt of sin; and from this 
        original corruption, all men are wholly inclined to all evil.
    B.  The Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church says, "Our 
        first parents...by sin 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 dead 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" (Chapter VI; Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and 
        of the Punishment Thereof).
II.  Arguments Favoring.
     A.  Infants get angry, proving they are under the control of the 
         devil.
         1.  God is capable of anger, but God is not depraved (See 
             Exodus 32:10; Mark 3:5).
         2.  Infants smile and coo as well as cry.
     B.  "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that 
         understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They 
         have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; 
         There is none that doeth good, no, not, so much as one" (Rom. 
         3:10-12).
         (a)  Paul is not discussing inheriting corruption, but people 
              who are wicked because they do wicked things.
         (b)  Infants are incapable of being swift to shed blood (Rom. 
              3:15); infants cannot deceive with their tongues (Rom. 
              3:13); an infants mouth is not full of bitterness and 
              cursing (Rom. 3:14).
     C.  "The wicked are estranged from the womb: They go astray as 
         soon as they are born, speaking lies" (Psalms 58:3).
         (a)  The passage says they "go astray," and not are born 
              astray; they speak lies, which an infant cannot do.
     D.  "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my 
         mother conceive me" (Psalms 51:5).
         1.  The world is a wicked place, and David was born into the 
             sinful world, therefore he was brought forth in iniquity, 
             and his mother conceived him while living in a world of 
             sin.
     E.  "Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, 
         and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for 
         that all sinned" (Rom. 5:12); "For since by man came death, by 
         man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam 
         all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 
         15:21-22).
         1.  Death passed to all men, not because of Adam's sin, but 
             because all sinned.  Sin is common to the mature.
         2.  The death that comes from Adam is not spiritual death but 
             physical death.  All die in Adam, in Christ all (same 
             all) are made alive.  If this means spiritual death and 
             life, then all will be saved.
             (a)  The Bible tells us some will be lost (John 5:28-29; 
                  Matt. 25:31-46).
             (b)  Every person must die a physical death--even those 
                  who are alive on the earth when Jesus returns--and 
                  every person will be resurrected (John 5:28-29).
III.  Arguments Against.
      A.  "Evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving 
          and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13).
          1.  If we are wholly evil at birth we cannot get worse.
      B.  "Jesus called them unto him, saying, Suffer the little 
          children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for to such 
          belongeth the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:16).
          1.  Innocent children in their present state belong to the 
              kingdom.
      C.  "The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear 
          the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear 
          the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous 
          shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be 
          upon him" (Ezek. 18:20).
      D.  "Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, 
          and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in 
          subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?"  (Heb. 12:9)
          1.  If Jehovah is the father of the human spirit, then the 
              spirit cannot be evil at birth, or when first given.
          2.  We may inherit from our earthly parents physical 
              impurities, but the spirit comes and returns to God and 
              cannot be corrupt at the time it is given.  The spirit 
              returns to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7).
      E.  There is a difference in guilt and consequence.
          1.  We must live in consequence of Adam's sin, but are not 
              guilty of his disobedience and rebellion.
          2.  Physical death and all its attendant misery is the 
              consequence of Adam's wrong, but we are guilty of his 
              sin.
          3.  We must live in consequence of the sins of all who have 
              gone before us.
      F.  How sin comes.
          1.  The infant has no sin.  Upon reaching the time in life 
              when he knows the difference between right and wrong, he 
              does wrong and refuses right.  In this way sin enters 
              his life.
              (a)  Divine justice cannot make us responsible, in the 
                   very nature of justice, for sins committed by 
                   others.  Each person is responsible and accountable 
                   for his own wrongs.
          2.  Just as each person goes into sin by his own choice, so 
              is each redeemed by his volition.
              (a)  "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; 
                   but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 
                   16:16).
              (b)  There is something for us to do--believe and be 
                   baptized.
              (c)  Each person sins, and each must personally act to 
                   receive salvation.

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email: had@worldnet.att.net
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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