Total Depravity

"The Bible further teaches with complete unanimity that the race is depraved -- apart from the saving grace of God -- and it is equally evident that no time can be indicated when this came to pass other than the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The claim that the unregenerate are totally depraved is resented by many and for want of a right understanding of its meaning. If, as viewed by men, it is asserted that there is nothing good in man, the statement is untrue; for, as man is quick to declare, there is no human being so degraded that there is not some good in him. If, on the other hand, as viewed by God, it is claimed that man is without merit in His sight, the case is far different. Depravity as a doctrine does not stand or fall on the ground of man's estimation of himself; it rather reflects God's estimation of man. What the Bible avers on the fallen and depraved estate of man would not be written by man. He would have no sufficient perspective by which to form a worthy conclusion, nor would he thus abase himself." -- Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Volume II, pages 218-219.

Chafer cites the following Scriptures in support of the doctrine of depravity:

  • Genesis 6:5
  • Job 14:4
  • Job 15:14
  • Psalm 51:5
  • Ecclesiastes 7:20,29
  • Isaiah 1:4-6
  • Mark 7:15, 20-23
  • Romans 3:9-18
  • Galatians 5:19-21
  • James 1:13-15

    And he continues:

    "From such a testimony, which might be greatly enlarged, the doctrine of depravity is drawn; nor can these Scriptures be explained otherwise. To this conception every line of the Bible is harmonious. It was this that called forth the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. No more misleading or injurious word can be given the unsaved than to impress upon them that they are lost only on the ground of their personal sins. If this be true, they are lost only to the degree to which they have thus sinned. Men are lost by nature -- "by nature the children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3) -- and there is deep significance, reaching far beyond the realms of personal wrongdoing, in the words of Christ, "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44). Only the grace of God, proffered to the meritless, through the cross of Christ can avail, and that salvation contemplates not only the forgiveness of sins committed but the impartation of a new divine nature.

    "The experience of man is a confirming testimony to his sinful nature. Men expect little good from themselves or their fellow men; they avoid every relationship to God and even blaspheme His holy name; a child goes naturally in the ways of evil, but must be disciplined in the direction of good." -- Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Volume II, pages 220-221.

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