“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
It should be the desire of everyone who claims to love God to know the truth.
In his book The Gospel for Today the late Foy E. Wallace, Jr. wrote, “Error preached, error heard, and error believed cannot result in the truth obeyed. No man can accidentally obey God. The truth preached, the truth believed, and the truth obeyed makes a Christian. Nothing else does. How important, therefore, is the word of God, and how careful men should be in their handling of it.” (p. 107.)
We believe that brother Wallace has correctly stated the crux of the matter for man and his salvation. It is the case that one doctrinal sin can and does lead to other destructive doctrinal sins. Certainly this is the case with the false doctrine of “Original Sin.”
The belief in the doctrine of original sin with its attendant doctrine, “Total Depravity” is the study to be made in this article. This doctrine, and the other false doctrines that it spawns, involves a wide range of false doctrines held by men today.
The belief in this doctrine, having its origin with the apostate Roman Catholic Church and not the Word of God is the natural catalyst which demands the belief in many other false doctrines. It was his belief in this doctrine of original sin that caused John Calvin to set forth his well-known acrostic – T. U. L. I. P.
Each of the points of this acrostic depends upon the other, and all of them depend upon the doctrine of original sin. Yet, none of them depend upon the Word of God, nor can any of them be sustained by that Word. These doctrines are:
T – Total Depravity;
U – Unconditional Election;
L – Limited Atonement;
I – Irresistible grace;
P– Perseverance of the saints.
The Doctrine Stated
In The Baptist Confession of Faith – 1869 Updated English with notes, by, Peter Masters, on pages 17-18, Number 6, under the heading of “The Fall of Man, Sin and Its Punishment” in items 2-4 the following is found.
“2. Our first parents by this sin [Adam’s] fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them. [We fell with them, as a race.] For from this, death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
“3. They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead [the place] of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed [ascribed], and their corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation [birth]. Their descendants are therefore conceived in sin, and are by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, and the subjects of death and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus sets them free.
“4. All actual transgressions proceed from this original corruption, by which we are utterly indisposed [rendered unfit for good], disabled, and made opposite [averse and antagonistic] to all good and wholly inclined to all evil.”
There are two other statements which will perhaps give the reader a more down-to-earth definition of this doctrine.
“The sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin” (The Westminster Shorter Catechism, page 10).
“That man is totally depraved is evident from his being a child of the devil — fathered by the devil, of the same moral nature, without salvation, destined to the same hell to which the devil is destined” (Gospel in Water, by Dr. W. A. Jarrell, pp. 251, 252).
These three statements of definition of the doctrine of original sin, as given by the different authors, clearly affirm that the doctrine is scriptural, and that it applies to every person born since Adam. The doctrine, as stated, also affirms that the described condition is the actual and real condition of that person at the moment of his or her birth. Some even say that it is at the moment of conception. In short, it simply means that your child, even at the moment of conception, was infused with the moral nature of Satan, being destined at that moment to the “same hell to which the devil is destined.”
One of the proof-texts that is given by those who believe this doctrine is Ephesians 2:1-3 which states, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
It is claimed that the phrase “were by nature the children of wrath” is proof that one is born totally depraved, or born with original sin.
However, as one analyzes the passage such a doctrine is not found. First, Paul is writing to Gentiles who, before they obeyed the gospel, were dead in their own trespasses and sins. They were in this condition because they “walked according to the course of this world.”
No Adamic sin can be found here. These Gentiles chose the path they were walking in and it wasn’t until they heard the gospel that they changed their choice, and it should be noted that they changed when they chose to obey the gospel which Paul had preached to them (Ephesians 19 & 20).
When this choice was made they were made alive in Christ. No longer were they conducting themselves “in the lust of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. No longer were they following the “long habit,” (the meaning of, according to the Greek scholars), the Greek word that is translated “nature,” but were now in Christ. (Ephesians 2:6).
Another proof text for this doctrine is Psalm 51:5. In the New International Version this verse reads: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
By translating this passage in this manner, the translators indict Jesus of Nazareth. If “we fell with them [Adam and Eve] as a race” as stated in the definition above, then it would be necessary to believe that Jesus Himself was born in sin and a sinner. The false doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary would not remove His being born in the human race, and thus, a sinner at conception or at birth.
Considering further, if the doctrine of original sin is true, then it necessitates that one must believe in the doctrine of total depravity. If this is true, and it is, it means that man in his total depravity is unable to do any good, even the good of coming to Christ. After all, he is totally depraved and according to the doctrine itself, he is incapable of doing even one good thing.
Thus, if he is to come to God he must be irresistibly drawn to God by the unconditional election of His bestowing that grace, yea, even forcing it upon the individual.
And, as the doctrine goes, since God unconditionally elected the individual, forced His grace upon him, then it is totally and utterly impossible for that individual to fall from that grace even if he desired to do so. Sam Morris, a Baptist preacher of years ago, truly expresses the logical consequences of the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy. His statement, to this writer, is nothing short of blasphemy. He wrote:
“We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul! The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul…All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger…The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul.”
Though this writer has known some people who espoused the doctrines of original sin, total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints (impossibility of apostasy), he has also known some of them who did not agree with Mr. Morris’ statement.
However, Morris accurately stated the actual consequences of the doctrine. In short, if the doctrines mentioned above are true, Morris’ statement would also be true! Who can believe such doctrines, and, why would one even want to believe them?
The Word of God teaches no such doctrine. Let us stay with it and with Him.