- total depravity
- The doctrine of total depravity is a perspective within Protestantism about the consequences of humanity's fall into sin. All Christians believe that humans are fallen, but they disagree over the nature and extent of the state. Within the Calvinist tradition, the prevailing view is that humanity has been so corrupted that individuals cannot of themselves make any decision or do any act that would lead them to believe the Gospel and manifest faith in Christ. God has chosen to save some individuals and offers his grace to them. That grace, being irresistible, leads to faith and response in those who receive it.From the viewpoint of total depravity, the image of God, in which humans were created (Genesis 1:26), has almost completely disappeared and needs total regeneration. Other Christian viewpoints maintain that the image of God still remains to some degree; while humans need God's assistance to believe, that assistance is available to all.The doctrine of total depravity enabled Calvinism to maintain its Reformation faith that salvation was the work of God, not of humanity. Not even faith itself, or any human response to the message of salvation, could be seen as a human contribution to God's saving work.Total depravity is part of a complex of doctrines affirmed by Calvinists, including unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints, that are collectively known as the five points of Calvinism.Further reading:■ A. W. Pink, Gleanings from the Scriptures, Man's Total Depravity (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1969)■ David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Press, 1963).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.