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Total Depravity of Man - Where the Concept Breaks Down

Douglas Johnson

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During the evening of April 4, 1993, about 10:45 PM, the thought came to me: “The concept of ‘the total depravity of man’ is not based on Scripture. "

Although I have had no formal Religious training, I have studied the Word of God for well over 50 years. I have examined teaching based on what the Bible says since before I was ten years old.

I was taught that every Christian is a priest and is suppose to “rightly divide the Word of truth".

For more than fifteen years, I have been reading the Bible through at the rate of about 1 page per day from the Old Testament and one page from the New Testament. I go through the Old Testament once every 24 months and through the New Testament every 7 months. I am becoming surer and surer about just what is in the Bible and just what is not in the Bible.

Jesus did say: “You must be born again". The Word does say you become a son of God by believing on Jesus's name.

What is not said in Scripture is that everyone in the Old Testament did only evil. The Scripture does say that some did right and some did evil.

Eli, the priest, was good but he did evil.

The Psalmist said what Paul quoted when he said “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. "

There is some measure of the evilness of sin as clearly an “abomination" was must worse than a “transgression".

"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. " [Romans 4:3]

This believing was an act of faith. Was the sacrifices to God by others also acts of faith and thus counted towards righteousness?

God considered man responsible for his actions after the fall just as much as before the fall.

When it is said that man is totally depraved it implies that man is not responsible for his actions as only Adam was responsible. I cannot accept this conclusion. I do not see it in Scripture.

The Scripture does say in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. " This is a New Testament conclusion of Romans 3:10-18 which starts out: “As it is written, There is none righteous. " This is really the heart of the teaching of the total depravity of man and is portrayed as a New Testament doctrine.

The phrase, “As it is written", clearly throws the truth into the Old Testament as that is where it is written. The Romans quote is from Psalms which was written by David, the first of the many kings described in the books of I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, and II Chronicles.

All through Kings and Chronicles the statements about the new king either “did evil in the sight of the Lord" or “did what was right in the sight of the Lord". Sometimes, of those that did right the exception was given, “but not with a perfect heart".

Those that teach “total depravity" draw the line as to who gets in and who is excluded very close to their own teaching saying that the Old Testament saints get in by “looking forward to Jesus Christ on the cross". This does not measure up to Scripture as the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world is described as a “mystery" which no one knew until after Jesus was crucified and rose again.

How about what the New Testament does say. Jesus said that:

"For he that is not against us is on our part. " [Mark 9:40]

The Apostle John says:

"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. " [1 John 4:15]

John the Baptist taught repentance. This is a vital part of New Testament teaching just as it was in the Old Testament.

The New Testament clearly defines the line with: “Who do you worship; God through Jesus Christ or some other god?" Now it is just as easy in the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament to slip from following the true God to follow some false god.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. " [2 Chronicles 7:14]

Anyone who claims to be Christian is included in the “called by My Name". They may or may not need more or less forgiveness of their sins based on just how they are living.

We like to think that everything is sin and that we all need forgiveness every day. Perhaps there is some truth in that but we really need to keep our definitions based on Scripture. Let's deal with the sins talked about in Scripture.

Let's also talk about stumbling blocks. If someone says you need to do such and such or you have to not do such and such, and these items are not clearly defined in Scripture, then those things become stumbling blocks that hinder rather than help. We need to make stepping stones and not stumbling blocks. Let's deal with what is important and Scriptural.

The concept of “total depravity" is not a necessary doctrine for the truth of “original sin". To say so, constitutes an “extreme" doctrinal position.

Doug Johnson has been writing and online publishing Christian and Social Conservative articles since the 1990's on

Doug has been a Bible believing Evangelical Christian since childhood. He has been received into fellowship with the Evangelical Free Church, the Plymouth Brethern, the Assembly of God, the American Baptist, and the Southern Baptist.

In the early 2000's, he was received into full communion with the Catholic Church after careful study of the Catholic Catechism and the Bible. He believes Catholics and Bible believing Protestants should build on what they have in common rather than looking at what is different.

He is presently helping to establish the Independent Christian On-Line Academy at:

Doug has an online retail wallpaper business at:

Doug is available as a consultant and or speaker.


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