[an error occurred while processing this directive] Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ Lesson 23 LESSON 23

Why I am a Member of the Church of Christ


by:  Bill Cantrell

Some Sources that Promote this Doctrine.
Some Text Used to Support the Doctrine of Hereditary Total Depravity.
Passages that Refute (Disprove) the Doctrine of Hereditary Total Depravity.


1. Are babies born in sin?

2. Many honest and sincere people have been led to believe that since the fall of Adam every living soul is born with a corrupt nature, that is to say that every person is born under the condemnation of heaven.

3. It is affirmed that those who sin, and there are none who do not sin, bear evidence that all men have a corrupt nature.

4. This particular doctrine is known as "HEREDITARY TOTAL DEPRAVITY".

A. HEREDITARY 1. "... of, passed down by inheritance from ancestor to a legal heir; ancestral... 2. Of, or passed down by, heredity; designating or of a characteristic transmitted genetically from generation to generation..."

B. TOTAL 1. "Constituting the (or a) whole; entire; whole... 2. Complete; utter (a total loss) -n. The whole amount or number; sum; aggregate..." 

C. DEPRAVITY "...A depraved condition; corruption; wickedness..."  (Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, second college edition).

5. The theory of hereditary total depravity claims that sinful corruption has been transmitted to the infant from the parent and that it is wholly inclined to evil; that it is inherently impure; that it is a child of the devil. 

6. In our study I would like to consider:

A. Some manuals and versions that promote this doctrine.

B. Some texts used to prove this doctrine.

C. Some passages that disprove this doctrine.

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A. Church Manuals.

1. "The Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church in The United States".

a. "Our first parents, being seduced by the subtility and temptation of Satan sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. 

b. By this sin they 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.

c. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corruption nature from them by ordinary generation.

d. 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.

e. This corruption as nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions therefore, are truly and properly sin.

f. Every sin, both original and actual, being transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

2. Discipline of the Methodist Church 1948.   "Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually".

3. Baptist Church Manual, by J.M. Pendleton.   "We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse".

B. Version of the Bible.

1. "Ah! twas in guilt that I was born. Twas in sin that my mother conceived me" - James Moffatt.

2. "You know I was born guilty, a sinner from the moment of conception" - The Jerusalem Bible.

3. "Behold, in sinful state I was born and in sin did my mother conceive me" - The Living Bible:  Paraphrased Kenneth Taylor.

4. "Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" - The New International Version. (These quotes are in connection with Psalms 51:5. Also note Psalms 58:3; Ephesians 2:3 for the same emphasis in these translations).

Psalms 51:5 But I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.  (TLB)

Psalms 58:3 These men are born sinners, lying from their earliest words!  (TLB)

Eph 2:3 All of us used to be just as they are, our lives expressing the evil within us, doing every wicked thing that our passions or our evil thoughts might lead us into. We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God's anger just like everyone else. (TLB)

Psalms 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (NIV)

Psalms 58:3 Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. (NIV)

Eph 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (NIV)

C. Other sources on depravity.

1. The Lutheran Cyclopedia, "The inborn sin which all human beings, naturally engendered, inherit at their origin from their parents, and which is the source whence the actual sins of every individual proceed.  Its nature is characterized, on the one hand, by an inability of man, in his own strength, to apprehend, desire, or do that which is spiritually good, i.e. to fear, love, and trust in God above all things; and, on the other hand, by a propensity to know, desire, and do that which is evil. It originated in our parents, who, tempted by Satan, transgressed parents, who, tempted by Satan, transgressed the divine command, forbidding them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". 

2. Catholic Dictionary and Encyclopedia of Religious Information, "Original sin is the sin which we inherit by natural descent from Adam, our first father".

3. The Depravity of Man by Dr. W.R. Crews, "Human depravity is a direct result of the fall of the race in Adam. By depravity we mean that man's entire being is spiritually corrupt before God. The entire man (body, mind, soul and spirit) has become affected and poisoned by sin. This condition is passed along to all men by conception and natural birth. Every man that is born is born wrong.   He is as prone to sin, evil and unrighteousness as a falling object is to fall or the human lungs to breathe. Every part of man's nature is marred by sin and is vitiated and totally corrupt. One may ask, "is man totally depraved? Yes, indeed he is".

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A. Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.  (KJV)

I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (There are two possible explanations).

1. It may refer to David being born into a world of sin or iniquity; i.e. he was brought forth into a world where sin prevails. 

2. May refer to the descendants of an illegitimate child not being able to enter the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation.

a. Deut 23:2 A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.  (KJV)

Bastard could not enter congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation.

b. Pharez was such a child of fornication; hence illegitimate.

Gen 38:12 And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.  13 And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep.  14 And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.  15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.  16 And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?       17  And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?  18 And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.   19 And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.         20  And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not.  21 Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place.  22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place.  23 And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.  24 And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.  25 When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff.  26 And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.  27 And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb.  28 And it  came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.  29 And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee:   therefore his name was called Pharez.  (KJV)

c. David was the Tenth generation from Pharez.  

Ruth 4:18 Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,  19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, 20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, 21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David. (KJV)

Matt 1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; (KJV)

3. If I said I shapen in a garden and conceived in a turnip patch, would that make me a turnip?

B. Psalms 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb:  they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. (KJV)

"The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies".

1. Note they went astray after they were born, not born astray. Their going astray consisted of speaking lies. Infants cannot speak lies therefore the passage does not refer to infants.

2. If infants are under consideration as some claim, then one has infant damnation in light of Rev 21:8.

Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.  (KJV)

Note: If all liars will be punished in the lake of fire.  And if all infants are born into the world speaking lies.  Then it follows that all infants are born into the face the punishment of the lake of fire.

C. Isaiah 48:8 Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.   (KJV)

"called a transgressor from the womb".

1. Transgression involves voluntary act.

1 John 3:4  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  (KJV)

2. Refers to Israel as a Nation, not to individuals.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him  not. (KJV)

3. Its origin compared to a birth.

D. Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (KJV)

"and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest".

1. The word nature refers to sinful habits not heredity, Thayer's lexicon says "a mode of felling and acting which by long habit has become nature", Pg 660. 

2. Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (KJV)

"walked according to the course of this world.

E. Rom 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;  10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  (KJV)

"None righteous, no not one".

1. All gone out of the way (not born that way), Verse 12.

2. They have become unprofitable (not born that way), Verse 12.

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A. Gen 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.  (KJV)

"imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth".

Note, If man's heart becomes evil in youth, then it must have been pure before youth.

B. Eccl 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (KJV)

"the spirit returns to God who gave it". If God gave man a corrupt spirit, would it not be unjust for God to hold man responsible for his actions?

C. Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.  (KJV)

"for we are also his offspring". Being the offspring of God would demand that a child is not depraved unless God is depraved.

D. The Holy Spirit through the prophet Ezekiel declared the children shall not bear the iniquity of the father.

Ezekiel 18:19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.  20 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. (KJV)

E. Matt 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

F. Matt 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.   (KJV)

G. David did not believe that a child was born depraved.

2Sam 12:23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.   (KJV)

H. Sin is violation of God's law by either commission or omission.

1John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (KJV)

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.  (KJV)

I. Infants are born innocent in view of the fact that there is no plan of salvation for infants.

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1. The doctrine of "HEREDITARY TOTAL DEPRAVITY" is a doctrine that is contrary to clear Bible teaching.

2. Regardless of what the precepts of man teach, we must go to scripture for the answers.

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