Misunderstanding Original Sin

Some of the blogs I read each week have been talking about Calvinism or original sin / total depravity and the explanation of sin from either a Calvinist view point or an Arminian viewpoint.  It is interesting and informative to listen to the discussions and see the justification for their views.  I want to take a few lines to explain my view and where I came from, which unfortunately for some of you, precludes an Arminian view at this time.  I most recently had considered myself a Baptist who believed in reformed theology.  That means that I believed in the TULIP, of which the first tenet is total depravity.  Now, I am not totally decided against total depravity in one sense, but I am against it the way most reformed people believe it today.  Most believe it today to mean that any human born after Adam is totally depraved, meaning they cannot do anything that pleases God and all their thoughts and intents are sinful in one way or another.  That is not a direct quote from any reformed theologian but merely my synopsis of their beliefs.  If I am wrong in that, I am sure someone will tell me!

This seems very untenable to many (especially Arminians!) because they look around and see that not everyone is out murdering or torturing their neighbors and others!  What I believe is that both groups are talking past each other for the most part.  Calvinists say that everyone is not as bad as they can be at all times, but they are capable of being as bad as they can be at any time.  Others believe people are good and fall into sin sometimes, but are in no way TOTALLY DEPRAVED.  I believe that all people born after Adam have the stain and capability of sin and, given enough time in this life, will sin.  This means, for me, that people are capable of being good and doing good because, although stained with sin, they bear the express image of God by virtue of being created by Him.  But, because they also have this sinful bent inherited from Adam, that we can sin, we will sin, and we will need a way to deal with that sin that pleases God, satisfies His requirement for justice, and exerts His loving influence always.  I realize that the reformed will throw into the equation that none can please God, none seek Him, none do good except they be the elect saved ones.  But, I think there is or can be some common ground and that we need to move in that direction.  Can only the elect do good?

Is that really true?  Think about it.  Jesus tells us to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  When the lost, the unsaved, love people, are they not also pleasing God by following His commands, even though they don’t realize they are doing so?  Does God ONLY look upon the love the elect have for others as good and not the love the unsaved have as good also?  Come on!  Be real and think about it.  If God really hated the unsaved as much as many Calvinists say He does, why does He / would He send the rain on the unjust as well?  I guess, according to Calvinists, I don’t believe in total depravity, but I haven’t thrown away original sin, nor the fact that sin needs to be dealt with in God’s way, and that God is still more loving than we can ever imagine.  What kind of God do you serve?  What do you believe about original sin?  What else do I need to take into account?  Let me know what you think!

In Christ’s endless love!




Filed under God's Love, Grace, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Misunderstanding Original Sin

  1. Dirk

    Jesus Christ: “If you, then, being wicked, have perceived how to be giving good gifts to your children, how much rather shall your Father Who is in the heavens be giving good things to those requesting Him?” CLV – Matt.7:11 🙂

  2. Well, I think you did a good job of summing up some of my problems with the idea of total depravity. Actually classic Arminianism confirms total depravity, but not the other four points in TULIP.
    The problem I have is that I often see non-Christians acting more Christ-like then some Christians. I do believe we all sin. But, Christians are way too fond of saying “Sin is sin.” as if the sin of littering and the sin of killing six millions Jews were equally offensive to God. The Bible does show some sins as being more serious then others.
    As far as elect and non-elect, I’m an Arminian, so I believe God loves everyone and desires the salvation of all, but has chosen to create a world where libertarian free will is a reality, which means not all will accept his love and become his elect.
    Belief that God hates the so called non-elect has to be, IMO, a horrible, hateful doctrine to God himself, and it must grieve his heart that some Christians see him this way.

    • I appreciate your comment and thank you for stopping by. I hope this small blog will give you some things to think about doctrinally, as others who have challenged my understanding of Scriptures have in my past. blessings to you!

  3. Hi – just a quick thought on Total Depravity.
    Classic Arminianism’s view of Total Depravity is that every part of a person is affected by the fall NOT that mankind is Totally Depraved (i.e. completely bad to the full extent). Further, Arminianism understands that God has given prevenient Grace (that is, Grace that goes before conversion) that enables people to choose God.

    Some (not all) Arminians also understand that this prevenient grace also allows the non-Christian (unregerate person) to do good things despite still being unsaved.

    • Thanks Richard! I completely forgot about that prevenient grace thing! Does prevenient grace deal solely with grace sufficient for salvation (to aid the person in deciding for God and being saved) or does it also have to do with miscellaneous good works in the life of the unbeliever? I do not remember since I have not studied that belief system for some time. thanks!

      • The ‘doctrine’ of provenient Grace is not explicitly spelled out in a passage of scripture (you won’t find a ‘proof text’ for it). It is, however, implied by two things The Arminian view finds in scripture: 1. Man cannot choose God without God’s Grace and 2. Man is invited to choose God. The conclusion is that God gives Grace that goes before salvation freeing the will to be able to choose God. It is more correct to say that Arminians believe in a freed will not a free will.

        This is a long winded way of saying strictly speaking preventing Grace is to do with Salvation only. However, some do extend the concept to cover good works in the life of the unbeliever.

        I personally view the source of good works in the life of ether unbeliever to be the result of mankind being created in the image of God. The fall marred this image but did not wipe it out.

      • Thanks again. I had this nagging feeling that prevenient grace was tied only to salvation. I appreciate the clarification.

  4. “Total Depravity is that every part of a person is affected by the fall NOT that mankind is Totally Depraved (i.e. completely bad to the full extent).”

    Thanks, Richard, I knew there had to be a difference, but never really understood it totally. That makes sense.

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