What about Total Depravity/Inability?

Total Depravity is the doctrine that believes the unregenerate person is in a state of inability to do anything righteous. In particular, the unregenerate (unforgiven/unsaved) person is unable to hear the gospel and to respond to it without prior divine election and regeneration. Below is a collection of verses that are conscripted into the service of supporting the doctrine of Total Depravity/Inability. Some of the verses are invoked a lot and others are invoked less frequently. I tried to collect as many as I have heard about. Hopefully, you will find this list useful. Further down the page you will find a list of verses that refute the doctrine of Total Depravity.

Passages that are sometimes or often invoked in support of Total Depravity:

Genesis 6:5
The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.
This verse is often invoked to show Total Depravity. The problem with the logic is that it requires us to conflate the evil in the human heart with inability to admit slavery to sin and to embrace repentance and God's grace!
Proponents of Total Inability need to answer for us how Noah was able to find favor with God (vs. 8). What was it about the whole of humanity that motivated God to destroy the world but different about Noah that motivated God to spare him and his family?
Genesis 8:21
And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.
curse: better, "despise." It applies to a cosmic action that exterminates all living creatures.
"for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth"
Thus, God's grace is activated NOT despite man's sin, but because of man's sin.
The evil inclination of the human heart does not extrapolate into Total Depravity/Inability to respond to the grace of God.
Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse—
who can understand it?
This verse is directed at a segment of Judah who was unfaithful to God. See context of vss 5-13.
The point here is that people can easily justify (in their hearts) that it is okay to do evil if it is for a good  cause.
This verse does not teach that the human heart is totally depraved.
If it does, then verse 10 makes no sense. What is there to test and search? The real measure of the heart is a person's "doings."
This verse does not teach that sin is inevitable or (especially) to not worry too much about it. If it did, verse 5 makes no sense.
Their heart condition is self-inflicted.
Mar 4:11-12
And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables;
in order that
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’ ”
Passage sometimes invoked to support Total depravity.
That notion should be put to bed with vss. 21-25:
He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” (Mark 4:21-25)
Mark 7:21-23
For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Calvinists think this verses teaches Total Depravity -> inability to respond to God's offer of liberty from sin. The conclusion does not follow.
John 3:19
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.
Sometimes this verse is conscripted into the service of supporting Total Depravity.
Hating the light and responding to God's offer of liberty from sin are both choices, neither of which requires prior regeneration from God. Romans 4:3.
John 3:27
John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.
Does this verse teach Limited Atonement? Notice that this verse is quoting what John the Baptist said about Jesus' ministry of purification. In other words, God gave a ministry to John and God gave a growing ministry to Jesus.
Suppose we want to extrapolate this saying to everybody who comes to Jesus. Does that prove that the people who came could not do so without divine action?
Let us not overlook the fact that this very chapter has several verses that contradict this conclusion: John 3:16, 18, 36.
If we consider that God gave Jesus, anyone who receives Jesus receives God's gift.
This, by Greg Boyd:
In John, "if a human heart is willing to submit, the Father will lead them to a saving faith relationship with Christ. If a human heart is unwilling, however, it is hardened to God’s leading and comes under the influence of Satan. If a person comes to faith in Christ, therefore, they must credit God for graciously drawing them. But if they refuse to believe, they have only themselves to blame" (Greg Boyd, What about the Gospel of John and Calvinism? reknew.org accessed 20181025).
John 6:44-45
No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
Here is an important point: it is not our role to "draw" but to preach. The Father draws. Jesus chooses (John 15:16; 21:15-16; Matthew 23:23; 28:19). I respond.
Of interest: the word "draw" is the same as in John 12:32 where it means to "woo." Nobody in that context would argue that the "draw" in that passage is irresistible.
Hosea 11:4
Vs 45 indicates that there is a personal responsibility to listen and learn. Vs 40 also points to necessary personal choices before actual faith is chosen. The drawing comes through teaching - from the Father.
The following by Greg Boyd - with an interesting view of what God does when he "draws":
Calvinists sometimes argue that this passage teaches that the Father chooses and then “draws” certain people to Christ. Those who are “drawn” certainly come to Christ (John 6:37) while all who are not drawn remain in their sin. In short, this passage is interpreted to teach “particular election” (that is, God chooses to save some and not to save others).
It is true that the “drawing” Jesus speaks of is not universal, as some Arminians suggest, since Jesus is here contrasting those who are “drawn” with those who are not. But neither this or any other passage requires us to believe that the Father simply decides who will and will not be drawn. The Father “draws” people (or not) in response to their hearts.
God wants all to be saved and is working in every human heart to get each person to accept the Gospel. But people can and do resist God’s influence and thwart his will for their lives (see e.g. Lk 7:30). When a heart has been successfully opened, however, God goes further and “draws” that person to Jesus Christ.
Note: This drawing may be a metonymy.
You are a believer which means you were drawn by the Father. Being drawn by the Father does not imply that you are a believer. In the same way, those who are "called" (Romans 8:28) are to be understood as those who answered God's call, not those who were called but resisted the call.
John 6:65
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
From vs 44.
Calvinist misunderstanding of this verse:
* some people are denied access to Jesus.
* all people granted access WILL come to Jesus.
* This verse is often cited against the view that people make their own choice to come to Jesus - as if the choice itself amounts to nothing less than a person saving himself. The fact is that I have some small part in my own salvation. I must accept it.
Acts 2:40
One more point:
"no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father"
logically follows to
"If it is granted by the Father, AT LEAST ONE person CAN come to Jesus!"
That statement does not come close to showing particular election. It shows that the Father has opened the way to salvation, namely, Jesus.
John 8:7
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Being NOT without sin is a far cry from Total depravity.
John 8:43
Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.
Total depravity? Really. the next verse says that the reason they "cannot" accept Christ's word is because they choose to resist.
John 8:44
You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Romans 3:10-12
as it is written:
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
there is no one who has understanding,
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
there is no one who shows kindness,
there is not even one.”
Does this passage teach total depravity? No. It means that everyone has failed in the past. This section is not about the inevitability of moral failure in the future.
Furthermore, being "unrighteous" does not extrapolate to total inability to respond to God's offer of liberty from unrighteousness; for to do so requires assumption that belief is an act of righteousness, which it is not (Romans 4:3)!
(To do so also requires the assumption that an unrighteous heart is unable to do anything righteous)!
This collection of OT passages is presented to support the conclusion in vs 20. It is too late for us to save ourselves. An act of God is required.
N. T. Wright, NIBC:
What looked at first like a repetitious list of biblical quotations, apparently laboring the point that all are deeply wicked, turns out to be a subtle sequence of thought, linking in at virtually every point with the themes from Paul’s surrounding argument. The surface meaning of the text is clear, that all who are “under the law” are condemned as sinners; but the subtext is saying all the time, “Yes; and in precisely this situation God will act, because of the divine righteousness, to judge the world, to rescue the helpless, to establish the covenant.”
Romans 3:23
since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
Note that it does not say, "All must sin." Sin is not inevitable. We are sinners because we sin. It is NOT the case that we sin because we are sinners. We are able to be morally responsible. God does not require the impossible.
Romans 5:6
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Please note that any conclusions about ability to believe are added by the reader. Any conclusions about our ability to even admit our helplessness are added by the reader.
Romans 5:10
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
we shall be saved: Many take these verses to refer to final salvation from the presence of sin. But in this context, Paul goes on to discuss being saved from the power of sin (see ch. 6).
This verse is sometimes invoked as support of the doctrine of Total Depravity. It is really difficult for normal people to read it that way. Perhaps the idea is that, we were enemies (read: Totally Depraved), God reconciled us through the death of Christ. We also have to assume that "reconciled" happened without choice, admission or repentance on our part. After all, we are asked to assume, if we were enemies, we were unable to respond to Christ without God's prior and arbitrary election.
Romans 6:20
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Slavery to sin does not denote inability to respond to God's offer of liberty from sin.
Please note that any conclusions about ability to believe are added by the reader. Any conclusions about our ability to even admit our helplessness are added by the reader.
Romans 7:18
For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.
vs. often quoted in support of "total depravity."
The point really seems to be that a life og gratifying the desires of the flesh will not result in eternal life.
"Nothing good," we must not ignore, does not mean "all bad."
The flesh is neither good nor evil. It is just fleshly and not spiritual.
Romans 8:7-8
For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
see vs 13 (Romans 8:13). Continuing to live according to the flesh is a choice. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh is a choice.
"[Inability to please God] of course does not mean that secular persons are incapable of doing good but does mean that they do not seek the things of God." (Grant Osborne, IVPNT)
It is too much of an extrapolation to say that the human heart that is unable to seek God cannot respond to God's offer of liberty from sin! This conclusion requires a huge assumption: Human nature negates free will. Understand that this premise is an assumption.
Paul is explaining what conversion looks like; for those who are converted and are possibly not living up to their conversions.
He is also making the point that pleasing God is something a Gentile can do without becoming a Jew.
Romans 14:23
But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
This verse is FREQUENTLY invoked as proof of Total Depravity; but when it is, it requires that we take the verse totally out of context!
The context is, of course, about offending people's (Jews') customs and traditions because we have the liberty to do so.
Romans 14:5, 14
cf., 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Timothy 4:4
1 Corinthians 2:14
Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
The reason some people cannot understand the Gospel is because they are not receptive to it. It has nothing to do with their intelligence.
It may be a criticism of so-called believers who reject Paul's message. See 1 Corinthians 3:1-4.
Some people quote vss 13-16 in support of the use of the KJV only.
People's inability to understand also has nothing to do with God's arbitrary particular salvation election. Some people cite this verse in support of the doctrine of Total Depravity/Inability. The fact that a non-Christian does not have the benefit of God's Spirit to provide understanding of God's self does not extrapolate into the assumption that the non-Christian is unable to humbly admit his/her addiction to sin and that he/she is in need of God's grace.
Ephesians 2:3-5
All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—...
God enabled us to live without gratification of our fleshly passions. Flesh is not merely the physical body. It is a metaphor for a life of self-gratification.
(i. e., why would a believer who is so enabled return to gratify those passions?)
Does this passage support Total Depravity? It requires a big assumption: If we have been redeemed, it happened without our invitation or admission of need. The passage makes equal sense if we admitted our sinful "dead" state and came to Jesus for healing and liberation from sin.
The Calvinist view that faith itself and definitely any response that a person may make is totally God's action is based on their perception of what in means to be "dead." A dead person cannot have faith without divine action. A dead person cannot reach for a saving lifeline.
Christianity is not about making your old life better. It is about receiving new life.
Is it by having life that you may believe OR by believing that you may have life???
John 20:31
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that BY BELIEVING YOU MAY HAVE LIFE in his name.
Ephesians 2:10
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Does this passage teach Total Depravity/Inability or Irresistible Grace?
It means that the death of Christ had purpose for our lives that are now covenantally intimate with Christ's resurrection and new life.
Thus, it does not mean a prior choice of individuals and not other individuals. It is a preparation of a kind of person... a kind of person who has accepted new life in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:15
He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace,
Theme of Ephesians: one new man.
If this passage is conscripted to support Total Depravity, it must assume Total Depravity! It is gross question begging (saying, "It's true because it's true"). It assumes that all those individuals who are a part of this new creation were ambushed by God's regeneration so that they can participate in the new humanity.
Philippians 2:13
for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Whatever spiritual successes I achieve are God's work in me. If I spiritually fail, it's solely my own fault. James 1:13-17
This fact "does not mean that your own choice and actions have nothing to do with it, else God would be in total control of you, and would also be the one making you sin, which is ludicrous, for sin is not of God" (Jonathan Anderson, http://www.angelfire.com/planet/loveoneanothe/slick.html accessed 2018 10 24).

Passages that refute the doctrine of Total Depravity:

Deuteronomy 24:16
Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for their own crimes may persons be put to death.
Deuteronomy 30:11-19
Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,
Joshua 24:15
Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Ezekiel 28:15
You were blameless in your ways
from the day that you were created,
until iniquity was found in you.
Matthew 8:10
When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith."
Matthew 12:33
Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.
Matthew 18:1-3
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Mark 6:6
And he was amazed at their unbelief.
John 1:12-13
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
Acts 2:40
And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Acts 17:30
While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 2:14-15
When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them
James 1:14
But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it;

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