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Calvinism's TULIP: Total Depravity

 May 01, 2011

John Calvin's followers developed an acronym called TULIP to explain their five basic tenets. It uses the first letters from Total Depravity (also known as Original Sin), Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, (also known as Particular Atonement), Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved, Always Saved). I have already addressed the unconditional election in previous lessons, but want to look at the other points of Calvinism to point out their error. This lesson looks at the erroneous doctrine of Total Depravity or Original Sin.

Bernie Parsons 

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Calvinism’s TULIP: Total Depravity

By Bernie Parsons


Presented to Globe church of Christ on 05-01-2011

Presented to Load  church of Christ on 05-08-2011



I have been studying the past few months on errors of Calvinism, wherein scriptures are taken completely out of context in order to create and support those erroneous doctrines. Modern Calvinism uses the acronym of TULIP to explain their basic beliefs.


Total Depravity (also known as Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)


Total depravity says that man is so wicked that he cannot choose to serve God, therefore God must choose him. Thus, they arrive at the idea of individuals being predestined to salvation.


The scriptures prove that God gives each of us a choice as to whether or not we serve Him.


Deuteronomy 30:15 "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;

18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.

19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"


Joshua 24:15 "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."


As we studied last time, God calls us through His word, and it is up to us to answer that call.


Isaiah 65:12 "Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not."


Isaiah 66:4 "I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not."


If we do not answer God’s call, then He will not bless us.


Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings."


The above prophecy regarding Jesus as Messiah shows that a child grows to know to refuse evil and choose good. Before that growth takes place, the child does not know to choose either.


Matthew 18: 2-4 "And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 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. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


The following scriptures show that everyone sins, and that sin comes from within the individual.


Romans 3: 23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”


James 1:14 "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."


As James indicated, our own lusts lead us to sin against God, leading to our spiritual death. Verse 18 indicates that we are begotten with the word of truth, as we saw in our last lesson.


Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"


Since we all sin, should we all continue to sin? No. We die to sin, no longer living in it. In Ezekiel, God declares how that a righteous man can become a sinner and a sinner can become a righteous man. Continuing in sin results in death, while turning from sin brings life.


Ezekiel 18:26: “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.

27: Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

28: Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”


To say that man is so totally depraved that he cannot choose God, or choose to serve God, is not correct. It is not what the Bible teaches. Every person sins, yet God has given each of us the ability to choose to serve Him.


Ephesians 4:17 "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."


By the above we clearly see that those who had once walked in the darkness of ignorance can learn of Christ and be taught by His life and teaching. This results in the putting aside of the former lifestyle, the death of the sinful being that we were, and our being renewed in the spirit of our minds. We put on a new man, created in righteousness and true holiness.


We can choose God, and we can choose to serve Him!



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