Home > Brian's Blogs, Theology > The Canons of Dort Part 7: Total Depravity

The Canons of Dort Part 7: Total Depravity

Today we move to the third man point of doctrine of the Canons of Dort: Total Depravity. As usual, today I will provide a summary of the Canons and then discuss it in another post.

The third main point of doctrine, total depravity, was originally combined with the fourth main point of doctrine, irresistible grace. They were combined because the authors viewed the two points as extremely interdependent. The actual heading of this section includes both and reads: Human Corruption, Conversion to God, and the Way It Occurs.

Another reason that they are together is that when you look at total depravity by itself, the Arminian view is very similar to the Calvinist view. Both views speak of sin using similar language. As with the atonement, a significant difference is the actual application of it, in this case, how is salvation applied to sinfulness.

In this summary I will only summarize those portions dealing with total depravity and save irresistible grace for another day.

The Impact and Spread of Sin

  1. Humanity was created in the image of God (which includes a righteous will and heart, pure emotions, and complete holiness). However, humanity, by its own free will, rebelled against God and corrupted himself (which includes darkness, futility, distortion of thought, perversity and hardness of will and heart, and impurity in emotions).
  2. Humans transferred this corrupt nature to their children.

The Pervasiveness of Sin

  1. This corrupt nature leads to a total inability of humanity to escape the wrath of God and achieve salvation: “without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform.”

The Inadequacy of “the Light of Nature” and “the Law”

  1. Humans with a corrupt nature still retain “some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior.” This retained “light of nature,” however, does not enable one to come to a saving knowledge of God.
  2. Although the 10 Commandments were given by God and does “expose the magnitude of [humanity’s] sin and increasingly convicts [humanity] of guilt, yet it does not offer a remedy or enable him to escape from his misery.” In other words, the Law has a purpose but it is not salvation.
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