The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
Loved ones, there are many of our denominational friends among us in the world who teach the doctrine of the total depravity of the human race. Yet they still affirm that their church is “apostolic” in doctrine and practice. They seem not to understand that the apostolic records begin with Acts and close with the Revelation. We defy them to find the phrase "total depravity" in these records or anywhere else in the book of God! That men are sinners we do not deny. That they are at variance with God we must confess. That without the redeeming blood of Jesus they are doomed to destruction we earnestly proclaim. That men, all men, any man, can be considered totally depraved we most emphatically DENY.
Many denominational churches could be used, but because I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN THE BAPTIST CHURCH we will use that faith as an example. Majorities of you are familiar with Baptist doctrine or practice. Like us, you know what they teach. However, if you don’t know what they teach, please take a moment and learn their doctrine at the following site: http://newgeorgiachurch.com/xpoints.html
Here is a brief summary of the Total Depravity theory taught by the Baptist Church and many other denominational churches: (a) All men are totally depraved and therefore unable to do anything to save themselves. (b) Regeneration is the first step in the sinner's return to God, and the Holy Spirit must take it. After reading this lesson members of the Baptist Church must either deny their doctrine or admit our conclusion. We insist that there is no other way out of the difficulty we are about to place them in.
If all men are totally depraved, and they believe it, it follows as inevitably as light follows the sun that they are all dead, helpless and utterly opposed to all good, and if this is their true condition it follows irresistibly, also, that regeneration is a miracle in which the sinner does not and cannot cooperate in any sense. If it takes a miracle to convert the sinner, and if God only can perform miracles, who is responsible for failures? Please meditate on that question if you teach and believe in the doctrine of Total Depravity. Hopefully after a brief moment of meditation you will realize that your doctrine makes God a tyrant ‑ responsible for the damned. Now if the Holy Spirit never comes it is because the Lord does not send Him, and the sinner is damned for failing to do that which he cannot do! We ask you to calmly examine this charge. Scrutinize it in every part, and follow us and decide on the evidence we adduce whether it is true or false.
No good man, indeed but few unconverted men, denies the universality of parental love. Show me a father, just one, who would treat his helpless child with the insatiable cruelty, the vindictive hate, the unchangeable burning to which this doctrine consigns, by an unalterable decree before creation, untold millions of the human race without giving them the shade of the shadow of a chance to decide their destiny for themselves. And yet their Church claims that God is the Creator and Father of us all! Oh! The shame of it! God save us all from such delusion! Nor is this all. They declare that the thing is settled, settled now, settled beyond change. Will you calmly weigh this statement? Admitting that it is true, what use is there for the Church, the preacher, the Gospel, anything else?
We will follow this falsehood of falsehoods further. Do the Baptists really believe it? We fear that some of them do. Is their practice consistent with it? We will state it and let you decide for yourself. Here is a Baptist revival. Things are getting hot. Excitement increases and sinners cry for mercy. Billy Graham is the preacher. This is the hour for service. What a mighty gathering! Graham takes the words of the Master as a text for his sermon: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). He emphasizes two points; first, God's love as revealed in the gift of His Son, and second, the universality of that love. Is that consistent? Does he not know that according to Baptist theology God does not love the world? Does he not know that according to his own creed the majority of his audience is already doomed, irretrievably doomed to hell; that they have been doomed since the morning of time; that there has never been a time when they have not been doomed? But that makes no difference, as the revival must go!
The sermon is finished. The front seats are vacated and in response to the invitation sixty persons come forward. Now while they sing and pray let us calmly take in the situation from the standpoint of their doctrine of election, and also their theory of direct spiritual operation. Either these sixty men and women are of the small number of those elected to salvation from eternity, or they are of the immense number of those doomed to hell. Which? If they are of the elect the time of their conversion is settled to the second, and no power in earth or heaven can hurry it or postpone it for a moment. On that ground the whole procedure is a farce. If they are of the non-elect no power in the universe other than the Holy Spirit can save one of them. On this ground the whole procedure is a waste of time, energy, and vocal power. The whole thing amounts to this: they cry to God to save the elect, which He cannot and will not do until the time comes, and they cry to Him to save the non‑elect, which He cannot and will not do unless their doctrine is false.
Let us view it from the standpoint of their theory of conversion. For a moment we dissolve their theory of election and place the whole world on the same basis ‑ God's love and free salvation, on the terms of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to everybody. Listen, to their prayer: "Oh God our Father, save these poor penitents now. Send thy Spirit with sin‑destroying power. Thou knowest these sinners are dead. They cannot do anything. Save them Lord, save them now through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." Follow Mr. Graham as he goes among the penitents. Listen to his instructions to them. To one he says: "Only believe." To another he says: "You must give up everything." To another he says: "You must not try to work your way out, cast yourself on Jesus." Mark you; he is the same man who said in his prayers that these penitents could not do anything! Why does he not give them the answer that Peter gave the Pentecostans (Acts 2:37-41)? There are two reasons. One is, he does not believe in Peter's way of doing it. The other is, it would kill out the excitement and restore reason to its throne, and that would be a fatal blow to the whole thing!
The revival ends. A review of it will help us out of the darkness. Reflect on the preaching. The preacher repeatedly asserted that all sinners are totally depraved, and assured his audience over and over again that an attempt to "do" anything would be fatal. And in the face of this he also proclaimed that if these "totally depraved," "helpless," "dead" sinners did not repent they would be damned. He preached that God is willing; willing now, and then called penitents to the altar and by united and repeated prayers tried to make Him more willing. The praying was peculiar. God was besought to save men who had, according to the preaching, done nothing, and who could not possibly do anything, in obedience to His requirements.
On the supposition that God is willing and the sinner helpless, we want our honest Baptist friends to answer a question or two. We want to know how you escape the conclusion that, according to your doctrine, nothing plays any part in the conversion of men save the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the Church. We also want to know if all the penitents were totally depraved, and God answered the prayers of Billy Graham and his helpers and brought some of them to light, why some went away mourning. We hold you to your doctrine. One sinner cannot be more dead than another, and "coming forward" to the "altar of prayer" or "standing for prayer" does not help the matter in the least, for a "dead man tells no tales," and a dead sinner cannot do anything, and if he tries he will damage his own cause. If therefore conversion comes in answer to the good man's prayer, and the sinner cannot pray until he passes out of sin, we boldly affirm that the Baptist Church and all others who teach the false doctrine of totality depravity have placed themselves in a position where they are responsible for the world's salvation. Further than this, if they will stick to their doctrine and induce men to believe and act upon it, they will never make another convert while the world stands.
Allow us to sum up this revival. Altogether there were 100 persons at the altar. We concede that these people were honest and earnest. Why did they go there? We answer: They were in the precise condition that the Pentecostans were in when they cried for help (Acts 2:37). Why did they continue to go there? Simply because they had been taught that, in spite of the theory that said that they could not do anything, they must, by physical suffering and prayer, work themselves to the point where God would grant them relief, and because no one would give them the apostolic answer (Acts 2:38-40). Forty persons "professed a change." What became of the others? A few gave up while the battle raged because they thought God was acting with partiality. The others were persistent until almost midnight on the last night, and went away in deepest trouble. See that dear old white‑headed mother. She did her best to the last and went away in the same condition as that in which the beginning of the meeting found her. There is failure here. Who is to blame? What became of the converts? Thirty of them" joined" the Baptists, and four "joined" the Methodists, and the others being doubtful as to the genuineness of their conversion, concluded to wait on the outside. Loved ones, we challenge Graham or any other preacher to name one man in the Bible who honestly sought pardon as these have done, and failed to find it, in the days of the Apostles. They cannot find one, and therefore "the Baptist Church is NOT apostolic in doctrine and practice!"
We digress long enough to offer our Baptist friends a suggestion: In the days of the Apostles the same process that made men Christians made them also members of the church (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:47). If you will therefore adopt Peter and Paul’s method you will not have to submit to the humiliation of dividing your converts with the Methodists. The process is not patented. Try it by all means. But let us warn you that the process only makes Christians - Christians without prefix, Christians without suffix, Christians only, only Christians! You cannot make a Baptist Christian or a Christian Baptist, or a Baptist of a Christian without adding something to the oracles of God.
Do you want more proof that the doctrine of total depravity is false? We will give it in abundance:
1. As we said in the beginning, the fact that the words are not found in their present use and acceptation in the Bible proves that the idea is not there. The Lord certainly knew what He was about when He gave us the Bible, and as He left the phrase out, it is rebellious and insulting to put it in.
2. If the whole race, out of Christ, is totally depraved, either men (a) inherit depravity or (b) become so through their own conduct. If (a) is true, men are damned on account of ancestral sin, for if a man is totally depraved at birth he is already condemned and cannot do anything personally to add to his condemnation or to relieve himself of it. If (b) is true, the doctrine that all men are totally depraved is confessedly false.
3. The total depravity doctrine grows out of the erroneous conclusion that our fore-parents became totally depraved by the one act of eating the forbidden fruit. This is delusively and destructively false. Turn to the third chapter of Genesis. Read it with care. Man sinned and reaped its consequences, but total depravity was not one of them. Why not? Look for yourself. Did God forsake them? Did He treat them as mere machines? Not by any means. He communicated with them and provided for them as intelligent beings. The doctrine makes the whole drama of revelation a farce unworthy of the respect and attention of any self-respecting being. If man were and is totally depraved, which means that mind, heart, and conscience are wholly given over to sin, how do we explain the fact that all revelation proceeds upon the principle that man though a sinner is still able to comprehend and do the will of God if he chooses to do it?
4. The doctrine is opposed to the plainest declarations of the Gospel. The Messiah's great invitation is radically opposed to it: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28‑30). It is uncompromisingly antagonistic to the analysis of the heart in His parable of the sower: "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). It is unalterably opposed to the first sermon preached by the Apostles after the descent of the Holy Spirit as summed up in the exhortation of Peter: "Save yourselves from this unto ward generation” (Acts 2:40). It forever makes void the final worldwide invitation of the Gospel: "And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the waters of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
5. The attempt to sustain total depravity by the
Word of God is a gross perversion of the intention of its Author. The favorite
proof of the advocates of this doctrine is the Old Testament, and
it is applicable only to the condition of apostate Israel (Isa.
1:10‑15), but the very next verse after this shows that even they still
had the power
to reform! But why multiply quotations? Take your Bible and search for
6. Please go to the following site for a more
indepth study of this false doctrine: TOTAL