Man is born with the inherited depravity of Adam’s sin and without God’s direct influence and divine grace he will be eternally lost in his sin. John Calvin wrote hundreds of years ago, but the influence of his erroneous doctrine is still perpetuated throughout the ecumenical community that surrounds us. Calvin once said, “What is to be will be, and we can do nothing to change it.” Calvin viewed mankind as destined to revel in sin and without God’s intercession, eternal condemnation in hell will be man’s eternity. Are these statements correct? Has man been born with a totally depraved mind, absent from any chance of choosing to do good? Is a child born into a depraved state of eternal sin and without being one of the chosen elect, predetermined to live eternally in a devil’s hell?
Calvinism and its proponents have long taught and promoted the idea of man’s complete and helpless estate. Beginning with Adam, sin has been handed down to all men and all are predetermined to sin. While the inspired prophet James wrote, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and entice by his own lust;” Calvinists presuppose that man truly has no other alternative (1:14). Man is completely unable to choose not to sin but rather is fulfilling prophecy when he sins. The Calvinist believe in a sovereign God who is both responsible for the saving of the elect and the punishment of the non-elect, but is this the God found in the Bible? Has God created the billions only to extend salvation to His chosen few?
We cannot deny the fact that man in his flesh has sinned against God. Paul said, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The apostle John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Therefore, it is impossible to deny man’s guilt before the heavenly Father, but does this automatically mean that man has no freewill in the matter, or that man is completely unable to change his situation?
We must understand in the concept of sin and inherited depravity that no sin can be extended beyond the one who has committed the act. Therefore, the doctrine of inherited depravity is completely false. The prophet Ezekiel said, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (18:20, emphasis mine, bcj). In one verse, the entire concept of inherited depravity is proven as contradictory to the Bible. God has clearly demonstrated that no sin will be held to the account of another person’s soul. Therefore, Adam’s sin cannot be transferred upon all of mankind. What then has been transferred?
The apostle Paul said, “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17, emphasis mine, bcj). First, Paul clearly states that what has been transferred upon all of mankind from Adam was not his sin but death. Death is the finality of all men. When the Lord returns, the last enemy, death, will be triumphed (1 Corinthians 15:26). Secondly, there is a clear indication of salvation being extended to those who receive the abundance of God’s grace. Again the Calvinist will want to point out that this grace is only extended to the chosen elect, but is that what the Bible teaches?