A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Total Depravity: Debunking Common Straw Man Arguments

The usual way of arguing against one of the doctrines of grace is first, to misrepresent it so badly that no serious student of the Scripture would ever embrace it; then totally demolish it with arguments that have nothing at all to do with the issue. You have heard these straw man arguments before. Now we shall boldly look at them and debunk them one straw at a time. Some say the doctrine of total depravity (inability) cannot be true because:

1. The Bible teaches that all are responsible to believe and repent.

2.The Bible teaches that man has a will (choice). Man is not a robot or a puppet.

3. Every man does not act as sinfully as he is capable of acting.

4. Even wicked men perform acts which are good in the sight of other people.


1. The Bible teaches that men, controlled by a sinful nature, are not able to believe or repent. The person who believes in free grace has no argument with the truth that sinners are responsible. What he denies is that God requires no more than man is able to do. For instance, God requires perfect obedience to His law from those who possess no ability or desire to obey it (Romans 8:7).

Man’s inability springs from his sinful and rebellious unwillingness. He cannot (John 6:44), because he will not .

2. The Bible does teach that man has a choice and that he acts freely in the exercise of that choice. The issue concerns whether a person, controlled by a sinful nature, will ever make the proper choice. The Bible teaches that man’s will is bound and controlled by his sinful nature; so that he cannot and will not choose Christ, believe the gospel, or forsake sin unless God, in sovereign grace, changes his nature (John 3:19-21, 6:44, 6:65; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14; Romans 3:11).

3. Every man, left to himself is capable of the most heinous sins. Every man at heart is the same (Proverbs 27:19) — deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

4. Men are wicked in God’s sight and totally incapable of doing that which is well-pleasing to Him (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 14:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29; Job 15:16; Jeremiah 9:3; Romans 3:10-18).

Excerpt from ‘Burning Straw Dummies’.


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