Total Depravity is the first in the tulip acrostic of Calvinism, which by the way, was not developed by John Calvin.

Total depravity is one subject that does not have to look far and wide for, to find evidence of, its existence.  Tangible evidences abound all around us.

Total depravity is misunderstood by many; in fact, some believe it is sent by Satan.

Total depravity is denied by many; in fact, it is called a disease; it is not called by its proper name, sin.

Total depravity is denied by others who try to confuse and deceive by saying it is not absolute.  Their reasoning is: All parts of all men’s natures demonstrate some good.  And since all parts demonstrate some sin then we are able to say that man is totally depraved.  But, man is not absolutely, thoroughly depraved, and is able to feel good about his ability to do some good works.  My question to this reasoning is: “What part of ‘total depravity’ do you not understand?”

Depravity means corruption, wickedness, innate evil of unregenerate man!  To add the adjective total should leave no doubt as to the truth that there is no good whatsoever in the unregenerate.  On the basis of the clear teaching of Scripture in Jer. 17:9, Ps. 14, Romans 3:10-18 and Romans 7:18, our Heidelberg Catechism asks: “Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?” and answers: “Indeed we are, except we are regenerated.”

Total depravity is denied by those who speak of “innocent” babies, much like the ancient Pelagians, who insisted that men learn to sin by seeing others sin.  They do not reckon with Ps. 51:5. These believe that if we change the social conditions via housing, medical care, soup kitchens, education, etc. people would have good examples to imitate and as a result would be and do good.  It is true, that a baby does not sin in as many ways as an adult does since sin is performed according to degrees of self-esteem, and sin is relegated to a degree of circumstances dictated by environment and availability of many modern inventions.  Nevertheless, the unregenerate sins in everything he does.  Some simply do more than others.

Total depravity is also denied by those who believe that God makes it possible for unregenerate persons to do some good.  He can, as the Arminian teaches, accept Christ as his Savior, for example. He can also maybe do some good for others by use of his talents and/or other tangible materials.

All of this necessarily leads us to ask, “What of a good work?” Our Heidelberg Catechism is quite clear when it states in question and answer 91 that a work is good only if it 1. proceeds from a true faith (which you recall is a “certain knowledge” that holds God’s word to be true, and an “assured confidence” that the Holy Spirit works by the gospel in man’s heart); 2. is “performed according to the law of God”; and 3. is done to “His glory” and not “founded on our imagination or the institutions of men.”

Total depravity is an important doctrine for God’s people.  If we do not believe it, we cannot believe the truth of the sovereignty of God.  We then could also have no comfort in or assurance of our salvation.  Hold fast to this doctrine of Total Depravity, understand that you have been delivered from that total depravity by your Savior’s death, and by grace live a life of gratitude to Him for that deliverance from total depravity

The auditorium was hot. Because they were sitting in a straight long row, they could not see each other, “…ye are the light of the world…” Speaking of lights, there were many. Hypo tried to concentrate, but the heat from the lights was unbearable, and the flashing lights did nothing to help his problem. Hypo was sure that the speech he was trying to listen to was a good speech, but the flashing lights lit up his memory.

Just last week, he remembered, he had asked Con to go along with him to fight. Both of them were good fighters. Con had seemed a little hesitant at first, but with a bit of friendly persuasion had consented. Hypo knew that he had to go that night, but he wanted someone along for cover. Con was a good soldier, so he chose him. In his mind he began to recall the events of that evening. As they drove up to “the place,” Hypo had cast doubts in his own mind as to the wisdom of the idea of taking Con along.

“…and the light shall reveal that darkness…” Con’s mind began to wonder also. It had been dark that night. The lights at “the place” were flashing, in fact they could be better described as faint and flickering. He wondered if Hypo remem­bered that awful night. Con cringed as he thought of the river he had fallen into less than five minutes after they had arrived, twelve percent C2H5OH. He had been badly burned. His eyes teared as he recalled the air’s smell of no-truth-atol, and the lack-a-discernment which shrouded the entire “place.” He knew somehow that he had had no business being there, but Hypo had told him it would be a good place to go to practice fighting the wiles. Those wiles were ugly monsters, who loved dark places such as “that place” was.

As he struggled now to control his emotions, he wished he could have been like Hypo had been, how could they have known that their fellow classmates would be there also, already captured by the wiles, and wounded badly? He had been caught off guard and he supposed that Hypo had been, too. Yet Hypo had handled himself admirably. He always seemed to know what to say and when to say it. Hypo had brought him back home to safety.

Another flash of light broke Hypo’s train of thought. His memory flashed back to the shine of his car’s headlights as they had shown on the mailbox in front of the Vert homestead. Con had served him well. He now had his cover. Con had been with him, Con was home early, Con was a good soldier, despite the wound he brought upon himself tonight, and Con’s mother would relay good tidings to his own mother. All would be well; now back to the party.

In a remote area of the building, two pranksters silently made their way to the control room. They would only play a harmless prank. They wished only to put a few friends from the “angel factory” in total darkness on this important night.

“As you commence your next mile in life, remember the three types of lights. 1. Beacon lights of various brightnesses shining to reveal the darkness. 2. Blinking lights which are good for nothing. 3. Burned out lights which have served their purpose. Which type are you? Thank you.”


New speaker: “Now we proudly present to you our graduates: James Paul Allbright, Lydia Ruth Beamer, Hypo Crite…” The auditorium was suddenly rocked with an explosion and plunged into total darkness.

The next day a puzzled janitor found a fourth type of light. In the control room were two Broken worthless bulbs.

P.S. On the third seat from the end was a third broken bulb.

Some time ago in a realm called Naitsirhc, trouble developed. Everything seemed to be working backwards. The law­makers made many laws that were not for the good of the citizens. The chief law enforcer was in the midst of a scandal that involved breaking laws while trying to make certain that all the citizens kept the laws. The impartial judicial segment of that realm upheld the bad laws, and was infested with graft, bribery, faulty logic, and many other types of corruption. Still there was more trouble. In this realm, there existed a group who purported to be followers of a man called Nivlac. This group of people were also in trouble. Their teachings and beliefs were summed up in the word tulip. It seemed, however, that many of the Nivlac-ists no longer thought it important to hold their truths of tulip, or to teach them to their children. They soon began to see dire results because of their actions.

Just as the magistrates of the realm were doing things backwards, so the Nivlac-ists found many things happening backward in their circles. They were bickering, fight­ing, and gossiping amongst themselves. They began to address God as one of themselves. Many began to find fault with God’s Word, choosing to listen to some of it and reject other parts of it especially if they could not twist it to fit their way of thinking. They no longer prayed, “Father thy will be done”; but rather, “Father this is my will, bless it please.” In fact, addressing God as Father was an exception to the rule. He became known as dad or pops and was spoken to in terms of you and your, not Thee or Thou. The degeneration of their beliefs and prac­tices were not without effect on their chil­dren. They did just as their parents did. They showed little or no respect for their parents, teachers, or anyone in authority. An underlying reason for all these things will be mentioned later.

There was also a group of Nivlac-ists in the realm of Naitsirhc who had not slipped quite so far in their beliefs, but they were also in trouble. Their lives were far from being examples of Naitsirhc living. Their children soon followed. The children soon heard of something called Nis. They found out that they had been performing acts of Nis from the time that they were born. As they grew older, they found out that Nis was fun. Their parents told them that Nis was bad, but their parents played the game themselves. It had become a game to them. Little children played it, but were usually caught. As they got older, however, they became more proficient at hiding Nis. When they did get caught, they had many pointed questions which they directed at their parents. This led many parents into saying that some types of Nis were not as bad as others. Nis was not good, but some Nis was not too bad either, they rationalized.

Being confused and ignorant, the children concentrated on finding out which types of Nis were acceptable (what one could get by with). It didn’t take long to find out that if one talked long and loud enough, he could convince others that a new type of Nis was acceptable. So the situation be­came progressively worse. Soon parents and children alike were participating in the entertainment of the general populace of the world; the world’s music, movies, partying, and literature. The parents sent their children to be educated by the corrupt government. They had their children go out and play with the children of the world. They forgot that it takes very little black paint to turn a vessel of white paint gray, but it takes an abundance of white to turn black into white. The situation became worse.

The types of Nis of the world soon became more evident as the dress of the world was seen in their circles. The rebellion of the world was manifested in the relationship of children to parents, parents to employers and employees. The home which once had been on a solid foundation began to teeter. No longer was it a place where the family united to learn of God’s wondrous works and ways, guided by the father as its head. It became a place for family members to come and eat and sleep if they wished. Mother was not there to comfort and teach the little ones; that was left to a hireling and a T.V. set. The very seed that was the potential for future generations was doomed for destruc­tion in the bed chambers. The game of Nis was no longer a game. It was an ugly monster that controlled their lives.

An underlying reason for all this back­wardness can be found by explaining how they thought concerning God. He was thought of as a faithful friend who could be what they wanted Him to be. He could be forgotten about if they chose to forget about Him. He could be called when they decided to call out to Him. In short, they thought of God as if His holy name was spelled backwards, as are all the words in this article which were marked with an asterisk when they were first mentioned.


Psalm 139:7, 8 — “Whither shall l go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”


And Satan came to visit the sons of men and asked them, “why do you loathe your young?”

And they said to him, “We do not loathe our young, we love them. Do we not give them everything that they want? Do we not send them to schools where is found the latest in equipment and supplies and where they are given unlimited opportun­ities, instead of to a small Christian school? Do we not allow them to dress in the latest fashions of the designers? Do we not allow them to discuss freely with us ‘what is wrong with doing this or that’? Do we not aid their maturing process by allowing them to argue with us? Do we not have them become more rounded in their education by watching good movies with them? Do we not allow them to go unsupervised to sporting events? Do we not teach them responsibility by giving them a large al­lowance and let them do with it what they wish? Do we not teach them how to get the most out of the government so life is made more easy for them? When they get into trouble at school, do we not take their defenseless side against the teachers? Do we not show them how to make life more bearable by giving wild parties? Do we not make it possible for them to have a car so that they can enjoy a little privacy away from us to do what they want to do? Do we not stop bothering them about whether or not they have learned their cate­chism? Do we not praise them for a good choir performance or program even if they just mouth the words and not sing with heartfelt expression? Do we not show them that we can much better prepare ourselves for the Kingdom by attending sports events rather than societies, conferences, or study­ing? Do we not teach them how to choose between the lesser of two evils, for ex­ample, going to a movie instead of parking? Do we not leave home so they can have the entire house alone for a few hours? Do we not allow them to listen to the music they want to listen to? Do we not re­frain from censoring their reading materials? Do we not allow them to have the friends they want? Do we not teach them that by using birth control they can provide for their children as well as or maybe better than we did for them? Do we not show them how to amass earthly goods by having both parents work? Do we not allow them to direct their own lives? Don’t we? We do all or most of these things. We love our children.”

And Satan answered them, “Why do you loathe your young?”

“Those men in Skylab sure are finding out a lot about our solar system,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

“But you know, they are just scratching the surface when it comes to finding out how we got here and how things are interrelated,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

“You know, we’ve been trying for years to figure that out; and personally I think that there is some intelligent life out there in space somewhere. Men have been try­ing for years to correspond with anyone that may be out there,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

“Sure, we send out radio waves and we scan the heavens with our finest electronic equipment, trying to pick up any com­munication we can from others out there,” he said.


“Back in 1908, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius proposed a theory that the earth was seeded with living cells by someone. Now Leslie Orgel of the Salk Institute be­lieves that the seeding was deliberate; it could also explain why we have only one genetic code here,” he said.


“We have zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, bird preserves, tribal reservations, etc. We put creatures in isolated circumstances so we can study them,” he said.


“I think there is someone watching us, maybe like an experiment or something. This earth is like a huge laboratory and they are watching and controlling what hap­pens here. A lot of U.F.O.s have been seen by reliable men throughout history,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

“I just read ‘Chariots of the Gods’ the other day. I’m convinced that ancient people saw

rockets, saucers, and space cap­sules hundreds of thousands of years ago. All the facts indicate it.”


“With all our intelligence, we can answer almost any question that comes up; how­ever, there must be someone out there laughing at us in our efforts to determine our origin. They must be super-brains of some sort to remain undetected for so long.”


“You don’t seem to be very excited about what I’m talking about; aren’t you interested in things like this?” he asked.

“I am interested in the heavens and the earth. In fact I am interested in the entire universe. I also believe that there is in­telligent life apart from this earth. I be­lieve people were put on this earth for a specific purpose. I believe we can and do communicate with that other being, but we don’t need sophisticated electronic equipment to do so. I think that this Being is so intelligent that there is nothing that He does not know. I believe He is so powerful that there is nothing that He can­not do. I believe that men cannot begin to fathom His knowledge, power, and glory. I call Him God,” I said.

“Oh,” he said.

We, as elect children of God, are called to live in this world, but not to be of this world. In this paper we will discuss this truth with relationship to our country’s economic system. Capitalism, as defined by Webster, is “an economic system based on private property, competition, and the production of goods for profit. Concentration of wealth with its power and influence are in the hands of a few people.” Let us see if there is any correlation between the apostatizing of the church and the growth of capitalism.
Among some of the virtues which Calvinists honor besides those of patience, longsuffering, humility, and gratitude, is the virtue of diligence in providing for the needs of the church, home, and school. We believe we must not squander our time, but use the talents which the Lord has given us to the utmost of our various abilities; and to His name’s honor and glory. Let us transport such a person to a capitalistic environment such as we have in our nation today.
Under a Capitalistic economic system, based on competition, the harder one works and the more diligently he pursues his labor, the more he is rewarded, monetarily. And by the very nature of the system, the more money he has, the more power and influence he has. Under these circumstances we live today. Each of us knows how easy it is to turn to mammon as our god. It is easy to forget Jehovah and recognize mammon as the one who puts food on the table, and a new car in the garage of a new house. This is the temptation that a Calvinist faces in a capitalistic society, and this is one of the largest stumbling blocks for us today. Our old man of flesh likes to look back and see what rewards he has received for his work.
Please do not misunderstand all this. I am not advocating a mass withdrawal of all Calvinist laborers from the work forces of this land, nor am I suggesting that we turn away from the Capitalistic economic system and turn to socialism. The purpose of this paper is to point out that this temptation to forget our God and look to ourselves and to money when we have received monetary compensation for our labors does exist. This paper is written to warn us that the devil uses any kind of means he can to draw us to his ranks; even if it means tempting us through the economic system of the nation we live in. He is ever so subtle. Forewarned is forearmed.
The topic under discussion is not whether capitalism is desirable or not, but the topic revolves around the question, “Are we able to withstand this temptation?” Let it not be said of us that greed, self-exultation, and the love of money caused us to look with indifference upon spiritual things. Let it not be said of us that we apostatized because we succumbed to the temptation of money. Let us ever remember that the Lord provides all things for us to the end that He may be glorified. Let us ever give gratitude to Him for blessing us, and graciously providing bountifully for us.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 7 November 1970

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