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Total depravity

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Total depravity (also called total inability or total corruption) is a theological teaching that comes from Augustine's teachings on original sin. It is the teaching that, since the Fall of Man, every person who has been born into the world is a slave of sin and, without the irresistible grace of God, it is not possible for man to choose to follow God or accept salvation as He freely offers it.

Total depravity is taught by many Protestant confessions of faith, including Lutheranism,[1] and Methodism,[2] Arminianism,[3] and Calvinism.[4]


  1. The Book of Concord, "The Thorough Declaration of the Formula of Concord," chapter II, sections 11 and 12; The Augsburg Confession, Article 2
  2. See the Methodist Articles of Religion, Article 7.
  3. Arminius, James The Writings of James Arminius (three vols.), tr. James Nichols and W.R. Bagnall (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1956), I:252
  4. Canons of Dordrecht, "The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine"; Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 6; Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 25; Heidelberg Catechism, question 8