Kim Fabricius om “total depravity”

A word on “total depravity”. Calvin’s doctrine develops Augustine and Luther’s insight that we are (in Alistair McFadyen’s incisive wordplay) “bound to sin”. It is both polemical and dogmatic. Polemically, it is an attack on Origen’s platonic privileging of the mind, and Erasmus’ privileging of the will, over against the “lower appetites”. Thus does Calvin correctly interpret the Pauline category of sarx. Dogmatically, total depravity “means, not that there is no capacity for good in human beings, but that no human activity is altogether blameless”; “no privileged area of the personality can be depended on for salvation” (William J. Bouwsma). As grace goes all the way down in God, so sin goes all the way through and up in humans.

Kim Fabricius, “Ten propositions on sin.” Faith and Theology, 14.03.07. 20.03.07.


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