John 3:16 Conference Paige Patterson-Total Depravity

The most hated doctrine in the world today is the exclusivity of Christ.  The second is total depravity.

He says thank God that our Calvinistic brethren for preaching the word of God. We have so much total depravity in our churches today because the word of God is neglected in preaching today.

Dr. Patterson starts with reading Romans 1 through 3:26.  He says you won’t hear this preached in this post-modern world.

What does depravity mean?

  1. There is not a single human being on the face of the earth that is right with God.  None, not one regardless of religion or morality.
  2. None understand.  They do not conceive the things of God and what they do conceive it is unclear.
  3. None seek after God.  Whatever way we go it is away from God.
  4. All have gone astray.  We’ve all turn away from God.
  5. None do good.  However “good” a deed may be it is tainted with sin.
  6. No ultimate peace in the heart.
  7. No fear of God before their eyes.  No understanding of the holiness of God.

Illustration of a heart surgeon going to work whose hands have to be antisceptically clean.  As the patient’s heart is opened three roaches come running out of his heart.  The surgeon is upset that someone has ruined his operation.  Multiply that 1 in 8 times to some huge power that I missed and that is how God feels about one sinful thought.

Dr. Patterson says we are not born guilty before God.  He doesn’t think it can be demonstrated from Scripture.  We are condemned for our own sins.  What about Ephesians 2 he asks.  When your “dead” you’re “dead” he explains.  He uses a snake illustration that moved when “dead.”  He explains that Scripture explains we can do somethings when we’re dead as Ephesians 2 shows.

He also goes to Romans 4:19 to make this point about being “dead” and still being able to “do” something.  He uses the story of Abraham staring at Sarah about how all things are possible with God i.e. their very late pregnancy.

He ends with a story about a serviceman in WWII who’d been blinded in battle.  The soldier gets rescued from a team in a helicopter.  (Someone pointed out to me that helicopter’s weren’t around in WWII, but that wasn’t the point of the illustration.)  His sight gets restored and the first person he sees is the man who rescued him.  He unpacks this illustration to show it is our life journey of rejecting God in our depravity and Christ saving us.  All of our depravity will be gone in glory!

Dr. Patterson closes with an invitation.  He says we need more of these in our churches today.  Then, he goes on to say that some of the folks may have merely answered an invitation in the past as a child or by filling out a card.  They may still be depraved and never understood what they were doing.  So he called them or anyone not truly believing to believe in Christ tonight.

For what it’s worth…


tagged as , , , , , in Arminianism,Baptist,calvinism,Gospel,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ABClay November 7, 2008 at 12:21 am


It can’t be demonstrated?

Did he mention Romans 5? Romans 8:5-9?

Here’s a question for you to ask:

“Dr. Patterson, At what point does a person become depraved? Is it when we sin? Then what about David’s psalm about being conceived in sin?”

If he affirms the sinful nature (BFM 2000), then is not this nature alone enough to condemn us to hell? “For God sees the heart of a man”?

Of course, there will be no debate on this at the conference by design. We wouldn’t want anyone to mention the biblical record and support for this.


2 ABClay November 7, 2008 at 12:30 am

Just thought of something else.

Then a baby that dies is not saved by Grace? A baby is saved because they are without sin?

Humm….. I like to think that babies that die are all saved by the Grace of God… of course it doesn’t matter what I like to think, it only matters what the bible says…

3 a helmet November 7, 2008 at 2:06 pm

the bible is silent on babies in this regard.

4 ABClay November 7, 2008 at 3:20 pm

a helmet,

I kind of thought. I think that there is a problem with what Dr. Patterson has said and what many in evangelical circles believe about the condition of an infant, either en utero or breathing on their own, regards the condemnation of God.

If a baby is innocent of committing sin while having the sin nature, and outside the condemnation of God as I understand Patterson to say, then they are not saved by grace, for there is no need of grace. This belief would put salvation of infants outside of grace. If a child is born, and lives for several years (I am not sure under Patterson’s model at what point a person comes under condemnation) outside the condemnation of God, then it is feasible that someone could live on this earth without sin, just as our Lord, and die without sin and be saved through their own righteousness.

If, however, a baby is guilty before God for their inherited nature of sin from Adam, (because having the nature themselves is a sin for God looks at the heart of a man) then they must be saved by Grace, as I believe they are.

While the bible is silent to some degree on this matter regards babies in particular, it is not silent about salvation, righteousness, condemnation, and grace for humanity as a whole.

Is it profitable for the advancement of certain theological beliefs to play on the emotions of people and their feelings toward those we see through our own eyes as innocent by making their theological (opponents) look like monsters even though biblical basis for their claims are sparse and incongruous with much of what scripture claims? Could the evidence be largely ignored to appease the well meaning feelings of those who cry out in dismay?

What are your thoughts?

I know that this subject may be revolting to some people but it is helpful to know these things as it gives us a better understanding of humanity’s standing before a Just and Righteous Maker.


5 M Burke November 7, 2008 at 3:43 pm

a helmet:

The Bible is NOT silent. Romans 5 and elsewhere specifically states that those who are in Adam will die and that if you are in Christ you are a new creation. Now, the Bible is silent on the issue of “where babies go”, but the Bible does not avoid the question of the guilt of the first Adam being applied to all his posterity.

If you want to argue that babies are innocent, you have to deal with the Psalmist who writes that “in sin I was conceived” and that babies “come forth from the womb speaking lies”. The fact of the matter remains that we sin because we are born sinners, we are not sinners because we sin.

If God chooses to save the unborn, infirm and stillborn, he does so by His grace and somehow these infants hear and are regenerate thereby, the are not, and cannot be innocent of the guilt of Adam for they are “in Adam”.

6 a helmet November 8, 2008 at 9:58 am

Thanks for your replies. I think a proper understanding of the judgment is required to see everything more clearly. I think I’ll write about that on my blog on the gospel of John, Lord willing. There are still some question marks concerning judgment. For instance, it is interesting to note that Jesus always refers to “those who hear/have heard” when he speaks of judgment. I think Paul’s view is similar. We’ll see…..


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