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The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine, Article One

The Second Main Point of Doctrine

Christ's Death and Human Redemption Through It

Article 1: The Punishment Which God's Justice Requires

God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. His justice requires (as he has revealed himself in the Word) that the sins we have committed against his infinite majesty be punished with both temporal and eternal punishments, of soul as well as body. We cannot escape these punishments unless satisfaction is given to God's justice.


Under the first head of doctrine, the authors of the Canons completed their treatment of human sinfulness (total depravity) and divine mercy (unconditional election), commonly known as the first two points of Calvinism.  

In the first head, it was clearly established that all men and women have fallen in Adam, and are not only guilty because Adam acted as their divinely chosen representative so that the guilt of Adam's sin was imputed (or reckoned, or accounted) to them, but they are also guilty for all of their own sinful actions which spring forth from sinful human nature.  

This is what we mean when we speak of  “total depravity.”  This does not mean that all of us are always as bad as we can possibly be, only that sin has infected us in our entire person, from head to toe, and that there is no part of human nature that is not tainted, stained, or corrupted by the consequences of the fall of our race into sin. 

To use a biblical analogy, we are by nature not only children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), we are the kind of bad trees described by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel (7:15 ff.) who can only bear bad fruit.  This is, as our Lord tells us, the visible manifestation of our hidden wickedness and depravity.  

On a practical level this means that we are born in sin, and apart from God's grace, our wills are in bondage to our sinful nature, and we can only use the good gifts which God has given to us for sinful (self-centered) purposes.  Lacking faith, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).  We sin because we are sinners.  We sin because we like to sin.  And since the wages of sin is death, we are all subject to the curse.  Left on our own, and to our own devices, we do not want Jesus as our Lord.  Instead, we desire to be lord of our own lives, and so we go our own way.  We are not overly concerned about God showing his mercy to us, since we do not think that we really need it, and since we believe that somehow God is obliged to give it to us any way.

To read the rest of this article, Click here: Riddleblog - Notes on the Canons of Dort (Second Head)

Reader Comments (2)

Thanks, It's always a joy to read your blog.
August 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjason
One of the great benefits as well as beauties of the Reformed faith is the basic beliefs that are held in common by an otherwise diverse group of Christians. That Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Anglicans, and (at least this) Christian from The United Church of Canada can come together around biblical (Calvinistic) theology is truly remarkable. The more I study and ponder Calvinism the clearer my understanding of the Bible has become; what had been inpenetrable interpretive problems are now sensible. Your blog, plus the White Horse Inn and Modern Reformation, as well as Sproul, Mohler, Piper, Beeke, James White and the old boys Flavel, Owen, and Ezekiel Hopkins have been a pure blessing. Keep up God's work.
August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Widdowson

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