Index of Doctrinal Points
Christian Creeds and Statements are carefully worded responses to heresies or situations that
challenge orthodox Christianity. They are not new revelations or additions to Scripture, but
rather a careful reflection of doctrine.
The Canons of Dordt was originally known as The Decision of the Synod of Dordt on
the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands. This doctrinal statement
was developed in 1618-19 by a national council (synod) of Reformed churches in the city of
Dordrecht. Delegates from eight other countries were also there in attendance to confront the
rising influence of Arminianism.
James (Jacob) Arminius (1560-1609), a Dutch theologian, disagreed with John Calvin especially
with unconditional election and irresistible grace. In 1610, followers of Arminius who became
to be known as Remonstrants presented their theological views in the Remonstrance of 1610: 1)
election based on foreseen faith, 2) universal atonement, 3) partial depravity, 4) resistible
grace, and 5) the possibility of a lapse from grace. At the heart of the issue for the Remonstrants:
1) man is not depraved and is able to reason things out for himself and arrive at the truth
(universal salvation), and 2) man can decide to believe or not (free will and resistible grace).
The Canons of Dordt rejected the five articles of the Remonstrance and clearly stated the
Reformed doctrine: 1) unconditional election, 2) limited atonement, 3) total depravity, 4)
irresistible grace, and 5) the perseverance of saints.
The First Main Point of Doctrine:
Divine Election and Reprobation
Article 1: God's Right to Condemn All People
Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse
and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire
human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle
says: The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:19), All have sinned and are
deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
Article 2: The Manifestation of God's Love
But this is how God showed his love: he sent his only begotten Son into the world,
so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Article 3: The Preaching of the Gospel
In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers
of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the time he wishes. By this ministry
people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him
of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they
preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).
Article 4: A Twofold Response to the Gospel
God's anger remains on those who do not believe this gospel. But those who do
accept it and embrace Jesus the Savior with a true and living faith are delivered through him from
God's anger and from destruction, and receive the gift of eternal life.
Article 5: The Sources of Unbelief and of Faith
The cause or blame for this unbelief, as well as for all other sins, is not at
all in God, but in man. Faith in Jesus Christ, however, and salvation through him is a free gift
of God. As Scripture says, It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from
yourselves; it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Likewise: It has been freely given to you to believe
in Christ (Phil. 1:29).
Article 6: God's Eternal Decision
The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others
do not, stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are known to God from eternity (Acts
15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard,
of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness
and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his
act--unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just--of distinguishing between people equally lost.
This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God's Word. This decision
the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls
with comfort beyond words.
Article 7: Election
Election (or choosing) is God's unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:
Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good
pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out
of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin
and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them
in the common misery. He did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator,
the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation. And so he decided to give the
chosen ones to Christ to be saved, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ's fellowship
through his Word and Spirit. In other words, he decided to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify
them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of his Son,
to glorify them.
God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches
of his glorious grace.
As Scripture says, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world,
so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted
as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to
the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved
(Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called,
he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).
Article 8: A Single Decision of Election
This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for all who
were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture declares that there is a single
good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God's will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace
and to glory, both to salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us
to walk in.
Article 9: Election Not Based on Foreseen Faith
This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of the obedience
of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and disposition, as though it were based on a
prerequisite cause or condition in the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith,
of the obedience of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each of
the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and at last eternal life
itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and effects. As the apostle says, He chose us (not
because we were, but) so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).
Article 10: Election Based on God's Good Pleasure
But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God.
This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible
as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among
the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet
born, and had done nothing either good or bad..., she (Rebecca) was told, "The older will serve
the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Rom. 9:11-13).
Also, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).
Article 11: Election Unchangeable
Just as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, all-knowing, and almighty, so the
election made by him can neither be suspended nor altered, revoked, or annulled; neither can his
chosen ones be cast off, nor their number reduced.
Article 12: The Assurance of Election
Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given
to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes
not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves,
with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God's Word--
such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger
and thirst for righteousness, and so on.
Article 13: The Fruit of This Assurance
In their awareness and assurance of this election God's children daily find greater
cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of his mercies, to cleanse
themselves, and to give fervent love in return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far
from saying that this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God's children
lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God's just judgment this does usually
happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen
talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.
Article 14: Teaching Election Properly
Just as, by God's wise plan, this teaching concerning divine election has been
proclaimed through the prophets, Christ himself, and the apostles, in Old and New Testament times,
and has subsequently been committed to writing in the Holy Scriptures, so also today in God's church,
for which it was specifically intended, this teaching must be set forth--with a spirit of discretion,
in a godly and holy manner, at the appropriate time and place, without inquisitive searching into
the ways of the Most High. This must be done for the glory of God's most holy name, and for the
lively comfort of his people.
Article 15: Reprobation
Moreover, Holy Scripture most especially highlights this eternal and undeserved
grace of our election and brings it out more clearly for us, in that it further bears witness that
not all people have been chosen but that some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God's
eternal election-- those, that is, concerning whom God, on the basis of his entirely free, most
just, irreproachable, and unchangeable good pleasure, made the following decision: to leave them
in the common misery into which, by their own fault, they have plunged themselves; not to grant
them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but finally to condemn and eternally punish them
(having been left in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their unbelief but
also for all their other sins, in order to display his justice. And this is the decision of reprobation,
which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful,
irreproachable, just judge and avenger.
Article 16: Responses to the Teaching of Reprobation
Those who do not yet actively experience within themselves a living faith in Christ
or an assured confidence of heart, peace of conscience, a zeal for childlike obedience, and a glorying
in God through Christ, but who nevertheless use the means by which God has promised to work these
things in us--such people ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to count themselves
among the reprobate; rather they ought to continue diligently in the use of the means, to desire
fervently a time of more abundant grace, and to wait for it in reverence and humility. On the other
hand, those who seriously desire to turn to God, to be pleasing to him alone, and to be delivered
from the body of death, but are not yet able to make such progress along the way of godliness and
faith as they would like--such people ought much less to stand in fear of the teaching concerning
reprobation, since our merciful God has promised that he will not snuff out a smoldering wick and
that he will not break a bruised reed. However, those who have forgotten God and their Savior Jesus
Christ and have abandoned themselves wholly to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the
flesh--such people have every reason to stand in fear of this teaching, as long as they do not
seriously turn to God.
Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers
Since we must make judgments about God's will from his Word, which testifies that
the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which
they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and
salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.
Article 18: The Proper Attitude Toward Election and Reprobation
To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the
severity of a just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle, Who are you, O man, to talk
back to God? (Rom. 9:20), and with the words of our Savior, Have I no right to do what I want with
my own? (Matt. 20:15). We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out with
the apostle: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable
are his judgments, and his ways beyond tracing out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who
has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and
through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).
Rejection of the Errors
Having set forth the orthodox teaching concerning election and reprobation, the Synod rejects
the errors of those:
I. Who teach that the will of God to save those who would believe and persevere in faith
and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire decision of election to salvation, and that
nothing else concerning this decision has been revealed in God's Word.
For they deceive the simple and plainly contradict Holy Scripture in its testimony
that God does not only wish to save those who would believe, but that he has also from eternity
chosen certain particular people to whom, rather than to others, he would within time grant faith
in Christ and perseverance. As Scripture says, I have revealed your name to those whom you gave me
(John 17:6). Likewise, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48), and He chose
us before the foundation of the world so that we should be holy... (Eph. 1:4).
II. Who teach that God's election to eternal life is of many kinds: one general and indefinite,
the other particular and definite; and the latter in turn either incomplete, revocable, nonperemptory
(or conditional), or else complete, irrevocable, and peremptory (or absolute). Likewise, who teach
that there is one election to faith and another to salvation, so that there can be an election to
justifying faith apart from a peremptory election to salvation.
For this is an invention of the human brain, devised apart from the Scriptures,
which distorts the teaching concerning election and breaks up this golden chain of salvation: Those
whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom
he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).
III. Who teach that God's good pleasure and purpose, which Scripture mentions in its teaching
of election, does not involve God's choosing certain particular people rather than others, but involves
God's choosing, out of all possible conditions (including the works of the law) or out of the whole
order of things, the intrinsically unworthy act of faith, as well as the imperfect obedience of faith,
to be a condition of salvation; and it involves his graciously wishing to count this as perfect
obedience and to look upon it as worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this pernicious error the good pleasure of God and the merit of Christ are
robbed of their effectiveness and people are drawn away, by unprofitable inquiries, from the truth
of undeserved justification and from the simplicity of the Scriptures. It also gives the lie to
these words of the apostle: God called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of works, but in virtue
of his own purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time
(2 Tim. 1:9).
IV. Who teach that in election to faith a prerequisite condition is that man should rightly
use the light of nature, be upright, unassuming, humble, and disposed to eternal life, as though
election depended to some extent on these factors.
For this smacks of Pelagius, and it clearly calls into question the words of the
apostle: We lived at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and
thoughts, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy,
out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in transgressions, made us
alive with Christ, by whose grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with him and seated us
with him in heaven in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages we might show the surpassing
riches of his grace, according to his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have
been saved, through faith (and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God) not by works, so
that no one can boast (Eph. 2:3-9).
V. Who teach that the incomplete and nonperemptory election of particular persons to salvation
occurred on the basis of a foreseen faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness, which has just begun
or continued for some time; but that complete and peremptory election occurred on the basis of a
foreseen perseverance to the end in faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness. And that this is
the gracious and evangelical worthiness, on account of which the one who is chosen is more worthy
than the one who is not chosen. And therefore that faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness,
and perseverance are not fruits or effects of an unchangeable election to glory, but indispensable
conditions and causes, which are prerequisite in those who are to be chosen in the complete election,
and which are foreseen as achieved in them.
This runs counter to the entire Scripture, which throughout impresses upon our ears
and hearts these sayings among others: Election is not by works, but by him who calls (Rom. 9:11-12);
All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48); He chose us in himself so that we
should be holy (Eph. 1:4); You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16); If by grace, not by
works (Rom. 11:6); In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son
(1 John 4:10).
VI. Who teach that not every election to salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the
chosen can perish and do in fact perish eternally, with no decision of God to prevent it.
By this gross error they make God changeable, destroy the comfort of the godly
concerning the steadfastness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scriptures, which teach that
the elect cannot be led astray (Matt. 24:24), that Christ does not lose those given to him by the
Father (John 6:39), and that those whom God predestined, called, and justified, he also glorifies
VII. Who teach that in this life there is no fruit, no awareness, and no assurance of
one's unchangeable election to glory, except as conditional upon something changeable and contingent.
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain assurance, but these things
also militate against the experience of the saints, who with the apostle rejoice from an awareness
of their election and sing the praises of this gift of God; who, as Christ urged, rejoice with his
disciples that their names have been written in heaven (Luke 10:20); and finally who hold up against
the flaming arrows of the devil's temptations the awareness of their election, with the question Who
will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (Rom. 8:33).
VIII. Who teach that it was not on the basis of his just will alone that God decided to
leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin and condemnation or to pass anyone
by in the imparting of grace necessary for faith and conversion.
For these words stand fast: He has mercy on whom he wishes, and he hardens whom
he wishes (Rom. 9:18). And also: To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of
heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matt. 13:11). Likewise: I give glory to you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and
have revealed them to little children; yes, Father, because that was your pleasure (Matt. 11:25-26).
IX. Who teach that the cause for God's sending the gospel to one people rather than to
another is not merely and solely God's good pleasure, but rather that one people is better and
worthier than the other to whom the gospel is not communicated.
For Moses contradicts this when he addresses the people of Israel as follows:
Behold, to Jehovah your God belong the heavens and the highest heavens, the earth and whatever is
in it. But Jehovah was inclined in his affection to love your ancestors alone, and chose out their
descendants after them, you above all peoples, as at this day (Deut. 10:14-15). And also Christ:
Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if those mighty works done in you had been done
in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21).
The Second Main Point of Doctrine:
Christ's Death and Human Redemption
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.
Article 2: The Satisfaction Made by Christ
Since, however, we ourselves cannot give this satisfaction or deliver ourselves
from God's anger, God in his boundless mercy has given us as a guarantee his only begotten Son,
who was made to be sin and a curse for us, in our place, on the cross, in order that he might give
satisfaction for us.
Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ's Death
This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction
for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the
Article 4: Reasons for This Infinite Value
This death is of such great value and worth for the reason that the person who
suffered it is--as was necessary to be our Savior--not only a true and perfectly holy man, but also
the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy
Spirit. Another reason is that this death was accompanied by the experience of God's anger and curse,
which we by our sins had fully deserved.
Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All
Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified
shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe,
ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people,
to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.
Article 6: Unbelief Man's Responsibility
However, that many who have been called through the gospel do not repent or believe
in Christ but perish in unbelief is not because the sacrifice of Christ offered on the cross is
deficient or insufficient, but because they themselves are at fault.
Article 7: Faith God's Gift
But all who genuinely believe and are delivered and saved by Christ's death from
their sins and from destruction receive this favor solely from God's grace--which he owes to no one--given
to them in Christ from eternity.
Article 8: The Saving Effectiveness of Christ's Death
For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the
Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son's costly death should work itself
out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby
lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God's will that Christ through the blood
of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people,
tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and
given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other
saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all
their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that
he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself,
a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.
Article 9: The Fulfillment of God's Plan
This plan, arising out of God's eternal love for his chosen ones, from the beginning
of the world to the present time has been powerfully carried out and will also be carried out in the
future, the gates of hell seeking vainly to prevail against it. As a result the chosen are gathered
into one, all in their own time, and there is always a church of believers founded on Christ's blood,
a church which steadfastly loves, persistently worships, and--here and in all eternity--praises him
as her Savior who laid down his life for her on the cross, as a bridegroom for his bride.
Rejection of the Errors
Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
I. Who teach that God the Father appointed his Son to death on the cross without a fixed
and definite plan to save anyone by name, so that the necessity, usefulness, and worth of what Christ's
death obtained could have stood intact and altogether perfect, complete and whole, even if the
redemption that was obtained had never in actual fact been applied to any individual.
For this assertion is an insult to the wisdom of God the Father and to the merit
of Jesus Christ, and it is contrary to Scripture. For the Savior speaks as follows: I lay down my
life for the sheep, and I know them (John 10:15, 27). And Isaiah the prophet says concerning the
Savior: When he shall make himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong
his days, and the will of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10). Finally, this undermines
the Article of the creed in which we confess what we believe concerning the Church.
II. Who teach that the purpose of Christ's death was not to establish in actual fact a
new covenant of grace by his blood, but only to acquire for the Father the mere right to enter once
more into a covenant with men, whether of grace or of works.
For this conflicts with Scripture, which teaches that Christ has become the guarantee
and mediator of a better--that is, a new-covenant (Heb. 7:22; 9:15), and that a will is in force
only when someone has died (Heb. 9:17).
III. Who teach that Christ, by the satisfaction which he gave, did not certainly merit
for anyone salvation itself and the faith by which this satisfaction of Christ is effectively applied
to salvation, but only acquired for the Father the authority or plenary will to relate in a new way
with men and to impose such new conditions as he chose, and that the satisfying of these conditions
depends on the free choice of man; consequently, that it was possible that either all or none would
For they have too low an opinion of the death of Christ, do not at all acknowledge
the foremost fruit or benefit which it brings forth, and summon back from hell the Pelagian error.
IV. Who teach that what is involved in the new covenant of grace which God the Father
made with men through the intervening of Christ's death is not that we are justified before God and
saved through faith, insofar as it accepts Christ's merit, but rather that God, having withdrawn
his demand for perfect obedience to the law, counts faith itself, and the imperfect obedience of
faith, as perfect obedience to the law, and graciously looks upon this as worthy of the reward of
For they contradict Scripture: They are justified freely by his grace through the
redemption that came by Jesus Christ, whom God presented as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith
in his blood (Rom. 3:24-25). And along with the ungodly Socinus, they introduce a new and foreign
justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.
V. Who teach that all people have been received into the state of reconciliation and into
the grace of the covenant, so that no one on account of original sin is liable to condemnation, or
is to be condemned, but that all are free from the guilt of this sin.
For this opinion conflicts with Scripture which asserts that we are by nature
children of wrath.
VI. Who make use of the distinction between obtaining and applying in order to instill
in the unwary and inexperienced the opinion that God, as far as he is concerned, wished to bestow
equally upon all people the benefits which are gained by Christ's death; but that the distinction
by which some rather than others come to share in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life depends
on their own free choice (which applies itself to the grace offered indiscriminately) but does not
depend on the unique gift of mercy which effectively works in them, so that they, rather than others,
apply that grace to themselves.
For, while pretending to set forth this distinction in an acceptable sense, they
attempt to give the people the deadly poison of Pelagianism.
VII. Who teach that Christ neither could die, nor had to die, nor did die for those whom
God so dearly loved and chose to eternal life, since such people do not need the death of Christ.
For they contradict the apostle, who says: Christ loved me and gave himself up for
me (Gal. 2:20), and likewise: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is
God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, that is, for them (Rom. 8:33-34).
They also contradict the Savior, who asserts: I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:15), and My
command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one
lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).
The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine:
Human Corruption, Conversion
to God, and the Way It Occurs
Article 1: The Effect of the Fall on Human Nature
Man was originally created in the image of God and was furnished in his mind with
a true and salutary knowledge of his Creator and things spiritual, in his will and heart with righteousness,
and in all his emotions with purity; indeed, the whole man was holy. However, rebelling against God
at the devil's instigation and by his own free will, he deprived himself of these outstanding gifts.
Rather, in their place he brought upon himself blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion
of judgment in his mind; perversity, defiance, and hardness in his heart and will; and finally impurity
in all his emotions.
Article 2: The Spread of Corruption
Man brought forth children of the same nature as himself after the fall. That is
to say, being corrupt he brought forth corrupt children. The corruption spread, by God's just judgment,
from Adam to all his descendants-- except for Christ alone--not by way of imitation (as in former
times the Pelagians would have it) but by way of the propagation of his perverted nature.
Article 3: Total Inability
Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit
for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin; without the grace of
the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their
distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform.
Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature
There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall,
by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between
what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward
behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God
and conversion to him--so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature
and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character,
and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.