Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 10, 1952

Siamese Triplets Of Error

Thomas Allen Robertson, Ontario, California

A Siamese joint is a joint of two or more things joined together into one, usually carrying the idea of being inseparably joined, such as the famous Siamese twins. The Siamese twins were so joined that neither of them could survive without the other. We have entitled this article the "Siamese Triplets of Error" because the three doctrines we discuss, original sin, direct operation of the Holy Spirit, and the impossibility of apostasy, are inseparably joined together. They are dependent one upon another.

Original Sin

The doctrine of original sin varies slightly from creed to creed and from church to church, but remains the same in its cardinal features. It is held by many religious bodies of our day, such as Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists, to mention but a few. Generally speaking, the doctrine means that all men are born in sin because of Adam's sin. Its strongest supporters teach that man is born so much a sinner that he cannot think one good thought nor do one good deed until he has been regenerated by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. A wild and incredible misapplication of scripture texts is used to support the false teaching, such as Genesis 6:5-8, where God speaks of the condition of the antediluvian world. This is made to refer to all mankind for all ages. Or Isaiah 1:4-6, referring to apostate Israel, is given an application to all the human race.

Perhaps the most common passage used in support of this false teaching is Psalm 51:5, where David said, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." David referred to his own condition not at all. He was talking of his mother, not of himself. But if sin and depravity are inherited, from whom do they come? From the father? From the mother? From both? Was Jesus born a totally depraved Savior? Catholics saw the strength of this, so invented the doctrine of the "immaculate conception" of Mary—that is that Mary was born free of original sin. But that only removes the difficulty one step. And it does not even do that for those non-Catholics who hold the error.

The Bible teaches that man was made "upright," and that he sought out evil inventions. He is said to have "gone astray" and to have "become filthy. (Psalm 14:2, 3) If men are born in sin, and then "go" astray, where do they go? How can the devil "seduce" a man who is already totally depraved? Were it not more likely that such a man would seduce the devil!!

Man is a dual being—flesh and spirit. The spirit comes from God. (Eccl. 12:7) Does God give a "depraved" spirit to man? Man dies because of his own sin. (Ezek. 18:4) Man is separated from God because of his own sin, not because of the sin of Adam. (Is. 69:1, 2)

Direct Operation Of The Spirit

The doctrine of inherited total depravity logically demands a miraculous conversion—hence the teaching of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. If man is "totally depraved" nothing short of a miracle will reach him or convict him. He cannot do any good thing, cannot even hear or believe; and so one error demands another.

But every single thing the denominational world attributes to a direct impact or operation of the Holy Spirit is attributed to the word of God, the Bible! Is the sinner to be quickened by a direct operation? David said, "Thy word hath quickened me." (Psalm 119:50) Does the Spirit impart faith by a direct operation? Paul said, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17) Are we divinely "drawn" to God by the Spirit? Christ said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John 6:44, 45) Thus the Spirit converts, enlightens, quickens, draws, sanctifies, purifies, gives faith, comforts, etc.; but every single bit of it is accomplished in and through and by means of the WORD which is inspired by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the instrumentality of God's word, and does not act miraculously on the sinner apart from it.

Impossibility Of Apostasy

Now if these first two errors be admitted as truth, then the last named must certainly follow. If man is born totally depraved, and must have a miraculous action of the Holy Spirit to convert him, then it must follow that he cannot do anything to be lost. The same Spirit which miraculously saved him will also miraculously preserve him. That is exactly what denominational people teach; and that is why we speak of these three errors as "Siamese triplets of error." They are mutually inter-locked and interdependent.

Since those who teach the impossibility of apostasy teach also that salvation is by faith alone, the question simply boils down to this: Can a man ever lose his faith? The Bible speaks here in language too plain to be misunderstood. It tells of an "overthrown" faith (2 Tim. 2:17, 18); it speaks of a "shipwrecked" faith (1 Tim. 1:19); it tells of those who have "fallen away from the faith." (1 Tim. 4:1-3)

In Acts 8:18-24 we find the case of a child of God who did apostatize, and who was told what to do to gain once again the favor and forgiveness of God. But suppose he would not do what Peter told him? Then surely he must have gone on into eternal ruin. But was Simon a truly converted man? Let the record speak for itself: "Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip." (Verse 18) Simon did precisely what the other Samaritans did; he obeyed the same gospel, and was baptized with the same baptism. It was some time after his baptism that he fell into sin and error; it was only when that sin became apparent that Peter told him he was in danger of iniquity, and that his heart was not right in the sight of God. Peter said, "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart might be forgiven thee." (Verse 22) Thus it is clear that a Christian may overthrow his faith, or depart from it, and so, failing to continue in Christ and in God, he can come to the point of absolute and total condemnation. It is only by penitence and prayer that he can be forgiven and reclaimed. If he does not repent, he shall be forever lost.

The Siamese triplets of error are exactly that—error. Not a one of them is true. They are false and misleading, and should all be forsaken for the simple truth of God's word.