Consider the following quote from Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer: “Arminianism said man was sick; Calvinism said man was dead. If he is only sick, common grace might help him to recover by enabling him to make a right choice. But if he is spiritually dead, he needs the Give of Life to make the choice for him….” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.180)
1) What is this "Common Grace" that Lutzer refers too? Often, Calvinists will cite an example of "Common Grace" from the verse stating that God the Father provides rain for the just and the unjust, and hence is a grace that is supplied indiscriminately to all men.
2) Lutzer infers that Arminianism teaches that "Common Grace" might help a spiritually "sick" person to repent of their sins? However, Arminianism teaches that "Prevenient Grace" (which is a preceding grace), enables people to make a "one way or the other" decision.
It becomes apparent that the real nature of the debate becomes this: "When God intervenes, does He do so with 'Irresistible Grace' or with 'Prevenient Grace'?" You can talk about Total Depravity all you wish, but IF God intervenes with an enabling grace, then the logical result is that Total Depravity becomes a moot point.
Consider the example of Saul of Tarsus, to whom Jesus said that he was kicking against the goads, according to Acts 26:14: "'And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads."'" What was the goading and who is doing it? Was it something being done by the Holy Spirit? If so, then we would need to discuss the nature of this divine intervention. What about John 16:8, which states: "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." Again, this touches upon the nature of divine intervention. John 1:9 states: "There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." Again, how so, and to what degree? These become the relevant questions.
To conclude, you can talk about Total Depravity all you wish, but until you discuss the nature of God's intervention, you will be missing the point. However, if you said, "It's the extent of Total Depravity that necesitates an Irresistible Grace, then you would be assuming a certain limit to God's intervention, insomuch as assuming that God's intervention could not overcome it. The real question is this: Could God intervene in the lives of men, in such a way, so as to enable them to make a "one way or another" decision, and would that overthrow God's sovereignty? To the Calvinist, it will be assumed that such would indeed overthrow His sovereignty because the Calvinist has declared a rigid monopoly on the definition of "sovereignty." Furthermore, the Calvinist is a dedicated Fatalist, thus making the entire discussion moot anyway. However, for those who are not Fatalists (i.e. Theistic Fatalism), then the nature of God's intervention must be brought to the forefront of the debate.
How does a Calvinist typically address this matter? By making the aforementioned assumption, while doing a bit of a Sleight-of-hand. In other words, the Calvinist will say, "Because man is so depraved, God must...." That's the slide-of-hand. The assumption made by the Calvinist has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with man's inability but God's inability to overcome it, apart from Preemptive Regeneration, insomuch that Calvinism alleges that God is required to make a man preemptively Born Again in order to repent, believe and become saved. Calvinists have thus assumed an artificial cap on God's power, which begs the following question: If the debate isn't about whether God is big or small enough in order to overcome Total Depravity apart from Preemptive New Birth, but is merely about the nature of God's chosen method of operations or aseity, is God big enough or powerful enough, so that if He had chosen, He could bring a depraved person to the point where they could receive His grace, apart from Preemptive New Birth? This question will definitively address my allegation against Calvinism, and if a Calvinist answers in the affirmative, then they have created a logical possibility for Arminianism.