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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Are People Basically Good? (Continued)

In my previous post (see the intro to this topic) I detailed a conversation I had a few months back regarding the question whether people are basically good. I explained that I did not think so since empirically I see ‘basically good people’ performing essentially ‘evil’ or ‘sinful’ acts.

If people are basically good then where does the desire, motive, or inclination to perform evil acts come from? I have another answer to that basic question. I do not believe that people merely perform sinful/evil acts. Rather I think that all people in all times are ‘sinners.’ When I say this, I am not deliberately trying to be pejorative toward people. This is merely something that I witness and something I have learned over the years.

The Apostle Paul, in a letter he wrote to the Roman Church over 2000 years ago declared, “. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This is a telling and profound truth, but it is only part of the overall story of mankind. Certainly all people have sinned . . . as Paul declares, and certainly all people commit acts which are ‘wrong’ to a certain degree or another. However, the over all problem of the issue of whether people are ‘basically good’ does not stop at the idea that ‘all have sinned,' but that all are in fact sinners. Later in this same letter to the Roman Church, Paul declares, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of good is not.” (Romans 7:18). Here, Paul plainly declares that no good dwells in him. But that only applies to Paul you might say.

Well, perhaps, but the Bible is replete with examples that all, meaning all people, are evil inherently. For example, Romans 3:10-12 states, “as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” In Jeremiah we learn that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” (17:9) King David, in one of the Psalms declares, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

It is here that I think David has described not only the state in which he himself was conceived, but also the very state into which every single human was conceived, namely, sin. We are all conceived in sin. These are passages and points that I brought up in my discussion with this person a few months back. Points that seem to ring aloud a truth that is inherently undeniable, at least empirically so, and indicates that all people are in fact, not basically good.

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