We're still looking at the Westminster Confession
in our leadership training and today's reading was on Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and the Punishment thereof
. The commentary talked about the common notion that man is basically good vs. the Bible's depiction of the Fall.
I agree with what Smith said in the book. Because man is made in the image of God we are capable of extreme good. We can be
generous, courageous, loving, all the good things that God is. To be made in the image of God, he says, has little or nothing to do with intelligence, communication, etc. It is our ability to act as moral agents. What the Fall has done, is to take that ability and flip it. Not only are we able to do all that is good, we are unable to do solely that. We are as capable of committing murder, lying, stealing, disrespecting others and do so (to varying degrees) every day.
I don't think that the Bible teaches that man cannot be "good", it is that we cannot be good enough. The measuring stick is longer than our field of vision allows us to see. There is no part in us that is not tainted to a degree. That's what the total depravity that Calvin spoke of is all about. It's not that we are all as bad as human beings can be, it's that there is no part of us that is spotless.
People often bring up Mother Theresa in these discussions. "Wasn't she good? Wasn't Gandhi good?" Well of course they were. But I'm sure that they got angry. I have no doubt that as children or even adults they struggled with lusts of the flesh, or even pride (easy enough to do when your time is consumed with your good works). So the question is not "Weren't they good" but instead "Did they sin?"
The answer to that is of course they did. People sin. Even the "best people" do. It's unavoidable. Even Christians do. That's why they felt the need to put
This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
n the confession. We followers of the Way too often forget that.
Thankfully there came a man who is able to deal with that sin. In some fashion (one that is a Mystery) he was able to live without sinning. He had the perfect human nature. He showed us what it looks like to live in a state of being permanently plugged in to God. If you think you are "good enough" you look at Christ and then you come back to me and we'll talk. I know I'm not there yet (and won't ever be).