Friday, August 6, 2010

Sharing What I am Reading Today

What do you think it means to be created in the image of God? This is my number one reason for rejecting (more, despising) the doctrine of the "total depravity of man". I am created "in his image" and God is pure goodness! An image is a reflection of something. If man is totally depraved, then God must also be totally depraved. And I KNOW THAT IS A LIE!

Secondly, reality is the handiwork of God, and reality does not bear witness that man is totally depraved. Yes, the history of humanity is full of wars, slavery and every form of wickedness. But it is also a history filled with champions of freedom, gentleness, sacrificial love, good-hearted people- humanity even before Christianity was never all wicked.

Yes, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But no, we are not worthless, heartless people at our core. Cornelius(Acts 10), Nathaniel(John 1), Obadiah (1 Kings 18)are three pre-resurrection people who were commended for good hearts and good works. A totally depraved person would by definition be incapable of good,

Well, my hand hurts so I'll stop typing now. Here's the statement that warmed my heart:
Obviously, we are not in God’s image in terms of height or weight or skin color. God is spirit, uncreated, and we are created of matter. Still, God has made humanity in his own image, which means that there are essential ways in which he has made us to be like him. We are self-aware, we can communicate, plan, think creatively, design and build, solve problems, and be a force for good in our world. And we can love.

I added the bold type, fyi. Here's the link it came from:
Why Were You Born?. Enjoy!


  1. What if ...

    • We were CREATED in God's image in Genesis 1-2
    • All God's creation (including man) was declared GOOD (i.e. perfect)
    • Sin entered the world in Genesis 3 and BROKE the goodness/perfection of creation
    • Because of sin, we are incapable of any truly good works/motives on our own (totally depraved, not as in always at the worst, but as in there is no part of us that escapes depravity)
    • Because of Christ, by faith in Him (even for pre-ressurection believers who were looking forward to the coming Messiah), we are RE-created to be perfect again in God's eyes, and to be slowly renewed in the whole man (body, soul, mind, spirit, social, etc.) as a work-in-progress that will be fully completed in the resurrection
    • We still REFLECT God's glory in this life, but imperfectly, as in a cracked and stained mirror

    ...just some thoughts....

  2. Total means all. Depraved means completely vile and wicked.

    I may contend with the flesh, like the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans chapter six, and sin has certainly mastered me before and will again, but I am NOT totally depraved.

    I was not born totally depraved. Neither are my neighbors totally depraved. Maybe you were, I don't know you- and I'm glad of that if you were indeed totally depraved before you became a Christian. How did you avoid prison?

    I am not incapable of anything truly good. It was my longing to be a good person that stirred up a response in me to the gospel of grace. The Holy Spirit comes alongside to help me and empower me for greater good, but there was good in me to start with. Oh yes.

    Jesus said Nathaniel had no guile, the word calls Cornelius righteous and God-fearing, Obadiah righteously hid the prophets from Jezebel, and since that time many righteous people from all cultures and religions have done many righteous deeds from hearts of good will. The fact that they also sin does not negate the plainly apparent good that also dwells withing the heart of every man.

    We are made in the image of good God, and are capable of great good, in spite of our struggle against sin. Those who deny this reality damage their witness to the world and turn many good people away from the gospel.

    Those are my thoughts on the misguided and arrogant doctrine of the total depravity of man.

  3. Wow, how did I miss this post?

    I grew up on the "hearts desperately wicked", "from the moment of my conceiving" (or whatever those verses are that supposedly prove Original Sin). The idea that I started out behind the cosmic eight ball, through absolutely no fault of my own, so that from the very moment that I came into being, God couldn't stand the sight of me and considered me used tampons ... yup, hard to believe in a God as Love after that. And I still carry that baggage embedded in my soul--that I am utterly worthless and nothing I can do will ever change my complete depravity.

    Even though, I no longer rationally subscribe to anything resembling an Original Sin doctrine, or any kind of moral overlay to the fact that there is suffering in the world, I can't seem to transform this hideous indictment of myself.

    During my time as a heathen, I developed some interesting theories to describe how I think this whole thing works, based on physics and sound theory and other stuff, that took the whole judgment aspect out of it and also gets rid of the whole either/or polemic that Christianity is so fond of--either I am totally depraved or I am perfect in Christ (when obviously neither one is literally true). And rationally I accept these and reject the total depravity BS. Now if I could just convince my psyche to let go of that ghoul...

    I suppose there are those who would use my ongoing struggle as proof of the Holy Spirit convicting me of the truth of Original Sin--except that I've supposedly been saved and made perfect from that so why exactly am I still feeling like steaming dog poo on the bottom of God's foot? No amount of reason and intellect is working on this one, nor is praying or meditating. My husband has suggested exorcism once or twice....

  4. Lolz @ your husband, Sandra. I was sent off to be "excorcised" as a teen for my "spirit of rebellion". No one was ever interested in the fact that my "rebellion" against the hypocrisy of my mom and that church was the most righteous thing going on around there! =D

    Obviously, it didn't take. :p

    I will keep praying for you, Sandra, that God will reveal the Truth to you that sets you free. Truth is a Person, not a doctrine, idea or argument. So I won't bother putting out any of those, just keep praying for Truth and you to commune....

  5. Thank you for your prayers; they will surely not be lost.

    The thing about Original Sin, total depravity, or any of those polarizing spiritual dualities is that they emphasize the human end of the spectrum. I think, from the explanations of those for whom these doctrines work to bring communion with God, that the point of the doctrines is to bring the outrageous grace of God into sharp relief. To highlight the vastness of his love and the marvel of his works. All to the good, but my question then is this? Is God not gracious, vast, and marvelous enough all on his own or does he really need us to be belittled, shamed and beaten down in order for him to look good?

    I prefer to worship a God whose people acknowledge that we humans are in our free will sometimes awful, sometimes really great, and usually both at once, and that our God is infinitely more.

    I'm reading a book by a fairly traditional (though not at all fundy) preacher--and surprisingly I really am enjoying it--but I'm at a point where he's bemoaning that we don't talk about sin much anymore. It makes us feel bad. Well... yeah! Who wants that?

    Perhaps the Sin/Depravity motif worked in Christianity for so long because it resonated with how people actually already felt about themselves. I mean, most people in Christendom really had harsh and brutal lives until the modern era so maybe it wasn't so much a beating down of humanity as much as a recognition of their place in the world--lowly, abused, exploited, short-lived.

    Modernity changed a whole lot about our view of the world and our place in it. As religion lost favor among intellectuals, psychoanalysis grew in its place. Sin themes became alienation and the unconscious. People still feel separated from the Divine but no longer feel as though they personally are lowly and shameful. Without Christianity TELLING me how morally bankrupt I am, any wretchedness I feel has no shame attached. Most people that I know feel pretty good about their work and their place in the world and see no reason to think of themselves as Sinful--except as it is pounded into their heads from preachers, parents, and religious authorities.

    Wow, I'm writing a lot here. I probably ought to save this and paste it into a blog post of my own!

  6. This-

    "Is God not gracious, vast, and marvelous enough all on his own"

    and this-

    "I prefer to worship a God whose people acknowledge that we humans are in our free will sometimes awful, sometimes really great, and usually both at once, and that our God is infinitely more."

    I think Jesus would something like "you are not far from the kingdom of God..." =D