I have given this one the chapter a verse designation of a saying because I have a feeling that most of my Christian friends will probably disagree. I can’t put it at the level of a principle and as to whether or not it is a point of wisdom I will leave for the reader to judge. For me it is a point of wisdom I follow but for others they might not. It is my saying so I am free to follow it but the rest of you will have to decide for yourself. I simply want it preserved as one of my sayings and leave it at that.
In the story of Garden of Eden I get asked what was added to humanity when they ate of the fruit. You must understand there is the doctrine of sinful nature floating around that states that in that moment they did they took on some mystical force that made them incapable of not avoiding sin. The problem is that the text does not bear that out nor does anything that follows. I think they got exactly what they were advertised – the knowledge of what was evil and the knowledge of what was good. Up until that point, they had neither and that is an important point. They had freewill but everything was good so there was no need for the ability to differentiate. They had freewill but every few things were even commanded against. In fact they were actually commanded to do far more than they were told not to do and those commands were not hard. The only prohibition was not to eat the tree.
Now I am not saying that we don’t pass something on to our children. With this knowledge of good and evil came the ability to engage in self-deception which allows us to ignore the good and embrace the evil. The issue is that we pass on this behavior to our children. The human race is not embraced by some mystical force that forces us to sin. We pass it on to our children and those around us by simply engaging in acts so self-deception that result in justification and collusion which others pick up on and return. No mystical force just our own actions that replicate the same behavior in others. All have sinned but not all embrace evil all the time. The was a time in our history according to the Bible where we did so and it almost resulted in our complete destruction but since then God has not felt the need to consider the possibility.
The problem is that the Bible also tells us of people who achieve righteousness. It was largely these passages that caused me to ultimately chuck total depravity altogether. Some people are declared to be righteous and blameless before the Law and those verses cannot be true and the doctrine of total depravity to be true. If total depravity falls, well so does the rest of it. What these passages do tell me instead is that some people can choose the good so much that they become good. Notice my saying does not say that most people are good either. The issue is that for many of we dwell in a world that is in between both. We struggle with our self-deception but sometimes thanks to Christ or our own decisions to be obedient to God we do grow closer to being good. Good and evil are the two polar ends. In the middle between the two is the sinner being pulled both directions.
Few people are good, few people are evil but we all start as sinners. Once we become aware of this fact and that God has provided grace through Christ, the rest is up to us. But this also allows me to look at others the same way. The humility that comes with this statement that requires me to realize that just because I sin it does not mean I am evil just in need of transformation so I do not become evil. I also need to be obedient and that means questioning my own morality to get over my self-deception. It means I can’t look at others as evil or good so much as fellow travelers through life trying to get more toward the good rather than the evil. Sorry, the human race is far more complicated that just calling it good or evil. Most of us are simply trending one way or the other but which one we embrace is the dog we choose to feed.