Occasionally I come across a question on social media that acts like a writing prompt. Today that question was, “What is human nature really, good or bad?” I wanted to answer my friend’s question in a thorough and theologically sound manner. The challenge of course is being clear and concise. After all, theologians have spent entire careers in the attempt to answer that question. Here is my answer:
From my perspective:
1. In the beginning human nature is very good (see Genesis 1).
2. Then sin shows up and human nature is corrupted, marred. So human nature is now both very good and very bad (our Calvinist friends would say that with the onset of sin our nature is now ‘Totally Morally Depraved.” I don’t buy that argument, sorry Calvinist friends, the ‘very good’ of God’s creative act is never fully wiped out; neither humanity, nor the Enemy, has the power to undue God’s ‘Very Good’).
3. Yet, it becomes necessary for the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, to come and do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus comes to provide the means for us to be reconciled to God. Through the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus God gives humanity the opportunity for redemption and restoration. Humanity, through Jesus, can be redeemed from the effects of the sin condition and set on the path of restoration to our originally intended ‘very good’ nature. When we place our faith in Jesus; when we trust in the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we enter this redeemed state; we are ‘saved,’ or ‘justified,’ and we now begin the process of becoming more and more like Jesus; the perfect example of what humanity was originally supposed to be.
4. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, resides in those who have placed their faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit empowers this transforming work in our lives. Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, those who have placed their faith in Jesus, are actively being transformed/restored to the ‘Very Good’ of God. This process is called ‘Sanctification.’ The end result of the process is called ‘Entire Sanctification’ or ‘Christian Perfection’ in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition.
Summary: Human nature is originally very good. Sin corrupts that nature but doesn’t completely eliminate it. Jesus provides the way out of the sin condition. The Holy Spirit empowers the transformation into God’s original intent for humanity, ‘Very Good.’
So, human nature is good, then corrupted, with the possibility, through faith in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, to become good again.
Thanks for asking a question that got my theological mind in gear this morning!
After reading my answer to this question, what do you think?
Have you tried to clearly and concisely answer this question before? How’d you do it?
Here’s a challenge for each of us, write out your most core and foundational beliefs in no more than four clear and concise points/paragraphs!
Grace and Peace, Rich
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