Often unspoken and unrecognized, there is one belief that clearly divides progressives from conservatives, divides various branches of Christianity, divides believers from non-believers, and that is the fundamental nature of people. Are people basically good, or are people basically sinful? This leads to a rabbit hole (or holes) of additional questions, but perhaps it’s better to consider the fundamental question first.
That’s what R.C. Sproul does in Are People Basically Good?
Until his death in December of 2017, Sproul led Ligonier Ministries, based in Sanford, Florida. He wrote numerous books, articles, sermons, and speeches on Christianity, church history, theology, Calvinism, Reformed theology, and related topics. The Crucial Questions series includes some 30 topics which are free as eBooks, and this volume is a part of the series.
Sproul’s answer reflects his Christian faith, but he doesn’t slam the reader’s head with it. Instead, he uses the lens of Scripture first to consider what it means that man (and woman) “is made in the image of God.” Importantly, being made in the image doesn’t mean we are God but are subordinate to God. The phrase, he says, also separates mankind from all other living creatures. That separation doesn’t mean domination, but it does mean a position of responsibility, authority, and privilege.
But what every human being must come to understand, Sproul writes, is the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. And sin, he says, goes to the very core of our being. We are made in the image of God, but we are broken from the beginning. And only one thing can heal that brokenness.
It’s not a popular belief system today, and the culture at large certainly rejects it. But that doesn’t make it untrue (even if it does make it inconvenient).
Are People Basically Good? is a compact summary of the doctrine of total depravity, a doctrine shared by all of the major Christian faith traditions.
Top photograph by GoaShape via Unsplash. Used with permission.
I'm in agreement with Sproul. Thanks for sharing, Glynn!
We are all sinners, in need of a Savior. I love to ask this question when I am witnessing to someone. So many think, just like I did that because I had never killed anyone I was a good person. Reading the old testament showed me clearly I was just like those Jews, lost and undone, when given a choice it was all about me. Glad I stopped by .
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