Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Her friends refused to believe she was capable of such savagery"

The Palm Beach Post reports on the final chapter of a sordid crime story that's been in the headlines the past few days. The quote that I pulled out of the story reminded me of Chesterton's contention that the doctrine of original sin "is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved." (Orthodoxy) Article 14 of the Belgic Confession describes original sin this way: "We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race. It is a corruption of all nature -- an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother's womb, and the root which produces in man every sort of sin." Just look around you, or read the newspaper. As mysterious and unfair as it seems, original sin is the only explanation that fits the empirical evidence.

Theologians from a variety of traditions have spoken of mankind as being totally depraved. It's not just a Calvinist thing. Total depravity doesn't mean that we're all as bad as we could be (thanks be to God!) or that we're not capable of doing good, but that our potential for evil is beyond what we could imagine. R.C. Sproul suggests that "radical corruption" might be a better term to describe our condition. Every part of our being is touched by sin. This includes our mind, our will and our body. The ancient words of the prophet Jeremiah are as true today as they were back then. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Where the human heart is concerned, don't be surprised to be surprised.

No comments: