It is possible to be highly educated and at the same time morally depraved. There is, in fact, a certain kind of moral depravity that only the highly educated can attain, because it requires sophisticated skills of rationalization and self-deception.” – Iain W. Proven –
Human depravity has been a subject of debate among philosophers and theologians ever since…well…ever since two of them wound up in the same room together in a conversation. In the simplest of terms, the basis of their doctrinal disagreements rest upon this question: Are people basically good or bad? Stay tuned kiddies – among these doctors of dogma, who populate philosophical ivory towers, the debate continues…
Meanwhile, on the streets of modern Sodom (where we live) with its pervasive humanistic “new age” culture, there is this generally accepted assumption that people are essentially good. Of course it is allowable to admit that “no one is perfect”. After all, it is only human to “err.” Sure, there are some really bad people who exhibit very “evil” tendencies but in spite of all the wickedness in the world, there is a “basic goodness” in every human life. In other words, evil does not penetrate to the core of the human spirit. We are all capable of “self-improvements” and “higher planes of consciousness.” This will lead to our greater goodness.
My theological term for these widely held beliefs is: Bovine Poopie
The Bible (perhaps the best book ever written on human nature) teaches that mankind is depraved (or corrupt) to the very core of our existence. Wickedness affects our mind, and our soul (will & emotions); even our physical body can suffer the consequences of human immorality. By nature, every man, woman and child is predisposed to depravity.
While Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Saddam Hussein, Jeffery Dahmer, Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy, are all extreme examples of unbridled human depravity, racial and ethnic tensions, riots and looting in our streets, rape and murder in our communities, drug and alcohol addictions, sexual perverts, lying and cheating politicians, and corrupt and immoral clergy are also rooted in the human depravity problem.
Does this mean that humanity is incapable of producing good people? No, it does not. The capacity to do something virtuous and the condition of a depraved inner being (the human spirit) are two entirely different things. Mankind is certainly capable of decent behavior, good deeds, and even outwardly upholding some portion of the “Divine Law”. Nevertheless, we are all born with a flawed (depraved) human nature that can never meet the standard necessary to be truly pleasing to the faultless and Divine Creator of human life. Depravity is first a spiritual problem.
The Biblical writer Paul put it this way in the Newer Testament of the Bible:
10 “As the Scriptures say, No one is good” no one in all the world is innocent. 11 No one has ever really followed God’s paths or even truly wanted to. 12 Every one has turned away; all have gone wrong. No one anywhere has kept on doing what is right; not one.” (Romans 3:10-12 – Living Bible)
Mankind has been weighed in the balance scales of a perfect God and we are all found malevolent. We are the walking dead – in trespasses and depravities (Ephesians 2:1); and our very nature predestines us to be the children of (God’s) wrath. (Ephesians 2:3). For my theologically minded friends, this is also known as the condition of spiritual death. Depravity goes part and parcel with human nature. We are all born with a “spiritual gene” that makes us bad to the bone.
I know what you’re thinking; “compared to some, I am a good person.” I understand. You’ve never killed anyone. You consider yourself to be kind and compassionate. “Live and let live”, that’s your motto. I believe you. That was my mindset heretofore as well. But, human depravity is not relative – it is absolute. Your behavior is irrelevant. Even one evil thought; one malignant intention, – acted upon or not – is proof of corruption’s seed in your very nature. 23 “Yes, all have transgressed; all have fallen short of God’s perfect ideal.” (Romans 3:23)
We lived depravity and called it truth, silencing our dreaming, and our love, discarding things holy.” – John Daniel Thieme
Charles H. Spurgeon was a gifted orator and prolific author. His sermons were said to hold his listeners spellbound at the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London where he was the Pastor for 38 years. He was also known for his outspoken opposition to the open-minded and matter-of-fact theological tendencies in the Church of his day. (Hello?) Here is an excerpt from one of his great discourses:
“There are some professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration; but, from my inmost heart, I loathe such speeches more and more every day that I live. Those who talk in such a boastful fashion must be constituted very differently from me. While they are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s Cross, and marvel that I am saved at all, for I know that I am saved. I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all” to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all” to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all considering what a polluted debased, depraved nature I find still within my soul, notwithstanding all that divine grace has done in me.”
“In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for it is a painful discovery for anyone to make; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord.” – Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
Spurgeon did not mince words when it came to his disdain for self-centered Christianity or as he put it, “professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration.”
Far from being smug, Charles marveled at the wonder of his own rescue from depravity. I like his contrasts:
- I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all
- I have to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all
- I have to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656