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Are we inherently evil? May 13, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, church, faith, God, Jesus, Religion, spirituality, Theology.
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Christianity teaches that we are born in “sin” and need a personal relationship with Christ in order to receive righteousness. Apart from Christ, we are taught that we are evil, wicked, and wretched sinners in need of redemption.

Most world religions contain, at their core, a moral code to govern the lives of its followers. Interestingly enough, this moral code is quite similar across many of these religions. Also, in addition to this code, there are rituals, traditions, exclusivity beliefs, creeds, and dogma. In most cases, strict adherence to these additions are equally as important or sometimes more important than following the moral code.

However, those who do not believe in God or put their faith in any set of religious beliefs, still have access to this moral code through their conscience. I believe that our creator has placed within everyone of us a moral compass or guide by which we should live our lives. Following this guide, or our conscience, will lead us to live a life in harmony with creation.

Jesus came into a culture of rituals, traditions, and religious laws to let them know that they were focusing on the wrong things. Instead of trying to find righteousness in these external acts, they should look inwards and act in accordance to what the creator wrote on their hearts.

In other words, could it be that we are not inherently evil as we’re taught but we’re inherently good; and we have to make conscious decisions to go against this nature in order to be mean, nasty, and evil? Of course, over time, there are those who do become evil because of these choices. For those who find themselves in this state, they can begin to reverse this process and learn how to walk in compassion, mercy, and kindness and in line with the way we were created by following the teachings of Christ.

Happy are those who are gentle and humble…
Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for justice…
Happy are those who are merciful…
Happy are those whose hearts are pure…
Happy are those who work for peace…
– Jesus, Matthew 5:5-9

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Comments»

1. Stellar - May 1, 2005

To take your thought one step further, I think those decisions for evil are often a reaction to environment. If someone is hungry and has no money, they are likely to steal though their conscience tells them it is wrong. Sometimes social and environmental influences play a vital role in the development of our morality.

2. Navato - May 13, 2005

Roopster,I see your point but disagree. Man and the world, apart from God’s influence would slip into depravity. Look at our own society. We experience a momentary surge of goodness reflected in spiritual revival, but at the same time our cultural is steadily, and more decisively, being dragged toward a moral sewer. As we give God a lesser place in our lives / culture, the more evil we become. Take God, and his influence on our lives, completely out of the picture and we would slip into complete and total decadence. I would say that the goodness in our lives comes from without; the evil from within. Of course, our ability to respond to and embrace goodness (God) is built into us, and so seems to come from within, but even that is from Him.Here’s an imperfect anology to describe to you how I see this dichotomy. Picture a gallon jug of sewage. How much pure Avian would I have to put into it in order to make fit for you to drink? Now, picture a gallon jug of Avian water. How many drops of sewage would it take to make it unfit to drink? That’s how the principle of sin works in us buddy.Novato

3. Heather - May 13, 2007

I would say no, we’re not inherently evil. There are verses that say that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made, and that man is made a little lower than angels. I see the Gospels saying that Jesus came more to awake our original goodness, and bring out the man made in God’s image and likeness.

Now, I’m not saying that we’re born perfect — but rather that we’re born immature, and have the capacity to be blinded to our goodness and favor the sin.

The other reason why I don’t think we’re inherently evil is otherwise, what exactly would God be rescuing? If we’re that sinful, and that much of our personality is dependent on sin, then the person that gets into Heaven would be nothing like us — everything that the person is would be radically different.

4. Epiphanist - May 14, 2007

I have known people who have somehow perceived divinity in conscience and ended up worshipping their own conscience. You probably know them too, those awful, judgmental, self righteous types whose redeeming grace is their best intentions. A trap to avoid!
Grace? That’s something worth talking about.

5. Ken Hopping - May 14, 2007

Simply put, in the beginning God created man, man and women did he make. In the first act of selfishness man and women (Adam and Eve) ate of the tree of knowledge. At that point man became prone to sin, evilness. Without the grace of our creater, God we would remain in that state of sin (seperated from God), so God made many convenants with man to redeem us, we failed, he sent his son through a birth of a woman, Mary. At that point Mary and Jesus became the second Adam and Eve and gave us the chance for redeemption. You see, Adam and Eve began the reign of selfishness, and Jesus and Mary began the reign of selflessness. We need only ask for the conversion and we will become the good that will achieve the kingdom of God. Heaven. As Heather stated above, Heaven would be nothing like us – everything that the person is would be radically differnet. Look around Heather do we want an eternity of the same that we are now? Peace be with you.

6. Heather - May 14, 2007

**As Heather stated above, Heaven would be nothing like us – everything that the person is would be radically differnet.** Yes, but then is it really ‘you’ who gets into Heaven? If you’re that radically different, then what about ‘you’ is still preserved if you’re that inherently sinful?

7. Ken Hopping - May 14, 2007

The person that God made me to be, the person that I become with conversion and grace. I will live as that person here on earth and then become more perfected after death for the Glory of Heaven. Can you remember when you were a child and your mother or your father were your hero? When I think of that, I think how unworthy I am to meet my creator, God who in his grace thinks me into being and holds me in his thoughts always. I must become more of who he created me to be in order to achieve Heaven and the “me” that I was meant to be.

8. Heather - May 14, 2007

**The person that God made me to be, the person that I become with conversion and grace. ** But you are either made to be that person, or you are born inherently sinful — and if born inherently sinful, then ‘sin’ is the dominating aspect of one’s ‘soul.’ Because when we use the phrase ‘inherently’ anything, it generally means that the ‘inherent’ aspect makes up most of the person/thing’s nature. And if inherently sinful, then it doesn’t come across as God revealing who you always were, but rather God re-wiring you, and almost inserting an entire ‘new’ soul.

9. Ken Hopping - May 14, 2007

Heather, there was nothing in my comments about being inherently evil. I do not believe that God would ever create evil. God is pure love, pure love creates pure love. Self will used for selfish ends creates evil. Pure love of us was the reason that God gave us self will. How else could we show that we truly love God. WIthout self will we would be robots, with self will we can choose good from evil. The story of the tree of knowledge of good and evil teaches us how to see where we decided to be ‘equal with God’ that is where we become prone to Sin, we are then tempted by things of the world, the flesh and Satin. Gods grace allows me to be the God loving soul that I am and to choose God over these temptations. Grace be with you.

10. roopster - May 14, 2007

Ken,

What do you think of these scriptures?

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Judges 9:22-23 After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech.

Paul

11. Heather - May 15, 2007

Ken,

I had interpreted this statement: **At that point man became prone to sin, evilness. ** as ‘inherently evil.’ As that’s not what you meant, I apologize. But it seemed that ‘man’ was used in the universal sense, and if man is prone towards something, it usually means that ‘thing’ is the dominant aspect, or ‘inherent.’

12. Brendan - May 15, 2007

If one thinks one can judge “good” and “evil” with the eyes of truth, isn’t one falling for the trap of original sin? Remember the myth in the Garden. The temptation was that humans could eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and become like “God.” Yet professed Christians routinely feel they are in the position to levy judgment on themselves and others, buying completely the temptation in the Garden that results in the all the alienating psychological schisms between the individual and others and the individual’s ability to live in harmony with one’s universe, embrace uncertainty and let go of fear. This is grace: “judge not, lest ye be judged.”

If Christianity makes you live up to a higher standard with regard to the things you consider to be “good” and “evil,” or it prevents you from really wanting to try to understand the viewpoint and experiences of others because they use different words and symbols to express that experience, then you are not hearing the message of Christianity and have become rooted in dead symbols.

13. Ken Hopping - May 15, 2007

roopster,
Another translation of Isaiah 45:7, I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe: I, the Lord do all these things. Create woe: God permits evil for the sake of a greater good. IE: I chose to find a deeper relationship with God through these things, and not to seek deeper understanding of the ways of the world.

In the same way, God allowed ‘evil’ feelings between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, in atonement for the sins committed in the verses proceeding Judges 9:23.

This continues along the statement above that selfishness can only lead to sorrow and pain. God does not create the selfishness within me, but out of love for me allows me my right to selfishness, until ‘evil’ feelings become the product of that selfishness leading me back to atonement and reconciliation with God.

14. HeIsSailing - June 2, 2007

Ken Hopping sez:
“God permits evil for the sake of a greater good. ”

No Ken, that does not work. The passage in Isaiah says that God creates evil. Not permits. Creates. Look it up in any translation you wish, but says create.

Now I do think a credible argument can be made for the word ‘evil’ in that passage to be ‘calamity’ or ‘destruction’. Either way though, God is creating it, not merely permitting it.

Same thing with the Judges 9:23 passage.
“Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech…etc…”

I looked up the passage on blueletterbible.org, and the word for ‘sent’ used there is shalach, which means ‘to send, to stretch out, to send away, to let loose, to be sent off, … the word is used 566 times for ‘send’. None for ‘permit’ or ‘allow’. The passage in Judges says very clearly that God SENT an evil spirit, not merely allowed it, but sent it.

I am just reading the text for what it says. That is what it says. I understand though. My pastor used to tell me that God ALLOWED it to ease our fears that God is personally responsible for sending evil spirits. I can only assume that you heard this bit about God merely allowing evil from your pastor or Bible teacher too. But that is not what it says.

There is only one place my pastor got this harmonization – out of his posterior. When read something unsavory about God, and say that it must mean something else that is more palatable, you are assigning attributes to God that you just wish were there but are not. It was a sobering realization when I figured that out.

15. ysis - August 1, 2007

We are both good and evil, if you will. The good is repesented by our Higher Self/Spiritual Nature whereas the evil is represented by our Lower Self/The Flesh.

Our capacity to do evil is as great as our capacity to do good. So, it’s a matter of choice. And the choices we make are influenced by a myriad of variables (e.g., level of spiritual consciousness, character, values, environment, etc.).

What’s evil?

It’s a distorted expression of our Higher Self.


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