Monday, June 05, 2006

Human Nature

I was recently asked the following question: What is your basic view of "human nature?" Which got me thinking. You see how we view human nature will determine how we respond to other people. Mark Driscoll in his book Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out refers to Thomas Sowell’s book A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. According to Driscoll social commentator Sowell explains that the political conflict between Republican and Democrat stems from vastly differing understandings of human nature.

Republicans view human nature as being selfish and sinful and places hope for the transformation of culture through restraining our sinful behavior by the use of laws and punishment. Democrats see human nature as basically good and loving and transformation of culture is the result of social programs, public education, and government services (page 107; Radical Reformission).

This issue of human nature is worth pondering because the answer we arrive at will determine how we treat those around us. Being Christian people if we see people as selfish and sinful we will demand that people follow God’s law and to shape up. On the other hand if we, as Christians, see people as loving and good then what we will want to do is guide them to Jesus (though we will emphasize Jesus' love and ignore His call to repentance) so they can know Who to follow.

Here is my simple answer to the question: our nature is neither good nor bad, but we become whatever we have been trained to be. I don’t buy the doctrines of the “sinful nature” and “total depravity.” One reason is because I don’t think that is what the Bible teaches (though I know many people believe it does). A second reason is it has not been my experience. I know too many “Christians” who have done terrible things and I know too many non-Christians who have done some wonderful things.

Ultimately it comes down to choices. Each one of us decides how we are going to live. These decisions are based on what we have been taught and believe. If our nature is neither good nor bad how should we respond to people? By presenting them with a choice. That is what Jesus did. “Come follow me,” he would say and people would either choose to follow or remain behind. Sure there is teaching and loving which goes along with this, but doing those things simply provides people with enough evidence to make a choice. Our choices determine our character and our character defines the essence of who we are.


Joy in the Journey said...

After I read "Blue Like Jazz," I became open to the fact that maybe Democrats weren't so bad after all. Initially, they are more compassionate to people because they believe they are basically good. However, they totally overlook Adam and Eve's legacy of sin--a constant struggle between good and evil.

After all these years of throwing ENDLESS piles of money at problems without any benchmarks toward a solution, when are the Democrats going to learn to get a new playbook? Perhaps never--about the same length of time it will take for them to garner my precious vote.


Paul said...

There certainly are points in Blue Like Jazz that were difficult to read because of my conservative background. One thing that Rush Limbaugh said very many years ago (I was only a freshman in High School at the time) in reference to abortion: we have to change people's hearts, one person at a time. It is a slow way to bring about change, but it is the only way to have real change in that culture.

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