Posted in March

Week 12 Homework (due 3/27/17)

Textbook Outline:

The Mosaic of Christian Beliefs, Chapter 9: Humanity: Essentially Good and Existentially Estranged

        1. Issues and Polarities of Christian Belief about Humanity
          1. Enlightenment raised serious questions about humanity
          2. Many contemporary Christians are unaware of consensual Christian tradition about humanity
          3. Main issues:
            1. dual nature of human- natural-physical and transcendent-spiritual
            2. humans created in God’s image and likeness
            3. humans as fallen, sinful, and estranged from God
        2. The Christian Consensus about Humanity
          1. Humans are animals and spiritual
          2. Humans are God’s special creatures who possess the gift of God’s own image and likeness
          3. Humans are born as “damaged goods” as they inherent a spiritual corruption that pervades every aspect of their being and leads inevitably to personal acts of disobedience to God (“original sin” or “inherited depravity”)
          4. Christians have always believed that:
            1. humans are composed of body and soul
            2. humans are possessed of special dignity and value over all other creatures because they are created in God’s image and likeness
            3. humans are sinful and in need of redemption by God’s grace in Christ and through the Holy Spirit
          5. Jesus died for all people; all people are sinners without exception
          6. Augustine
            1. before the fall human condition was posse non peccare- possible not to sin
            2. after the fall the universal human condition is non posse non peccare- not possible not to sin
          7. Graces is a universal human need
          8. The three general human beliefs (1., 2., and 3.) are called Christian humanism
        3. Alternative Visions of Humanity
          1. Secular humanism- antisupernaturalism; human-centered ethics; commitment to human reason; humanitarian concerns
          2. Neognosticism- humans created in God’s image; essential goodness of human nature; “spark of God” forms “higher self” in each person
          3. Pelagianism- humans are born without fault or flaw; not born with sin; humans, by themselves, can initiate a right relationship with God
        4. Diverse Christian Interpretations of Human Nature and Existence
          1. Debate over meaning of imago Dei
          2. Debate over original sin/inherited, total depravity
        5. A Unitive Christian Perspective on Human Nature and Existence
          1. humanity: infinite design and value above the rest of nature because humans are created in God’s image, loved by God and redeemed in Christ; also, degraded, worse than animals, corrupt and condemned
            1. paradoxical, but not contradictory

Scripture Response:

The Christian view of humans as both created as good and naturally unrighteous is easily confusing for those in the faith and outside of it. This contrast brings the questions: What caused humans to be unrighteous? Was God’s creation not good enough to remain good? And, why would God allow His creation to become unrighteous? In this response we will answer these questions by studying Genesis 3.
First, we will examine the cause of unrighteousness for humanity. Almost every Christian knows this story; humans are unrighteous because Adam and Eve ate some fruit. While this seems harsh, they blatantly disobeyed the one command God them. Sin separates humanity from God (Genesis 3:8-10). When a Christian makes a statement such as, “humans are born in sin,” they mean that when they are born, they are separated from God.
The next question is a little trickier. God’s creation could have remained good, but he gave them the choice of choosing sin and separation over the connection and closeness of God. I do not believe God intended for humanity to choose sin, even though he gave that option. Adam and Eve were already righteous before God, so He would not have had to redeem them if they had not sinned. I doubt Adam and Eve would not have chosen sin if the devil had not tempted and deceived them (Genesis 3:13).
The answer to the final question addresses the reason for the first two paragraphs. God chose to give His people the opportunity to leave Him, even though remaining in Him would be the best option. He gives humans freewill: this is the ability for humans to make their own choices (Genesis 3:12-13). God did not want to force humanity to abide in Him and His love, so He gave them another option. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve unknowingly picked this option.

Question Response

This week’s question is tricky.  With humans’ duality of being created good and born as unrighteous, the line of what God created becomes warped.  Did God really create both good and evil?  If He did, why did He do this?  If He did not, why did He allow it?  While we may never fully know God’s reasoning and purpose for what He does, we can at least postulate on questions such as these using our limited human knowledge.

God created good.  God is the source of all things.  In Genesis 1, when He created the earth and humanity, He called the creations “good”.  This means that goodness must have been created either before these creations began, or goodness was created while God was creating the world.  In His omnipotence, God created the concept of goodness, as well as all things that are deemed good.

I do believe that God created evil.  Again, He is omnipotent and has the power to create and control all things.  He most likely did not want humanity to experience it, but unfortunately He knew that the decision would be left up to them.  The only other option for the creation of evil is the devil, but angels are never depicted as creators in the Bible.  It the devil was disobediently trying to create such a large concept that would harm His creation, such as evil, God would have used His omnipotence to halt the creation of evil.

Most people agree that evil is negative and detrimental, since evil causes humans to kill or physically or emotionally damage other people.  The creation of this seems in stark disparity to the supposed goodness and loving nature of God, yet God created evil for a purpose.  Evil was needed to illuminate its opposite, which is goodness.  Since God gave humans freewill, He had to allow them the choice of choosing what is bad.  Without the contrast of evil, humans would not know what it good; while everything would be good without evil, humans would not truly have freewill.