Monday, September 6, 2010

Are We Really Depraved?

This is what should have been posted last Thursday, but I was otherwise engaged!

Thursday September 2, 2010

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7.

If there is one principle of the Christian faith deplored by non-believers, it is human depravity. It flies in the face of the good people do, and of course, undermines our self-pride.

Today’s text comes from the story of the woman taken in adultery. The story assumes her guilt, and sentencing—death by stoning—is the penalty. Would Jesus agree? The dilemma rested on the fact that Roman law did not recognise Jewish religious law regarding the death penalty.

As in other altercations, the Jews were hoping Jesus would commit Himself to one side or the other—a Jewish rebel or a Roman sympathiser. In fact, Jesus cut through their arguments with the idea of total depravity—we are all guilty of breaking God’s law.

If there is one error that plagues humankind, it is belief in the essential goodness of humanity. History and current events tear this idea to shreds; but many accept it! We are not good people who occasionally fail; at best, we are
law-breakers who are trying to improve our reputation. 

The saying goes, we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners. While we have a sense of justice—necessary to keep social order—that too is corrupted by our innate sinfulness. Social justice is a hit and miss affair, undermined by inadequate knowledge of the facts and by personal biases and agendas.

On a personal level, we may need to protect ourselves from those we suspect of destructive acts and attitudes, but God is the final Judge—of them and ourselves!

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