torn_aclu wrote:It all depends on what the definition of a good person in. As a Christian I think I have to say that while people can do "good things," they can't do anything ultimately good apart from being given new life in Christ.
I think this is where you starting ruffling feathers, Torn. Your first statement, yes, WAS appropriate to the thread, but here, you took the conversation in a different direction, and painted things in black and white where they aren't (in my opinion).
When a non-christian is faithfully loving his wife, is that action evil to God? When a non-christian single mom works hard to provide for her children, are those efforts evil? When a non-christian is moved with compassion for victims of disasters and give generously to relieve suffering, does God get enraged?
The way we have distorted the doctrine of "total depravity" is dangerous and counter-productive to the life that God seems to offer through the gospel. Man CAN do good things. We see it all the time. What man canNOT do is redeem himself to God through his good actions. I think that's an important distinction, because when you tell someone the good they do requires quotation marks around it, implying it's not really good, you're putting them on the defensive about something that creates an unfair dichotomy. It's always good to be a faithful loving husband to your wife. It's always good not to beat your children in anger. It's always good relieve someone's suffering when it is in your power to do so. Those things are good in God's eyes. When you paint those things as evil, by implication, you create a view of the world that goes against the fabric of rational and inherent justice/morality that everyone has and makes God look inconsistent and diminishes the nature of salvation and redemption... and that's when LOLZ start rolling in and people roll their eyes at Christians, because we keep inadequately articulating what total depravity means... Yes, "our righteousness is as filthy rags" as Isaiah says, but that applies to me too, now, even as a Christian. Because the premise of the gospel is that Jesus' righteousness is the only thing that is effective for our redemption. That does NOT imply that the very nature of our actions are all evil. It simply means that we are stained and broken by sin, rebelling against God's authority to be the source of our lives, and need HIM to redeem us, because no amount of doing good things will change our disposition towards Him.
That's just my understanding of it. I grew up believing the "total depravity" thing, but it just never resonated. I saw my extended family members and friends being good to each other, so somehow calling those actions "sin" just didn't match logically.
I read this post from Donald Miller's blog
awhile back and that helped form the answers to the questions/doubts that had been rattling around in my brain about this...
Now, everyone get back to talking about capitalism...
I'm surprised this place still exists.