Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is Man Essentially Good?

Is Man Essentially Good?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was the Swiss philosopher who strongly promoted the idea that "man is essentially good", "a "noble savage" when in the "state of nature". He taught that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their environment and their experiences in society. He viewed society as "artificial" and "corrupt" and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man.

Rousseau's impact on our post-modern society is significant. Many modern individuals struggle with the question of whether man is essentially good. The question was posed recently to a number of people, here is a sample of some of their answers:

" I think people are essentially good simply because of the love and joy that each person can bring to another person's life. Even a simple smile can brighten up someone's day."

"Man is good...even Hitler was good. Each person has his own kindness-- his inner kindness...because we are made by the likeness (image) of God"

These beliefs don't match up with scripture. Wesley taught that man's nature is essentially evil and he quoted several scriptures to support his belief. God's word teaches us that we are all "dead in trespasses and sins", we are "without hope, without God in the world." The "wickedness of man was great in the earth" and "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

2 Thes. 2:11 declares that in the end of the age God will send them " a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie". The failure of our culture to embrace the scriptural teaching that men are born in a depraved state is evidence that a lie has taken root. In an attempt to eliminate the 'problem' of sin in a godless society many try to blame evil behavior on the environment, or poverty or perhaps some early abuse during childhood. But the word of God declares that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Lyle and Eric Menendez brutally murdered their parents in August of 1989. Americans immediately began to look for reasons for this horrendous crime. The brothers were declared to be anti-social. Lyle and Eric declared they had been abused by their father. He was too hard to please. But, the truth about any horrible murder such as this is that it is a result of sin springing forth from a carnal heart. The social factors may very well have contributed to their negative attitude toward their parents but the root cause of their crime was sin.

God sent the flood to destroy man when the time for grace and mercy had ended and the time for justice had come. God has shown an unimaginable amount of patience in view of how sinful our American culture has become. Surely, at some point in time, the cries of 40 million aborted babies crying for justice will spur God to end the time of mercy and begin a time of judgment on a culture that has turned its back on God.

The great hope we have is that the terrible malady that lies within all men can be cured. Jesus became a man, took on himself the sins of us all and carried them to a cross. He purchased our salvation from this inbred sin by sacrificing his own life. Through his shed blood we can be forgiven our sinful actions and we can conquer the sin nature within.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

1 comment:

  1. I think you should bring up William Golding's literary perspective in "Lord of the Flies." His view was that man is inherently evil and that without strict control his actions will become vicious and primal. I would like to see your take on his beliefs.