Last week the whole nation was caught up in the grief filled aftermath of the 22 year old who shot so many people in Tucson. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords took a bullet point blank that was a through and through of the head. An adorable nine year old girl was slain, and several others took bullets. I caught a quote from the boy's mother,"He's a good boy." Oh really? Forrest Gump might have said, "Good is what good does." But then I remembered one of the girls from the infamous Columbine high school shooting was quoted as saying she still believed in the basic goodness of mankind. It seemed to me that the press was all too quick to print this sentiment. It seems that the public forum always reaches for the ludicrous affirmation of the basic goodness of human nature when the ugliness of total depravity breaks forth in some obvious display.
The reason for this is that reality tends to shatter the basic religious convictions of the world. The basic goodness of man is one of those convictions. How can one stand to be a humanist, knowing that human nature is sinful. Jeremiah says the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. If you believe that you have to abandon humanism as a religion. The alternate is to believe in biblical religion, and fallen men can never do that.
It is interesting to note that although this world likes to believe in the basic goodness of man, yet they also argue that this man is never perfectible. After all we are only animals, a few steps higher than other primates. If humans engage in a little sin it is interesting, exciting and excusable. But when this despicable behavior assaults other humans, the philosophers stutter and spit out the all but humorous mantra about the basic goodness of man.
They say that man is basically good, but never able to be perfect.
The Christian says that man is basically bad, but he is perfectible.
This is only to say that biblical truth matches reality as we experience it much better than the maxims of worldly religion. That man is made in the image of God explains the great potential for good things that we know to be in man. The fall of human nature into sinful rebellion against God explains the filthiness, violence and selfishness of people. The whole point of the gospel is that the soul who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Man is irreparably broken, and God alone is able to repair him. Jesus receives sinners--and changes them. So the Christian sees the coming of our Savior as the time when we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Man is perfectable, but God has to work this, and His promise is that He is doing it as we speak, and will complete the job when we see Jesus.