Saturday, December 6, 2008

Are we so Bad that we need to be Saved?

video After several recent conversations, it got me thinking(again). Are we really such bad people that we need to be "Saved". I mean ,like really, do the majority of us continually do crappy stuff to each other, everyday all day long? I like to think that my fellow Human has just as many Good moments as they do bad, and if that is the case then why do many Christians feel the need to see themselves as inherently bad? Im wondering fellow bloggers, do you see yourselves as inherently bad or good?
Hope you like the vid. ;)

29 comments:

Redlefty said...

Some people are very bad, no doubt. They exist.

But for the most part, most people I've known want the exact same things from life, but we all have our own struggles due to things we inherited (personality, childhood experiences) and decisions we've made.

So to get back to your question, no, I don't think the "we are lost" picture is very accurate. I doubt that's how God sees us.

I don't think that original sin is true, and I don't think that a 14yo's lustful thought puts him on equal "sin" territory with a serial killer.

p.s. -- I've often wondered if those truly bad/evil people have a purpose in this world, too. One that they served by being their own, depraved selves and shining a blinding contrast against the basic decency we hope is common but often forget about.

Chris said...

As we mature, the amount of dysfunction we permit in our presence goes down (when it's within our power). i.e. as a younger man, I was less respectful and more prone to violence and willing to wink at few things, and I had friends that were at about the same level. Certain things are no longer tolerable to me. I don't do them, and I don't have friends that do them.
Now love complicates this. It tends to make me want to be engaged with people who do not keep my standard. I try to work out some kind of healthy balance.
God is awfully mature...LOL. God's love makes ours pale in comparison, and his solution was drastic. I don't think a 14 yo's lustful thoughts qualify as sin, but for the sake of argument I will say that the difference between a man who slaps his wife once and a serial killer seem profound to most of us, because we are in a sense closer to it. God's level of "Goodness" is a million miles away, and we stand in the same room, we clearly see the difference between a black stain and a brown stain, and are puzzled God doesn't share our perspective.
The mind of is pretty unfathomable, but the argument for all of humanity needing salvation is documented, and makes sense to me... My problem is with the hoops various denominations, and mainstream religianity hold up for us to jump through before we can acquire the "free gift" of grace.

bruced said...

Yes, we need to be saved from thinking that we're bad people.

Luke said...

i love Bruce D's response! AMEN BRO!

yet we need humility as well. Sometimes we loose sight of our inter-connectedness and need to be saved from ourselves. We need a polite reminder of who we are, and how sacred these trips around the sun are, because today is the only 12-7-08 i'll ever get. why not make it a good one for me, for my community, and for the world.

RAWK!

Tit for Tat said...

Bruce

Aint that the truth.

Jim Jordan said...

Being good does not mean "not offending other people". I am not impressed with "good" people. I have only been impressed with God. And as the one perfect man put it, "only God is good".

Redlefty wrote: One that they served by being their own, depraved selves and shining a blinding contrast against the basic decency we hope is common but often forget about.

That's exactly what the Bible says on the subject. But that still doesn't mean that "less bad" is somehow good.

Yael said...

Except if you're God. Then bad can be good just because you said so or did so. Us humans, we're held to a higher standard than God. We have to be perfect and are not allowed to redefine bad as good ever. But, once we learn what is good, such as following Torah, then God can come along and decide following Torah is bad, it only leads to sinning, so therefore we who were following Torah are now bad and those who didn't follow Torah are now good because they believe we're bad and Torah is bad, but that Jesus is good and God, who seems bad for changing the rules, is really good because he really didn't change the rules, we just read them wrong because we're bad.

To answer your question, John, no.

steve martin said...

I say 'Yes'...we are that bad and we do need a Savior.

Thankfully, God has provided us One out of the goodness of His heart.

Are we that bad relationally? No, not most of us...but we won't be judged on what a nice guy or gal we were or how much we helpe the poor or how many times we didn't do something wrong.
We will be judged by God's perfect righteousness, which can not allow anything less than perfect to enter His realm.

Enter Christ Jesus and the forgiveness of our sins.

That's the good news!

Steve said...

You already know I think we're bad. Really bad, actually - because the standard we're compared to is God.

But God did not leave it at that. He provided, at great cost, a remedy. Jesus paid for my badness and offers to apply that payment to me, if I'll palce my faith in Him.

Not a bad deal.

Thaks for visiting my blog! I appreciate the interaction.

societyvs said...

“why do many Christians feel the need to see themselves as inherently bad? Im wondering fellow bloggers, do you see yourselves as inherently bad or good?” (John)

On a personal level, I am not a huge proponent of ‘original sin’ – I am not quite sure why this idea is so huge in Christian circles. I think I have the ability to do ‘bad’ and the ability to do ‘good’ – isn’t the point of Adam and Eve (the knowledge to do such things)? I have been given a ‘brain’ by God – to decipher the good and bad when given the chance to weigh all the options.

The reason this idea exists in Christianity is because of Paul – and the way the ‘original sin’ idea is used from his letters. This was then that all of us horrible and depraved people in need of a ‘savior’…I am guessing this is the ‘savior theology’ of many Christian circles (was prominent in churches I attended). I am not adverse to a ‘savior’ theology – in some ways it makes a lot of sense. In other ways, it makes no sense (like being born into sin – which would mean all kids born go straight to hell if they die).

“I am not impressed with "good" people” (Jim)

I am – actually the person some people call ‘savior’ was a ‘good person’.

“I say 'Yes'...we are that bad and we do need a Savior.” (Steve)

Explain away – how does being ‘bad’ get solved by ‘Jesus’? Is it his teachings or is it the actions of the cross?

Sally said...

Anyone who knows me (hi Luke!) would not be surprised to hear that I'm pretty conventional on this one. God is perfect, sinless. Sin is what separates us from God. We were created by God but because we were given the ability to make our own decisions (free will) we can accept the gift of grace Jesus provided by paying the penalty for our sin at the cross or not. Our choice.
For me, believing in original sin does not mean that little babies go to hell. I believe that God has mercy on children who have no way to understand Christ's sacrifice. I feel the same way about people who lived before Jesus and those who have never heard of Jesus. Just MHO.

Steve said...

SocietyVs -

'Bad' gets solved first by the cross. Regeneration is the first practical aspect of salvation - a fundamental change in one's nature. The "new nature" as the Bible puts it.

Because our fundamental nature has been altered radically, it is possible for our actions to follow. That's where the teachings of Jesus take effect.

A lifelong process of transformation begins at regeneration that brings me into conformity with the character - and teachings - of Jesus.

Without regeneration, I would argue that all the teachings of Jesus accomplish (and the 10 commandments for that matter) is to frustrate the life out of me, since I am utterly unable to even come close.

Now there's some classic Protestant theology for you, but I believe it to be true.

A man who is now a member of our church was once a gangbanger, an abusive and angry man, and an alcoholic. He used to come to church on Sunday nights wasted and occasionally belligerent. He had been invited by a guy who was reaching out to him.

Eventually he got saved (that word again) and the transformation started slowly but was unmistakable. Today he is unrecognizable from the man he was 5 years ago. In every facet, he's a different person.

It's witnessing things like that time and time again (in an inner-city church, no less), including my own story, that keep reinforcing my understanding of biblical theology and confirming the historical tenets of the Christian faith.

The gospel really does bring transformation and new life and joy and peace. Sinners - me being prominent among them - really do get saved and forgiven and rescued.

While I am trying to understand things from your guys' various perspectives, I remain solidly convinced of mine. I have simply seen too much in my 42 years that keeps pointing me back to the cross.

Yael said...

A response to using personal experience as a barometer for determining truth: But Look How Believing in Jesus Has Changed My Life!

Since I am ever accused of being angry, bitter, hateful, etc. etc. when I point out things people don't want to hear, I must be a prophet or something by all the negative descriptors heaped on my head, I linked Rabbi Tovia Singer's response instead of giving one of my own. He is probably one of the nicest, most polite people I've ever heard. His radio program includes many Christian listeners so if someone wants to accuse him of being a Christian hater because he desires to keep Jews Jewish, the evidence doesn't back up such an assertion.

Tit for Tat said...

A man who is now a member of our church was once a gangbanger, an abusive and angry man, and an alcoholic. He used to come to church on Sunday nights wasted and occasionally belligerent. He had been invited by a guy who was reaching out to him.(Steve)

I take it youve never heard of 12 step programs, those type of "Born Again" experiences are common, and because its non denominational it has nothing to do with Jesus. The fact that you have had an incredible transformation and that many people in your church and other churches have had the same isnt what my beef is. Its the issue of you thinking that "your" view of God is the right one and everyone elses is wrong. Not only is that arrogant but it is one of the primary reasons we have wars in the world. All it takes is a group on either side who think they right and have a need to convert the others. Belief in Jesus is not the issue, Evangelism and Conversion is.

Steve said...

But there is a profound reason for our fervence to evangelize. I covered some of it over on my blog.

freestyleroadtrip said...

"... keep reinforcing my understanding of biblical theology and confirming the historical tenets of the Christian faith." (Steve)

I used to view the cross as the legal transaction that is so widely used these days to explain what Christ did. But I think that view actually cheapens it severely. Evil certainly has scarred humanity, and I don't make light of it at all. God made us and everything else and called it "good." When evil entered into the picture he didn't then call it and us "bad." I just don't buy the idea anymore that I am a horrible wretch. I am still good but with scars. I now see the cross as Christ's work to restore me and the entire creation to the place that he intended it to be. It wasn't to appeased an angry, pissed-off Father. I think the above quote that I copied from Steve is interesting when the historical tenets of the Christian faith are considered. The legal explanation did not really come about until the Enlightenment. There are other views of atonement that have a much longer historical track record.

KG said...

I think the question being raised hear is "Does the Bible mean what it says?".

It seems people are disargreeing, but what is really in question is "how do we interpret the Bible?".

Most who believe that all are sinners, believe that not because they want to, but because they beleive the Bible teaches it. If you believe that the Bible is God's Word, then you believe it to be true even if your flesh tells you different.

Many others are saying, they aren't comfortable that all are sinners because it doesn't sit well with them. I don't see anyone saying they believe that because they believe that is what the Bible is teaching.

So we are really discussing: What do we think about the Bible?

Tit for Tat said...

So we are really discussing: What do we think about the Bible?(KG)

The funny thing is, what is the Bible and who determines how it is read? Redlefty had a good quote that sums it up nicely.

"Wherever your heart is, your Exegesis will follow"

Now let me get back to my original question. Without the aid of any Religious material, Do you think we are so bad that we need saving??

societyvs said...

“a fundamental change in one's nature. The "new nature" as the Bible puts it” (Steve)

I wonder if Paul is just pointing out ‘choice’ in this aspect also – concerning the ‘old man’ and the ‘new one’ (choices to pattern oneself after). To be honest, Paul uses a lot of this type of analogy – like death and resurrection (which is obviously analogy – maybe ‘new man’ is also?). At the least – this is how I would view it.

I am not saying something spectacular does not happen within conversion (that’s obvious) – but is not conversion also a ‘choice’?

“Because our fundamental nature has been altered radically, it is possible for our actions to follow. That's where the teachings of Jesus take effect” (Steve)

I believe in regenerational effects of the teachings – but I cannot adhere to this idea. You nature is changed – how so? Is not the first step to change – admission and choice to change? I look at my own conversion – which I viewed in this light for a long time – I see the obviousness of ‘choice’ involved – and then practicing the teachings to learn a new life.

“Without regeneration, I would argue that all the teachings of Jesus accomplish (and the 10 commandments for that matter) is to frustrate the life out of me, since I am utterly unable to even come close.” (Steve)

How does regeneration change anything? All of a sudden you have the ability to do things which were not possible before? I used to agree – then I realized the process of learning and choice are much stronger than most Christians care to admit. I converted at an ignorant age – like 17…what did I really know except some very limited and dark worldview? That all changed when I chose to accept faith in God – the path to learning began.

“keep reinforcing my understanding of biblical theology and confirming the historical tenets of the Christian faith.” (Steve)

I have witnessed many changes in people’s lives also – and I don’t believe your theory (I give adequate reasoning for my thoughts). I have also witnessed many people that haven’t changed – even with conversion. Do we rule them out of the equation? They said the prayer, they had sincerity, and they were not much different than I. Why didn’t the faith ‘stick’ for them?

I am not saying people do not change when they enter this faith – they do – but it begins with an openness to want to learn all the teachings and values in the texts. The conversion moment is just a moment – it’s of very little consequence – what matters is that persons life and openness afterwards. I am guessing you were a very astute learner of the teachings – something resonated strongly with you (as it did for me) – and you continue(d) to learn away. That alone would speak volumes to your commitment to God – it was not momentary – but lasting – took time – and grew.

“While I am trying to understand things from your guys' various perspectives, I remain solidly convinced of mine” (Steve)

If 42 years have not changed you – I do not expect you to change. I also look to the cross – it’s really not a matter of faith.

societyvs said...

“Now let me get back to my original question. Without the aid of any Religious material, Do you think we are so bad that we need saving??” (John)

Yes. There is an aspect to choice and the knowledge of ‘good and evil’ that is in need of some focus and direction (help if you will). We need direction when dealing with issues of ‘evil’ – usually based on pain and hurt we have experienced in our own lives. Being broken is not shameful – its an admission we need some personal help from those around us to better our lives.

I tend to think of Jesus first message in Matthew ‘repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ as just that type of direction.

Repent – choose to do things differently; write your wrong

Kingdom of Heaven – ethical statutes and teachings to help guide and direct someone

At Hand – The time is never tomorrow – but ‘today’ to deal with our issues

I am not saying humanity is ‘bad’ – but created ‘good’ (worthwhile and meaningful). What is capable of us is some ‘bad’ – and we need to deal with those things in a productive manner that is beneficial to our ‘neighbors’. We have the ability to be ‘bad’ and this is in need some ‘salvation’.

societyvs said...

John you also have 20 comments - that is in direct competition with my blog (lol).

You're doing 'good' man!

Luke said...

wow! i'm envious of your comment count.. if only i could have that..

CRAP! Two sins at once, envy and jealousy... maybe we are awful, awful worms of people.

or maybe i'm secretly happy for you... umm... funny thing this 'sin'.

HI SALLY!

Steve said...

Hey, SocVs

I like your thoughtful questions. You're keeping me on my toes.

I think I see 'conversion' differently than you... but correct me if I'm wrong.

I see 'salvation' (the theological term) as a blanket term for several things: Regeneration, conversion, justification and sanctification, in that order. Not that one can dissect something so powerful and magnificent, and not that there isn't some disagreement even among conservatives as to the order.

Based on passages like Ephesians 2:1-5 and Colossians 2:13, I see regeneration as the first directly discernable act of salvation of God's part. The Spirit of God breathes spiritual life into a person. This is based on God's choice and has no human component (yes - that's Calvinistic, I know).

Because one has been given spiritual life, one can now respond to Jesus in faith. This is what I understand as 'conversion' - repenting of sin and placing faith in Jesus. This is a conscious act by a person and involves perhaps the choice you speak of.

We are justified by faith - Martin Luther and Paul both got that right - and justification flows from conversion.

Sanctification is the theological term for God setting the believer apart and making the believer holy. It follows justification and has a couple aspects to it: Positional and practical. Because I have been made holy in a positional sense, I can now begin the process of learning to practice holiness. Because I have been given new life, I can respond to the Spirit of God. This is lifelong, often painful, and filled with ups, downs, victories and setbacks. It is essentially the journey of the Christian life. I can aid or hinder my sanctification by how responsive I am (or not) to God.

I know that sounds like theology 101, and I'm sorry if I seem to be trying to shrink-wrap all of this, but I just wanted to be concise in articulating my thinking. That is my basic view of salvation theologically and very briefly. A lot of conservative Protestants would probably agree.

Anyway, I guess to respond to you, I believe that if a person really is regenerated, their conversion 'sticks'. I don't pretend that it's neat or that everyone's story is even remotely the same, nor do I pretend that I can explain the mysteries and exceptions that seem to present themselves. I have been in ministry here in the city for many years, and I have seen some crazy stuff. But this is what I remain convinced of.

Road Trip - you said "I used to view the cross as the legal transaction that is so widely used these days to explain what Christ did"

I think it is both the legal transaction and the restoration I think you're speaking of. I would argue that that view of the Atonement is not a product of the Enlightenment, though it may have been restored to prominence during that era. Rather, I think there is a significant amount of Scripture to suggest that Jesus satisfying God's wrath is the principle reason for the cross: Isaiah 53:5-6; Romans 3:25; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10 as well as titles like "lamb of God". I think that there's a great case to be made for penal substitutionary atonement.

I know, that's using Scripture to make my case, but that's where I start.

I'll have to work more on my secular argument :0)

Anyway, for what it's worth, there are my thoughts...

Jim Jordan said...

Societyvs/Jason
When I say I am not impressed with "good" people, the quotations marks deliberately betray my facetiousness. I've been around long enough to see "good" people "surprisingly" go off the rails. Note, I am not suprised when "good" people crash and burn spiritually.

Yael,
Your people once needed blood sacrifices to atone for their sin - a temporary salvation. I wonder, what do you depend on now for atonement? What happened?

Yael said...

Jim,
Why don't you ask me a more relevant question such as how I treat my jock itch or something. You're the one who is all concerned about atonement and your poor wretched soul, not me. I'm good, remember?

You know it all already so why not just answer your question yourself. That's what you intend to do anyway so let's just cut out the pretense.

tysdaddy said...

How do you know you are bad? Because someone told you you were.

I've always liked the old Our Lady Peace song, "Innocent." Changed my life in many ways . . .

From a recovering Pentecostal . . .

Tit for Tat said...

tysdaddy

Great song, their canadian too ;)

societyvs said...

Can someone save Johnny already?

tysdaddy said...

Hey,

Just stopped in to see how the comments on this post were going.

And to wish you and yours a happy holiday and a new year filled with many wondrous surprises . . .

It's been an honor, my friend . . .