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Have a look at this FASCINATING video from the Royal Society of the Arts.
Link to share: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g
What if we aren’t totally sinful? Granted, we all have incurable sinful tendencies, and we need a Savior, but what if the Lord also implanted countering tendencies like empathy?
For those of you looking for a definition of Total Depravity, see the Wikipedia article on the same topic.
I’ve been a committed follower of Christ for some time now, and have never, in my gut, totally bought into the notion that we are “totally depraved.” I’ve always gotten chills when we sing “saved a wretch like me.” Does the creator create wretches?
Never liked saying over and over every Sunday that “I am in bondage to sin and cannot free myself.” Felt like reinforcing a curse. I think I can say “yes and no” to that on different levels, but it’s just not that simple.
I would say that we are more complex than that.
We are beautiful and broken.
We are noble and sometimes pathetic.
What if original sin is true. AND original blessing…
Does it have to be all or nothing?
I’m Lutheran in my tendencies, and Lutherans have always been good at holding things in tension. Already and not yet. Simul iustus et peccator, etc. That works for me.
This is a key issue in evangelization–if we can’t agree, basically, about the human condition, with those we are trying to reach, we have no table on which to serve the “dinner” of the Gospel.
I would love to hear your thoughts. The conservative TULIP Calvinists among us are going to go nuts.
Isn’t what the Bible teaches much richer than “total depravity?”
Have at it. But play nice. 🙂
What is salvation?
From what do we need saving?
Are those without self-consciousness of salvation any worse off for it?
Who isn’t saved? Who is?
Are redemption, salvation, and deliverance the same things?
In many languages, the terms overlap and get confusing. In German, “Heil” and “Erloesung” don’t occupy the same shapes and territories as the English words.
Is it just a word for obituaries, grave stones, and fables?
From what do we need saving, redeeming, and deliverance?
What is the receipt–how do we know we have it?
I have pretty big opinions about this, but would rather hear yours first…
Do all faith systems teach more or less the same thing about salvation, or not?
Do you have to believe that the world is evil and we are wretches for salvation to mean anything? Do some teachers overstate our depravity in order to create “salvation demand?”
If we are saved by grace, what is grace?
Can you have a faith system without teaching salvation in some form or another?
Does the “savior/redeemer” show up in pop culture because the church has forgotten how to talk about it? Think Keanu Reeves as Neo in the Matrix…
Have happiness, balance, appreciation, peace, effectiveness and other things replaced salvation as a human goal?
Do we need a Savior-Messiah if salvation is not a real and felt longing?
Sociologist Peter Gross from Switzerland suggests that Christianity could be stronger without stressing salvation. I disagree, but what do you think?
Is salvation, like “sin,” and “sacrifice,” a homeless word in our contemporary culture?
We had a house full of 18-25 year olds at our home last night. I am just trying to make sense of all this so that the Christian faith can actually have something to say to an entire generation that is taking a “pass” on church.
What are your thoughts?
They often bandy about the term “The Gospel” as if it were a fixed commodity on which we all agree.
So what is this “Gospel?”
Gospel means “Good News.” But what Good News are we talking about?
Jesus, in Mark 1:15, kicked off his ministry by suggesting that the gospel was the fact that the Kingdom of God was near.
Conservative Evangelicals seem to imply that the Gospel is the Good News that Jesus died for us. If we say yes to this, we go to heaven. If we don’t, then…well…
It seems, in the New Testament, that there is a Gospel which Jesus preached, and then there is a Gospel that was preached about Jesus. The two come together a bit in John 3:16, but we wouldn’t want to reduce all of the Bible to one verse.
If we don’t preach the Gospel simply enough, we get lost in vague piety and religiosity.
If we preach it too simply (without any nuance) then we collapse the entire Word of God into a simple transactional contract that does not do justice to the depth of our relationship with God.
And then there is the matter of fact that the four “bios” of Jesus are called “Gospels.”
What is, for you: this “Gospel?”
Not a rhetorical question. Please have at it.
Biology has yet to experience her Newton; her Copernicus.
Biology has not yet come of age. It just doesn’t feel as if it has “arrived” yet.
Darwin will not enjoy his current “Mount Rushmore” status a few centuries from now. He’s just too wrong about some basic concepts. He’ll most likely end up like Galen (the important guy before they figured medicine out)
For a scientific theory (i.e. evolution) to be so controversial well over a century after its “unveiling” begs the question, “What’s wrong with it?” Darwin’s acolytes are still trying to convince us, and generation after generation, it’s not working.
The truth is, we don’t yet understand “life,” and most people are fully aware of the opaque mystery of the topic at hand. All proposed “definitions” of life are hopelessly arbitrary; in the end, life is pretty strange stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I need to lay my cards on the table–I trust the narrative of the Bible and am a committed follower of Jesus. But that’s not why I have trouble with Darwin and his neo-Darwinian offspring. If I had never seen a Bible, I still wouldn’t buy what they are selling.
It’s just too counter-intuitive.
I’m not the sharpest crayon out of the box, but I can tell stuff that happened randomly (i.e. potholes on the 405) from stuff that got designed (i.e. cool Swiss watches). Life seems way more like the latter than the former. Simple as that.
Many “progressive” Christians try to merge evolution and the Bible. They think they have “solved” the problem by saying, “I can believe in evolution and the Bible.” Problem is, no matter what you think of the Bible, spontaneous, undesigned evolution isn’t true. Why staple God onto a system that doesn’t need one?
First of all, “science” about the past is dicey. On a good day!
Truth is, the past doesn’t exist. You can’t go there. Even if you were Bill-Gates-rich, you couldn’t take me there tomorrow. And time travel will never happen because you can’t go somewhere that isn’t there.
The present is simply all we have. Joe’s Crab Shack here in Newport Beach has a sign: Free Crab Tomorrow. There never is a tomorrow. Only a today.
Science, by definition, is organized observation. We can only observe and measure the present, since that is all there is to see. Science must be “repeatable.” You can’t repeat an observation of something you can’t observe in the first place.
Science is a good thing and I am not anti-science. All truth is truth. But science has been running up against limits, in many areas of study, for several generations now. Science has entered a time of diminishing returns. It has never lived up to what we thought was its potential. It’s just created a lot of yucky chemicals we can’t seem to get rid of. Remember when nobel prizes in science were about cool things like beating polio and figuring out electricity? Nowadays the prize winners “achieve” something like figuring out some nuance in a light wavelength. Diminishing returns. Science is losing mojo.
Complex storytelling (scientific or otherwise) about the “past” is fraught with pitfalls. We always tend to read in what we want to see. I want to see a Creator, and I can easily find one; at least I’m honest about my motives–my opponents, on the other hand, pretend to be “objective.” Immanuel Kant described our minds as “waffle irons” which impose our patterns and views on the runny batter of reality “an sich.”
Pick the opposite pre-supposition to mine (i.e. no designer), and you can “find” that too. Your geometry system all depends on the postulates you pick beforehand; same goes for me.
This is why history is such an “odd” discipline. It is a detailed description of something that isn’t actually there. Add science to the mix, and it gets even stranger. History is written by the victors in life and all storytelling about the past is deeply influenced by our current biases. Our historical interpretation of the past far outweighs any actual evidence; we can write volumes and volumes on Greco-Roman society and we only have a few flimsy pages of actual primary sources from that era (Tacitus, Suetonius, etc.), and most of those earliest manuscripts date from almost a millennium after they were written.
Susan Sontag wrote a magnificent essay “On Photography” which talks, among other things, about how it gives us the illusion that we can know the past. Interesting how Darwin’s theory and photography developed (no pun intended) around the same time.
Let’s just come right out and say that all story-telling (including mine) about the past is deeply agenda-driven. This includes secular, mechanistic evolution theories.
We simply have no consensus, in the USA, as to the place of spiritual/supernatural discourse, if any, in the public marketplace. Big agendas are pushing big ideas, but we haven’t even agreed on how to chalk the lines on the football field.
Most of the reasoning on both sides is totally circular. Pre-define science as having no spiritual content, and voila!, you relegate talking about a Creator to the realm of “feelings” and “opinions,” claiming the turf of “fact” for your side. (Theologians do the same thing, BTW)
Who says science can’t entertain supernatural/spiritual/design components? Some grand scientific world congress that imposes this definition on the rest of us? Who gets to decide what science is? Only those who a priori exclude all spiritual content?
Science is nothing more and nothing less than an organized, inductive, collective search for truth by observation, publication, repetition, and consensus. Pre-defining the rules (most narrowly) to ensure your preferred outcome is no longer science.
Pre-defined in non-Designer mechanistic terms, science is no longer worthy of the name “science.” It no longer has the muscle to seek truthful answers to the (big) question: “What are we doing here?”
Getting back to biology–I simply don’t find the argument for evolution convincing. Neither “mircro (within a species)” nor “macro” evolution.
You can separate out traits (dog breeding, agriculture, etc.), but these are artificially isolated trait groups. Put all the dogs in the world on one of the Hawaiian Islands and in a few generations they’d all look just like their proto-ancestors. There is remarkable consistency within a species.
It seems, from whatever incomplete evidence that we have, that species appear out of nowhere, enjoy a long period of “stasis” where virtually nothing happens, and they they go extinct. These mass “flowerings” of species seem to have happened in a handful of mega-waves over time.
And no one has ever convinced me that one species can become another one. Clearly, it didn’t happen gradually (lizards growing wings ever so slowly over millennia), and if it was a new-species mutation, then it wouldn’t have the right number of chromosomes to mate with anything else (why dogs and cats can’t mate with each other producing any offspring)–it would be a mule at best. And the chances of two identical (male and female) mutations who can mate and be the Adam and Eve of a new species? Please.
Let’s go back to the wings. It would take a bazillion years for wings to evolve to the point where an animal could actually fly (try designing a wing that will lift solid matter off the ground–go ahead). All during that time, the non-flying wings would be a serious liability in terms of survival. And during that bazillion years, the genetics of the animal would be screaming to the offspring not to change anything. Our genes are deeply conservative by temperament.
Real Darwinists have given up on the “gradual change” story and the neo-Darwinists don’t have anything to convince me that mutations (as opposed to gradual natural selection which they have given up) could produce new species. Apparently, species just start, go on for a long time, and die out (looking much the same as when they started).
And micro-evolution going on with humans today? If that were the case, then people in harsh environments (more improvements because of forced adaptation) would be superior to those who have spent thousands of years in “resort” climates. Let the racism begin…
I’m not saying that we’ll never figure this out. I just think that we are all (myself included) missing a really big insight; as big as Copernicus shifting the sun to the middle of the solar system.
I don’t have an answer for the “What are we doing here?” question. I believe God was and is deeply involved. Not because of some old, dusty dogma, but because I encounter supernatural reality on a regular basis, and this reality seems to have focus, personality, and intention. I can’t conceive of this Being having nothing to do with why we are here. And I am not alone. A majority of humans in every time and place (whatever their faith system) relate to what I have just written about spiritual things. They will continue to reject a spiritually-sanitized story about our origins.
Perhaps some truly fresh-thinking person reading this will set aside the tired Creation/Evolution debate and think a truly original thought about what life actually is and how some forms of life relate to other forms of life on earth.
Secular evolution theory, after generations of teaching, has never reached true consensus in our society. It never will. Which begs the question: What’s wrong with it?
Time for some new thinking.
Time for a Newton.
Time for a Copernicus.
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