Wednesday, October 15, 2008

two important facts about every one of us

It's one thing to recite these confessions and statements in a Sunday school class. It's a very different thing to live out a theology of inherent depravity (that humans start out lacking anything good). We can say we believe that humanity is evil and depraved and that we enter the world this way. But I don't think this fits the Christian story, nor do many of us truly hold to it.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 124


...The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They begain with the fact of sin--a fact as practical as potatoes. whether or not man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not merely materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proven...The strongest saints and the strongest skeptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all athiests do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.
Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 11

And further...

...I mean, I've never heard of someone walking the halls of a maternity ward and saying, "Oh, what a collection we have here of dirty, rotten, little sinners who are separate from God and only capable of evil!" Rather, the impulse is to say, "What wondrous, beautiful miracles." Or to borrow a phrase from the creation story, "It is very good." New life just doesn't seem to fit with this notion of inherent depravity.
Pagitt, p. 124

In the Bible, we are told two very important facts about ourselves. One, which Pagitt seems to have no problem accepting, is that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made". He is right that babies are "wondrous, beautiful miracles", though if he thinks that is such a prevalent attitude, he should check the numbers on abortion.

But the Bible also gives us another fact, which Pagitt unwisely seeks to discard. It tells us that we have been "shaped in iniquity, and conceived sin", and that we "come out of the womb speaking lies". We are told that "all of the works we think are righteous are only putrid rags". In that since, the man calling children in maternity wards "dirty, rotten, little sinners" is speaking as much truth as the one calling them "wondrous, beautiful miracles". Both things are true, and unless one accepts that both are true, nothing the Bible teaches about us makes sense, and one must mutilate and truncate the Bible, as Pagitt does, to disregard the one so as to wholely cling to the other.


Doug Pagitt said...

Thanks for interacting with the ideas in my book.
We all benefit from counterpoints.

jazzact13 said...

Mr. Pagitt,

What we all benefit from is the truth.