Skip to comments.Basically Good People: The Great Modern Heresy
Posted on 10/10/2013 6:04:05 AM PDT by NKP_Vet
Theres an odd backwards moral reasoning to which our modern age seems particularly susceptible. Surely youve heard it:
Y does X. Y is a basically good person. Therefore, X must be okay.
You hear it from all sides of the cultural divide.
Joe and Fred are married. Theyre good people. How can you say that that kind of relationship is wrong?
Cindy does that. Shes a good person. So how can that be racist?
Think back a bit, and youll see that a huge number of the casually-made moral arguments one hears these days boil down to this.
There are a couple big problems.
For starters, what exactly is a good person? Often this seems to be a category with as little meaning as someone I like or someone whos not obviously engaged in genocide or kitten torture at this moment. And yet, the way the argument is deployed, once someone is determined to be a basically good person, every action that person takes in now basically good. It is as if each person is now a good or evil deity, and all the actions of the good deities are necessarily good because good deities can not do evil.
But of course, each person performs many actions. Surely not all the actions of bad people are bad and of good people are good, if only because good people and bad people at times do the same things.
A bit of this ties in with the issue of moral fashions. Sins which are currently in fashion..........
(Excerpt) Read more at the-american-catholic.com ...
People seldom do what’s right. They do what’s convenient, then repent. [Robert Zimmerman]
Maybe Robert Zimmerman knows the wrong kind of people.
"As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:17-18
Then I guess I do too.
Isn’t that the same argument as “Jesus did X. Jesus is a good person. Therefore X is good.”? Is it not the christian philosophy that virtue is doing what God does, and sin is doing what the devil does?
That’s too bad. Life is hard enough without being surrounded by people who can’t think beyond what’s easy to what is right.
There are no “basically good people”. No, not one.
“...people who cant think beyond whats easy to what is right.”
THOSE people are called ‘children’. Right?
THEY have an excuse for taking the ‘moral shortcut’... it’s the duty of adults to show them the difference.
I have a house full of those, and yes, our goal as parents is to have them grow past, "What's easiest for me?" and learn to ask, "How can I do good for others, right now?"
Yes, but the key thing to note about that is that God only does good, while humans do both evil and good. So if you try to apply the standard that works with God to humans, or you will get flawed results. Garbage in, garbage out.
This. Until a person grasps this truth the actions of the people around them (and often their own actions) will confuse and perplex. Once you realize that people are not basically good, but are actually inclined toward evil, the world will suddenly make sense.
When asked, “What’s wrong with the world?” G.K. Chesterton responded, “I am.”
My observation is that all people follow the “path of least pain”. For some, that path clearly follows the Savior’s example because it would cause the person mental and spiritual anguish to deviate from that goal. For others, the path is what causes the least temporary pain.
Hey, I live in America. Look at what we have elected to lead us and why. Where do you live?
Chesterton is spot-on as usual.
I live in a house, on a street, in a subdivision, in a town, near a church (in North Carolina, fwiw) ... and I meet a lot of people who are exerting themselves to do kind and helpful things for others, when it would be easier not to.
Yes ... concise and inarguable. I believe it was also he who observed that no reasonable person needs more proof of original sin than what he reads in the newspaper.
(You don’t even need a newspaper: just stay in your own house and observe your family, or look in the mirror!)
I’m frequently amazed that people are not worse than they are.
Ask most Americans about salvation and the “good person” heresy comes to the front quite quickly—Catholics often add in something about purgatory.
“I don’t know if Joe believed in Christ, but he was a good person, so God wouldn’t send him to Hell. (He may have to just spend some time in purgatory.)”
Well, I know that I’m trying to be trustworthy, loyal, kind, friendly, helpful ... all that good Scout Law stuff. If I don’t assume that other people are doing the same, then I’m saying that I’m better in some way, and I don’t feel like that’s true at all.
That is not correct. The philosophy is that righteous behavior is what God tells us is righteous behavior for us and sin is what God tells us is sin. God is not bound by the rules he imposes on us humans any more than adults are bound by the restictions they impose on infant children. Thus, there are things God "does" which would be a sin for us to do.
This is the root “split” of worldviews.
“basically good” is the humanist worldview,
“inherently sinful” is the Judeo-Christian worldview.
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Some believe that men are basically good and with enough laws, rules, threats, love, compassion, etc. etc. that we can create a heaven on earth without God.
Other believe that man is basically no good and that the inevitable fate of mankind will be destruction. There will be no heaven on earth until Christ returns to set the world straight.
An equivalent argument is:
Y believed in X. Y was an evil person. Therefore, X is evil.
Often used with Hitler or Stalin as Y, atheism or evolution as X.
It's actually more complicated than that. Most people assume Calvinism's "innate total depravity" is the "Judaeo-chrstian worldview" when that's not necessarily so.
Judaism teaches that whereas G-d created the evil inclination and gave it to man (along with the good inclination), after the sin in the Garden (which was committed by the "perfect" first man, not a "fallen man") he became disordered and the evil inclination became stronger than the good. This isn't the humanistic "man is basically good," but it isn't Calvinism either.
Eastern Orthodoxy is what you might call "semi-Pelagian." It rejects the very concept of "original sin" in favor of "slavery to the devil through the passions." Yet they have a very high view of "pre-grace" human nature, to the point that they often claim that all western chrstians (including Catholics) are Calvinists. (Eastern Orthodoxy is strange. It makes absolutely no sense to anybody from a "western" background and I don't know if it can be made to.)
Catholicism teaches that after Adam was created he was given grace in addition to nature. The "original sin" deprived him of grace and wounded his nature, but did not render him "totally depraved." If it held to this, of course, it would have to abandon its sacraments and ceremonials. No sacramental/ceremonial religion can accept "total depravity" because "total depravity" calls for an antinomian loophole as its only rectification.
There’s what I call the “Dog-and-a-Picket-Fence” argument. It goes something like this: “I mean, we have a dog and a picket fence.”
The core of the classical curriculum was grammar, logic and rhetoric. Yes, the curriculum of the benighted Middle Ages.
Look how far we’ve come.
Close. The Christian view is that man's nature is "fallen", but has free will and therefore can choose between good and evil. Man is neither basically good nor basically bad. He can choose his destiny.
I would say that the biblical view is that there is none good. Man does have freewill. But the only real "good" choice we can make is to subsume our will and follow the will of Christ.
Unconverted people can certainly make choices that can, by comparison, look "good". But ultimately those who don't follow Christ are following something or someone else...and that's not good.
Denial of original sin like Pelagius.
You certainly see a lot of this mindset in politics, i.e. Y supports liberal policy X. Y is a "conservative" Republican. Therefore X must be OK as long as Y is doing it.
Fortunately, people are starting to wake up from this lazy mode of thinking, i.e. "Y is OK, therefore his policies are always OK."
This line of argument is specious for several reasons. First, there's the fact that just because somebody is good/evil doesn't mean that everything he does is automatically right or wrong. If Hitler or Stalin say that 1+1=2 or the sky is blue, should we oppose these claims?
Another, more trivial point, is that Hitler was not an atheist. Christian Fundamentalists use him as a posterboy for atheist materialism, left-wing atheists like to use him as a posterboy for Fundamentalist Christianity. He was neither an atheist nor a conventional Christian in any sense (from what I can tell, he was some sort of Deist or pagan Theist with a strong superstitious belief in the occult).
That's not entirely true. The Marxist, left-wing humanists believe that humans are innately good and altruistic. Secular right-wingers believe that human beings evolved to be selfish and competitive, or at least limit their goodness and altruism to members of their own family or "in-group" (religion, nation).
Cases in point include Social Darwinist libertarians from Herbert Spencer to Ayn Rand. If anything, they hold a far more pessimistic view of human nature than do Christians.
Somebody does me.
Seriously, though, when people say some one is "basically good" they don't mean that person is without sin or vices.
They're saying "So far as I see or can tell, so-and-so doesn't seem to be evil or malicious."
And they're not making that claim about humanity as a whole, just about somebody they've personally met or seen.
Original Sin is NOT a Jewish concept.