Inclined to no good

Question no 8 of the Heidelberg Catechism states that man is wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness. As a good Catholic boy I have to disagree, especially with the latter part.

The other day I overheard the conversation of two young men in the tram that nicely illustrated the opposite of what the Reformation has brought us. One of the youngsters had had his share of dealing with the police and the judiciary system. He’d been to court and even been to jail for robbing and public violence. He’d learned his lesson and was adamant that he would lead a better life.

But what struck me most was the way he recollected his recent criminal past. Even though he realised it was criminal, it was still a collection of things that could not be considered ‘evil’. He was satisfied for example by the fact that he had never robbed ‘normal people’, but only drug dealers. He was proud that he had never used the two knuckle dusters he used to be carrying. And foremost: he was proud of the fact that the violence he did use was to protect those he considered his friends.

It was St. Augustine who said that evil did not exist of itself, but was simply a shortage of good. This young man had not realised that he was evil, he’d realised he could be good just by being a better person.


12 Responses to “Inclined to no good”

  1. The only people who are showing a clear inclination to wickedness are the evil writers of documents like these. Statements like “Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?” are clearly designed to control people through guilt and fear. It’s disgusting. That is one of the things I dislike most about Christianity – it forces people to think of themselves as evil and inferior and in need of redemption from a non-existent saviour. How deeply cynical! After all what power would statements like “Jesus saves” have unless there was some artificial way to create something for people to be saved from?

  2. To see an extreme case of where this guilt leads read this blog entry I made last year:

  3. shirhashirim Says:

    So I guess you’re a Catholic atheist now? 🙂

  4. A Catholic atheist? What actually is that? Actually everyone is an atheist because no one believes in every god. Christians are atheists regarding Hindu gods and vice versa. I just take it one god further than most believers. It’s the only logical conclusion.

  5. What did you think of what the nutter said though? Wasn’t that just the sickest, saddest thing ever? That’s the logical conclusion of Christian guilt.

    • shirhashirim Says:

      Not necessarily. His remarks mainly show he’s pretty unacquainted with the usual rules of engaging fellow humans. But given the fact that he probably considers himself also a fornicator (and the like) I’d sooner put it down to ‘cultural background’ than any mental shortcoming.

      • Wasn’t that what I was saying? I said “That’s the logical conclusion of Christian guilt”, meaning the dysfunctional, emotionally unhealthy state that person has obviously found himself in is most likely because of the effects of the guilt caused by his fundamentalist beliefs. Whether he really is a fornicator or not is hardly the point, the Bible says he is so he must be. These people don’t even know what reality is!

  6. shirhashirim Says:

    I’d say if the guy thinks of himself as a fornicator but never actually has engaged in said activity, he’s pretty well aware of that reality.
    It’s not his sense of reality you’re confronted with, but his mode of speech.

  7. If you had read the emails he sent (which I only put excerpts from on the blog post) you would get the impression this person has somehow merged his fundamentalist beliefs and reality into some sort of fantasy world. He really doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality in my opinion. I don’t think he’s ever actually done anything which makes him a fornicator but the Bible says he is one so he must have done something, mustn’t he? If it doesn’t exists in reality he creates a fantasy instead. I could be wrong but that’s the strong impression I got.

  8. shirhashirim Says:

    I can imagine. Especially among evangelicals it is sometimes difficult to distinguish what they mean literally and what is a figure of speech.
    I wonder where the guy thinks it says in the Bible that he’s a fornicator. I always put that down to fundamentalist culture (like everyone thinks Adam and Eve ate an apple).

  9. I’m fairly sure everything is literal to this character. I honestly think his crazy fundamentalism has driven him into a state of insanity. I read somewhere that the rate of psychiatric problems is higher amongst believers. That could be a cause/effect thing, of course.

  10. Havent you heard this conversation in the tram ?!

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