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.