This post is occasioned by PPT’s post Prager U Gets It Wrong: Man Is Basically Good in which PD argues that Denis Prager was wrong in saying that human beings are basically bad and he argues that rather humans beings are basically good.
Actually, however, Prager himself didn’t say humans are basically bad, but is more nuanced, i.e. humans are not basically bad but not basically good either, but rather have the potential to do good:
Ok, then, are people basically good? As I will show, given humanity’s history, the answer should be obvious. Of course, human nature isn’t basically good. Now, this doesn’t mean that people are basically bad. We are born with real potential to do good. But we are not basically good.
In other words, Prager is essentially arguing for humans being basically neutral. At least at birth: “We are born with real potential to do good.”
I think I agree with that essentially; we are not born basically good or basically bad, but basically neutral, with “real potential to do good” and yet also with real potential to do evil.
But once we get a ways beyond birth, people do become basically good or bad at some point, as Jesus clearly indicates:
Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
This should end the idiotic debate occasioned by Paul’s misuse of Psalm 14:1 or Psalm 53:1
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none [of them] that doeth good.
Paul quotes this ill-advisedly in Romans 3 but leaves off the extremely important opening “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” which shows it is about atheists, in Romans 3:10-12 with the typical expansions and misquotations one expects from Paul’s rip-a-verse-out-context-and-twist-it fests:
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Although Paul adds words to the verse that are not actually there (like the injection of the word “righteous”), he conveniently leaves out the most important words that are there: i.e. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
This grotesque misquotations of the Psalm has caused massive problems for Christianity, by spawning this idiotic doctrine that its impossible to be righteous, that literally nobody does any good, and so on, which all could have been easily avoided had Paul merely included the “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
But despite Paul’s errant theology, those who actually bother to read the gospels will know that Paul’s “There is none righteous, no, not one” is a lie from hell, because they will read Jesus saying not only what we quoted from Luke above, but also:
Luke 15:7 “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just [i.e. righteous] persons, which need no repentance.”
Mark 2:17 “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
According to Jesus, there is such a thing as “99 righteous persons who need no repentance” and indeed righteous people he did not even come to call because he “came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” And again, as we quoted earlier, a good men who bring forth good things from their hearts, as well as evil men who bring forth evil things from their hearts.
In other words, some are good, some are bad. Everyone is not bad (or totally depraved). Everyone is not good. There are both good and bad people. (Imagine that; what a shocking revelation; shocking in its practical common sense-ness.) And about this Jesus tells the following parable as well:
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
According to a Paulinist (especially one too lazy to read Romans 8 about how those who walk after the flesh rather than the Spirit will NOT be ultimately saved) its all about faith alone, but according to Jesus here, the good go to heaven and the bad to hell. It couldn’t be simpler.
So in summary: we’re born neutral, but we become either good or bad, and that is what determines whether we go to heaven or hell; not faith alone.