The good corrupted (HC3)


The world that God created was good, but now it is corrupted and questions six, seven and eight ( “Did God create people so wicked and perverse?” “Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?” and “But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?”) of the Heidelberg Catechism address this corruption.

Question six begins with what is observable and experienced. Most people can see this corruption in thoughts, words and deeds, even if they do not know where it comes from. Question seven, addresses why there is corruption and since there is corruption there must be an original good. This original good is what God created. The eighth question addresses the corruption by God’s standard of goodness. Therefore, many will reject the answer that we are unable to do anything good because we have our own standard of goodness. But since it is impossible to please God without faith, those who are faithless cannot do good as measured by God’s standard. But God does give grace and the good that people do is the result of God’s common grace, without which, we would experience the full extent of this corruption.

What God created was good, it was very good

God created the world and everything in it and said that it was very good. People were created good and in the image of God and therefore able to truly know God, their creator. Man and Woman were created equal but different, and both reflected God’s holiness, righteousness and knowledge (Eph 4:24 / Col 3:10) . Both were able to love God with all their heart and live to his praise and glory. The good experienced, is pure happiness, where those created in the image of God come to share in God and all that he created. The first man represented all who come after him and therefore when he was corrupted by disobeying God, his children and all after them were born corrupted. The nature God created was poisoned by sin and people ever since are born into this world as sinners, corrupted from conception.

Reflected identity

Man and Woman were created in the image of God and this image continues in humanity (Gen 9:6). However, since humanity is corrupted the image of God is not clearly seen, we reflect God in the same way a broken mirror (when looked into) reflects our own image. Scripture teaches that we become like what we worship (Jer 2 / Ps 115 / Isa 6 / Matt 13 / 2 Cor 3:18) and Man is the only created thing that is allowed to reflect God. This is why God commands his people to not make for themselves a carved image (Ex:20). The Lord God puts his image on what he has made (humanity) and this is why Jesus tells those listening to him to “give to God the things which belong to God” (Mk 12). When Jesus is questioned about paying taxes to Caesar, his response is simple, give to Caesar whatever Caesar has his image on (Jesus was referring to the coin, with which you would pay taxes) and then adds give to God what belongs to God, in other words give to God whatever God has his image on (yourself). But this was the very thing they were not giving, they were not giving themselves to God.

The Atheist Catechism

Being made in the image of God means that people are not raw material which can be shaped to be whatever you want. But this is exactly what is emphasised in Atheism’s Catechism (The commonly held answers given by atheists to such questions concerning truth, beauty, goodness and identity). The tenth commandment addresses the issue of desire and shows us that our desires are not fixed at birth or predetermined (this is also observed by Rene Girard in his memetic theory). Since desires are not fixed and predetermined and it is observable that we do not desire the same thing from birth to death, who and what we focus on will shape our interests, pursuits and desires. This is why God’s people are commanded to love the Lord God first. Humanity is fallen, but we are still made in the image of God, we can be shaped but we are not raw material to be shaped into anything or by anything or anyone we want. We are created beings and therefore made to reflect our creator (Gen 1 and 2).

From freedom to slavery

God created man in his image and therefore man was free within the created order, but when Man used this freedom to disobey God, he was not free from the consequences of his actions. As fallen beings, we are unable to please God and we are unable to do anything to reverse our condition, the very condition the last three questions (3, 4 and 5) in the Heidelberg Catechism addresses. When a person cannot do anything to escape the condition they find themselves in, they are bound to that condition. What they need is to be set free, what they need is to be born again by the Spirit of God. What we need is Christa and Christ is our greatest need as well as our greatest comfort, and now we know why.

By Daniel Ralph

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