Depravity of Man:The difference between Catholics and n-C Christainity?


#1

This is a spin off of another thread that should provide some interesting discussion.

I do not beleive in the total depravity of man and I don’t believe the Bible implies that. Any time there appears to be a conflict between passages of the Bible I believe that it is our misunderstanding of the Bible that is the problem, not the Bible per se. I think that is something that St. Augustine said?

From the CCC:

II. THE VISIBLE WORLD

337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work”, concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day.204 On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation,205 permitting us to "recognize the inner nature, the value and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God."206

338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. the world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.207

339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the “six days” it is said: “and God saw that it was good.” "By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws."208 Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.

340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. the sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.

341 The beauty of the universe: the order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. the beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man’s intellect and will.

cont’d


#2

On the fall:

Paragraph 7. THE FALL

385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? “I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution”, said St. Augustine,257 and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For “the mystery of lawlessness” is clarified only in the light of the “mystery of our religion”.258 The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.259 We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.260

I. WHERE SIN ABOUNDED, GRACE ABOUNDED ALL THE MORE

The reality of sin

386 Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history.

387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.

Original sin - an essential truth of the faith

388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.261 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. the Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,262 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.

389 The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the “reverse side” of the Good News that Jesus is the Saviour of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. the Church, which has the mind of Christ,263 knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ.

How to read the account of the fall

390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.264 Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.265

Cont’d


#3

III. ORIGINAL SIN

Freedom put to the test

396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. the prohibition against eating “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” spells this out: "for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die."276 The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"277 symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.

Man’s first sin

397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of.278 All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.

398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Created in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully “divinized” by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God”.279

399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.280 They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.281

400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.283 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.284 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286


#4

The consequences of Adam’s sin for humanity

402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned."289 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men."290

403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the “death of the soul”.291 Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.292

404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? the whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”.293 By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. and that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” - a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

406 The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example. the first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. the Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529)296 and at the Council of Trent (1546).297

289 ⇒ Rom 5:12, ⇒ 19.

290 ⇒ Rom 5:18.

291 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512.

292 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1514.

293 St. Thomas Aquinas, De malo 4, I.

294 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1511-1512

295 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.

296 DS 371-372.

297 Cf. DS 1510-1516.


#5

Sorry about all that but I find that all of it is very closely related to the way we see things. That last paragraph is most telling indeed and I included the footnotes.
Pax vobiscum,


#6

Correct. The depravity suggests that man can do no good, thus eliminating a free will to choose right over wrong. If man were totally depraved, how could he ever come to make a right choice to be “saved”? Further, the punishments in the Garden (the very things that Christ restored) never addressed the new spiritual state of man.


#7

Church Militant says:

[quote=Church Militant]I do not believe[sic] in the total depravity of man and I don’t believe the Bible implies that. Any time there appears to be a conflict between passages of the Bible I believe that it is our misunderstanding of the Bible that is the problem, not the Bible per se….
[/quote]

I believe that Scripture explicitly teaches the depravity of man. I believe further, that the Scripture is manifold in its purpose, one of which is, that God intends the Scripture to be understood by the creature.

From Church Militant

[quote=Church Militant]From the CCC:

II. THE VISIBLE WORLD

337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. ***Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work”, concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day.***204 On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation,205 permitting us to "recognize the inner nature, the value and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God."206

[bold ital. mine]
[/quote]

Some thoughts:

Why does the CCC say that Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically…?

  1. How is it known that the Genesis account is symbolic?
  2. If God Himself created the visible world, could he not do it in six days?
  3. If not, why not?
  4. If He could, why not say that the Genesis account of a six day creation is true?
  5. Why symbolic?
  6. How is it known that the Genesis account is symbolic?

Some Problems:

New converts to the RCC (and every other member as well) are presented with a dilemma from the beginning. If the Genesis account is symbolic, several problems arise: 1) on what day did the account of Genesis stop being symbolic and become real? 2) is the account of Adam and Eve also symbolic? 3) if the Scripture starts out symbolically, how will I ever be able to understand it? 4) is God deceptive? 5) why doesn’t He just tell the truth about how long it took?

A larger problem is, that it undermines what I believe to be the true, and inspired word of God. In so doing, it casts doubt upon the character of God, and it should plague the believer with doubts, unless of course, he has abrogated to another, his right to think for himself.

If we cannot believe God from the beginning, can we believe Him at all? When can we believe Him?

Genesis chapter 4?
Genesis chapter 5?
Genesis chapter 6?
Genesis chapter 7?
Genesis chapter 8?
Genesis chapter 9?
Genesis chapter 10?
Genesis chapter 11?
Genesis chapter 12?

(continued next post)


#8

Genesis chapter 14?
Genesis chapter 15?
Genesis chapter 13?
Genesis chapter 16?
Genesis chapter 17?
Genesis chapter 18?
Genesis chapter 19?
Genesis chapter 20?
Genesis chapter 21?
Genesis chapter 21?
Genesis chapter 23?
Genesis chapter 24?
Genesis chapter 25?
Genesis chapter 26?
Genesis chapter 27?
Genesis chapter 28?
Genesis chapter 29?
Genesis chapter 30?
Genesis chapter 31?
Genesis chapter 32?
Genesis chapter 33?
Genesis chapter 34?
Genesis chapter 35?
Genesis chapter 36?
Genesis chapter 37?
Genesis chapter 38?
Genesis chapter 39?
Genesis chapter 40?
Genesis chapter 41?
Genesis chapter 42?
Genesis chapter 43?
Genesis chapter 44?
Genesis chapter 45?
Genesis chapter 45?
Genesis chapter 47?
Genesis chapter 48?
Genesis chapter 49?
Genesis chapter 50?
Exodus chapter 1?
Exodus chapter 2?
Exodus chapter 3?
Exodus chapter 4?
Exodus chapter 5?
Exodus chapter 6?
Exodus chapter 7?
Exodus chapter 8?
Exodus chapter 9?
Exodus chapter 10?
Exodus chapter 11?
Exodus chapter 12?
Exodus chapter 13?
Exodus chapter 14?
Exodus chapter 15?
Exodus chapter 16?
Exodus chapter 17?
Exodus chapter 18?
Exodus chapter 19?

When? When can we believe Him?

Bill


#9

The way I understand the Catholic teaching is that originally man was made sinless but then he sinned and since then man has had a tendency toward evil. Baptism removes this original sin from a person. However since we have this evil tendency we sin again and again need to have our sins removed. This removal is accomplished by the sacrament of confession. Man is not depraved but is shadowed by sin throughout life. Jesus was sent so that we could know how very much God loves us and will bring us to heaven if we just depend upon him rather than ourselves. Jesus lived to show us how to live in this human life under the shadow. If we follow him, loving him, God will lead us to be with Himself forever.


#10

As far as Genesis goes; I do not think that the details of the Scripture are the most important part of the story. The important thing Genesis teaches is that God made everything. So if we want to know the truth about things we need to know God as creator.


#11

Well seeing as how men during the time of the Old Testament were not privy to the laws of the universe ie kepler and newton, it would have taken alot of work to explain all the little details of the almighty’s plan to man. You yourself sonseeker, stated that the work is meant to be understood by man. At it’s inception point there was no understanding of things like bio-chemistry physics and limited knowledge of astronomy. There were no electron microscopes to slam atoms together to see how the properties worked, no periodic table, no mathmatical equations to prove complex science. God told Man about creation in the simplist way he knew how and even now we are still in the dark about most of the science involved with the Lord’s plan of creation.


#12

In addition, we know by carbon dating of rocks and other dating methods that the earth is at least a couple billion years old. Would it make since for God to create a planet that inherently looks and feels that old just in order to mess with our heads?
:confused:


#13

[quote=JackmanUSC]Well seeing as how men during the time of the Old Testament were not privy to the laws of the universe ie kepler and newton, it would have taken alot of work to explain all the little details of the almighty’s plan to man. You yourself sonseeker, stated that the work is meant to be understood by man. At it’s inception point there was no understanding of things like bio-chemistry physics and limited knowledge of astronomy. There were no electron microscopes to slam atoms together to see how the properties worked, no periodic table, no mathmatical equations to prove complex science. God told Man about creation in the simplist way he knew how and even now we are still in the dark about most of the science involved with the Lord’s plan of creation.
[/quote]

All good points. But I said that I believe that God intends the Scripture to be understood by man, though certainly I would think that God would also give man understanding of the work–the creation.

Bill


#14

[quote=Grandsmoor]As far as Genesis goes; I do not think that the details of the Scripture are the most important part of the story. The important thing Genesis teaches is that God made everything. So if we want to know the truth about things we need to know God as creator.
[/quote]

Very true, it is important to know that God made everything. I believe the Genesis account, as it is written. I believe the account of the Fall, as it is written. Genesis is the starting point for my theology; it is the starting point for my understanding of God, and my understanding of myself; it shapes my thinking and my conduct. It is the beginning.

Bill


#15

Hi Bill!

Just FYI all…Bill here has agreed to attempt to discuss the differing views of man with us and is NOT trying to be a jerk. He is new to all this and not trying to evangelize us. We have talked on PM and agree that this is a good topic that should allow some decent discussion.

Please cut him some slack if he gets off topic and help us stay on the topic of whether man is totally depraved as Martin Luther and John Calvin alleged or is it more like what the Catholic Church teaches, in that concupicence or our weakness and poropensity to sin are the effect of original sin, not our total depravity.

I personally agree with mj330’s post above.

Bill, I see that right off the top you hit a snag and got distracted with something else that is there in the CCC. I don’t think that a discussion of whether teh creation accounts are symbolic or literal is really relevent to the depravity of man topic. That’s more Sola Scriptura and perhaps another thread alltogether. If we chase that deer, we will lose the original one that we agreed to persue.

Catholics and non-Catholics alike will readily agree that original sin messed us all up as a race. Our discussion here is really more about to what extent we feel that affects ua all.

If I understand your position correctly, then Luther summed it up by saying that mankind is nothing more than snow covered piles of dung. I know that he felt that way about himself…

Is it your belief that people have absolutely no capacity for good in them? If so then I wouldn’t agree.

If that is true then that would indeed mean that we have no capacity to respond to good, and by extension to God.

CCC 338 & 339 seem to point this up IMO.The relevent parts of the CCC can be read here. vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1C.HTM
I apologize for having neglected that link earlier on.

In reading about Calvinsim and Total depravity i found this statement. "B. Theology

The Westminster Confession gives great prominence to the question of predestination, and favours the infralapsarian view of reprobation. It teaches the total depravity of fallen man and the exclusion of the non-elect from the benefits of Christ’s atonement. But within the last thirty years there has been a tendency to mitigate the harsher features of Calvinistic theology, and nearly all the important Presbyterian churches have officially disavowed the doctrines of total depravity and limited redemption. Some have even gone so far as to state a belief that all who die in infancy are saved." The page itself can be seen here. newadvent.org/cathen/12392b.htm

From the context, it would seem that Catholics are not the only souls who reject the total depravity of man.
:hmmm: Interesting.
Okay…someone else’s turn…
Pax vobiscum,


#16

sonseeker,

About Creation:
I dont remember who said it, but I think they were quoting from St Thomas, anyway it went something like this: The concept of “day” and “night” for each day of creation has to be thought about a bit before taking it a face value, the way we define a “day” is one revolution around the sun, the problem is that the sun want created till the 4th(?) “day”.
I am no St Thomas, but a simple statement like that gets me thinking. Now one thing I want to make clear to sonseeker is that we are not turning the creation story into a fairy tale or simply a representation, we believe it is all true, though not alway in ways we might think.


#17

Methodists don’t believe in the “utter depravity” either. We believe that if the human race were in a state of depravity, no one would ever want to turn to God. And if they did, would not be able to–there would be nothing in us that would make us desire to see God, & in any case, there would be no capacity for conversion to Him under those conditions.
Mr Wesley taught that the human heart & soul are made to want God, and that God sends prevenient grace (grace that goes before turning to God) to draw us to Himself.


#18

[quote=Catholic Dude]sonseeker,

About Creation:
I dont remember who said it, but I think they were quoting from St Thomas, anyway it went something like this: The concept of “day” and “night” for each day of creation has to be thought about a bit before taking it a face value, the way we define a “day” is one revolution around the sun, the problem is that the sun want created till the 4th(?) “day”.
I am no St Thomas, but a simple statement like that gets me thinking. Now one thing I want to make clear to sonseeker is that we are not turning the creation story into a fairy tale or simply a representation, we believe it is all true, though not alway in ways we might think.
[/quote]

Ha ha, I caught myself before anyone could make fun of me. I accidentally wrote that in a day the earth makes a revolution around the sun, it does, but thats a year not a day. When the earth makes a revolution on its axis, that is a day.

Anyway back to the original topic.


#19

[quote=Church Militant]If I understand your position correctly, then Luther summed it up by saying that mankind is nothing more than snow covered piles of dung. I know that he felt that way about himself…

Is it your belief that people have absolutely no capacity for good in them? If so then I wouldn’t agree.
[/quote]

Depravity it is. Wanted to be clear as to how you interpreted/understood Genesis. I think it was Catholic Dude who said it wasn’t “fantasy,” and would understand that you could then take it literal or not by your choice.

Bill


#20

[quote=Catholic Dude]sonseeker,

About Creation:
I dont remember who said it, but I think they were quoting from St Thomas, anyway it went something like this: The concept of “day” and “night” for each day of creation has to be thought about a bit before taking it a face value, the way we define a “day” is one revolution around the sun, the problem is that the sun want created till the 4th(?) “day”.
[/quote]

Catholic Dude,

Not to beat a dead horse, but I think this is important. I too am no St. Thomas. The difficulty I have, is that if anyone, doesn’t matter what religion, takes other than a literal view, it undermines God (how we perceive him, etc.) right from the starting gate. At least it does for me. It truly, “unbalances,” for lack of a better word, my theology. The writer describes the days as literal, 24 hour days. I know that you would agree with me that the creation account, as it is described, is not beyond God’s ability. That is a hugely important starting point for me, in the way I think about God. It does begin to shape my understanding of depravity.

Thanks,
Bill


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