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userimgSo, with Article I of the Solid Declaration, we come back to the issue of original sin. Based on the reformers' reading of the Scriptures, they have a pretty bleak outlook on human nature as it is according to our inheritance from Adam and Eve. But the good news on the other side of that is the inheritance we are promised through our common redemption in Christ. However, we do have to face human nature squarely to grasp both what has been done for us in Christ, and to understand just how bad off we are left to our own devices... So, read this: 3. That original sin (in human nature) is not only this entire absence of all good in spiritual, divine things, but that, instead of the lost image of God in man, it is at the same time also a deep, wicked, horrible, fathomless, inscrutable, and unspeakable corruption of the entire nature and all its powers, especially of the highest, principal powers of the soul in the understanding, heart, and will, so that now, since the Fall, man inherits an inborn wicked disposition and inward impurity of heart, evil lust and propensity; that we all by disposition and nature inherit from Adam such a heart, feeling, and thought as are, according to their highest powers and the light of reason, naturally inclined and disposed directly contrary to God and His chief commandments, yea, that they are enmity against God, especially as regards divine and spiritual things. For in other respects, as regards natural, external things which are subject to reason, man still has to a certain degree understanding, power, and ability, although very much weakened, all of which, however, has been so infected and contaminated by original sin that before God it is of no use. (Solid Declaration, Article I.11-12) This is the conundrum... with respect to spiritual things we have no natural powers at all, and yet with respect to external, natural (i.e. this world) things, we do have the ability to make good or bad choices. Hence, we do not deny affection or a kind of goodness to those outside the faith, its just not something that can lead them to the right knowledge of God or the hope of eternal life. But mostly this is not about how we look at those outside - it is about how we see ourselves. I am the person infected and warped by sin. I am the nasty piece of work who has the log jammed in his eye while picking at the specks in the eyes of others. I am the hypocrite. I am the hater of God and true religion. And yet, in His grace, Christ comes to redeem me anyway - knowing all the truth there is to know about me. And He does that for you too. Furthermore, if we take this teaching seriously, it tends to keep us off our high horses, and also makes us less like to go on grand moral crusades with the attitude that our opponents are worthless scum. After all, we're scum too..... Okay, have a nice day.....