Are We Fundamentally Evil?

As we were talking about the church massacre yesterday, I told this younger couple I was having a discussion with that we are fundamentally evil.

The couple disagreed.

Rather than saying that we are fundamentally evil, this couple believes we are selfish at the core.

Fair enough I said, but isn’t “selfish” a vice and has an evil connotation?

To my surprise the couple said that “selfish” is neutral.

We had to cut short our conversation.

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5 Responses to Are We Fundamentally Evil?

  1. Craig Benno says:

    Interesting conversation. I recently paraphrased “The love of money is a root of evil” to mean “A lack of genorosity is a root of evil.”

    Perhaps evilness has a variety of roots which fruit into evilness?

  2. Lon Hetrick says:

    what? I’d love to find out who is teaching ethics at their university.

  3. Jon Hughes says:

    At the same time, we’re fundamentally more than evil as God’s image bearers (albeit fallen). Otherwise these types of shootings would be the norm, life would be unlivable, and we’d run the risk of not being around to continue this conversation beyond next Sunday…

  4. TC Robinson says:

    I have to agree with RC Sproul that sin is cosmic treason. We should never underestimate the true nature of sin.

    For sure, there’s some kind of restraining of how evil we can be through what theologians call common grace.
    Romans 3:10ff is a good place to start.

    • Jon Hughes says:


      Yes, we’re conditioned to start with Romans 3:10ff: none righteous, none good, etc. But here’s Paul in Romans 2:7: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

      Likewise, Jesus in John 5:29 states that those who have “done good” will attain to the resurrection of life.

      You also have the abundance of references throughout Scripture to those who were good, upright, righteous, devout, blameless, etc, without any kind of qualification that it was only because of common grace, or God’s restraint on them, or new life implanted to them.

      In other words, the Bible doesn’t read like a carefully edited and qualified systematic theology endorsed by R.C. Sproul 🙂 It’s far more glorious than that. There’s a greater mystery and at times ambiguity to it than the theologians will allow. (My favourite example of this sort of thing is where the theologians say justification by faith alone, but James, having not read the script, says justification by works and *not* by faith alone – the only place where the words “faith” and “alone” are found together in Scripture, and it is in direct contradistinction to what the theologians teach!)

      We’re very good (no pun intended) at stating how evil we are, but are we brave enough to celebrate how good we can be without explaining away acts of kindness, decency and heroism in mechanical, theologising terms?

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