Still very good.

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Genesis 1:26-29
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:31
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good

Psalm 8:4-6
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all [things] under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field. The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, [and whatsoever] passeth through the paths of the seas.

The telos of human nature was to reign (Genesis 1:26-29). That telos was good when God made it (Genesis 1:31). The fact that man still has that good telos after the fall (Psalm 8:4-6) means that human nature is still very good, in a very important sense.

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9 Responses to “Still very good.”

  1. David Says:

    I’m not quite seeing this connection, could you flesh it out a bit?How does the fact that man still has a certain function have any bearing on the status of his nature? (by the way, did you see my post on the working of the HS, and if so, what are your thoughts on the matter? I know EO doesn’t deny the current working of the HS in the world, but what do you personally believe about its place and importance in daily life?)

  2. Zakk Says:

    So… no “total depravity”, you think?That seems good.

  3. MG Says:

    David–God says that human beings were created to participate in reigning over the universe. This was part of their telos: to be co-sovereigns with God. The telos was part of the original state in which human beings existed. Furthermore, it seems like it is part of human nature. It applies to all human beings. It is declared by God to be true about human beings. And it seems to be embedded in the human identity that we all share. This much seems to be in Genesis 1.Furthermore, this telos was part of the creation because it was a created thing within human beings. God created everything about human beings, includindg infusing a purpose into their nature. It was the whole creation that God declared to be “very good”. Because that telos was part of creation, and all creation was declared to be “very good”, it therefore follows that that telos is very good.This telos is preserved post-fall. The Psalmist seems to think that human beings still have the telos to rule over the universe as co-sovereigns with God. He says that man is a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor, and that God has given him dominion over the creation. So the “very good” telos of human nature is still present in human nature. This is one sense in which human nature is still intact, and is still “very good”.Also think about the fact that man is said to be “crowned with glory and honor”. If glory is a divine energy, and it is still present in human nature after the fall, then this would likewise be an indication that human nature still had some of the good things of God within it. If God still indwells human nature through his activities, its hard to see how it is appropriate to speak of *total* depravity. This last point is just food for thought; I haven’t considered this specific issue carefully.

  4. MG Says:

    Zakk–Exactly. Human nature is not totally corrupted or destroyed. Its powers and activities are disordered, so it is corrupted. But it is still intact and still has a specific very good end towards which it ought to be moving.

  5. David Says:

    Are you arguing that this telos is necessarily a part of human nature, or only contingently? And I’m still not quite seeing the connection. Humans were also created to glorify God, and supposing for the sake of argument that we have fully lost the ability to perform that function properly, how does the mere fact that we’re still supposed to do it make us any more good?

  6. MG Says:

    DAvid–You wrote:”Are you arguing that this telos is necessarily a part of human nature, or only contingently?”Necessarily. God spoke it and infused this quality into us when we were first created so we have always had it, and it cannot be lost (factual necessity).”And I’m still not quite seeing the connection. Humans were also created to glorify God, and supposing for the sake of argument that we have fully lost the ability to perform that function properly, how does the mere fact that we’re still supposed to do it make us any more good?”I think having a good purpose is a good thing. Think about this: if human beings were created for an evil purpose, you would surely call them evil in virtue of that purpose. Surely this is a significant sense in which human beings are good. Furthermore, this part of human nature hasn’t been corrupted at all. It is the same as it was pre-fall. Thus the idea that all aspects of human nature have been corrupted to some degree (which, if I am correct, is how total depravity is defined) seems false.

  7. David Says:

    I’m not even sure how exactly a thing’s function could become corrupted. The function is merely what it was designed to do, and I don’t see how that has any direct bearing on its ability to do it. It sounds like what you’re saying is that the telos itself would have had to become corrupted in order for humans to completely lose the ability fulfill that telos, and I just don’t see that at all. But perhaps I’m missing your point still. Part of my problem is probably that I don’t fully understand in what way telos relates to nature (how it is “part of” the nature). I could certainly imagine God having created us with a different telos, but still with complete human natures. Something just seems a bit fishy about saying “Well, we’re still SUPPOSE to do this good thing, even though we can’t because we’re corrupt, so that means we’re still good.” I’ll try to get better articulation of this worry if I can.

  8. MG Says:

    David–Im not making any claims about the ability to fulfill the telos. Im just saying the telos is good.The function (ie. purpose) of a thing could become bad if it were turned into something different. For instance, if I take the matter that makes up a metal bowl and turn it into a knife, I have changed its telos.That’s interesting that you think God could have given us a different telos. You agree with me that we wouldn’t have been *exactly* the same kinds of things though, right? Turning a bowl into a hat isn’t exactly the same kind of thing, it doesn’t seem to me.Is there any chance you are thinking of goodness solely in terms of the direction of the human will?

  9. Catz206 Says:

    nice MG I agree

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