Many people are quite aware of the Christian doctrine of the Fall of Man, although I’m sure they’re also confused on the details that matter.
I was watching the movie Taking Pelham 1-2-3 this last weekend and a line of dialogue struck out to me, probably because I was considering this whole thing of us being a fallen race.
In a conversation with John Travolta (the bad guy), Denzel Washington (the good guy) asks him whether he is Catholic. After a series of conversations Travolta responds by saying, “a good Catholic knows no one is innocent.”
And this – that no one is innocent – is a fact. We are all guilty. We are all corrupt. But we’re not pure evil. We are made in God’s image, every single one of us, and that means there is a pure goodness in all of us that hasn’t been taken away. It’s just that we’re bent. We’re sick. But we aren’t pure wickedness with no goodness in it at all.
Somehow we have to hold the fact that we’re made in God’s pure, holy, utterly blessed image and that we are a fallen, bent and corrupt race in tension. We can’t go extreme on one or the other, or we lose the plot.
We can’t talk about our fallenness all the time, and we can’t talk about how pure and wonderful we are all the time. The former makes us obsessed with guilt and death, the latter is unrealistic to our struggles and leads to a Godless spirituality.
See, a bent piece of steel is still a piece of steel. We are a bent race that was made in God’s image. That doesn’t mean we’re not still made in God’s image. It means we’re bent. Our flesh isn’t evil, it’s bent. And through Jesus we slowly become unbent. Healed. And one day he will give us new flesh and bone that is no longer corrupt. Awesome!