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The Fact is We're Made in God's Image; The Fact is We're Fallen; the Fact is We Can Be Redeemed

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!

About Ryan Peter


Ryan Peter is a writer, journalist and ghostwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes fantasy, sci-fi, inspirational fiction, and on faith. Ryan is also part of the New Covenant Ministries International (NCMI) translocal team.

7 replies
  1. Roger Saner
    Roger Saner says:

    Interesting post, Ryan.

    “And this – that no one is innocent – is a fact.” No it’s not, it’s an interpretation of reality through a certain worldview. Another one is “We are all innocent” – a chorus by the band Our Lady Peace. Their interpretation conflicts with the one you’ve stated.

    Facts are provable; interpretations aren’t. Fact is, I’m sitting in front of my laptop typing this. How you interpret my comments is up to you :)

    Point is, neither your assertion or Our Lady Peace’s is provable, not by humans. They are starting points, assumptions, beliefs, statements about the way things are, and as such, are not facts.

    Also interesting is the missing object of the assertion, “No-one is innocent.” Innocent of what, I wonder? And who is bringing that charge? What context are we talking about, because I might be guilty of burning the toast yesterday morning, but I’m innocent of stealing fudge from the petrol station (although guilty of considering it)?

    Given that there’s no way of proving first principles, we can’t claim that it’s a fact that that “we’re made in God’s pure, holy, utterly blessed image” – that’s a Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) interpretation. If it was a fact, the atheists would believe it.

    And the same for “we are a fallen, bent and corrupt race in tension” – if that was a fact, the Buddhists would believe in evil. But it’s not.

    I guess I’ve belaboured my point enough! 😉

    Reply
  2. Ryan Peter
    Ryan Peter says:

    Hey Roger,

    You raise an excellent point.

    But it does boil down to how pedantic you want to be about the word ‘fact’.

    I love my wife. That’s a fact. Neither of us can prove it.

    Or, it’s not a fact, depending on what you mean by fact. It’s not a scientific fact. It’s conviction of my own. It’s both a willful decision and an observable fact– well, I’m observing myself and say it is a fact.

    My post is an interpretative fact (now we’re playing with words) but there are things mentioned in it that are observable facts outside of me. Even atheists believe there is inherent good in man. Even buddhists believe that there is something that needs fixing. Buddhists don’t believe we’re in a state of Nirvana right now. We have to get there, they say.

    There’s mystical fact here too. We ‘feel’ something is wrong with the world. Worldviews and philosophies are built off the mystical and the reasoning, which relates to both of these mentioned in the post (there’s a curious mix of good gone wrong in our world).

    Which word do you think would be better suited to the context? I mean, I think you have a point, but I’m just not so sure if we have to be pedantic about the use of the word.

    Reply
  3. Roger Saner
    Roger Saner says:

    Thanks for the reply, Ryan. You say “pedantic”, I say “accurate” :) If you’re going to use the word, “fact” use it to mean “a thing that is indisputably the case” (New Oxford American Dictionary) or something that can be presented as objective reality.

    “I love my wife. That’s a fact. Neither of us can prove it.” I have no problem with that, because it’s a subjective claim about a personal experience. What I’m drawing a distinction between is personal experience and unprovable generalisations about other people, or about the way things are.

    The generalisations you made in your article can only be considered true using beliefs that Christians (and others, but by no means everybody) have. They are:
    – No-one is innocent
    – We are all guilty
    – We are all corrupt
    – We are not pure evil
    – We are made in God’s image
    – we’re made in God’s pure, holy, utterly blessed image
    – There is a pure goodness in all of us
    – We’re bent
    – We’re sick

    These beliefs are not embraced by all humans everywhere as objective facts; rather, they are interpretations of reality, and hence beliefs. There’s a difference.

    I would be very happy if you made a distinction between a belief as an unprovable generalisation, and a fact as something provable. You can say that it’s a fact that you love your wife, but you can’t say that it’s a fact that everybody loves your wife. You can’t prove to me that I’m made in God’s image, but you can encourage me to believe that this is true.

    If it was a fact that we’re made in God’s image and that it is right for us to worship him by surrendering our lives to him, then there wouldn’t be any debate about that – everybody would do it, and the ones that didn’t would be “unreasonable” (unable to see reason). However, this is not a fact; rather it is a central belief of the monotheistic religions.

    And thank goodness for that, for the difference between fact and belief, otherwise worshipping God would be predicated on facts and rationality and objectivity, and not on love; worship would be demanded because it is the only reasonable response to an undeniable, undisputed truth. Then, it would not be God who invites us to worship him, but rational thought that forces a response. Thank goodness God does not make his existence a fact, because that would take away our capacity to choose Him, by forcing us to submit to the fact.

    This avoids the circular misguided arrogance of a Christian saying to an Atheist, “God loves you.”

    Reply

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