I love my charismatic/pentecostal heritage especially because of the pursuit for the manifest presence of God . But one thing that had to be unlearned from my pentecostal roots is this portrayal of a God to fear. Now I believe in the fear of God so don’t stone me yet. My view of God became so intertwined with my failures and God’s judgement on my life that I operated in clean up mode and expected others to do the same. This mentality limits you from operating in your full potential. A lot of what we have been taught dwells on the theology of original sin and total depravity instead of dealing with the total goodness of man marred by sin.
So here is what we say? Because of original sin we are all born with sin, going to hell and nothing is good within us. Many denominations believe that even infants who die will not find heaven. Then some try to justify it with the age of accountability. The notion of "original sin" was created by Augustine nearly 400 years after Christ so that he could justify his over indulgence to sin. You see Augustine had a sexual problem that he didn’t want to deal with or was so involved that he needed deliverance. Therefore he created this notion that we are born with this original sin from Adam and that we had no control over sin in justification of his experience. Calvins version of this doctrine was known as total depravity. There are some truths in this doctrine but too many take it out of context and all mankind are evil until they come to Jesus.
What if we looked at this doctrine a little different, What if we said that all are created good and then marred with sin. It seems that all that God created was good and still is good. I meet people from all over the world and find an overwhelming majority of creation is created good even by my standards. My perspective is that he is a good God. Therefore he created us good. We are created in His image or the “Imago Dei”. How could man be created in the Image of God and be evil. So I look at man in a different light. If you know me, you know I love shirts. One of the images I picture is man as a beautiful shirt that has been made by a wonderful Italian tailor (bear with me). Now this shirt was created with pinpoint cotton and woven with the highest blends of fiber. Not one stitch is loose and raveling; it is a work of art. Precisely made to fit and to express the beauty of its creator. This is the original condition of every baby born to this world. This is the original goodness of God you might say. But during the first wear of this original creation of the beautiful work of this tailor, wine was spilled accidentally leaving the shirt marred. This is the position of each of us after sin; marred but still created good. Like a shirt with a stain so is man with sin. It’s not the evil shirt that marred the shirt, but the evil stain. The tailor finds out that his original goodness has been marred by this horrific stain. He spends all that he has to restore this great creation back to its original condition. This is what our God has and is doing for us.
The Old Covenant points to the revelation of the Goodness of God in the Glory of God. His goodness is in His image and we all bear the original image of God. Man is better than you thought because his blueprint was from heaven. Yes the original creation is marred by sin, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water (or send him to hell yet). Moses said let me see your glory. God said I will let my goodness pass before you. It is this goodness that is not only seen in creation but is seen in the redemption of man. The Bible says He is merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness, full of truth, forgiving iniquity, forgiving transgression and forgiving sin.
Jesus was the exact representation of His character and goodness. Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father. He was the exact representation of God on earth. Jesus came to erase the stain of sin off of Gods beautiful creation. We were never an evil creation but just one marred by sin. Jesus came to restore us to the “image dei” the perfect creation of God. When we step into Him by faith, we are washed clean and free of sins stain. We are the approved of the goodness of God.
The church is called to be the goodness of God. Somewhere in this mix we begin to act like Augustine and build our theology around our failures. Its easy to see how a man addicted to sexual sin might see himself as evil or in total depravity. It is also easy to see how the goodness of God can seem to good to be true. What I have found is the goodness of God leads us to repentance. When you focus on sin, it’s hard to get free of sins grip. When you repent and do a 180 degree turn and focus on Gods truth, then sin seems to lose its power. The Church is created to be the full representation of Christ on earth. When you see us, you should see Christ. If we become the fullness of God it will be the revelation of the glory of God which is the manifestation of the goodness of God.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” What we lack more than anything is not the revelation of how bad we are but a revelation of how good our God is in the land of the living. We are His beautiful creation made out of the goodness of His nature. We are not negating the power of sin but establishing the power of His Original Goodness.