Episode 12: The Human Question

This conversation asks another big question – what is human nature really like?  Dan Weatherall and Stephen Blake, a professional counsellor, explore this topic and find that, although the Bible starts with the ideal of humans reflecting God’s image, it more often paints a picture of struggle and failure.  Why is that and can anything be done about it?  Listen in to see where the conversation leads…

Show Notes

The Human Ideal

The very beginning of the Bible presents a high ideal for humans.  Genesis 1:26-27 shows God making mankind to be like him – that is capable of being moral and reflecting the good and love that comes from God himself.

Stephen and Dan reflect on this fact, but then quickly turn to reality, both presented in the Bible and by looking around at humanity in the world around us.

Out of the heart of humans

Jesus claimed that humanity was capable of many terrible and evil things.  In Mark 7:20-23, he describes how these evil things come from the heart of man.  Stephen and Dan also turn to James 1:14-15 which claims that temptations come from within, starting with desire, which gives birth to sin.  That’s not to say that everyone does evil all of the time – that would be an absurd claim.  But it is to recognise that every human is capable of making morally bad choices.  And in fact, it is easy to do so.

Stephen’s own experience as a counsellor is relevant to the conversation.  He explains how psychiatrists also talk about how humans are capable of committing the most terrible evil.  From Carl Jung:

“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” [1]

And talking about the terrible world events in the last century including the two world wars:

“…Man has done these things; I am a man, who has his share of human nature; therefore I am guilty with the rest and bear unaltered and indelibly within me the capacity and the inclination to do them again at any time…we are always, thanks to our human nature, potential criminals…None of us stands outside humanity’s black collective shadow…only the fool can permanently disregard the conditions of his own nature.” [2]

It’s clear that the Bible does reflect reality.  It presents humans as wanting and desiring that high ideal, but frequently failing and actually being capable of turning to very evil actions.

The Solution to the Human Question

Jesus is the answer.  Stephen and Dan talk about how Jesus is a man, just like us, quoting Hebrews 4:15.  He had the same temptations and desires, but he was without sin entirely.  And when the worst of humanity conspired against him to put him to death, without cause, he willingly allowed it, without fighting back at all.  This destroyed the root cause of sin and is a key component in understanding human nature and the sacrifice of Christ.

Taking the passages that present Jesus as a human being seriously, the picture of the cross that emerges from this Biblical Unitarian position is a wonderful one and is capable of bringing us so much hope.

[1] C. Jung in A. Storr (ed.), The Essential Jung: Selected Writings (London, 1998), p. 88

[2] Ibid., p. 395