My reformissionary brother Steve set a small corner of the Internet on fire the other day with this tweet:
Teach your children they are broken. Deeply broken.
— Steve McCoy (@stevekmccoy) July 1, 2013
This set off a chain of tweets, Facebook messages, and blog posts, from alleged Christians who called him abusive or worse. The most common refrain was that you will somehow psychologically damage a child by teaching them this.
Of course the main problem is that the critics took his tweet to be the sum total of his doctrine, and belief about what we should teach children. Of course we should tell them more! Like, the GOOD news! However, we still need to tell them the bad news.
A scalpel cut hurts, but is absolutely necessary for life-saving surgery.
This got me thinking. In a lot of the responses, there was a denial of original sin, a historic, orthodox, Christian position. The assertion was that children are somehow “innocent” and unstained by the world. That man is morally good or neutral until “stained” by the world. This is semi-Pelagianism (at least), and is heresy (a denial of the core of the Christian faith.)
And then it dawned on me… (submitted for your feedback and commentary…)
If we do not rightly understand our own depravity, Jesus will only ever be at best little more than a superhero who rescues us, the victim, from a bad world.
Super-hero Jesus is worthy of our thanks and admiration and maybe team loyalty, but not our complete and total devotion, our undivided worship, our joy-filled submission to His service such that we could accurately be called “slaves”.
Hero worship is fleeting and ends the moment the hero lets you down. The minute they cease to be your genie, meeting your felt “needs”, at your command, you go in search of another hero.
True Jesus is something else altogether. He is holy. He is the creator and king against whom we have rebelled, who offers a treaty of pardon, peace and fellowship.
Without a firm understanding of our depravity, we will never understand why we do bad things, why other people do bad things. Grace will never be AMAZING without understanding that we were ENEMIES of God when he rescued us. Grace will always be just sort of neat. But not amazing.
Teach people about their depravity, and understand it yourself, or you worship a false Jesus, and thus, a false God, and are in danger of eternal hell.