This series of posts will explore the Heidelberg Catechism as it is, to my understanding, the basis for Reformed Theology, and since the churches that I have been visiting in my Church Shopping Saga are all Reformed, I thought it would be good to get to know this document and see what it is all about.
You can read the first post that has more of an introduction here and you can find all posts about this topic under the label "Heidelberg Catechism".
We ended the last post with Q&A 5 telling us that we are prone to hate God and our neighbor. Question 6, then, follows up on that by asking:
Q. Did God create people
so wicked and perverse?
God created them good and in his own image,
that is, in true righteousness and holiness,
so that they might
truly know God their creator,
love him with all their heart,
and live with God in eternal happiness,
to praise and glorify him.
I am pretty sure that nobody that I know of has ever suggested that God created humanity to be bad; I have always always thought of this as pretty standard Christian teaching across all denominations.
Q 7. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?
A. The fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition.
This also seems to me to be fairly standard Christian teaching, and in the HC being born in a sinful condition is taken from It comes from Psalm 51:5 "Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me." (NRSV). I do wonder though, at the image of sin being in our nature, for few reasons.
One, in Genesis 4:7 (post-fall) we see an image of sin as being something that is outside of Cain. God says to him "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." In this respect, sin appears to be something outside of oneself and can be mastered.
Secondly, when I was learning about Judaism, I learned that in Jewish belief, people have both a good inclination (yetzer hatov) and a bad inclination (yetzer hara). The idea that people are born sinful is more of a Christian construct than a Jewish one.
The third reason is that when both of my children were born, I just couldn't look at them and think "you sinful human being". They had no concept of good or bad behavior in thoughts or actions; they were incapable of doing anything that we tend to define as sinful.
Now, I think that we all do sin. Without a doubt I think that. But my question is whether or not it is something that is a part of us from the moment of conception or if it is something we learn. I also am not sure of how important it is, in the big scheme of things, where it comes from, since it is something we all know that we do.
How about you? What do you think of these two Q&As in the Heidelberg Catechism? Is this your understanding of sin or do you have a different understanding?