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Naturally Good?

January 2009

     Over two hundred and fifty years ago, the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau promoted the theory that every person is born naturally good, but then becomes corrupted by society.
     Rousseau's argument then was, that a child being naturally good, should not be influenced or "corrupted" by religious education or "dogmas" but allow "natural religion" and the "wonders of the universe" to take the leading role in character formation.1. Unfortunately, this concept did not die with Rousseau, but has been experimented with in various forms in the years since his day.
     Were this concept to be true, then it should also hold out that people who do find themselves "corrupted" by wicked companions, or an evil society, should be able to straighten out their lives. They should be able to "un-corrupt" themselves again by allowing that innate, "inner goodness" to prevail and crowd out the bad.
     Why do we not see this happening? Why instead, does history offers many examples of people whose lives have fallen apart? Why, instead of an inner goodness, does there seems to be an inner compulsion away from good and right, and toward corruption and debauchery.
     In contrast to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory, has all of humanity become so corrupt that there is no hope of a prevailing of inner goodness to which man may appeal? I believe that is where the answer lies, and the Bible reveals to us the reason.
     Jean-Jacques Rousseau's concept of life failed to reckon with the Biblical record of the fall of mankind from his original sinless and perfect condition before God. King David, the writer of the Psalms of the Bible, wrote in Psalms 14:2, 3. "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
     Thank God that in Jesus, this death verdict has changed. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 John 5:11).
     Today, the institution of family is under attack. However, parents who wish to see their children grow up and avoid becoming entrapped by the wickedness of society do have recourse! One of the most important things you can do is to teach your children Godly values by faithful example. As parents seek God, and establish a foundation of faith, the lives of their children will be set in the right way.

- Mervin Brubacher
   Barwick, ON
1. The Works and Influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 
- Collier's Encyclopaedia, 1974