Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 3
[Perverse, poisoned and powerless. That's how Heidelberg presents the human condition in this week's three answers: distorted, infected and totally unable to do good. They're not statements that most of us would be inclined to stick on our fridges any time soon, and they certainly don't reflect the early twenty-first century mood, but they remain not only true, but essential to understanding why the world is in such a mess, and why the gospel is such good news. Yet even in the midst of the mire - in the centre of the Catechism's three Lord's Days on guilt, before moving on to grace and gratitude - it can't help pointing forwards to the solution with that hope-giving final phrase, "unless we are born again by the Spirit of God." Just as the Spirit, by the Word, brought light out of darkness in Genesis 1, so he does in the life of all believers. Hallelujah.]
Q6. 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.
Q7. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?
A7. 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.
Q8. But are we so corrupt
that we are totally unable to do any good
and inclined toward all evil?
A8. Yes, unless we are born again
by the Spirit of God.