Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love: Lesson 2, question 2

bdv4's picture

2. Augustine believes that no matter how evil a person is, there is always some good in that person. How does this help us understand the notion of salvation? Can anyone be "too far gone" from God?

lawrence_dicostanzo's picture

This is really hard.

Accepting the idea that an evil person has some good in him is very hard. Just think about Adolf Hitler! Perhaps the concept is so difficult because we look at and fixate on only the evil that the person has done and we do not look at him from God's point of view. Also, there are persons who have done evil, but we may not see their regret and repentance. The hurt and wickedness affect us very badly so that, understandably, we become judgmental.

But, as Jesus pointed out, He did not come to focus on the good people, but to focus on sinners. He was able to ask for forgiveness both for the people who wanted Him dead and for the people who did the actual dirty work on Calvary --- of whom at least one said He was truly the Son of God.

So, given Jesus' attitude and our own shortsightedness, I would not like to take the moral high ground when I don't know what I would do if faced with horrendous evil choices.

In sum, the "notion of salvation" has to be that there is something in every person that can respond to God --- whether a tax gatherer, a prostitute, a thief, a killer, etc. The person may not respond at all. He may respond in the hidden parts of his heart as he faces the music for the evil he's done. He may respond knowing that he, just like me, is really imperfect. Ultimately, the point is that salvation does not require us to be perfect. If so, it ain't going to happen.

So, Augustine is right on in my point of view. There is a lot of evil in us and some good and God takes us as we are when he touches our hearts.