Although I've read and continue to read alot of the pagan philosophers (Aristotle, Plato, etc) and the Enlightenment thinkers (Tom Paine, Gibbon, Rousseau, etc) I have to say that there's one reason I cannot be a Humanist in the modern sense of the word. I absolutely disagree with the idea that man is inherently good or even neutral. In the words of the genius Karl Barth "Man is not good, man has never been good, and man will never be good". I know above all else that I myself am a reprobate.
As much as I've divinized these men, the Church Fathers did teach some strange things. Origen for example said, "The power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all.". A more simple definition of the Pelagian heresy could hardly be put forth.
As much as I've villainized the men, Luther and Calvin have taught things which resonate deeply with my Christian experience. I am disgusted with reading all this Jesuit/Molinist/Humanistic garbage about the goodness of man and his ability to triumph. I'm at the point where I'm obliged to believe that everyone is made Imago Dei and to downplay the fall to a slight mistake, so my current theology is that while I cannot apply St. Paul's, St. Augustines, Blaise Pascal's, Martin Luther's, or John Calvin's theologies of human nature to the world at large I can apply them to myself.
I know and have learned in the last year that above all I am a reprobate. I don't actually read Calvin alot anymore so i'm not trying to show off -as if I found this myself- but I found this online and liked it alot. It totally slaps Catholicism in the face, but only post-trent semi-pelagian Catholicism.
"...our nature is not only destitute of all good, but is so fertile in all evils that it cannot remain inactive. Those who have called it concupiscence have used an expression not improper, if it were only added, which is far from being conceded by most persons, that everything in man, the understanding and will, the soul and body, is polluted and engrossed by this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that man is of himself nothing else but concupiscence." (Institutes, Vol. I, Bk. II, Chap. 1, Para. 8; Allen translation.)
We had to listen last week in RCIA to a lecture on not being able to sin without willing it or wanting to, which I thought was the most anti-Augustinian thing I'd ever heard, and so I wanted to meditate on some Calvin. In Catholicism we say only some actions have concupiscence or we are culpable - blameable for. Here Calvin is saying that man is NOTHING but guilt and willful sin. lol. it's sad because it's true.
I find it funny that when I discussed theology last night it was in an intense debate with a Protestant Pastor, I was challenging him with the high ethical standards of scripture when I realized that I had spent the entire day in sin, utter chosen sin, and here I was preaching. It was at that moment that I remembered St. Paul in Philippians talking about those who preach for benefit or personal glory. I myself I think do it out of habit or for the sake of argument, there is no genuine desire for real virtue or godliness, just winning an argument, or shattering someone's certainty.
A Buddhist I debated last month said to me "Are you so closed minded as to think ONLY Christians go to Heaven!?" and I actually laughed and said "Far from it, I don't even believe all Christians are going to Heaven, I don't even think I'm going to Heaven (I'm currently in a state of Mortal sin and haven't confessed to a priest and received absolution so in Catholicism I am hell-bound)". Frank Schaeffer once got alot of flak for saying "I hope God exists, I hope I go to Heaven but my faith is less certainty and more hope" - or something to that effect. Well I know God exists philosophically, I know there is a standard, and I know that I do not measure up to it, as Calvin says: "soul and body, is polluted"
Thus while I may not be able to say much from scripture without hypocrisy, on that fateful day when it is read from the pulpit "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." (Jer 17.9) I can add an "Amen".
And when I look at the world I see everyday I have to agree with the observation that: "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain."