Tag Archives: human nature

Are Human Beings Violent By Nature?

One of the big issues pacifists face today is the issue of human nature. Are we genetically determined to be violent as expressed in much contemporary writing by biologists, et al, as well as political thinkers? If so, is pacifism simply unrealistic, terribly naive, even problematically romantic?

Or is it possible, with scientific credibility, anchored in the actual experience of human beings in the world, to argue for an understanding of human nature more compatible with pacifism?

This debate deserves the attention of all people concerned with the problems of violence, oppression, warfare, and militarism in our world today—that is, all people of good will. I spent significant time a number of years ago reflecting on these issues, teaching a class called “Violence and Human Nature” several times. In March 2006, I arranged a public forum with my friend Carl Keener, professor of biology emeritus, at Eastern Mennonite University. Here is the presentation I made. I hope to give this issue more attention in the not-too-distant future. Continue reading

The Doctrine of Humanity

Are human beings fundamentally bad, overwhelmingly dominated by the powers of sin and evil?  Or are weat our core good, capable of responding faithfully to God and of living with care and compassion toward others? How we answer these questions will have a great impact on our broader theology and on our expectations for our social relationships.

In my essay, “The Doctrine of Humanity,” I present the case for a quite optimistic view of humanity–based on biblical teaching and, especially, the life and teaching of Jesus.  Jesus is our model for being human, and the Bible has the full expectation that, in spite of our very real tendencies toward sin and selfishness, we are capable of following the example Jesus sets.

This essay is the seventh in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.