For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slander.” (Matthew 15:19)

Our church has been viewing a set of videos, The Truth Project. The teacher exposed one of societies’ biggest lies: man is basically good. This belief ignores or just turns a blind eye to the reality of evil. Christians are tempted to see people as basically good. Perhaps we just prefer not to see sin in others, or we prefer not to judge them, or perhaps we simply fail to account for the fact that Jesus called people evil (Mt. 7:11).

A recent article by William Kilpatrick, The Popular Belief that Empties Churches, (The Popular Belief That Empties Churches | FrontpageMag) explains how this belief in the goodness of humanity has wrecked both Catholic and protestant churches and emptied their pews since the 1960s. Like the lecturer in the Truth Project, he pinpoints much of this on the influence of psychology. They both mention Abraham Maslow as one of the primary sources of this lie.

Kilpatrick also mentions an article by Dennis Prager who responded to an orthodox rabbi and criticized him for taking the position that man is basically good (An Orthodox Rabbi Writes That People Are Basically Good | FrontpageMag). Prager, a practicing Jew, says this betrays the orthodox Jewish position.

The Kilpatrick article lists numerous things from the human potential movement. He observes that if man is good, as some psychologists say, what is the point of going to church where the great need is to confess sin and experience redemption? This indeed can be one of the reasons many have left churches. They have learned self-awareness and self-acceptance, buzzwords for the human potential movement, but fail to see sin that resides in their hearts.

Maslow himself admitted what would dismantle his entire philosophy. Kilpatrick observes, “He [Maslow] once observed that if the doctrine of original sin were true, then his own theories were untenable.” Even if we don’t accept the notion of original sin, we can still conclude that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and that we are by nature “objects of wrath” in the eyes of God (Ephesians 2:3).

Today’s aggrandizement of the “true self” and “follow your unique path” is nothing less than an extension of the self-improvement movement of the 1960s. When Christian counseling books use Maslow’s self-actualization as one of the most important goals for a fulfilling life, we shouldn’t be surprised how evil has almost become an unacceptable way of seeing humanity. What the world really needs is redemption and communion with God. This need gets lost when we refuse to see the evil that resides in the human heart, especially our own.