A while back, my friend Mike Wittmer, author of Heaven is a Place on Earth and Don't Stop Believing, blogged about how postmodern innovators in the church ("emergents") are challenging the age old assumption that people are born broken, crippled by the guilt and pollution of original sin. He deals with emergent leader Doug Pagitt's book A Christianity Worth Believing where Doug "devotes fifty pages to debunking the myth of total depravity and the Reformed standards, such as the Westminster Confession, which teach it. He says that original sin implies that people 'suck', and if there is one thing we know from watching a newborn child, it is that people ‘don't suck.'"
Mike offers a corrective to Doug's radical misunderstanding by writing:
As with most of the issues raised by postmodern innovators, the solution is not to opt for one side or the other but to embrace both. We must follow Augustine, who learned from his battles with Manicheism on one extreme and Pelagianism on the other, to say that people are created but fallen, and fallen but created. People are created in the image of God, and so they have enormous value and, through common grace, the ability to do good to others. But people are also born rebels. We may often be good to each other, but none of us is good toward God. Adam and Eve bit the fruit in a futile bid to be like God, and their children have not stopped chasing the dream.
Mike is saying the same thing that Cornelius Plantinga wrote in his book Beyond Doubt:
People tend to make two mistakes when they think about the redeemed life. The first is to underestimate the sin that remains in us; it's still there and it can still hurt us. The second is to underestimate the strength of God's grace; God is determined to make us new. As a result, all Christians need to say two things. We admit that we are redeemed sinners. But we also say boldly and joyously that we are redeemed sinners.
Read the rest of Mike's insightful post here.