Answering The Atheist
May 21, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 21
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Does anyone ever do anything good? Some verses indicate no (Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 14:3; 53:3; Romans 3:12; Ecclesiastes 7:20), but other verses indicate yes (John 5:29; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 3 John 11). Is there a contradiction?
The verses listed to say that no one does any good ever, simply do not say that. Consider:
Isaiah 64:6 - The trouble is identified in verse 5, "...we have sinned...". Because we have sinned, we are needing salvation -- we cannot save ourselves. As such, we have made ourselves unclean, and "...all our righteousness are like filthy rags...". We cannot approach God on the basis of personal righteousness, for we need to be saved from our sins.
Psalm 14:3; 53:3; Romans 3:12 - The questioner is no doubt focused on the clause, "...there is none who does good, no, not one." However, it must be noticed that this clause is preceded by, "They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt..." One cannot be turned aside from where he never was. The writer's point is not that man has never done good, but that man has turned from the good way of the Lord. Just a few verses later, we read, "...God is with the generation of the righteous." (Psalm 14:5)
Ecclesiastes 7:20 - The text reads, "For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin." The writer does not say that thus just man never does good, but that there is no man upon the earth who solely does good, and does not sin. Even those who have done and do good, have sinned.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible