In order to advance our discussion of topics surrounding the fallen human nature, we have offered a new phrase: we speak of the “Disordered Human Organism” (DHO). We use this in order to refer to our fallen human nature as apart from our chosen character. After probation each still has his DHO. This does not change before glorification. DHO is not condemned but character willfully aligned with evil can be condemned.
Some might ask, why coin a new phrase? If you search the Bible you will find no occasion where it uses the phrase “fallen nature” or “sinful nature.” But you will find these terms in the writings of Ellen G. White. We are comfortable using them, but we also see a utility in speaking of the DHO.
The words “fallen” or “sinful&rduo; tend to have a moral connotation. We recognize that the human organism given us of God is under the control of our mind. There is nothing sinful or fallen about an arm or a leg, for the simple fact that in neither case can an arm or a leg make their own moral choices. There is a clear distinction between the organism which merely responds, and the operator, which chooses the action. We believe that before the close of probation, we will have learned to walk so closely to Jesus that we will still have our DHO but we will not be sinning. So there is a clear difference between tendency and choice, provocation and decision.
Yet many have not thought-through such things, and may not immediately see the distinction between character and organism. Some may feel that this is the wrong language to choose for speaking of Christ’s humanity. Many will have no such issue, but some may. Therefore, in order to avoid emotional reaction that may cloud the consideration of ideas, and to keep concepts as clear as possible, we offer another option for use in such discussions, one presenting for some we think the possibility of increased clarity in discussion.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 tells us that God created man upright. Genesis 1:31 that in the beginning the creation was good. As the result of the Fall, all are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. These, however, are not sin, nor does guilt or condemnation adhere to the newborn. He is not in a position to make responsible moral choices. Is he born good? No. Born bad? No. Is he born neutral? No. He is born bent way over, with a disordered human organism that inclines him toward evil.
We must remember that the biblical anthropology assigns no negative moral value to our humanity per se (See Deuteronomy 1:39; Romans 9:11). Children as they are born enter the world on a precipice as it were, with a bent nature, full of weaknesses and tendencies to evil. Yet they are not aligned with evil until through choice they choose that alignment by agreeing with the bent of their nature. And all have “agreed with their nature” except Christ; He never joined Himself in solidarity with the nature of the humanity He took in becoming as human as we are.
None of us are born totally depraved, with nothing redeemable left in us. Were people totally wicked, they would not desire good gifts for their children. People were designed to worship God, and even these many years after the Fall still have in themselves the primitive elements of the image of God. Notice:
Christ is the ‘Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’ John 1:9. As through Christ every human being has life, so also through Him every soul receives some ray of divine light. Not only intellectual but spiritual power, a perception of right, a desire for goodness, exists in every heart. But against these principles there is struggling an antagonistic power. The result of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man's experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist. To withstand this force, to attain that ideal which in his inmost soul he accepts as alone worthy, he can find help in but one power. That power is Christ. Co-operation with that power is man's greatest need (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 29).
This is a rather striking inspired statement: “Not only intellectual but spiritual power, a perception of right, a desire for goodness, exists in every heart.” In every heart? In the heart of the unconverted? Yes. If even the unconverted had no perception of right, then how could he be drawn toward God (Romans 2:4; John 6:44)? It is, after all the “goodness” of God that leadeth to repentance. It is the goodness that draws, because people are led toward Him by the desire “to attain that ideal which in his inmost soul he accepts as alone worthy.”
But does this still-existing capacity in us to be drawn toward goodness meritorious? Not at all, not for a moment. To be able to be drawn toward goodness does not make one good. We all need fullness of spiritual life in our hearts; we all need to be born from above or ultimately we will align with sin and be removed from the universe with its final eradication.
One way to speak, then, of the sinful nature, or the fallen nature, with such points as these also in mind, is to use the term “Disordered Human Organism,” or DHO.
Mentone CA USA 2007-02-10