In comparing the views concerning human nature expressed within the writings of Paul, a first century Christian biblical writer, alongside those of Ayatullah Mutahhari, a twentieth century Islamic philosopher, we are confronted with two very different aspects of human nature. On the one hand, both writers claim that human nature is founded in the supernatural, mainly God; however, they both explain the importance of this foundation using two different approaches. In order to better interpret the meanings within the texts, a few things must be taken into consideration like the genres in which they were written, the purpose for which they were written and to whom they were written. Having mentioned that, we can extract from both texts their unique views on what it means to be human. Even though, the means by which each writer attempts to explain human nature is different, the underlying theme expressed by both authors, is that man's nature possesses a deep seated capacity and desire for knowledge-intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
In analyzing the excerpts from Paul's letters, one to the Romans and the other to the Corinthians, it is clear that Paul deeply intertwines human nature with God and with the will of God. In short, man must rely on God if he desires to know his own nature. Moreover, three themes are introduced in Paul's letters which are concerned with human nature. The first argues that man is ultimately good in nature; the second notion deals with man's seemingly unlimited capacity for knowledge-intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually; thirdly, man will never be able to reach his full potential until he is united to God through Jesus Christ.
Paul seems to focus more on the general relationship which humanity has with God and how that relationship is affected by our nature and our actions. Paul claims, from the relationship between nature and action-man's ability to make free will decisions- that even thought man is a rational being, he continually makes decisions which are ultimately bad, or evil. Paul argues in his letter, "Their conduct, therefore, is indefensible…their thinking has ended in futility, and their misguided minds are plunged in darkness" (Stevenson 57). Now, in order to imply that man persistently chooses the wrong over the good, in light of reason or the ability to make rational judgments, there must be a standard by which these decisions are gauged. According to Paul, this standard is God.
Paul continues to draw connections between God and humanity; this is evident in Paul's lengthy discourse on the need for a figure to bridge the gap between God and man. In Paul's eyes, we get a sense that man, though ultimately good in nature, continues to struggle with that nature, which he later defines as being in relation with God. This idea is confirmed by Paul's belief of redemption through Jesus Christ. As Paul maintains,...