Myths, legends, and fictional stories have depicted feral children reared by wild animals such as wolves and bears. In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ (September 1, 1875 – March 19, 1950) best known literary fictional creation, Tarzan, a British Lord and Lady with their infant son are tragically marooned on the West coast of Africa. The ship they are travelling on is burnt by mutineers and they end up landing near uncharted rainforests. The story goes that the parents die and Tarzan, the little toddler survives. He survives but is brought up as a feral child learning to eat and live with the apes that adopt him.
A feral child (feral, wild, or undomesticated) is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behaviour, and, crucially, of human language. Modern day literature is littered with a long list of feral children. The famous cases such as Victor d’Aveyron (the wild boy of Aveyron); Amala and Kamala, the wolf girls from India; Genie, the “modern-day wild child”; and the mysterious Marie-Angelique Memmie LeBlanc, the Wild Girl of Champagne are just a few that jump to the forefront.
Theories that though born normal, some eventually develop a seed of serious mental or psychological disturbance. Others postulate Precocious schizophrenia, infantile psychosis and autism. Child psychiatrists and social experts non the less warn that no matter how fascinating, scientifically interesting or even romantic some of these stories seem, it isn’t much fun to be a feral child, wolf boy or wild girl. We shouldn’t forget that all these children have been abandoned, neglected or even cruelly abused.
The flip side of the question is, and what would we be like if the influence of our current society was not present? The linch pin to this seemingly easy quagmire lies in a theological doctrine called Total depravity.
Man unlike any other animals is a moral being but as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved in a ‘feral’ state to a master called sin and, apart from the efficacious grace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to accept salvation as it is offered. Total depravity also called absolute inability or total corruption is a theological doctrine that derives from the biblical concept of this original sin. It is man’s natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man.
“All that God has to do to harden people’s hearts is to remove the restraints. He gives them a longer leash. Rather than restricting their human freedom, He increases it. He lets them have their own way . . . It is not that God puts His hand on them to create fresh evil in their hearts; He merely removes His holy hand of restraint from them and lets them do their own will” -R. C Sproul
There is no doubt that man could perform more evil acts toward his fellow man than he does. But if he is restrained from performing more evil acts by motives that are not owing to his glad submission to God, then even his “virtue” is evil in the sight of God.-John Piper
Morality is a visible indicator of human culture, a mirror of the nature of individuals and peoples. It is a myth that man in his natural state is genuinely seeking God. Men do “seek” God. But they do not seek him for who he is. They seek him in a pinch as one who might preserve them from death or enhance their worldly enjoyments. Apart from spiritual conversion, no one comes to the light of God. Rebellion against God is total and universal.
Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God. In this total rebellion everything man does is sin and he is crippled and unable to submit to God and do good. Like a feral child deeply embedded in an alien culture and master called sin; he remains bound to this muted nature that irrevocable revets to his soul. He remains unable to keep the moral laws of God (Ten Commandments) however much he tries to edge towards righteousness. He lies, steals, commits adultery and fornication, his thoughts are continually flawed, he is angry at heart- murderous and he waxes ice-cold towards loving and serving the God who gave him life. He is dead in sin and dead in trespass as the Bible says..
What is deserved in this decrepit unregenerate state is eternal punishment and alienation from a Holy God.
The reality of hell is God’s clear indictment of the infiniteness of our guilt. If our corruption were not deserving of an eternal punishment God would be unjust to threaten us with a punishment so severe as eternal torment. But the Scriptures teach that God is just in condemning unbelievers to eternal hell (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Matthew 5:29f; 10:28; 13:49f; 18:8f; 25:46; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:10). Therefore, to the extent that hell is a total sentence of condemnation, to that extent must we think of ourselves as totally blameworthy apart from the saving grace of God. -John Piper
Jesus Christ taught that unless a man is born again, he dies a reprobate, unregenerated and alienated from God and will not see the kingdom of God. This new birth is so important that no one can see heaven without it. The history of humanity and even Christianity has seen many errors concerning the new birth. These teachings depart from Scripture by attributing to man the ability to regenerate himself.
To believe in the power of man in the work of regeneration is the great heresy of Rome, and from that error has come the ruin of the Church. Conversion proceeds from the grace of God alone, and the system which ascribes it partly to man and partly to God is worse than Pelagianism. – J. H. Merle d’Aubigne (1794-1872)
“The salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it and have no preparation for it” -Charles Spurgeon
Spiritual regeneration is a sacred act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life into a sinner. As the Gospel comes to him, God speaks through it to summon him to Himself (effective calling) and to give him new spiritual life (regeneration) so that he is enabled to respond in faith. Effective calling is thus that God that Father speaks powerfully to man through the Gospel.
The Gospel says that God the Father sent His sinless and Holy Son Jesus Christ to die in the place a sinful people as a substitute. Jesus faced the Father’s wrath and paid the price for sin in full on the cross. The Father’s wrath was appeased. The Bible says salvation is only through repentance and faith in the Jesus. But only God working powerfully in us can make us alive and grant grace to repentance. This is monergistic regeneration to indicate that it depends solely on a Sovereign move of God in the fabric of the human soul. Jesus described this process to Nicodemus this way:
“ Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:7-8.
“God’s grace is resistible in the sense that we can and do resist it. It is irresistible in the sense that it achieves its purpose. It brings about God’s desired effect” -R.C Sproul, Chosen By God
This regeneration does not depend on man or on any desire or decision or did on his part. The Spirit moves in the person, giving him a new nature and allowing him the capacity to express faith through repentance and a desire to know and trust God. This view holds a very high view of God’s Sovereignty.
Finally back to the question; what would we be like if the influence of our current society was not present? The question should rather read; what would we be like without God? God in his grace goes out looking for feral sinners dead in sin-he draws them and regenerates them and calls them his own. He clothes them with the righteousness of Jesus Christ who became the propitiation for their sins. Even today God is still looking for one more sinner-just one more feral child.
I found you.
“And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born. And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing h in your blood, I said to you h in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Ezekiel 16:5-6