In Evangelical Truth (p87) John Stott highlights a report, commissioned in 1945 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher and written by a group of Anglican Catholics with the aim of examining the causes of the current deadlock in Catholic-Protestant dialogue.
The report is entitled Catholicity: A Study in the Conflict of Christian Traditions in the West, and is available in full here. The authors accused evangelicals of emphasising the doctrine of grace in such a way as to sacrifice the doctrine of the image of God:-
What was sacrificed…was the Biblical doctrine that man was made ‘in the Image of God’, and that this ‘Image’, though defaced by sin, substantially remains in fallen man, and is effectually restored by Baptism into Christ.
The foundation thesis of specifically Protestant theology deriving from a distorted Augustinianism, was, and is, a catastrophic pessimism concerning the results of the Fall, formulated in the doctrine of man’s ‘total depravity’, and the complete destruction of the imago Dei in human nature. Man’s rational nature, his capacity for culture, for a certain achievement of natural justice and civilisation, his very humanity, contain no trace of the lost ‘Image of God’…His nature contains in itself no ‘point of contact’ to which the redeeming action of God can address itself without violence, no capacity of its own for receiving salvation. All is of the sovereign, freely-electing grace of God alone; and therefore the so-called ‘good works’ done before Justification are themselves sinful, as proceeding from a radically sinful nature, and are in themselves as justly meritorious of eternal damnation as so-called ‘evil works’ done in the same state. Upon this conception is erected the thesis of the arbitrary predestination of ‘the elect’ to salvation by the sovereign will of God, and the doctrine of ‘Justification by Faith alone’. Even in the ‘justified’ the Image of God is not effectively restored by ‘imputed righteousness’. The doctrine of a judgment of individual men by God therefore becomes irrational and tyrannous, and the Christian conception of God is altered. [My emphasis]
Stott calls this, ‘an extraordinarily inept and inaccurate criticism’, and remarks that a group of Anglican evangelicals, commissioned by Geoffrey Fisher in 1947, were able to show that even though ‘by sin man’s whole nature is perverted, and infected with self-will and self-love’, the divine image in us, though defaced, certainly has not been destroyed (see Gen 9:6; Jas 3:9). Further,
“total depravity” means not that there is no good in man but that even his best acts and characteristics are subtly and deeply tainted with pride.