Pariah or Prodigal son?
To answer your question, I believe we can view ourselves as being very near perfection, but with still some progress to be made. For me to suggest, as you seem to want to categorize my thinking as, that we are perfect but just fail miserably is kind of Christian in its thinking and I'm not accepting that as COMPLETELY accurate in describing my viewpoint of life.
Just getting you to qualify what you mean, with no desire to categorise at all.
Your initial post was a little vague, as well as a misrepresentation of the majority of Christendom
Btw, I think you'll probably find that Ozzie's post is about your misrepresentation, too, rather than an attack on your beliefs.
I always thought it was a lesson in mercy, that no matter who we are, we make mistakes that require mercy.
The prodigal son recognized his errors, recognized how he had hurt himself and others, apologized for it and tried to make amends to the extent he could and turned around. He didn't ask to return to the position of favored son and for additional funds from his father but rather an opportunity to work for them and be part of the household no matter how lowly..
The older son thought somehow that through his actions he had "earned" righteousness but even he made mistakes or fell short and required mercy. He could have taken it to heart that his brother's experience showed what a merciful man his father was and seen the mercy that was being shown to him now and if should he stray as far as his brother in the future.
An interesting lesson.
There are obviously two conflicting logics, to different ways to be "right" in the parable, and the reader is called to make his own choice. To say "the first will be the last" does not deny that the "first" are indeed "first" on their own grounds...