Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Enter the Serpent

How to deal with the evil in the world is a hot potato. And there are no easy answers. But we need to look at the options. We can say that everything is basically good and that evil is something simply superficial. But the presence of some sort of real evil seems one of the most obvious things about the world as we know it. We can say that evil exists, and that this is just the way it is and we should just deal with it. We can even claim that the whole idea of evil is a delusion and that there is nothing really wrong. But then we have to ask, why do we find this idea so abhorrent? If evil is not real, where did we get the idea of evil from? Or we can believe we live in a evil world that will eventually become good. But unless we have a real basis for this, is it anything more that blind faith? And how can we have a basis for it if there is not transcendent good that exists now, despite the evil?

But the idea that makes the most sense to me is the Christian idea, that we live in an originally good world that has gone awry. There is therefore an original standard for good: the character of God (James 1:17; Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17). But we as human being have chosen evil (Genesis 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) and have as a result became sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). Further, since we were given a position of authority over the rest of the earth (Genesis 1:26-28: 2:15; Psalms 8:5-8), this results in our pulling it down with us (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:19-23). Now we need to be clear that this does not mean all suffering is in proportion to our sin (Job 1,2; John 9:1,2; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). But it is human sin which, in the beginning, let loose these evils upon us. I know there are problems with this view. There are problems with every view. We can face complicated questions such as, could God not have made it so people would always freely do what is good? But it still is the best answer to the question. It explains why there is an original  standard of good we cannot wholly get rid of. And it explains why we and the world do not live up to that standard. It means there is a God who created the originally good world and who can fix the problem. It explains why we, as Christians, cannot simply condemn everything physical (Colossians 2:20-23; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Titus 1:15), but must avoid becoming conformed to the world as it is now (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:2; James 4:4). We are the Resistance; we serve the rightful King in the realm of the usurper (2 Corinthians 4:3,4; Hebrews 2:14,15; 1 John 4:4). And we must have this in perspective to have the world in perspective.

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