Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rooted in Evil

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”- Ephesians 6:12

In the aftermath of the mass murders in Charleston, a lot of the discussion has been about racism and guns in America. And these are subjects worthy of discussion. They are major factors in what happened in Charleston. But, the core of what happened there is rooted in EVIL. In today’s world we are reluctant to talk about evil and when we do talk about evil it tends to be an adjective not a noun. Actions may be described as evil, but we tend to relate them to some sort of cause and effect process. If we can figure out “the cause” then we can remedy “the effect”. If we are forced to admit that real EVIL exists and is “a thing”, then we must move from the physical world to the meta-physical world and ultimately outside of ourselves as the shapers and creators of “our world”.

I tend to think that it was not just coincidence that Dylann Roof chose a church and a bible study group as the place to make his “statement”. Through the journey of his young life, he made choices that led him to this moment. Were there other influences? Of course, and they may go deep into his DNA. If he had grown up in a country without such an awful history of racism and less access to handguns, might there have been a different outcome? Perhaps. But where evil is at work, another madman in America would have likely taken his place. And Dylann Roof might be out there doing some other horrible thing somewhere else on the planet.

Theologians and philosophers have argued over free will vs determinism for centuries. And there are many who would argue that what happened in Charleston was “predestined” or somehow in line with the mysterious, unknowable will of God. I tend to believe that we all play the hand we are dealt and God in his Providence offers a way out. He is more generous and shows more mercy to some, but we are all given the choice.

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they've got to be free. Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk” – C.S. Lewis

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