September 16, 2015 Matt Pennock

Good vs. Evil?

 

I’ve looked for a common, (nearly) universally accepted postulate among all human beings;  if there is one it would be this: humans are self-righteous. So far, I haven’t seen any flaming debates or controversy over this particular issue. To acknowledge oneself as imperfect is acceptable to most anyone and even socially expected if you want to have friends. To acknowledge oneself as inherently righteous is usually taken as lunacy by anyone and such a person will not have too many friends.

Christianity and its Church is not an issues-based organization.  It is an issue-based organization. There is one issue and only one: humans are evil. What does that mean? That means they are not good. Many people get hung up by this, but its actually not hard to grasp. Doing good works does not mean you are good. That qualifies as a logical fallacy—confusing association with causation, or post-hoc fallacy. The correct logic would be this: never having done anything but good means you are good. At most, doing good works means you have done good works. Congratulations. A hypocritical, adulterous, thief can do good things. But one who breaks the law even once, is a law-breaker and justice treats him/her as such. That’s the peculiar thing about good and evil. The concepts are not ‘yin-yang’ or equal parts of one another.

I am not good. You are not good.

We as a Church don’t gather and participate to find company on earthly matters and issues or to debate and argue about what is right and wrong with our society’s appearances. We go so, so much further than that. We are monsters of sin! Plagued in our very hearts by darkness.  And we are utterly incapable of changing that fact about ourselves. The best humans have ever done is to cover it up.  But the point of Church has always been the opposite: expose it, be true, and live in the light.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts… Mark 7:21

Judeo-Christian theology has no concept of good vs. evil. That is, good is not contingent upon evil, but evil is contingent upon good. Another way of putting it is that good can exist apart from evil, but evil cannot exist apart from good. What this ultimately means is that good is far, far greater than evil. And why does a loving God allow evil and suffering to exist? I thank God that he allowed evil to exist. Because by allowing evil to exist, he has given me the freedom to choose good or evil. If I was pre-programmed to do only good I would have no freedom of responsibility. But I am much higher than that kind of creature because I have freedom of responsibility. That is, I believe, the most fundamental reality of all of human existence. For those that would question the idea and think that a loving God should have created us and ‘fixed’ us to have no freedom of responsibility, you are essentially advocating that God should have created us as lower life-forms.

Having that freedom makes us much more powerful, and more responsible for our actions, than any other creature on earth.

…overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Jesus was the man—the only man—who never did anything evil. His heart was truly good.

You know that he [Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin [bad]. 1 John 3:5

Thus, to those who wish to get rid of the Church and Christianity, until you find a way to redeem the human heart on your own, it will not be going anywhere anytime soon. To him who figures that conundrum out, I will be the first to jump on his bandwagon. So far, Jesus is the only one. Because of him I have been able to befriend Muslims, gays, liberals, progressives, ex-cons, prostitutes, gun-totin’ Republicans, Hindus, Buddhists, drug addicts, and more—even with opposing beliefs. I enjoy the conversations we have over beer with a gay friend of ours, and he as well. We have opposing beliefs and yet somehow we get along and respect each other. I enjoyed once having a devout Muslim from Libya as a roommate. Though we had opposing views, we hung out, went on hikes, and somehow created memories. I have fond memories of dining with Palestinian Muslims who invited us knowing full well we were Christians; or being called brother by a younger Chinese Dongxiang Muslim who knew I was a Christian; or all the countless liberal progressive friends of mine in Portland, Oregon who know I hold to different values and opposing beliefs and yet still choose to be friends with me. Respect is a big part of what it means to love your neighbor and it goes a long way.

And as far as asking me whether I think a particular issue is good or bad, the answer is simple:

You are not good.

If you are going to accuse Christians, be disgusted with them, or just plain hate them, let that be the reason. At least then we will know that you are hearing us.

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