Ok. So… today my VC (vocations consultant) asked me about what I felt about evil. What do I believe in? What is evil? She was quite persistant and I found myself slightly floundering. I do believe in a real and evident force of evil and also as in an absence of all good. My VC said to me, ‘do you think that your actions (we were discussing my past) were as a result of a force of evil acting on your life or do you think that was partly out of your being human?’ ( or something along those lines anyway).
If I said yes to the first bit, that would imply I don’t take responsibility for my own actions. That would imply I think people who commit evil acts are not responsible for their actions. That would imply that none of us are responsible for our actions because it implies that either a force of evil, or a force of good (God) is acting in our lives.
But the bible says we have free-will.
Do I think that I drank too much, took too many drugs, or acted like a total idiot (polite word..), because the Devil/enemy/Satan/your preferred choice… was guiding me to it. Well no. and yes, well, no, err….
So where do I stand?
I completely and utterly believe that there is a force of evil at work in our world. Whether that is a human-reaction as a result of ‘the fall’, or because we are all inherently sinners, or because there is a little man with horns and a pitchfork hanging around, I am not sure. I am quite prepared to accept that Satan in the bible is merely the personification of that force of evil, but then I’m not sure I am convinced of that either. I believe that people can be influenced by this force of evil, yes, and occasionally to great extremes. but can one ascribe all bad stuff that goes on to that force of evil? Because that really does mean we are denying our own actions and not accepting blame or responsibility.
I am not sure where I draw the line. When I was in my dark phase I was able to recognise that what I was doing was very destructive (to myself), but it didn’t stop me doing it. I didn’t feel able to. and would I have wanted to anyway? After I’d taken one step it was a slippery slope to the next step and the next and so on. So do I believe that the first step was a result of evil tripping me up, pushing me in that direction? well yes I guess I do, but at the same time I recognise it was my choice to take that step too. So in a way I guess I am talking about temptation. Does evil put temptations in our way, knowing that we do ahave free will and knowing exactly what temptations will work best on each individual? well, yes I reckon so.
1 Peter 5:8-9 says this:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings..
In this way I think this is what evil is like, it’s just hanging around, just waiting to trip us up and if we go far enough, to devour us.
I cannot believe in God as goodness, without believing there is something else. Because how can one explain away evil acts and suffering without it? It’s all very well talking about free will, but why do humans use our free will to do ‘wrong’ or evil if we are made in Gods image? If one does not accept the fall theory than where does that come from? If God is a sovereign God, God of creation (and I’m not even talking about THE creation here), a God who has the ability to speak to us, guide us, hear our prayers, then he is not resposible when bad stuff happens. So where does it come from? And I am not prepared to believe in a God just in names sake, who can’t hear us or guide us or speak to us, or change things, transform people, which is what it would mean to me if I accept that there isn’t a very real force of evil in this world…
Am I any clearer on what I believe then? umm…. perhaps not…