Posts Tagged Evil
Every year around Halloween, I like to explore the topic of spiritual warfare — you know, angels, demons and the cosmic forces of evil. Here are some of the posts on this topic from the past.
Today I want to share Greg Boyd’s basic articulation of what he calls a “Warfare Worldview” — that is, how can Christians affirm that God is all-powerful and still believe that other evil forces (human and angelic) are working to thwart God’s will? If created beings have genuine free will, then how can we be certain that God is really in control of this broken world? Here’s how Greg approaches these questions.
The warfare worldview is based on the conviction that our world is engaged in a cosmic war between a myriad of agents, both human and angelic, that have aligned themselves with either God or Satan. This is the view that is presupposed throughout the entire Bible, and it’s especially evident in the New Testament. For example, Jesus unequivocally opposed evils such as disease, demonization, and even natural disaster (i.e. when Jesus rebuked a storm) and saw them as originating in the wills of Satan, fallen angels, and sinful people, rather than in the will of God.
The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course of Idaho is the proud home of the world’s first floating green — an intimidating target with water on all sides. But remember, “everything breaks towards the water.” Ka-plunk! Splash! Ever have one of those rounds where it seems as though if there’s water to be found, your ball will find it? My dad seems to be one of those unfortunate ones.
While the OB stakes try to keep your ball on playable ground and sand traps merely slow your game down a bit, water hazards are placed on the course with a more sinister purpose of swallowing up as many victims as possible. Yes, underneath those blue, sparkling innocent-looking waters lies a cold, sunken graveyard of every kind of golf ball . All golfers agree: Water hazards are evil. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a repost from last year. -JB
It’s that diabolical week again. This Sunday night many paranoid Christians will be once again hunkered down in their basements (if not at a “Harvest Party” at church) with their front porch lights off holding prayer vigils to ward off those sinners who participate in this evil Holiday.
Can I just say it straight? The cute little ghosts and goblins, witches and vampires who are knocking on your darkened door with disappointment that you’re not there are NOT the real evil we should be placing in the crosshairs of our spiritual warfare offensive. Doesn’t the Bible warn us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”? Then why are we so bent out of shape about all the children disguised as angels of darkness?
Might I suggest that the Evil One is much more powerfully at work in the ordinary business of our lives: the 10-year grudge we’ve been holding with a family member, our enormous financial debt weighing us down, the new luxury car we just bought to prop up our status, the job that gets more of our time than our spouse and kids, the hidden sin we’re afraid to bring out into the light because it would shatter our shiny Christian veneer of self-righteousness, and so on.
Yes, I know all about the pagan origins and godless rituals practiced by druid priests hundreds of years ago on “All Hallow’s Eve.” Let’s steer clear of that stuff, and not glorify evil. But I think the holiday as it is celebrated today is something altogether different.
The scariest thing I’ve discovered about Halloween is that Americans spent over 6 billion dollars in candy, costumes, and party attire last Halloween. This places Halloween spending in second place only to Christmas. Satan must giggle when he does the math and realizes that 6 billion dollars could bring clean water and sewers to the entire 3rd world. That scary hayride and haunted house down the street we’re avoiding might actually be raising money for orphans.
So, here’s my challenge this year: Let’s all just lighten up a bit, turn on the outside lights and brighten some kids’ night with a piece of candy and a Christian smile! This isn’t “the Devil’s Night” as they say. That was probably last night and the night before.
“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).
Christians have always had a tough time with Halloween. The danger usually associated with the message of Halloween was its association with the occult — the glorification and celebration of evil, death, Satan, witchcraft, blood-sucking vampires and the like. Clearly the people called to “live in the light as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7) have no business dabbling in this sort of darkness. Christians living in the bright new day of the Resurrected Son are called to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12).
I have always appreciated C. S. Lewis’ balanced approach to the topic of Satan and the forces of darkness, warning that: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” So, reasonable and balanced Christians and church leaders have attempted to recognize the real evil standing behind the folk religion of Americanized, materialized, sugar-laden Halloween by offering alternatives to dressing up as goblins, witches and vampires. The Harvest Party and other family-friendly gatherings that celebrate the true Light’s victory over the powers of darkness have provided alternatives to trick-or-treating. (Read Ben Witherington on “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?”)
Well, one wonders if even the creative mind of C. S. Lewis who wrote at length from the point of view of the “devils” in The Screwtape Letters could have anticipated the sneaky way our culture (or the Devil) would try to put a new spin and sexy veneer over the dark focus of Halloween’s evil under layer. Lewis has the senior Devil named Screwtape write to Wormwood, his devil in training, instructing him on how to try to keep humans (called “patients”) from even believing in their existence (since they can do more harm when their “patient” is unaware of them):
“I don’t think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that ‘devils’ are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.”
Well, take a trip to the nearest Halloween Costume Outlet store today and you will find that old Screwtape and his junior devils have taken it a step further. You would have to be blind or living in a cave somewhere to not have noticed the trend in costumes the past several years. The cultural forces at work (driven by the sexual forces within) have managed to add an entirely new kind of darkness and evil to the traditional favorites. I speak of the overt sexualization of Halloween costumes. Read the rest of this entry »
He came closer to the city,
and when he saw it, he wept over it, saying,
“If you only knew today what is needed for peace!
But now you cannot see it!
There is no place worldwide where Habakkuk’s cry is not heard; and Jesus’ tears still wet our cities’ streets today. The world’s pain and suffering cries out for justice and peace. Yet what does it look like when they finally prevail? And, more importantly, when and by what means will it actually come to pass?
So we ask, “What is needed for peace?” These perennial questions have had many proposed solutions. Yet, in a world where injustice still reigns supreme, it appears all human attempts to establish a global kingdom of peace and foster universal prosperity have so far ultimately failed.
Christians have taken different sides on this issue. Some quarters of “Christendom” have allied themselves with the political powers and socio-economic systems of the day, attempting to Christianize the worldly systems and use them as God’s instrument for peace and justice. Other Christians have separated themselves from society altogether, placing upon it the stamp of divine condemnation, and simply awaiting the rapture from this hopeless world.
Political and social activism is advocated by the former, while the latter focus solely on ‘soul-winning,’ shrugging off social involvement saying ‘it makes little sense rearranging the deck furniture on a sinking Titanic.’ Both of these approaches fail on biblical grounds. What then is the church’s appropriate response to the world’s injustice and suffering? And what ecclesial action (if any) is expected of us by God while we await the new creation — the kingdom “wherein justice dwells”?
Drawing significantly from the works of John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas and Jurgen Moltmann, the forthcoming series of posts will argue that the popular definitions of justice used in mainstream political and theological debate need to become more Jesus-shaped and our values more cruciform if the church is going to be faithful in its task of following the way of Jesus, i.e., the way of the cross, in the world today. (Note: This is the unique call of the church, not the world, secular governments, etc.)
Join me on my search for a more Jesus-shaped, cruciform understanding of justice. Stay tuned.