Monday, December 17, 2012

Evil Doesn’t Make Sense

It’s Monday.

We’ve mourned through the weekend the tragedy of Newtown, CT. On Monday people will begin giving solutions. We will offer suggestions for change. We will map out strategies for preventing such actions from happening again. We will continue to ask questions, but on Monday we will begin trying to solve them. Today we will try to make sense of this madness.

And it is with such resolve to make sense of evil that I am reminded of these words from Christopher J.H. Wright:

“God, with his infinite perspective, and for reasons known only to himself, knows that we finite human beings cannot, indeed must not ‘make sense’ of evil.  For the final truth is that evil does not make sense.  ‘Sense’ is part of our rationality that in itself is part of God’s good creation and God’s image in us.  So evil can have no sense, since sense itself is a good thing.”

“Evil has no proper place within creation.  It has no validity, no truth, no integrity.  It does not intrinsically belong to the creation as God originally made it nor will it belong to creation as God will ultimately redeem it.  It cannot and must not be integrated into the universe as a rational, legitimated, justified part of reality.  Evil is not there to be understood, but to be resisted and ultimately expelled.  Evil was and remains an intruder, an alien presence that has made itself almost (but not finally) inextricably ‘at home.’  Evil is beyond our understanding because it is not part of the ultimate reality that God in his perfect wisdom and utter truthfulness intends us to understand.  So God has withheld its secrets from his own revelation and our research.”

“Personally, I have come to accept this as a providentially good thing.  Indeed, as I have wrestled with this thought about evil, it brings a certain degree of relief.  And I think it carries the implication that whenever we are confronted with something utterly and dreadfully evil, appallingly wicked, or just plain tragic, we should resist the temptation that is wrapped up in the cry, ‘Where’s the sense in that?’  It’s not that we get no answer.  We get silence.  And that silence is the answer to our question.  There is no sense.  And that is a good thing too.”

“Can I understand that?  No.  Do I want to understand that?  Probably not, if God has decided it is better that I don’t.  So I am willing to live with the understanding that the God I don’t understand has chosen not to explain the origin of evil, but rather wants to concentrate my attention on what he has done to defeat and destroy it.” (42-43, The God I Don’t Understand)

Wright’s entire book is a great reflection on the tough questions of our faith. It is one of the best books that I have read on the topic. You can buy it today.

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